Over the last month or so I’ve made some mention of what I call “queuing.” It’s the method I intend to use to make multiplayer actions simultaneous (outside of combat) without them being at all real time. Part of my goal for Mind Weave, one of the upsides of a virtual table top versus an in person table top, is for the players to be able to move independently of each other and without the others necessarily being aware when they wander off or do something stupid. At a table top, everyone can shout “No!” when someone’s about to make a misstep that is reasonable for them to make. The party often spends several minutes deliberating about which way to go. In real life, you rarely consult all of you companions before doing something, even when you’re working together. I want communication to be necessary for cooperation, which means people should be able to act on their own without anyone having a chance to stop them.
To that end, I want to players to act simultaneously. However, I do not want to make your reaction time to factor in to how quickly you can move, like in computer RPGs. This means making it simultaneous, but not real time. This is where queuing comes in.
The concept is that when a player wants to take an action, like walk North 20 paces, search a section of wall for secret doors, or cast a life detection spell, it gets added to their personal queue of actions. The Master controls how the queue advances, but the default I imagine is for the queue to advance automatically at a set rate of in game seconds to real life seconds as long as all characters have actions queued. Once the most shallow queue is exhausted, the game effectively pauses until that player adds more to his queue. Of course, a player who has no actions they want to take can define a wait period, whether 30 seconds, until someone leaves their sight, until someone comes into their sight, or until someone comes or leaves within 20 feet of them, and so forth. If anything comes up, a player can of course delete items from their queue or insert them.
While in the ideal situation, players maintain their queues enough for the game to move smoothly, the Master also has control over how long the game will wait for a player to add queue items before advancing, setting them to wait for a while. This could be as little as a minute to prevent distracted players, or as long as several days for play by post.
I hope the system will work smoothly while still achieving its purposes. We will see.