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RoW's Future: Community Discussion
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Just chiming in to say that I do want what's best for the staff and I understand that RoW will close.

If we transfer to a new site -
  • will it be one like RoW? (Layout and all the same with just steamlined content and a new map?)
  • would it be a proboards type of thing?
  • is there a prospective date on when things might start shifting over? (Usually about this time puppy plans are being put into place, and this has kinda... just... killed some muses. :/)

With these questions coming to light, I'm still partial to moving. I'm just curious as to how that new site will feel.
i'm a dreamer, i'm a man
i'm doing whatever i can to make the bad things go away
I want to thank everybody for your replies over the past couple of days. They've been really thoughtful, and have given me quite a bit to consider. I know that this announcement has come as a shock and there hasn't been a lot of time (for any of us) to really process and think through details, but I love that this is a community where we can have discussions like this.

I've read through everybody's responses and taken notes on the key points you all have raised. Even when your feedback was critical, it was appreciated. I'm going to try and group some of the common themes into subsections with my responses below. At the end are some action items/next steps to help move the discussion along. I apologize in advance for the length...but we all know I'm a wordy person and there's a lot to address here. :)

Decision-Making & Ownership
I want to address this issue head-on. RoW is my game. It would not exist without all of you, but that doesn't change the fact that I own it. I developed (along with Tara & Rachel) the original concept and built the site; I have almost always covered the entire hosting & domain name costs; and when there are decisions to be made about how to handle member concerns or implement new plots/features, it is ultimately my decision to make. I absolutely value the input of everyone in the community - if it I didn't, I wouldn't have created this post - but RoW is not, has never been, and never will be a democracy.

I want to be really clear that my approach to ownership doesn't mean I don't value the contributions of everyone here. Many people have helped to create territories, packs, library articles, and helped discuss and implement new site and policy changes. This site would be very, very different without all of that effort. Frankly, it would have closed a long time ago without it. But those contributions don't give anyone else an ownership stake in the site.

I know that sounds harsh, and I hope it isn't misconstrued as me being ungrateful for everything everyone else has done. But it's the truth. I don't (really) have the luxury of taking a break like the rest of you do when I don't feel like RPing, because the site can't properly run without an invested owner & admin team. I signed up for this responsibility when I created the game, and when I've continued to keep it open even when it would have been much easier for me to close it (trust me, in 9 years, there have been a lot of points when I've considered it). I do it, and would like to continue to do it, because I love this game and I love this community. By proposing this idea of starting fresh, I'm hoping to create an environment where I can do that more successfully.

Why I Made This Thread
To give everyone more context for how this discussion came about, here's how it happened. On Saturday, I discussed my concerns privately with Sarah, and we both agreed that it felt like the best decision. Out of courtesy to the staff team, I made a post in our private staff forum explaining my decision. I drafted a separate announcement explaining that the site was closing and why and planned to post it on Sunday.

When I checked the site on Sunday, I read several encouraging messages from our staff team who were sad about the decision, but respected it. They all offered to help with whatever they could. I also saw several new RP posts that were made over night. And seeing that...it made me second-guess my decision and start to wonder if there was a way to move forward.

I threw out the idea of retconning RoW to the staff team to see what they thought and it was suggested that we bring it to the whole community to see if it was even viable. Because as we've seen in the responses to this thread, I'm not the only one who hasn't been feeling motivated. If a bunch of people had said that they weren't happy with the idea of starting over or that they would not join the new site, then it wouldn't have happened and I would have closed the site.

I acknowledge that this idea is not fully thought out, and some of you would have appreciated having more concrete plans in place, but I hope you can also appreciate why I didn't want to spend the time/effort on coming up with an idea if I didn't know if it would be supported. Especially since I was fully ready to shut down the site before getting those few encouraging messages & seeing those posts.

The purpose of this discussion is twofold:

1. to see if this is an idea that other people are even open to. If they are (and it seems like many of you are!), then I am going to do my best to guide us as we implement it.

2. to start the discussion of things that people would like to see changed. I need the community's help to make this retcon a reality and successful, so see the action items at the end of this post to see how you can help and where we're looking for feedback.

