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General: Casual Play: A Niche Called Roleplaying

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

Steve Wilson birngs back his Casual Play column and takes a good, hard look at roleplaying form an outsider's point of view.

To most players roleplaying is, frankly, a little bit weird.

In all honesty, the current state of roleplaying and its supporters are both odd and useless. The first and most obvious sign of this is that there is no benefit to roleplaying whatsoever, except for the warm fuzzy feelings it produces. While a player pounding out text chat in a close approximation of a Scottish/Dwarvish baroque can be amusing in small doses, too much of it produces an awkwardness that can kill the enjoyment of the game for most others. The worst part about roleplaying currently is that some roleplayers are so self righteous in their belief that they actually do represent some sort of superior playstyle. To the masses of casual players, however, there is no benefit to roleplaying other than looking and sounding silly. That alone is enough to turn off most of the uninitiated. What tactile benefit does roleplaying provide in a game other than some feeling of smugness?

Read the whole article here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor



  • JK-KanosiJK-Kanosi Seaside, CAPosts: 1,357Member

    I must say that MMORPG.COM is getting closer and closer to me cancelling my account and doing my very best to destroy this website as the SOE haters destroyed SWG. Don't ever underestimate your community and don't ever make fun of its members. I am a roleplayer and I do not roleplay in old English or whatever, nor do I make fun of others  or act like I am superior. You just stereotyped a whole community who is just as diverse as your non-rp community.

    Roleplaying is not weird and if you put in an effort to enjoy it and learn how to, you might like it. It is not all about standing around and talking. Hell, most of my Roleplay is done killing things or fullfilling a quest (if I find one Epic enough to do). I take the lore into account and decide how a person might act in those times, and then I consider my gender and how they might have been brought up and lastly I take into account what class I am playing, what training they might have had and what they might do in each situation. This type of gameplay adds substance to a game that has none...including WoW. Some people look at MMORPG's as a chance to live in a time that is impossible to live in any other way. What is so wrong with that? And why do you feel the need to lump all RPers together and to insult us?

    Bottom line is that you are supposed to be a professional writer, and you are responsible to your community. You have just insulted a great many of your community and that is just wrong. I hope you and others like you fail in life, because that is  not how you treat other people. It is unethical.

    MMORPG's w/ Max level characters: DAoC, SWG, & WoW

    Currently Playing: WAR
    Preferred Playstyle: Roleplay/adventurous, in a sandbox game.

  • defafnyrdefafnyr West of Oz, WAPosts: 83Member

    I completely agree with you JK.  That the writer of this article has slammed the roleplayers is appalling.  We may not be the majority of patrons of this site, but we ARE members of this site, and they've just alienated a section of their audience in one fell swoop.  Shame on for  treating roleplayers so disrespectfully.  Shame on you for treating ANY of your audience so rudely. 

    I am angry and appalled.


  • VroshnakVroshnak Atlanta, GAPosts: 38Member

    Interesting article in that it starts off as an attack on a playstyle, but then offers ideas on how it could improve.

    I think seeing characters named "Owen Joo" or worse does ruin some of the game immersion.  Do you have to be a hardcore roleplayer to think those names are stupid?  But badly named characters don't kill immersion in the game as much as modern game design does.  In a world where killing is the only activity that gets a response from the world, well, the only roleplaying to be done is that of a serial killer. 

    MMORPGs could create worlds based on player politics, conflict, and economy, but right now they don't... at least not enough to be a fully immersive alternate life experience.  I'd suggest the best games for roleplaying are Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2.  Find a site like and find a small gaming group.  Instead of a MMORPG, drop the "massively" and play a MORPG.  This way your Dungeon Master can create a tabletop style gaming experience where  you can try to negotiate with the thugs rather than fight, find out the comic relief barbarian in your party is actually heir to the throne, anything that the players or Dungeon Master can imagine.  A Dungeon Master can make the world respond to you based on your character and your roleplay.  A MMORPG's world is completely static and isn't going to change, and only responds to you killing things.  To try to roleplay in a game that will only ignore you is fighting the tide. 

