Training Tutorial 1
Tutorial 1: Where do I go from here?
You've just seen the introductory sim from the trainer, and now you may be a little confused as to what you're supposed to do next! This tutorial is a little longer than most, but it's going to walk you through everything you need to send out your first sim as part of the game. Please take your time and read carefully.
OPEN A NEW EMAIL
Whenever we're sending our sims to the email list, we open a new email. This means not replying to someone else's. Think of each sim like it's own new "thread" in the story. If we reply to someone else's, your reply might end up hidden in someone else's subject line in email programs that "thread" replies. Your post is a completely new part of the story, even if it encompasses some of what other people wrote, so it deserves its own thread!
So open a new email in your email program. Then, let's address it properly. In the "TO:" field, you're going to put the address of the email list (Google Group) where sims are being received. For this training program, you're going to use the following:
[THIS INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED WHEN TRAINING BEGINS]
But once you're on a ship, your address will look something like this:
Your assigned captain will provide you with this email address.
In the "SUBJECT:" field, we now have to write a compelling title to our sim. The format goes like this:
[RANK] [CHARACTER NAME] – [SIM TITLE]
For example, yours might look like this:
Cadet Tristan Wolf – Everybody get ready to jump! Cadet Wesley Crusher – That time I insulted someone for Starfleet
START WITH YOUR LOCATION
Every sim should always start with the location where the scene is taking place. This allows the readers to instantly know the frame of reference for the scene, and set the background. We put this inside double parenthesis, like so:
((Sickbay, USS Centris))
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
Think of simming like a mystery book. Each of us writes a chapter and then passes it on. By the time we take another turn (the next time we sign on) the book may be right where we hoped or it may be completely different from what we envisioned.
There are two ways you can take part in this collective story. The first is when someone has asked you to do something. For example, your commanding officer could ask you: "How many bad guys are down there, Ensign?" Upon receiving a question like this, you would make up any answer that seems appropriate at the time. In most cases, we're all contributing equally to the story, so you don't have to wait for someone to tell you how to respond to a question like this. You're a storyteller!
The other way to participate is to create your own action. For example, you could be on an away team surveying a planet and invent a problem, perhaps some kind of natural disaster, an approaching enemy, a fascinating discovery, or anything else that seems like it will work well. Now, you just add it to the plot! Our plots develop by the invention of our simmers.
WRITE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF YOUR CHARACTER
As you dive in to creating your first sim, you're going to use the "third-person omniscient" point of view, but from the perspective of your character. That means that as you write the story, you're going to focus first and foremost on what your character is experiencing – what they are thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing and so on – while removing things that your character wouldn't have access to. But you're going to write as if you were a god, watching your character. For example, you could write something like:
Cadet Wolf watched as the training officers marched into the holodeck. He was nervous, but also excited. This was finally his chance to prove himself!
Other characters are also going to write from their perspectives as we go along, and it's okay to integrate what your character would see of other characters:
Cadet Crusher fidgeted with the tricorder on his belt. The guy next to him, Wolf maybe?, looked way too eager – and nervous!
But you would never include other characters' thoughts in your character's sim – because how would your character know those thoughts, unless he or she was a telepath? (And even in that case, you'd rewrite those thoughts from your character's perspective, like: "Wolf couldn't help but hearing Crusher's critical thoughts about him." We'll have more on this below.)
THINGS TO AVOID
Keeping in mind, as we said above, that your sim will only include things from your character's perspective: As you're writing your character responding to other people, you should not include content your character wouldn't be aware of. This means:
... If someone else has put their character's thoughts into the sim, you'd remove those because your character can't see them. ... If someone else's character takes action from another part of the ship where your character isn't, you'll want to make sure that information doesn't show up in your sim. ... And, emotive or action text should be changed to reflect what your character observes, rather than what another character experiences.
For example, if someone else writes:
Cadet Wolf shifted nervously at his station, and then leaning in close to peer at the viewscreen. He did his best to appear more calm and composed than he felt as the Romulan Warbird decloaked in front of them.
You could integrate the parts of that action which your character could see, and be aware of, into your response. So you might write:
Mei'konda glanced at Cadet Wolf – was it his imagination, or did Wolf look tense?
HOW TO FORMAT YOUR SIM
You've probably noticed there are a lot of signs and symbols in the first sim that went out. This is called the "script format," which has its roots in theater, and is an action-oriented way of writing. Everyone in the group writes this way. Let's go through the import stuff you need to write your first sim:
Narration is written normally as you would see in a novel:
The captain shook his head in disbelief, and turned to leave his quarters.
Actions, or stage directions that are written within lines of dialogue, are placed between double colons:
Picard: ::reading PADD:: It says here you graduated top of your class, Ensign. ::places PADD down on his desk:: I look forward to seeing you on the bridge.
To show your character’s speech, begin the line with your character’s last name:
Picard: All hands, brace for impact!
Internal dialogue (your character's thoughts) is contained between oO and Oo. These are simply upper, and lower case letter O:
oO I wish he would stop that. Oo
Communication via personal communication badges is represented by =/\= ( = / \ = ) and is again preceded by the speakers name:
Picard: =/\= Picard to the bridge. =/\=
To express telepathic communication, put the dialogue between tildas ~ which are usually found to the left of the number 1 on your keyboard:
~ Captain, where are you? ~
FINISH WITH YOUR SIGNATURE
To help us easily reference your rank and character name, every sim must also include the closing signature so we know who sent it, like so:
Captain Jean-Luc Picard Commanding Officer USS Enterprise-E
When you graduate from training, you will also receive a Writer ID that you must include in the signature of every email you send within fleet channels. This helps us keep track of your contributions, even if you change email addresses.
CHECK AND MAKE SURE YOUR SIM IS READY TO SEND
Before you push "send," take a look at this checklist:
If all that is good to go, then push send and pray that everyone loves it!
You may also want to check the Google Group to make sure your sim arrived. If you see the sim on the Google Group, you can rest assured everyone else received it as well. For our training group, you can go to this URL:
[THIS INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED WHEN TRAINING BEGINS]
Once you've been assigned to a ship, your captain will provide you with the URL to check. You should see your sim arrive after a couple minutes, and then you can take a quick glance and make sure everything looks good.
Do your best and don't worry if it's not perfect. We know this is a lot to take in at once, but that's why you're in training – this is a place to try new things, make mistakes, and learn how the game is played before you're placed on a ship or starbase with more experienced players.
All of the training staff have gone through the same acclimation as you, and we're here to help you integrate into our game. Over the course of the week, we'll be giving you feedback to help you get the basics down.