Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

General out-of-character discussion among players of Cantr II.

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cutecuddlydirewolf
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Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby cutecuddlydirewolf » Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:32 am

I should start by explaining why I chose to start this thread- not as an argument or as provocation, but to stimulate civil, thoughtful discussion among the members of our community.

Many of you already know that I'm the player of En Kell, the pirate and murderess. Even more of you have had characters who've had the chance to interact with her, or who were involved in recent events that I won't get into due to the game rules. This post isn't about justifying my character's actions, or trying to concoct some elaborate excuse for playing someone truly despicable. Because at the end of the day, to be honest, I don't believe that I- or anyone else for that matter- should have to apologize for playing an "evil" character.

I know not all of you agree with this sentiment, but I can say that I personally am of the opinion that writing without any kind of inherent conflict or struggle is boring. I've been playing Cantr for around five years now- not as long as some of you, but long enough to see what I believe to be an ongoing trend.  Cantr II is not an FPS or a real-time strategy game. It is not about combat, or violence, or kill streaks. I 1000% agree that none of those should be the core focus of the game, or the individual goal of any given character.

However.

What I feel is often misunderstood is that greater ambitions and motivations can encompass violence, to a very successful degree. For an in-game example, consider what I'll call the "Inkystone" clan. Several of you have had characters who were a part of that group, a family that had an extremely bloody and fight-fueled history. So influential are the Inkystones that the majority of what you could call Cantr's "lore" centers around their escapades. As time went on, most of the members died off, and as it stands, there are currently no notable "factions" standing within the game.

How does this relate to my characters?

Don't get me wrong. I'm under no impression that I'm going to make a character who's going to be the next great, or that any of my existing characters are important enough to influence their surroundings on the level that the Inkystones did. But what I am going to do, as I have been for some time now, is try and develop characters that are more unpalatable and generally off-putting. Characters who stir the pot, question the status quo, rile things up. Not to target any specific player, or to spite anyone- I made En to be the villain of a story. Someone who creates conflict and chaos, who kills and maims under a delusion of grandeur. Someone who will inspire revolt against her tyranny, perhaps even change others' ways of life.

En Kell is a fictional character in a make-believe world. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people have insinuated that she's my release, my way to act out my own sick, depraved fantasies as a player. I've even been compared to Adolf Hitler. Personally, I find that idea more hilarious than insulting- though I'm appalled that I even feel the need to point out how untrue those statements are. I am fully aware that what En does is morally wrong. The character is indeed very sick, and very vile.

With that being said, knowing this, I've made some mistakes as a player. Graphically violent roleplay in public was one. It isn't right to force over-the-top gore on other players, and I do realize that now. The other thing I've come to realize is how discouraging killing off characters can be for other players. I've had a few characters murdered in my time playing the game. Setsuna Shang and Mizore Hanakotoba, for example. It did upset me, especially when it happened while I was offline and powerless to do anything about that.

I recognize that frustration, and it has made me consider how I play En. Again, without getting too specific, I have tried to shape her persona to be less eager to murder, and more likely to keep those around her alive. That decision was based on OOC motives, and I believe it should be. I've come to understand that playing a villanous character is a fine balance between motivating other characters to fight back, and discouraging other players from the game entirely.

But, that's enough about me and my characters. I do want to hear what those of you on the forum think about the idea of villainy in Cantr in general, and whether violent characters are overall helpful and stimulating to roleplay or entirely discouraging. I do think something good could come of such a discussion.

Thanks for reading my novella here. :P
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Tiamo » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:57 am

PvP (or rather CvC) violence is a key design issue in games. Whether violence is possible/allowed, how, and what the consequences can be are questions the game designer should answer before the game is even written.
Game mechanisms should reflect the choices made: if some type of (violent) behaviour is allowed, suitable mechanisme should be in place, and vice versa; if a mechanism exists players should be (and can expect to be) allowed to use it.
Since Cantr obviously has the options of hitting, abducting/jailing and killing other players' characters players can expect this to be accepted behaviour.

Consider, say, a pet caring game. Nobody would want other players have the ability to hurt, or even kill any of your pets! Or a pirate game. This type would be moot without violence and character kills.
Cantr has a bit of both those game types, making the question cutecuddlydirewolf poses a difficult one. Some degree of danger adds to the appeal (and realism level) of a game like Cantr, but getting one of your characters hurt or even killed out of the blue can be quite upsetting, as players probably have invested a LOT of playing time in their characters.

