Home > MMO > Get your RP on

Get your RP on

timcurryYes, I’m a roleplayer. I could give the rambling “started in the 80s, did this and that in the 90s, do this and that now” but really, my gaming history is the same as that of almost every other gamer my age; the only thing that changes is what we played at a given time. I have no problem pretending I’m someone else and, if required, putting on a silly accent or a silly costume. I’ve even *gasp* done some semi-live RP (LRP or LARP, depending). Only semi- because the type we did wasn’t so heavy on the rubber swords and relied, instead, on intense politicking and GM-decided outcomes, if necessary, of things like spells. We used the Ars Magica game setting, where people are more likely to poison each other’s jam sammiches than they are to draw a sword. I not only played a bunch of those, I co-wrote a bunch with some extremely talented and much-missed friends in the UK. (I’d link you up but sadly it was a decade ago and we weren’t so smart about keeping stuff online for posterity back then…)

Point being, I have no fear of performing in front of other people, and I’m quite practiced at conceiving, writing, portaying, and retiring tabletop and live RP characters. But when it comes to roleplaying in an MMO… I’m a log. I’m so wooden, I’ll probably get contacted by the History channel for some lumberjack reality TV action.

I just can’t do it. I’ve tried, many times, and in many different settings. And while I can “fake” it to some extent — my characters can say the right things and I can type the right emotes and whatnot — to me, it just feels fake. Now if you never roleplay and you think the whole thing is stupid to begin with, you won’t get this, so don’t worry about it. But if you do, maybe you’ll understand the unease one gets about not being able to get “into character” at all.

It’s a problem I have with all online games, though more with some than others. At base, my discomfort comes from the fact that I feel too distanced from the whole thing — I’m typing and looking at a screen at content (images) that have been determined for me by someone else; that in itself is imagination-death for me. (Waiting for replies is even worse. Angry RP remark…. wait…. wait….. wait some more…. Cutting retort!) Interestingly, I know a lot of role-players for whom that very anonymity and distance is what allows them to attempt it in the first place — there are quite possibly far more online-RPers than tabletop-RPers nowadays. For many, it’s a safer environment than sitting around a table where you have to see that the gossamer-winged fairy princess is actually a man well past his fairy or his princess phase; for me on the other hand, that’s not a problem — I can see past the voice and the looks and imagine what I need, but the actual presence of other players in the room is what helps trigger the whole imagination-thing. Call it consensual not-quite-hallucination.

A fair few of my friends and acquaintances think I’m ass-backward when it comes to RP. Online, you have the right looks and you have no need to know who’s at the keyboard, AND the whole world is there, drawn right for you. I know. I understand how that helps many people. For me, it just makes it more difficult.

And the more generic a setting is, the harder I find it to even try to roleplay there. All the standard fantasy-style settings just kill me — yes, even WAR with its rich lore. I’ve played Warhammer-not-online (the RPG, not the armies game) and that was a whole lot of fun. But the thought of trying to do justice to a character online just leaves me cold. WoW is the same. Vanguard had some interesting possibilities. Oddly enough, the easiest I’ve found it to roleplay in MMOs was in SWG and CoX, and I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of not being some generic fantasy setting; after all, CoX is just some generic superhero setting.

Maybe part of what puts me off online RP is how uptight a lot of RPers seem to get — theeing and thouing and ye-olde-shoppe-over-yondering, which usually makes me want to snort rather than engage in deep RP. To me, real people who really lived in these fantasy worlds wouldn’t sound like they had a brick up their backside, unless the character called for it. Yes, we need to speak just a little differently in fantasy, because that reinforces the setting for us… but not so much that it starts to smell of ham.* Actually, WAR should get an honourable mention in this respect, since its NPCs are pretty universally down to earth and believable for their environment — they swear and they’re both tetchy and somehow salt of the earth, and it goes hand in hand with the PCs occasionally exclaiming “Bollocks!” when something goes wrong.

Even so, no matter how conducive the setting I suspect I would still find it extremely difficult. The fact that I’m typing and staring at a chat box (or worse, speech bubbles) does for me what having to see the other players does for other people. If you can’t suspend your disbelief and get your imagination going, you can’t roleplay. You can pretend to roleplay, but you won’t be getting from it what you should, which is that sense of people telling a common story and making it up as they go. Really GOOD roleplay requires people to give up control — over their characters, over what’s going to happen, over how other people react — so anything that distances you from the experience makes it harder to get to that non-controlled stage.

