As we pass two and a half months since the launch of the new model, we have been embarking on a number of initiatives to give fleet members new ways to participate and to streamline some of our procedures. As part of this, we have completed a comprehensive review of the Operational Policy, the document that is mainly concerned with the way in which Task Forces function when it comes to games and fiction. The purpose of these changes is to make it easier for members to find games in the fleet that meet their preferences and to be more transparent about how decisions about GMs are selected and retain their good standing.
Definition and Classification of Games
To make our language more transparent to people new to our community (and to get away from the problematic language of game managers being in ‘command’ of their games) we have reworked the definition of what a game is to simply be any group of two or more members of Bravo Fleet who have both a GM and a registry item associated with their collaborative writing. Whether your game has two people or thirty people, it’s classified in the same way.
Alongside this change, we have clarified that games are either active, inactive, provisional, or open (as in the case of pre-made games). Games move from provisional to active by having at least two members (including the GM) and being in the fleet for at least a month. Inactive now refers to games on hiatus or otherwise paused with a plan communicated by the GM to the TFSS for an eventual restart (within two months), rather than being a status that refers to the GM or posting levels.
There are now no fixed standards for minimum activity levels. Instead, GMs are expected to talk with their TFSS to develop an activity plan and adhere to it. For example, a GM may set a target of three posts per player per month or some other measure of activity and then communicate regularly with the TFSS to show that this target is being met. If it’s not being met, the GM can adjust the plan. This allows for more granularity for a policy that was already unevenly enforced around the fleet across different administrations. Finally, we are adding a new item for games: style classifications, which are designed to help members find games that suit their tastes and preferences. These categories are meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive, and like the activity plans, they can be altered as needed:
- A traditional game:
- Posts tend to be predominantly solo-written, with a few large joint-posts per mission;
- Players typically control a single character;
- Paced at 2 posts per player per month, including joint posts as one post for each of the participating players.
- A high-volume game:
- Posts tend to be a mix of solo-written and joint-written posts;
- Players often control more than one character;
- Paced at 4 posts per player per month; including joint posts as one post for each of the participating players.
- An ensemble game:
- Posts tend to be written in a style intended more towards an outside audience than an interior one, and are all almost entirely joint-written;
- Players typically control more than one character;
- Paced at 1 post per player per month; including joint posts as one post for each of the participating players.
These categories are not one size fits all, but offer general descriptions that apply to the vast majority of games. Coupled with the activity plans, these classifications will help GMs and TFSS members work together to develop a robust understanding of exactly what a game is meant to do and how they can best support its growth and continued success.
Changes to Game Manager Duties and Requirements
Largely, nothing is changing in the day-to-day experience for GMs, but the language has been altered in this section to be more clear about the relationship between games and the fleet. We have also adjusted the way that game managers are described, to have consistent language with other fleet documentation and to clearly set out the expectations for game managers going forward. Namely, the word command has been removed; the title of Sim CO/Commanding Officer has been retired in favor of Game Manager. In addition to that retirement, monthly reports have also been retired, as they were not a useful tool for either GMs or TFSS in the era of Discord. Instead, GMs are expected to be in regular contact with their TFSS. In addition, we’ve made it clear that GMs have to actually be active participants in their own game as part of the requirements for being a GM, as well as ensuring that any members who have characters on their game list those characters appropriately on the BFMS. (This last point should underscore that a GM’s good standing is in jeopardy if their players are not registered as Bravo Fleet members.)
The issue of GMs being in good standing or not has been addressed with an addition to the policy that makes the loss of good standing an opportunity for TFSS to work with GMs who may be struggling to find a solution and then return to good standing, while previously these items were formally only there as part of the GM removal process.
In addition, we have formally added a mechanism through which a TFCO with the consent of the Bravo Fleet Operations Officer may remove a GM should the TFSS receive credible complaints about the GM’s performance from their crew, to make sure that as a fleet we are being responsive to the needs of the members, rather than treating each game as its own fief. GMs still have wide latitude in the way that they actually conduct their games, but in this new model, we want to be clear that our operations are as much unified and centralized through the fleet’s structure as the canon is.
Finally, we have made changes to the policy to show the difference in the process between proposing a game and applying for a pre-made game within a task force. To this end, we have retained the minimum rank for from-scratch proposals at Lieutenant Commander, but we are now allowing members with the rank of Lieutenant to apply for pre-made games, which increases the number of people who can run games, while also encouraging members to get their feet wet with other activities first.
The Operational Policy is a living document, so we hope that these alterations better reflect the current version of Bravo Fleet, with the goal of creating an environment that values openness, communication, and above all the needs of our members. If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to reach out to me, David, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Discord.