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I'm wondering if anyone has any experience running games over Facebook, successfully or otherwise. When I search on Google, I tend to get back info about Facebook single-player or MMO RPG apps/games, which is obviously not what I want.

Can we get some information here about what works and what doesn't? Or is it just generally a bad idea in the first place?

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I have no experience attempting this, so no answer from me, but at a guess, Facebook has message threads, which are ultimately all you really need to run a play-by-post game. The lack of die roller might be a problem, though: I'd try to find a Facebook app for that, perhaps. –  KRyan Jul 1 '13 at 0:38
    
I have zero experience, too. But my first guess was to make a private group and then somehow decide how new posts get made vs. commenting on existing posts. –  AlbeyAmakiir Jul 1 '13 at 1:37
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Are you looking at PBEM style play-by-post (slow posting speed, larger messages, replies next day or longer) or chatroom style posts? (all playing at the same time online) ? –  Rob Jul 1 '13 at 10:47
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There are such great RP tools online, it seems wasteful to play on facebook, but a group that really wants to could probably play just about anywhere. –  Eric B Jul 1 '13 at 11:18
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@OP: Why specifically use facebook? There are so many older and well tested alternatives (e.g. email for a slow game, or IRC for real time). –  Hennes Jul 1 '13 at 12:13
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3 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I would be very reluctant to run a game via Facebook, I've played plenty of PBEM based games and chat-based (IRC style) games but I can't see Facebook as an ideal medium for this; I'll go through the reasons why for each style:

PBEM style

I'd recommend looking at This Question for more details about how Play By Mail games work.

  • Post-size limitations: Facebook has upped it's maximum post size to 5000 characters, which sounds lots - but it's not. Any in depth PBEM style game can easily exceed this several times over in some cases.
  • Character ID As mentioned by @DavidBall facebook doesn't like you creating character profiles for Facebook, you may well end up with deleted characters or indeed groups that you're using to store posts to contain the information if you're unlucky. This really won't help immersion if you're posting as "Bob Smith" rather than "Commander Jackson of the USS Apocalypse".
  • Formatting Facebook really doesn't present a good medium for reading vast amounts of text, which is the core of the story based PBEM, the whole page is crammed into only a relatively small amount of screen and you have pretty limited options for changing font size, etc when reading it. Quite often different coloured text is used to indicate new parts of a message - facebook won't help you there.
  • Got to sign up This is a biggie for some people, I know quite a few people who object (for many and varied reasons) to Facebook and refuse to sign up to it in any fashion.

Play By Post

Play by post is generally where players post in real-time about their game, mechanics (dice) may or may not be involved or it can be entirely freeform. I've mostly played the latter, I've generally found voice chat to be better for live (ie tabletop style) games.

Facebook is actually a bit better medium for play by post; but you do have the same problems as PBEM's and as well you have some other problems:

  • Minimal support for utils Yes you can install apps for this, but you can't generally share things easily between people or roll dice for everyone if you need to.
  • Distractions When you're playing a play by post you want people to be concentrating on the game, Facebook is going to be pretty bad for other people messaging them, post updates being lost or people just plain getting bored and playing FarmVille or something instead - yes people can switch tabs if they want to do this with other systems but having it available on the same tab as the one you're trying to play is really not a good idea.

Conclusion

I really can't recommend Facebook as a RPG play-by-post medium; it's not set up for it and there are lot of websites, systems or just email lists that are much more suitable for it.

If you're doing immediate style play-by-post find a website or use IRC.
If you're doing Play By Mail style use an email list.
At least that's my recommendation!

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+1 Very good answer! –  wraith808 Jul 1 '13 at 15:08
    
Great answer. Py by e-mail works very well. I am not sure facebook makes a good medium for this. –  TimothyAWiseman Jul 2 '13 at 0:03
    
Responsive and well thought out. –  Epiphanis Dec 14 '13 at 12:10
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I think this is a bad idea only if you create a profile for your character. Facebook don't like you doing this; here's an article about some roleplayers who have been burned by Facebook when their accounts were closed down. It includes some helpful hints if you decide to go that way anyway.

