VARSOON'S GUIDE TO MODDING

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Varsoon
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Joined: February 18, 2013
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:41 pm

INTRO
So, you want to moderate a game on this site? Cool.
Spoiler:
I hope it's rad. Here's the problem, though--there's a ton of guides to playing mafia, but not nearly so many for modding games.

I've decided to make this guide because I've been asked on a few occasions to write a guide and I've also seen plenty of games that are just absolute dumpster fires--I'm not even being entirely metaphorical here, mods have abandoned games I've followed and put literal flame symbols next to the thread title. If I can help folks avoid that scenario, even if it's just one mod or a scant few players, then this'll be worth the time it's taken to write this.

Anyway, I could drop all sorts of reasons why Mafiascum needs a good standard modding guide or why having some sort of golden standard to adhere to would be nice--I could also gloss poetic and slap you around with a bunch of rhetoric, but I'm here to teach you to mod a game and to do it well, so let's get down to basics. As a good heads up, this guide is intended to speak towards modding practices and etiquette for theme games, but most of this stuff is applicable to any game you design and/moderate.


CONCRETE BASICS
Here are some basics that every game should strive for--these are meant to be concrete practices that you can build into your moderating method.

1. Always have an informative opening post.
Spoiler:
This is something that's pretty unavoidable on the site, as you have to make a first post to even start a thread on-site. That said, your opening post should be informative; list the players alive, list the full playerlist, include the game title, etc. If you take a look at my games, you'll find that I often do an opening crawl with post 0 being the title of the game, a banner for the game, players in the game, players living, players dead (including how and when they died, such as lynch/kill), and modkills. I've also taken to editing this first post with a running list of links to important moments in the game, such as public abilities being used, votecounts, lynches, flips, etc. My second post is a dump of all the rules that will be in place for the game at hand, including public mechanics, game-specific rules, and the sample role PM. After this, I'll have a third post that includes opening flavor if necessary, and then I'll finish with the first votecount of the game.

2. Keep up with an easy-to-read Vote Count.
Spoiler:
Ideally, you should be posting a fresh vote-count every single page, but not many of us have that sort of capability. More realistically, try to get a votecount in at least once every five pages, and, if many players are voting within a small amount of posts, you can do so even sooner. This serves a few purposes: You'll stay engaged with the game because you're there constantly tallying up votes and posting new VC's; Players will know where votes are at most times; Players will have a strong sense that you are present and taking care of the game; You'll have a lower chance of missing something and making a mistake when tallying votes since you're doing with shorter amounts of posts to consider; and, finally, if your game features unique voting mechanics, frequent votecounts won't obscure those mechanics--there's a huge difference between a game with a VC every eight pages where a double voter voted one player then unvoted and no one discovered they are a double voter and one with a VC every other page that ends up showing that. I also specify here--make your VC easy to read and not too complex. Players need information from the VC in the most approachable way you can format it. I'll also post a VC at a player's request, as it's information players, ideally, should have at all times. Finally, try to get your VC to be the first post on each page (every 25th post), as it'll make for neater formatting, easier for players to find, and has the added benefit of letting you know if anyone's breaking some real big rules by deleting their posts. As another note, I tend to use VC's as means of updating players on little things or including reminders--like if I'll miss a few days, I include that at the bottom of my VCs or if a player is publicly unable to be lynched, I'll put that in there, so you VC can also serve as a running 'tracker' of public mechanics in play that players should be aware of.

3. Make Sure Public Mechanics Are Public.
Spoiler:
This is a bit of a catch-all, but make sure all of your players are absolutely aware of anything that's supposed to be public and global in your game. When your game starts, send the whole playerlist a game start PM with a link to the game page--I've played games where players are just supposed to divine that a game started without them, or where a mod sends a gamestart PM but has no link so you have to go searching through their topics created to find the game thread. When a player is lynched and the night phase begins, again, send a PM out to all living players indicating this. When day phase starts, again, send a PM out to all living players with a link to the day start post in your game thread. This all said, being public about your public mechanics isn't just sending PMs to people--it's making sure that these public mechanics are made clear in your game thread. I've seen plenty of themed games where a mod will make a flavor post about a player being affected by some power, and we were supposed to just divine what happened from the flavor. Don't do this. If you intend for any effect to be public, make very clear (I use boldface) that the effect is in place. Some games skirt this very awkwardly, such as flavoring third party kills not as a player being 'shot' but instead 'poisoned'. Again, if you want it to be clear that it was not a MAFIA KILL that killed the player, but something else, such as a poisoner or arsonist, make that as clear as you can for your players. This goes for all public mechanics--don't let a Gladiate shot just hang in the air; announce what is happening and make a new VC to reflect it.