I think the powers that be would be wise to (re)consider this, and related issues, trying to find a balance between action/violence, excitement, involvement, planning and safety that suits Cantr, and change appropriate game mechanisms accordingly.
Themes involved: death of old age, interaction/cooperation by chars from the same player, combat system, dragging, locks&keys system, possible interaction/violence results (defense, fleeing, surrender, robbing, capture, permanent physical results?), succession/inheritance.
I think ...
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Naranjita » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:03 am

cutecuddlydirewolf wrote:I recognize that frustration, and it has made me consider how I play En. Again, without getting too specific, I have tried to shape her persona to be less eager to murder, and more likely to keep those around her alive. That decision was based on OOC motives, and I believe it should be. I've come to understand that playing a villanous character is a fine balance between motivating other characters to fight back, and discouraging other players from the game entirely.


Yay, civil discussions!

Probably some players will have a different opinion, but I'll talk as someone who's unable to play evil characters (if cantr was a Disney movie, I'd always be the funny singing companion, it's my curse). That's why I think some villains are necessary to create a roleplay ground. And En Kell does it. It must be exhausting to play her!

At least from what I've seen, it's almost hard to get killed by her crew if you do roleplay. I don't know of other villains with such a high ratio of survivors left behind. And let's admit it, being a survivor is sooo cool to bring the trauma out of you... Call me old bat, but what's life without a pinch of drama?

The fact is that with awake, interacting characters I don't have the feeling I'll be instanctly killed without roleplay. Depending on the character and how much I invested on it, that absolutely would piss me off and I understand a player may want to quit the game because of that. I understand sometimes it's an unavoidable ending, but really don't see En Kell that kind overall.

Cantr combat system doesn't help to roleplay combats (specially for those who play on the phone) but I like the amount of conversation and context that she provides anytime she strikes. Maybe my next post is to blame her in seven languages, but unlikely other villains I tend to feel 'safe' as a player, like if there was a rear exit for the chars if they pledged to her twisted whims. I mean, if you were wondering if the 'less eager to murder' thing is noticeable, it is. And I as a player thank you for that, it's a kind approaching to evilness in a game whose player base is so reduced and frail. Hope you have the chance to give En Kell the bloody ending she deserves (I doubt it, but really hope it won't disuade you to create more villains of this type in the future!).

Regarding the goreness, I haven't seen anything that made me want to pop my eyes out, but probably I haven't seen much. As a funny note, I sweat to understand many of her emotes and it bugs me, but it's a good way to learn English. It makes my google searching history quite perturbing, though. :lol:
"What we've got here is failure to communicate"
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Wolfsong » Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:07 pm

"Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars."
- William Faulkner, Noble Banquet Speech, December 10, 1950

Villains and antagonists in roleplaying games are interesting from an out of character perspective because, and this isn't exclusive to Cantr by any means, they are always polarizing both out of character and in character, even if their actions only occur within the confines of the game world. Despite posing no threat to the player of a game, players often react to them with disproportionate defensiveness and hostility, and transfer that hostility from character to player, ostracizing other players from a group for the actions of their character.

"To those good people who play good characters and have good hearts who still play, I will miss you. I got to know some pretty great people. Some of them, just by their play, helped me in real life even though they didn't know it. There's maybe a couple of you left that I know and perhaps a dozen whom I do not but still enjoy. I'm sorry you are still playing in a world that only gives real psychos license to act out their violent fantasies on you."


This happens across a number of different games, from tabletop (pen-and-paper) RPGs, multiplayer RPGs, MMOs, roleplay focused MUDs, and simulation and roleplay focused browser games. It is more prevalent in games with permadeath, however. When these other players are also staff members, this ostracization can be (and often is) literal and permanent. It's somewhat unique in that other types of drama or conflict do not seem to have the same ability to provoke such immediate and intense player hostility, and is often even praised by other players.

Why do players hate villainous characters?

Relationship with Own Character
- Real life time investment
- As an avatar
- As a two-way relationship
- Inability to separate IC and OOC

"You are definitely not. I am usually sad when a character's close friend or significant other dies, and may shed a few tears, but every now and then, there's one that just entirely tears me apart. Thinking about no longer being able to interact with the character crushes me, makes me anxious and keeps my mind running long after I should be sleeping, because I can't stop thinking about where the story could have gone. Or I worry about the player, whoever they may be and hope they are okay, if it seems like an unexpected end."


In brief, a player invests a lot of time and effort into playing a character. The more time invested, the longer the player plays a character, and the more "stuff" a character accumulates, the more the player becomes attached to their character. Players can foster a sort of fictional relationship with their own characters, where they talk to them and about them as if they were real people. They can also assume this character as an avatar for themselves - a stand in that acts the same way they would in a given situation. This makes any slight against their character a slight against themselves as players. Imaginary slights become as deadly serious as real life threats. It's inevitable that, as time goes on, the lines between what happens to their character, and what happens to them as a player, is blurred. This goes two ways - players who dislike other players will form grudges against their characters and, if a character acts in a way that is hostile to their own character's ideals, they themselves will form grudges against other players.

