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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

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

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

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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