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Reader Comments (14)

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 9:26AM paraLogiki said

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The uniform look of WoW was kind of one of my turn-offs. I was in a progression guild raiding 3 nights a week. But it seemed to me everyone was wearing a uniform, and I'm not just talking guild tabards. And when we'd be gathering up outside or waiting to go in, everyone else is out there, we all look the same, have the same weapons. WoW could really use a cosmetic system, which they may be adding in Cata, I dunno.

Re: Player Housing... I think Everquest 2 does a wonder job. Even though 100's of people can share 1 door, I've been in some very well done homes, and think it deserves a nod at least.

I don't roleplay much, but it sure gets my goat when I can't even do a /nod or /yes

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 9:46AM Malagarr said

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Good article. I'm with you on character customization, backstory, actions (sitting and walking) and emotes. Player housing is nice, and in a game like STO where your starship IS the game, more versatility is a must. But in games like WoW I can pass on player housing for now. Give me the ability to customize my character's appearance and I'll be happy. One step at a time, so to speak.

I know when I first heard about reforging in WoW I thought, "EXCELLENT! I can finally customize my appearance!". I pictured, at the very least, being able to use the appearance of previous tiers of gear on my characters. I always love the old tier 1 warrior set. So I was more than a bit disappointed to learn that all reforging would be was slightly modifying stats on an item.

One other thing I'd like to see added to MMOs across the board is a roleplay channel. Simply type /rp and what you say can be read by anyone standing near you who has joined the RP channel. /rpw would whisper what you were saying, so that only those standing almost on top of you could hear it, and /rps would shout what you were saying, giving you the range that /shout used to have in EQ. But an RP channel as an advertised, opt in channel in most MMOs would give the RP community someplace to play together without having their atmosphere interrupted by people complaining about RPers.

Just my two cents.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 9:48AM Platypus Man said

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I think it's worth mentioning that LotRO -- which has some of the ugliest armor I've ever seen -- implemented an appearance tab which lets characters put cosmetic or wearable items in slots to wear "over" their actual armor. It made what was already a really good game into a completely satisfying experience for me -- not everyone cares what their character looks like, but I'd wager folks care more than they think they do.

My favorite WoW character, a dwarf hunter, looks like a football player whose jersey and equipment were designed by Lady Gaga. There's no way in hell you could hunt anything looking like that.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 9:50AM (Unverified) said

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I agree with you. One thing that gets me early in a game is if my class has a specific line of quests. I wind up thinking, " Oh ok so every other ***** will be wearing this too!" It is like a gut punch to my motivation to care about my character.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:03AM (Unverified) said

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Lotro has most of these tools in place, and does a really good job of it as well. Vanity outfits, musical instruments, housing and venues make it a great game for roleplayers. You can customize your entire look. It's great for a "casual RP'er" such as myself. Check out Landroval, the un-official RP server.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:19AM (Unverified) said

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Crickhallow is now the secondary 'unofficial rp server' of lotro and lots of folks have come from Landy wanting a fresh server to set up shop in. Every Elevensies there is an rp group in the shire and I've seen the rp tag up on more folks than any other server besides Landy.

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Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:28AM Platypus Man said

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I've been to Elevensies the last couple of nights on Crickhollow. It's very entertaining!
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Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:05AM Tom in VA said

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I have to give kudos to LotRO and STO on character customization. I also like how, in STO at least, you can create written biographies for yourself and your bridge officers, which I think is kind of fun.

STO, moreover, has better player housing (i.e., the ship your on) than LotRO, in my opinion, in terms of accessibility and practicality. (I always felt the housing in LotRO was very poorly done -- though I appreciated the attempt by Turbine.)

In terms of RP, three things matter A LOT to me: character customization, RP-specific chat channels, and housing. WoW fails on all three fronts, and you mentioned all of them. Good show!

Another feature that would be great for RP'ers would be a "/who-rp" command that would allow you to see anyone in an area who had tagged himself as an RP'er. Global RP chat and LFG channels would also be nice, as well as a way to flag yourself as an RP'er wanting only to group with fellow RP'ers to run dungeons.

A good article, Eliot.

I hope MMO devs are listening and reading. The things you suggest could not be that hard to implement and would make a world of difference.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:11AM (Unverified) said

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Some of the things Aion got right (if not always perfect) in regards to this column:

Both a walk and run animation

You can actually sit properly on chairs

Eating and drinking emotes, but not while sitting (which they originally showed in a preview video, shame they removed it)

A wide variety of mostly good emotes

Character creator is very flexible, you can make standard to totally bizarre characters. There are even threads on the various forums about making living dolls and such, for example.

Lots of costumes, some of which can be used by all your characters, both male and female (so you only have to buy one of them). They did mess up with most event items, which are bound to a single character. Dumb. Again, GW got that right with any character on the account having access to event items and costumes.