    So in MMORPGs I'm just going to play to get ahead and have fun, and I'll save my roleplaying for other things such as Neverwinter Nights.

  • BunglermooseBunglermoose Vacherie, LAPosts: 63Member

    I could have done without the snide, "hey, man, the roleplayers are weird" tone that began the article... sounded a little like the kind of attitude that gets little kids stuffed into lockers in junior high. It almost turned me off to the rest of the piece.

    As a roleplayer *and* fairly hardcore gamer, I was a little bothered by the stereotyping of a subset of the gaming population. There are actually very few elitist jackholes prancing about and making a nuisance of themselves... unfortunately, as is always the case, those just happen to be the most vocal (on message boards and such.)  Most of us just want a safe place to put a little of our own creativity into the game, and really don't much care what other people are doing so long as they don't directly affect us. (in the form of griefing or harrassment.)

    With regard to the naming policies... look at it from our perspective. In any game... especially World of Warcraft... there are quite a few non-roleplaying servers on which a person who isn't interested in roleplaying can play without having to worry about "those weird roleplayers."  If they choose to make a character on a roleplaying server, where the terms of service clearly indicate that there are naming conventions in place, then they are opening themselves up to having their name reported and -- GASP! -- subjected to other people roleplaying around them.

    And if a company advertises a server as being "roleplaying" or "roleplaying suggested" then it's their responsibility to make sure their customers (who came to that server specifically because they were told it was so) are happy. However, if a game doesn't have a dedicated roleplaying server, all bets are off, as far as I'm concerned -- and I think most of us feel that way, too. The only reason we're reporting names -- and, most of the time it's only the heinous ones -- is because there *are* company-created policies.

    All of that aside, I agreed with the last part of the article about in-game content supporting roleplaying choices. Most of the time I create my own immersion, and I don't agree that it's 100% the company's responsibility to cater to every single player's idea of what constitutes "roleplay"... but I think more could be done to satisfy that part of the gaming population.


    EDIT: for typo

  • shavashava Somerville, MAPosts: 283Member Uncommon
    There are so many things wrong with this column, it's hard to count them.

    First off, the reason RPG servers are hard to maintain is because of people like the author, who don't care for roleplaying but somehow can't seem to figure out that they should go somewhere where roleplayers don't hang out.  You don't like us -- news, dude, we don't like you.

    You are the guy who's talking in l33t about fragging orcs when we're trying to do our thing.  We don't contribute to your enjoyment of blowing things up.  You destroy our enjoyment of roleplaying.

    Hun, the name of the site is -- clue?  These games were created for us, and folks like you took them over because there are always going to be a crew of over adrenalined unimaginative dorks who'd rather blow things up than engage in collaborative play.

    So the tragedy of the commons says that the economics favor the dorks.  That's right, you win!  Except in a few small oases like old SWG (yes, I am a homeless survivor) where the culture is so well known to so many of the players, and even the l33t fragmeisters think that a sly smuggler is kule, RPers never get left alone.

    The l33t of the world will always go out to destroy people who aren't on their side, whether that's PvE, PvP, or PvRPers.

    Do you know how many times I've told StonedByondBleaf or CristalMeth or DiabloRulz that their place is not on whatever RP server there is?  The reason those servers are harder to maintain is because people like you, dear author, can't stop from peeing somewhere you feel like the peeps are excluding you.  If you feel like they are idiots (or treat you like an idiot) then you must destroy.

    We don't spend nearly so much time reporting each other as we do reporting *you*.

    The current crop of games have little RP in them because they are all about the money (duh).  Money is about market share, and market share is not about serving minorities.  If Ryzom has a healthy RP community, it might actually be a sad reflection of how bad their business sense is.  If WOW has, essentially, no RP (at least by proportion) it just reflects how a project with as high a production cost as an MMO pencils out to encourage the lowest common denominator dweeb and addictive raiders to make a buck.

    Honestly, unless we can get RP-only enforcement by *some* mechanism, a true RP ghetto for our minority style, we will always have idiots harshing our mellow -- not fellow RPers, but jerks who don't get it, don't like things they don't get, and want to make sure no one is having any fun they can't have.