In one of my trademark changes of heart tangents, I’d like to make the case that this whole giving up control thing is what differentiates great roleplaying from merely competent roleplaying. The idea isn’t to be competent, the idea is for everyone to have a blast and/or be moved if it goes really well; it’s entirely possible for RP experiences to be as memorable and affecting as a great book, play, or other form of entertainment. And yet there’s a subset of roleplayers (both tabletop and online) who not only can’t begin to give up that much control but also want to control everyone else — if you’ve RP’d, chances are you’ve met their type. They’re the people who decide not only what their characters do and say, but often also what your characters do, sometimes even what they “ought to” say, what their name should be, how they should dress, or how other people should react to what your character does; they’re the people who get pissy when stories don’t come out according to whatever script they have in their own head. That’s not RPing, that’s directing. Get a camera and find a location, or put on a play in a game. Playing a role /= roleplaying, weird as that may sound to non-RPers.

I don’t have a final point, really. I just wanted to ponder RP as it applies to games, not necessarily even MMOs. Do you roleplay? Do you find yourself sneakily thinking in character during Fable2 or L4D even though you’re a tough, gruff, non-RP type who thinks RP is for sissies and girls? Do you drop into character really easily no matter what the medium? And if so, what tricks do you use for doing that in MMOs? I could use the info!

_ _ _ _

*Ursula K LeGuin gave a great talk on this general subject back in 1972, which was later transcribed as “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie” — not an easy article to find these days, but it’s part of several other anthologies, including her own The Language of the Night, which I can heartily recommend to any aspiring or interested fantasy/SF/general writer. I doubt it’s still in print, but it should be findable second-hand. I guess back then they didn’t call it “immersion,” but that’s what it is.

Categories: MMO Tags: , ,
  1. March 23, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I never RP’d face-to-face (see my recent Circle of Life post for why). I do RP in games almost constantly, most of it internally, if that makes sense. That’s why it’s really hard for me to play the evil path in games that offer moral choices. I don’t think of myself as evil, though I guess that’s for society to ultimately determine. :)

    I’ve done some RP in MMOs, but generally I’m the bystander that throws in a pertinent question or pithy observation, and not a main character. I burst into the wedding to spring the news that an absent guild member has been kidnapped and we all have to go rescue him/her at the bottom of an instance, for example.

    (Oddly I find chat bubbles much better than chat windows for RP, because I can look at the character I’m ‘talking to’ rather than looking at the chat window.)

    My best RP experience, though, was on a bulletin board (anyone besides me remember those?) called The Enchanted Grove. It was prose-based RP, I guess you’d call it. All the characters would post a message describing what they were doing or planning on doing, and then a GM would take all the input and write it up as a “move”.

    It was really fun because it has some really excellent writers, and none of those “everything is about me” RPers.

    At one time I had an archive of some of the storylines I was involved in, but if I still have ‘em they’re on an Atari 800 floppy disk somewhere… :(

  2. March 23, 2009 at 8:24 am

    LOL! Could have written this myself, it’s hitting so in the mark over here.

    For me WoW started as RP, turned into a levelling competition, gearing competition and back to rp-esque playing of the toon of my choice. The last part is still going on, though I’m finding more minigames (AH, crafting, gathering) to occupy myself with.

    My brother stated the same in his ‘delicate’ way of saying things. As he plays a rogue, his statement to my suggestion to spec for Combat was: “Rogues in my mind have daggers, and anything else is violation to the rule.”

    Which really made me think of how I play my prot warrior and holy priest. And what I do with them.

    So I’m putting on the role when I enter the game with those toons, trying to find the reason for them to do what they do and let myself loose. Usually end up doing things the more hardcore/powerplayer/ruleplayers consider waste of time, but typically enjoying myself.

    In WoW there are no real tools to really roleplay, and the world is made in such a way that the factions don’t play strong enough part in the toons life.

    Hmm… what would be the game of my liking like…?

    I don’t know.

    Copra

  3. March 23, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I RP all the time; all decisions are taken in-character, and I consider everything I see from the character’s point of view. I don’t really know how to do it any differently.

    That said, I rarely participate in any WoW RP any more; the Red Branch left its RP-interested roots behind a long time ago, and became a part of a three-guild raid group, and while the RP aspects of the game are important to me, they’re not important enough to change to another guild.