4. Role Flips Should Be Info Flips.
Spoiler:
Another awkward trend I've seen is moderators not actually flipping the roles of lynched and dead players. I've seen everything from just writing the player was dead in a game that wasn't advertised as flipless to mods just revealing the flavor-name of a role and never telling players what the role actually did. Unless it's a critical feature of your game to obfuscate this sort of information, just be very clear with your role flips. I literally post the entire rolecard (redacting sensitive information such as links to private topics or names of scum partners) with a flip and I write out what the name of the player's role was as well as their alignment. Mafia is entirely a game of information, and denying this sort of information to your players will frustrate them and make them less able to play the game at hand due to a drought of information.

5. Ensure Your Game Is 'Mafia'.
Spoiler:
When you begin to get into very creative games of mafia, it can be easy to start to lose track of the core principles of what makes a game Mafia. There should always be a fair balance of an uninformed majority (town) versus some form of an informed minority (scum, cult, werewolves, third party, etc.) and the ratio should be about 1 informed to every 3 uninformed. If you're running a game advertised as a 'Mafia' game, make sure that it has, at the very least, one day phase where all living players can post and vote and a majority vote needs to be had in order to win the game. I've experimented with this a lot and I've found the easiest work-around for me is just to include special rules that say that any MYLO/LYLO in my games have all special voting rules and restrictions disabled. In this way, no matter what, there has to be at least one phase where town either gets a majority vote together to win or scum manages to get that vote elsewhere through rhetoric alone and not any special role or mechanical gimmick. If you want to run a game that deviates heavily from the core of what makes a game 'Mafia', that's fine, but advertise it as such and don't act as if it is a mafia game when it's in signups.


ABSTRACT BASICS
That's all good and cool, but there are some more abstract policies you should probably have under your belt, too. These aren't any sort of thing where you can easily check of a list, but instead serve as a general ethos to work towards.

1. Be Consistent.
Spoiler:
The worst offense a moderator can make is extreme inconsistency. Make sure all players get their PMs sent to them at the same time. Start your game days on the deadlines you set. If you won't be around for a deadline, let all of your players know via post in thread and PM. If you punish one player for a certain rules violation, make sure you don't give another player a pass for the same type of violation. Consistency, though, doesn't just mean to make sure your moderator posts and game running is the same throughout, but also that your game design and how much you reveal to players is consistent, too. For instance, I've seen games, where, when under pressure, the moderator has come out and explained how something worked when they should not have--their explanation of the mechanic wasn't in the original posts for the game, so getting it late gave an unfair advantage to players that had made it to that later play phase. For this reason, Consistency isn't just having a clear routine, but also standing by your own decisions and not buckling under player pressure to break your own established game. If you answer one person's question in-thread, be ready to do so for everyone's questions. If you are willing to give a player a private topic to write notes, make sure that offer is extended to all your players. If you deny anything to any one player at any time, don't revoke that denial. Last but not least, make sure your role PMs and any private messages you send, in general, follow a consistent formatting.

2. Avoid Bias.
Spoiler:
Don't make the mistake of wanting one side in your game to do well versus another side. Your goal is just to see your game run to its end, no matter what happens. It can be very easy, as a moderator, to try to give more information to a scum team or to any informed minority--avoid this. For some moderators, this may mean not talking to any players outside of purely game-related questions. I've seen games where players who ask the mod a lot of questions through PM get a ton of information they wouldn't have access to otherwise and this, too, is a form of bias. Avoid it.

