admin, 1438 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Mon 2 May 2005
I don't think I'm pushing any envelopes when I say that I spend a lot of time on RPoL, thinking about it, coding it, administering it, and, every now and then, a dash of playing in it. Over the past five years it's dominated my life in one form or another, starting as a hobby and growing from there. The number of registered users and the sheer fanaticism from some is humbling.
I've always harboured the desire to get more of a RP community going, and not an RPoL-centric one, though it'd be nice for RPoL to be considered the "hub". Examples range from the IRC chat channel being #RolePlay not #RPoL and my offering of the chat code to another site (not that they ever used it), to the upcoming RP news site -- a user submission and moderated based page.
Whilst I opted out of coding as a profession so many years ago, I do enjoy molding the site into what the users (hopefully) want. I always enjoyed coding -- I used to write silly programs just for kicks -- but I got lazy. I was put off by the claim that I'd only code for a few years and then I'd go onto something like lecturing, but ultimately I decided I didn't want to sit in a room all day and code (misconception or not).
But RPoL's such a beast now, and some of the coding decisions I made as a novice five years ago have come back to haunt me plus I think the server has reached its performance limits without some serious disk caching and technology changes. As it really does make my life much easier, I'm slowly trying to migrate to a mySQL database. Work on the next upgrade for the site has taken over a year to get to where it is now, but it's still not finished. There have been lots of outside influences but ultimately RPoL has grown into a very big beast indeed, and the changes are large ones, necessary to release the performance bottlenecks and make the site easier to administer and maintain.
Administering, coding, and generally maintaining RPoL combined with my "build a community" plan is just getting too big, and it's taking up far too much of my time.
Now I'll pause at this point and recognise that there are probably two main trains of thought out there right now, those going "uh-oh" and the intrigued, wondering what's coming next.
Let me try to allay the fears of the worried: This isn't some precursor to a message of doom. I'm not about to close RPoL or change it in some earth-shattering way. I am going to try and improve it, dramatically, and I hope you'll agree. I will state for the first time, and not for the last, this is not bad news: RPoL is not going to change for the casual user. The doors will still be wide open. Come one, come all. Free.
But I digress.
When asked, I've always maintained that my ambition for RPoL was never to make money off the place but rather to make it a great website. It was a dream to get paid for doing what I (generally) enjoyed doing, but my driving motivation was just to create something people would be grateful for, not to earn money; after all, I paid for the hosting for the first few years until some very kind users insisted on making FoRPoL.
Let me repeat: RPoL is not going to change for the casual user. What you can see and do now you will be able to see and do next week and the week after (excluding general code improvements, etc.).
There is one exception to this rule; there will be one (1) thing that will be getting taken away, in a fashion.
To be blunt, I feel like this one area is a draw for the worst elements of RPoL -- people who can't obey rules, who've come to RPoL just for easy access to minors, or who have no actual interest in roleplaying. This area is, of course, is the adult games forums. Originally created as a place to put games that had some adult content so that people who should not, or did not, want to see them did not accidentally stumble upon them. But since its creation the adult section has degraded into a cesspool of what I would call, if I were being super-sickeningly nice, morally questionable.
I repeat myself, with this one caveat: what you have access to now you will have access to tomorrow.
So where is all this leading?
I need to earn a living, spend quality time with friends and family, and just go outside and get some sunlight and fresh air. With so much time needing to be committed to the site, and me wanting to commit more, I've realised I just cannot physically and mentally do it any more. The crux of the problem is that I'm trying to run a technical consulting business, but I spend very little time doing that and more coding RPoL; my bank balance is going backwards at an alarming rate.
With that in mind I realised there were only two real options for me: ease up on the RPoL side of things and concentrate more on developing my business, or change my business -- change it to RPoL. I hope it is fills you with relief when I tell you I have opted to try for the latter.
Now, let me repeat. The fundamental premise of RPoL -- a free, user-friendly site -- is not changing.
I am not changing RPoL to a pay-to-play site. I am not littering the site with popup or advert banners.
