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You are here: Home --> DragonBlog --> Another one down the drain.

Another one down the drain.

We’ve had some difficult topics and discussions on this blog before, but I want to stress another one: With the exception of a few long-time games (I think there are two or three) forum games don’t live to see their end.

At least, mine don’t. And when I look around the recruitment thread and the rules based area, there are a lot that fizzle. Some even before they can hatch. It has come to my attention a few times before.

It sucks.

Just a few moments ago I have officially ended my game ‘The Spores of Itanlok’. I had the idea for this game long ago, and I tried to run it then. It fizzled.
About a year ago I restarted it, because I was still very interested in the principle of the game. Now before I get all bleary eyed and dump my sadness on digital paper let me describe what this game was all about.

The idea of the game was to create a game in the world of Audalis, a setting that is a unique and grand construction of ideas from people who are active on this website. More specifically, it would be a game in Audalis with only Khordaldrum (dwarven) characters.
I was wondering if I would get enough response, and happily, I did. I got some of the people who started the game the first time around, and even a few additions. Over time, I had so many people who wanted to join that I was able to create two groups.

The hook, in short: a Khordaldrum wedding is disrupted when the guests notice their children are missing. As a search is organized it turns out that not only the children are missing, but something is kidnapping all Khords in the vicinity. Ankheg are involved, and a strange, huge hand made of stone.
Group two starts in a museum, where a huge blue diamond is being stolen by a group of Ankheg, as well as a lot of the Khordaldrum visitors.

Then things went downhill. People informed me that they no longer could be an active part of the game. I had to find replacements. Maybe that’s where I went wrong, because replacements can be amazing additions to the game, or they can post two lines and never be heard of again. It seems to work that way, and I can understand it’s difficult to get into a game that has been going for a few pages.
Replacements or not, the game kept slowing down. It came to a halt.

I should’ve quit right there. Told everybody it was great while it lasted, and thank them for their involvement.
Instead, I kept on dragging it forward with only a few people posting.

Back to the beginning of this blog: I have ended the game, came to the conclusion that it just didn’t work out. But I can’t figure out why. Is it my style of DMing? Is it because online games just simply don’t live past a few months?

And why is that? Does it have to do with the mind-set of people; are we that much a fast-food generation that we cannot wrap our attention on something that takes a while to develop? It sometimes feels like when I start a game I hold a big, fat, juicy burger in front of people’s noses and they eagerly bite. But when they have taken about two bites, something happens: they lose their appetite, or they decide to loose weight. Somebody else comes up with the idea of a triple burger with extra cheese.

As long as I’ve been gaming on the inn, I haven’t DMed or played in a single game that saw it’s conclusion. Nobody finishes their plates!


Please help me figure it out. And after that, I might come up with a new game concept for desert. Just make sure you guys keep a small space reserved for extra whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

posted by Almerin on 8/14/2020 at 11:35:10 AM Digg Technorati Blinklist Furlreddit


I have had the same problems on games I have tried to start in genres like Warhammer 40k, Super Heroes, Nuke Aftermath and a second AD&D game. I get them started only to see the playersdrift off or lose interest it's very aggravating and disapointing when that happens so I know the feeling. It seems like the only game I have successfully kept running for 6+ years here at the Inn is the first one I started off with and that's of course the trilogy war. Why that is I have no clue other then that I know the world and game inside and out and have run it as a table top many times before, with many a different group and I'll do whatever it takes to keep the game alive from dropping players to recruiting new ones.

I think the important thing is to get a good base of 3-4 long standing players and build from that. In my long game the 3 longest players have been with me from the start I had 4 but with Dragon Mistresses death that dropped it of course to 3. Over the years I guess I have been lucky to be able to find and recruit a good set of players when I needed to fill a hole and as it stands rt now I have what I think are the best group of 8 that I have had in Trilogies 6 years.

For whatever the reason I suck at DMing other games but am lucky to DM Trilogy and to be a reasonably good player in the games I join even if they do fizzle over time.

All I can say Al is keep trying somewhere down the road the perfect group awaits...............

posted by TannTalas on 8/11/2010 at 04:24:57 PM

I really think your theory is exactly what is wrong with things. We are a generation of instant gratification, we want what we want exactly when we want it. If things don't happen at the pace we think they should most people get bored and find their entertainment elsewhere.

If I may make and example of myself, when I first started reading Wizard's First Rule the beginning of the book just bored me crazy. I couldn't understand what was so damn great about a vine that it warranted being the opening of the book. I actually ended up putting the book down and almost never read it until my father (who had given me the book in the first place) assured me that it got better and quickly. So I picked the book back up, read all the bits about the vine, then got hooked by the amazing story that followed.