Loss of Autonomy

In roleplaying games, players are told that they are in control of their own character's story. It's baked into virtually all advertising about these sorts of "life in the day of" games:

"Play as a politician, a pirate, a poet, a feared conqueror, a trader, an artisan, a courtesan, or as an explorer in an ever-changing world that is affected by the choices you make in game."
(Cantr Main Page)
"Once your character steps into the world, what you do is up to you, as the freedom to play whatever sort of character you want allows infinite possibilities."
(Marosia Main Page)
"You can do anything in this text environment that you could do in any video role-playing game and usually much more. You can become better at your chosen trade, buy/sell, travel, fight, get a job and the scope is pretty much endless."
(Harshlands MUD: The Idea)

The problem is, of course, that autonomy is a lie. The player does not have endless ability to affect the life of their character; they cannot solely direct and shape their story. In fact, the player can have their autonomy very easily taken away by other players and by staff members, whether fairly or unfairly, for good reason or no reason at all. They might spend four or five years building a character toward some dream or goal, only to have them removed from the game in an instant. Villainous characters have the ability to remove a player's autonomy and agency, and that's why they are so reviled by the majority of the playerbase. Playing these alternate life games is a very selfish, escapist endeavour. When things happen to characters that their players cannot control, there is stress and frustration. People stop having fun because their vision of what is fun is ruined.

"I'm really considering just throwing in the towel over the upcoming radio nerf. It will mark the third or fourth time since I started playing that I've had to hit the brakes hard on one or more characters and I can't overstate just how frustrating it is."


Fear of Unsatisfying Resolution

"Cantr II is a very anonymous game. Nobody can see who is playing what character."
(Cantr: Discuss Cantr)

Because people do not always know who they are playing with, they are less willing (or completely unwilling) to trust other players to know how to properly resolve their own character's story arc. These players weren't there, cannot have known the nuances of their character's life, and therefore cannot be trusted to give them a satisfying conclusion. Anonymity is a highly negative state. For this same reason, newspawns are not trusted - if one character spawns in, grabs a wooden shield, and runs off, then therefore all potential characters who may ever be spawned by other anonymous players are equally liable to become thieves. Murderers in the past have attacked "without roleplay" and ruined stories for other people (see discussion re: Doryiskom massacre) and those players were banned for it. Therefore, the majority player community identifies all characters who are murderers with the same broad strokes - players then who must surely "get off on it" and do it with purely destructire OOC impulses in mind.

Ability to Remove At Will Oneself From Stressors

"Due to the Players Department, due to behaviour I am probably not 'allowed' to talk about. I will decide in the next few days if I'll hit the X."

"Over the past few weeks, after much thought, I'm seriously considering what I've not done before and that is quit. I've been a player for god...over 10 years. Whatever is going on with cantr lately, it's starting not to be fun anymore. There's a lot of ooc crap happening, and it's becoming disheartening that I don't even know what to do anymore."


In real life, when bad things happen, people are forced to adapt and change. They either buckle against, or overcome, these obstacles. It's the hero's journey - or it isn't. But in a game, when bad things happen, the player always has the ability to step back and stop playing the game. When something stressful or frustrating or negative happens, the player can always quit. In fact, it's often the last way a player can affect autonomy over their own character - a final gesture of defiance that allows them to end things "on their own terms." Hence why ragequitting is so popular. The only winning move is not to play.

When one player loses a character, or is at risk of losing a character and therefore ragequits before that can happen (preventing them from "losing the game"), then the entire player community becomes prejudiced against the character and situation that caused that player to ragequit. This becomes a cycle until the player community, desperate to police itself and retain members where possible, turns on any signs of aggression and hostility in the name of saving the game, and removes the offending players from the community - by bullying, or (if admins are involved) banning.

Basically, at this point, it's culture. But it's this culture that exposes a big flaw in your reasoning for playing a villain, too. You hope that your villain will rally other characters into action, spurring characters to react or adapt or overcome the obstacles set before them. But for most people who play this game, that's too hard. And that isn't why they play the game - that isn't part of their story, and will never be. So they will instead retreat even further into their own narratives, quit when those narratives are disrupted, and generally just wait until staff finally remove the offending player-character from the group.

