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Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 12:35PM kjhasdfjkhk said

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I agree to a point. The only roleplaying tool most modern MMOs include is a toggle run/walk button. It's really sad.

That being said, there is still lots of RP goodness to be found if you look in the right place. I've always been able to find good roleplaying groups/guilds in any MMO I've played. I realize that there aren't a lot of tools that developers put in the game for you, but that doesn't mean you can't make your own fun. Roleplaying is all about imagination. Be creative.

On the other hand, I've been roleplaying for years and I have never once really cared about player housing. Sure, it makes sense, but honestly it just seems boring to me. I prefer to use my own imagination. If there's a random building in a town you can enter that no one else really ever goes in because there's nothing to actually do in there, then just pretend it's your house. Tell your friends that it is. MAKE it yours in your mind and the minds of others. I find that your imagination will give you more freedom than any developer tools ever could.

I'd say I would like to have more story and NPC interactions in terms of roleplaying in games, but not necessarily tools that are set in stone by the developers. I am all for creating small, out of the way areas with unique things in them that really serve no gameplay purpose other than roleplaying, whcih I found that WoW does have even if it lacks a lot of other things. Roleplaying servers are a step forward, but that doesn't guarantee that everyone will be roleplaying. As for the instance thing, that is too large of an issue to address. The fact is that roleplayers are a huge minority in MMOs, and a game like Ryzom that only appeal to roleplayers wont do well because of that. They have to find a balance (usually it's not even, but it still exists). As long as there are things in the world that encourage or accomodate roleplaying, I am honestly fine with it.

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 12:35PM Saker said

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Excellent article!

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 12:38PM Tom in VA said

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I guess I am missing something here, but ... if you want to roleplay, just, ummm, roleplay. Plenty of players roleplay in WoW and other places.

"All of the major dungeons are instanced, so the villain of a story arc will always be sitting there, waiting for you. And if you kill said villain, just zone out and back in, and he'll be right back on his throne."

If you don't like this respawning mechanic, then DON'T GO BACK INTO THE INSTANCE once you've completed it. It's like complaining about a novel because, if you reread it, the villain has to be killed all over again. Sheesh.

If you want to roleplay to the exclusion of other players, then I'd recommend the primarily instanced Guild Wars environment. The upcoming CORPG Neverwinter may also be better suited to your needs.

I guess I'm really not seeing your problem here. Roleplaying requires creativity, and it seems to me there are creative workarounds for most, if not all, of the problems you are complaining about.

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 12:46PM kjhasdfjkhk said

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I'm looking forward to Guild Wars 2 for that reason. I think there will be a lot of opportunity to roleplay in your own instanced section of "town" where a lot of your personal story happens, especially since you have the ability to invite your party members into your own little instanced part of the city. I think that will offer a great deal of roleplaying opportunity across all five cities whether it was intended to or not.
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 1:00PM Skyydragonn said

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I'm going to quote Tom here from his comment as the perfect example supporting the writers poit in this article.

" Roleplaying requires creativity, and it seems to me there are creative workarounds for most, if not all, of the problems you are complaining about."

Creative workarounds.....Just wrap your head around that for a moment. Your playing a MMORPG...RPG... ROLE PLAY GAME...There shouldn't need to be "creative workarounds" for the limitaitons, no complete lack of user tools to create any sort of ROLEPLAY in a genre with the words ROLEPLAY GAME labeled on top.
To continue the authors example WoW. unless you on one of I believe five roleplay servers anyone attempting to ROLEPLAY will be kicked from groups, rediculed and otherwise made miserable (unless there running a freinds only group) honestly when was the last time you saw ANY type of roleplay ina raid? in a dungeon? in a battleground?(grief emote spam excluded of course) or even when standing around a city/town? aside from the /dance /wave and /thank emotes there is no roleplay in WoW. It should be labeled 'Massive online adventure game" not MMORPG since it lacks any sense of roleplay at all. Oh, unless we as the customers "creatively workaround" the designed systems to create some roleplay scenarios for ourselves. That was the point of the article.

