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Roleplaying

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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Field Journal: Making peace with Vanguard

Fantasy, Lore, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Sunsets, MMORPG, Field Journal

Always, I wanna chat with you, and make a pact with you, and live in diplomacy! Diplomacy! Oh mobs!
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is a weird game. It seems almost purposefully to have been designed to turn away players before they can get a chance to see any of the good in it. Although I've tried it before, I've only recently been able to find some of that good, much to my even more recent dismay.

One of those good things I've found is the Diplomacy system. There's nothing revolutionary about it, but it is a solid and interesting minigame that stands apart from anything most MMOs offer. It's more than just a minigame, though; it's integrated with other systems to create a distinct and worthwhile approach to playing the game apart from adventuring. What makes a simple, card-based tug-of-war all that? I'll try to explain.

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Hyperspace Beacon: How do I play a Sith in SWTOR?

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

Hyperspace Beacon: How do I play a Sith in SWTOR?
This is another one of those questions that I get asked a lot: How do I play a Sith in Star Wars: The Old Republic? I hope I'm asked because people like what they see and that I am also a good player as well as roleplayer, but I don't by any means believe that I have a grasp on everything that it takes to play a Sith. And I also believe that other people have a great -- if not better -- gasp on the nuances of the Sith personality. On top of that, many people don't play a Sith the way I do, so I don't want to discount that either. When I play SWTOR, I intend to have fun, and what I consider fun isn't the same as what other people call fun.

I should give fair warning before diving into this outline: I'm not going to teach you the basics of roleplay; I'm going to hope that you already know that or that you've hopped over to Storyboard a few times. Secondly, I will use terms like "proper" or "best." Understand that I use those words from my perspective and that other players have a different and equally legitimate perspective, too. Lastly, this is far from exhaustive, and if you have any questions, I will spend some time in the comments answering them, or you can feel free to hit me up on Twitter.

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Storyboard: How to say goodbye and mean it

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

Liars, A to D.
So you know it's time to say goodbye. Your previous group of roleplaying companions just isn't filling that need you have for roleplaying, and that means it's time for you to pick up shop and move on. Great. Your metaphorical bags are packed, you're ready to pick up shop, and all that remains it to figure out where you're going to go.

Right. That part. Where are you going to go?

When you've been with one group of players for a while, it's tempting to see the game in pretty narrow terms because the focus narrows. The game is less about the whole server and more about the people whom you spend your time with in the game, naturally. But when you take away the group that you've been immersed in for so long, you're back to looking at an overall environment you hadn't considered. So here are some tips to make leaving as painless as possible.

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Field Journal: Neverwinter gonna let you down

Fantasy, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Guides, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Field Journal

We're no strangers to bad storytelling.
My original plan to talk about some of the better quests in Neverwinter's Foundry has been replaced with the burning need to rant about some of the common pitfalls in the less stellar entries. I'm not going to mention anything by name because I'm not here to shame anyone. I just need to explore some of the stupid design decisions that keep cropping up.

I make no claim to great skill with the Foundry myself. I still haven't gotten around to much map decorating in my first adventure, though I did pull the trigger on publishing. (You can find it with the ID: NW-DNGJU57ID.) What I can claim is a critical eye and an understanding of what makes a good story with the tools Neverwinter gives you to tell them. There are plenty of good stories, so picking something from the featured pile will usually work out great, but when you go digging in the new and unrated adventures for hidden gems, you'll find far more rough than diamonds.

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Storyboard: Being who you aren't

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

Pretty sure I've used one of these before, but oh well.
There is, as I have discussed, a group of roleplayers for whom the game is the thing. If the game doesn't allow you to be a moisture farmer, then why would you want to pretend to be a moisture farmer? Similarly, if you're not actually a master of the marketplace or sitting on huge assets in the game, why would you want to pretend that you are?

I am not one of those people. I'm playing a financial wizard partly because I am not a financial wizard. And it's not that I don't love games where that's a viable option, but that's a different discussion.

However, this does raise the question of how you can pretend to portray something you aren't intimately familiar with. If I'm playing a doctor, I'm going to run into the simple problem that I'm not a doctor in real life (full-time writers rarely receive extensive medical training). All of roleplaying is some degree of pretending to be something you're not, but how do you do so when it's something that's a bit harder to fake?