How is it going to work?
There are many features that I've thought about implementing on the site but I have not for one of two reasons. Firstly there is the fact that the RPoL server has finite resources, whether it be disk space, processing power or something else. I do not implement certain features or allow unlimited file sizes due to resource constraints. Secondly there is the fact that my time is finite, especially considering I do this in my spare time. Features don't get added because it's just too much work.
These features will soon start to be implemented.
Here's the crux of it all; access to these enhanced features will be subscription (donation) based.
This is the point where I really need to repeat myself. Every feature you currently see and have will not be subscription based. But, for example, if you want to be able to upload larger maps to your game -- well that can be arranged.
This is not the end of improvements to the public aspects of RPoL either. To illustrate my point, the upcoming version of RPoL increases the allowed map size from 30kb to 50kb. That will cause an increase in traffic of about 3gb. rMail (user to user messaging) is a new feature that I've been finishing in the last few days; a brand new feature that will be available to everyone. I've worked very hard over the past five years to make RPoL the free site it is today and I'm not about to destroy all that work.
There will be those who will take this as a sign of impending doom, and I'm sure some will go elsewhere for their roleplay needs. This, of course, saddens me; I feel that every departing user is leaving due to some failing on my behalf. I will mourn our loss and their lack of vision, because I have a vision.
So where does this leave the general user who opts not to subscribe? You will see an RPoL and RP community that will develop and mature faster than if things had been left as they were (not that the status quo could have been maintained). The more subscribers there are, even if you are not one, the more time I can dedicate and the more the RPoL code will improve. Thus even non-subscribers will reap some of the benefits; every single user will be better off.
What about past donators? A timeframe for all this? Previous donations will be carried over, pro rata. My current timeline aims to have version 1.5 finished within a month and subscriptions active within a month after that. Real life and the necessity to earn a living will, of course, affect this.
For one last time: the basics of RPoL are not changing. If you do nothing then you will still have access to everything available to you now (except adult games) and you will continue to see the site grow and improve. I will, however, implement extra functions, things I normally would not have implemented, and these will have limited availability.
Will it work? I don't know, but with you all, I look forward to finding out.
admin, 1442 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Tue 3 May 2005
Payment prices are based on a yearly subscription. Monthly will be a bit higher due to transaction and administration costs (eg $20 a year or $2 a month, $60 a year or $6 a month). Exact prices might also vary depending upon which payment method is used.
Prices are based on USD, but that's mainly because it's where a majority of the userbase is from (I'm in Australia). Payment in local currency will also be investigated.
There's no extra cost for adult, you just have to ask for it as part of the subscription.
As an aside, 1.5 does have a click-through for Amazon and CafePress on the front page, below your sticky list of games.
Other, later, options might also include RPoL email addresses and web space.
This will also largely be user and request driven, like much of RPoL already is. How complicated the new functions will be will solely depend upon how much time I can dedicate to the site which will ultimately be driven by how many subscribers there are. The more subscribers the more time I can dedicate to RPoL.
I am having problems thinking of really good things to add, I've added most of them already I guess! (c; Suggestions are, as always, welcome.
If it's not already evident, I still feel very strongly about having a free, safe, communal storytelling site, and I most certainly don't want to create any kind of "second class citizen" feel for non-subscribers. I will probably be changing the access for "player" to "roleplayer" and subscribers will be something like "level 5 'scribe" to denote their subscription level and try and keep the RP feel.
Adult (the "one exception" to the everything-stays rule, Kitano) will get miraculously cleaned up by this, I'm sure of it. Firstly most of the underage people will not have access to the section at all. Secondly, those who do manage to get their parents to give them access have to convince the parents to explicitly request adult access in the subscription note. Lastly, those who can buy subscription on their own now have a very large incentive not to ask for adult access; their account will be cancelled without refund (i.e. their incentive is money).
