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The Roleplayer's Redoubt

Is there a really place for roleplaying in MMOs? What do roleplayers bring to the table? How can developers foster stronger roleplaying communities? How do traditional concepts fit into the realities of contemporary online roleplaying?

Author: OddjobXL

Fallen Earth: FPS MMO Roleplaying?

Posted by OddjobXL Monday May 4 2009 at 9:40AM
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It's been a while.  Being older I find life is full of complications and being a gamer, full of distractions.  Both have been brewing up a storm lately. 

Full disclosure, Wes Platt is a writer over at Fallen Earth whom I've known for over ten years since I created a character for the first "season" of his original RP MUSH OtherSpace.  While I haven't talked to him in years word came out he was over there so I, belatedly, stuck my nose in.  Frankly, it didn't sound all that promising.  Twitch-based gameplay and what seemed like a heavy PvP slant mixed with a generic post-Apocalyptic setting probably wouldn't draw roleplayers.

When I'm wrong I'm wrong.  The first hint something different was going on here was the poll on interest in roleplaying in the general discussion forums: Roleplaying Anyone?.  As you can see the majority of respondents at 59% self-identify as 'prefer to roleplay as much as possible' with another 32% will roleplay occasionally  if they run into a roleplayer.

This seemed to run counter to many of my assumptions, yes?

Then I find Tiggs over there, who was a beloved community relations figure back during the 'good old days' at SWG which, itself, was saturated with roleplayers (and still is - no coincidence that Starsider, the Unofficial RP server, is the most populated server currently).  And then there's PostApocPooka who is a former writer and content developer for White Wolf in the mix.  Lastly, every "meet the developers" interview asked what their favorite PnP (pen and paper or tabletop) RPG is.  While a few have no idea what this means most have favorites or are actively involved in games.

As I read the official fiction and read up on how the setting is being developed I see as much love and interest in this, what some call fluff, aspect as I do the game systems themselves and they're mutually reinforcing:  fiction fits the gameplay which fits the fiction.  This is, to my way of thinking, the main reason to use original settings when designing MMOs.  You can just sidestep the pitfalls that threaten the intellectual integrity of licensed settings.  A character can't die in Fallen Earth?  Because he's cloned!  Hey, if it's good enough for Eve Online it's good enough for Fallen Earth. 

I could spend a good deal of time talking about the game systems or the setting and why it's appealing to roleplayers but for now let me turn you on to two links that will do the job for me (and, hell, I'm still exploring Fallen Earth myself so I can't honestly put an expert hat on here):

Fallen Earth: InfoTerminal is a comprehensive accumulation of knowledge about the game.  It's fan run but it's far more useful than anything on the official site.  Note, the game is in beta currently and information here may change.  But have a look if the idea of combat vehicles or SWG style deep crafting or mutant powers or nice toys appeals to you.

Swinging Open The Doors is something I almost never see:  a "How To Roleplay" guide that's useful and wise and not pedantic.  It's rightly stickied in the Last Haven (RP) forum.  This is a link I'll be bookmarking and sharing with folks even outside the Fallen Earth community.  Even more importantly it links to the kind of background information RPers need. 

Count me in.  I'm still curious how this mix of PvP and RP will work together or the extent to which PvP will really be as central as I assume.  Given how flawed my assumptions have been about Fallen Earth so far...who knows?  This is one saga I need to see play out for myself.