Thank god bioware see's the flaw here and is trying to take steps to change it. hopefully they succeed.

personally i blame the console kiddies and thier demads of instant gratification.
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 1:28PM Tom in VA said

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@SkyyD

I meant in the sense of (1) if you don't like that bosses respawn, don't go back to them after they do; (2) if you need a private location to roleplay in, then find one; etc., etc. Yes, creativity requires some "work", rather than having everything handed to you on a platter. It takes a few seconds to minutes. That's not too hard.

Geeze. I roleplay nearly every MMO I'm in, and I have never had a problem playing my character and his story just the way I want to. All I have to do is take what the given MMO offers me and work with it. I simply tune out what I don't want or need (global chat is always the first to go!) and work with the pieces and features that are compatible with what I am playing.

It's not rocket science.
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 2:18PM Azimn said

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I have to agree with pretty much everything said here. I just started playing wow about a month ago and I found some pretty amazing plugins for Roleplaying. Total RP and Gryphonheart Items both seem to have a lot of promise. I just wish I knew some people that play WoW and use them. I was just lamenting last night on how much I miss playing on the several persistent worlds that I used to play with Neverwinter Nights 1. I even made 3d models of the monsters for NWNRavenloft. I am both excited and nervous for Neverwinter (Cryptic), and really want a game that is fun like WoW AND has some of the RP awesomeness of NWN. I loved playing GMed adventures and creating and playing player made content.

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 3:08PM Tom in VA said

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I am very hopeful about Neverwinter -- even though Cryptic is making it (*shudders*). I do think, in terms of game design, it could be an ideal game for roleplayers (i.e., in that it is a CORPG and also in that they are including Forge, allowing player-created content).
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 4:31PM Dblade said

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Problem is you need to code the RP toolbox and worry about players exploiting it. The evolution of MMOs has been to limit player options because time and again it's been shown giving power leads to abuse.

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 4:04PM (Unverified) said

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I totally agree. One exacerbating factor is that the vast majority of mmo players have not come from a roleplaying background at all. In fact, they think roleplaying is embarrassing, so they make fun of it, and make fun of those that do it. They've come to mmo games from a background of 'hey, I'm bored with all the video games I play, where's another one?' The fact that it's an 'rpg' really isn't even a consideration for them. It's just another new video game.

Unfortunately, rp'ers and non-rp'ers are often deeply annoyed by each other, and it's easy to see why. Each of the playstyles basically wrecks the other in any one party of players. The argument for rp'ing in mmorpg games is a very strong one, being that they have obviously descended from PnP games like D&D. However, there's really nothing wrong with any one playstyle.

I would say that on one hand, people need to be more vocal about what they want out of a game, just as you've said in this piece. On the other hand, they need to be more vocal in game, asking a party beforehand if they're into rp'ing the quest or dungeon, or just easing into it a bit.

I think Guild Wars 2 may finally give the smaller rp demographic their chance to really shine, hopefully illustrating to the videogame-only-background people that it's not just silly nonsense after all.

Posted: Sep 3rd 2010 7:40PM Ingrod said

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Really, I dont believe that do active roleplaying inside a MMORPG makes that game more RPG. For me a videogame RPGs and an PnP traditional RPGs with dices are very differente things.

An MMORPG world has the capacity to become much more than a stage to do active roleplay. If in a MMO players need create their own storylines or if they need imagine that are a hunter, warrior, or smuggler because the game dont have the tools for do these activities that game must have something wrong.

A good MMORPG must give an really interactive enviroment and the game mechanics to create a roleplay experience to any player loged in that game world. Not only to roleplayer, for all players.

But actually the most MMOs are leveling and collect games, the objetive is have the items with the best stats, and be the first in reach the best build. Not are RPGs.

In a ideal RPG videogame you dont need levels to simulate progression or stats to simulate item features: you have a powerful computer for make all the calculations needed in PnP roleplay games, and hiding these calculations at to the player eyes. That computer is capable to create a living interactive world around you and "force" you to do in character activities.

