Creating an Event: Development
Some of us have already created, or plan to try our hand at creating, events for other players in Ultima Online. This article is a checklist of sorts, collecting some information which might be as helpful for those of you who are just starting out, as those who are seasoned event creators. In fact, this is the first of a series of four articles: "Development," "Preparation," "Management," and "Aftermath."
By the way, when I mention "event," I mean a whole variety of in-game activities, the type which require players to create, manage, and support. An event could be a contest, a tournament, a ceremony, a quest, or many other player-sponsored activities.
The idea: What kind of event do you want to have? Sometimes the hardest part of the creation process is deciding what you want to do. Itís often good to first consider your interests, your skills, the amount of resources, and the people who can help you. Hereís a list of some common event themes:
As suggestions come in, donít be opposed to revising your idea based on the comments of others. Your helpers may have some great suggestions to improve your event, or they might point out some concepts that may not work as you thought they might.
Determine your resources: As your event idea develops, keep in mind available resources. Make a list of everything you think you may need to have in-game at the time of the event, and make sure you have everything prepared far before the event is to happen. This list will probably change several times as you develop your event.
Gather wood, food supplies, ingots, weapons, reagents, communication crystals, and any props you might need. If thereís to be special prizes, like rare items, large amounts of gold, or special rewards, make sure to have them available at event time. Consider even setting a budget for your event.
Consider your audience: Not every event will be geared toward every player or character type. Will your event be invitation only, such as for your friends & guildmates, or will you have it open to everyone? Are murderer characters ("Reds") allowed to participate? Will both combatants and non-combatants be able to participate? These details will be important to note in any announcements and rules statements.
Determine & document the details: Once you have your eventís concept set, write out everything youíd like to do. Write out all the rules for your contest or tournament, and try to state them as simply as possible. If youíre making a quest, make sure you have the entire plot planned out, especially the ending(s).
Try not to rely heavily on the eventís backstory in order to run your event. There may be a number of people who arenít familiar with the eventís history, and may become frustrated at any amount of required knowledge.
Allow people to be either active participants or sideline bystanders. Some people may just want to watch, and others will not want to participate at all, so donít try to force them. If you feel you wonít have enough active participants on your intended date, consider rescheduling the event for some later time.
Define the "victory conditions" for your event. A tournament might simply be "to the death." A quest might need certain goals met in order to be completed.
Quests could, and perhaps should, be developed with both positive and negative results in mind, and the respective rewards or penalties which might ensue. If youíre prepared to deal a variety of tangents, these "event killers" could become your "event enhancers," and can lead into improvements for your next event. Consider what would happen if it never occurred to anyone that your imprisoned guildmaster could be rescued. What if the players in your quest actually killed your leader? It might not be what you had in mind, but they are certainly viable possibilities.
A given event might be one night only, lasting one hour. Or, it might be a series of 4 events, each one 2 or 3 hours in length. Consider sometimes splitting up your events, with each part of the event series having a clear ending all of its own. A tournament could have nightly winners, with a final "grand champion" at the end of the series. Each "chapter" of a quest could have a "stand-alone" feel, played out as a short story all their own, which is great for players who canít attend all the related events in that series.
You may need other people to read your notes, so try to make sure to keep them brief, readable and accessible. If possible, post them on a web site, or distribute them to your new helpers as a text (.txt) file.
What will the rules be? An informal ceremony might have simple rules: "No fighting, stealing, or harassing." A quest might ask everyone to give fair warning before every fight ("Iíll let you keep your head for 100 gold," or "Halt or die!"), helping to confirm oneís place in the event. A battle might restrict anyone who died to remain in deathrobes while they recovered their own loot, but did not allow them to return into the fight. A tournament in Felucca might have duelists "go grey" by targeting a mutually agreed upon player-target before starting any combat.
Whatever rules you choose, try to take exceptional care that everyone participating in your event knows them. Pointing people to a Web page where the rules are listed is a great start, but think about also handing out in-game books with those same rules, and perhaps even having an "event crier" announcing those same rules between bouts or periodically during a hunt or quest.
Choose your helpers: You may need to pick some other players to help you create your event, and itís important to consider their schedule, personality, and their charactersí abilities.
Is your location easily accessible, or will people need to Recall or Gate, use a boat, or will it require Third Dawn? Keep in mind the space youíll need for your event. An afternoon tea party with four people might do well in a small house, but 20 people trying to duel each other in that same house will grow very frustrating, very fast.
If your house is the location of the event, itís good to also have a vendor selling runes Marked to your front steps, and even books with your Web siteís address and some brief details about your event. It also doesnít hurt your public image to give away some of those things as you travel.
Iíll go over some tips for the "Preparation" stage of your event in my next Team Comment, and Iíll try to keep it shorter next time. :]
Keith "Sannio" Quinn
Online Community Coordinator