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Roleplaying

The Daily Grind: Where did all the MMO bars go?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous

SWTOR
No, not those bars. The fun kind of bars.

Massively reader Serrenity recently posted a provocative comment lamenting the loss of gathering places in MMORPGs: "Why aren't there many bars in games anymore? There's virtually no communal space. In capital cities everything has a numbers-related function -- learn to craft, spend money, repair your gear, auction, etc. [...] Everything is purely functional in games, without any 'flavor,' to the point of being the digital equivalent of getting socks for Christmas."

And Serrenity is right. Many MMOs don't have bars or taverns or cantinas anymore, and those that do usually fail to imbue them with a purpose, but it wasn't always that way, so why and how did it happen? Where did all the bars go, and do we need them back?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

SWTOR's experience boost enables altaholics, story-lovers

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Classes, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Lore, News Items, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Promotions, Dev Diaries

SWTOR
Eagle-eyed gamers probably noticed the "leveling boost" tucked in with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Shadow of Revan pre-order announcement, but just in case you missed it, BioWare wants to make absolutely sure you understand what it entails, and it entails story -- a whole bunch of stories in a short amount of time, in fact. In a new dev blog, the studio is calling the boost a "class leveling event" in which players are effectively "treated to an all-new epic BioWare roleplaying campaign, uninterrupted." The 12.32 multiplier to experience that players pick up by preordering the expansion and subbing up for a month is "enough to play through the game all the way to level 55 playing only epic story missions," meaning that you can play through the class stories with no quest grind in between. Skill training is free during the promotion too. But you'll have to move quickly; the promo ends on December 1st.

I've already lost two writers and three guildies to the leveling frenzy. Jef thinks he'll be done leveling all eight of his characters in 10 more days. Who'll be next?!

The Daily Grind: Are character bios due for revival?

Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

SWG
One of my favorite things about classic MMOs is that they refused to give up on the "RPG" part of MMORPG. As in a tabletop game, in classic MMOs you were often given an opportunity to write a biography for your character, then import it into the game and attach it to your profile in some way so that other players could read it. In some games, having a superb character bio could snag the attention of a gamemaster and land you even more recognition in the form of a badge or achievement.

It bothers me that these little touches are missing from so many modern MMOs. They don't take much effort on the part of the designers, and they sell the impression that creativity still matters, that your character is more than just a chat handle and a suit of armor.

Are character bios due for a revival? Did you ever or would you use the option in your game of choice if you could?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Elder Scrolls Online's 'Tales of the Dead' contest seeks storytellers

Fantasy, Contests, Culture, Events (Real-World), Lore, Roleplaying, The Elder Scrolls Online, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

ESO
If you've spent even an hour in an Elder Scrolls RPG, you're certain to have stumbled into one of the iconic corpse-and-letter storytelling scenes created by the writers and world builders. This week, ZeniMax is giving Elder Scrolls Online players the chance to join in the fun via a contest titled Tales of the Dead, which asks gamers to put pen to paper in the service of describing this cheerful scene:
To participate, take a good look at the image [above]. Then, create your own fictional entry of 500 words or less that tells us more about the scene. You can write a short story, a journal entry, or any other kind of fictional text that sheds more light on what happened to cause this grim tableau. Once you're happy with your creation, post it in the contest entry thread.

We'll start accepting entries today, August 11th, and will close the contest this Friday, August 15th at 11:59PM EDT. If you're one of the three winners we announce on August 29th, you'll receive a $25 electronic gift certificate to the Bethesda Store and an ESO t-shirt of your choosing!
The complete rules are available on the ESO forums. Good luck topping A Falling Wizard!

WoW Archivist: One night of payback in 2006

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, PvP, Roleplaying, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Theramore
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on August 1st and is included here by permission.

An interesting aspect of the ongoing Ashran faction hub debate is the fear people express that their hubs will be raided by enemy players, since the new hubs are adjacent to a PvP zone. Blizzard pointed out that the hubs will be better defended by NPCs than the Shrines are now, and the Shrines currently see few serious attacks on live realms, despite their close proximity.