    Here's a clue.  I am a 47 year old gamer with a healthy income.  I would pay $30/mo rather than $15-19 for a RP server with diligent enforcement.  I would pay $50-60 for a game up front, rather than get it for $20 with a free month, if I thought it was going to have the kind of story and RP in the KOTOR or Elderscrolls games.  I'd even been secretly happy if that meant that there was a niche defined that put a monetary barrier between me and the native l33t speakers.  And we could create one server, out of a dozen, perhaps, called Coventry where we could ban the occasional dweeb minimax fragL33T to.


  • ArrionArrion Scarborough, ONPosts: 3Member

    I have asked a lot of non role players why they play on RP tagged servers (like in WoW for example).  The response is almost always the same Because roleplayers are kinder, friendlier and more willing to help others out. 

    We as roleplayers are stuck tolerating non rpers who come to the server to either take advantage of our 'community' or to harrass us. So I think the question that begs to be asked is:  Who causes the downfall of the RP server? Shava answered that flawlessly.
  • TamalanTamalan LeedsPosts: 1,117Member
    Roleplayers are already a 'spat upon' minority, and the author of this 'article' just placed his clumsy boot right in their crotch.

    Thanks for nothing.

    Edit: In all seriousness, if you truly didnt intend to insult a part of your community then some sort of retraction or apology is required, if it wasnt for the the RP'ers, who in general are older gamers from a PnP or MuD background you wouldnt have a website to be offending people on.

    But im sure your all puffed up because you caused some controversy and crapped on someones playstyle, which says a whole lot about the sort of gamer you are.
  • AsterivethAsteriveth Hickory, NCPosts: 101Member Uncommon

    So, now I get to hear the same crap here that I get ingame from the powergamers.

    You write that RP is odd and useless. As I just read in a recent article when you are playing these games all you are doing is looking at colored lights and clicking buttons. If all you are doing is killing things for x amount of experience to gain the next level so you kill the same things that are a touch harder to kill for x amount of experience, you are just looking at lights and pressing buttons and that is odd and useless. RP gives you a reason to exist in these wonderful worlds and allows you to immerse your self in them.

    You also write that RP somehow ruins the experience for thos who don't RP. How is that possible? No one is grabbing your arm and twisting until they hear you say "I beg thee Uncle, please stop." When you enter the game with no expectations beyond your next level or piece of phat lewt how does some other players style of play ruin that for you? If for some odd reason  you find role playing offenseve then why would you log into a word that is listed as RP or RP preferred?

    I'll tell you the same thing I tell players like you in game, if you don't like the way I play then don't play with me. Don't tell me how to enjoy the game that I am paying for the same as you.

  • ItaniusItanius Phoenix, AZPosts: 136Member
    It's unfortunate to see the quality of articles on this website continue to trend downwards.

    Following this trend, it would not surprise me to see an article next week titled, "Computer Gamers: Super Geeks with No Life!"

    It's terribly sad. I used to really like reading the articles here, but lately they've been so off-putting that I'll be searching for another gaming site that provides more quality reviews and articles without bashing the people that frequent the site.
  • MrbloodworthMrbloodworth Newport News, VAPosts: 5,615Member

    I’m a role-player. And i agree with the point this person was trying to make (No matter how tactless that was).

    But, The thing is, the writer is blanketing all MMO's. This simply isn’t the case.

    The situation he/she describes only really pertain to the Gamey Games (AKA , Wow, DnD, EQ2, EQ)  Not the virtual worlds or Player driven games (SWG-pre-cu. Ryzom, Seed, Second life, To a Degree, Vanguard (yet to be seen but has the tools) ).

    The writers of these articles need to understand that there are more mmos that DONT follow the EQ/WoW game type, They are NOT the only type of MMO's. I feel allot of the staff writers have only played on game, WoW.


    In fact, SWG had an entire system for player to PLACE NPC’s, Create quests, and give rewords… I mean. a But-ton of RP tools. How can you ignore that? Ryzom has the Ryzom ring, What better playground for Role-players is there? And for that matter… The role-player and old school “DM”’s are now the Content killers/combatants new friend.

