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Posted: Feb 9th 2010 5:39PM Darkdust said

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I wish you hadn't titled this piece specifically for EQ2, because in reality this provides great advice for RPers across many games and genres. :)

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 6:09PM Loki1 said

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Mrs. Brennan i enjoy all your articles, they always talk about things i care about.

Regarding roleplaying, there's 2 points that interest me. One is improvisation. I think improvisation can't ever give drama... if there's drama in a roleplaying type of adventure, it's always been written(or scripted) before. The only thing improvisation can ever do is what you first discarded, it's just empty rants in funny accents to prolong(that is, water down) the scripted drama.

Second point is that role-playing a MMO that's solely oriented on combat, PvP, powerplaying and whatever concerns beating things up is like role-playing in an IRC channel, it's not fit for it but you can do if you, again, rant in a funny accent filled with some LORE nonsense. How do you play with the role if WoW doesn't allow any "action" beside emotical animations? MMO programmers should give "tools" to players, the same tools that they use to write things. Otherwise there's no way to PLAY with a role... i can't have a buddy do a choice, i can't have a buddy face the consequences of his choice(because only choices modify a character's role)

Posted: Feb 10th 2010 7:43AM (Unverified) said

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@ Lok1

I totally disagree with this.

Having been a part of a large role-playing community on WoW a few years ago (Defias Brotherhood EU) I have seen and taken part in some of the most dramatic RP that I have ever been a part of, almost all of which was totally improvised and any that had any "planning" came as a continuation of something that may have happened previously.

The "Empty Rants in Funny Accents" thing does happen (too much), but only when you're dealing with bad RPers with no imagination. To cast aside improvisational RP in it's entirety is just silly.

RP, at it's core, is cooperative story telling. You can do it over Instant Messaging software, on a forum, via email, around a table with the help of dice/figures/rulebooks. MMOs allow you to do this, but add visual avatars to the mix and any emote that isn't provided can usually be achieved with a custom emote command.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2010 2:45PM Loki1 said

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Ooh defias. I remember you guys. I was Pekkröinn of the Ironforge Guards.

Since role-playing is not just spectating a fixed boring story, but the ability to change the role, the function you play inside it, you must be given a chance to change it.
I don't think improvisation can ever pose succesful dilemmas that test your role. If, and when it does, it's because you have experience. If you have experience you are using "old scripts", so you're not actually improvising, you're using phrases and bits you've done before.

As for the other point, i don't think there can be roleplay in MSN and chat rooms. The space itself must provide tools to roleplay. And these tools aren't just the ability to chat and do some /dance /laugh. You have to be able to set custom events and see consequences of your actions. you can't just imagine that your character is doing something, or he's dead, or he became evil or whatever, when all your character really wants to do is do what the game is about, farm rats and pick their testicles.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2010 7:11PM (Unverified) said

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Small world, eh? If you ever saw me at all it would have been as Kaalen, skulking about in the "Smoking Blade" in SW.

You've brought up a really rather interesting point there about recycling old scripts, though. It's quite the same as the realization that every story told today (via books/films/games/etc.) is just an altered form of one of a small handful of plot lines that have been recycled for as long as there have been people to tell them.

By that argument, which is a very good one I have to say, improvisational roleplay ultimately boils down to a few people bouncing universally known cliches off of each other. It does make sense that this would be the source of the "drama" that I've experience, seeing as everyone involved always seems to instinctively know which way to take a given plot line without any explicit direction given. It does sort of take the magic out of it, though.

Also, I think I can see what you're saying in regards to playing your role as the game allows (i.e. "killing rats" etc.). In MMOs the "RP" tends to happen at odds with the actual gameplay rather than incorporating it. Most RP I've taken part in happens in the towns, selectively ignoring players that are not "involved" in our own personal universe. Any RP that happens "in the field" often has to be put on hold while the group deals with a bear or something that happens to have spawned within range; pretending that it never happened afterwards. The MMO itself only really provides a setting and a vessel for the RP to take place.

However, I do still disagree about RP being impossible in chat rooms and the like. Just imagining the action is not enough, but describing the action and reacting to the actions of others is what makes it work. It requires some suspension of disbelief but it is ultimately like writing a collaborative novel with some friends, the characters exist within the universe you create through your writing and their actions have consequences as dictated by you and the other players and your collective opinion on how to make the story more interesting and dramatic. I can see how this isn't really "Playing a Role" in as much as writing a novel alone isn't either, but I would still call it "Role Playing".
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Posted: Feb 11th 2010 9:54AM Loki1 said

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Heh i understand. You can indeed roleplay in an IRC chat and MSN, that's very true.
But this is not the field of videogaming anymore, this is simply as if you'd be around the table with your friends with papers, pencils, manuals of D&D and GURPS.

Then yes, the only difference is that instead of speaking you type words.

But i repeat there's no videogaming involved, and it seems you work with "memory", which makes me think as if you know the handbook rules by heart. Since you strain your memory like that, you might as well use the dungeon master, the dice, and you're set to go. :D

Point is you will still need rules to shape the characters of the play, otherwise you and your buds are just going in circle with empty blathering. The rules are there to modify characters' skills and karma, putting it in numbers.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2010 6:28PM Platypus Man said

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Great advice. Great article. As a long-time roleplayer, I have to agree on all points.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 7:24PM infinityv said

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In respect to role-playing in MMO's I think that one can only do as well as the devs allow them to. Everquest and Everquest II are both heavily role driven games. The developers have taken the time and put in the effort to explain why thing are they way they are. History tells the story and gives players the ability to take away form it leaving everyone with an even footing and understanding of whats going on and why.