3. Don't Alter the Game.
Spoiler:
Once everything is set and going, don't change anything about the game. This would be a concrete rule, but it dips into more abstract territory when you consider moderator communication with players--if you reply in a PT to a player with something that isn't just rules clarification or the answer to a justified mod question, you're altering the game. It may seem innocuous to post a response to someone's joke or to be chummy with your scumteam, but do your best to make your posts as removed from game alteration as possible. If this is a policy you have trouble upholding, then make it your policy not to ever post in thread unless it's a strictly game-related post. I find being thorough with rules and role PMs helps to cut down on this, as when a player asks me how their role functions or interacts, I can defer them to the rule/part of their role. Finally, and this is more of a personal thing, I don't post all the scum role PMs in the scum PT, solely because doing so alters the game and does not allow scum to hide certain features of their roles from each other. While I haven't designed a game where they would really want to, removing that option from players seems like an alteration that could be unwelcome. The other important facet of this rule is that you should do everything possible to keep the game running without needing a modkill on a slot or any other similar moderator action. A force-replacement on a slot is nearly always a better option for continuing a game than modkilling a slot. Just as much as a player can compromise a game by breaking certain rules, a mod, too, can alter their game beyond its originally intended play state by being too heavy-handed in their moderation.

4. Be Precise.
Spoiler:
Too often, mods use shorthand that can actually make the game experience altered for some players. For instance, let's say you tell a player they are a 'roleblocker'--what does this even mean? A quick check to the wiki can give some ideas, but a player should not have to go to any external source to figure out what their role in YOUR game does. Simply write out what the role's functionality is. Be clear about exactly what the role does, what its limits are, etc. I've played games where it wasn't clear if I was one use, one shot, or unlimited use. I've played games where I didn't know if I could submit one actions per night or multiple. Be clear about what players can and can't do in your public rules and role PMs. Furthermore, be precise in detailing any mod posts you make in the game--if it's supposed to be a certain player's effect that made something happen, spell that out clearly so everyone understands who did what and when it took effect.

5. Be Concise.
Spoiler:
This might come as a bit hypocritical given how long this guide is getting, but shoot for having shorter posts in your game. If you can simplify the wording on a role's ability or on your ruleset or in your flavor, chances are that players will understand it more and be more willing to actually read it. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your players. For that reason, I use spoiler tags like these when I make posts, so that players can access the more wordy information at their leisure. Using spoiler= tags also has the added benefit of not bloating the page, giving players less they have to scroll through when they are looking through the game.

6. Be Vigilant.
Spoiler:
You should always be trying to think of ways that a player might accidentally break your game wide open. Always double check a PM's recipients and contents before you send it. Mix up the order that you send out role PMs so players can't use the timestamps to identify when town got their PMs versus when scum got their PMs. When linking images, make sure that the player can't follow the image URL back to your photobucket or imgur folder and see the images you sent to everyone else. Make absolutely sure of your night actions and their resolutions before actually filling them out. There's a lot you can do here, but what I want to get mods to do is to stop making small mistakes that compromise their games. Constantly make sure you're not making a mistake and that no player is getting anything past you, even if that means checking the exif data on pictures they post to ensure they're not encrypting messages.


GAME DESIGN BASICS
Now, most of this has been meant to inform how to run a game, but there's some advice I'd like to give for designing games, as well.

1. Give Every Player Agency.
Spoiler:
A huge problem that some games have is that players can start to feel like they have no way of affecting the outcome of the game. This turns to players dropping out, lurking, and deferring to peers that seem more in the know. As a game designer, you can avoid a lot of this by simply making sure every player has some level of control over the game. The most simple thing is ensuring that town players can always vote for a lynch or something like it. While rare, I've seen some games where day phases did not result in a lynch, either due to design or capacity to avoid a lynch--this is absolutely detrimental to the gamestate and can result in a lot of player frustration. Make sure players are getting a steady stream of information (either via lynches/kills or some other source that they feel they actually can exhibit control over). It's for this reason that I will often design games where scum has to kill a player every night and town has to lynch a player each day. More on that later. For now, though, there's a lot that you can do to give players agency, and I often try to encourage mods to create some 'extra' mechanic in their games in order to give every player a little something beyond just votes to influence. If you look at games that regularly get nominated for scummies on this site, you'll see many of them feature public mechanics of some sort. I've given every player the ability to create private topics with each other, for instance, or given them a separate vote they could conduct that would enable certain public effects to happen. The goal is that you end up with a game where even someone with a fairly vanilla role still feels like they can do something. Another big thing is that there are roles the remove agency and encourage agency--I tend to love roles like neighborizer because it encourages a player to find someone else to privately chat with for whatever reason, which can help them gain information or exert more control via rhetoric alone. I tend to dislike roles like cop, because a cop result (innocent OR guilty) removes a lot of the critical decision making from the hands of all players but the cop itself. Finally, like I said before, I try to ensure at least one phase of my game always has players voting for a lynch with no other mechanics influencing that vote. Finally, make sure that powerful roles are spread evenly enough so that it doesn't feel like a handful of players have all the influence over the game while relatively vanilla players fall by the wayside.