    That said, I’ve two alts coming up the line, each with their own interests and agendas, so it’s entirely possible I’ll get into more RP stuff over the coming months.

  4. March 23, 2009 at 9:11 am

    @Drew — you bring up an interesting distinction, and Pete touched upon it too. I can very easily self-RP in the sense of working out backgrounds & motivations and why my chars do what they do. But when it comes to interacting with others, the medium (that screen+chat thing again) just stops me cold.

    As you say, with habit it’s hard *not* to play in character. There are many, many things I will or won’t do depending on who I’m playing; some actions feel right, others don’t. The quest-heavy system we have these days makes that a little difficult, or maybe it’s just the fact that while morality and ethics are paid lip-service to in MMOs, they’re not really a part of the actual playing landscape. (With a few notable exceptions, such as the new DK-intro quests in WoW; they’re still very RP-lite, but they do have an interesting subtext, even if it’s really only for one encounter.)

  5. March 23, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I started in the 80’s too with D&D then progressed to other better tabletop RPGs so I was completely accustomed to being in character. So when I made the jump to MMOs it threw me off-guard. I started in SWG where I had my first-ever female character, so naturally I role-played *everything* as that female character. I didn’t know any better. It was an RPG so I was playing as if it were an online tabletop. Come to find out later that my entire guild, and most of the other people on the server who I associated with (crafting customers, etc.) thought I was a female *player* as well!!! That explained why I was always getting free stuff and special treatment. After learning that, I intentionally had some fun with it until I finally “came out” as a male player.

    These days, I always have my own internal personal RP with all my characters. If I had to categorize my style, I’d probably call it “Casual RP Lite” if that makes sense. I can go in and out of character all in the same sentence, leaving it up to the reader to figure it out. Not intentionally, but I’ve just noticed over the years that I tend to do that. I’ll do the emotes, whatever, but chat is much slower than speech so I don’t necessarily stand around picking my nose for the face-to-face RP unless there’s a whole group doing it. Otherwise I can do it just fine over chat while I’m out doing whatever. Sometimes people can be cool face-to-face like during a trade or something when it was not a “designated” RP moment but other times the same person who was just fine with chat RP gets… weird… as soon as it’s face-to-face.

    Surprisingly (well, to me) DDO has a fairly hardcore subset of RPers who take over the bars and do the whole “create a storyline” thing. It’s interesting to observe but I don’t know squat about the Eberron lore to join in and I’m no longer the type to make some intricate back-story for my characters anymore.

    RP over VoIP though… uh, no, don’t even go there. :p

  6. March 23, 2009 at 9:30 am

    “That explained why I was always getting free stuff and special treatment.”

    Oh ouch! Hell-ooo gender stereotyping! I have never in my entire gaming career either asked for, expected OR accepted special treatment in games based on my gender — actually it deeply creeps me out. I’m sure there are women who trade on their gender to get free stuff and special consideration, but to lump that in under the heading “all women accept (and by extension take advantage of gender stereotyping in MMOs” is harsh.

    I’m aware you probably didn’t mean that at all. :) However, as one of the women who is far too regularly lumped in to “Oh I bet you dance nekkid” and “Hey, I’ll give you 50g if you give me a lap-dance” and the whole spectrum of “Nice item, who gave that to you?” and “You have lots of customers because you’re female, not because you’re a decent crafter with decent prices”…. I feel I need to challenge those assumptions when I encounter them.

    But that’s probably for a whole ‘nother discussion. ;)

  7. March 23, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I accepted the free gifts, etc. just because I thought “wow, this MMO stuff is cool and the people are really friendly.” It wasn’t until after I learned they thought I was a female player that I put two and two together. Sure enough, once I dropped the RP charade and they all knew I was a male, the special treatment came to an end with it.

    SWG is the *only* game I ever saw that behavior though. I suspect by the time WoW and every other more modern game over the past four years came along, everyone just assumes every character is being played by a male until proven otherwise. Although I occasionally do read about the “special treatment” now but, honestly I have to question if it’s true or if they’re just making up stories these days.

    In every MMO since SWG I always seek out friendly “family style” guilds with female players but I’ve never seen any of them want special treatment or free stuff, nor have I ever seen any guild members give them any special treatment whatsoever simply because of their gender. But then I’m an adult and I also seek adult guilds. Can’t deal with the little epeen kiddies.