But as long as you use your own personal profile, it might work. I'd use a discussion group which allows group interaction.

In my opinion, there are much better places than Facebook to run a role-playing game.

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It would be great if you could expand your answer with a few suggestions for alternatives. :) –  OpaCitiZen Jul 1 '13 at 12:00
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@OpaCitiZen - I'd actually disagree. The question was about Facebook, not alternatives. :) –  wraith808 Jul 1 '13 at 15:06
    
@wraith808 The question was about whether FB is a good idea, and if so, how it should be done... or if it is a bad idea. In the latter case, as this A says, a comparison listing better alternatives and the whys is a welcome and helpful addition, imo. –  OpaCitiZen Jul 1 '13 at 15:25
    
@OpaCitiZen I agree with wraith808. It's easy enough, even if you limit yourself to this site, to find alternatives. I don't believe listing them would add any value to this answer, and, in fact, risks dating it. –  AlbeyAmakiir Jul 1 '13 at 22:27
    
@AlbeyAmakiir Coming to think of it, the dating risk is real. Okay, I'm not as sure about my idea now as I was. :) –  OpaCitiZen Jul 2 '13 at 5:00
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Here's my advice:

  • First, use a synchronized dice roller. I was actually just pointed towards CatchYourHare's dice roller in my last question. This service is fantastic for synched rolling.
  • Allot more time than you'd expect. It takes a long time for players to type and speak, and will take longer for you to respond.
  • Be accommodating for players who have to leave for a few minutes. It will happen, and, depending on the group, could happen frequently. This parallels with allotting more time; plan for your players' delays.
  • Respond to actions from the top down. Process the messages as they come in. Don't even think about responding to the most recent messages; always respond to the earliest one first. You are a First In, First Out (FIFO) buffer for players.
  • Be explicit with your descriptions. Don't leave things vague, unless you're doing so by design. People have a nasty habit of describing in less detail over the internet than they do in person; this couples with typing speed.
  • Roll less often than you would on a table. Rolling takes more time than you'd think, so use it only when simple roleplaying does not suffice.
  • Be stricter (but not too strict!) about off-topic communication. Players on the internet are distracted much easier than players in-person, so give them time to socialize before the session begins if need be. Other than that, off topic communication can derail the entire session.

Most importantly, do not get distracted. You are moderating a game. You are in control of the game, and if you become distracted, your players will too. Keep them engaged, understand your party, and limit time-expensive things like rolling, and you'll be good.

It's harder to give advice without knowing what game you're playing, but here's some general advice. If you're playing a more character interaction-driven game, then be sure to work specifically towards developing the characters. People will slack off otherwise. If the game is driven by fetch quests and dungeon crawling, then you should be good, but if I were you, I'd still push for character development.

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-1 A nice answer... but, he asked specifically about experience on Facebook. This is more of a generic PbEM/PbP list. –  wraith808 Jul 1 '13 at 15:07
    
@wraith Since Facebook works the same as any other play-by-post à LA IRC, Skype, the generic advice is suitable. –  Emracool Jul 1 '13 at 15:56
    
if it was just a question about basic PbP/PbEM, then it would be a duplicate, as we already have a question about that topic. –  wraith808 Jul 1 '13 at 16:02
    
@wraith Then it's a duplicate, because FB is the same as any PbP system. –  Emracool Jul 1 '13 at 17:17
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I have to agree with @wraith. The OP wrote a nicely focused question and a generic answer that doesn't mention the reason they asked the question is misplaced. It's good advice, just not here or by itself. This could become a very good answer if you rewrote it so this advice was just an afterthought to a direct answer about Facebook's advantages and flaws as a PbP medium, though! –  SevenSidedDie Jul 1 '13 at 20:50
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