2. Ensure Balance Between 'Clears' and Mafia.
Spoiler:
A lot of roles can provide either hard mod-confirmed clearing on a player (innocents/guilties) or circumstantial enough evidence to clear or condemn a player (successful doctor shot blocked the Night Kill). It is important to balance the amount of clears you have in a game with the amount of Mafia players in the game. You should NEVER allow town to clear equal to or more players than the scum team. It's nearly impossible for a 3 player scumteam to win against a town that has 3 or more confirmed townies. Given how much the site meta trends towards players putting a lot of trust into roles, roleclaims, and occam's razor when it comes to role results,
unless you design a game specifically to trip up these investigative kinds of abilities, including them, even if they only 'soft' clear a player, will essentially make those players hard-confirmed as town. By the same right,
you likely want to avoid any scenario in which enough guilties could just out the whole mafia team. At that point, sure, it's cool that the vigilante or the cop shot right every time, but it's not fun for the dozen or so other players who just wanted to play a game of rhetoric and not have it thrown out the window because you included a role that could circumvent actually having to play your game. Balance your roles accordingly. Don't include hard mechanical clears, if you can avoid it, unless your game, by design, needs to have those in it. Always consider this as the most important 'balance' of town power versus scum power.

3. Check Your Setup.
Spoiler:
Before you run your setup, make sure that you go through literally every role interaction possible in your setup and that you understand the outcomes of them all. The last thing you want is for something to happen that you did not expect, which leads to an overwhelming lead for one team or another. This is why having someone else take a look at your setup can be a great idea, as a second pair of eyes can usually spot something you may have missed in your role interactions or wording of role PMs.

4. Balance Against Swing.
Spoiler:
'Swing' refers to the way in which a setup can become very tilted in the favor of one team or another based on certain lynches, kills, or other role interactions. Swingy setups can be fun, but, as we went over before,
consistency will result in a better experience for more players. Furthermore, as mod, if your setup swings too hard in favor of one team, it's practically as though the rest of your design didn't matter and you shouldn't have run the thing in the first place if it'd just result in strong imbalance one way or the other. For this reason, avoid stacking too much power in any one role. Don't build scumteams around a 'leader' type role. If you want to give a powerful role to a player and have it be a part of the setup, consider making another player be the 'backup' to that role, inheriting it when the original owner dies. Always spend a good deal of time looking at your setup and thinking about how unfair it'd be for one team if a certain role was eliminated early or never got the result they needed for their role to 'function', etc. It's for this reason I try to avoid high-swing mechanics like extra kills,
doctors, cops, etc. Ideally, if your game is ensured to always just be 1 lynch a day, one kill a night, you're at least building a less swingy setup from out the gate.

5. Players Come First.
Spoiler:
With every element of your game design, always ask if what you are including is something that will drive player enjoyment. Will a scum Dayvig make the game more fun at the cost of the fact it will result in a townie dying without even possibly having a chance to play the game? Too often, I'll see moderators design a setup that would be fun to observe if you knew all the moving parts, but they've failed to consider the position of the individual player. This is why I tend to run role madness games or games with a central mechanic--I want every player to have multiple mechanics that are driving them to engage with and have fun with the game, and I try to design mechanics that don't get to just eliminate other people's enjoyment outright. Again, you're not designing something for yourself to watch or for a scum team to plot against a handful of informed townies--you're making a game for every player who has signed up.


THEME DESIGN BASICS
This section dips even further into my person moderator ethos, so take this or leave it, but these are suggestions I find myself giving people time and time again when they ask for help designing their theme games.