    This is the same perspective that came up in that crafting article... In games that follow the WoW/Eq Design, yeah...WTF is a crafter good for... But in player driven games, or More virtual l worlds. they are the corner stone.


    I will admit that these game are far and few between… Most games are of the non-support type…but this still means you cant blanket all mmos as having no RP support, and/or that Role-players have no place.

    The staff writers on this site need to play more games to get more perspectives other than what they learn from there first game...WoW.

    "Anyone posting on this forum is not an average user, and there for any opinions about the game are going to be overly critical compared to an average users opinions." - Me

    "No, your wrong.." - Random user #123

    "Hello person posting on a site specifically for MMO's in a thread on a sub forum specifically for a particular game talking about meta features and making comparisons to other titles in the genre, and their meta features.

    How are you?" -Me

  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLPosts: 20,418Member Rare

    Wow... what are you all so angry about?  The author is known for writing articles that have a "bite" to them, (his way of getting your attention) and then if you read the rest of the article carefully, you'll see he's offering up suggestions on how to make Role playing more meaningful and fun.

    What's with all the indignation over the article?  You are all so "offended" by it... some so much that you are ready to quit the forums completely... (btw...did you note the disclaimer at the top... his views do not reflect those of or its staff?)

    Wait a minute...maybe you guys are still role-playing, that would explain your over-reaction to an article by a person who doesn't care for the current state of role-playing as it stands today. (or even some of the people in it)

    I'm a role-player btw, in fact, I was a member of Shadowclan on DAOC.  We took role-playing to such an extreme that we actually had our own "Kobold" language that was rigidly enforced at all times... (Ug dir lat Pinkis!... which basically means Hello to you, humanoid scum!)  We had tribes within the clan that each class belonged to and we had different roles we played..that of story-teller, warlord, crafter etc.  We also were extremely territorial.... if you were a neutral kobold we'd leave you unmolested, but all other races had to pay us tribute or die.  Enemy guild members always had to die... no exceptions... We traveled in huge zergy packs with folks from level 15 to level 50....and had a terrific time.  We had a communist economy...all gold was owned by the clan...any items/gold you picked up you had to give to the clan. The clan returned it back in forms of good gear for every level...and was a real home to its members.

    And every now and then I'd get a tell from some non-role-player telling me how weird I was, I just ignored them, or replied in Kobo..which I'm sure went right over their heads.  For the most part...the Mordred community loved us...we would hold contests where we'd challenge the entire server to stop us from marching from one end of the realm to the other.. any guild who could do it was given a large cash prize  (and yes...we did have to pay out.)

    Shadowclan works best on a FFA PvP server, so I'm not currently part of their more recent WOW efforts.  But I do like to role-play and I'm certainly not offended by what the author thinks of me or what I enjoy.  I'll still read his articles, and troll the forums here.

    BTW... I am one of those folks who turns in everyone for naming violations, no matter if a role playing server or not... love to see how many I can nail (yep, I'm a jerk, I know)  ... keeps me busy and of course..rules are rules you know. 


    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    I don't play games, I inhabit virtual worlds™
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • oronisioronisi bumblef, NJPosts: 284Member

    This whole article was retarded....first, this website, and the games he's referring to, are called MMORPG, ROLE PLAYING GAMES.  People in MMOs SHOULD roleplay, thats what the games are there for.  I could go on, but really, I don't need to.

    And why should games need to encourage roleplaying?  It's player-driven.  I mean, we all log in to a fantasy world to do things.  Some people chose to embrace the alternate reality and roleplay, others chose to log in and kill things.  I think the games are fine how they are, and just wish everyone would leave everyone else to play the way they enjoy as long as it doesn't hinder others from doing what they want directly.

  • psychoavengepsychoavenge Downey, CAPosts: 11Member


    This column was written by a grief(er) for the grief(er). Nothing more and nothing less… With that said it's a shame that is allowing such unprofessional and horribly written "articles" to exist under it's banner.  What kind of editor would even allow this to be printed (even if it's just a web-site) is beyond me. 