Don't forget about the upcoming mature flag either; that will allow many games that have had to be put into adult to be moved back into their proper classification. The only games that will be left in adult are the sex-based games. It's either move them or remove the rest; most of the adult games that will be left won't really be contributing to the roleplay aspect of roleplay online, in my opinion, but I recognise that some people like them (just like some like arena games) and there are exceptions to the rule, so I'm facilitating their continued presence.
You may think that the adult section has cleaned up, but it hasn't, they're just trying to fly under the radar, or some just start up the same game again and again. I'm sick of it, and I know cruinne (who does most of the leg work, bless her fluffy bunny feet) is beyond sick of it. If the status quo stays as it is you'll eventually find that the admin and most active moderator can't stand visiting the site.
What warrants the mature flag and what necessitates adult will have to be better defined, but generally there's no reason why games with mature language, settings, themes etc can't be placed in their proper, non-adult, classification with the mature flag set. Just because sex happens in a game is not a defining reason for it to be in adult, just like with movies, censors don't automatically force some flicks to the flickering neon sign cinemas just because it has sex in it.
In fact, movie classifications are what I often use to figure out how a game should be categorised. RPoL, due to its international nature, can't have the same granular levels of classification, but we can emulate part of it. If your game was made into a movie, picture it at your local movie rental store. Would it be there at all? If not it probably shouldn't be in RPoL either. Would it be in that little section labelled "Erotica" or "Adult"? If so then it's a safe bet it should be in the adult section here. Would it be rated M/18+/R? Then it's a pretty good assumption that it should have the mature content flag set (currently these have to be lumped in Adult). And remember, movies can be classified M/18+/R due to sex, voilence, gore, drug use, or even language.
Remember, the adult section you see now will be nowhere near that size when 1.5 comes around with the mature content flag.
Thanks for your comments, concerns, compliments and curses. (c;
Keep them coming, whether you be a new or old user, pessimistic or optimistic, happy-go-lucky or cantankerous.
jase -- trying to read every post. (c;
admin, 1444 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Tue 3 May 2005
Firstly let me start by clearly stating that this is not a move by me to try and get rid of adult games. I'm perfectly happy with them being part of RPoL, however I'm not at all pleased with the fact that the advent of the Adult section also signalled the introduction of the less savoury kind of adult games, and I don't believe anyone here is objecting to their removal (if you do think I should allow absolutely everything then we really don't have anything further to discuss).
I'm no prude and, despite what you may have think I've implied, I've never offered my opinion on the ToU compliant adult games of the site. I'm actually pleased we have such responsible users on the site. My dissatisfaction purely extends to the users who create the in-violation games, participate in the games, or know of the existence of them but say nothing.
I am not implementing this policy out of any personal agenda except the desire to do what is best for the community as a whole.
Cruinne, the poor soul who deals with most of the in-violation games, closes between 2 and 4 games a week, without even actively looking for them.
Users are told to close their game only to open another, often under a new login account. There has to be a way of stopping these users from their own stubborn stupidity, and I'm not a fan of blocking subnets of ISPs.
So, while furiously coding away and trying to think of nifty new features, cruinne was coming to me again and again asking for my opinion about "Maidens and Monsters" or "Family Love".
I've known for a long time that I've needed to be able to control who can host and participate in adult games, to date the only way to do this was to get each and every user to send me some form of identification, something I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear I wasn't prepared to do. I didn't want to take such measures so I could limit who had access to the adult games, but so I could limit who did not. Alas you cannot do one without the other.
So as cruinne came to me time and time again, and my heart sunk a little lower each time (and if you think I'm making that up for the sympathy vote; you're mistaken) I considered and reconsidered my options. The harshest of which was to remove adult completely, the least of which was to make it inaccessible to non-logged in users, neither of which struck me as suitable solutions, though I was more likely to implement the former.
It finally dawned on me that the subscription implementation was also the perfect opportunity to control access. Not the perfect way to, I know it's not, but it's an opportunity that I believe I'd be foolish to ignore. When it's all said and done people will suddenly behave because, surprise surprise, their money is on the line. Breach the ToU, I revoke your subscription, simple. No more of this endless chasing of users. People tend to be a lot more careful when money is at stake, and if they're not, we force their account back down to non-subscriber access.
