RPWHO is a great system, in spirit, but as implemented, is barebones and has a number of issues that prevent it from being the killer roleplay-finding feature it really could be. I'm going to try to list these out in approximate order of most to least important.
1. The AFK Issue
This one's huge. Most games that feature an RP finder like this one differentiate between active and inactive players - and in fact the great majority of those will kick you off the list if you go AFK.
Adding a type of visible AFK status would go incredibly far in Aetolia (seriously, just make players on the WHO list dark grey, that's all you have to do), but for RPWHO it's essential. Using RPWHO and seeing two AFK vampires, probably in their havens or coffins, is a total downer and keeps people from bothering with the system.
Whether AFK players are kicked off, or partitioned off to another listing in RPWHO, I think being able to tell who's there and active, and who isn't actually available, would go a long way to improving this feature.
One killer feature you'll find in similar RP finder systems is the ability to optionally add your current pose. In Aetolia, the system could work like this:
- RP ADD: adds you to the RP list as normal.
- RP ADD POSE: adds you to the RP list, but also includes your current pose on the RPWHO listing. People who checked RPWHO would see something like: Someone stands in front of the oven, trying to mitigate disaster at a Warm, well-equipped kitchen.
I can't overstate how valuable this is. You can use your pose as so much more than just setting a scene when someone walks in - say your character got hurt, and you want to invite someone to come help/further hurt them. Say you deliberately wanna get apprehended: just set your pose to say you're trying to case a home or pick a door's lock, and dare any nosey Syssin to come put a stop to you. Adding a pose can provide invaluable at-a-glance info not only to make your character stand out, but also to allow others to make informed decisions and answer the question "is this an opportunity my character can capitalize on, who normally wouldn't get a chance to?"
Just as a fun extra tidbit: people can tell stories through these things. In another MUD I played, there was a guy who wasn't necessarily looking for RP, but told, entirely through changing his publicly-visible poses, a story of building his house - sometimes you'd see he was "digging out a watering hole," sometimes he was "hauling stacks of lumber to a half-finished homestead." It was cool to see and weirdly immersive!
Time and time again, newcomers to Aetolia have asked us the same question: where do you go to find RP?
And there's almost always an answer! Players have organically set up hotspots over time where you can usually find people hanging out. They're not the absolute best place to find RP, but they're also by no means the worst.
I propose that certain predefined locations automatically list, in RPWHO, how many people are standing there - say, the Inner Gate of Spinesreach, the stone bridge in Duiran, so on and so forth.
Furthermore, allow owners of buildings, shops, etc. toggle the rooms in their property as hotspots. Show up to the Burly Chest Tavern, and you'll see how many people are there. Aetolia isn't a MUSH, so of course it's going to need to respect hidden players, people in Phase/Blackwind/etc., but even then, just having this as a resource so that newer players know where people are hanging out would be a game changer.
I appreciate the thinking behind forced anonymity in RPWHO - you don't want people picking and choosing who they strike up for roleplaying.
I really don't think this works in Aetolia. It is trivial to check someone's location on RPWHO and see who it is. I would understand if there's no interest in changing this, so I propose yet another flag, something like RP ADD VISIBLE. All this would do is change your listing from an anonymous entry to your name. You still have the option to appear anonymous, but those of us who don't mind being seen, visibly soliciting attention, have the opportunity to do so!
Here's an example of what the readout could look like with the suggestions in mind:
Thanks for your consideration! If anyone else has any ideas for how to improve this system, let us know here!