Holding Events

The following article, written by Emerald Flame, was originally for Massive Online Gaming Magazine's second edition.

Everyone loves a good time with friends and Furcadia is the best place on the Internet to be a party animal. You can hold something as simple as a titillating game of "Truth or Dare" with close friends or get as complicated as a week long festival with thousands of furres invited. Furcadia gives you the freedom to create anything you want, bounded only by your own imagination.

Often one of the first questions for new players is, "What's the objective of this game?" Since Furcadia is an MMOSG - Massively Multiplayer Online Social Game (like The Sims Online), it's not as goal oriented as most other MOGs. In Furcadia we roleplay (both structured and free-form), create our own "dreams", make friends from all over the world, and design puzzles and games to challenge each other with. So the objective really is to use your creativity, skills, and imagination to make something that's fun and interesting to you, your friends, and the rest of the community. The world provides the opportunities, the furres provide the fun! Events are one way to give yourself a boost in "winning" the game.

It seems I'm known for the parties I throw in Furcadia. I have to say, I do love to see furres having fun and showing off the things they have created. Probably my best known event in Furcadia is Sanctuary's Birthday Carnival. We've held it every spring for 4 years and it's always a lot of fun . Who can resist dunking our beloved creator, Felorin, in the dunk tank or catching a kiss from some cute, young femme in the kissing booth? How about a ride in giant tea cups or a race on an ostrix? You can even participate in a quiet chess tournament. There's something for everyfurre to do.

The biggest event I ever worked on was Virtual Worldcon 1999. This was a week long "con" that involved several online communities. We even had a booth and representative at the real Worldcon in Australia showing what was happening "in-game" on a video screen. Furcadia really went all out for this. We created five special dreams with all kinds of events going on. We had a library full of poetry and stories written by furres, an art gallery with samples of some of the excellent works of our artists, and even contests for dreams, art and writing. There were booths where you could advertise your Guild or even other online games. We held roundtables with guests like Raph Koster discussing running online communities. There was an Internet radio station called WVRR that interviewed The Fat Man. Everyfurre got to hear his best burp on the air. It all ended with a huge Masquerade Ball that had so many in attendance that it overloaded people's modems, and turned half the furres invisible!

Events that large aren't something easily accomplished. We had around 20 to 30 furres working on maps, DragonSpeak, web pages, art, bots, etc. and that's not even counting all who pitched in to help run all the events. This was even the start of the Beekin Council. They were formed to put on this event. We worked long hours for 3 months in preparation. It was an amazing experience for all involved and an honor to participate in. Remember, the more ambitious your plans, the more helpers you'll need, and the longer it will take to prepare.

Now that the history lesson is over, you might be wondering how you can go about making your own event in Furcadia. I'm going to give you some tips and hints on how you can have a successful and fun event of your own. First you might want to consider why you would hold an event. There are as many whys as there are furres, but probably the most common reason to hold an event is to get furres into that lovely dream you worked so hard on! They're also a great way to meet people and make new friends. Guilds will want to hold events to increase membership, or to give back to the community. This also is a great way to show off your talents and those of your friends. You might be getting married or Heartbonded or celebrating the birth of a furrling. It may even be "Grand Opening" time for your nightclub. Besides all that, let's get real here, parties are just plain fun!

Now what kind of event do you want to have? Well, weddings and celebrations are pretty self explanatory, but maybe you want to spice them up with a quest for the bridal gift or make a celebration into an ice cream social. You might like a fall harvest event like Haven has or maybe you'd like a poetry reading like Lost Lakes. Maybe you are having a spooky, scavenger hunt or "whodunit" like Scaredy Cat Mansion. If your group is into more structured roleplaying, you can set up a pre-planned scenario that fits into your existing continuity. Tournaments are exciting too. They can be for games like soccer or checkers, or they can be something more like bot sparring. Your Guild might even like to sponsor special quests for players to go through. There's all the standard parties and balls which everyone likes to come to as well. Things like art, dream or writing contests are really popular too. Brainstorm and come up with something really entertaining to do.

The most important thing you need are helpers! Throwing an event with any more than four expected to show really does require some prep work and it's a lot more fun to do with friends. You will need one person who is in charge and has final say on decisions. This is important or you will find too many ideas and too many furres going off in different directions. This purrson should be very responsible, have extra time and lots of patience! How many other helpers you need really depends on how complicated your event is and how many are willing to help. Some can do more than one task for your event but you should make sure you have at least someone in the group that can: dreambuild, DragonSpeak, make webpages, and create art patches. It's a good idea to have a furre who can handle advertisement and another for security. Don't forget to have plenty who can run booths, games, fortune telling or whatever else is going on.