(Edit: For the record, I like villainy very much as a player. That's why I started this post with that random Faulkner quote about good writing. "The human heart in conflict with itself, etc." I don't myself play hardcore villains because it's a surefire way to definitely 100% get banned from the game, and for what a thankless time investment properly roleplaying a villain would be, getting banned is a poor reward. But that doesn't mean other people shouldn't roleplay them and gradually try to shift OOC perspectives in doing so. I did play antagonists from time to time.)
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Alladinsane » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:42 pm

Sometimes I compare permadeath to the guy who came into the house and tossed the entire board of your Risk (substitute you own game, I am using table top as an example) and all the pieces cannot be retrieved. You had been playing that game for a year (a year? are you sure you are not talking about monopoly?) and really put the work into it. Now its gone and you will likely never be able to set the pieces the way they were before.

The person who destroyed your game is sometimes a masked stranger...Other times you know exactly who did it. You had done nothing to this stranger, he just beat you at a game of cards and thrown the whole deck away as he left...right into the shredder! That feeling of loss can never be filled by anything but time... you will never have your beloved char again. So you quit.

We have had a few rage quits, disappointment quits, sadness quits, etc. (There are many reasons and we don't want to lose anybody). Sometimes these people come back eventually, but I see the loss of every single person as a loss for all of us. We lose the chance to interact with these people forever...gone...done. This game was originally about building community... a few thieves and robbers was okay and thats part of life, but murderers (Lets be honest and call them what they are.) do more that slow down somebody's game and they can't have a "do over"... chars gain about 19ys of char age in a rl year. So when a char who is "very old" is snuffed by ppl he has never even met... years of involvement are lost and some players quit and take 14 other chars with them... this 'trickle' really shrinks the player base and robs us all of chances to interact with some fine players.

When breaking someones diligence and attention over a five year period becomes... 'fun'; think of the human being on the other end.
I don't know what to say to that. Sure societies have it, I have seen it in my studies and service on grand jury... It didn't feel fun (even though I thought it would be when I went into it)... it was shocking and sad when I saw some of the depravity that humans do to one another. I won't give the details in public... but those who think its cool should have seen what was done... and should have talked to the friends and family members so affected by this. Doing this as a 'pretend' thing does hurt somebody if they are emotionally invested in this emotional game. Nobody who was a serious student smiled through those tapes.

I personally manage to put it aside...though losing my first char was pretty tramatic. It is "just a game"... but your investment in it means something to somebody. If you capture someone... drop them off somewhere with nothing but the hide clothes you leave them with? Maybe that what NDS was implemented for... if you beat somebody in a game, why not have them come back so that you can beat them again? I guess we called that "sportsmanship" once.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Wolfsong » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:16 pm

That rather perfectly illustrates the points I made above.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby cutecuddlydirewolf » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:36 pm

Thanks for all your responses! :D I do appreciate the thought you all put into them. I'll try and address your points in two posts, to avoid hogging the thread.

Tiamo wrote:Cantr has a bit of both those game types, making the question cutecuddlydirewolf poses a difficult one. Some degree of danger adds to the appeal (and realism level) of a game like Cantr, but getting one of your characters hurt or even killed out of the blue can be quite upsetting, as players probably have invested a LOT of playing time in their characters.

I think the powers that be would be wise to (re)consider this, and related issues, trying to find a balance between action/violence, excitement, involvement, planning and safety that suits Cantr, and change appropriate game mechanisms accordingly.
Themes involved: death of old age, interaction/cooperation by chars from the same player, combat system, dragging, locks&keys system, possible interaction/violence results (defense, fleeing, surrender, robbing, capture, permanent physical results?), succession/inheritance.


I'm inclined to agree with just about everything you said, Tiamo. I totally understand how much time and effort people put into their characters, and how devastating it can be when that's taken away from them at a moment's notice. The issue with combat is tricky. Right now, the group with more people wins the fight almost all the time- for the simple reason that the more people you have, the more times you can attack before you have the day-long cooldown. Personally, I'd prefer a turn-based form of combat instead, or an automatic counter-attacking system like Marosia has. I think overall, one of those options would be more fair to everyone involved, as well as provide better opportunities for roleplay, which is easy to forget in the heat of the moment.

Naranjita wrote:At least from what I've seen, it's almost hard to get killed by her crew if you do roleplay. I don't know of other villains with such a high ratio of survivors left behind. And let's admit it, being a survivor is sooo cool to bring the trauma out of you... Call me old bat, but what's life without a pinch of drama?

The fact is that with awake, interacting characters I don't have the feeling I'll be instanctly killed without roleplay. Depending on the character and how much I invested on it, that absolutely would piss me off and I understand a player may want to quit the game because of that. I understand sometimes it's an unavoidable ending, but really don't see En Kell that kind overall.

