Always be prepping rpg’s. Many people don’t think Brett does any prep for his games, but that’s not necessarily true.
Chris Shorb leaves voicemail on dedication vs serious.
Back when I was running a Ptolus game I downloaded a ton of images from the book, as well as cherrypicking images that “fit” the campaign and put them all in one folder on my PC – then set the images from that folder running on a loop on a monitor in the game room – whenever someone glanced over they had an image of the city or something that fit the tone of the setting. Worked well for me and ,I think, the players
I think there is a level of respect that comes from joining a group and being there every week. Not to say if you can’t make games every once in a while, you’re not dedicated, but that it builds trust. In that same vein, when someone decides to only show up every few games, or not pay attention or anything else that shows boredom linked to the game, that erodes trust. And if you’re going to build a game, you would hope that there would be trust and respect in the group.
I have no problems with casual players. If you are just there to crack jokes and hang out, that’s awesome. But those same players can’t use the fact that they don’t get the same engagement from the DM as other players as a reason why they don’t like they game.