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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Promoting RP is Good for Community

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16273

OP  5/12/13 6:48:35 PM#1

In the second in a series of articles spotlighting the importance of community in MMOs, we take a look at why we believe it's in developers' best interest to encourage roleplay. See why we think so before letting us know if you agree or not in the comments.

In part one, I explored some of the reasons roleplayers have either become nearly invisible, dwindled in number, or have even quit altogether in the modern MMO. This time, I want to propose some things that work, as well as why investing in social infrastructure in MMORPGs is a good thing. The shifts that have happened to RP aren’t limited to sandbox or themepark, and they’re certainly not the result of one thing over another. The result is that the life of an MMORPG has become quite short for many people, instead of thinking longer-term. MMO “tourism” is a real thing, and with so many games competing for players’ attention, retention is probably more important—and more elusive—than ever. Studios claim “social” is important, but implementation is another story. Developers must invest in the sometimes intangible and sometimes virtually invisible social features that go beyond a friends’ list and achievements.

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's The Social Hub: Promoting RP is Good for Community.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 12/11/12
Posts: 44

5/13/13 12:13:07 PM#2
  User Deleted
5/13/13 12:35:13 PM#3
In this case niche focused games work. I had previously stated that niche focus takes away from mmorpg's. I wanted a one size fits all game, but when I read an article like this, I realize that dividing the base of players is great for those of us that dont want to deal with all the riff raff that comes with the mainstream. Unfortunately money comes into play and the money is with the mainstream.

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/19/07
Posts: 2628

5/13/13 12:55:51 PM#4
I can't wait for these new games.  I'm not even really playing anything now because it's such a lonely, boring and simple gaming experience that they don't hold my attention for longer than 15 minutes.

A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/05/05
Posts: 517

5/13/13 1:04:23 PM#5
Hear Hear!, exactly why those three games are the only ones on my watch list anymore.

Mess with the best, Die like the rest


Novice Member

Joined: 7/13/11
Posts: 17

5/13/13 1:15:17 PM#6

Thank you for the article.


As a long time role player, I kind of have to say that whenever a game launches that has a strong theme or features (such as permadeath) that supports roleplay in the sense that what your char does 'matter' and influences the game world, the games have been destroyed by people abusing these mechanics.

Back in the day, I led a roleplaying guild on WoW. We were around 40 players that met regularly in the temple and performed ceremonies, or we went onto quests - not to kill things, but to explore and share the adventure with each other in character. But at the end I gave up, because every time we tried to make an event, some morons showed up and started making a mockery out of it. Nothing we could do about it.

Games like Mortal Online and Wizardry, that has build in harsh death penalty features could have been an RPers paradise, because a characters life would matter and that is a great foundation to build RP on. However these games has been taken over by people who use the mechanics to cause grief.

I play EVE and it has some roleplayers, but EVE suffers from being all about the ships. At some point when they expand the 'walking in stations' feature, I hope things will become better.

I have come to believe that a completely different way of thinking MMORPG is needed to bring roleplayers back into these worlds. When Neverwinter Nights was released and players could create their own worlds, worlds where story was in focus, where character development was in focus flourished. Unfortunately no MMORPG developers have picked up the ideas from back then. Today it is all about grinding.

The main place I RP these days are on MUSHes, and most people here would not know what that means. MUSHes are text based games, that might contain coded systems for combat, eating and so on. But they are focused on players roleplaying their characters in the games setting. It wouldnt cater to the MMORPG crowd, because it is slow and has lots of text.  But it is fun, and my characters there are so much deeper and so much more interesting than any characters I've played in an MMORPG.


Elite Member

Joined: 9/05/10
Posts: 1532

Logic, reason and fact do not supersede human nature. Ignorance reigns without justice.

5/13/13 2:25:33 PM#7


FFXIV Is also supporting RPers as well.  Without breaking any NDA, there is a large representation of RPers on a certain forum, and Yoshi-P is a Role Player himself.  In general, It's nice when feedback is listened to with all these games.

When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/29/13
Posts: 155

5/13/13 2:35:36 PM#8
If I can't /dance then we already have a problem. Games like APB: Reloaded and Neverwinter let me do many dances and other animations while some games omit them completely.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/03/08
Posts: 329

5/13/13 2:58:03 PM#9

Great articles, Christina. I've been enjoying them.


Anyone ever notice how awesome Star Wars Galaxies' chat communication was for roleplayers? The game would break your sentences up into this awesome narrative format, and you could even include "moods" to your sentences to have the sentences described in different ways. I haven't seen chat code more detailed than that in an MMO, and doubt I ever will again, but here's hoping with World of Darkness.



Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/19/11
Posts: 795

5/13/13 3:30:11 PM#10
Another great thing about MXO was the ridiculous amounts of / commands and emotes. It was my first MMO and I was shocked to find that some others didn't have a tenth of the options that MXO did.

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 1118

5/13/13 3:32:06 PM#11


SWG probably was the best game ever designed for RP and maybe even the only game next to UO that had world design as a base concept, from chat emotes , animation to game play mechanics, in every sense it supported it more then any game ever done to date. 

most modern and older game are terrible showcases of game design when it comes to RP,

EQ,WoW,APB,SW:TOR,DC-online, AoC,The secret world.  none of them have -any- game design build whit rp in mind. at best you can find some basic emotes and if lucky and place to sit on the floor like hobo's 

it might be somewhat fun to rp in them but it isn't a RP friendly World.


this lack of game design around the idea of actual worlds is the big flaw that makes mmo's fail most of the time. (coz that is what rp is, pretending its real for the character living in that world) 

Even if someone is not into RP, they are into the whole idea about having a character in a other world being the best they can possible become there whitout forgetting their rl life at times. (unless addicted ;)  ) 

its like a fps, its bin long proven that a believable game world whit for that game world realistic combat mechanics will be judged superior that games were a part of this is lacking. The more you can do in a FPS, (duck and cover, beak walls, drive a tank )  the better reputation the better it sales the better it survives a decade of expansions. 


lucky for us there are more and more games and this means more roleplayers ( got catch them all!)  so maybe we will  slowly and finally see more games geared toward the RP"niche"  




PS:  Denambren - yes, best chat system ever used in a game. (incl all other chat mechanics like different bubbles types)

/mood lustfull  /moan = <name> moans lustfully <txt> or <name> moans <txt> lustfully to <name>  



Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 1118

5/13/13 3:37:19 PM#12

PS: my personal RP benchmark.. if I cant sit on a damn chair the developer placed in the world then the game was not and will never become a long term RP game.  It will be a used car  I will drive it but only until i find better. 


Old School

Joined: 3/08/04
Posts: 7845

Players come for the game, but they stay for the people- Most Devs have forgotten this.

5/13/13 4:36:35 PM#13
Originally posted by Eladi

PS:  Denambren - yes, best chat system ever used in a game.

/mood lustfull  /moan = <name> moans lustfully <txt> or <name> moans <txt> lustfully to <name>  


And this, in the green, is why RPing in general struggles in these games reputation wise...

I play tabletop RPGs, have done for decades, and even I stop at the thought of stepping into the 'lusting' cyber world of the MMO RPers.


Tabletop RPers seem to be a more resiliant breed in general though... less reliant on the more sordid side of things and not letting the fact that their lead minis can't sit in chairs ruin a game for them.


Elite Member

Joined: 1/14/13
Posts: 2052

5/13/13 4:52:04 PM#14
Originally posted by Yaevindusk


FFXIV Is also supporting RPers as well.  Without breaking any NDA, there is a large representation of RPers on a certain forum, and Yoshi-P is a Role Player himself.  In general, It's nice when feedback is listened to with all these games.

Yeah, i agree.

Also Turbine lotro supports RP very well on Laurelin and then we have EQN and Storybricks that really are moving the goal post on RP in MMO's.

I don't think ZeniMax are going to support RP that much, in fact they have only mention it once. If it's anything like ArenaNet's take on RP then you might as well forget it in TESO.

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Advanced Member

Joined: 6/13/12
Posts: 481

5/14/13 1:26:45 AM#15
My new favorite columnist on MMORPG. This article should be force fed on every MMO player on earth. It's the truth. Whether you rp or not, games with healthy rp communities have more friendly and helpful communities overall.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/20/08
Posts: 94

5/14/13 2:06:45 AM#16
Originally posted by Vesavius
Originally posted by Eladi

PS:  Denambren - yes, best chat system ever used in a game.

/mood lustfull  /moan = moans lustfully or moans lustfully to   


And this, in the green, is why RPing in general struggles in these games reputation wise...

I play tabletop RPGs, have done for decades, and even I stop at the thought of stepping into the 'lusting' cyber world of the MMO RPers.


Tabletop RPers seem to be a more resiliant breed in general though... less reliant on the more sordid side of things and not letting the fact that their lead minis can't sit in chairs ruin a game for them.


Yep, I pretty much switched off at "The secret world.  none of them have -any- game design build whit rp in mind" but that final comment sealed the deal for me

I do wonder how many "roleplayers" in today's MMORPGs have even touched a table-top game. Kids these days, eh?