If you can think of a better way of restricting access that does not require much work on my behalf (which this does not) then I'm all ears. But you better make sure it'll be as succinct as what I'm proposing otherwise you're wasting your breath..eerr, fingers.
Again, the change isn't out of any desire to see the death of adult games, though I believe the mature flag is going to seriously shrink the list as games relocate to their more appropriate category. I'm not stupid and I do realise that the change will cause some adult games to either have to change or go elsewhere, which is unfortunate; however the current increase in in-violation games was not going to suffice. Your admin and moderators were ready to thrown in the towel or go ballistic, and nobody wants that.
I'm not out "to get" adult RPers, but yes, you're right, you are paying for the violations of others (possibly even your own apathy and failure to report in-violation games). But that's the way society works, I know in Australia the blood-alcohol limit has been reduced because of drink driving, similarly there's double demerit points on public holidays. Maybe I'm a rarity but I don't bitch and whine about it, I might not like it but I recognise it for what it is, a change for the greater good.
Second to last, the misconception of "paying for adult" is exactly that, a misconception. I realise that if you don't care about extra features and just want access to adult it might seem that way, but the subscription is for the extra functionality. Subscription with or without adult is the exact same amount.
And to finish off, a few random facts you probably didn't realise or know;
If a user goes into a game they play in, they'll see the extra large scratchpad, for example.
If a user stops subscribing then they won't be able to upload the extra maps any more, and it'll detect the reduction in access and inform them that the maps have been removed.
If a previous subscriber goes into their double-size scratchpad, they won't be able to modify the contents until they've halved the text.
It's a bit hard to give specifics on how everything will work because, well, I haven't started coding it yet. I'm concentrating on 1.5 at the moment.
Similarly here, if the game walks the fine line you'll be given the benefit of the doubt (the first and possibly second time) and given the opportunity to modify your content. Do it repeatedly or go too far over the line your access will be revoked.
I know I shouldn't have needed to add in that last paragraph, but I get the feeling that some people seem to think I've suddenly gone all draconian.
admin, 1447 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Tue 3 May 2005
As for phasing out the adult availability to non-subscribers; I haven't worked out the finer details but first I'll wait for 1.5 and allow people to reclassify their games as they should be. I'd guess that a large majority of the games will be able to be moved back to their proper classification with the mature content flag set.
When subscription is implemented then adult will no longer be available as a game classification to select for new games, but the existing ones will be available.
There will then be a month or whatever period where a notice is displayed on the main menu and upon entrance to the adult game that states that the game will no longer be accessible unless the user subscribes.
The reply to "how will such and such be done" will always be "as nicely as possible".
Games have have always been, and will continue to be, able to move between categories.
Violence vs Sex:
RPoL is not my personal soap-box. I am not here to try and push my own political, sexual or any other kind of agenda. Nor is RPoL here to try and redress the issue. So you'll forgive me if RPoL maintains the "status quo". I'm sure some will disagree but I believe that if you think about it, RPoL pretty much allows the norm as far as violence goes however we're a bit more liberal with sexual content.
Also as far as arena games go (to pick on one type of game) they're not much orientated on plot, however the presence of arena games has not caused a flood of cold blooded murder games, nor has it caused an influx of hate-crimes games, or torture, racism, genocide or anything of the sort (all of which would be removed if discovered). However the addition of adult games has signalled to some users that they can start up incest, child molestation, etc games.
I haven't had to read a thread where one player kills another in cold blood and a all-too-gruesome detail. However I have had the misfortune of reading in detail about a man, his daughter and the family dogs... the contents being morally, ethically and just blatantly wrong.
And lastly, I haven't had a single complaint about a too-violent game, but I've lost count of the adult games. I'm perpetuating the seeds the users have sown.
Mature vs Adult:
admin, 1457 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Wed 4 May 2005
Advertising adult games:
Requesting adult access after the fact:
I'd like to say that people can change their mind and re-request access, but unfortunately probably not. They could, theoretically, send in a tiny donation on the same account and request access that way.