  8. Khan
    March 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I’m a casual RPer myself. Most of the issues you mention with RP are issues I have a problem with as well. Some people not content with leaving anything to the imagination use the emote system to say not only what they’re going to say but what’s going on around them. By the time they get out the pamphlet they’re typing, I have usually forgotten what we’re talking about. I’ve run into a bunch of the god-moder / rp guru (“you’re doing it wrong!!”) types too.

    I still have fun RPing in mmos, I tend to keep most of my rp to myself though. I’m telling stories in my own head about what’s going on. Of course, playing a hobbit affords me a lot of time to “get my hobbit on” when dealing with others. Player: “I’m lost” Me: “You’re not lost, you’re right there.” /point

    I think you really hit on something with the presentation vs imagination in MMOs. With tabletop games, it’s all imagination (with some helpers like stat charts or models). In MMOs, it’s all presentation. There’s very little left to imagination.

  9. March 23, 2009 at 10:02 am

    While I enjoy the imaginary cinematics in my head while reading novels or coming up with my own stories or scenarios, I prefer the graphical presentation in videogames so that everyone is on the same page regarding the immediate setting.

    What I find extremely lacking is:

    1) Videogames are 100% combat. Violence is the solution to every problem.

    2) I can’t do anything I want, I can only do what I’m given.

    What I mean by that is that in tabletop I often played rogueish types. Very acrobatic, etc. I’d crank up the Dexterity/Agility/whatever attribute to allow me the most flexibility (figuratively and literally) in combat and I would come up with crazy moves or stealthy scenarios rather than the “charge in and beat them over the head” that the fighter-types did. I can’t do that in an MMO. And I absolutely cannot stand playing rogue classes in MMOs. They’re built to fulfill a specific combat role which is great, but it never matched my mental image of what made a great rogueish class back in tabletop.

  10. March 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

    @Scott: I know what you’re saying. I like the “same page” idea too – everyone can see the same dragon, etc. And I totally agree about the “fighting is the answer to everything” problem most MMOs face. LotRO has some quests that have players doing something else, but it’s still limited to the responses allowed by the quest.

    I suspect though that most of the immersion that could happen in RP in these games would occur in situations where there’s flexibility in a player’s response. In most instances, the appropriate response is largely decided by the game company and not the player.

    On another note, a group of roleplayers in my kinship (guild) in LotRO are experimenting with DM-driven adventures. We still fight mobs, etc, but there’s also times where we may have to solve a puzzle or do something not in the game per se so we’ll have to improvise. It makes for some more interesting options. We use a simple rolling system as well. The DM decides what happens and the players respond. There’s a lot of flexibility in the system. It’s like P&P RP with a shared visual environment.

  11. foolsage
    March 23, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I enjoy RPing rather a lot. I’ve been RPing for… well, let’s just say I bought Eldritch Wizardry in its first printing and leave it at that. I still play pen & paper games occasionally with a group of friends. So, with that said, I often try to RP in MMOs but rarely find myself getting a very rewarding experience.

    The main problem I have with RPing in MMOs is (oh no, not THIS again!) the worlds are too static. I don’t feel like my character is able to effect any change whatsoever; that brigand chief that I killed pops back up five minutes later, and the lost artifact I recovered for that lazy NPC is missing again once I walk away. My character, like every other character in the game, does the same prescripted things with virtually no actual freedom. Though I’ve joined RP servers in WoW, in LotRO, and in AoC, I found that time and again there’s very little actual RP, most likely because there’s nothing we can actually DO except participate in the same generic content. So RP typically devolves into social cliques who sit around in taverns imagining storylines that the game doesn’t actually support (e.g. imagining NPCs are interacting, when they aren’t really; imagining changes that aren’t visible in game), which ends up feeling really shallow and pointless to me. I mean, we’re already in a virtual world, which requires suspension of disbelief to accomplish immersion… adding another level of suspension of disbelief makes the whole thing collapse for me.

    The only online RPG I’ve found that really supported RP was Neverwinter Nights. I was a player and later a staff member of one of the largest persistent worlds for NWN, and found there was excellent RP there. My belief, as noted above, is that this was possible because the world actually changed based on what players did; storylines that players created and controlled actually MEANT something. Now, this requires a staff of builders and DMs to change areas and run live events / respond to player-generated events, but the end result was that (literally) everyone was in character all the time.

    I simply don’t think any static world will ever come remotely close to that experience.

