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Provocative idea's for the mind

Taking seriousness to a whole new level, analyzing current MMORPG's, and idea's for MMORPG's in the most logical ways possible.

Author: TenchiMuyo

Roleplaying in an MMORPG; can it enhance your gameplay?

Posted by TenchiMuyo Tuesday February 17 2009 at 1:42PM
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Sorry for not making a post recently, had a lot of hectic things going on this weekend. This post is focused on whether or not roleplaying in a game, can make the game more entertaining.

I don't really roleplay with pen and paper, and I've never played a Dungeons and Dragons game (Outside Neverwinter Nights). But I do roleplay from time to time. And I have, for quite a while now. For those whom don't actually know what roleplaying -is-, it's the act of creating a character, whether virtual, or imaginary, and pretending to be that character, in the realm/area you use it. Such as people who play Dunegeons and Dragons, who dress up like their character, or people in World of Warcraft, who follow the lore and act what's called 'In Character'.

In MMORPG's, we're immersed in a world different than our own. It's a completely different universe than our own, and follows whatever rules the developers decide it should follow. The distance of a mile can be differed greatly, and the properties of water can be altered drastically. Video games give us the ability of simulation, or, the ability to explore different realities. Some games, let us play the life of a European spy, whom romances women, cheats at poker, and speaks in a humorous accent. Some let us travel through time with the power of a sword, to rescue a princess and defeat a Pig.

What do MMORPG's give us? They give us the chance to evolve past the developer's preset character. They allow us to create a character, all our own, focusing on what we want that character to focus on. There's different skillsets, different weapons, different abilities, different spells, different races, different classes, even different servers, to allow us to choose whether we want our character to live in a densely populated area, or a vast, empty realm. They also give us boundaries, to work with. There's a set storyline, a set timeline, quests, events, places, people...We get more freedom, yet boundaries, to keep things sane.

Now, what does roleplaying in an MMORPG mean? It means taking your character, deciding a backstory, and pretty much going from there. Your character can interact more indepth, you might pay attention to what NPC's say about quests more, instead of just clicking rapidly through the speech, and checking your quest book/log later. The game becomes more indepth. It allows you to see past 'A Game' and look more into that it's 'A new world'. These worlds can be similar to our own, in the sense of varying ecosystems, from water-parched deserts, to snow-capped mountains, to bountiful forests, to the dank dark undergrounds filled with illuminiscent mushrooms the likes of which you've never seen.

What's required for becoming a Roleplayer in an MMORPG? Well, first, you need to know whether or not the game your playing is strict on it's storyline. Games like World of Warcraft, have many predecessors to it, that set the storyline for hundreds of years before. Do you have to learn every detail? Of course not. But if you don't know that the area you're in is called Azeroth, you're going to have some trouble. Research a little. Learn some of the bigger events that happened in the MMORPG's storyline. Don't incorporate your character into it too much, but get involved. Your character may not have been the big hero to save the day. But they could have helped in a smaller battle, or even stared in awe as a child as the big hero walked through town on his way to battle. Get involved, and you'll be involved.

The benefits? Typically Roleplayers are more among the mature crowd. If you learn to roleplay, and play on a roleplay server, you'll be around mature people, who don't scream on Ventrilo, or do other stupid annoying things you'll meet on run-of-the-mill servers. You'll be able to appreciate the storyline of the game more, and will be able to be more entertained by the quests. It can help get out of the boring rutt of 'Go get this, go kill this, bring it back to me', if you know why you're doing it. What it's going to, why it's going to help. You can even get a heads-up sometimes, on what you might need for the next chain of the quest, to help save some time.

What do you think about Roleplaying in MMORPG's? Do you think it helps enhance the game? Do you think Developers could do more, to encourage actual roleplay? If so, what would it be? Do you think all MMORPG's should feature 'roleplay servers'? Tell me what you think

Sargoth writes:

It only helps enhance gameplay for those that like to do it.  For other people it just seems wierd. Such is the nature of the imagination.  I grew up pretty much by myself.  My imagination as my friend.  Roleplaying in games was easy and fun but I never went all the way. 

In wow I was Sargoth, night elf rogue with a fascination for stabbing and jump flips.  I never stopped moving and stealthed as much as I could.  I made fun of dwarves and stepped on gnomes. 

In Eve I was Martin Atredies, lost child of the Atredies empire caught as and forced to be a slave living with the Brutor.  My goal to start an empire in Eve under the Atredies flag.  I even joined the Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse as part of the roleplaying.  Sadly that backfired but whatever.

Those were the main reasons I continued to play those games for as long as I did.  Now days, I cannot get into a game unless the mechanics are there.  Once the gameplay is solid I begin to form my imagination for the light roleplaying that I will be doing. 

While you might say that roleplayers are more mature, your also likely to meet complete nuts too.  It is afterall, just a game.

