Everyone who plays with me on chatsites knows I hate SLs. Many of you know at least some of why. But here's the full rant, anyway!
I think most people know that I'm pretty anti-SL. There are reasons for this, some more fixable than others. I have been in good online SLs, but few and far between.
The first reason is the one that causes the most problems for me, and is the least fixable. Time. Most SLs, or the bulk of the important scenes of most SLs are played in evening hours for the US timezones. I can't play those times. This leads to a lot of frustration. See, I'd like to be in on some of these stories, some of these scenes, but I can't. Unless they're done on Wednesday nights or during day times, I can't play. But my characters would want to be involved, and sometimes there's no logical reason to explain their non-presense, IC. That's frustrating, too. I feel like my timezones are crippling my characters. It's discouraging.
The reason I hate overwhelming, change-the-world, effect all characters plots is tied to the above. Because my characters are effected and I can't do anything about it! Now there's a source of frustration. The only solution I've ever been able to pull off is having someone NPC my char. Not exactly fun, but at least my char didn't look like a complete idiot to the rest of the chars for not taking part in something.
Another thing I find difficult to deal with, time issues aside, is the attitude a lot of STs take to SLs and players in them. Not naming any names, of course, or any specific STs on any specific sites. I've seen STs getting irate because players weren't picking up on clues. Give people a break. If I see an ST start referring to players as idiots because they didn't pick up on clues, I'm certainly not going to want to play an SL with that ST. Even STs who haven't done this sort of thing need to realize that players don't always get it.
Then there's burnout. Long stories, I'm talking around the six week to two month mark, start wearing down. It's hard to keep up momentum. Possible, yes, but hard. It wears on the STs, it wears on the players.
Another problem is repetitive storylines. The same old antagonists. In mage games, on various sites, if I see one more Nephandi or Technocrat of the week plot, I'm going to scream. The way I explained it to someone else is: after you've made yourself sick with McDonald's hamburgers, the last thing you want is a steak. Variety in antagonists is important.
Then there are the whole world shaking everyone has to be involved in them stories. The ones you can't avoid no matter how much you want to. Not every single storyline has to affect every single character on a site, or even every single character in a system. When massive, earth-shattering SLs are used too often, they lose their impact.
And last but not least, worst-case scenarios. If there's a possible ending or twist to a story that an ST can't live with, they need to change the parameters of the SL. Because if there's one thing that you definitely don't want the players to do, Murphy's Law holds that that is exactly what they will do. Don't get upset with or angry at players when they do what you don't want them to.
That said, the only really unsolvable problem (unless everyone moves to Dubai!) is the time issue. I have, on rare occasion, played in a storyline I enjoyed. They were, in general, small, self-contained stories only involving a limited number of characters that ran for a limited time and involved a lot of investigation and character development. Unfortunately, such storylines are very, very rare. And I truly wish they weren't.
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