Cantr combat system doesn't help to roleplay combats (specially for those who play on the phone) but I like the amount of conversation and context that she provides anytime she strikes. Maybe my next post is to blame her in seven languages, but unlikely other villains I tend to feel 'safe' as a player, like if there was a rear exit for the chars if they pledged to her twisted whims. I mean, if you were wondering if the 'less eager to murder' thing is noticeable, it is. And I as a player thank you for that, it's a kind approaching to evilness in a game whose player base is so reduced and frail. Hope you have the chance to give En Kell the bloody ending she deserves (I doubt it, but really hope it won't disuade you to create more villains of this type in the future!).


That is generally the kind of feeling I try to give with En. Honestly, straight combat without any kind of roleplay or flavor text grows old very quickly, and it's not very good for writing or for character development. En as a character has her own goals and agendas, and I think in the future, it would be more productive to focus on varying the means in which she attempts to achieve those goals. Avoiding killing off active characters is a good start- if it can be avoided. But I do appreciate that she's been able to generate some interest for you.

Wolfsong wrote:Villains and antagonists in roleplaying games are interesting from an out of character perspective because, and this isn't exclusive to Cantr by any means, they are always polarizing both out of character and in character, even if their actions only occur within the confines of the game world. Despite posing no threat to the player of a game, players often react to them with disproportionate defensiveness and hostility, and transfer that hostility from character to player, ostracizing other players from a group for the actions of their character.

This happens across a number of different games, from tabletop (pen-and-paper) RPGs, multiplayer RPGs, MMOs, roleplay focused MUDs, and simulation and roleplay focused browser games. It is more prevalent in games with permadeath, however. When these other players are also staff members, this ostracization can be (and often is) literal and permanent. It's somewhat unique in that other types of drama or conflict do not seem to have the same ability to provoke such immediate and intense player hostility, and is often even praised by other players.


Wolfsong wrote:Murderers in the past have attacked "without roleplay" and ruined stories for other people (see discussion re: Doryiskom massacre) and those players were banned for it. Therefore, the majority player community identifies all characters who are murderers with the same broad strokes - players then who must surely "get off on it" and do it with purely destructire OOC impulses in mind.


I agree with this, and actually find it very unhealthy. I know it's easy for me to say that since I'm now taking on that role of the pariah you're talking about, but frankly, I don't think any player should be treated that way. I'm not the first player to be in that position, either. That mindset, the idea that any character who "disrupts" the storylines of other characters is made only to troll and be malicious, is toxic.

Wolfsong wrote:In brief, a player invests a lot of time and effort into playing a character. The more time invested, the longer the player plays a character, and the more "stuff" a character accumulates, the more the player becomes attached to their character. Players can foster a sort of fictional relationship with their own characters, where they talk to them and about them as if they were real people. They can also assume this character as an avatar for themselves - a stand in that acts the same way they would in a given situation. This makes any slight against their character a slight against themselves as players. Imaginary slights become as deadly serious as real life threats. It's inevitable that, as time goes on, the lines between what happens to their character, and what happens to them as a player, is blurred. This goes two ways - players who dislike other players will form grudges against their characters and, if a character acts in a way that is hostile to their own character's ideals, they themselves will form grudges against other players.


This is exactly why we have the Capital Rule in place. It's impossible to totally separate yourself from your characters- after all, they are technically a part of you. And after nurturing their personalities and lives over the course of real-life years, you're going to grow attached to them. However, I'll maintain my opinion that players who freely allow that line to be blurred and actively resent or hate other players because of in-game happenings are unhealthy- not only for other players, but for the community as a whole. It's difficult to remember sometimes that there's another person behind any given character. Not some faceless, apathetic robot, but a human being who feels and wants something out of Cantr, whatever that may be. Not to wax romantic here, but that humanity is something everyone needs to remember, I think. I'll be perfectly blunt- if you hate another player because their character slighted yours in-game, that's wrong.

Wolfsong wrote:The problem is, of course, that autonomy is a lie. The player does not have endless ability to affect the life of their character; they cannot solely direct and shape their story. In fact, the player can have their autonomy very easily taken away by other players and by staff members, whether fairly or unfairly, for good reason or no reason at all. They might spend four or five years building a character toward some dream or goal, only to have them removed from the game in an instant. Villainous characters have the ability to remove a player's autonomy and agency, and that's why they are so reviled by the majority of the playerbase. Playing these alternate life games is a very selfish, escapist endeavour. When things happen to characters that their players cannot control, there is stress and frustration. People stop having fun because their vision of what is fun is ruined.


Wolfsong wrote:In real life, when bad things happen, people are forced to adapt and change. They either buckle against, or overcome, these obstacles. It's the hero's journey - or it isn't. But in a game, when bad things happen, the player always has the ability to step back and stop playing the game. When something stressful or frustrating or negative happens, the player can always quit. In fact, it's often the last way a player can affect autonomy over their own character - a final gesture of defiance that allows them to end things "on their own terms." Hence why ragequitting is so popular. The only winning move is not to play.