  12. March 23, 2009 at 11:40 am

    @ foolsage – oo which world? I might have visited. :D

    NWN1 was special, I think, in that it allowed player-created content (to varying degrees) and was, of course, kind of based on the RP idea. Or at least that’s what the community ended up doing with it, for the most part (there were some hack n slash persistent worlds, but they were tedious).

    That does remind me, however, that some of the most RP-heavy pers-worlds had SOOOO many rules and regulations and musts and shallt nots that by the time I finally got myself in game, I was exhausted and somewhat peeved. Moderation in all things, I guess. (Oh hey, clever pun! ;) )

  13. March 23, 2009 at 11:56 am

    When I was running NWN/Nordock (http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=Modules.Detail&id=1285) I had a friend with some face-to-face DMing experience running a mini-campaign in the game. If you’ll remember, NWN let the DM drop in creatures and stuff.

    It actually seemed to work pretty well.

  14. foolsage
    March 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Yeah, NWN was a special phenomenon. I played/built/DMed in Avlis – there weren’t many rules except that a) everything said in public channels was in character, and b) people couldn’t speak for NPCs (DMs did so).

  15. March 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I remember Avlis. Not all that well — hey, it was 6 years ago — but I do remember it.

    @ Pete — aye, I DMd a few things too. Some premade, some built by friends, all through Neverwinterconnections (which still exists but seems very quiet now). And then there was some utterly stupid, avoidable, “wtf did I do *now*?” kind of drama, and I dropped out. Shame, too.

    Now I want to see if I can find my NWN discs, though since they’re pre-move to TX I doubt I’d have much luck. Wonder if it’s on Steam!

  16. Kanter
    March 23, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve RP’d very little, though I did participate in a P&P (D&D) RPG off and on for a few years starting in 1980. I’ve always been more of a ‘Computer Gamer’ who enjoys RPGs along with other games. However, as a cooperative games who likes crafting, I’ve always thought RPing could add a lot to the game if it would work.

    A question for (all of) you: You’d think that based on the initial post that VoIP would help, but I know Ysh had had problems with it (as I’m guessing most of us have). What makes VoIP so problematic for RPers in online RPS when talking is most of what makes P&P RPGs work? Is it the people or the media or some of both?

  17. March 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    @ Kanter — for me it’s mostly the medium and its current limitations. I don’t care if a voice matches the gender of the char they’re playing, but a VoIP system would have to provide me with the following to work:

    1. Overlapping chat (this is coming or already here) — where if 3 people are talking, all 3 people are broadcast. Yes, it adds to confusion, but it’s more natural and thus spontaneous. If you have to think about pausing and when you can speak, you’re adding to the difficulty of letting go. (And yes, the DM/moderator should and will mod that, just as they would in a tabletop environment.)

    2. A quick and certain way to identify who is talking. This is also available now, but probably the best way for me would be if I *knew* the voices of those speaking. Once you know a voice, you make the automatic associations with who they’re playing.

    There may be more of a gap though, since tech has actually bridged the stuff that used to bother me. Maybe it’s my own reluctance to use and rely on VoIP (though I realise I’ll have to get with the times someday); maybe it’s also that if I’m going to hear people speak, I would much rather be in the same room as them.

    It’s not an insurmountable objection even for me, and I would wager that many younger (or more VoIP-happy) players are perfectly comfortable with the idea of voice-RP.

    Hrm. That said… if you’re VoIPing and there’s NO visual at all, then it’s going to seem pretty lonely. At least with tabletop you can see other people’s facial expressions, see them, and whatnot — and onscreen you can see their representations, however limited.

  18. theerivs
    March 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t have to RP, I’m a badass virtually, and realistically LOL!

  19. Manamar
    March 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    @Ysh: I point thee over yonder for verily, I have found us!

  20. March 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    @ Manamar – Aye, but the links mostly don’t work. :( No text on the various chars or tribunals etc etc etc. And NWO games is also not up at the moment.

  21. Tesh
    March 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve never really seen WoW as a role playing stage. It’s too roller-coastery (gaming on rails). If I’m going to RP, I want to be able to control a lot more than whether I’m using hotkey #1 or #5.

    The closest video games have gotten to that (for me, anyway) is the Quest for Glory series. It’s not perfect, but the ability to approach missions in different ways made for some good gaming. Even that was fairly constrained, though. There’s just no way to use computers to simulate imagination.