Ok, you've got your furres together and you've all brainstormed and come up with a really great event, now you need a place to hold it. As all the long time players know, you can make as many of your own areas in Furcadia as you like and you can add your own art, music, scripting, etc. How you set up a dream for an event is very important though. One thing to remember, bigger is not always better! Don't make your event dream any bigger than you need to. Otherwise furres will wander off and get lost and bored. On that same note make sure that the events taking place are right near the start or are very easily found. If you are planning a large event, make sure all the paths are wide and traffic can flow freely at all times. You're going to be really surprised at how much more difficult it is to keep traffic flowing when you have fifty furres in your dream rather than five or six friends. Make sure landing spots, natural gathering places or waiting areas have plenty of room. However, be sure any seating is placed so that everyfurre can hear what's going on - especially for stages, wedding chapels, etc. If you are holding the event in an existing dream, whether it's a Guild dream or personal, you may want to make a special version of the dream just for the event to make it "user friendly" for crowds.

Adding in those little things that make the party more fun is very important, but you should also be frugal and only add what you need for the effect you want. Yes, it's fun to make a huge patch that changes all the avatars, portraits and most of the objects, as well as adding in a meg of music. However, you need to consider the download time that it takes for furres on modems to enter your dream. You will likely cut down greatly on attendance if your dream has too big a patch. So think carefully what you need that will give you the most bang for the buck, and reuse as much as you can. You need to be careful with your DragonSpeak as well. Make lots of interesting things to do, but be very careful not to have too many timers that will cause lag for slow machines or too many very active things all in the same place. You might even consider loading subdreams with games, rides and things that require special patching. Also, test, test, test! I'll never forget when Sanctuary's second carnival was in full swing and every object on the map turned into a necklace from faulty DragonSpeak. I can laugh now, but at the time, getting a hundred furres to all leave the map for a reupload had me in tears!

The dreamweavers and patchers are busy with their work and it's time to start thinking about advertisement! You don't want to go to all this work and not have anyfurre show up, so even small events need a bit of publicizing. First thing you need for anything bigger than a hide-n-go-seek game is a webpage. This doesn't have to be huge and complicated. You can even make it part of your existing personal or Guild pages, but you do need a way to easily tell furres the who, what, where and when of it. Hype the event up a bit on the page; make it sound fun. Tell what cool events will take place and when. Some events, such as roleplaying or tournaments, might need a form or an email address furres can use to sign up for the event ahead of time. If the dream is close to ready show some sneak peeks of what's there. Make sure you include a screenshot of where the dream will be uploaded. You might even want to make a special name for the dream for that day to draw extra furres in, like "Water City's Winterfest". Now post that URL everywhere you can think of! Have friends and Guild members put it in their descriptions, post it in the entry text in dreams, mention it casually in crowded areas, and don't forget to send it to the News Channel.

To have an event advertised on Furcadia's News Channel, all you need to do is fill out our News Channel Submission Form, and Furcadia will advertise it for free!

You now have most of the ingredients to have a successful event, but let's talk a bit about how to make it run more smoothly. Make *sure* you've gotten enough rest before the event. I know it's tempting to be making changes and additions right up to the last minute, but trust me on this one, you are better off leaving out a few things than being too tired to keep your emotions in check during the event. Make sure the dream is up plenty in advance of your scheduled start time. Try to get your news announcement for right when you are ready to start. Have plenty of helpers onpaw. Make liberal use of the "emitloud" command to let furres know what all is going on in the dream. Making frequent announcements can add to the excitement and anticipation as long as they are not too long or too often repeated. Write these up before the date to make things easier and don't forget to include ones thanking your helpers. Make as many parts of the event as "paws off" as possible. If you have to leave, the event should be able to go on without you. You will want to give some furres "share" so they can eject troublemakers, but try to be a bit more liberal about what furres are allowed to do during this time. They are generally excited and just trying to have fun, and remember, you are trying to make a good impression. Take a deep breath, don't sweat the small stuff, make sure everyone helping has time to have fun too, and your party should go wonderfully.

Not every event has to be this complicated. There's been many a time that I've used existing dreams and patches and thrown an impromptu party. For Felorin's last birthday, I just took my old garden dream and put balloons and a cake around the hot tub and invited 20 friends by ICQ. We had great fun splashing in the hot tub and making jokes. You can even throw a bit bigger party that way. Invite everyone you know and tell them to invite everyone they know. You might even send an alt around the main maps to invite anyone who'd like to come. Just make sure you are willing to let things be a bit loose and not be too concerned about the behavior of guests.

Now just a few tips for that extra gloss on the event. You can send special invitations to furres who you'd like to attend. A lot of times the Creators, Associates and Council members would enjoy coming and will often even judge contests for you or sit in dunk tanks! Special guests will bring more furres. You might also ask one of the shoutcast radio stations, like The Beat, to broadcast from your dream that day. Giving out prizes, be they door prizes or prizes for winning contests, are a big draw! You don't even have to spend money for prizes. You can give out the patch for the dream, have an artist volunteer a portrait, give "virtual" prizes like pookies and necklaces or even offer to build dreams for others. There's many things you can do to bring in more furres and have everyfurre enjoy themselves. So get your friends together and Let's Party!

Furcadia offers special "Prize Packages", designed especially for events where you want to give several prizes to help draw players in. Our Prize Packages can be found at Digo Market!

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