Personalities Mafia Postgame and the State of Circus Maximus

UncleSam

Leading this village
is a Forum Moderator
Moderator
#1
I promised I'd make a thread similar to this during DLE's game, and decided that I'd tie up another loose end that's been bothering me for a while at the same time.

Personalities Pre-Postgame


Alright first thing's first: it's been almost a year since Personalities mafia ended, and I'd like to give it some sort of reflection/send-off beyond what it got in the thread. I'd like to host a postgame call at some point this weekend if some combination of Da Letter El, LightWolf, billymills, Pidge, kingofmars, moi, Walrein, Bass and zorbees could join one; preferably tomorrow (Saturday, January 30th) night, say 8 PM CST.

I'd like to spend a little time talking about what went wrong with the game here first, however, as well as general tips, extensions to Circus in general, and consequently what changes I think this forum should make to stay relevant.

For your reference, find below:
The Main Sheet, with all actions
Role PMs
Some logs I forgot I was keeping for Postgame

Simply put, the game design was concept-rich but was rushed in execution, primarily due to the timing of when I hosted it (mid-December to late January). I knew that, both for my own sake as well as the game's activity, I had to get the game hosted over the Holidays. This meant that, while I'd have loved to work on it for another few weeks, what I had ready when break started was what went into the final product. There were a number of pretty unimaginative/shitty roles and poorly thought out design choices that I think I would've caught simply because I already wasn't happy with many of them before the game even started; a few examples of this would be the three Prio Up/Down roles, the Regina George/Jim Moriarty roles, and the entire OCD/Village dynamic. If I had had more time I think I would've made it easier to resurrect people while making it even harder to trust them (in order to combat killing the smart players to kill activity), as well as coming up with better ways to make the OCD truly function as a 'mafia' in the eyes of the village (as well as come up with better things for the OCD to do then simply act as a shitty anti-mafia miller faction which just became a group of Masons once people figured they were clean).

More than anything though, this game suffered from not having a co-host. I remember distinctly while hosting Metroid Prime 2 that around Night 3 or 4, I was rapidly losing motivation to do mega-updates at the standard to which I felt was appropriate; if Walrein hadn't been around, a lot more mistakes would've happened and that game's ending would've probably been every bit as inane as this one's was. An active host who doesn't make mistakes is a huge portion of any game, and while I only made two mistakes that I am aware of, I think that many of the players who I highlighted above can attest that they had a huge impact on who won and lost this game. If I had had an active cohost, I think this game would've run much more smoothly.

In terms of the players, I was surprised at how inactive most of the playerbase was. I knew that activity had been generally declining over the years prior to this game (both of my prior Metroid Prime games and particularly Lord of the Rings had had inactivity problems of their own), but I never expected things to have gotten quite this bad. The Megalomaniacs did literally nothing the entire game, I don't recall any non-billymills villagers even attempting to figure out the voting patterns at any point in the game, and even the Epistemophiliacs made no effort to mole the village except for RIP the most Serious of Bananas, long will you live on in our hearts. This has been cited as the fundamental problem with Circus Maximus for a long time, and so let's transition to the other reason I wanted to post this.

State of Circus Maximus

I think that one simple fact might be a better indicator of the current state of mafia in Circus than any other: Personalities was the last 'Big' game to run to completion. Yes, it has been a full calendar year between Big games finishing, and it doesn't appear that there is any undercurrent of desire for people to play in a big game any time soon either.

I think that a few problems are rapidly becoming clear:
1. People aren't that interested in the extensively time-consuming nature of Smogon Mafia anymore.
2. Games with higher interactivity and easier accessibility will only continue to cut into the prospective playerbase for Smogon mafia.
3. It is difficult if not impossible for newer players to cut it in games like Personalities. The activity requirements alone to play at the highest level are insane, and often even the winners don't have much fun playing as a result.
4. Typical Village-style games end up being dominated by the strongest players on each faction; particularly the strongest players on the village.
5. There is a generally toxic atmosphere to playing mafia due to the team nature of the game.

I think that many of these points were becoming clear during DLE's game, though I felt that prior to it's pseudo-abandoning activity in it was a little better than I had thought it might be.

So, let me share a few ways in which I think Circus can grow/address these issues:
1. Find some way to reign in activity creep. This doesn't mean full-on NOC with in-thread posting limits every game, but no one wants to be dealing with mafia stuff ten hours a day for a month just to lose because one of their teammates doesn't feel like sending a single PM the entire game. Similarly, people who just want to talk to a few others and send in a PM once every few days don't want to be blamed for a loss because 'they could've/should've done more'. Macle sent in his actions in Everybody Votes, Ullar sent in his actions in MagMafia, and yet people railed on both of them endlessly after those respective games. Unless I'm mistaken, neither has played in a mafia game since.
2. If you're going to host a complex game, consider making it Free for All oriented, preferably with pseudo-open win conditions. Simply put, FFA games reward individual play by their very nature far more than team games do, as do open win conditions. A good example of this would be Fire Emblem Mafia 2, a game where anyone could ally with almost anyone else, but strong individual play was necessary to pull through for a victory.
3. Host more watered-down and/or NOC games, the smaller the better. Pretty much goes without saying; some people still like playing old-fashioned mafia, and if we can't even do that then why bother with all the bells and whistles.
4. Deal with the attitude problem people seem to have with respect to mafia. A large part of this goes along with point numbers 1 and 2 together, as it does ostensibly suck to put in a ton of effort and have it undone by terrible teammates. That being said, it's a game. Life goes on.