    This column hits a new low each and every time it gets published.  I have to question if the "casual gamer" is really happy with this sort of representation.  The only thing I see these sort of articles achieving is further separation and resentment between the various playing styles.  The elementary attacks on RP'ers is both blasphemous to the roots of this genre as well as disrespectful to a great portion of the community (however, the author would have you believe that RP'ers are such a small minority that they don't even matter).

    No one forces NON RP'ers to join a RP server, period. Those that join should understand the rule set and expectations of the server.  It's no different than selecting a PVE or PVP server, be aware of how the server works, if you don't agree... don't immerse yourself into that server's community. Anyone who joins a server and ignores the rules... is only there to cause problems, period.  It's unfortunate that many RP'ers are forced to police their servers from trolls and disturbers, the author is correct that having to report such instances does take away from the role play experience. However, he neglects to see that the disturbances are also equally (if not more) distractive and counter-productive to the enjoyment of the role play experience.

    I really can't give this anymore of my time. I will close this with saying that I am offended at this sort of sophomore-ish journalism (even calling it journalism is giving more credit than is deserved).

  • Ebil_PiwatEbil_Piwat Vallejo, CAPosts: 208Member

    Wow the aouthor missed the mark by a margin marked by how SOE missed "improvments" to SWG...

    I am not a "Role-Player" but i do play in 'RP-Servers' for the reason of staying away from the L33t-Geek kiddies that ruin many players enjoyment. Also the majority of the community is more mature, not 'superior' as you so boldly tried to mention. Yes it takes more effort to run the dedicated RP servers, because non-agreeement keeping players filter in to cause havoc, and malcontent much like your article. Would a Carebear log into a PVP grief-fest server and report their killing to GM's? ( maybe but see my point ) What of a PvP'er going to a non pvp world?

    When a game company fields a RP server who is that for? How can they then break immersion but doing exactly what they feel is in character. I'd much rather hang next to a fully olde english speaking Dwarf, than a mix of alpha-numeric jibberish spamming idiot. If you don't understand, don't come to the server.

    As for companies that don't offer RP servers, well I was the /emote Smuggler in SWG, and most of my time was in the cantina long long ago... But on those servers RP'ers still will congragate and do their thing, but understand others do not, and they usually stay seperate. Yet a Griefer will spend more effort to ruin a RP'ers day, than a RP'er will in reporting offending names....

    Point is if your an artist who paints in oil based mediums, you may not consider spray paint based 'Subway art' to be in the same catagory. So while walking the streets it's one thing to see them doing their thing on a wall, but when they kick in the door to your studio and cover your works with their medium, you might protest.

    Yes the author tried to offer suggestions at the end, but  after offending. Yes MMO's only offer serial bashing the native wildlife as a means to advance, but how it's done seperates the players who make their own flair, from the crowd....  Bashing them for their play style, and putting the blame for them being the turn off in games is idiotic...

    SWTOR. Face it, in the Scooby Doo Mystery Solving Van of coolness, this game is Velma. In this current MMO climate it has about as much chance for survival as a group of inquisitive teenagers in a 1980s slasher flick. -Tardcore May, 2011

  • TyrranosaurTyrranosaur Albuquerque, NMPosts: 284Member Uncommon

    I have a few observations to add to this topic:

    1. I can't help but notice that the average poster here is more literate than is typical of other forum posts. Frankly, I think it's not that the RP-gamers are elitist or snobbish, so much as older and better educated.

    2. MMORPGs owe their roots to the paper and pencil gaming of D&D and other games. Players who move from tabletop gaming to MMORPGs tend to have a better grasp of what role playing is and how it enhances the experience. Frankly, after two years on a standard server with WoW, I have effectively moved to a RP server, as I found it refreshed the experience for me, and I intend to fully enjoy the new expansion RP-style only. And yeah, I started playing D&D in 1980 and have continued to play tabletop games weekly for twenty six years now. I do not fear an irish-brogue dwarf or a jamaican troll. I find it makes the game more interesting.