This is not a bone that I'm throwing out there to soften the blow. I am not trying to get anyone's hopes up with the intention of pulling the rug out from underneath you. I am genuinely excited about the idea of starting fresh, but am also not going to put myself in the position to take it on if the community had decided they weren't up for it.

Timeline & Uncertainty
We don't currently have one, because this is all still very fresh. There is a lot that needs to be discussed and determined before we can move forward. Realistically, March is the earliest that we would make this move. I'm traveling out of the country February 17 - 23rd, and besides that it will take time to put together the new site, updated rules, territories, etc. I'm hoping that it won't impact puppy season too much, in that if you want your character to breed and move to the new site, you'll be able to do that. I'm unsure how we'll handle new characters, but that's something to figure out.

I know that this kind of announcement is a muse-killer for many people. And I am genuinely sorry for that. All I can suggest at this point is you talk to the people who you plot with the most and see what their plans are and start setting up the situation that would cause your characters to leave Relic Lore. For those of you who are planning to let your characters "retire", you'll need to decide if you want to keep posting or how you want to handle that. In the interim, I'm going to be removing the activity checks.

Grey asked some specific questions about the site's update:

- The layout will likely change a little bit. I'd like to use this opportunity to freshen things up, while maintaining enough of the old design that it feels familiar. Big banner images will still be a thing and I'd still like to give everyone a chance to customize the look of their profiles.
- It would not be Proboards site

Invested Effort
There are 9 years of invested effort in the existing site, and I know that leaving that all behind is difficult. I don't really know how to address this, except to say that I want to make it as easy as possible for you to move your existing characters (with their accomplished development) intact. I don't want you to lose that either, and I look forward to having further discussions about how we can do this without causing that to happen. I know that not every character can make that jump, and I am truly sorry for putting you (the players) in that position.

I want to acknowledge again the point that several people have brought up: many of you have put in money/time/etc. for art for your characters and the site. To the extent that we can, I want to make it possible for you to continue to use those. But I do ask that as you think about that time/effort spent that you don't start to use it a measure of how much you care about the site and start to compare it to others. Turning this into a game of "who cares more" and acting as those it makes you entitled to decisions isn't constructive.

I'll address the character development/LP issue in the LP section of this post.

Is this a bandaid?
I personally don't think so. This retcon is not just about changing the map to make it easier for people to interact with one another, but about giving ourselves the freedom to make new plots and connections without risking the old ones. Several people addressed this, but I think Pinn really hit the nail on the head as to why this prospect is exciting for people who have been here for a while or have several characters, "I know that once a character becomes intertwined with others, and people are relying on you for plots, you’d rather just skate by the AC’s with them than risk disappointing people." If you have a highly developed character and you start to lose muse for them, it feels awful having to continuously post them just to try and maintain those connections. I'm hoping that the fresh start gives us all an opportunity to start over with characters and connections we're truly invested in, as opposed to ones we have out of a sense of obligation.

Ultimately, though, the success of this new site (or any site) depends on the activity of its members and staff. My job as an owner is to set the example and to give you a platform that allows you to be active, but I can't control anyone's activity besides my own. There is a risk that my activity will fail again and this new site won't be a success. I don't blame anyone who decides to not take that risk, and I'm grateful to all of you who do.

Staff Activity & Tasks
As the site's owner, I set the tone for the activity of our staff team. Many of the outstanding items that have been left to sit are things that only Sarah and I can take care of, and we just haven't done them. We haven't discussed how we want to handle staffing on the rebooted site, but will likely expand the team a bit or figure out a way to give moderators access to do some of those "admin-only" tasks.

One way of doing that is to reduce the maintenance tasks that we have. These generally aren't difficult tasks, but they can be tedious and time consuming. When somebody submits an LP request that isn't quite right, or they have a question about it, or somebody submits a profile application that has a few unrealistic things in the history, we have to take time to discuss it and set a policy before we can move forward. We have to take the time to get it right, because if we don't, this community isn't shy about letting us know or reminding us that we once did something else 3-4-5 years ago. We do our absolute best to be fair and to be consistent, but that requires time and patience from everyone.