And yes, I have historically been part of the problem with respect to point number 4.

And finally, perhaps most importantly:
5. Branch out to focus on non-mafia strategy games. The forum is already naturally starting to do this, but I think that the movement towards games like the Smogon NOMIC (I actually have a lot of thoughts on this that I'll save for when that gets a postgame/ends, the Smogon LoL Tournament, or the recent Genius Game should be more actively encouraged. Easygoing logical competition is really the crux of this forum, and while mafia should continue to play a large part in that, I think that the days of it solo-carrying this forum are in the past.

For example, I think it's really silly that there isn't a Spades/Resistance/Other Games thread in this forum. There are so many cool games that people like to play and that this community still thrives at, and yet from an outsiders' perspective none of that is visible.

So, I'm going to recommend the following directives:
1. Re-write the introduction to Circus missive. It is entirely mafia-centric, and is more in-depth than a new player should feel required to read to be able to jump into games. It is handy as a reference, but it shouldn't be where we point newer players first and foremost.
2. Re-write the mafia hosting/playing rules for the forum. We are going on six years since they were updated. We should also have a more clear list of Moderators and their responsibilities here so that people know who to contact if they have problems/questions.
3. Decide on the best way to incorporate non-mafia games into this forum.

I can do some of these things, and I'd like people to both post here and contact me separately if they are interested in helping out with any of the above.

What I'm primarily interested in, however, is opinions on what I've posited here, methods to incorporate solutions and/or alternative solutions and implementations, and, well, Personalities Mafia discussion xD
 
#2
How dare you forget we have a very active(uh subjective) subgroup of people doing DnD 5e, Pathfinder and Pathfinder Society stuff and stuff based on the system.

As for the mafia specific stuff. NOPE!!! NOC has had just as bad cases of inactivity, last one died before actually finishing, with the actually active 3-4 people p much just agreeing that if no one responds they will not drag it along pointlessly. Free for All is also plagued way worse by new people syndrome, making alliances alliances in those cases is nearly always started by talking to people who you like working with, at least in normal games people kinda can have a chance to work with the team, I tried in the few games to try and incorporate new people's involvement in my team as much as possible, I'd never even risk doing that in a free for all...

Frankly I think the problem is a lack of draw in mafia, people are kinda outmafiaed at this point, a break focused on new ideas would likely work.
 

Ampharos

elusive, effusive
is a Community Contributor
Mafia Champion
#3
Unfortunately I won't be able to join you for personalities post game due to being at PAX. TBH if it's the game I'm thinking of I would just be salty anyways, seeing as I lost via being recruited onto the most inactive faction I've ever seen.

Regarding the state of CM, everything you said in your post is absolutely correct, but I think there's another problem present that you didn't quite touch on: nobody wants to design/host mafia games anymore.

There's a multitude of reasons for this, but I think it boils down to the ridiculously high expectations placed on Smogon mafia hosts. Trying to design a well-balanced mafia game with all the complexity we've come to expect in a Smogon game is hard as shit, and when something in the game turns out to be less balanced than the host anticipated, the response from the players is seriously some of the most toxic shit I've ever seen on the Internet - and I play Dota. Seriously, we VILLIFY hosts when something goes wrong. Remember No Playerlist Mafia? It was a really unique concept that didn't pan out as expected, and yes, the game had its issues. That doesn't mean, however, that it was ok to basically bully the host away from the site entirely. And almost everyone is guilty of this, myself included - who here can honestly say that they've never gotten salty about a facet of a mafia game that they disagreed with?

I think the solution to this is one of the points UncleSam brought up - make mafia games simpler. Simpler games mean less potential for ridiculous balance fuckups, are less of a time commitment to design and run, and are generally less intimidating. Can we still run more complex games? Of course - I wouldn't expect people to stop coming up with new and exciting concepts, and some of the best mafia games we've ever seen have been entirely experimental. But we need to lower the barrier of entry if we want new people to run games. More 1v1s. More NOCs. Smaller games. These are the types of games that newcomer hosts will be able to handle, and lord knows we need some of those.

As for the lack of a big, I'll finish Wayne Bradiest eventually I swear
 

vonFiedler

Ridley is in Smash
is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributor
Moderator
#4
I could make as many games in a year as were made in the last two, Walrein. The playerbase has left and a new playerbase hasn't shown up. The last 9 player mafia game failed to sign-up enough people. Mafia died.

A reason for this that UncleSam didn't touch on is Pokemon Showdown. Smogon and Showdown are more popular right now than they ever have been. And the trickle of new players we used to get, only some of whom would become regulars, have instead become regulars in Showdown's popular mafia and roleplaying rooms. Even more unfortunately, both of these communities rapidly developed to be very different from our own, being very non-competitive and somewhat frivolous in nature.
 
