Large Social Games and Mish Mash General Update

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Cephrir
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:29 pm

Hey all, it's been a while since we've had one of these, and since we have a new listmod, now seemed as good a time as any to give a general update and check in.

It's been a very slow year for large social games, which given everything is to be expected. We thank everyone for running the games they have this year. Of the games we've had, all 6 had a mod that ran at least 2 if not 3 of the others. The small pool of mods is a bit of a problem, and not one we're certain how to fix other than modding even more games ourselves. So we would like to put it to you the community, how would you suggest we can fix this problem of a low modding pool?

We have heard a few suggestions already. Some of these are:

-Keeping an updated list in the OP of the Theme Market that includes everyone who is interested in comodding a game but may not want to or feel confident in doing all parts of the job. For example, some folks who are willing to do art and other assets but that's all they can contribute, or people who are interested in design but not able for whatever reason to run a game themselves, or who just want to be a part of the actual running of a game. This is a suggestion we're likely going to implement, and keep an eye out for a thread announcing this change or how to join any of the lists.

-Having a second queue which is geared towards non-anons or more challenge-oriented games that doesn't need to wait for the bigger LSG queue proper. While we like this idea and it's absolutely one we intend to consider, we still need to have games to fill it. If there's a lack of interest in this, it might not help resolve the problem.

-Because everything that goes into modding a game sounds incredibly intimidating for someone to just jump into, and some of what is daunting is all that goes into the permissions for running and creating a board and that the forum creation guide is out of date since Zetaboards no longer exists- Our very own CreativeMod1 has been working on a spreadsheet to automate a lot of the process. A similar one was used by the PCW mod team and he was working on expanding it to include Simple Machines should we ever be able to figure out how those work well enough to hand out boards that are hosted through MS. You can find it here! But this spreadsheet aside, are there other resources that could help games get designed or actually finished rather than remaining in queue limbo?

On the playerbase front, we are doing well, but could do better at preparing our newbies on what LSGs are and how to succeed in them. Silverclaw has been working on updating the Large Social Game glossary on the wiki with a lot of terms we use regularly (and is always looking for more suggestions). The newbie guide as we have has always been a good resource, and when he ran his recent non-anon, zoraster wrote up a really good quick and dirty guide post on playing. But are there other things we don't already have which could help more and make first games more enjoyable, and games in general more enjoyable? The resources we currently have are here

After Flash Mob, there will be a delay in any game running until after the holidays. Barely Survivor Survivor is slated to finish design work and be set to run very soon after New Year's, and with luck Pantheon will be prepared to run afterwards. So if you have a game already in Milestone 1 in queue, now is absolutely the time to put work in. If you've been working on something and you aren't in the queue yet, definitely join it! If you weren't sure that you'd have a chance to run your project for a long time, that is not a worry you need to have.

We have the Anonymous Character Poll coming up here soon too. A lot of the previous games of the year can already be voted on if you haven't already, and CaptainMeme and Malkon05 are hard at work planning for the ceremony when they release it, likely in mid-January.

Silverclaw has also revived the Crazy Scores system for players in LSGs. Unlike ELOs, it judges players according to voting records. We haven't seen these in a couple years so we're happy to see them make a return. VashtaNeurotic also took over updating ELOs for games from CC this past year so we'll also have those stats around too.

And that's where we're at currently. Please give us your input on the above ideas, what you would like to see, and any problems that we're not seeing and could be improved. Thank you for playing and running games and being part of this community, it couldn't run without you.

Mish Mash:

Since we're doing a Large Social Games update (which you can find above), we wanted to give an update on Mish Mash as well. You all have been killing it on the running games front. This is the most continually active with new games this section being in a long while, and it's all thanks to you all. We have no real concerns at this time, but would like to take the time to ask you all if there's anything you think we need over here aside from continual updating of the Ongoing Games OP (which xofelf will update soon). I would ask that if there's ever any concerns or problems you remember that we, the listmods, are here for you to contact at any time, so please do :) If threads should be archived or removed from the Ongoing Games list, do let us know as well. Thank you all for playing and running games and we hope you continue to do so and have fun. If you're looking for a game to join in on, Codenames and Identity Reboot can always use more involvement.