I'm hoping that by streamlining some of the systems we currently have in place, staff time can be spent doing the things that truly need staff oversight, such as reviewing character applications and addressing member concerns. Those are the things that take the most time and are the most draining, so if I can do something to reduce the more banal tasks for my team, I am going to do that.

I do know that we will be leaning heavily upon our IC leaders (both pack leaders and active players/characters) to help drive plots going forward. Logging on last summer/fall to repeatedly being asked when the BWP was ending was infuriating; so I am more than happy to turn over responsibility of conceptualizing and driving those types of plots to our community. Staff will oversee and help guide, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the community does.

Action Items

To help keep the conversation constructive, I've created different threads to discuss the issues of the LP & Fight Systems and start some brainstorming about the new setting/locations.

- Life Points & Fight System Discussion
- Setting & Location Discussion

In the current thread, I welcome continued responses and discussion to my comments and others. But I also have a request for everyone. I'd like to know the top 5 features/concepts/rules you like about RoW. I'd also like to know your least favorite 5. Please keep these to concrete examples, like threadlog, IC/OOC separation, account switching, as opposed to more abstract things like activity. I want to know what all of you prioritize and care the most about, as well as finding targeted areas that we can make adjustments to.
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So I think it speaks something to my activity in that I didn't even see this thread was posted until last night after someone mentioned it to me in the chat. I'm sure you can all tell, I basically live in the chat and maybe kinda float over to the site every once in a while. And I suppose I'm part of the whole "activity problem" and I don't really know what the solution to that is. Am I bored with RPing? Wolves? Something else? I wish I could tell you. Maybe shaking it up will fix things for me, but I can't say for sure.

If RoW closed down I'd be terribly sad about it, but it's amazing that RoW has been around as long as it has when most RP sites seem to have a lifespan of maybe 2 years on a good stretch before fizzing out. Unluckier ones maybe a couple months and I've been on several of those in the time I've spent at RoW. Sites close, people make new ones and move on, it's sort of the cycle of RP sites and I think this one being as stable as it has been makes it easy to forget that. Shadow has been absolutely amazing in keeping this place running even at times when she wasn't even able to fully enjoy her own creation.

I've been here... god going on 7 years now and RoW and its members been a big part of my life. Yeah writing is an outlet for me at times, but more than that I've made a lot of great friends here and I guess the only thing really holding me here is the OOC community. More than the wolves, characters, history, and everything else, it's more the community I'm attached to. I suppose I'll go where everyone else goes, whether that's RoW 2.0 or somewhere else entirely.

On moving the site:
As I said, I'm not attached to the idea of roleplaying wolves and would just as easily RP bunnies or people or sentient blobs. I just kind of wonder, do staff really want to keep running a site? Sure, if RoW 2.0 happens I'll be there, but I kinda wonder if staff are done... staffing. Shadow and Sarah especially have been trucking on for the entire lifespan of this site, and if ya'll don't feel up to the whole unpaid labor of staffing I think that's entirely fine and valid. Usually when a site dies, the members who have the like, burning fiery passion to keep going end up rallying together and making a go at their own site. And like, I don't know, it doesn't make sense for you guys to make RoW 2.0 if staff don't have that burning fiery passion to keep it going and are just doing it out of obligation. 

I can understand the current site being too unweildly and overwhelming to run on the back end, and if that's the whole problem and a new site would fix it I'm for it. But I don't want you guys to labor to make something new just for us, you know? I guess this is just a long-winded way of me saying that it's fine for the 'old guard' to want to pass the torch.

Edit:
Will add/change stuff as i think of it
Favs:
1. Automated threadlogs
2. Character profiles, the fact that they are their own pages as well as customization options.
3. IC/OOC account and character switching setup and how seamless it is
4. I actually like the automated activity checks. For a game with packs its helpful to have non-active characters automatically removed so you don't have to awkwardly play around them wondering if they're actually there or not. I could see doing them less often (monthly?) but I wouldn't like them to be entirely removed.