Tue Feb 17 2009 2:07PM Report
fansede writes:

 Roleplaying can (easily?) be implemented in a game just like anything else. If you create "rules" for role play. The AD&D Alignment system is the bar by which avatar behavior is measured. The game can create tags by categories for player behavior and react to the player acordingly.

MMOs have only rudimentary role playing measures. Factions, For example, the game knows whether you are KOS to a race or not. Not only you can be attacked on sight, you cannot talk or interact with their merchants. Some games won't allow you to understand other races tongues or even group up with them. Players attacking other players could go "red". is another rudimentary example of roleplaying in MMOs.

So cannot this be expanded? For those new to AD&D Alignment was the benchmark for roleplaying in pen and paper gaming

Why can't a game let players choose an alignment in addition ro his/her stats or career path? 

The game could assign gaming behaviors to alignments. You kill without reason (not in quest log) or farm - your alignment bar moves towards evil. You subdue or grant mercy instead of a killing blow and your alignment meter ticks towards good. You gain favor for opposing factions and keep a neutral status.

Loot can have alignment tags as well. Abilities can have alignment component to as well .

Lots of room to expand when it comes to alignment. 

Tue Feb 17 2009 9:16PM Report
pencilrick writes:

Roleplaying in the days of pencil and paper consisted of 1)  Imaginig stuff that isn't true (i.e., you were orphaned because your village was attacked by orcs when you were young), and 2) acting "in character" through your speech and mannerisms.

The latter is appropriate for MMORPG's.  The former (imagining stuff that isn't true) is unnecessary.  In a MMORPG, less imagination is required because you can see what is going on, unlike in the days of paper and pencil gaming.

Wed Feb 18 2009 1:31AM Report
Kiskara writes:


While that's all well and good (and such things have been used in single player RPGs), you'll be hard pressed to find an MMO willing to go that in depth - mechanics wise, for RPers.


MMOs are supposed to cater to a large crowd. They're supposed to make money; and while RPers are a large niche, it's just more practical to play it safe and avoid becoming too much of a "Roleplayers Only" type of game.

Wed Feb 18 2009 3:22AM Report
fansede writes:

 @pencilrick - I think what you are describing is a character backround and the storyline of pen and paper as role playing. While you are right in the sense that computer games remove the need to provide detailed descriptions of what your avatar sees, that does not define role playing.

Character backrounds also do not define roleplaying, although it could serve as a reason of the avatars behavior or moral compass.

True role playing involves the avatars behavior. Why does the character acts the way he/she does? What are the moral principles which he holds dear?

It also involves the game environment, its culture and genre. I think devs have embraced this aspect well enough. We can tell if we are playing WAR versus Age of Conan. We can decipher that we are in an EvE Universe versus Star Trek.

@Kiskara - who is to say a good MMO can't deliver a game to the standard MMO player ( level up to overcome boss challenges and get loot) and emphasize role playing as well? Is it work? Yes. 

Wed Feb 18 2009 7:59AM Report
Kiskara writes:

It's not just work - it alienates a large group of potential subscribers. And that's just not smart business.

A viewable alignment system, quite honestly, seems better suited for the single player experience. What fun is it to roleplay a character of dubious morality, if a person simply has to click on you and find out that you're a shady SOB (yes, its OOC info, and can't be used - but it ruins the element of surprise between the participants).


And your example with the killing is somewhat flawed as well - What about PvP events? Or clan battles/castle seiges/etc.? Those serve as neither grinding, nor farming, yet if you take part in it you'd be penalized as being "evil". That forces RPers to avoid fighting if they don't wish their character to be evil - but leaves out a good portion of the game that they can't participate in. So, suddenly, a brave Knight defending his castle from an invading force is now on the path of evil because he sought to protect others. It could potentially turn off a good number of players.

Wed Feb 18 2009 2:15PM Report
Quizzical writes:

The trouble with roleplaying is that in leveling games where players are in a rush to level, roleplaying doesn't level you.  Hence, many players will eschew it.  That can mess up the experience for people who do like roleplaying. 

Wed Feb 18 2009 5:52PM Report
Teala writes:

See, this is where I think the games design is so very important.   If you wish people to play a role in your game designers need to provide the necessary tools for people to play that role.   Believe it or not one of the games I actually saw roleplaying in is the game of Planetside.    When we played Planetside we played our roles as soldiers, whether we we medics, snipers or pilots.    In vocie chat we even communicated as soldiers might.   For instance the platoon leader might say over voice chat.

Platoon Leader:  "Everyone concentrate cover fire on the back door so that our heavy assault can get in."

You'd hear people reply with "Roger that."

Then you might hear someone say, "We have an incoming BFR, take his ass out."

You'd hear over voice chat, "We need a hacker!  Get to the back door!"

Someone would reply, "I'm on it, be there in a sec.  Need some cover fire fire though...can we get a sniper to take out the plasma spammers on the back wall?"

The game itself induced roleplaying simple by playing the game. 

Give the gamers the right tools and right game play and the roleplaying just becomes natural. 

Wed Feb 18 2009 7:02PM Report writes:
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