    3. I have a very hard time understanding why, when most games distinguish between RP and normal or pvp servers, anyone who "doesn't get it" would even try gaming on a RP server unless they get a thrill out of crapping on someone else's enjoyment of the game. It reminds me of the early days of  WoW, when I would be playing late on a normal server and some drunkard would come on and start spamming people with vindictive messages for as long as he could before being put on ignore, just because that was his idea of a cheap thrill.

    4. Now, I would like to suggest that the author made an excellent point about the fact that games like WoW do not do nearly as much to encourage role playing as he suggested.....but he confused the idea of extroverted role playing with introverted role playing. Yes, if I play KOTOR 2 I will get to make some serious role playing choices.....but while having multiple choice options for dialogue or actions can lend a feel or air of role playing, it is not the same as having open-ended choices and options, such as tabletop gaming provides. It seems to me, then, that MMORPGS that work best for role playing would be ones which best emulate the open-ended options for players, such as EVE Online; and I've seen what I would call some very good role playing going on in that game, in fact. In any case, more static games like WoW would definitely improve, I think, if they had more quests that had morality and choice issues; instead of "kill ten X's to get Y" type quests, it could be interesting if characters could choose multiple paths on how to achieve a quest goal, or have more "story path" options for speaking with and negotiating with NPCs. It might help to lend a sense of roleplaying that even non-roleplayers can enjoy.

    5. One final note: I have noticed that, unfortunately, the average MMOGer rarely even stops to read the text of their quests in WoW. In fact, the number of people I know in the game who can't even explain the basic story background of the Warcraft universe is disturbing.....these are people who have allowed gameism to rule the process for them; it's about leveling, grinding, and power gaming; all that pesky story stuff is something that gets in the way. Hell, even if someone doesn't like taking on a tone of dialect or play in character, a player who actually likes to read the quest info, read the books found hither and yon, and understand what and why this Burning Legion business is important to roleplaying, too.


    Current MMOs: Rift, GW2, Defiance
    Blog: (old school tabletop gaming and more)

  • necrotherionnecrotherion Toronto, ONPosts: 130Member
    Although I dislike the obvious RP bashing in this article, I agree with the author that there should be more content that can be used by roleplayers. Although as an RPer I try to use everything in the game to enhance my immersion (including trying to get 'into' some of the most idiotic quests I've seen), it would be great if the mmoRPGs lived up to the RPG in their title.

    Also, it doesn't give us a "slightly fuzzy feeling" at times, or else we wouldn't do it. There have been instances I've done in WoW where we predetermined we would not break RP at any time, and the dialogues/actions ( eg lighting a campfire and feasting after killing Everard in WC) constituted the most enjoyable and memorable moments I have experienced in that game.
  • hoodadhoodad Charlottesville, VAPosts: 2Member
    I'm as upset and off-put as everyone else who has commented so far. I didn't want one of my first posts on to be about how ridiculous and frankly unintelligent one of their articles was, but here I am. Shava puts it best, so I won't even attempt to top that one, but I will comment and say that the writer here has made a big, big faux pas against the roleplayers of the world.

    The one glimmer of truth in the entire article is that yes, games need to support the roleplaying population on a much more dedicated level.

  • singsofdeathsingsofdeath The EmpirePosts: 1,812Member Uncommon
    All right. I read the article completely. After the initial bite and indignation, some sort of understanding came to me....I think.

    What i do think is, the Author does point out flaws in modern MMORPG's. The problem of static worlds and limited choices is a real factor and can't be put aside. The fact that making a game less rigid and more flexible as far as the world itself goes would add a whole lot to RP, is also a given. There are some games out there who did it or are still doing it. Not the most successful ones, but then again, that's why you call RP'ers a "Niche" on the mmoRPG market. (Which is in itself quite hilarious)

    In any case, I feel I have to agree with some of the posters above in that the general "tone" of the article was the wrong one. Regardless for what the Author is famous, you don't continue to beat an already beaten horse, in this case, RP'ers. As it was so often pointed out, it's the Non-RPers that destroy the game for RPers in many games. The reason for that is frankly, quite beyond me, but the answer to the Article held some good clues in my opinion. Why do people destroy the immersion and the fun for others by forcing their play-style into an area where it's not wanted, or even allowed?