    That said, if I were really determined, I could RP in pretty much any game. It’s just not a high priority, since it’s *work* fighting the genre’s RP straightjackets and combat-centric design.

    …interestingly, I suspect that the best RPing comes from emergent gameplay, rather than gaming as the devs intended.

  22. March 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I think some of you aren’t grokking RP in MMOs. The mechanics of the game are irrelevant, most of the time. My best RPing experiences (again, me mostly looking on) in MMOs has happened in towns, in-game taverns or what have you. In this respect, it is pure role-playing with zero game mechanics influencing what’s going on. Well, it the game allows duels, that helps.

    We have done RP’d quests where a character will make his/her way deep into an instance and then wait for rescue, and then the mechanics come into play.

    But take LOTRO…tons of RP happens at the Prancing Pony in Bree.

    You can RP in any game, if people are truly interested in RPing. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

  23. March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    @Kanter: As I said way up there regarding VoIP for RP — no thanks. Ya know how some people say it breaks their immersion when the hot elf chick turns out to be some deep-voiced burly man? Or that wizened dwarf wizard turns out to be some squeaky-voiced pipsqueak tween? Yeah. Immersion, shmimmersion, but voices break any sense of RP I could ever have. I find it both disturbing in a creepy way and in a way that I have a difficult time not laughing or taking any of it seriously. The last ’bout was some guy RPing as a pirate complete with all the generic “YAARGH matey!” talk. I think the entire group had him on ignore within moments. Maybe, MAYBE, when we get to a point of having extremely high quality, varied and convincing voicemasking technology… MAYBE it would be tolerable. But I doubt anyone would want to listen to me RPing in a female voice, for example. :)

    @Pete: I think it’s just that there are different types of RP. I tend to RP in more of a conversational sense right in the moment. I had a friend who was heavily (and I mean seriously heavily) into an RP game on IRC. I joined once and it was more like they were taking turns creating a story but without any sense of themselves having characters or dialogue. I couldn’t get into that, and to me fell more along the lines of interactive storytelling like you’d see on forums, etc. than role-playing. But that’s just my concept of RP based on my past experience; to those people what they were doing was full-on RP.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen any RP whatsoever at the Pony on my server, but I also don’t make a habit of hanging out there so maybe it’s there after all. It’s interesting stopping into some of the taverns in DDO though — I think the one near the marketplace bank (Phoenix tavern? I can never remember their names) during primetime hours often has entire groups RPing.

  24. foolsage
    March 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    @ Pete: Sure, some RP does of course happen at the Prancing Pony, or in Goldshire, but as I noted above, it’s very very limited in scope. Mostly it’s people sitting around talking about things they pretend to have done, or pretend NPCs have done… or it’s * cough * ERP, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with the options above and they indeed are forms of RP, but they’re also terribly limited, which is frustrating to me.

    Again, I think NWN spoiled my expectations in this regard – I want to be able to have an NPC at a tavern walk up and offer a one-time quest to my group – a quest nobody else has done or will do. I want to be able to change that NPC’s life by saving his daughter from the brigands who captured her. I want that NPC to remember my group as the only people who helped him out… and I want to be able to tell that story to others, to reflect on the heroism my group displayed. I want the bandit chief we killed to remain dead, so we can immerse ourselves in the belief that our actions have changed the world. I ~don’t~ want to merely pretend all of the above happened, when the game doesn’t support it – because if it “really” happened, then every other player in the game has the same opportunity, and my “heroic” tale becomes nothing more than a rehash of Breeland quest #27.

    Sure, there’s nothing wrong with sitting around telling stories… but it gets boring to me. I like to RP while I adventure, and to RP before and after in the context of said adventure. Static worlds suck all the uniqueness out of everything we do and thus all the immersion. What’s left is people sitting around talking about things they can’t do, which is ok for some. I want more.

  25. March 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Yeah, I guess if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it in anything with “massive” in the acronym. :)

  26. HarbingerZero
    March 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I had wanted to RP from my first MMO, EQOA, but when I finally got to where the group was meeting at (travel – not so easy back then), I found that MMO RPing involved standing around in a circle telling stories in the first person.

    Not exactly what this PnP vet was looking for…

    I think that as MMO’s start to embrace player created storylines and quests though, it will become easier for me to find what I was looking for in the beginning, an extension of the tabletop experience, but with the bonus of have easier access to fellow players and without the headache of always having to be the one to GM.

