Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Flight Rising and Volunteering

One of the things I did do in February was volunteer to run an event in Flight Rising.

"Volunteer" is perhaps the wrong word. It's more like "no one else is doing this so I guess I will" and then no one stopped me.

Organizing people in a game is a lot like that.

A few months earlier, one of the Flight Rising players had suggested a Battle Royale, where for one week, the userbase would actual handle dominance the way the game mechanics had been set up.


Perhaps more background is in order.

FR as a whole is less a game than a toy. You don't play to "win": you just play around, breeding your dragons and playing minigames and buying and selling stuff and whatever strikes your fancy. There is no overall victory condition, no game-mechanic-enforced goal, no score by which your lair is rated.

Some of the minigames within the site have scores, however, and there's one sort of "metagame" called "Dominance".

In game-mechanic terms, every player belongs to one of eleven Flights. Every week is a week-long Dominance Contest between all eleven Flights. The Flight that exalts the most dragons/high level* dragons in proportion to their active user base wins dominance for the next week. The dominant flight enjoys a few insignificant bonuses while dominant. Dominance is mainly for fun/bragging rights.

The main game-mechanic purpose to this is (a) give players another thing to keep them playing and (b) lower the population of dragons in player lairs. Dragons are immortal and lair space is finite, so exaltation -- having dragons leave their lairs and serve the gods -- is ultimately the only way to make sure there's still room in player lairs for breeding. Since this is a breeding game, that's kind of important.

As it turns out in practice, no flight is actually trying to get dominance every week. Any flight that did would always lose to flights that conserved their resources to go all out for a targeted week. Flights don't exactly "take turns", but many in my flight, for example, think it takes two-three months to prepare to take dominance. So the effect is that often a flight will take dominance uncontested. Every two-three weeks, you might see two flights competing. I think back in July there was a four-way struggle. I'm not sure I've seen a three-way.

To encourage other flights to help instead of competing, a flight trying for dominance will usually run a "dominance raffle", where other flights give dragons to the flight trying for dominance in return for the average value of the dragons plus tickets in a raffle.

The Battle Royale concept was simple:

* Nobody runs a dominance raffle to lure dragons to be donated to a flight other than their own.
* Every flight tries to get dominance for their own flight.

Back in November / early December, this idea was well-received. The most common date proposed was the second week of February. Then all talk of it died away.

In early January, I tracked down the original poster of the idea and said "is this on? Can you update the opening post if so?" The response I got was "Uh, I don't actually want to be in charge here, I was just throwing the idea out there."

... OK then.

I guess anyone else can throw the idea out there, too.

I put up a general poll to all flights of "are you going to do this?" and received responses indicating two flights were definitely going to, two flights were kind of "maybe", two flights were "What?" and the rest were "No."

My flight, Wind, was one of the "kinda maybe". All of the people who usually organized Wind's dominance efforts wanted to focus on getting dominance in an event six weeks after the Battle Royale. Some of the rank-and-file were keen on it, though.

And I wanted to do it. And I wanted it to be more than just me.

I decided I'd throw a bunch of money and gilded-chest prizes into an in-flight dominance incentive raffle on my own, and asked if anyone else wanted to help out. Deryni, who usually runs the in-flight raffles, didn't want to run this one but she donated enough treasure to nearly double my pot. Another player, Elfnextdoor, offered to run a separate traditional dragon-and-prizes raffle alongside mine, which was fine by me. I was giving out prizes of obvious and equal value because I didn't want to deal with the drawn-out process of asking people for prize preferences and figuring out who gets what package. If someone else wanted to deal with it, great! Go them!

Elfnextdoor also had the brilliant inspiration of offering ranks and titles to the winners. The ranks were based on the dragons you exalted during the Battle Royale. The titles were personalized: Elfnextdoor churned out dozens of individual nifty titles, one for each participant, plus embellishments and additional titles as individuals were promoted throughout the week.

That was, hands-down, the best part of the event. Everyone loved the ranks and adored their titles.

I built a google form for people to fill out on entering, which fed into a spreadsheet. I mostly-automated the process of calculating ranks and determining who had been promoted. Every night, Elfnextdoor would post a "daily briefing" with invented events from the battle and the names of actual participants and their exalted dragons. Those participants had been drawn at random to receive daily prizes. She'd also post all of that day's promotions, and their shiny new titles.

It was enormously fun, the best time I've ever had in a dominance contest. And this despite Wind being stuck firmly in fourth place -- last of all those making any effort -- for almost the entirety of the event.

The funny thing for me about this was that I had a great time almost entirely because Elfnextdoor was handing out titles and posting daily briefings -- far and away the highlight of the event for me.

But Elfnextdoor told me when she volunteered that she'd had no intention of stepping forward until I did. She'd wanted to do something, but she didn't want to do it alone, and didn't want to be seen as grabbing control. And my skills were, in some respects, very useful to her in making her part work: I'm the one who put together the spreadsheet so she could tell who'd been promoted, for example. It was a good partnership.

As I'd expected, it was a fair bit of work. I ended up putting far more time into the actual "exalting" piece than I'd anticipated, because I really wanted to make vice-admiral. (I wanted to make full admiral, actually, but that was Not Happening.) The funny part about that was I was the one who was handing out ranks and who'd determined what it took to get each one. I'd deliberately put three of them out of my reach. And then reached up to grab the lowest of those anyhow.

But beyond the work, it was far more fun than I had imagined it would be. Enough so that I volunteered for a different project, organizing one of the festival events Wind will be running at the end of March. So far, that's been some work and some fun. I fear it leading to drama (I asked for suggestions at one point and then was unenthusiastic about most of them and shot down one, which is pretty obnoxious on my part IMO.) But so far it's gone fine.

Someday I'd like to volunteer to help a real-world charity. But first I have to find one I can do without leaving my house, because I dislike driving. -_-
Tags: flight rising, life

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