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 1118

5/14/13 3:57:50 AM#17
Originally posted by Mulli
Originally posted by Vesavius
Originally posted by Eladi

PS:  Denambren - yes, best chat system ever used in a game.

/mood lustfull  /moan = moans lustfully or moans lustfully to   


And this, in the green, is why RPing in general struggles in these games reputation wise...

I play tabletop RPGs, have done for decades, and even I stop at the thought of stepping into the 'lusting' cyber world of the MMO RPers.


Tabletop RPers seem to be a more resiliant breed in general though... less reliant on the more sordid side of things and not letting the fact that their lead minis can't sit in chairs ruin a game for them.



Yep, I pretty much switched off at "The secret world.  none of them have -any- game design build whit rp in mind" but that final comment sealed the deal for me 

I do wonder how many "roleplayers" in today's MMORPGs have even touched a table-top game. Kids these days, eh? 


Did you ever play SWG or UO? if you did you would know the difference between a Game designed whit roleplay in mind and one whiteout that design. 


you sure can still have fun and rp in them , never said you could not but its just not the same, that you are a big fan of the game is obvious and great for you and TSW is one of the best games on the market to RP in currently but not designed around the Idea of RP.  its design is build around people working together to solve the game puzzles while drinking there fav drink and having a laugh. if the game was designed as a actual world then you would have a home for your character to live in 


Vesavius picks up the whole cyber part from the emote and talked about the reputation it gives to MMO-RP, and while I placed it to showcase the crazy stuff you could do in swg he brings up a valid point but also one that has nothing to do whit the difference between tabletop and mmo-rp.  its one of those things people do. just like how some people like to cover them self whit fruit or wear black leather whit spikes and using whips.  its public knowlidge but most is hidden behind taboo's, .. I don't judge people, let people be as they are. 


Tabletop is one form of roleplay that came from writing story's as Larp and MMO-RP came from Tabletop. but they are not the same and while diehard old style rp'ers still can have their fun in limited mmo designs (since the mind is most important) the world design, how interactive it is makes up the level of rp you can do in them, just like the quality of your dungeon master always was (is) important to tabletop.  (not necessary to have fun among friends but a bad Dungeon master can not make a "good" rp experience)


the design of a MMO is your new age dungeon master, the more tools are put into the game whit this idea in mind the more social and rp  suited a games becomes the more events gamers will make and that means more player will come to the game, more players will stay in the game. 


Just my personal meanings,but I don't expect younger folks like you Mulli to agree, learned a long time ago that roleplayers are almost like humans.. every single one has its own idea's about rp.  



Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/02/08
Posts: 266

5/14/13 3:59:39 AM#18

Great article and lots to agree with as.


Problem with today's games is that they don't offer anything for RPers. WoW a 9 year old game didn't offer too much, only a few buildings one could enter, but at least they had simple things like chairs to sit on! Many modern MMO's don't have that...they place chairs everywhere and you just can't sit on them. It breaks the immersion so much and just makes me believe developers don't care about the worlds they created. Most worlds these days are just place holders for the raids. Its all focused on instanced raids or pvp. Meaning players are withdrawn


Warhammer is great example how to do it good and wrong. On the PvE servers there where still open world pvp zones. Many of them even, making it much easyer to play out wars with other factions as you had keeps and such you could defend and even if not interested in PvP you still had the feeling of a war going on when you walked near a pvp zone and saw the two factions clash. They had the immersion of the world right, however the rest they done all wrong, you couldn't sit on any chair, the most basic things like sitting where impossible meaning your characters had to keep standing, and the cities didn't really had much of buildings to rp in. Yet one of their dev's wrote a guide how to RP and how other games did it wrong >.<


Your last comment says it all. There are so many MMORPG's these days and their life span is very short. WoW was the first game i started to RP in. Before i didn't even know what RP was and never really saw RPers, although i realize only now that i seen RPers in SWG, but my knowledge about what RP was didn't exist back then. Anyway, what happens often is that people get exited about a upcoming MMORPG. People are deciding what server will be the main RP server if there are official RP servers or decide what server will be the unofficial server. Then they start to make guilds already, write many stories on the forums. Al great, you get exited too, really look forward to the game. Not that you care much about another fantasy MMORPG that does what WoW does. It doesn't matter, you get drawn by the RP community as RPer. The game comes out, and amazing how awesome it is to see rpers everywhere. You even don't mind that the devs once again made chairs that can't be seated on and /sit position is awkward on the chairs. You don't mind, the RP seems great enough to lure you in. The month passes and the first group already starts to leave the game cause the game just doesn't offer enough for RPers. Where it first none seat able chairs it soon turns out that the world wasn't even made to be a world, its just a level zone and when the first batch of lvlers where done most areas feel abandoned. Two months after release most RPers left, the game didn't offer enough and for those who do like the game it becomes depressing to see most of their friends leaving. Or when a game is great, and the community stays for longer then two or three months you can bet on them leaving only a few months later cause the next "great game to RP in" comes out.