    In any case, the fact remains, the Author used a tone that I feel has hit a lot of wrong spots. The ideas and possibilities listed at the end are good ones and solid, but the presentation is lacking in tact.

    And for those who say that this is just a way to get everyone's attention, tell me this: Why not aim the stick at the non-RPer's instead of the RPers? Why not depict the way Non-RPers continually insult, disturb and destroy RP-Flagged Servers? It would have created even more responses, I am quite sure. Why wasn't it done? Simply because the Author is not an RPer himself? I would trust a good Author to be able to take an objective point of view and aim at a topic from different angle's so that can't be it.

    I guess intelligent people can find the answer to that themselves.
  • Token1337GuyToken1337Guy ALBUQUERQUE, NMPosts: 159Member
    While the Casual Play features have never interested me (the title calls forth images of the stereotypical WoW player most don't like), I decided to read this one. 

    I must say, when writing an article and making your main statements about how to improve Roleplaying, the worst thing you could do is begin it the way the author did.  I agree with nearly every point brought up in this thread so far, and, seeing a character named "Owen Joo" is FAR more immersion breaking than the text.  The comparison made me laugh.

    On a side note, does anybody else notice how ignored the Role Playing section here at is?  A majority of the threads are completely off-topic and nobody seems to care.
  • AzolAzol MoscowPosts: 1Member

    I just believe this article being totally wrong. It seems to me that author wrote about RP the way he understands it. Poor soul.

    P.S. Of course I would agree that every MMORPG needs a ton of improvements, be it RP-wise or not. But that is not the point.

  • PoldanoPoldano Livermore, CAPosts: 244Member

    I think Steve Wilson was DEAD ON!

    The initial slams are of course a stereotype of how some non-roleplayers see roleplayers, and he used examples of tedious inanity to illustrate a stereotypical extreme. The example of Dwarves speaking in "baroque Scottish" of course means that although Dwarves are traditionally represented as Scots-like, that is not the essence of the role. Role-playing should be much more about character consistency in behavior in exactly the way he described.

    Steve Wilson's greater point is that the larger aspects of role-playing are totally ignored as improvement opportunities by game developers, in their evidently single-minded catering to the drive to optimize characters as virtual killing machines. Role-playing in the larger sense would be enhanced by game mechanics that gave rewards for actions that did not involve slaughter. Rogue sneaking, crowd-controller de-aggroing, and healer healing are all valid grounds for experience rewards. Of course, these can all be exploited in ways that direct combat cannot be exploited, but there are likewise ways to make the experience dependent on meaningful activity by the game mechanics. For instance, mezzing an aggressive mob to get past it rather than killing it should be worth some experience commensurate with what the difficulty of killing or mezzing it is. This sort of thing is much more in line with the paper-and-pencil role-playing tradition.

    The same kind of critique extends to ethical aspects. Sure, there is faction, but faction as normally implemented is old and tired and simplistic and has evidently not changed a lot in the progression from EQ1 to, say, Vanguard. There is opportunity for much greater sophistication. Differentiating the consequences of player behavior into several categories such as compassion, honor, ruthlessness, notoriety, and loyalty, as well as simple acceptability to one group which is faction, elicits far greater role-playing sophistication. Each measured category should affect characters through game mechanics. The mechanics can be engineered to make little difference to players who just want to have a good time virtually killing virtual things (I'm not down on that at all), but to reward role-players with the things they prefer above all others.

    I suspect that role-players value some rewards more than traditional slash-and-zap players do. Role-playing is about standing in a community and relationship to others ("A role is a half-assed relationship" -- Gregory Bateson). I see role-players valuing influence in the larger community represented by NPCs and other players more than non-role-players do. This has been represented by faction, but faction as I have said is a generally crude tool, more often than not intended and used for combat or questing advantage. More appropriate rewards for role-playing would be those enhancing sandbox activities, such as benefits when building player communities and structures, specific changes to NPC behavior across the board, trade benefits, and such.