The point is, I think in this age of highly developed computer/console games giving many gamers the depth and connection that we would normally have gathered around a table top for (digital or otherwise), when the game gets slow or starts slow for that matter, most people would rather drift off and get lost in an interesting world they can see and influence such as in so many great RPGs like Fallout, Fable, Dragon Age, and even old classics like Never Winter Nights and the like.

To go back to your food analogies, waiting on a great table top game to get rolling is sometimes like waiting on a home cooked 7 course meal, sometimes you just can't wait and pop in a couple Hot Pockets or a TV dinner and get your fill that way.

posted by Shield Wolf on 8/11/2010 at 09:38:53 PM

Well, I have played CWWLLO to completion of two campaigns and I am so close to finishing Rocinante that I can smell it. How did I do it? Same players - almost all moderators. Otherwise, I am in the same boat as you and it happens to me even with moderators. Both Cwwllo and Roc have taken long haitus periods and I have had to switch characters around creatively.

posted by Alacrity on 8/12/2010 at 09:06:35 AM

As a registered flake offender, I can sympathize. I've run a several games that have lasted forever, plus several that fizzled out. I am often to blame for it; real life gets in the way, the game goes on hiatus, and then becomes very difficult to get running again.

I think that, in many ways, one of the biggest problems is the necessarily slow pacing of the games, which allow players to lose their way, or allow real life to get in their way. Look on any forum or PBEM list, and you'll see similar complaints about games fizzling, players drifting off, etc.

I'm not entirely sure what the answer is.

posted by t_catt11 on 8/12/2010 at 09:24:18 AM

I think it's the time between posts that kills the games. Nothing much can be happening for the character's plot advancement, but as long as people are still posting about the nothing, there's still activity for the players. Having a new post to read keeps me excited about the game, even if the entire post is inner monologue of some other character or just some fluff interaction with an NPC.

Things like that can mean the difference between slow and dead.

Speaking of, I've got to go post to a game......

posted by Deucalion on 8/12/2010 at 02:43:55 PM

Thanks for the comments, guys!

Getting a group of players that you trust is good advice. If you know that players can be dedicated to a game even when it is slow, then you know it doesn't matter if you fail to update or post for a change. And enthusiastic feedback from players is also reassuring.

But the thing with sticking to players that you know is that you will no longer be surprised by people you haven't gamed with before. Which happened to me in my latest game. A few people really stuck out, not just in insight in the game, but also the ability to converse with other players and making good use of the Q/A. Which also helps moving a game to greater height.

Maybe on my next game, I'll throw around some invites AND an open call. Just to even the balance a bit. After all, invitations might be turned down. Not all concepts grab people's attention because we're all so different.

posted by Almerin on 8/12/2010 at 04:53:52 PM

Sounds familiar. Thought you may have been talking about my game. Im just stuborn. My game won't fizzle it'll just die a grizzly heart stopping death. lol
I think a dungeon crawl would be good for online gaming. Keep it short and sweet (like a real fast food burger, not a 6 course meal). Small adventures, ya know? and thats my 2 cents worth.

posted by Tiamat5774 on 8/13/2010 at 09:47:15 PM

I have been playing for a long time and One thing I have noticed over the years is the when times get very tough RPG's suffer. I have lived and played through several recessions and the games fizzled faster in those times than at any other time. These are the worst times since the great Depression, and there was not internet then and not RPG. Real Life intrudes to much inot players time for gaming or their minds are just not into it with so much on their plate. It is happening all over on different game sights as well. DM quit after being laid off, or switching jobs or being overword do to shortages of employees making bosses demanding more from fewer workers. HOrses andimals are being abandoned in greater numbers to as families can't afford then and they have to make cuts somewhere.

Anyway, that is my thoughts and ideas on some of the reason for the decline of games.

I am ready to play whatever you start, Almerin. Love D&D and Sword and Sorcery of any sort. Look I even played a dwarf in your game. Me the eternal players of elves. We just need a few other regulars.

posted by Brianna on 8/14/2010 at 01:02:49 AM

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of games fall apart before they start when we have some members being overly rude when new people start new games without giving some important information. It doesn't hurt to constructively point out things that are missing, but some people just don't seem to get that.

posted by Shield Wolf on 8/15/2010 at 02:51:27 PM

What do you mean exactly, Shield Wolf? That the people who DM games are not patient enough with starting players, or that starting players don't get hints dropped by the DM and other players?

I've witnessed both, and probably been less patient with new people on occasion, possibly. But I don't really think there is too much rudeness going on at the Inn in general.
If I reflect on my last game, I had a few new players who got a part of my game, or suggested interest, but left the game without further notice. I would think that is rude.
On the other hand, I've tried being constructive with my feedback towards new players. But sometimes you get tired if you have to explain twice (for instance) that there is a limit to ability score height. If people don't read the recruitment thread properly, one starts wondering if they are truly interested, or if they simply jump at the first game that recruits without thinking.