~The Mish Mods
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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:30 pm

And that's my cue to go update the Mish Mash games list.
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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Fri Dec 04, 2020 2:57 pm

Oh man I have thoughts but they will have to wait until after work. I'm more excited to see this already!
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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:12 pm

Alright, let's get this show on the road huh? I'm going to tackle the player retention and lack of moderator issues in this post because I feel like that's where we should start. I'll be throwing everything into relevant spoiler tags so the post doesn't go on forever, but I will include a quick tl;dr on the end.

But before I get into that, I'd like to thank the mods for the shoutouts to the people who are doing stuff (myself included!) because it's always great to get credit for stuff, and I do feel like these "state of the queue" posts should probably be happening on a year if they don't already, and December's a great time to do that anyway! Although the glossary has been complete for some time, really. I haven't had anyone tell me I'm missing terms in a while [but I sure have thought I missed them!]

---
Spoiler: Newbie Retention
From what I understand, the problem with newbie retention has two factors:

1) Truly new players are fairly likely to not know what they're getting into, causing them to either flake out or be the designated "flake boot"
2) New players that do know what they're getting into being overwhelmed due to the sheer amount of everything going on.

Starting with the first problem, there is an easy solution - if we can make sure that all accepted applications are sent out with a few days to spare, and in those PMs, we link to EVERY RELEVANT RESOURCE for new players (the glossary, the new player's guide, the ability to have a discord chat with the mods for when issues arise, etc), this gives them a few days to prepare by reading the relevant resources that have been sent to them. The sheer fact that there will be multiple resources sent to them can help clue in new players that this isn't something they can spend 10 minutes on and just let sit.

I'd also like to bring up the application as another potential sore spot that may be something we can fix a bit. There is space in the application to not just ask if the player will be MIA (ex. on vacation or w/e), but will have trouble being on the site every day for socialization and challenge purposes. This will be a more overt "HEY YOU ARE EXPECTED TO EXIST" message that may help with expectations - because I believe the issue is in expectations. New players that expect it to be a chill ride that they don't have to do much intend to get obliterated and don't come back - new players that jump in whole hog or have read up on the new player's guide have a much better start and are much more likely to stick around.

In regards to new players potentially getting overwhelmed, this is something I think feeds into the expectations issue I wrote about above, and something I would like to fix via a redo of the new player's guide to include a section on expectations, but this is a bit down the road because I don't have quite all the knowledge I'd like before I consider a redo of the guide quite yet.

I'll throw a quick mention to survivor games meant for new players, but I think that the biggest benefactors will not be people who are new, but people who haven't played much/got very far. So that's a tradeoff worth mentioning.


TL;DR: I feel that new players' expectations are not in the right spot, and this is mostly due to the fact that our applications and acceptance PMs could be way better suited to making sure new players know what they're getting in to.

---
I'm going to sort the moderation issue into short-term, mid-term, and long-term solutions sections because they have very different answers and I'm pretty sure people will not like some of my answers but may need the harsh medicine.

Spoiler: Lack of Moderation, Short Term
Speaking of thing people will not like hearing me say, let's just rip the bandage off:

Perfect is the enemy of good. The only viable answer to making sure that the games in the queue get finished is that everyone stops sitting on their game ideas for half a year or longer and puts in the work to finish it. Barely Survivor is almost done and I completed the game in about two weeks' time, as a game that will more than likely receive a Complex rating from Monty. Will it be perfect? No, but no game will be. Am I leaning into that a bit on the flavour? Yes, because I'm purposefully running a game that's silly and just fun. If I picked a proper theme I could have just as easily completed the game within this timespan because I purposefully went slow on my challenge writeups. The only way that games will be run is that they get finished. And I'm obviously willing to fill spots in the queue when I get an idea, but I don't want to sit here and fill spot after spot after spot like I have in the past.

To end this off on a positive note, I'm pleasantly surprised by this community in many ways - game quality is just higher things, in general, seem to be running smoothly, the whole works. So don't take this as me hating everything.