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Alter Ego: Issue #6 - Gargoyles' Gaze

Super-hero, Screenshots, MMO Industry, PvE, Free-to-Play, Comics, Roleplaying, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

Alter Ego: Issue #5 - Gargoyles' Gaze
Last time in Massively's DC Universe Online comic, Batman tasked Kid Critical with finding out what Bane's thugs are doing in Gotham City's East End.

As it turns out, the enforcers are offloading crates of the masked madman's venom at the Cape Carmine docks. Can The Kid stop them before Bane's strength-boosting street drug makes its way through Gotham's criminal underworld? Find out in Alter Ego: Issue #6 - Gargoyles' Gaze, after the break!

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The Stream Team: Solving the puzzle that is Myst Online: Uru Live

Sci-Fi, Video, Free-to-Play, Casual, Roleplaying, Livestream, Miscellaneous, The Stream Team

Myst Online screenshot
Myst Online: Uru Live has been through the ringer, as far as MMOs go. Despite being based on a very successful line of standalone adventure games, this MMO version just seemed to fall flat. Luckily the community and the developers agreed the game should be resurrected! Join Massively's Beau Hindman as he explores the mystery of this puzzle-based MMO.

Game: Myst Online: Uru Live
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Monday, January 13th, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Storyboard: Maybe I should go

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

There's a hidden message in there, but to be fair, there usually is.
Friendships don't always last forever. The people who made great roleplaying partners a year ago might not make such great partners for you today. Sometimes it's time to stop hanging out with the same old crowd and start finding yourself a new group to call home.

Maybe it's a clash of personalities. Maybe it's a change in characters. Maybe it's just that you know as long as Tim and Anna are your main roleplaying partners you're going to be doing the same three plotlines from here to eternity because Tim really likes those three plotlines. The point is, there comes a point when it's time to say farewell and move on to a new group.

So when is it time? That's a slightly more difficult question. Obviously, the people you gather around you for roleplaying are people you like to roleplay with; otherwise, you wouldn't have them around you in the first place. Telling them that you just don't want to any longer is a bit of a step. So let's talk about the when, and in a couple weeks we can talk about the how.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: I'd like to build a Guild Wars 2 home

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

Sylvari character in front of blue sky backdrop
Happy 2014, everybody! For the first time in a long while, Guild Wars 2 has gone without updates for a few weeks while the ArenaNet team took a well-deserved break. The next content release will drop on January 21st and will reportedly herald the beginning of the end of the Scarlet Briar story arc.

I've been spending my free time reading through the latest collaborative development initiative thread on the official forums. A few weeks ago I wrote about horizontal and vertical progression in GW2 and the CDI thread related to it; at this time the discussion on the forums has narrowed specifically to horizontal progression and what players would like to see from it. After posting our top three priorities for horizontal progression, we were asked to further narrow it down to one, in order to develop a proposal. Since it's been such a popular suggestion in the thread, I think it's a good time to talk about a subject near to my shriveled, cold Necromantic heart: player housing.

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Storyboard: What housing does for roleplaying

Culture, Opinion, Roleplaying, Storyboard, Miscellaneous

Note to self, really need to replace this header this year.  No cheating!
Those of you who read the other meanderings that I post on the site already know that I am very, very unhappy about the mess that Final Fantasy XIV has made out of housing. You don't need to hear about it again, though. What's far more relevant is addressing a question that at once seems screamingly straightforward and yet barely gets answered: Why does housing matter so much for roleplaying?

Pretty much no one argues with the basic premise that housing is a boon for roleplaying, but that discussion usually stops there. It's assumed that the reasons it's helpful is self-evident in much the same way that having a game that does not set fire to your face is desirable. But it's useful to examine why at least affordable entry-level housing in a game is important for roleplaying and how it can lead to benefits for the community as a whole.

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Alter Ego: Issue #5 - Opportunity Knocks in DCUO

Super-hero, Galleries, Screenshots, MMO Industry, PvE, Free-to-Play, Comics, Roleplaying, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

Alter Ego Issue 5 - Opportunity Knocks
Previously in Massively's DC Universe Online comic, Kid Critical teamed up with Batwoman to rid Gotham of the Scarecrow and his hallucinogenic fear gas. Now, a new villain is filling the void, as the masked strongman Bane has set up shop in the city's East End and is terrorizing its citizens with an army of thugs powered by his rage-inducing venom.

Can The Kid and the Bat family put a stop to his nefarious plans? Find out in Alter Ego: Issue #5, after the cut!

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