Least favs:
1. LP in general. I can take it or leave it.
2. The fight system. A super complex solution for a game that should be about writing, not combat. (I kind of wonder if the fact we even have a fight system means that we end up with more fights than we would otherwise just because people want to use it)
2. The site layout. Its very complicated to navigate, especially for a newbie.
3. Too much stuff in the library. Too many guides for both game mechanisms as well as just background info/setting. Needs a lot of streamlining/pruning
Top Five Features
  1. The realism - especially when it comes to travelling. And for characters.
  2. The Library/Articles.
  3. Everything about the layout. Honestly, if that could stay the same I would be STOKED.
  4. Honestly, I like the LPs. It makes to streamline them, but I actually don't have an issue with most of them.
  5. The interactive map and territory descriptions/customization. 
  6. Threadlog
  7. RANDOM EVENTS
Least Favourite Five
  1. The fight system ONLY because, after 6 years, it sTILL CONFUSES ME. I think it needs to be in place but simplified. 
  2. The weather widget because it's been broken forever and we need something better LOL.
  3. The stupid ribbons (I'm sorry)
^ that's actually it, to be honest. I have always been a fan of everything done on RoW and don't really have an issue with any of the features. 
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stick with those who stick with you
Top Five
  • profile customization - I really appreciate being able to create a banner image and colour pallet and have different icons + the topic avatar.
  • IRL time - I like that RoW passes in real life and your characters are expected to travel realistically.
  • Colour coded - This is an oddly specific detail, but I like that the packs are colour coded? I like seeing users online as characters with their pack colours. It feels very organized to me and helps me remember who-is-where.
  • Word count and activity check - I personally think they’re vital to keeping up activity, but overall I just appreciate RoW having a structure for their members.
  • Pack requirements - I like that packs are expected to disband once their members hit below 4 members. It’s a small realistic detail that I think keeps plots progressing.

Least Favourite Five
  • Gossip wall - I'm not sold on it. I feel like it kinda gets forgotten about. I’m definitely not upset it exists, but I don’t think it is vital.  
  • Ribbon awards - I haven’t ever really looked into them or figured out how they work so it’s just kinda there for me.

I really just like RoW. Even these two are simply just eh, things that I don't necessarily need gone, but don't care much about. If I think of something else, I'll add it- but I can't find anything with the current set-up that I truly dislike.
currently travelling with Circe (she can jump in any of his threads)
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I've been reading the responses to this over the past few days but haven't had a chance to reply because I've been stacked with work this past week, but I did want to get my word in.

Firstly, I'd like to thank Shadow and the rest of the staff who work really hard to keep the site running and have done so for so long. I'm sure this decision wasn't made lightly and I really appreciate that this thread was made so that the community could talk about what was going on.

I've been on RoW since 2012 and have always appreciated it for the outlet its given me and the opportunity its offered to see myself grow as a writer. I've read everyone's response and I don't remember who said it but at some point in time, RoW has felt like a chore, more simply because I needed to keep my characters active for an activity check and didn't want to "disappoint anyone". It would be sad to see RoW go but I've thought over the past few days about what a new site would mean and what I would do with Jessie, Yuka, and Enia.

I do like the idea of a new site and would totally transition over once the move happened because I really appreciate the community that RoW brought. I'll definitely miss the plots that I have here but I haven't really been all that active since I started college and I think a lot of that is due to the lack of muse I have. This move could very well help with this.

Things I generally saw and had thoughts about when I was reading through posts:
I think it's important to still have way to implement a fight system and how a winner is determined - whether it's through dice rolls or some other means is how Shadow/staff decides, but I do think it's important as it helps keep those fights IC.
I saw someone mention AC and I personally think having them once a month or not at all would be very beneficial. When I think about having to post a limit for certain characters it just doesn't motivate me to post and sometimes I just log off because I think more about making that cap that constructively thinking about what I want to write.

Top things I can think of:
Threadlogs: it helps keep everything organized and, for me, helps prioritize who I'm replying to first
Leadership requirement rule: I think this set a baseline that member's characters needed to be well-established before being able to create a pack, which I think helped control the pack numbers at points too.
Keeping things realistic: I really like this rule because the fantasy aspect is what turned me away from some other RP sites. It also made some of our BWP/holiday plots more fun because it changed things up a little!
Fluid time: being able to have multiple threads at once without having completed another one. Some sites that I looked at before RoW didn't have this and it turned me away.
BWP: These were so much fun and an annual event to look forward to and participate in.