1. Build Around The Theme.
Spoiler:
The theme should come first and foremost in your THEME game. Many mods make the mistake of trying to design a game of mafia, then throwing a theme over it like they're tricking someone. If you want to run a normal closed setup, there are queues for that. Theme games allow you to build entirely original mechanics and roles to render a theme into mafia mechanics. My advice is often this; Find the most central, important thing about the theme you are considering. Incorporate this facet of the theme into a mechanic that influences every player's role. So, for instance, you could build the game around a public mechanic that is derived from that important thematic element. Alternatively, you could design each role to have some sort of reflection of that thematic element within their role. Whatever it is, make sure that this 'theme' element is present and apparent to all your players.

2. Don't Let Flavor Break the Game of Mafia.
Spoiler:
Your players, first and foremost, want to play mafia. Don't let the theme allow some theme-savvy players to get an unfair advantage on other players. Always try to craft unique roles that aren't just obviously what a character from the theme chosen would have. One of the most important things you can do is design safe fake claims. This can be tricky with some theme setups, but it's always something you must do as a mod, because the last thing you want is someone clearing another player because they claim a certain character or their abilities match a certain villain or whatever it may be. Give every anti-town player a flavor claim that won't get them killed, and don't just make all of the protagonists of your theme the power roles. In short, don't allow the basic dynamics of the theme you chose to determine the balance of power in your game. Just because something makes sense to be powerful or have a certain ability from your theme does not mean you should always render it as such. Some of my favorite moderators have commonly made the main protagonist of a theme be a fakeclaim or even a scum role. The trick is to play around with this and never fall into a distinct moderator meta. I've had some degree of luck even just giving all the players 'flavorless' role PMs, with their flavor being revealed upon flip.

3. Be Flavorful!!
Spoiler:
I've played so many theme games where the theme doesn't seem to matter. I wrote earlier that your game shouldn't just be a normal closed setup 'flavored' as a theme game, but this goes beyond that. Write flavor posts for the kills and lynches, even if it's something minimal. Include pictures in role PMs! Link to scenes from the theme or music! Include quotes on your votecounts! Whatever you do, have fun with it, and make the theme apparent. As much as people are signing up for a MAFIA game, they are still coming to the theme game queue for a THEME game, so try to deliver on that.

4. Don't Let Theme Ruin Balance.
Spoiler:
Aaaand at the end of the day, you're still building a mafia game. Have as much fun as you can designing unique mechanics and roles, but make sure your game still adheres to those earlier rules--is your game still 'mafia'? Is it still balanced against swing? Make sure, at its heart, your game is still a mafia game that people can engage with and enjoy beyond all the theme mechanics you design.


MISCELLANEOUS
Here are some smaller tidbits of advice I've picked up since I've begun modding.
Spoiler:
Many players play on phones--don't make anything that can't show up on a phone.
If you're going to include text in an image, ALWAYS have a text version for people who can't view the image.
Discourage players from posting game-content related recordings of audio or video; it's hosted on external servers and provides an unfair advantage in the forum-based game.
Don't use colors that show up poorly on MafBlack or MafSilver settings.
Always provide Hydras with a PT for their heads to chat in and list all members of the hydra in your playerlist.
Don't run multiball setups unless you can actually balance against the swing of a multiball setup.
You can't balance the swing of a multiball setup.
Don't ever allow a player to amass enough extra voting power that they + the scumteam can lynch anyone else. This is why you disable extra vote mechanics in LYLO/MYLO.
Don't be draconic in your moderation, but also don't let rules offenses go by without some warning.
Don't enforce blacklist/Wisdom of the XXX unless you're ready to compromise your unbiased position for people who are generally not the kinds of folks that are pleasant to play with anyway. Players who are truly disruptive to games catch bans for a reason and the banlist should be the only policy you really need to enforce.
Don't sweat it if your game goes awfully or people are complaining while it's running. Learn what they didn't like and debrief once the game is over. Build a better setup next time.
Always debrief your game, make public all the PTs, post all the night actions, etc.
Keep a moderator PT going where you can keep track of actions and record them as they are submitted.
Don't delete a player's post unless it's an absolute rules violation and you must.
Last edited by Varsoon on Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Alisae
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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:46 pm