TL;DR: I'm generally impressed with the community and moderation of games since my return, but games need to be completed in the short term before we can fix the issue properly and I do believe that people can [and honestly should] put the speed on to make it happen. I'll be creating games like this every so often, but don't expect me to fill space on demand because it's not happening.

Spoiler: Lack of Moderation, Mid Term
I think that the moderation interest list is a great start and is something I personally suggested in the List Mod application, so big thumbs up there. I do believe we can go a step beyond this by having list mods play matchmaker with the interest queue, as I'm going to call it. If our talented mods are willing to step into the interest queue every so often instead of just running another game with the people they tend to mod with, we can get entirely new games by having new and old mods matched together! This will give us many new kinds of games that we probably haven't seen yet.

I'd also like to make a recommendation to mods that they do their best to get a new mod on the project every time they physically can. Older, veteran moderators are a great source of knowledge when it comes to making these and that's really the only way to make sure new mods know what to do is by sending them through the process with a veteran who can guide them. The proper solution to the moderator issue we currently have is to get new mods modding games - which we have plenty of new mods who want to start, which I only learned of via talking to NAJON, and then xof, who confirmed that they has a list of new people who want to mod games with her. Let's get this new blood people!


TL;DR The interest queue is a good idea, but we can go farther by matchmaking people together when possible. Also, veteran moderators should be looking to onboard new mods whenever possible so they can start to host games on their own. The only way out of a moderation drought is to onboard new mods, which we are NOT in short supply of.

Spoiler: Lack of Moderation, Long Term
I'll be honest, I'm not sure what to do here much. If veteran moderators are onboarding new moderators, we shouldn't have a long term issue. By the time the new mods host a game or two, they'll know the basics and how to handle things to the point they can start creating their own games and looking for co-mods if desired.

My only real question is, in the long term, how do we make sure this is an issue like this doesn't happen again? The only answer I can think of is by rewarding people who create games somehow, but there won't be a one size fits all answer to rewards and I'm hesitant to suggest anything in particular because I may be on the wrong track here.


TL;DR The fog of the future is unclear, if veterans are onboarding new mods enough the issue won't be "how do we get new mods" but "how do we keep the mods we have?" which is a different discussion.
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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:13 pm

So there's a larger issue to your questions regarding the lack of running games. Being a moderator is an incredibly thankless job. Given that I hosted my first game this year, Hybrid, people were incredibly quick to point out everything wrong, or how they'd do it better, or what they would do instead. The fact of the matter is that I ran 1/2 of the games this year and I love moderating. It's a lot of fun and I have a creative outlet that I would not otherwise have and it's been really good and empowering for me to even want to come out of my shell to make posts like this where I feel confident in what I am saying.

For me: I am not motivated by anything other than my love of Mish Mash, so regardless of whether I am thanked or whether I am hated, I love Mish Mash and I love hosting games as a whole. I've grown up a lot and recognized things that I'm not necessarily good at and how much I've improved as both a player and a person from hosting. Plus, in the months after my surgery it gave me a sense of purpose again which was fulfilling.

I cannot say the same for some of my cohosts. Creativemod1 made a post earlier this year regarding treating the mods like crap and it started with the first game I hosted. The players and even spectators got so bad and unforgiving to a team of 1st time LSG mods and a 1st time listmod that people had to intervene and say "hey go easy it's their first game." People have such an expectation of what games are supposed to be on LSG and that's because we have run a fantastic string of games in the past. The fact of the matter is that no one told me how to be a mod, no one helped me learn how to be a mod, and no one reached out to moderate with me to show me the ropes. I had to do all of that learning on my own. And yes, so did the first mods ever, I'll conceded the "Caveman Analogy". But the fact is that we have an entire database of amazing moderators who could have helped prepare a team of new moderators for everything they were about to face.

There are people I have hosted with this year, who don't want to host anymore because of how the players/spectators criticized months and months of labor. I have four immediate thoughts, but THIS IS A PROBLEM and its not a problem to just mass produce games and get people to do it, it's a problem at an even deeper level. It's taking someone's "child" so to speak and telling it that it's ugly and not perfect because maybe a couple details aren't great or aren't perfect.

I have some additional follow up on this item.

