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Roleplaying

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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MMObility: A newbie's look at the fantastic Therian Saga

Betas, Screenshots, Video, Economy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, MMObility, Sandbox, Crafting

The Therian Saga screenshot
I'm tired today. I was up too late playing The Therian Saga, a new browser-based MMO by Studio Virtys. It's a seemingly simple game and might even appear to be easier than it is, but I have found these last several hours of play to be more immersive and satisfying than much of what I have played over the last several months. Essentially, the game is an in-depth representational game, meaning that most of the time you will spend your time giving commands and watching -- or waiting for long periods -- for the commands to work out. Think of the gameplay sort of like Words With Friends with some real-time combat. No, you won't be spelling against your enemies, but the pace is definitely casual with optional, faster combat.

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The Daily Grind: Do you get emotionally involved in MMOs?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous

WoW
Massively reader sty0pa offered up today's Daily Grind question to us, and it was too good to pass up: "In which MMO quest or event have you been the most emotionally involved? I was just reading You Awaken in Razor Hill and thinking that World of Warcraft was pretty good at poignant quest lines, and it made me wonder what people had found in other games."

I agree that for a game lately panned for its pandas, WoW has some great storylines. The coin in the image above still gives me goosebumps of sadness when I read Jaina's hopeless wish. But then again, I've never stayed up until 4 in the morning because of a game's plot; it takes a player-driven roleplaying plot to really get me that emotionally invested to the point that I have real tears in my eyes for characters that are entirely fictional.

What about you? Do you get emotionally involved in MMO stories or lore or quest lines? If so, which one stands out the most for you?

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!

Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR Sith beliefs

Sci-Fi, Culture, Lore, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR Sith beliefs
Peace is a lie; there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.


Although this statement is considered the Sith Code, the guide by which all Sith live their lives, it's more a counter to the Jedi Code than anything. Because the first Sith Lords as we know them in Star Wars: The Old Republic were former Jedi, it only makes sense that they would create a code intended to be the antithesis of the Jedi's central theme. Not all Sith follow the Sith code, but most believe in its credence.

If the Sith Code isn't central to the Sith beliefs, what is? That's the interesting thing: There doesn't seem to be a central theme other than to be the opposite of the Jedi. Some Sith believe in an Empire. Some Sith believe there can be only two. Yet the Sith existed long before there was a Sith Code. Before there was a Sith Order, there was the Sith Empire on Ziost and Korriban, and that is where the SWTOR Sith come from. That is where my Sith characters come from. I don't believe I have all the philosophical answers, and clearly, my way is not the only way to roleplay a Sith, but perhaps I can give you a launchpad to start your own storylines.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: How Guild Wars 2's living world can liven up roleplay

Fantasy, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Roleplaying, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

Lion's Arch fountain at dawn
Scarlet Briar is planning an attack on Lion's Arch, the central hub city of Guild Wars 2. L.A. is the city where all of the playable races -- and plenty of individuals from others -- live together in one big, piracy-flavored metropolis; despite the theme of ruthless capitalism, it's also a place that symbolizes peace and camaraderie. Humans in Kryta may view diversity as an astonishing novelty, but the people of L.A. chortle at the hayseeds and go about their business.

Among the GW2 roleplayers I know, several have characters who live in Lion's Arch. A few of them were born and raised there. After watching some of us chat about the massive upheaval the city's destruction will create in the lives of those characters, one of my favorite people ventured that this was probably a bad time for her to dip her toes into GW2's RP scene, right? Nope. In fact, there hasn't been a better time to jump in since, well, ever.

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The Daily Grind: Do you roleplay?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous

The aftermath.
I'm aware, on some level, that not everyone plays an MMO with an eye toward roleplaying. But roleplaying is the key experience I want from a game. A big part of my investment in Final Fantasy XIV has to do with my long-term roleplaying experience with other players, years of friendships and rivalries and bitter feuds and romances that have been extremely moving. I can't really imagine playing a game without roleplaying.

But not only is that not universal, it's really the minority. So today I ask you, good readers of Massively: Do you roleplay? Are you generally playing your game of choice with a focus on character motivations, or do you mostly just like the looks and don't fret over things like characterization or whatever?

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!

