When we announced that there would be an overhaul to the rules, I mentioned (in reply #16) that we also had to answer two big questions in order to figure out what the site should be: What is SWRP? Is the site a collaborative writing experience, a game, or a bit of both? Who is SWRP for, aka who is the site trying to appeal to story-wise? Is it people who have been immersed in Star Wars lore, both canon and Legends, for years? Is it fans who came up during The Clone Wars and the sequels? Is it for everyone? The staff has discussed these questions in recent weeks, while following the conversation in the Public Rules Proposals thread, and has settled on basic answers that will help us decide what rules we will have and what the story of a new timeline will be. These answers come in two parts: what the site has been in recent years, and what it should be moving forward. What is SWRP now? The general consensus amongst staff and what would appear to be a consensus amongst members in the Public Rules Proposals thread is that the site has very much moved in the direction of being a game. The rules are set up in a very gamified way, PvP has been focused on perhaps too much (though some strides in recent months have been made to change that), and it feels like events happen on the site in a way that caters to a ruleset more so than what would be advance the story of the site and of individual members. I would also add a personal observation. As you saw at the end of the last paragraph, I referred to the people within the community as members. For most of my time on SWRP, that was the typical way of referring to people on the site. Since I’ve returned, I’ve noticed the increasing usage of the term players to talk about people on the site. It’s a subtle change in and of itself, but one that represents an overall cultural shift toward more game-based mechanics. That’s also had an impact on the overall number of active users on a monthly basis. Here's the site's monthly active users dating back 4 years: As the site has become more hyper-competitive, and with that more rules-heavy, the activity of the site has trended downward. There’s a big spike in the beginning of timelines as people get excited to dive into a new story, but then it dwindles. Arguably, a big reason for that is because people are excited to jump into a new story with new characters… but as they get into it, they find that it’s more about video game mechanics and fighting one another than collaborating on a story. What should SWRP be? Our intention is to bring SWRP back more to the space it traditionally occupied, onto the side of more collaborative writing, with mechanics and competition in support of that collaborative storytelling where necessary and appropriate. There’s lots of great ideas in the Public Rules Proposal thread for how to do that, and what I personally like about a lot of those ideas is that they allow PvP to be in service to the story. Right now, the site is overly-focused around competing to tell a story, rather than having competition to part of the story. We will facilitate the opportunity for people to tell great stories, not just compete with one another. We will adjust and ensure that competition and PvP are in service of the story, not the other way around. Who is SWRP for? Right now we have this sort of weird mix of adhering to the official canon timeline but also, given that we’re set in the ancient past, not really having any canon to base our timelines on. As a result, we’re essentially pulling a lot from the Legends continuity in order to fill in the blanks despite declaring ourselves as a canon timeline as of the Dawn of the Republic timeline. The way I see it, the issue there isn’t the need to pull in some lore or backstory to fill in the blanks. Rather, there’s a larger issue of how we’re basically a Legends 2.0 storyline. The last two timelines, even The First Sith despite it being a very popular storyline, are essentially a variation of the Knights of the Old Republic era in a lot of ways. Jedi vs Sith. Mandalorians thrown into the mix. Sometimes the Hutts are there. Etc. The site plays to the idea of the two KOTOR games as well as SWTOR, which only a small segment of the fanbase even plays anymore. As a result, no matter how good a timeline like The First Sith may be story-wise, we’re telling a story that appealed to some of us 16 years ago when KOTOR came out and that appeals to a smaller and smaller segment of the fanbase and no real resonance with more modern fans other than some allusions to the films here and there. Think about that in terms of what the modern fan has come to expect. The story of KOTOR and really Legends in general is much different in scope and style than the story told in The Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance, the sequel trilogy, and really all of modern canon. We’re stuck in this rut of telling the same story over and over again: Jedi vs Sith, a Republic falls, an Empire rises, the Empire falls, the Republic comes back, and so on. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s the same issue that happened in Legends. Star Wars has such a wide span of time to play with, about 25,000 years overall, and yet Star Wars is such a particular thing sometimes that it also falls into a rut. How many stories in the EU involved the Jedi and Sith battling over time and the same things happening over and over? Even SWTOR, though there’s some variation, is ultimately about that same thing happening over and over. And if you go to the post-ROTJ stories in the EU, even they went back to the well of Jedi vs Sith. Who should SWRP be for? We’ve fallen into the same rut that Legends fell into, and as a result have been tacitly saying that we’re a site for Star Wars fans in 2003 rather than a site for Star Wars fans now. And while we want to appeal to everyone, we also recognize that the best way to do that is to tell compelling stories that don’t just follow canon as a continuity but follow canon as a particular type of storytelling. Star Wars is an epic, mythological adventure. Sometimes it’s set in seats of galactic power. Sometimes it’s set on the frontier of the galaxy. You have politicians, soldiers, cowboys, smugglers, pirates, adventurers, heroes, villains, gods, monsters, and more. Elements of that exist amongst member storylines, but we haven’t really had a timeline that leaned into the more George Lucas-ian ideas of Star Wars that all modern Star Wars is spiritually based on in a very long time. We will strive to have a timeline and rulesset that gives everyone the freedom to tell those stories. We will open up the collective imaginations of the site as well as loosen restrictive rules that arguably have forced people into certain buckets that don’t let imaginations run as wild as they can. There will be guardrails in the rules, of course, but we want everyone to have the ability to tell the story of a grand adventure. We’re not going to talk specifics about what a new timeline could be yet, but we do have an idea that we believe will give us the opportunity to appeal to a much larger group of people. We also believe it gives us the opportunity to have a more open timeline that isn’t just based around Jedi vs. Sith, and that it can help reduce the hyper-competitiveness and over-focus on PvP as people tell more stories rather than just battle it out. What's next? This is obviously a thread that is largely based around concepts, philosophies, and ideas rather than concrete actions and concrete changes. That’s okay. Right now, in these still early days, it’s more important to be directionally correct rather than have everything nailed down perfectly. Our next steps as a staff will be to talk about the changes we want to make to the rules in order to achieve everything laid out here. For members, the next steps would be to continue posting your thoughts in the Public Rules Proposal thread. Now that these ideas have been laid out there, I will likely be participating more in the discussion (when appropriate—I’m more interested in hearing from you rather than you hearing from me) as new ideas are raised. If you have any questions about anything laid out here, please post away!