Play with dices or acting your characters in a videogame RPG is absurd. Is a wasted potential. You dont need act how a pirate beceuse in theory you should be playing how a pirate. The game must give the mechanics to be a real rogue instead a "stealth class"

If you are a hunter you need a hunting mechanic, a powerful critters IA, living creatures that need eat and drink with migratory paths, mission givers, etc. If you are a bounty hunter you need a BH mechanic how in SWG have. If you are an smuggler you need smuggling routes, illegal items, etc. If you are a Pirate the game must give you the tools for act how a pirate. But if you need act how a Pirate because the game give nothing, that videogame fail how RPG.

The first thing to do for turn MMORPGs in real RPG games is remove levels and stats, and subtitute these for in lore features. Perhaps stats have sense in a sci-fi envieroment, but not in a medieval or fantasy world. Talking about a sharp Valirian sword crafted in Pentos have much more role than talk about a purple sword with 50 to bleed damage. In a PnP game you need stats for do the dice calculations, but in a videogame: NOT!

In one line: MMORPGs must cut their chains with traditional PnP mechanics and fly by his own for become real RPG games.

In the other hand MMORPGs with isolated "roleplay mechanics" always will fail because these mechanics are perceived how "roleplayers only" Instead user created content tools are a great thing for create infinite content for a game, in example planets to explore in STO, new quest lines, etc. But that content must be for all players types, not only for active RP.

Posted: Sep 4th 2010 1:10AM Jeromai said

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Roleplayers are always going to be the neglected minority in MMOs. You know why? Because roleplayers cannot get organised enough to agree with one another in a show of sufficient numbers to matter to the devs.

This stems from the innate gameplay of roleplaying itself. The onus is on the player to suspend disbelief, the game cannot force someone to stay in character or else. Yes, an individual player can be creative, an individual player can make use of in-game tools like walking and animated emotes and say/chat channels and biographies/description text boxes to write their stories and weave their illusions of immersion along, and it certainly would be nice if devs took the trouble to think of and include such tools...

... and the moment you run into a second person, the problems begin. Besides the odds being against the other live player bothering to roleplay (because it is more difficult and a game within a game to pretend to be someone else,) there is no guarantee that another true blue roleplayer will be able to suspend disbelief to include -your- character concept into a shared universe, because everyone's perspectives are different. Eeew, your power level is too high, that kind of magic isn't found in LOTRO, no such thing as a loyalist psychic in Going Rogue because they would be sucked up into the seer program - the disagreements pull apart those who would much prefer to immerse in their own private universe from those who are looking to interact with other people in a shared universe, nevermind a few continuity flaws or whatever.

What's left? A small group of people who form a roleplaying clique that can accept each other's view of the world. Woe betide them when they bump into another clique with a different worldview. :) RP begets drama, be it purposeful for the sake of an in-game storyline because stories need conflict, or accidental because humans interacting with other humans naturally forms drama.

It's already amazingly lucky that some games beat the odds of RPers imploding and can support a server community positive to RPers as a whole (Landroval, Virtue).

Expecting any devs to take notice of a minority with diverse interests and enforce mechanics to support one style of RPer at the expense of other peoples' personal immersion is an exercise in dividing an already tiny audience into tinier niches that aren't enough to support a game financially.

Posted: Sep 4th 2010 2:08AM JuliusSeizure said

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Meh. I personally find too much built-in roleplay aids stifles creativity. Instead of roleplayers using their imagination and descriptive ability, they just coast along with what's thrust on them.

Give me a setting to play in, a suite of communication tools and my own imagination. Anything beyond that is fluff at best.

Posted: Sep 4th 2010 3:18AM Revolting said

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What Nonette said!

I think a large part of the problem is that roleplayers seem to want a magical shiny ROLEPLAY! button alongside all the HIT STUFF! buttons. The problem with this is that roleplaying isn't something the game can do for you, it's something you have to do yourself. It takes work - a lot of work. The common statement that you see flying around about roleplay facilities having been in decline since the MUD days as MMOs prioritise action gaming over character development is absolutely absurd. What tools prey tell did text based MUDs offer that were so superior? None whatsoever... all you had was a text entry box and your own creativity to rely on. You had to do all the work of portraying your character yourself, the very definition of roleplaying, and to my mind, that has not changed. That some roleplayers do not see this now that we have GUIs and avatars is the only thing holding them back, in my opinion.