On most realms today, little large-scale world PvP occurs, and even fewer faction raids. Faction raids were once a huge part of the game, even on PvE realms. You couldn't kill opposing players on PvE realms if they didn't want to be killed, but you could deny them their questgivers, flightmasters, and other crucial NPCs. And we did that, on both sides, throughout classic WoW.

Easy targets like the Crossroads, Astranaar, Grom'gol, and Refuge Pointe were raided almost daily. If your faction was heavily outnumbered, like mine was on Khadgar-US back then, it could be infuriating. We had our small victories at times, as I covered in my first Archivist column. But many days, all we could do was stand by and watch as the Alliance occupied our towns for hours at a time and took away our ability to level effectively.

On our first anniversary in 2006, my guild set out for some payback. Today I'd like to share that tale of classic world PvP from the era when faction raids were serious business.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: First Impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion
It's been an exciting weekend: I've spent many hours just absorbing the contents of the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of course, the largest part of Update 2.9 is Galactic Strongholds. I'll come right out to say that the SWTOR livestreams do not do it justice. I'm finally glad that I could get my hands on it to see exactly what the hook system feels like, where I can find all the furniture, and mostly importantly, how much it is going to cost.

Beyond the strongholds themselves, BioWare also introduced a new planet and flashpoint this weekend. I took some time to also visit Manaan, and I know I'm going to sound like a fanboy when I say that it blew me away. I was absolutely not expecting something that gorgeous for a simple flashpoint.

We have a lot to talk about, and if you've spent some time on the SWTOR PTS, I'd like to read your opinions in the comments. But first here are a few of my thoughts.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever volunteered for an MMO?

Fantasy, EverQuest, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Player-Generated Content

EQ
A few weeks ago in my Working As Intended column, I brought up the role gamemasters and officially appointed player helpers had in fostering communities, directing roleplaying, and aiding newbies and event organizers in early MMOs. We're not talking about just floating a HELPER tag over your head (though most modern MMOs lack even that); old-school games literally ran programs that traded game time (or just a hearty thanks!) to players who would log into special accounts or robed characters and lend a hand, officiate a wedding, or help a clueless nooblet find the bank.

While I was focusing primarily on Ultima Online in that article, just a few days later, SOE tweeted a post about the EverQuest franchise's alive-and-kicking volunteer Guide program. Participating player Guides are now expected to run dynamic events and quests rather than interact in chat, but the concept is the same, even in 2014, however strange it must seem to newcomers to the genre.

Today I'm wondering how many of our readers have ever volunteered in a semi-official or official capacity within their MMO of choice. How did it treat you, and do you want to see programs like these become more widespread?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Life of Rome aims to put roleplaying front and center

Historical, New Titles, Roleplaying, Player-Generated Content

Life of Rome
Life of Rome is described as a third- and first-person MMO set in a persistent Rome where players choose between playing as a Roman or a Barbarian with a heavy emphasis on roleplay and a community-driven political system.

While major RP-based storylines will be run by the developers at UK-based Breakout Studios, players can affect the game through long-term political, economic, or military goals. The game uses the Unity engine with Photon Networking and is currently in early alpha stages with no release date announced.

[Thanks to Rob for the tip!]

Leaderboard: What's your favorite aspect of Elder Scrolls Online so far?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Roleplaying, Leaderboard, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online Imperial horse
Judging by the masses of players I see running around in The Elder Scrolls Online, it's a safe bet that many of you are joining me in the game's early access launch. So far I'm having a good time with it, but I'm more interested in what you think.

Assuming you're playing and enjoying ESO, what's your favorite aspect of the game thus far? Questing? PvP? Lore? Something else? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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The Stream Team: Accessing Elder Scrolls Online early

Fantasy, Video, Launches, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Livestream, The Elder Scrolls Online, The Stream Team, MMORPG

The Stream Team: Accessing Elder Scrolls Online early
The moment players have been waiting for is here: The Elder Scrolls Online is officially live. Of course, Massively's ESO columnist Larry Everett cannot wait to jump in. He's been up since the wee hours this morning playing. Join him live as he continues his journey through Tamriel saving the world from the schemes of Molag Bal.

