2001-10-08: Thoughts on Event Preparation from Sannio

Thoughts on Event Preparation from Sannio

Oct 8 2001 11:34AM

This was originally posted to Online Community Relations at[1]

Creating an Event: Preparation

My previous Team Comment began a four-part commentary, discussing ideas that players might find helpful as they create in-game events. In this second part of the series, I’ll go over some ideas for supporting the “Preparation” phase of an event’s development. I’m going to presume you already know what type of event you’re creating (contest, tournament, ceremony, or quest, etc.), that one or more people have volunteered to help (or have been drafted ;]), that your team has worked out when & where the event’s going to happen, and that some general rules for participants have been discussed.

Who does what? Even if you just have one other person helping you, it’s important to decide which of you will be assigned any related task before, during, or after the event.

Consider the strengths of your helpers: someone who types fast & accurately may be a main quest character, someone who writes well may create your rules or announcements, and someone who is very skilled at “PvP” combat might do well as your tournament referee.

Consider also the characters that will be used: a house-owner might work well as the “bouncer” of a roof-ceremony, a mage or healer would be important toward resurrecting characters during “fight nights,” and a player who doesn’t mind getting murder counts may be useful as a quest adversary.

  • Master of ceremonies: Who will be announcing the rules of your contest or the winner of a tournament? Who will be the minister in your wedding ceremony?
  • Quest characters: Who will be the curious figure who draws people into a mystery? Does your quest need a “bad guy”?
  • Documenter: Your “staff” may share equal responsibility of taking screenshots, but who will write the announcements? Who will note the names of the survivors of your dungeon crawl on your Web site, or announce the victors of the latest bagball tournament?
  • Writer: Someone may need to design contest rules, adapt a script, write wedding ceremony vows, or plan out quest elements to be plotted out in advance. Make sure to pass them along to the related event staff members.

Make sure there are no questions about which person has which responsibility, including that most important question: who will people go to if there are questions or problems?

Who makes the call?

However you distribute responsibilities, make sure that everyone knows who will be “making the call” in the face of any emergency. This person may have to make some important decisions in some sticky situations, such as: if you only accounted for one winner, but two characters “come in first,” this person will have to decide who gets the one prize and why. If a scavenger hunt asked for “bolts,” and one team brought in crossbow bolts and another collected bolts of cloth, the “person in charge” needs to decide what’s valid, typically on the spot. Make sure that your staff, participants, and audience will know this person/character and their “in charge” role before, during, and after the event. You might even consider saying it straight out during an opening speech at the beginning of the event.

Prepare yourself outside and inside the game

  • Contact between event staff: Will you and your helpers maintain a behind-the-scenes chat? Make sure everyone has compatible chat software, and knows when and how to use it.
  • Screenshots: If you’re going to be taking screenshots of the event, do you have the proper software?
  • Rehearse: If you’re performing a play, wedding ceremony, or timing-critical quest scene, consider practicing some of the most important lines in a dress rehearsal.
  • Pasting text into Ultima Online: Did you know you could set up a “Paste” macro in UO? Simply go into the macros section of your UO Options menu, create a new macro, and set it as “Paste.” I’ve conveniently set the keys “Control+V” to paste text into the game for me.
  • Gather Resources: communication crystals, food, rewards, barkeeps
  • Mark Runestones: Has anyone marked runes to any of the event-related locations? Handing out free marked runes during an event is a great way to get people to return. Some people even sell them on their vendors throughout the week for this purpose.
  • Helper’s supplies: Consider giving your helpers a bag of event supplies (pre-Marked runes, reagents, books with contest rules to be handed out).

If there is one particular item that is key to the progress or success of the event, make sure you have more than one of them, with each held by separate people. If this item is stolen, lost, or the holding player/character can’t log into the game, your event won’t end up being a bust.

Promote your event

Someone should write up a short announcement for your event, and try to include the following bits of information:

  • The name of the event
  • The Web site or message board URL for the event
  • The name & details of who to contact (e-mail address, ICQ, IRC nick, AIM nick, etc.)
  • Time and date of the event (ex. 7:00pm PST, Friday, August 28th, 2001)
  • The location (including shard, facet, location, directions on how to get there “by foot,” and even the Web address of a good map)
  • Any special rules
  • Any special gifts or considerations (ex. “Prizes will be awarded to the winners,” “Gates will be provided from Britain’s ‘Chamber of Virtue’ to the event location beginning 15 minutes prior to the event starting time” or “Please make sure to leave precious valuables at home, as we’ll be entering a dangerous area.”)

Once you start announcing your event, make sure to actively spread the word. Post your article on the front page of your own web site. Send your news article to fan news sites, our Event Calendar, and Ultima Online e-mail lists. Announce your event on message boards, including Ours. Contact people with e-mail, IRC, ICQ, AIM, and whatever resources you feel appropriate. And let’s not forget good, old-fashioned legwork: walk around town and let people know about your event directly from you. Plan to announce your event several days before it occurs—perhaps even more than once, such as one full week before, two days before, and 12 hours before, for a large, one-time-only event. Smaller or weekly events may do well with only one announcement a day or two beforehand.

Barkeeps: Players now have the Barkeep to assist them in their events. Players can “program” their barkeeps with up to four “paragraphs” of text, one which will be called out whenever someone drops any amount of gold on it, and the remaining three when anyone says the related keyword(s) nearby. They’ll also announce any recent official Scenario news if someone says “news” to them. Every barkeep will respond to the word “news,” and to a tip; these can work in your favor. You can include some event-based facts in barkeep phrases, as well as hint to players about some of the barkeep’s other keywords. For example:

Player: “news”

Barkeep: [scenario message, and…] “Well, there’s also the TOURNAMENT this Sunday, the 4th at 7pm by the Eastern Sky.”
Player: (gives the barkeep a tip)
Barkeep: Thank you very much! I’ll just add this to the PRIZE for the TOURNAMENT on the 4th.
Player: “tournament”
Barkeep: “We hold a fight night every Sunday. There’s more NEWS at”
Player: “prize”
Barkeep: “We’ll be giving away 10,000 gold to the winner of the TOURNAMENT”

In the example above, note that each phrase includes at least one keyword hint for players who may be looking to learn more about the event.

Here are some other examples:

  • “rules”: “No magery will be allowed in the CONTEST, otherwise anything goes.”
  • “event”: “You’re welcome to join our TOWN Meeting, the first Tuesday of every month.
  • “[the barkeeps name]”: “I can’t place your face, friend, but we get a lot of strangers here since the MURDER.”
  • “[the name of the building]”: “Yup, that’s where you are. You looking for the OWNER, that lazy bum?”

Books: If you think participants may have not seen any announcements, or information beyond what the barkeep provides, consider locking down a book or books in your house. Remember: players can’t write in locked down purple books, so they might be good for displaying a schedule, rules, or contact information. However, players can write in locked-down brown books, so they are great to use as guestbooks or as a place where people can post questions.

15 minutes before: Helpers should probably be available and ready at least 15 minutes before most events’ starting times. This may mean being in a related Internet chat, or their characters should be in certain in-game locations, or both. Some magery-based characters might need to begin casting magical Gates in key, well-known and high-trafficked locations, to help bring in a larger audience. You could chat with players who show up early for your event. Don’t forget, it’s never too early to promote your next event. ;) Give out food to your guests. Start getting a headcount of participants, and consider if you need to make any last minute adjustments to the scale of your event based on how many people show up.

Next time: your event has begun and you’ve entered the heart of the event in the “Management” phase.

Keith "Sannio" Quinn
Online Community Coordinator
Ultima Online
Origin Systems