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:This is something that's pretty unavoidable on the site, as you have to make a first post to even start a thread on-site. That said, your opening post should be informative; list the players alive, list the full playerlist, include the game title, etc. If you take a look at my games, you'll find that I often do an opening crawl with post 0 being the title of the game, a banner for the game, players in the game, players living, players dead (including how and when they died, such as lynch/kill), and modkills. I've also taken to editing this first post with a running list of links to important moments in the game, such as public abilities being used, votecounts, lynches, flips, etc. My second post is a dump of all the rules that will be in place for the game at hand, including public mechanics, game-specific rules, and the sample role PM. After this, I'll have a third post that includes opening flavor if necessary, and then I'll finish with the first votecount of the game.
I wrote a post about this
Feel free to approach me on discord: Alisae#2822
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Varsoon
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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:54 pm

I saw that!
I think it's a pretty nifty guide you have. A quality first post can really help a game run much smoother.
It's really nice to have all your generic rules in a first post so no one has to assume anything and there's no 'tricks' or anything of the like.
It's great when a player brings up some question and OTHER PLAYERS just quote the firstpost to answer them and you can sit back and laugh because you got the bases covered.

Alisae
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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:00 pm

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Too often, mods use shorthand that can actually make the game experience altered for some players. For instance, let's say you tell a player they are a 'roleblocker'--what does this even mean? A quick check to the wiki can give some ideas, but a player should not have to go to any external source to figure out what their role in YOUR game does. Simply write out what the role's functionality is. Be clear about exactly what the role does, what its limits are, etc. I've played games where it wasn't clear if I was one use, one shot, or unlimited use. I've played games where I didn't know if I could submit one actions per night or multiple. Be clear about what players can and can't do in your public rules and role PMs. Furthermore, be precise in detailing any mod posts you make in the game--if it's supposed to be a certain player's effect that made something happen, spell that out clearly so everyone understands who did what and when it took effect.
lol beneath the mask.
Also you forgot something thats VERY important and VERY game altering.
In post 11, mastina wrote:This is my thread!

The thing about it is that wording of your role PMs is important. A one-phrase difference CAN in fact make the difference between how a role functions. Roleblockers causing an action to fail should (in my personal view) cause X-shot roles to be expended (it is attempted, but FAILS), and maybe for trackers to still see the blocked player visiting (YMMV on that aspect); roleblockers causing an action to be PREVENTED should (in my personal view) cause X-shot roles to be refunded (because they are prevented from ever having used the shot), and also cause trackers not to see the blocked player visiting.

A bodyguard specifying they will die if their target is attacked will supersede a doctor protecting the same target (thus, BG dies); a bodyguard specifying they will die if their target were to die will have the doctor protection applied first.

A doctor specifying that they will prevent their target from being killed is capable of saving a bodyguard who protects the nightkill; a doctor specifying that they stop a nightkill from going through on their target cannot save a bodyguard who protects the nightkill because the cause of the bodyguard's death is not a nightkill and thus cannot be stopped. (This is a neat little trick I picked up which allows you to write both a Doctor and a Bodyguard into a setup WITHOUT allowing a protection loop to form and WITHOUT the macho modifier.)

An X-shot bulletproof specifying that their vest is used up preventing the nightkill will lose a vest even if protected by a protective PR because they burn the vest before the protection (NOTE: in this case, just in case, best to word the protective PR as specifying they prevent death; see above for why); An X-shot bulletproof specifying that their vest is used up when they would die will keep their vest if protected (NOTE: again, in this case, best to word the protective PR as specifying they prevent the nightkill).

I can think of more examples than that.

In other words.

Wording is not mere semantics. It makes a difference in the fundamental nature of how the role functions. Sometimes, you can run into situations where the wording of roles conflicts. For instance, above I recommended that if you have an X-shot bulletproof, for it to use the opposite wording of the protective (if protective says nightkill, bulletproof says death; if protective says death, bulletproof says nightkill), because if both say the same thing, you run into a conflict: if a doctor says they prevent the nightkill, and the bulletproof also says it activates to prevent a nightkill, which prevention applies?; if a doctor says they prevent death yet the bulletproof says it activates to prevent death, which prevention applies?

In this case, I personally resolve things going into the NAR list.