Personally, I have seen plenty of people who manage to roleplay in every contemporary mmo I've played, including the much villainised WoW, and even some in the most unlikely of RP venues such as APB. The problem is less one of tools and more one of social compatability. Unfortunately as roleplayers in present day mmos, we are vastly in the minority amongst all the gamers who just play a game as a game and look for no deeper involvement than "hit stuff, kill stuff, loot stuff, repeat!" This is no fault of the game's or of the non-roleplaying gamers, it's just the nature of present day gaming, and you have to be ready to accept that and deal with it. You can't just fire up the game and expect to roleplay with the first person that comes along, you need to be prepared to find the right environment to do it it. Finding the right community is absoultely essential, be it a dedicated RP server (official or otherwise), a dedicated RP guild, or whatever social grouping that particular game offers. Unless you find the right group of people to roleplay with, it just isn't going to happen, but the potential to find that group most definately exists in any MMO at all, because the only tool you need to do it is your own creativity.

It's worth noting that many games of this nature these days have actually dropped the RPG part from the end of the MMORPG acronym, because as roleplayers we are not the exclusive target for most MMOs any more. We haven't been since Ultima. The much broader group of subscription payers, gamers in general, are the target audience now, and it is perhaps the unfulfilled expectation that all MMOs are also going to be MMORPGs that leads to much disappointment on the roleplayers part.

And then there's the whole other side of the roleplaying dilemma, and that is the roleplayers themselves. As Jeromai commented, often we are not compatible with each other, let alone the wider gaming audience. We tend to want our characters to be unique and special, and in a Massively Multiplayer game with 1000s of other characters running around, that more often than not is just not going to happen. Not everyone can be the last dragon in the world hiding in human form... and yet everyone CAN be. I've actually seen that particular argument get quite heated in Champions Online. Granted, I think the individuals in question were quite young, but I don't think that makes any difference, as the issue is very relivant to the topic. They proceded to argue about who had the most accurate dragon-like qualities, until one of them just left in a rage. The plight of the roleplayer is that other players are not required to accept our character as what we portray it to be, and the more players you have to convince, the harder it becomes. Damned near impossible when there's 1000s of them. In my personal experience, RPing only really works on a small scale, not a Massively Multiplayer scale. Perhaps that is the problem with roleplaying in MMOs - by their very nature they are not an ideal venue for it, which is why it becomes vital to find a roleplaying group you fit into, not just amongst the gamers at large, but even amongst the roleplayers - they aren't all going to be compatible with you.

But that doesn't mean it can't be done! All you need is a chat box and some like-minded companions. The rest is up to you.

Posted: Sep 6th 2010 9:33PM SkyStreak said

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I've always felt that games like City of Heroes and Champions lent themselves to roleplaying much better than most fantasy MMOs, simply on the grounds that the game forces you to spend a little bit of time creating your character's look and have a 'concept' behind it.

In my opinion, the superhero MMOs are by default 'roleplay light' from character creation on. The gameplay doesn't change one iota if you just hit random, and made your name "woiehriohwaohfr," but you almost never see anything like that.

What you see is a costume with (at minimum) some kind of theme, and a name. Those two things go a long way to make a player feel more 'invested' in their character. This isn't just some interchangable protagonist I'm playing, it's "Dee Lirious!!!!"

Now, that said, there are very few MMOs where player characters can have any lasting effect on the game world. In CoH, you can get the effect if your superhgroup only runs content together and once that arc is done, it's done and you were the ones who did it. But that illuson falls apart when everyone goes their separate ways while soloing or PUGging ("I defeated Countess Crey!" "Dude! I did that three weeks ago!").

The Mission Architect system has also helped with this enormously. In my SG, we have quite a few people who write missions on a regular basis, and one specifically who incorporates a very 'tabletop GM' style way of introducing thew storylines in-character so we feel invested in the story.

Unfortunately, 'tabletop style' RPers are a minority in MMOs, and due to that, the developers need to make sure the gameplay appeals to the masses so they can continue to earn a profit.

Perhaps games like Neverwinter (or at least what they are saying Neverwinter will be like) will be far more accomodating to the RP community. A "Multiplayer RPG with MMO elements" may be more condiucive to my friends and me creating our own world to play in....

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