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zorbees

Chwa for no reason!
is a Forum Moderator
Puzzle Hunt Champion
#5
I've long advocated for more individuality in mafia games. I don't think that you have to make the game be a Free-For-All, but it is certainly the easiest way to incentivize players to think for themselves rather than just follow the leader. I agree with Lightwolf though, in that FFAs can be complex for new players.

I don't think the Smogon LoL tournament should be grouped in with things like Nomic or The Genius game. LoL is just a video game, whereas Nomic or Genius Game are more complex games. We've had plenty of video game tournaments in the past, but few games like the latter two (Bass' games being pretty much the only ones, although askaninjask did host one, and his space game).

In regards to simplicity vs complexity, I think games like The Genius (the TV show, and my game based off of it), or some of Bass' games really hold their own there. I mean, look at the first Main Match I held. It seems simple enough, submit a card, hope to not be in the majority, repeat until the end of the rounds. But when you add in the ability to collaborate with other people, instead of having everyone just pick randomly, the strategies can get more involved.

Maybe I'll look through my old half-finished games and see what's there.
 
#6
3. Decide on the best way to incorporate non-mafia games into this forum.
While the current #flamel RP community does not like play-by-post RP games, and there's a no postcount++ rule, but... as long as it advances the game, it's not really PC++, is it? Perhaps we could try a forum-based RP game for the expansion per way to address issues #5. Just gonna float that idea.
 

Acklow

I am always tired. Don't bother me.
#7
How about hosts doing 72 or 96 hour deadlines as opposed to your usual 48 hr deadlines? I know that people are concerned that activity would wane, but as it is right now, people are too consumed with other things and if one were to play mafia on a very serious and competitive level, then it would require the activity levels of a person with no social life. I'm currently doing an informal forum game in Firebot that's a choose-your-own adventure that I usually update on my own basis as I feel necessary. Of course that it's not the same thing as a mafia game where deadlines need to remain much clearer and whatnot, but right now most hosts usually do a 48 hr thing which ends up not only taking a huge toll on the host in terms of stress (unless as mentioned above, you have a lot of time on your hands) but also creating a standard that may not be as effective in 2016. 2010-2013 were the years I was very active in CM and during that time period people often joined multiple games and whatnot. We had more time (most of us were 3-6 years younger) which allowed us the flexibility to do so, and that's why a 48 hr standard to games was set because there was a limit to how many games could be active at any given time. As a 23 year old working adult that is also in school, I find it hard to fit mafia into my schedule when I want to watch anime/play video games/have a social life. Perhaps it's more of a personal thing...

In any event, if we can get some of the youngsters to play mafia (such as the many people that play it in PS!) and eventually have them host, I'm sure in time we would have CM active as it once was. Just my 32 cents.
 

UncleSam

Leading this village
is a Forum Moderator
Moderator
#8
I dislike the idea of extended deadlines. Simply put, if people are interested in the game then 48 hours is more than enough, and I think that Bass can attest that accommodating to those who aren't interested will only ever slow the game down, it won't get them interested again.
 

Yeti

dark saturday
is a Community Contributor
#9
Personalities was the last 'Big' game to run to completion.
at first I was like well now hold on when did I run Heartless but then I looked and I posted the game thread january 4 ........ 2014. oh my god it was 2 years ago.

longer deadlines are for pussies. get your crap together so the game keeps moving.

i think some of these games got overcomplicated. if you look at my first postgame log quote it's "gd tl;dr rules" when you get too much going on in the rules ppl don't want to read and then they have to take a long time to process their best move bc they have too many factors to account for.

we need some simpler, smaller games to get people interested and enjoying the game without being all "oh my god why is unclesam tryharding and nagging me every 2 seconds zzzzzzzzzz" like erry1 just chillax and enjoy the game w/o treating it like the olympics. we're on smogon it's more like special olympics lbr :\

i don't even remember this game lol. wtf was i even doing irl when it happened gd.

i think i want to host a small (lmao Walrein whenever i'm on gdocs i'm like oh what about wayne bradiest tho then i forget in 2 seconds) sooner or later but i am sort of like ehh idk when i'd want to start it. maybe over my spring break.
 

UncleSam

Leading this village
is a Forum Moderator
Moderator
#10
Ya I'm interested in if people have any ideas for how to make it so that being constantly active isn't an advantage - it would take pressure off of people on all fronts if we could come up with some way to limit outside communication without destroying IRC as a means of communicating. I think that a lot of people will probably agree when I say that mafia isn't fun when either A. people expect you to be online all the time or B. you feel like you have to be online all the time to have the best chance of winning.
 
#11
I don't think extended deadlines is a bad idea.

I was floating around the idea of a 5 day night and a 48 hour day, so that each cycle took exactly one week (Regular updates could help keep interest high at the updates, when it's most important). I don't think keeping the cycles short is necessary as long as the cycles are consistent.

Shit theres a whole thread here
 

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