    Also /agree with Khan on the RPing in my head. I often write up short fiction based off of my in game experiences. The better pieces I’ll sometimes post on whatever guild’s forums that I’m a part of. Guess that’s time I should probably use leveling, but se la vi.

  27. jedioftheshire
    March 23, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I have not sought out many RP opportunities in general, although the notion does hold some appeal for me, and after playing a good number of MMO’s in between Elder Scrolls games I have come away extremely disappointed with the opportunities available now and in the conceivable future.

    I remember writing something about this on Muckbeast’s blog at some point, but MMOs aren’t RP games anymore- if they ever were. Player-to-Player interaction has disappeared quicker than a great metaphor for something really fast. The other way of putting it that i’ve seen is that MMOs are no longer virtual worlds.

    I can see nothing but obstacles getting in the way of using MMOs as RP environments. Here are a few big ones:
    1. Age. I dare not say it is impossible, so I shall say very improbable, that a young teen/pre-teen(/younger?) will be a very good RP partner
    2. It’s not a Virtual World anymore, it’s just a game. The people that play MMOs are gamers first and RPers second because intuitively we know this. MMOs aren’t designed to be rich RP environments, and they’re successful at what they do, so the trend may be to continue to shy away from RP-friendly design.
    3. The constant push to level and attain gear keeps me (Without a solid RP background I don’t have habit to fall back on) from ever getting into RP because i’m usually too focused on the next goal to think about it. This is also because the pace of games is much quicker now- and perhaps with good reason, EverCrack was certainly a time sink (albeit a thoroughly enjoyable one) that no one is in a hurry to duplicate.

    I also agree that VOIP is not the way to go for RP, much for the same reason it is so hard for me to watch movies based on books (LOTR was a triple-whammy, two sets of movies then an MMO! :O). I have a very distinct (if picture in my head of what people look like and what they sound like so when a movie comes out the picture and voices in my head (not literally… the voices I give them) are irrevocably shattered- I will never be able to read LOTR without seeing Sean Bean as Boromir and Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

    In that same way there is always textual interaction with someone before you would hear their voice, and often times I find myself jarred by in-game voice=chat because hearing the player’s voice overrides the internal voice i’ve given their character.

    Did I say I like speech bubbles too? I love speech bubbles! In EverQuest it felt right to look down into the chat box, but when SWG introduced me to chat bubbles I fell in love. Looking at a character and identifying the image with the text is a huge improvement over indentifying the text with their name- it feels far more organic to me. Even the names over the head kind of kill the suspense of disbelief- which is something I should’ve mentioned earlier even though I touched on it a bit with the voip/text thing.

    Oh, and I RP in my head while I play too. As much as I try to, I cannot play a single-player rpg making evil choices the first time around. Ever. I have also sat for hours (no exaggeration) at character creation screens trying to find the perfect name to fit my character. To give two extreme examples: Valtholorianios and Kurg would make for two extremely different Human Warriors :)

  28. jedioftheshire
    March 24, 2009 at 7:58 am

    My apologies. I was deleting sentences and left “(if” in there. The similar paragraph above should look like what you see below

    *I also agree that VOIP is not the way to go for RP, much for the same reason it is so hard for me to watch movies based on books (LOTR was a triple-whammy, two sets of movies then an MMO! :O). I have a very distinct picture in my head of what people look like and what they sound like so when a movie comes out the pictures and voices in my head (not literally… the voices I give them) are irrevocably shattered- I will never be able to read LOTR without seeing Sean Bean as Boromir and Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

  29. March 24, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Not to worry JotS, the only one who gets flogged for typos around here is me. I used to charge for floggings, but I just don’t have time anymore these days. :D

  30. March 25, 2009 at 3:03 am

    I like to RP in MMOs. I *want* to RP in my PnP games, but I lack the self confidence to do so, even in the company of friends.

    The power of separation of the self from the character that a textual medium can provide should not be underestimated. If nothing else, RP in MMOs provides a chance for people such as myself to try role-playing without having to step far outside of our very restrictive social comfort zones.

    For terminally shy and socially inept people (of which I count myself a member), the textual/GUI medium can be a tremendous tool to allow them to experiment with the things that ‘normal’ people find easy.

    At least this has been my experience. It may surprise some, but I am not Melmoth, he is a character that I play on the Internet.

Comment pages
  1. March 24, 2009 at 2:40 pm
  2. March 25, 2009 at 6:55 am
  3. July 14, 2009 at 12:24 am

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