That being, "what resolves first?" and "what resolves last?". Passives you can make an argument for resolving either absolutely first or absolutely last but must be one of the two. (I lean the latter.) But mostly, you just follow along.
This is something I always consider to a degree in my games since it can help balance out some stuff in a way.
May or may not be relevant, but this was something I heavily considered when designing Jill and her interactions with Dorothy. Not the most well balanced setup, but the wording on Jill's Macho balanced out an interaction between these two roles.
Feel free to approach me on discord: Alisae#2822
Join my Snekky Discord to keep up with what I'm modding ;D
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Varsoon
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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:07 pm

I just entirely avoid using shorthand if I can. In being precise with your language, your role PMs shouldn't mislead a player about when their ability resolves and what it does, and if they are at a loss, you should always be capable of answering them if they ask.

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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:12 pm

I am a stupid loser who has nothing of value to add to this thread but I want to post in it anyway.
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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:13 pm

gj 'soon
#banallhydras

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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:15 pm

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:You should NEVER allow town to clear equal to or more players than the scum team.


I think an important clarification is needed here: "at the same time, especially lategame". Clearing 3 players over the course of the game in a typical 10:3 is not only not harmful, it's about the expected number (or even a little less than the expected number) for a game to be balanced.

However, the reason that this is balanced is that if a player is cleared enough, scum can normally just kill them before town get more clears and dominate the game. Having a number of clears exceeding the number of scum at lylo is an obvious, and not very interesting, town victory. If you're running a 10:3 and three of your players are intended to be cleared by night mechanics, you should make those clears happen in different ways at different times, so that by the time the game reaches, say, a 3:2 ending, there's only one fully cleared and one circumstantially cleared player left.

Also bear in mind that players can be cleared by setup speculation too. I normally aim for about one player cleared by setup speculation and three cleared by role mechanics when I'm balancing a 10:3. (This might seem massively townsided to players who aren't used to balancing setups, but experience shows that something like that is necessary.)
scum · scam · seam · team · term · tern · torn · town

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Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:19 pm

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Don't run multiball setups unless you can actually balance against the swing of a multiball setup.
You can't balance the swing of a multiball setup.


:thinking:
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Post Post #9  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:40 pm

Varsoon, you misuse dearth in your post. <3 Perhap "deluge" instead? :D

pedit: beeboy, Varsoon hates multiball. Everytime he's ran anything remotely multiball like it's purely as a test to try to make a multiball game balanced....and none of his attempts have completely worked. :P
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https://forum.mafiascum.net/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=78521&p=10688009#p10688009

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Post Post #10  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:42 pm

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Include pictures in role PMs! Link to scenes from the theme or music!
Disagree with including pictures in your role pms.
I mean, if you're cheeky enough, you can get away with not putting pictures in your game.
If you present the text in a way that looks appealing just by how it looks, then thats perfectly acceptable instead of picture.
A game that does this really well is the Chose Your Side games ran by SaintKerrigan and AlmasterGM.
Not to mention, there's also the Dramonic approach to making your role pms where you just make the role pm an image.

tbh I don't link scenes or music or put little quotes in my votecounts (mostly because I don't like the appeal of them) enough. I should probably do it, but then I realize I run out of material LOL.

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Many players play on phones--don't make anything that can't show up on a phone.
Alternative: Provide something that IS mobile friendly, or test it on your mobile device to see if it works.

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Don't run multiball setups unless you can actually balance against the swing of a multiball setup.
You can't balance the swing of a multiball setup.
HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

In post 0, Varsoon wrote:Keep a moderator PT going where you can keep track of actions and record them as they are submitted.
I actually disagree with the bolded. The bolded is how I fucked up Beneath The Mask.
Mod PT is fine for normal games or extremely simpler games.
An alternative, that allows you to do more then what a mod pt will ever allow you to do, is the usage of a Spreadsheet, where you have a page for each night, and other pages for like a general overview of the whole game (like who has what role, who is alive, their flavor, etc), but also allows you to have more pages if you absolutely need it. Which for Theme games, you don't really know what you end up designing at the end of the day.
I've seen this done for This game here. And effectively tried out for this game (The spreadsheet wasn't really made to look aestheicly pleasing here) and A game of Regfan's Its an Owner's Market I ran on a different site.