From my experience these well thought out historical arcs are becoming more of a rarity and something that is lacking from many modern titles. Perhaps it has to do with the change of a limited life expectancy of many new MMO's coming to market. Or perhaps it has to do with limited resources or the developers feel that it's not crucial for their games success.

Regardless I really enjoyed the article and hope that it provides the means for some future role players to take the initiative and interact in their favorite game in a whole new way.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 7:29PM (Unverified) said

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The first point is extremely insightful. It also begs the RP community to be altruistic with their time for the greater good of the experience, which creeps into the second point. People who fall into a trap of self-importance frequently brush off seemingly menial engagements that eventually snowball into an immersive experience.

That being said, I'm curious to see the EQII roleplay climate.

Posted: Feb 11th 2010 11:08AM Loki1 said

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Urgh, i didn't mean "new player" as in new to roleplaying, im sure you have a lot of experience in... social role-acting, just new to criticism, instead!
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Posted: Feb 11th 2010 11:10AM Loki1 said

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sorry, wrong reply recipient here.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2010 10:27AM (Unverified) said

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>RP, at it's core, is cooperative story telling.

I disagree
Roleplaying and cooperative story telling are not the same thing.
The essence of roleplaying is pretending to be someone else.
It is entirely possible to roleplay silently or alone.

It is possible to mix the two with good results, but I generally find that deliberately trying to tell a story gets in the way of roleplaying.

The advice here is good, but there are aspects of roleplaying it doesn't cover.

For me the greatest RP moments are when I feel my characters emotions.
And the best stories are the ones that arise naturally from putting interesting characters in interesting situations.

Posted: Feb 10th 2010 3:06PM Loki1 said

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Role-playing is just feeling something about any character, then? That's really shameful. You can role-play while you watch a movie, i guess? you also mean that role-playing doesn't have anything to do with the actual game, it's all inside you? Is it something completely unnecessary(which is the definition of being a nerd) to the actual game mechanics? Is it something that you do before and after doing what the game is actually about, something abstract separated from the game's SERIUS BUSINESS, which is farming and GANKING PPL and PWNING LLOLS? Role-playing is just mind-trips??

I choose to not believe it. Also, if you can roleplay in any game as long as you're feeling the character's emotions, why is there a genre that's called infact role-playing games, and others are called strategy, simulation, FPS and so on? Why is Dragon age an RPG, if roleplaying is just something you apply to any game? Isn't it a childish paradox that there's a difference between a roleplaying-game and a game that you roleplay? The first being a game where you have a character with skills and levels that you powerplay, and the second any game in which you start "feeling"?

As i wrote in the article of gamasutra, you can't roleplay without playing with the role. To play with a role you have to be able to change it. If you can't change the character's role you're not able to play it.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2010 7:31PM (Unverified) said

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@Peter

Yes, you're right. You can definitely roleplay alone and, in fact, you can do that whilst roleplaying with others. Think as your character would think and so on.

I also agree with that trying to tell a story gets in the way of roleplaying. I meant "cooperative storytelling" more in a sense that the end product is a story, not that the group sets out to shoehorn their session into a predetermined story.

@Lok1

Now you're getting into the specifics of it. "Roleplaying" is an extremely loose term that is used for many different things now. You're talking about it in it's literal sense, i.e. Roleplaying = Playing a Role.

I believe that there is a genre specifically called "Roleplaying Game" because the genre conventions are outdated and confused. In the same way that many FPS games contain elements of real-time strategy, every game that has you take on the role of a character becomes a Roleplaying Game. A game that is classed as an "RPG" tells me that the game will allow me to customize and upgrade my character over time and usually manage an inventory and the statistics of my equipment, rather than that it contains any "Roleplaying" elements that are different from, say, becoming Gordon Freeman or the Master Chief for a weekend.

It's tricky to debate something with such a vague and diluted definition as "Roleplaying".
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Posted: Feb 11th 2010 10:24AM Loki1 said

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Hah, no i disagree, my man. the conventions aren't outdated and confused, the term roleplaying contains every possible instruction needed and it's very clear. The confusion ironically comes from you new players. For me, and i think for everyone on earth saying that role-playing, playing a role and RPG are different things is probably sign of the biggest mental confusion that curiously you attribute instead to the genre... it's comical isn't it? And i know because i've been through that phase(the old definition is out-dated) in these years of continuous analysis of the the meaning of rpg. And i reached a higher conclusion.

Please read my article in gamasutra about RPG. As EVERYONE who's trying to do MATURE criticism should, instead of creating confusion and ambiguity as you guys seem to love doing, i try to reconcile "playing a role" as you might see it as theatre(i guess), role-playing which according to you is something about acting and some emotional interpretation, and RPG's which you seem to consider raising a character's skills and levels, managing inventory and farm... the terrible thing is that even tho i hate powerplaying, and obviously i don't think Diablo is an RPG albeit its having stats and levels, this last concept of the same thing made thrice, is the one more substantial, more material and realistic, because the other two are abstract activities of useless emotions, IMO.

I establish just one thing i hope you come to gamasutra, but if you want we can just discuss here. Role-playing is one, and it's an OBJECT that exists independently of players. IT's not important how players feel, how players play, how players think, they can play it as if they're playing carmageddon, they'll still be roleplaying... the only way to avoid roleplaying is to bash the computer and run.
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Posted: Feb 11th 2010 11:09AM Loki1 said

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Urgh, i didn't mean "new player" as in new to roleplaying, im sure you have a lot of experience in... social role-acting, just new to criticism, instead!
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