1. The moderator guides that have been created in the last few months are instrumental in the building blocks for more successful games going forward. I would suggest as a follow up, maybe we reach out to hosts of old and compile a list of their experiences (favorite moments, good things to know before moderating, things that were big learning moments, etc.). It shouldn't just be about getting player feedback, it should be about getting moderator feedback. Then, compiling this feedback from past moderators, we make a "first time modding? Here are some FAQs from past moderators you should know before dipping your toes in the water." I'm not saying this is a fix all solution, but having a working database going forward as a foundation for future moderators would be super useful and honestly? I could have really used it this year when I first started because it was extremely disheartening to have months and months of my life torn to shreds because I felt like I was thrown into the deep end of a pool and told to swim for the first time.

2. Idea generation can be kind of tricky. It's very very difficult to know what themes people will gravitate towards and what themes people won't gravitate towards. I think we as a community do such a variety of games that WE would think is fun that some times we put our blinders on to what would be fun for others. The amount of times I've had people put "idk the theme just pick for me." is something I've identified in hosting so many games this year, of what I would consider a very varied range of themes (ran movie series game, a video game game, and mafia style game). What I think could be interesting would be to do a "theme idea box". Because what people could do is throw ideas of things they would/might be interested in anonymously and what we would get as a result is a database of things people might enjoy playing/would gravitate towards rather than having to guess what people might play. It is true you are driven by the things you are passionate for, but I think having this database might be a good foundation for new prospective mods who just aren't sure what kind of theme they want to do/plan for.

3. So one thing that I think would be super helpful from both a player/moderator perspective would be a "why was this fun/why wasn't this fun" sort of thing that's anonymously sent to the listmods to compile some "behind the scenes feedback" to give to perspective hosts when planning a game. The listmods we have are lovely and fantastic and I want to hand them each some chocolate because I love them and they deserve it. However, even they aren't all knowing and can't predict what new idea might go over well/fail. People have vented to me so much this year about how they didn't have fun with various aspects of what I have planned. I have tried new things this year and tried to not just be "this is your dad's survivor", but the weird thing is even when I did with the game I've hosted (basically stripped everything back to basics) then people were like "I'm just not as engaged". It's a weird mentality to have because it basically states we want nothing new, but we also don't want things that are super old. As a moderator this makes it incredibly difficult to know what people want. Rather than just vent to moderators as the game is happening, what I think might be super cool is doing some sort of "LSG feedback" thing that's a database for the listmods where people can vent their frustrations or things they found fun/not fun privately so that listmods can sort of guide people who are planning a game with database of things like "this worked well/didn't work well." Rather than be like "I think this was well received?" And it's possible something like this is being done already, but it's not widely advertised and instead the mods are getting the brunt of things as the game is happening. As a moderator, I am so invested on making sure the game runs as smoothly and as fairly as possible, I don't have time to compartmentalize and emotionally handle the "I'm not having fun in your game" statements from people while the game is in progress, and I know we can't eliminate that entirely, but like it would help so much to have that frustration validated and streamlined to somewhere where it can be accurately handled. And maybe if a listmod is playing in a game they just don't access that doc as to preserve anonymity? Or maybe that just is known that it will be a resource available after the game for people to submit to, etc. etc. I just feel like, the job of moderator is thankless enough as is, they don't need to be put down more as the game is going on. It's demoralizing and it would be nice to streamline that frustration elsewhere so it can be parsed by an actual non biased 3rd party perspective who can address/do something about these valid frustrations. If someone isn't having fun, they should say it! I just want them to say it in a space and in a way that doesn't detract from people who are running it so they know they are being heard without making those who spent literal months, and sometimes years of their life putting into.

4. I have heard people say "Remember when _____ did this better" or like "I'm not having as much fun as I did in ______ game." Which like, I hate when people compare my games to previous games on whether or not they are "as good" or "better than" those games. People seem to have this standard of game based on a prior game they played of what "is a good game" vs "what is not a good game." It's a weird mindset to have, and I'm not saying I haven't played into this, but it's something I think we as a community could do less of. If you go into a game, expecting it to have the same levels of "greatness" as a prior game you've played, you are setting yourself and the hosts up for failure. I don't really know what can be done to change that mentality because when you play a truly great game that you love, you sort of want the next game to be as good or better. Plus if you like playing survivor a certain way, then if anything changes that status quo, you get disappointed. It's this thing that stifles new creativity and stifles people from exploring who they are and sort of adds to a number of the points I've brought up before. We don't get new games/ideas from people saying things like I've stated above, and if there's a genuine bona fide answer to this particular point I am all ears.

