An Honest Criticism of the Psionics Grading System

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Z3R0, May 27, 2021.

  1. Z3R0

    Z3R0 New Arrival

    Jan 13, 2019
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    I’d like to start this off by making something clear: I am not making this post to rant about how my psionic apps have been failed time and time again, or to put down staff. In light of recent events, readers may assume that this is the case, but that is not true. I’m making this post as a criticism of the current psionics grading system, and how it can be improved. Right now, there a couple problems I have with it, which I’ll discuss in detail below. Later on, I’ll give my thoughts on how it can be improved.

    The first is that it’s too strict. I’d like to get this point out of the way, as it’s currently the main problem I have with the grading system. While I understand that it has to be stricter in order to prevent people from doing stuff like summoning a supermassive black hole with a snap of their fingers or teleporting across the entire galaxy in the span of a couple seconds, right now it feels like the level of scrutiny has been cranked up way too much. Right now, any instance of bad RP, any transgression, no matter how minor, is enough to disqualify any psion app, and those who already have psions will get their rights revoked. The person who spent hours pouring their heart and soul into making a psionic character, only for it to be denied because of something they did years ago when they were new to RP isn’t going to be motivated to improve. They’re going to be disheartened, sad, perhaps even angry. Worst case scenario, they might even do worse out of sheer spite. Failed applications or insults do not motivate people to do better. Words of encouragement and compliments do. Additionally, some people can’t get better. Not everybody is a gifted writer, and not everybody can become one. Maybe some people don't have the time to put in the effort to improve. Maybe some people have a disability that prevents them from improving. Right now, the rules appear to be put in place under the assumption that anyone can be a writer if they just try. It’s the same mentality people who assume that “just because I crawled my way out of poverty, anybody else can” have. It’s not that simple.

    Which brings me to my second point: it’s too vague. In the guidelines, one of the guidelines states that “any instance of failRP, no matter how small, is enough to disqualify an application”. What constitutes failRP? failRP is a broad term. Is tanking every shot and killing an opponent in one hit during a CRP match failRP? Is RPing a brooding mercenary who kills everyone in sight, friend or foe failRP? Is playing a character with no personality whatsoever failRP? While I usually refrain from using the term, I feel like, in my opinion, any of these could count as failRP. Additionally, all my “graders” were vague when failing them. They said that “my writing wasn’t good enough” and they “weren’t confident enough with my RP”, but didn’t elaborate beyond that. It wasn’t until later on that they decided to tell me what they didn’t like, and even then that wasn’t until after I asked.

    My third concern is that it’s wildly inconsistent. The first example that comes to mind is written in the guidelines page. It says that graders will work with applicants in order to ensure their skills are balanced and acceptable. That’s cool and all, except when I applied, I never got any of it. I was denied on the spot. It felt more like a kangaroo court than an actual grading system. Additionally, many of the examples of bad RP behavior which have gotten players denied have been practiced by other RPers, whose psion apps were accepted. I won’t name anybody, but a staff member mentioned that one of the things that is required for a psion is “fascination in the face of the unknown”. And yet, another player whose app was accepted RPed their character watching their wounds close on their own, and immediately jumping to the conclusion that they were a psion. This isn’t going into the fact that in the grand scheme of things, psionics are dismissed as urban legends, and many people in the Milky Way don’t even know of their existence. If it really were the case that psionic players should treat psionics with awe and fascination, shouldn’t that action alone be enough to get the player’s privileges revoked?

    That said, I do believe there’s a solution. A total overhaul of the grading rules. This may sound extreme, but hear me out. For reasons stated above, I feel like the current rules are too vague, too inconsistent, and too strict. I understand that it’s in place to ensure that players can’t get their hands on overpowered abilities with no IC justification, but as of right now, the rules turn other people away from playing psions. While I don’t think the rules should be ditched completely, I feel like the level of scrutiny should be toned down, and it should be made more clear what RP behavior is and isn’t expected when creating a psionic app. Another thing I’d like to suggest is a “trial run” of sorts. Instead of denying them on the spot, applicants should be briefly allowed to play the character they put in, preferably privately, in order to see how well they play them. From there, staff can decide whether or not to pass or fail the app. One last thing I’d suggest is to make it less about the skill of the RPer, and more about balance. While the two go hand in hand, most SBRP servers, at least from my experience, that have magic or psionics will look at whether or not the abilities are balanced, and make their decision based off of that. You can be a good RPer, but not be good at balancing your characters, and you can be a mediocre RPer, but be good at balancing your characters.