Game: The Elder Scrolls Online
Host: Larry Everett
Date: Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Six things you will and will not find in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Lore, New Titles, Mac, Races, Roleplaying, Guides, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG

Four things you won't find and four things you will find in Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls series launched in 1994 with Arena. The game was sold on floppy disks, for goodness' sake. It's been around for a long time. With that extended life comes convoluted and complicated lore. Even after I'd heard the time period for The Elder Scrolls Online, I had to research to find out whether certain pieces of lore would actually appear in the game. Of course, I'm not going to be able to tell you everything in this one article, but before ESO launches, I can hit some of the highlights.

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Guild Wars 2 unveils new account-wide wardrobe system

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Roleplaying, Dev Diaries, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

GW2
The latest ingredient in Guild Wars 2's April 2014 feature pack has just been announced, and it's a delight for those of us who like to play dress-up in our MMOs. Yes, it's quite literally a wardrobe, an "account-wide system that allows players to collect every skin in the game."

Says ArenaNet, "Currently, it can be a little overwhelming to try to sort through it all and customize your character exactly how you'd like to. Our answer to that is the Wardrobe, which makes it easy for players to change their look at any time and to share cosmetic items across all the characters on [their] account." In other words, a skin unlock for one character will work for alts too, and players will use transmutation charges to swap their looks as part of the new simplified transmutation system.

ANet launched a brand new dev blog, video, and gallery today to toast the new feature. Enjoy!

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Storyboard: Six things people (falsely) believe about roleplaying

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

What a charming long road it's been.
Roleplaying is one of those things that you know a lot about if you've done it and very little about if you haven't. That's fine; it's not as if you need to know the fine details of PvP balance if you never PvP. But there are tons of gaping holes in people's conception of what roleplaying actually entails.

So what do these people use to fill in the blanks? The horror stories. The nonsense. The garbage. A bunch of things that have no real resemblance to this important portion of our hobby.

All you can do to fight ignorance, of course, is provide information. So let's go ahead and look at some of the most common misconceptions I've seen about roleplaying and what the reality is behind the misconceptions. If you already know this, feel free to just pass this around to your non-roleplaying friends and family. Or just nod vigorously all the way through.

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Tamriel Infinium: Roleplaying in spite of The Elder Scrolls Online

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, New Titles, Opinion, Roleplaying, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Roleplaying in spite of The Elder Scrolls Online
From the moment I stepped into my first MMORPG ever, I was interested in playing a character, not just some avatar of myself on the screen. I followed the Ultima universe enough to create a believable character in that world, though I didn't play as long as I would have liked. However, my second MMO, Star Wars Galaxies, made roleplay really easy. With a bushel of emotes, character animations, and activities not directly based on combat, Sony's Star Wars MMO solidified my definition of what it meant to play an MMO. Of course, after that, the new MMOs -- with too few exceptions -- stopped lending themselves to quality roleplay thanks to the World of Warcraft design model.

The change in scenery didn't stop roleplayers from forming amazing communities. In spite of mechanical issues and linear questlines, the Lord of the Rings Online roleplay community thrives. Rumor has it that WoW's roleplay community actually does something besides dancing on mailboxes in Goldshire. I don't think I have to tell you how difficult it is to roleplay in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but I do it anyway. My friends and I are considering jumping into The Elder Scrolls Online not just to play the game but to attempt to roleplay in it as well. It makes us wonder whether we'll be encouraged by the game to roleplay the way we like to or will have to roleplay in spite of the game.

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Storyboard: Manipulative tricks

Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

Look out for the things.
Playing a manipulative character is kind of a minefield because you wind up falling into one of two traps. The first possibility is that you wind up not being very good at it because you aren't very manipulative. This isn't a mark against you, as none of the hallmarks of manipulation is thought of as a positive trait, but it does make your portrayal somewhat suspect.

On the other hand, maybe you're great at manipulating the people around you, which starts to blur the lines between players and characters and raises some uncomfortable questions all around. So that's not fun either.

Not that any of this tends to dissuade people; we love watching manipulative people, and the idea of playing one is appealing. It's a chance to make everyone dance to your tune, after all, even if it's just for a little while. So let's take a look at how you can play a manipulative character to the fullest without hurt feelings or informed traits.

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