Most armor and weapons can be remodeled with any skin (with in-game money of course) so you can look completely how you want while having the stats you need. There is still no dye preview though, something they should have borrowed from their sister game Guild Wars.

If they follow through on the housing they showed in their Visions trailer (and the Korean devs have mentioned they are currently working on it), that could be something impressive.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:17AM (Unverified) said

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For all its faults, and based on your list, I would say that Star Wars Galaxies or Everquest are more of a front runner in each category. That being said, you may want to consider trying SWG if that's the type of gameplay you're looking for. SWG has RP (try the Starsider server), lots of emotes, Player Housing & decorating, the Appearance tab (dress how you want to look using an infinite number of combinations), Storyteller (place decorations, npcs etc. on most planets and host your own event whether combat, storytelling, etc.), Chronicles (create your own quests), a great Crafting system, Space combat (whether single fighter or a crew of 8 people manning the turrets etc. as well as an interior on-board the larger ships to decorate or do as you please, and much more. Anyways, hope this helps!

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:33AM Heraclea said

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Another feature from City of Heroes that too many competing games lack: in game player biographies or descriptions, displayable to other players alongside your level, class, or gear.

The mere act of writing one is a dip into roleplaying. If I remember rightly, Champions Online had them as well, and if I remember rightly LoTRO, but I don't seem to remember any other games I've played that had them.

My personal challenge is to see how much story I can give a character in as few words as possible:

http://ouroportal.com/wiki/File:Whiskey-woman.png
http://ouroportal.com/wiki/File:Shakespearebio.jpg

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 10:34AM Jeromai said

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I left roleplaying behind me when I transitioned from MUDs to MMOs: one reason being because I couldn't figure out how the MMO players managed to RP given the limited tools...

...And the more primary reason being that I couldn't use WASD to move, mouselook to look around and turn, 1-0 keys to fire skills, class roles to concentrate on (I tank a bunch, which requires situational awareness, aggro skills punched, an eye on the mobs and the players, and target switching) and yet still focus on typing coherent long sentences out in /chat or /emote. Oh, and stay in character.

I find this column a fascinating peek into the culture anyhow.

Absolutely yes on customisation options to enable players to personalize their characters.

Player housing being touted as important perplexes me. Doesn't that partition people further away from each other as they huddle in their individual instanced homes (as they would need to be in today's huge player numbers)?

I would have thought that player gathering spaces be more important, such as inns, clubs, unique scenery locales in which there are not many quests nor real game reasons for existing, except to create an immersive sense of credible virtual world, and as a place for likeminded roleplayers to meet. I am given to understand that Pocket D in CoH and the Prancing Pony Inn in LOTRO are such hotspots.

Interactive actions and emotes sound interesting, even if the heading "tools for characters" is somewhat vague.

What might be nice, and I haven't really seen done to a great extent in any MMOs I've played, is to extend the interactivity to NPCs. Bow at them and they bow, wave or smile back, or react in some manner?

Also emotions and player character faces. The avatar's face tends to stay frozen in one expression for all of eternity pretty much, except in cutscenes if you're lucky. There are probably MMOs which do animate facial expressions in response to emotes - I just haven't experienced any, does SWG or any Final Fantasy variant?

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 11:29AM (Unverified) said

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I have to agree with this article a lot. Honestly, roleplaying on MMOs are going to be an afterthought. World of Warcraft for all it does right does the RPing part of it horribly wrong. I stopped trying to do RP on WoW after a while because it was extremely frustrating with the lack of options etc.

City of Heroes is a good middle ground but still not perfect. If there was a dedicated server for roleplaying with the chats to back it up, it would be even better. The fact that you can write up a biography and have it shown to everybody else is a great and awesome addition. The customization options are unbelievable as well which gets you out of the cookie cutter clone syndrome as I like to call it on some of the more established MMOs.

Unfortunately, roleplaying is not going to be a major part of the MMO scene pretty much forever. It's cool but more people seem to be interested in just killing things and getting that new weapon...

So us RPers just turn to things like fan fiction etc. to get our RP mojo on.

Posted: Sep 17th 2010 2:49PM Audacious said

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I'll concede that XI's housing was passable for what it was, but how do you bring up player housing and not highlight EQ2?

On topic, it always does get on my nerves just how little models in MMO's can actually interact. It's tough to animate, I know, but the fact that in so many games you can't so much as shake another player's hands or give your dog a pat on the head is something of an immersion breaker for me. Not to mention how goofy looking it is when a scene or event desperately needs custom built animationa for one model interacting with another, and it still doesn't happen (like the proto-drake spear hunting quest in WoW, for example.)

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