This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Do people actually ROLEPLAY anymore?" by Suilebhain. Simple and straightforward, Suilebhain recalls his heyday of roleplaying back in Dark Age of Camelot and wonders if anyone in the MMORPG.com community still roleplays in MMOs:
I recall the good old days of DAOC where, on the roleplay servers, nearly everyone roleplayed to some degree, even if it was just to say "Hail". Almost never did I encounter people who would approach my elf with their lurikeen and say "whatup dude?" Later, SWG provided a similar, even expanded immersive experience, as player cities became hubs of roleplay activity where you could wander into a cantina and find people ready, willing and able to engage in improvisational roleplay nearly any time of the day or night.
Now, though, finding anything resembling a roleplay community that approaches that of Albion/Percival or the entire Nimue server is like finding hen's teeth. Not even on roleplay servers in alleged MMORPGS do people roleplay. I know this all started with WOW and the absurd and infamous Barrens Chat, but it has speard and now nowhere provides a welcoming place for people who prefer a greater level of immersion.
My most recent escapade came about in Runes of Magic. F2P games attract the most casual of players, but on the unofficial RP server there were only a few guilds and no casual roleplay that I could find. The folks in the guilds seemed like nice enough people, but the majority of their interaction was spent in an OOC channel labeled RP, which really was just a sign to those seeking others who enjoyed RP rather than providing any true outlet. There were little to no in-game opportunities to roleplay, as there was back in DAOC and SWG.
So, is it time to drop the RPG from MMORPG and just call it MMO.Com? Do people even value random roleplay ex periences or is it all about gear/level acquisition (AKA Achievement), raiding, and PvP?
Randomt had some luck with RPing in Age of Conan, but feels that MUDs may be a better outlet:
When AOC came out, I joined the RP server (usually tends to have slightly less douchebags on them, among other things), and ended up joining some heavy duty RP guild.. There were a number of those at the time.. and that wasn't all that long ago.
I guess being on an RP server helped though lol
MUDs were much more conductive to RP I think, but that's easier with a much smaller player base, although at the time there was no such thing as an mmorpg, really.
thamighty213 feels RP is missing not only due a change in the playerbase but the design of the games themselves:
Sadly its becoming less and less of a art form but its not just the people its the games.
So many games have mapped our backstory our lives our destiny that fitting role playing in is difficult in the past we where plonked in a world with no story to our character no clear route to our destiny we simply existed and everything about us was to be imagined.
The old SWG ad always sums it up well for me bah cant remember how it went now something along the lines of "The greatest Star Wars story never told - YOURS!!"
Thats exactly how it worked it was our story which activeley encouraged RP a entire backstory a imagined destiny family and whetever else you can come with.
Its harder to RP in the modern non sandbox gearfests as the tools, community are not there and the game has already provided reasons as to why we are there what we are doing these things for etc etc
Oddly on that same hand I think TOR with its overabundance of storytelling may well be the saviour of RP from what I'm seeing it spins a good yarn but never to the point of you here for this reason and this reason alone your doing this for this reason and this reason alone.
Its character creation allows 1 of 3 generic backstory's that you can do what you will with.
Lidane takes issue with the idea that the potential for RP is really only present in sandbox games:
It's entirely possible to create your own character story within the framework of someone else's world. Using LOTRO as an example again, Frodo's quest to destroy the One Ring was only one story among the entire mythology of Middle Earth that Tolkien created. There's a whole lot of room to move in terms of finding a place within that world. And just because we know how Frodo's story ends, that doesn't mean we know the way that the life of an individual Hobbit, Elf, or Rohirrim might end.
City of Heroes/Villains lends itself to a whole lot of roleplay, since you can write and create entire story arcs for your characters with the Mission Architect system.
Roleplay isn't the exclusive domain of the sandbox game. It CAN be done in "theme park" games too. It just takes actual knowledge of the lore you're dealing with and being able to carve out your own niche within it.
Ah, roleplay, a subject dear to my heart. I have a long history of online RPing dating as far back to the goofy stuff that went on on AOL back in the 90's. This naturally led me to MUDs, which, as another user noted, are quite conducive to good RP. The communities are often fairly small, and if you have a knack for writing it's pretty easy to to put together a good scene.
MMOs on the other hand, a lot of their potential for RP depends on how much the developers value that sort of gameplay. A lot of the RP is dependent on the tools provided to the player as MMOs are entirely visual. Sure you can just stand there lifelessly and emote, but it really takes you out of the experience. With MUDs, you didn't have to worry about that.
To this day, games such as Star Wars Galaxies offer great tools to roleplayers, especially in recent years. SOE has improved upon the kinds of props and costumes players can use to put on their own events, really allowing players to create much more believable scenes. Of course, the emote issue is still there but that isn't something easily overcome.
The Matrix Online was also an RPers paradise, as the emote issue was somewhat addressed through the use of many interactive emotes, and the game's unique setting and use of live-event content made the game's storyline and characters more malleable. Indeed, I once found myself on the top floor of a high-rise participating in a secret meeting with Morpheus, or in an underground meeting with Niobe and other prominent guild leaders and players. That sort of thing really brought players who appreciated that sort of thing into the experience.
Beyond the games, I do think it is true that roleplayers are definitely in the minority of the MMO playing populace and it is pretty easy to find yourself ridiculed as a freak for partaking in it, but I'd say a lot of that has to do with the goofier roleplayers who do it only to cyber with what is hopefully someone of the opposite sex, or those who do it just to be annoying.
When I first started playing MMOs all I really wanted to do was replicate my MUDding RP experiences in them, but I found it was nigh impossible to do this and I must admit I've pretty much given up on the idea. I'm older now and honestly most of the RP I've found was not really that good anyways (with a few exceptions, shout out to the Mos Eisley community on Europe-Chimaera from way back!) and now I focus more on PvP gameplay.
What's your take on RP in MMOs these days? Are you currently RPing in any MMOs? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!