End of the day, I love moderating and regardless of how I am treated in a game, I will always love it. I love being creative. I love trying new things. I love exploring new options/themes etc. It's fun for me. I wish more people would reach out to me to want to moderate for me because I am active, I am passionate, and I would love to continue contributing to games in the future.

I don't need anyone to thank me for what I do. I know what I'm getting myself into and it's totally fine. I just think if you have the time to critique a game while it's running, you have the time to make your own games in the way you want and that's part of the issue currently. Turn your negative experience into a positive one in the future. But let's see if we can build some foundations or resources that expand upon these concepts rather than just say "we need more games". There are underlying issues that aren't just band aid solutions to a problem.

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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:43 pm

I'm so glad Malkon commented on an underlying player behaviour issue because it's been so long since I've modded that I wasn't sure on that or not.

Simply put, even my best and most successful games have had at least one person who gets salty at the mechanics/the challenges/mod decisions/etc. I'm much in the same camp as Malkon where I can bust out a game in no time flat and used to be regarded as one of the best mods on this portion of the site, but because I didn't cater to that particular player's interests in a game before they even signed up, which simply isn't possible. Not every game is going to cater to everyone's needs because everyone has their own idea of what the perfect game is.

Using the first example that comes to my mind, if you sign up for a game and the challenges aren't what you liked, you're free to not like the game but just because you didn't like the game doesn't make it bad in the overall perspective. Every mod has their own signatures that they use when they create a game - if you play with them or spectate them you can know what to expect on a game front, so calling mods out for not catering to your designs when we have the same small group hosting basically every game is the definition of entitled if you're not willing to put yourself out there and show people what can be done.

That said, there's a difference between complaining and giving valid critique. Complaints end at "I didn't like this." Critiques go "I didn't like this, and this is what I would have done to fix it" and then give specific examples. I'll take people getting mad at my mechanics - I design games that push boundaries of what we can do. I'm just as likely to hit something someone hates as something they actually enjoy, and sometimes I'll flub the mechanic a bit but feel like it can be redone or revamped.

One final note - I really feel players when they get voted out. It sucks, putting so much time and energy towards something that didn't turn out. But very few players are ever actually screwed by swaps or other mechanics, and it's much more likely that you mismanaged a player on your tribe somewhere. It's hard to see why at that very moment, but give it some time and you'll find someone who can explain it to you.

Also, a team of three new mods should be commended for managing to make it work and not chastised for not being perfect. We as a community should be above chastising others.
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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Sat Dec 05, 2020 2:27 pm

Sent some stuff privately but I still want this in my ego.
"I used to think that votes equaled pressure, too, back when I was alive. I've learned a lot since then. You know what does equal pressure? Pressure. Pressure equals pressure. Crazy, huh?"

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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Mon Dec 07, 2020 8:08 pm

Howdy y’all, just wanted to expand upon a few thoughts other people have talked on and give a few solutions.

1. Re: Moderator Guides et al.
So while it would be lovely to have a full moderator guide (and if no one has by March I have a google reminder to just do it myself), doing so will likely be time consuming whenever it happens. In the meantime it would probably be a help to just compile a list of best practices (i.e not official things that need to be done but things we are pretty sure work best) we think would be helpful to moderators, or maybe that list would just end up being the moderator guide. Some suggestions for best practices I have are:

