So, I have a question for anyone who has ever tried to play a tabletop game online, like in a chat room or whatever. It concerns the single biggest problem which was faced by our gaming group when I attempted to DM a running game using OpenRPG last year.
How do you get people to show up for the darn game?
I mean, from what I've experienced this is a huge problem with even real-life tabletop gaming, but it seems to be many times exacerbated when playing online. With real-life people, you can go bang on their door or call them, or at least if they stop showing up altogether you can glare at them the next time you see them or whatever. Or at least, with real life people, you can tell whether they're in the room
or not; there's no analogue of IMing someone and not getting a response for 30 minutes, unless you game with stoners. With online gaming, even trying to figure out whether or not someone is online is roughly impossible, plus it's against most people's intuition to schedule going online
at 8 PM every thursday. Heck, in our game, I was the DM, and I could barely remember about the game most weeks until 10 minutes before it started and I started getting IMs.
During the game, we were lucky if half the gaming group showed up any given week, and I tended to spend at least as much time running around before the game started trying to get everyone to sign on to the openrpg server as I did actually running the game. There were one or two people who were legitimately excited about the game and showed up every week, but one person didn't feel like enough to carry a game session for either me or the players and we had almost as many weeks that we wound up cancelling because people didn't show up as we did weeks where we played.
Has anyone figured out any way at all of dealing with this issue?