I agree with all of this. At risk of sounding callous, I will say something about that- something I know that players in the community don't like to hear. If you as a player are looking for a game where nothing bad ever happens and there's no conflict... why are you playing Cantr, a game that allows said conflict, instead of something you hold full control over, like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley? Cantr II was never meant to be a "feel-good" game, at least, not all the time. As you pointed out, the blurb on the home page of the website:

Play as a politician, a pirate, a poet, a feared conqueror, a trader, an artisan, a courtesan, or as an explorer in an ever-changing world that is affected by the choices you make in game.


This is my opinion, so please take it with a grain of salt, but to an extent, I believe that it's selfish to insist that other players play how you want, when you signed up for a game that promotes itself as a free-for-all. (General "you", I mean. Not you specifically, Wolfsong.)

Wolfsong wrote:Basically, at this point, it's culture. But it's this culture that exposes a big flaw in your reasoning for playing a villain, too. You hope that your villain will rally other characters into action, spurring characters to react or adapt or overcome the obstacles set before them. But for most people who play this game, that's too hard. And that isn't why they play the game - that isn't part of their story, and will never be. So they will instead retreat even further into their own narratives, quit when those narratives are disrupted, and generally just wait until staff finally remove the offending player-character from the group.


It is the culture, you're right. And perhaps it's naive to feel that it can be changed. The game is on its way out, and how the community acts certainly doesn't help anything. I've seen new players join up, and then quit only a week later because their characters are ostracized or excluded for not fitting into the stories of the dominant personalities in town. To me, it makes more sense that most of the community seems to view Cantr as some kind of catharsis, as opposed to a group writing exercise. I see it wholly as the latter. The "story" never belongs exclusively to your character, or rather, it shouldn't. Your character should be a part of the world, the lore- a character in Cantr's "story" as a whole. And I think that's been forgotten amidst all the drama and hard feelings.

All that said, I did very much enjoy reading your post, Wolfsong. :D It definitely gave me some food for the thought to chew on, and I appreciate the time and consideration you put into it.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby cutecuddlydirewolf » Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:48 pm

Alladinsane wrote:Sometimes I compare permadeath to the guy who came into the house and tossed the entire board of your Risk (substitute you own game, I am using table top as an example) and all the pieces cannot be retrieved. You had been playing that game for a year (a year? are you sure you are not talking about monopoly?) and really put the work into it. Now its gone and you will likely never be able to set the pieces the way they were before.


Which is difficult. However, in all good stories and character arcs- that's what happens. Things change, characters adapt, or else they're left behind in stagnation.

Alladinsane wrote:We have had a few rage quits, disappointment quits, sadness quits, etc. (There are many reasons and we don't want to lose anybody). Sometimes these people come back eventually, but I see the loss of every single person as a loss for all of us. We lose the chance to interact with these people forever...gone...done. This game was originally about building community... a few thieves and robbers was okay and thats part of life, but murderers (Lets be honest and call them what they are.) do more that slow down somebody's game and they can't have a "do over"... chars gain about 19ys of char age in a rl year. So when a char who is "very old" is snuffed by ppl he has never even met... years of involvement are lost and some players quit and take 14 other chars with them... this 'trickle' really shrinks the player base and robs us all of chances to interact with some fine players.


Losing characters without any kind of roleplay is always hard to swallow, and I can absolutely understand a player quitting over that. But there is a difference between rightful indignation, and quitting because you aren't getting your way. I've watched some players quit just because their character's boyfriend broke up with them, or because the radios aren't as far-reaching as they used to be. And ultimately, as unfortunate as it is, you can't force players to stay. We are losing players as a community, and it does hurt us, especially when they were good writers. It needs to be discussed on how we as a community can discourage that, if not prevent it outright. The issue I mainly take is when people say that violent characters are the exclusive reason players quit- mostly because it's nitpicking. Is it a reason? Absolutely. But with a ten-year history of players quitting over some honestly petty things, it's not the only contributing factor by a longshot.

Alladinsane wrote:When breaking someones diligence and attention over a five year period becomes... 'fun'; think of the human being on the other end.
I don't know what to say to that. Sure societies have it, I have seen it in my studies and service on grand jury... It didn't feel fun (even though I thought it would be when I went into it)... it was shocking and sad when I saw some of the depravity that humans do to one another. I won't give the details in public... but those who think its cool should have seen what was done... and should have talked to the friends and family members so affected by this. Doing this as a 'pretend' thing does hurt somebody if they are emotionally invested in this emotional game. Nobody who was a serious student smiled through those tapes.


