Training Tutorial 2

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Cadet Orientation


Tutorial 2: Writing cooperatively


SPEAKING FOR OTHERS

Each simmer in training, and on your future ship, has thought-out their character, and has an idea of how their character behaves, speaks, and thinks. We learn about other characters by reading the sims of other writers. In our group, we ask that everyone respect the boundaries of those characters, and never speak for them.

For example, if you were to speak for another member of your crew, let’s call him Joe Bloggs, you might have him say something like this:

 CREWMAN: Cadet Bloggs, do you fancy a drink of wine? It's from my parents’ vineyards in France.
 BLOGGS: Sure thing, that sounds swell, buddy!

But consider this: is that really how Joe Bloggs speaks? And do you know, for sure, that Joe likes wine? Perhaps he doesn't call his crewmates "buddy," and perhaps he hates wine!

It’s hard to tell how another character would react to a situation, and part of the fun of simming is watching how other players create unique and surprising responses for their characters. Because of that, it’s best to leave each player the room to creatively respond to any situation.

USING OTHER PLAYERS' CHARACTERS

The information above is generally only valid for conversations. But let’s consider another situation where you and two other crewmembers have been ordered to take a shuttle and complete a mission. Two of you arrive in the shuttlebay and are waiting for the third person, who doesn’t sim his arrival in the shuttlebay. This is obviously inconvenient for you and the other simmer who are already there. You can move the plot forward a little by including the character who hasn’t arrived, but not speaking for him. For example:

 ((Shuttlebay 1, USS Centris))
 Bloggs and Jones had been waiting for a couple of minutes, when the third officer appeared. All three officers then boarded the shuttle and launched as they had been ordered.

As you can see, you haven't spoken for the third officer -- just filled-in something they should have done anyway. But before you take action to put another player in a spot they haven’t simmed their character, you should always give them a chance to do it themselves. Perhaps the third officer wants to disobey orders and not take part in the mission!

If another player hasn't responded in a timely fashion, move on so you can continue simming. But don't move ahead too quickly, too often -- you’ll be taking the fun away from others. Just try to treat other people how you would like to be treated yourself and you’ll often find yourself in the right place.

WRITING COOPERATIVELY TAKES RESPECT

Part of writing cooperatively is acknowledging other writers and their sensitivities. Our goal, as a community, is to respect each other with the way we write and ensure that our game is a safe place.

We've often given our game a "PG-13" rating, which means that it's appropriate for anyone at or above the age of 13, similar in the way that movies are rated. But movie ratings can be too vague, so let's talk a little about what's acceptable, and what's not.

  • Strong language: We try and avoid "hard" swear words (the "f" word, etc.) in favor of "softer" language (damn, hell, crap).
  • Sexual content: We like to call our rule the "fade to black policy." On television (and in movies rated for younger people), when relations get too sexual the scene "fades to black" or goes to commercial, and the viewer is left to imagine what may come next. We do the same thing. We want you to write about romantic relationships and show what is beautiful about love! But we also want to avoid writing explicit scenes that wouldn't be appropriate for younger people.
  • Ethnophaulisms, or "slurs": Any word that others would recognize as offensively describing an ethnic or religious group, or is used to describe people of a specific sexual orientation or gender, is absolutely off limits. If you want to portray two alien characters using these types of words against each other for the sake of the story, talk to your captain about how to do so in a way that makes sense in the context of science fiction, and treats this type of behavior in a way that’s responsible and with the gravity it deserves.
  • Sexist behavior and sexual violence: We have a detailed tutorial on our website that you will find useful in finding the line for sexist behavior. Please take a few minutes to read it at your earliest convenience: http://www.starbase118.net/cadets/tutorial-library/sexism-simming/
  • Violence: We try and avoid graphic violence whenever possible. Violence is an unavoidable part of writing drama, and perhaps even an important part of it. But we also know that there are ways to write violence that doesn’t delve into graphic detail, while still allowing writers to explore themes that are powerful.

If you have questions about any of these guidelines, your captain is the best, first contact. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask your captain for further clarification – that's what they're there for!

SEE ALSO

  • Extra Credit! Sometimes, you may lose an opportunity to tell your character's part of the story because other players have moved on past a scene you were planning to contribute to. Using a flashback, you can wrap-up small scenes the way you want. Read more: http://sb118.net/avoiding_backsims
  • You can always find this tutorial on our website: http://sb118.net/training_tutorial_2


Starfleet Academy