For my last game I included a special part in the recruitment post that reads that my games usually require a player to think, and that (usually) the way to solve problems is not singular. My games aren't hack & slash, are not about overpowered characters, and they are full of hints that you have to be keen to interpret and pick up. Not everybody likes those kind of games.

So maybe the problem is not just that players aren't that involved, or easily sidetracked, maybe the recruitment is too vague? Could it be that DMs have to be more specific, or players more selective?

posted by Almerin on 8/15/2010 at 05:13:25 PM

My comment was not regarding the DM/Player relationship at all actually. I have witnessed in more than one recruitment thread, usually for free-form games, that some of the newer members sometimes leave out pertinent information that would help in the character creation process. The problem however is not that these recruitment threads are missing info, but the way some people go about snapping over that info. Its one thing to inform someone that they may want to include information for the game, it is another entirely to have a member bite their head off for it.

posted by Shield Wolf on 8/15/2010 at 10:49:28 PM

I've had a number of games fizzle, and I've had one game go to completion. Ironically, it wasn't even a fantasy game, but Cyberpunk.

One trick is to design your game so that it isn't reliant on any of the characters involved. So, if you have a character/player leave, you can fill the hole, or leave it empty, as fits the circumstances of the game.

An example might be to base the game around an object that is a character in and of itself. Then the party reacts to the object, moves the object on its course, the object falls into other characters hands, circumstances change, but the object remains the same.

As a matter-of-fact, I might try that.

posted by Bromern Sal on 8/18/2010 at 04:44:50 PM

Exactly Brom just like what I have done in my game the Trilogy War. The main plot of the game is for the Player/characters to recover a sentient evil sword of great power to keep it out of the hands of its creator. Once recovered they will take it to the forge were its was made to destroy it once and for all.
My version of the Lord of The Rings so to speak but with a lot of twists and subplots. In the end it really does not matter which characters recover and carry it just that somebody does and leaves me a wealth of openings in most parts of the game for new character intro and or old character exit.

Been working for a what will be 6 years the end of this month.......... :)

posted by TannTalas on 8/19/2010 at 11:55:14 PM

Well, there are so many big names posting I might as well put my 2 cents in just to be among them.

I too get frustrated by rudeness, but generally on the part of the players (as most of you who have played one of my Realms of Twilight games know). Real life takes over sometimes. We can all understand that. By as a courtesy, dropping a line to the DM at least would lessen the resentment a bit. I've also had players continue showing up at the Inn, post in other games and even join new ones, all without even mentioning why they aren't posting in my game(s) that they commited too.

Perhaps I expect too much of my players, but I get tired of always having to search for new replacements (every other week it seems like) because people just choose to ignore the game.

Why do games fizzle? Sometimes real life just takes over. We've all seen it happen (even me who is probably the most junior of those who have commented thus far). And real life MUST remain more important. Other times trying to maintain the game simply becomes more frustrating and more work than the DM is willing to deal with. I've come very close to that point on both of my Realms of Twilight games.

I tried joining a bunch of games run by the more senior Inn members, but many of those have fizzled too, or have been left postless for weeks on end. Perhaps I need to lean more towards Brianna's way of doing things and join whatever games interest me (I still don't know how she can keep all of the various characters seperated in her head. That has always amazed me.)

Anyway, I'll get off of my soap box now and just keep my fingers crossed. I look forward to your next game Al. I only wish I could have done more in your last one...

posted by Steelight on 9/13/2010 at 04:11:26 AM

I just noticed that my status went up to "Regular Visitor" yay me. Anyway, as one of the newer people to join the Inn, I want to thank you DMs out there who start new games over and over. It's intimidating to see these six year long games, not to pick on anybody in particular, but how am I (and experienced gamer sure, but new to online gaming like this) supposed to join a group that has been playing together for so long. Yes, there are games that fail, and that's sad. I've had a couple games I've ran in real life that have failed, and that was sad. But I want to thank you for not giving up, for starting new games that new people like me can enter. Get our feet wet as it were. And it takes a while to learn the etiquette involved in a new community, whether it be a game, or the site as a whole. In the case where players are posting in other games but not in yours, that is rude, but perhaps a private message to the player asking, "hey, are you still interested?" might be the quick and dirty solution to that.
In real life, scheduling is the hardest part of running games. Players can't commit to the schedules we'd like them to. So my remedy for this problem was to run a really huge game, eight to ten people as opposed to the three or four that I'd been running in the past. And yes, every player can't make it to every session, but there are still plenty of players to make something happen. And if they were to all show up, I wouldn't know what to do with them. I'm not saying that's the answer to online gaming, it's hard enough trying to figure out what everybody is doing when they don't post regularly.
From a players perspective it's also frustrating for games to end. It's hard to get your feet wet when the lakes keep drying out. I've joined or made characters for four or five games, and only one of them is still active. I want to play, and I'm glad there are those of you out there who want to run the games. I hope to be in a game with each of you someday, I'm not going anywhere.

posted by crowe on 9/13/2010 at 04:48:11 PM

I've been suffering this a lot lately. "Game fizzling" that is. And I still wonder "why"?