No one should ever, ever, ever be playing their character in a certain way to actively try and hurt other players. As I said in my above post, it's easy to forget that there are real people behind the screen- real people with real lives, and real feelings. Ultimately, players in this community need to consider doing two things. Being more empathetic to other players, while also curbing their own OOC feelings towards in-game events. Players shouldn't have to walk on eggshells to avoid offending the wrong person, but at the same time, they shouldn't go out of their way to be cruel. I have seen far too much of both, and it's made me have to seriously think about how much involvement I want with the out-of-game community.

Alladinsane wrote:I personally manage to put it aside...though losing my first char was pretty tramatic. It is "just a game"... but your investment in it means something to somebody. If you capture someone... drop them off somewhere with nothing but the hide clothes you leave them with? Maybe that what NDS was implemented for... if you beat somebody in a game, why not have them come back so that you can beat them again? I guess we called that "sportsmanship" once.


NDS is great, and I love it. It's a good way to suppress a character without killing them outright. As I've said, in general, wanton murder is bad for the game. Conflict, violence, and struggle? Not so much.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Wolfsong » Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:40 pm

For the record, the things I spoke about haven't really affected me in the same way as the apparent majority of players, which might be why I can stand here and talk about it without getting too invested.

Most of my character deaths have occurred not from pirates or murderers but from established town leaders dragging characters into locked rooms to starve silently for years without interaction. My only experiences with English pirates have been pretty fun, and very fulfilling from a character perspective. I've been around long enough too to remember a few baby wars, and enjoyed the hell out of those too even though I was sometimes on the losing side, but wars are somewhat more acceptable again. Land vs. sea? Not sure why wars were viewed as more okay than piracy. (Edit: Maybe it's because wars haven't happened for awhile, so players remember them more fondly than they do piracy, which still occurs.)

I'm just trying to give an overall picture here of how most* of the player community of Cantr (and elsewhere) feel when confronted with these situations.

As for how to fix this problem, that's the big question. Obviously the most obvious solution is to have more players. More players means more characters, activity, and excitement, so players won't hold all their fun in one fragile basket. But for new players to hang around, you need to have some draw for them, too - which IMO is best served through conflict. Maybe instead of piracy, we need pirate kingdoms. We need worldbuilding and people willing to lose for the sake of the narrative... But if that isn't around right now, you can't expect new players to all accept that subordinate losing position, either. Established players need to grow and change - but old dogs and new tricks. I still believe a one time blanket ban forgiveness and mass email newsletter to old accounts would have an immediate and positive effect on the game. But the reality is that there is a majority here and on staff that do not want the status quo to change, and enjoy how things are currently.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby PaintedbyRoses » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:53 am

Wolfsong wrote:I don't myself play hardcore villains because it's a surefire way to definitely 100% get banned from the game, and for what a thankless time investment properly roleplaying a villain would be, getting banned is a poor reward.

Is this true? If so, I had no idea. And if so, it is terrible for the game.

Maybe most other players don't, but I think of Cantr as a novel or a movie. Without conflict, without loss, often without death, there is no story, there is no drama. When I was playing, that's what Cantr was like - dull, listless, almost no conflict or drama or...life. Every story needs tragedy. Every story needs a villain. It might be a small time gossip or a murdering monster but their purpose is to make the story interesting. And sometimes that story involves the senseless death of someone extraordinary and irreplaceable. And characters mourn and some of them don't recover but most? a few? of them carry on and build new lives and new relationships. Just like in real life.

Death in Cantr can be compared to pruning a tree. It seems like the branches have been cut back so much that it will surely die but it actually provides opportunity for new, vigorous growth and results in a healthier tree.

Kudos to you, cutecuddlydirewolf, for creating a real villain in a world where that has become almost impossible to do. It's seems that piracy is the only way to do it now. I wouldn't be surprised if some new game mechanism is in the works which will soon make piracy impossible, as well.

Also, thanks for writing so well about the need for a certain amount of death, conflict and violence in a way I could not express.

I'm too soft-hearted to play villains. I wish I could, though, and I wish more people had the opportunity to play villains. We need them.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby muidoido » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:50 pm

PaintedbyRoses wrote:Is this true? If so, I had no idea. And if so, it is terrible for the game.


I think that's one person's view of something that happened in the past. I play Cantr for 9.5 years and I never saw anyone being banned for being violent, or for "poor RP'. And trust me, I've seen bad stuff happening in game, specially in my language group.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Wolfsong » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:11 pm

Every single large scale massacre I've heard about in the 10+ years I've played in the English zone has resulted in the banning of the individual or individuals who perpetrated it. Add to that the banning of an entire group of players a couple years ago (?) for playing violently and killing the wrong people, and it seems like a pretty predictable picture.

