2002-02-01: Sannio on Event Management

Sannio on Event Management

Feb 1 2002 5:13PM

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

Creating an Event: Management

This article is the third of four Team Comments wherein I discuss suggestions on player-event creation. Development and Preparation were the first two, respectively, and the next will be Aftermath.

Each event will be a unique situation, and there can be numerous variations even in those that are similar, but here are a few thoughts about some circumstances that may be common to a great many of them.

So, let’s start by presuming your staff is all in place-they’re gating & leading people to the event location, and greeting those who show up on their own. Your helpers are clear on the rules, know how the event is going to proceed, and have all the resources they need. It’s time to start the show.

Screenshots: Don’t forget, right from the start, you or one of your helpers could be taking screenshots of the people beforehand, the crowds during, and, of course, of the big finale.

Not only will it be nice for your personal scrapbook, but one or two of these images will help sweeten the look of your post-event news item. Some good pictures would be the moment a participant has won a contest, or any particularly dramatic moment that might have occurred.

Behind-the-scenes connections: You and your helpers may need a level of communication beyond normal in-game talking or party chatting. Consider having an IRC or ICQ chat up and running before the event begins, and possibly track each other’s whereabouts with UOAM.

Low turnout: Don’t worry if only a few people show up to your event. There’s nothing wrong with playing out a small plot for four people, or having a tournament for a handful of combatants. Sometimes, this can work in your favor, as low turnouts can often allow you to focus more on the event and your small group, as opposed to crowd control and making sure several dozen (or several hundred!) people are happy. Having 10 people happy to show up to all your events is better than having 30 people who never care to return.

Pre-event mingling: You or your helpers could start by meandering through the crowd just prior to the event, setting the tone on a one-on-one level with your growing audience. If your event is to be reoccurring, consider giving out free runes to your location to those who showed up early. Have some food available, especially if the event may involve combat and health level is of importance.

Make pre-event announcements: Give people around 5 minutes or so to show up late and get settled, and then ask for everyone’s attention. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your event team, briefly describe what’s about to happen, and-perhaps most importantly-to go over the rules and goals of the event.

You can also take the opportunity to introduce your helpers. If you have a small handful, you could introduce them by name. If they will be wearing special clothing, try to describe what they will look like. If they are all part of a guild, let he audience know which guild and abbreviation.

If you’re offering free food, repairs, resurrections, or any other collateral service, make sure to mention that as well.

Example #1: If you’re introducing a role-played quest, you might begin by stumbling into town, describe (in-character) only the most crucial background elements, and then be very obvious as to what would make the quest a "success" or "failure" before leading the adventurers into danger.

Example #2: Perhaps you’re refereeing a PvP Tournament, in which case you’ll most likely take down all the names of the characters registering for the fight, and then step into the "ring" where you can announce the rules to both fighters and audience alike.

Example #3: If you’re having some kind of ceremony or community meeting, especially involving a large crowd, it may be beneficial to also set some ground rules for who can talk and when.

Proceeding with the event:

Begin the event while the details of the initial announcement are still fresh in everyone’s minds. If you delay too long, your audience & participants may disperse or become sidetracked with making their own entertainment.

Keep things simple, organized, and moving. Long pauses can lead to distraction. Excessively complicated rules or plot twists can leave participants confused and frustrated.

Where is the event going?

Some results are "event-driven," and the event will play out according to the occurrences of specific circumstances that have been planned by the creator of the event. Wedding ceremonies, theatrical plays, and some quests are created this way.

Some results are "player-driven," which means the results were not pre-determined by the creator of the event. Tournaments, contests, and some quests are created in this way.

You won’t be able to plan all the directions in which an event can turn, but try to be aware of possible variations, and try also to maintain some flexibility when the event takes a turn you didn’t expect. Keep track of the things around which you had to adapt; they may even help to make your event more full and enjoyable by the end.

Dealing with trouble: The pace and style of each event will vary and ultimately be up to you, your helpers, your audience… and the often-inevitable troublemakers.

No matter how confident you might be that those who show up have seen the announcement, Web site, or notes, make sure to summarize the event at the start of it, and reassert the rules as necessary (throughout the event). This can avert problems of miscommunication, such as someone showing up late to a tournament with a "no interference" rule, but begins healing a contestant. No ill-will may have been meant, and it may be easily averted with periodic announcements of the rules.

Some people will come to your event with the sole purpose of stalling or stopping it. They’ll spam, kill mounts that remain outside, steal your pivotal quest item, fight your helpers, steal from your audience, and do whatever they can to make everyone miserable. You will not be able to account for all the ways your event can be ground to a halt, but here’s some quick suggestions that will hopefully keep any damage to a minimum.

  • If the event centers around one particular item, especially if it is to some degree rare, try to have more than one of that item available. It’s not only a good way to thwart a problematic thief, but it’s also a potential lifesaver if the item-bearer is unable to log into or start in the game for whatever reason.
  • Try to not have the event outside of a protected area. If you have a house, you have the opportunity to lock the house or rooms within the house, or even call out "I ban thee" against any miscreants who try to enter & ruin your activities. If your event can occur in a guard zone, you have the special protection of the guards in case any fighting breaks out.
  • Hire guards to patrol areas outside a guard zone. These could be player guards (specializing in melee, magic, taming, etc.), or even NPC mercenaries. (On a personal note, some of the best guards I’ve ever known were actually highly skilled in Stealing, and thus able to disarm troublemakers of their precious reagents & weapons even in the middle of battle.)
  • If your only way out will be to "insta-log" within your house, do not fight back. At the moment you fight, you activate a timer that will keep you from insta-logging, even if someone else started the fight.
  • If your event’s in a house and area-effect spells are being cast against your participants, but your audience doesn’t have the capability of insta-logging, ask everyone to stand in the center of whatever room they are in. Area-effect spells can’t reach in far enough to attack someone who is standing in the center of a room in a player’s house.

Segmenting the event:

Some events may involve a lot of dialogue or attention to a large number of individuals and go on for a long time. It’s often a good idea to give people a chance to take a break-to grab a drink or snack, use the restroom, or even fill in their late-coming buddy on what’s already gone on.

It might be a good idea to factor in some periodic, short pauses into your schedule-questors may need to wait 5 minutes while a secret potion is brewed, duelists may be asked to take 2 minutes to prepare for the next fighting match, and other events may simply take a break "on the half-hour mark".

Many people aren’t able or inclined to spend 3 hours participating in a single event. If your event needs to be that long, consider breaking it up into 2 or 3 segments, or even2 or 3 nights.

Try to somehow clearly announce the end of the event, or the end of one phase of the event, whenever possible.

Closing speech:

Thank everyone at the end of the event. Besides being polite, many events often need obvious closure to their proceedings, and a short notation when the event’s over often fits that bill.

If there’s to be a Web page with a write-up, screenshots, tournament results, etc., mention that URL.

Promote your "next time"-if there will be a follow-up event, or if the event will be re-occurring, announce the details (or URL) of what people will need to know for next time.

Next time: the curtain’s closed and the crowd’s thinned, but some event-goers liked the people & activities so much that they decided to hang around afterwards. Take the opportunity to meet & greet in your event’s "Aftermath" phase.

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