You can ask those you worked with on how they felt about you and the storyline. Did it have to do with time constraints too?

posted by CirroWolf on 9/29/2010 at 10:42:00 PM

Perhaps one reason games dry up here is that many new visitors (the ones who sign up for the new games) are often used to "regular" tabletop play. That is lots of fun but requires a differant set of skills and has a differant reward. Here at the Inn I do not look for fast paced action and do not expect the comradery usually found at a table top session. Here role play, creative thinking and writing are the skills required. Perhaps folks find that this is not their style and simply drift away.

posted by Keeper of Dragons on 10/01/2010 at 01:50:33 PM

Having tried my hat at running forum based games (and playing in a few), I understand the frustration. I think aside from people having problems with the slower nature of posting games, there's the problem of playing with an unknown group. Like any kind of open call for something, it doesn't take much for people to say "yeah, that sounds cool, count me in." But, like baby python you bought when it was cute and small but had no idea what to do with when it grew up, people freak out/lose interest/forget they even signed up in the first place. Everything's shiny when you first look at it, but as soon as some effort (and attention span of more than 30 seconds) is required, people balk.

Of course, life does happen and I don't begrudge folks that. But people that sign up, make the first post, and disappear without a trace irk me a bit.

posted by Imiani on 10/02/2010 at 12:14:46 PM

I know games fizzling has been a big problem for me. I have had at least half a dozen games just disappear on me (some with no notice) in the two years I have been hanging around this site. In fact, I am currently down to only one game because of it and it stinks. I invest a lot of time and energy into developing characters and backstory and then *poof* it all disappears.

Sure, I'd like a bit faster pace, but since table top gaming isn't possible for me at the moment, I'd take what I can get - and I like the character development that can happen with writing. One of the biggest issues I have had is not knowing if other people have lost interest or are simply busy and thus reasonably slow to post. Should I be getting worried about game speed yet or not? I've never been sure.

But I would love to see a true long term game here.

posted by Nomad D2 on 10/28/2010 at 09:31:41 AM

Last night I took a look at a couple games I used to play in just to show my friend Gandalf the Smooth how good these games can be.

My 2 games fizzled due mainly to laptop crashes (first one) and some RL issues and laptop problems (2nd one).

Then I did not have internet access on a regular basis and could only log on at the library one hour per day, when I really wanted to get into Almerin's game again with my character Loco.

Now I have a new laptop and should have better access to the internet, although I am starting a new adventure and going to Ghana for about 5 weeks to teach in a Bible School, I should have internet access there.

If Almerin ever starts another Audulis game where I can use Loco Fungihammer then I would like to give it another go!

posted by Hammer on 11/08/2010 at 10:08:35 PM

One of the things I have noticed, Not here mind you. Is that an overabundance of games tend to kill games as well. Honestly, if there is a game I am interested in, and join. Within a few days some of the people drift off to other games and the one I am in dies.

posted by Silverthorne on 11/26/2010 at 01:57:24 AM

Another reason so many games here fail is because they're awful. It is, of course, the one people are least likely to admit, but its probably the most prevalent one. There are a couple reasons that they're so bad, that stand out to me (and of course these are just my opinions).

First and foremost this format is dreadful. Every character is an open book, you don't actually have to learn anything about the other characters by interacting with them in-game; everything you might ever want to know about them is laid out for you. By and large their every thought is readable on the boards. There's no mystery, and for players that aren't of the highest caliber, they invariably cross the lines of in-game knowledge and OOC knowledge.

And second, the games here are mind-numbingly slow. I've followed numerous games here (they all fizzled), and in every one of them the expectations of posting was 'every few days'. 'Every few days' would be great if that's how often you get together for a face-to-face game. On a message board, it translates to one character posting today, and another responding to in in a day or two, and the next character responding to that in a couple days, and pretty soon every one has drifted away because its so slow.

I've given up ever running or participating in a message-board game again. I run my games via e-mail, and I push the pace. Players must respond everyday (under normal conditions). It keeps things moving, and with all communication between players coming through the GM the players only know what their characters know. Granted it sucks as a system for those that want to observe the game, but it works fantastically in every other way.

posted by Flanker on 3/16/2011 at 05:43:42 PM

hum we can playtest it and see what the deal is, id be happy to help.

posted by Grim Reaper on 8/28/2011 at 04:00:19 AM

thnak you

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