Promoting adult games to non-subscribers:
However it won't be blatantly obvious like it is at the moment. Consider this; if you visit RPoL for the first time you immediately see there's about 600 adult games. Within 60 seconds you can have a user account, within another 60 you can have an adult game. I've tried really hard to make RPoL easy to use but now I think it's just too easy, and at the end of the day it's the actions of the users who have sown the seeds of change. It's not fair that everyone pays for the actions of a few, but that's the way that the merry-go-round of life (and of a community) works.
admin, 1491 posts
Your caring dictator
Insert feature request
Thu 12 May 2005
Access to the adult games will still require subscription (with the following caveat).
Adult access can and will always be revoked on breach of the ToU, and still requires that the user be over 18 and the age of majority.
The proposed content rules are as follows:
Games may be rated either Adult or Mature to signal that they are not suitable for all ages.
Mature games are games which have, as some minor portion of them, sex, mature themes, strong language, drug use, and/or extensive violence. Mature games must use the Mature Content flag, and it's expected that very young players not be able to read or participate in Mature games (i.e., that these materials are kept in private groups only mature players may see).
Adult games are games which focus a part of their content on graphic sex, upon depicting graphic sex combined with other mature themes, or upon graphic and gratuitous violence. Though their story and plot may be very strong and elaborate, they focus on sex and/or gore in a way to which children and teens should not be exposed. Adult games will be restricted in access to subscribers who are (1) of the age of majority and (2) have specifically requested access to the Adult forums.
The difference between a Mature game and an Adult game is the descriptive level and the amount of mature content in the game. Games which focus exclusively on mature content for their plot or which are, in large part, dedicated to describing such content in graphic detail, will be restricted to the Adult forums only.
Even within the Adult forums, there are depictions which are considered to be outside the acceptable community standard and which are generally disallowed. If a game exists for the sole purpose of describing/playing out graphic sex in conjunction with crime, cruelty, or violence, it will not be permitted. Likewise, games are not allowed which exist for the sole purpose of the graphic depiction of: crime and gore; ethnic, religious, or racial intolerance; sexual assault; torture; dehumanising murder; or the abuse of children. The Artistic Merit caveat (below) exists to allow these materials as non-gratuitous plot and character development devices within game Content.
Games are not allowed to exist -- at all -- which graphically describe the taking of life for sexual arousal, incest, bestiality, necrophilia, sexual acts involving children under the age of 16, or the sexual exploitation of minors. The Artistic Merit clause (below) does not apply to this content.
Material which, alone, would offend the community standard may be permitted if it is required for the serious treatment of a game plot. This material must have a justifiable role in advancing the story and, considering the game in its entirety, must have a legitimate part.
Fantasy World Exclusions
Non-human characters are permitted in sexual situations in Adult games, but they must have sentience and the ability to communicate consent. Games set in a fantasy realm or historical era where the Restricted Content items (above) would be considered normal or acceptable may contain them, but in no circumstances will the graphic description of Prohibited Content be allowed.
Because sexual assault has been a historical consequence of violence, this section attempts to clarify what can often be a matter of contention. Games that exist for the sole purpose of the graphic depiction of sexual assault are strictly prohibited. The Artistic Merit clause applies to this within reason, such that it permits (within limited scope) scenes which are not the purpose of the game and which do not glamorise what is a tragic and brutal act.
If problems arise, Moderators will take a fair look at the game in question and take into account the primary GM's track record and the maturity shown by all involved, as well as the content and purpose of the game as a whole. Long-standing members of the RPOL community will generally have more benefit of the doubt than do new users. GMs are generally offered the chance to amend or adjust their games as necessary if they are found to be outside these rules. Where it is clear that the actions of a user have occurred without GM consent, action will only be taken against that user, rather than the other users in the game or the game as a whole.
For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:
I also wanted to take this opportunity to highlight something cruinne said elsewhere. Her words are worth repeating, smart cookie she is.
This message was last edited by admin at 00:18, Fri 13 May 2005.