Least Favorite:
OOC Join threads: I wasn't really a fan of this addition because it seemed kind of rushed for member's characters and most of the time, at least for packs I was in, characters who joined OOC would drop after that activity check.
Activity check twice a month: only because I'm really busy and it always stressed me out trying to constantly make the count.
-I can't any right now but will edit later if anything pops in to mind.

Just to reiterate what I said at the beginning, I really appreciate everything Shadow and the rest of the staff have done to keep RoW going this long and the hard work and money that went into it.
[Image: jessiehotei-greysig01.jpg]
Top Five Features:
  1. Automated Threadlogs - I love that I can prioritize older threads and see all the threads my characters are in.
  2. Active Thread log - I LIVE to snoop, so this is one of my favorite tools to see the latest drama and gage who is active and online.
  3. Profile Customization - I like the personal profiles and the way we are able to customize them, though I wouldn't be too mad if it can't completely be customized like they can be now with special codes and such.
  4. Color coded packs - Makes the site look organized and I too feel satisfied when I see characters in certain colors so I can differentiate similar character names.
  5. Thread Subscriptions - I like to get notice when someone posts in a thread either I'm in or would like to keep track of, but also if this is too complicated to implicate with the new site, I can do without.
Least Favorite Five:
  1. Ribbons - Never cared too much for them honestly, I focused on LP.
  2. Gossip Wall - This hasn't had much attention lately and really isn't a feature I consider a requirement.
  3. Profile Timeline - This was a good idea originally, but lost its charm, especially with the upkeep that is needed to enter descriptions and edit dates(if needed).
  4. Bi-monthly ACs -  I'd rather like to see simple monthly ACs while also keeping leadership posting requirements as well.
  5. Elaborate LP & Fight System - Anyway that we can streamline these would be great. The fight system I still have a hard time understanding all the fundamentals even after several years with it in play.
With responses, Im throwing in a couple of new points, comments and such....

- @Skoll / Grey, I really don't think there would be any convincing Ravenna to leave the Ridge. Even if it came down to just staying because she wanted to keep alive what her mother created. If this move happens and as likely, packs don't go with it I will have a discussion with WR members and either A. Say that some kind of natural disaster happened to the territory (flash flood maybe and the packs den collapse?) and the pack as a group moves to the new site or B. If the majority of the packs players don't want to bring over their characters, just say that they are all still happy and living in WR. (Like we say our inactive characters are in Torbine and such).

- Also, a simple 'rock, paper, scissors' way of fighting is kind of interesting and very simple? As far as if characters are around the same health and size.

- In regards to puppy season. It is always one of the most exciting time of the year, because as we base this site on realistic time we also only get to have our characters have a chance at breeding once a year (which I fully support). I know the months for breeding and birthing are based IRL, but in this case so the move doesn't have to be RUSHED, why not set it back a month? Instead of breeding in March and pups in May, have it start April and pups born in June. Just this year, of course. That way staff and the community can focus on the move. Maps, new territories, rules, and all the modifications don't have to be slapped quickly together and can be thought through easier. This will also kind of distinguish the starting of the new packs on the new site. Those breeding or already pregnant will form their new packs/families.

- When it comes down to it, even if WR is no more and Ravenna is no more. They would be anyhow if RoW shut down. ANY kind of RoW is better then no RoW. Besides, I can always boast that WR never disbanded. :)

- Top 5 features:
- Automatic threadlogs
- Easy peasy account switching
- How the map is set up (but hate how I can't access it in my phone)
- Table code we have to write down codes, future ideas, all the sweet stuff to remember.
- Short codes.

- Least 5 features:
- Gossip wall I guess. I mean, it's community ran really but I never look at it.
- Profile timeline. I used this function a little bit once but never touched it again.
- Ribbon awards. While they are pretty and colorful, I think getting rid of these or merging some into LP (I won't about this on the other board) will make things simpler.

