Since late August, I’ve been a member of a really great site – Ongoing Worlds. The site is advertised as “play by post” (PBP) game site. I have to disagree with that moniker, but more on that later. First, the site in general. I came across the concept of play-by-post after my play-by-email (PBEm)wasn’t working out. Life gets busy, I can accept that, and my troupe of friends who had previously been a part of a traditional, tabletop, pen-and-paper style role playing game I was running wasn’t able to respond to quickly enough to keep the story going.
Now on that tangent. Once a game leaves a tabletop with a group assembled and dice and such, I think rules need to go with it. That’s not to say that we should forget them, but they need to be flexible. So instead, I took the idea of a play-by-email story, which evolved and led me to Ongoing Worlds, what I like to call “collaborative fiction.” I still prefer that title over the overall concept as described in the link because the story on Ongoing Worlds still has parameters.
On Ongoing Worlds you register as a member. It’s free and they don’t sell your email so that’s cool. As a member, you can either join an existing “game” as they call it or create your own. To join a game, you find one you like, there are many varieties available on the site; supernatural, historical, fantasy, and so on, and submit a character for approval. Whoever acts as moderator of the game, the person that created it, gets to approve all members and characters into their creation. The moderator will create a summary, character groups, and a game information page with additional structure they’d like to see in their tale. The structure and process is easy to navigate and very user friendly. It even works out pretty well on a mobile device.
Once you have an approved character, you can create more – if the moderator approves that – and begin posting. The typical fashion is to write from your characters point of view in the scene they are in. A standard rule on all games is that members should not take too much control of other member’s characters – having them act (almost at all) but being a part of the scene. This can slow down progress but if the rule is respected you won’t suddenly have your character dead or in a situation you would have never wanted them to be in in the first place.
If you create a post, other members cannot edit it. This is another great feature of the site. Only moderators have access to edit existing posts or remove them entirely. You do have to register with an email address for membership on Ongoing Worlds but only people who are members of games with you have access to see your email address. If this idea worries you, since you have no control over who can become a member of a game, only participate in games you moderate. The site also publishes updates of posts daily for all games/stories you are in. This is a feature you can turn off as well. But, it is nice to know the story is progressing without having to go to the site. You can “like” posts and connect to Twitter and Facebook as well.
In future posts, I’ll comment on how some of the stories I’m in are going. I’ll link to some awesome ones I’ve written and comment on the overall process; its pitfalls and productivity. Stay tuned!