I hate leveling up, i suck at stats never understood them and don't care for numbers either. I play my character as a personality. In WoW it took me 7 years before i was the highest level with a character i made in the first year. When ever i logged in i RPed. I only leveled up cause i wanted a certain outfit or weapon for my rp and that required certain levels. Or because the guild wanted to rp in a certain level range area so i wouldn't be a mob magnet. In WoW i stayed till shortly after Cata, not because i found it a good game, but because i enjoyed the RP. I made some side steps to Warhammer online and Age of Conan but neither had a loyal community so there wasn't much point to hang around for me in those games. Right now i RP in SWToR, i like the setting and i'm in a nice RP guild. We make do with the little Bioware offered us RPers (why no seatable chairs beside 4 or 5 in your ships cockpit? made seatable chairs, why not trough out the entire galaxy how does that make sense?). Playing it for about 1,5 year now and the community that remained is pretty loyal to it.


But it would be nice if Developers would every now and then release a RP patch. Often new PvP areas and Raids are added to MMO's, why not release RP stuff as well hm? Please all kind of players. Its easy to say that RPers are a minority. But how do they know? They say "We got x ammount of pvpers and a x ammount of raiders" but many RPers do also pvp and raid, meaning their numbers are added to the list of pvpers and raiders. Its not like RPers only RP in games. Our RP server in WoW was very active on the raid and PvP department. It was the first European server to open some gate i believe that was raid related, and the best PvPers in the battlegrounds came from our server while our RP server was in a bloodgroup with only PvP servers. So please start making more RP related patches, add social outfits, add nice looking weapons without stats, make more buildings open for use, add CHAIRS TO SIT ON DAMNIT!


@Mulli i never did table-top rp for the simple fact that my RL friends are not into RP and table-top. Would that make me less of a RPer? Cause i can also ask the question "How many "roleplayers"  have ever dressed up and did LARP? I never done LARP either but my point is that you got all kind of RPers. Just because RPers in a MMORPG haven't done table-top or LARP doesn't make them less of RPers. In the first two years of WoW i used to organize many server events, RP events for the entire server and they all where a great success and i was very new to the RP scene when i did that. It doesn't make you a better RPer because you touched table-top or other RP forms. What makes a great RPer is someone who can make a convincing character that feels like a real person, who anticipates to what happens IC and doesn't use OOC knowledge in his/her characters benefit.


Anyway good article and would love to see developers being more focused on RPers. RPers are just as much part of a MMO as Raiders and PvPers, but unlike Raiders and PvPers they don't tend to leave when they done all the raids or reached the highest pvp rank and the next game arrived. Offer a great world for RPers with things to do for them and they will stay for a long time.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/20/13
Posts: 137

Dun Mock meh engliesh !

5/14/13 5:22:02 AM#19
MMORPGs should be a great place to RP and used to be. But the lack of active GMing on the editor's side nowadays leave it to players... not saying we really need "official" GMs... but we used to have them and it was great.

Old school french hardcore whiner. Online since T4C.

I was "Namless" and "Daroot" in AO (Rk2)
Recently known as "Vindicar" (Aion (EU), SWTOR (EU), WoW (EU).
Actually Known as "Wundicar" in Age of Wushu (US)


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 27

5/14/13 9:21:25 AM#20

Well, as much as I love RP, I find myself disagreeing with much of the article.

While some MMO's (Ironicly, most of which do not seem to recieve a mention) sport thriving and large RP communities (WoW, SWTOR, and GW2 mainly), they are never a majority of an MMO's subscribers.

Though I find it sad, the time where roleplayers, story and immersion was an MMO's source of primary income is well and truly past. Roleplayers are loyal, yes, but also in such an extreme minority that no profit can be generated from roleplayers alone. We are simply not the target audience. Gamers looking for easy fun or online entertainment, raiding, PvP, all generate more income.

That is not to say a game can't increase their profit by catering to roleplayers, but roleplaying is a niche, with a relatively low amount of players, especially outside the mainstream MMO.

I mean, I love roleplaying, but still, it's pretty obvious we're not a cash cow.

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