I know this isn't the case in other language groups (the Polish have long standing pirates and warlords who get/got away with a lot more, for example, and are even allowed to co-ordinate OOCly to play with their friends and character alts) but the English zone has always been over-policed because traditionally the majority of staff were native English speakers. But that hasn't been true for awhile, I think.
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Alladinsane » Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:02 pm

Some of the massacres that have resulted in ban's... There was more to that can't be discussed in a public forum. These people did bad things of some sort and the bans were reviewed and seen by two separate committees... not all the happenings can be discussed with the player base out of staff respect for the confidentiality of the attackers and defenders alike. That is a principle that all staff has on this simulation. Some people might have spouses or significant others who might take serious offense at those who engage in ERP or portray their chars in a way that they might not morally agree with. To my knowledge, no divorces or breakups have happened, but why tempt fate? One marriage (or more) has happened because of this

The idea of canceling the bans on some players... I call B.S; sorry. I wish it was different. The idea of telling some players that "The people who hurt your chars and made you quit before are back, don't you want to come back too?" I don't get that.

We may have to tell them stuff like our new...well, things are in the works.

I do agree that some conflict is good and natural for humans. But an entire continent where most of the cities are inland or hidden behind long bays does not draw either imo. There is one city that has a reputation for being wealthy due to a coinage system. Raiding that would take courage and coordination.

I hope I have not said too much or revealed too much and I invite any PD member to edit or instruct me to edit specific things here. I just hope you know that the people her are working hard for this game and this community spending hours that would be more fun...doing something. These people are putting that work in out of love for the game and community, because most are not earning a cent doing it. To everyone who thinks they know what is needed; Yay you!.
Keep thinking about the game and continue with ideas for new items and foods..if you have many good ideas; apply for staff! This is your game (mostly) and you can make an impact with new foods, new clothing, new tools, new ideas' or a new kingdom with you as the head. There are lots of empty cities now and the building already exist! Soon you can all serve in my kingdom where I want daily steaks and mead.
Tell your friends who like to write...this is a great place for creating your story with you as the hero or antihero... dare them to take a chance with that half hour a night that they are watching rerun sitcoms. Good things can happen here and will if this community works and plays hard!
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby Rmak » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:27 pm

Alladinsane wrote:Some of the massacres that have resulted in ban's... There was more to that can't be discussed in a public forum. These people did bad things of some sort and the bans were reviewed and seen by two separate committees... not all the happenings can be discussed with the player base out of staff respect for the confidentiality of the attackers and defenders alike. That is a principle that all staff has on this simulation. Some people might have spouses or significant others who might take serious offense at those who engage in ERP or portray their chars in a way that they might not morally agree with. To my knowledge, no divorces or breakups have happened, but why tempt fate? One marriage (or more) has happened because of this

The idea of canceling the bans on some players... I call B.S; sorry. I wish it was different. The idea of telling some players that "The people who hurt your chars and made you quit before are back, don't you want to come back too?" I don't get that.

We may have to tell them stuff like our new...well, things are in the works.

I do agree that some conflict is good and natural for humans. But an entire continent where most of the cities are inland or hidden behind long bays does not draw either imo. There is one city that has a reputation for being wealthy due to a coinage system. Raiding that would take courage and coordination.

I hope I have not said too much or revealed too much and I invite any PD member to edit or instruct me to edit specific things here. I just hope you know that the people her are working hard for this game and this community spending hours that would be more fun...doing something. These people are putting that work in out of love for the game and community, because most are not earning a cent doing it. To everyone who thinks they know what is needed; Yay you!.
Keep thinking about the game and continue with ideas for new items and foods..if you have many good ideas; apply for staff! This is your game (mostly) and you can make an impact with new foods, new clothing, new tools, new ideas' or a new kingdom with you as the head. There are lots of empty cities now and the building already exist! Soon you can all serve in my kingdom where I want daily steaks and mead.
Tell your friends who like to write...this is a great place for creating your story with you as the hero or antihero... dare them to take a chance with that half hour a night that they are watching rerun sitcoms. Good things can happen here and will if this community works and plays hard!


Gaslighting players but then being worried about the confidentiality of attackers and defenders is certainly a new approach.
Quote Wolfsong:
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Re: Cantr Villains and Violent Characters

Postby raspberrytea » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:03 am

Alladinsane wrote:Some people might have spouses or significant others who might take serious offense at those who engage in ERP or portray their chars in a way that they might not morally agree with.


Er... What are you saying here?

If someone is married or has a SO or for any reason at all doesn't want to engage in ERP, they shouldn't give consent to the other player for it.

If the other player didn't ask for consent, that's a consent problem.

If the player with the disapproving spouse gave consent, that's them being a cheater (or inconsiderate jerk).

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