MAY Back up other people with any 'dislike' as more people reply but that's it for now.

Tis me again, I've been mulling this over for a few days

Things I like:
  • The realism of the site: both in appearances, behaviour, travel times etc etc. For me it was the main allure of the site, before ROW I had applied for a few other wolf sites but the fantastical elements they often had was really off putting to me. (A little off tangent but I think the appearance rules could maybe be a little tightened, new players who have tried to join with out there designs have been declined, but older, more established players seem to be able to get away with it?)
  • Profile customisation: I love fact that they're heavily editable, I've worked really hard on mine and I'm really happy with the aesthetics people have come up with. Though I also do believe the fields could be simplified as well. If I remember correctly there was talk of removing the weight, height and length fields in exchange for descriptors? Like short and chunky, tall and lanky, etc. At the very least it would make more sense than using arbitrary numbers.
  • The LP system: I really like it as I can see a visual representation of my characters development, but I agree with the others that it could be streamlined. Maybe to only include big life events, rather than like getting rewarded for meeting a random wolf they might never see again? It could be like memories in a sense, like you remember your birthdays, the birth of your child etc etc. Big important things!
  • Leadership thingies: I really like that becoming a leader is a feasible goal to work towards, something that anyone can do with enough work and planning. Three posts an AC was also a good call I think as it sort of emphasises that you gotta keep working to stat on top yanno? You can't keep carrying on as usual as a leader, you gotta get shit done and lead! That said, being in a pack where the leaders barely post at all, or just scrape the bottom of the barrel is really discouraging. There are several packs who's leaders don't do 3 posts an AC and it just slips under the radar. They're supposed to come forward and lose leadership if they do that two ACS in a row but I've seen it happen over and over again. I'd really like this to be improved upon in the future.
  • Fun and games: I used to really love this feature! WOTM and MOTM used to be a really big deal! People worked their butts off and built really interesting plots and their efforts were not rewarded but...highlighted! I remember the first time I got WOTM and not gonna lie...I was out with some friends and it really made my day to read the little blurb thingy, and of course the cute icons were a lovely bonus! Might have cried a little. I wonder whether people feel like their plots aren't noticed anymore they just don't bother to innovate?

Things I'm not so keen on:
  • Breeding season: To me the last few breeding seasons have very much felt like a free for all, that it's the unspoken goal to make as many pups as possible. The fact that staff had to implement a LP rule to discourage loners from breeding speaks volumes of how much an issue there was. A quick look at the pups of last years LP will show you that most have the same amount as they were born, if they're still on site at all! It's with this in mind that I think we need to limit the amount that each player can make cause when it comes to breeding season we make too many pups then get annoyed when they aren't adopted or as active as they deserve to be.
  • The sheer amount of packs: Briefly touched on this before but as it stands most of the packs onsite are barely active, many don't even have leaders and have been sitting around stagnant for months. I think people have gotten into a mentality of clinging onto packs for dear life even if it's dead in the water. Things won't improve by sitting around and just wishing for it, if your pack is quiet then you need to post to turn the tide. Either cut it off or work yer butt off.

Other thoughts:
  • I'm not entirely convinced removing an AC or two would help improve activity, we had this issue before with lowering the WC. One of the main pro arguments was that lowering it would lessen the stress of posting and would encourage people to write more posts rather than words. From what I could tell nothing really changed. I don't really have an issue if the we lower the amount of ACs or not, but I don't expect it to fix everything.
  • The same can be said for a new map/ location and timeline. People will post if they have the time, muse and energy. A new site won't magically fix all of our woes but I'm curious to see how it works out nonetheless.
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Favourite
1- realism
2 - profiles/customisation/threadlog
3 - account linking and alerts for PMs/mentions
4 - the ooc stuff/discussions/fun & games
5 - random events

Least favourites
1 - bi-monthly AC
2 - lack of a coastal territory xD
3 - hesitancy to execute plots due to ooc consequences/feeling obligated to clear every little action and having to justify character actions ooc
4 - slack, tbh
5 - posting tables with poor contrast and tiny text
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