Storyboard: Skipping scenes

Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

Nah, we're not doing that scene.
There are certain bits of roleplaying that I like to think of as mechanical. They're there, they're necessary, but they're not terribly interesting. They're like random battles in Bravely Default: kind of neat the first time, altogether forgettable all subsequent times, and never blessed with an abundance of fascinating stuff. You need to get through them, but you can't really look forward to them any more than you can look forward to the most routine-filled parts of your day.

So the best bet is to say they happened without acting them out.

Yes, I'm saying there are bits of roleplaying that are best acted out only in reference. And I'm not just talking about your characters' bathroom visits; I'm talking about things like dates and shared experiences. So when is it actually an advantage to roleplay by not actually roleplaying at all? How do you determine the scenes that you know happened and are important but aren't important enough for you to actually play them out?

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Free for All: Can roleplay rise above the sexy stuff?

Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Roleplaying, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MOBA

Velvet Sundown screenshot
Recently I logged some time in Velvet Sundown, a new pseudo-MMO that places players into small, instanced roleplay groups of 11 characters aboard a ship in order to solve a mystery or to otherwise "win" a roleplay session. It sounds strange, but it really is a very interesting idea. Each character has a different angle on the game, and depending on how that character interacts with the others, he or she also has many different ways of achieving goals. The game also offer a decent text-to-speech tool that gives more life to the characters.

I logged in and was assigned to play the character Malik, who was something of a wise man. My apparent goal was to find a spy, hire a thief to steal secrets, and look for other players who were from the same background. I was also assigned the task of blessing people in the hopes of gaining new disciples.

Excited, I logged in and approached a group of players. Almost as soon as I did, I was disappointed. Within minutes several players were talking non-stop about women's underwear. At first I thought it was part of the story, but then I realized it was simply another great roleplay opportunity taken down by a few jerks.

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Storyboard: Only mostly dead

Lore, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

You said that you would die for me; you must live for me, too.
Dead is dead. I can't stand when comics endlessly bring back dead characters, I can't stand when shows bring back dead villains, and I can't stand when death is treated less like the final note and more like a brief inconvenience. If you want someone to come back from the dead, don't kill the character in the first place! Death needs to be permanent to have any impact.

So this week's article is all about ignoring that and bringing characters back from the dead anyhow because the only reason to have rules is to know when to occasionally break them.

Roleplaying deaths are already rare, of course. I can count how many characters I've actually killed on one hand, and that's stretching back to roleplaying in Final Fantasy XI (abortively). But sometimes you decide that you want someone alive after all. And when it's done carefully, you can actually make the revival interesting again because you're not doing it for shock value so much as making a point.

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Field Journal: Across the DC Universe

Super-hero, Culture, Lore, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Roleplaying, DC Universe Online, MMORPG, Field Journal

The Slappiest Place On New Earth
Funny story: DC Universe Online was the first superhero MMO I played to any meaningful extent. I briefly dabbled with Champions Online when it went free-to-play, but it didn't grab me enough to make me continue past the introductory area. A couple of months later I gave the still-fresh-from-launch DCUO a try. The game gripped me for the next four months, and though I would eventually find City of Heroes to be the crown jewel of capes-and-tights massively multiplayer games, DCUO is still one of my favorite MMOs.

Why is that? There are several factors: the feel of combat, abundant collections that satiate my compulsions to find all the things, a costume system that lets me change any part on the fly, the inclusion of an achievement system that actually means something, and a vigorous update schedule including quite a lot of new power sets over time. Even little things contribute a lot, like how much of a badass I feel running at super speed up the side of a building and flinging myself from the apex for several blocks to land running up the side of another huge skyscraper. The biggest reason for me, though, has to be how well-realized the setting is in the game -- how Sony Online Entertainment has capitalized on the license to present a snapshot of the DC Universe at its best.

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Storyboard: Secrets that aren't helping

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

It's a faceless week.
Roleplaying characters are often secretive sorts. This is understandable; a lot of people are secretive sorts. Sure, you're not deceptive, but you harbor a secret affection for Lady Gaga that you don't want to tell anyone about, or you secretly did forget to feed the cat that one time she broke into the cupboard and ate an entire bag of cat food, or you're secretly cheating on your girlfriend (but it's fine because she's cheating on you, you think).

The problem is that in roleplaying, some secrets are just plain better than others.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about specific secrets here, not just things that people might not know yet. There are certain secrets that are just plain counterproductive, and it's better to have these things stated outright rather than held in reserve for the future. Even if it's supposed to be a secret, some secrets are better revealed than kept because keeping 'em isn't doing you any favors.

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