    In conclusion, while I do feel like there are a lot of problems with the current psionic grading system, I feel like they can be fixed. An overhaul, a trial run, or a combination of the two could easily fix the current problems. Ultimately though, these are simply suggestions, and whether or not you choose to implement them is up to you. I do hope you at least hear me out, though, and consider what I have written here. Thank you for reading this letter.
    - Z3R0
  2. Pinkbat5

    Pinkbat5 pocl v3.6.3 Staff Member Moderator Diamond Donator

    Jun 26, 2017
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    Hey this is some pretty good and balanced criticism. I don’t agree that it’s too strict, but everything else brought up here is fair. I know part of the reason staff will be vague about reasons for denial is because detailing bad RP, and why it’s bad, feels really mean— but I’m pretty sure the uncertainty that comes with vagueness is equally unpleasant.
    To clarify, whether or not somebody is a “good” RPer is generally considered more important than the balance of an application. It’s easy to nerf an app, it’s not easy to correct bad writing habits. For that reason, most people that get denied get denied for their RP habits— It’s very, very easy for a “bad” RPer to poorly portray well-written lore. It’s why some GC species are closed and require creator permission to play.
    That doesn’t mean someone who gets denied should be given vague reasons for the denial, though. They should be told what they did wrong, and new psion RPers should have more specific guidelines to go off of.
  3. 9K

    9K Galactic Enforcer Staff Member Administrator Diamond Donator

    Jun 27, 2017
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    This has not happened. Yes, we can use any form of failRP to disquality an app, but that hinges on the basis that the problems present during the things we have noticed are still present. I do not believe we have ever denied a Psion app simply because of a minor instance of bad RP that happened literal years ago. We grade Psionics apps in the context of how someone currently RPs next to the instances that are red flags to us assuming there are any. If someone's current RP is consistent with the the things that alert us to something that is not befitting of good RP practices with Psionics, we may deny their application. We also have yet to take away someone's right to play an existing character via the Psionics guidelines, and have no real intention to beyond simply saying that certain characters cannot do certain things with their powers and offering them constructive criticism.

    We haven't insulted anyone in the process of grading their applications.

    We understand this. But regular RP with regard to the things people can and cannot have is moderated in a similar way. Generally, we won't let someone with a history of breaking RP rules, such as powergaming or even smaller things, have things- such as huge levels of wealth, tech, armies and more, for their character. At least not without going through the effort of gaining those things legitimately, which typically happens on the basis of their RP being good. A sense of character development while making meaningful connections in the setting and the person knowing their own character and their flaws very well.

    All of those may depending on the circumstances count as failRP, yes. All of those display a lack of understanding of the way one's own character thinks and works more often than not, and don't really have any flow in terms of how they act. I will admit we were vague when grading your application, but that's for a few reasons. The big one is simply what Pink said; we didn't want to seem like we as a staff team were putting you on blast even though the apps are private. Multiple staff members chiming in to do that isn't encouraging regardless of how encouraging we may be trying to be. It's much easier to talk about these things on Discord. But I did speak to you after over Discord as you said, and I felt I made a lot of headway in that conversation and put the thoughts staff had into something more concise. Afterwards, around the time of your second app, even after all that talking both in another Discord and in DMs, you insisted you did not have anything you needed to improve upon, which is unacceptable.

    The balance and acceptability of your application was not what was in question, which is why you did not receive that kind of coordination. And you're right about some people whose RP after getting Psionics has not been the greatest, however we don't have an eye on all RP that goes on all at once to see all of it all the time, even in a public Discord, and when we do find instances of characters not reacting accordingly to things like it, we do do our best to reach out to them in order to correct it. Receptiveness to criticism, a thing almost everyone who gets a Psionics app needs to have, is important. Everyone will make mistakes, but it's their attitude about it and willingness to change their RP in tandem that saves them, and there are many examples of this with people whose apps we've graded.

    I don't think this is the case. It has turned people away from playing Psions temporarily who wanted to, but people who are persistent and as we've said above, receptive to criticism enough to realize they can do better, have in almost every case ended up with a Psionic character. That's because we do take into account how someone RPs in the current time as opposed to when the mistakes we are concerned about were made. I'd almost go as far as to say we have too many Psions right now- not that we have any intention to reduce the number of them.

    This would be an extremely time-consuming solution both toward staff and the applicant that would be understandably very aggravating should someone's app get denied. Much like how you thought that people who already had Psions would have their characters revoked for failRP, a thing we haven't done, it would be equally disheartening to allow someone to play a character only to take it away from them.
    Quazwerty456, mkoften, nenin and 16 others like this.
  4. seaweedgod

    seaweedgod New Arrival

    Jun 28, 2017
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    psionics more like piss on ick