Like for example, a game like Beneath The Mask, where roles have a lot too them, you're going to forget somethings. A setup like that is extremely hard to not fuck up.
But its possible, and what you can do is limit the amount of fuckups you do have.
A spreadsheet helps this.
There's also the alternative of being sane and not designing a game like Beneath The Mask in the first place :P
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Post Post #11  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:45 pm

Overall,
Good guide.
Would highly recomend.

I would kinda like to see our modfather break down some games that weren't ran by him (or were because our modfather loves himself more then anyone else) that he thinks were well made, as well as some games that weren't well made so others could get a good understanding of some of what our Modfather is saying in practice :)
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Post Post #12  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:47 pm

In post 9, Cerberus v666 wrote:Varsoon, you misuse dearth in your post. <3 Perhap "deluge" instead? :D

pedit: beeboy, Varsoon hates multiball. Everytime he's ran anything remotely multiball like it's purely as a test to try to make a multiball game balanced....and none of his attempts have completely worked. :P


D'oh. That sentence got mangled 'cus it was originally written a different way.

All solid responses, Alibae.

@Callforjudgment: It's reasonable that people will be cleared across the course of the game, but I even hold that, mechanically, the clears shouldn't outpace what scum can reasonably kill.

P-EDIT: <3
I've tended to enjoy any game Mastina, Cabd, FakeGod, GuyInFreezer, and Borkjerfkin have run.
As for games that flounder, just go looking for anything that hasn't been run to completion.
Last edited by Varsoon on Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Post #13  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:51 pm

In post 12, Varsoon wrote:Cabd
-insert snarky comment about Midscummer's and Deathworlders-
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Post Post #14  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:28 pm

Read every word--I agree with most of it though if I were to scrutinize it I could find points of disagreement.

Overall very solid guide.

I would like to say though that as a moderator, objectively speaking, I fail on many of the metrics that Varsoon listed so am probably not the best example for him to actually use. :P
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Post Post #15  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:28 pm

This seems good, thanks Varsoon. I do have a death note setup that's been in a word document somewhere. I'll keep this in mind.

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Post Post #16  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:40 pm

<3 und <3
Yeah, I don't expect people to agree with everything--part of what makes modding games fun is that you CAN do your own thing; this should just serve as a reflection of what I've learned has worked best for me.

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Post Post #17  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:45 pm

Alisae: I agree only in the case of a simple game, or at least an unflavored game. For a game with flavor (especially heavy flavor), I'd think picture plus nice looking text would help to give immersion.

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Post Post #18  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:50 pm

In post 17, Ranmaru wrote:For a game with flavor (especially heavy flavor), I'd think picture plus nice looking text would help to give immersion.
Good luck making that.
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Post Post #19  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:53 pm

Is it a hard thing to do on Mafia Scum?

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Post Post #20  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:55 pm

Bookmarking this - ahem posting a reply - so that I can come back to this at a later point!

Thanks Varsoon!
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Post Post #21  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:01 pm

In post 19, Ranmaru wrote:Is it a hard thing to do on Mafia Scum?


As a mod who's run multiple games where I've tried this, you have to give players a text only option because many can't read the images on their phones or in some other cases.
Plus, people tend to want a text version of their roles and other text--I used tables in a few games and had to render text-only versions of the tables because they wouldn't fit on smaller resolution screens.
All in all, every time I make image-only rolecards, I always curse myself over and over and tell myself I'll never do it again, even though it looked great in my Final Fantasy Tactics game.

In post 20, AnonymousGhost wrote:Bookmarking this - ahem posting a reply - so that I can come back to this at a later point!

Thanks Varsoon!


<3
I hope it helps ya out!

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Post Post #22  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:24 pm

What does Varsoon think of Serial Killers and why does he hate them?
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Post Post #23  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:26 pm

I had 'em, kinda, in my SaGa Frontier game. Tried two different 'takes' on it, one being an SK that treestumped people.
I think that any sort of survivor-style role is kind of a pain in the ass and awful for the swing of the game if they can be killed.
I don't know that I've seen any implementation of the role that I've liked and whenever I see a serial killer win, I feel like it's kind of lame.

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Post Post #24  (ISO)  » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:28 pm

Alright thanks Varsoon, good to know!

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