    a. Anonymous feedback forms. Huge +1 to Malkon’s suggestion though I don’t see why the listmod’s would have to do it. In fact due to the whole listmods playing in games thing and not letting it be an overbearing restriction, I think it’s a lot better if in the announcements section of whatever game is running, the mods just attach an anonymous feedback form (maybe even one for positive feedback and one for negative feedback since I fear otherwise the latter would dominate even more due to people’s natural bias for remembering negativity) that can be filled out at any point during the game.
    After all, players do need to be heard. When you sign up for a game with the expectation you are going to put two months of your life into it and have fun and then aren’t having fun, that feels kind of terrible and it’s important that mods know what did and didn’t work in a more holistic manner. However, it’s equally true that having something you made be criticized is going to suck, and while as a mod you do need to be prepared for that potential outcome, you should be able to choose when you can read that criticism. After all, if you are having a bad mental health day or just a busy day the last thing you want to deal with is a player complaining about the game you made on top of everything else you have going on in your life. Ofc people would need to actually use the forms, but hopefully we can normalize that with time and enough prodding/reminders in game. Also the listmod in charge of each game would likely have access to these sheets so they could still function as institutional memory without having to run wild with permissions between games.

    b. Make sure every mod team has at least one experienced mod.
    Running games are hard, they’re extra hard when you don’t have someone who has been there before. I know this, I modded Reverse the Curse in mine, meme and flum’s first game modding and as a result had way too many issues that could have been avoided (poor calibration of puzzles, legit having to scrap a challenge after 3 days of having to run and enough in game drama that one player got banned and another hasn’t played again). It only was as good as it was due to xofelf’s institutional knowledge, CC’s review and meme’s uber competence with logistics and I can’t count the ways we could have been more prepared if we just had a mod who need more about would and wouldn’t work ahead of time.

    c. Have extra clear disclaimers on games. This is not to say this will prevent all criticism of games that people should have known better but it would make things very clear. I mean games already do this, Hybrid made it clear it was not going to be survivor in the rules post and got complaints for not being survivor and PCW had complaints about prevalent items and twists when they both warned people in the sign up post and was rated complex. But hey, rules posts are long and if something needs to be bolded in red text at the top of the post for people to take notice, then so be it. Anyway this is all I got at the moment but I’m sure other people have ideas that most people would agree with. That brings me to point 2.
2. Proposal: Monthly Live Games. People have mentioned problems with new moderators, keeping new players engaged and idea generation. I genuinely think having a norm of monthly live games would improve all of these problems. Live games still take a lot of effort from mods and have quite a bit of design, but they’re usually smaller games (the last one only started with 14 players) that only require a single mod to run (maybe 2 if it's your first time) and a single night of availability to mod, so it’s a lot easier for someone to get used to modding and gameplanning and is just a lower barrier to entry and lower stakes than a long form game, which requires you to be ready to mod for months on end. These lower stakes also should allow for idea generation because it’s scary to put a new mechanic into a long form game not knowing whether it will work, whereas live games are known for pulling wonky twists, and as such are a great place to test out an idea you aren’t sure about. Furthermore, I know I’ve been inspired by several live game ideas and want to tinker/improve on them, so this should hopefully be able to inspire more people and get people more ideas. Lastly, with a live game every month the barrier to entry to “try out this survivor thing” becomes a lot lower, allowing for more new players. Being asked to play a game for two months on a forum system you are unfamiliar with people who you won’t know until the end of the game is kind of a hard sell for people who aren’t already into online survivor/familiar with mish mash and even when people do sign up can lead to people not putting in enough effort or flaking in a way that impacts the overall game. However, live games are perfect in the realm of letting new players dip their toes in the water and a monthly nature would double the speed of being able to reflect on your games. Hell with monthly live games I’d be happy to run a live game ELO if that would add to the fun of it. Also “be the change you want to see in the world” so I would like to say I do plan to run a 2020 Year in Review/other game somewhere around new year’s with Monty, so check out for that.

Anyway, hope y’all have a good day and hopefully y’all will be able to comment on what you think about these.
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Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Thu Dec 10, 2020 1:34 pm

Malkon is a mood and a half. I think the big issue that we have a bit of a virtue of players expecting to win and taking it out on the mods when they don't. Veteran players should be chill enough to accept that they've got the same odds to win as anyone else, and shouldn't immediately look for blame.

This should additionally help your newbie retention, since newbies should really be made to understand they're likely to be betrayed and that's, like, super normal and not an indictment of them as a person
Reformed boy - just trying my best

both I and the mod team know where we stand regarding the plight of the palestinian people. proud to be a mafiascum member!


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