  • rickf7666rickf7666 Clearwater, FLPosts: 5Member

    My concept of Role Playing is just that "playing a role".  Creating a character with a background and then interacting with other players as that character.  I don't think that role playing is about being rewarded for doing things other than killing.  Really, if you look at most pen and paper rpgs the rewards come from defeating your enemies, whether it's D&D or Champions.  I'm 40 and run a Champions super hero campain every few weeks and have been involved with some game or another since I was in my 20s.  So I like to think I know a little bit about what I'm talking about.  Now normally I don't play on RP dedicated servers, and what I have found is that with a little bit of encuragement most people will let you play your role.  As long as you make it entertaining.  Maybe some people remember my little ratonga paladin who thinks he is a cursed human, maybe not.  The point is, is that if your role playing includes everyone and you don't get offended when someone else doesn't want to partisipate then it's all good. It's just a game and it is suppose to be just for fun.


    But then again I could be wrong.

  • japojapo Sedona, AZPosts: 306Member seems to be getting rather common around here but, once again, the author of an article is not only clueless, but also offensive.

    For most of us RPers we don't need a game to encourage us to RP more or better...we do just fine thanks.

    If you, the author, need help just ask.  We'll help you out.

    Just because you need in-game mechanics to assist you due to your lack of RP skills doesn't mean the rest of us do.

    Go away.

  • poodlebearpoodlebear Seattle, WAPosts: 11Member

    As others have said, the good points of the article were lost in the insulting tone of the first sentence which continued through out. Personally I lost all respect when this professional journalist (he's a staff writer, he must get paid...) used baroque instead of brogue. (I will resist the urge to use a rollyeyed smiley) That aside, the one thing he did not address at all, beyond saying they were more costly, was what many have posted about here: why shouldn't RP players expect a supported RP community on dedicated servers? If the game doesn't have such servers it's the wrong game for RP. If it does and that RP is making "most others" feel "awkward" what the heck are those people doing on an RP server? If the role-player doing the brogue isn't on an RP server, yeah, he's in the wrong place too.

    I do agree with it being a lovely idea that a mmoRPG game would cater to character developement beyond how one blasts the monsters but for the economics stated elsewhere I am not holding my breath. I was very much looking forward to Seed as being something closer to the mark but that crashed and burned bfore I could even move out of starting area. No frag fest = no money it seems.

    Another thing that makes me sad about this article is apparently the writer is going to have an ongoing column addressing the experience of the "Casual Player", thought the Editor's Note says: The column is called "Casual Play" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Wilson. which doesn't sound much like it will be about casual play. Anyway, my point is, if he hopes to represent the causal player community, of which I would be considered one (though I playe nearly every day?) he obviously will not be representing my experience. Nothing new there, what with being part of this odd, useless little niche and all... ;)

  • PoldanoPoldano Livermore, CAPosts: 244Member

    We're definitely talking about almost two different things here. My notion of role-playing is much more focused on dynamics of character behavior with the "NPC" world and on a larger game scope. The traditional role-players notion of it is that of acting out characters (I think; I'll probably incite flames for that, but it's worth the risk). The two are closely related but are paradoxically not interdependent.

    Regarding role-play as acting out characters, an RPG is not even a prerequisite for that. One can role-play in the "acting" sense in a multi-player strategy game or a multi-player FPS, to use a couple of examples. It's fun, I appreciate people who can do it well, and I have done it myself on some occasions, but it is almost totally extraneous to success in the game. The "almost" is there because I believe a good "acting" role-player tends to be good at altering the behavior of other players with respect to game "mechanics".

    I'm taking RPG to mean some kind of game where role-playing is intrinsic to the game. For some activity to be intrinsic to a game, it has to have an effect on the outcome of the game. Computer RPGs to date limit the role-play aspect mostly to making use of different character skills in small-unit combat. What Steve Wilson suggested, and I agreed with and perhaps expanded upon, was extending the notion of differential use of unique character skills beyond small-unit combat. His use of Vanguard diplomacy was a good example. There is a possibility that Vanguard diplomacy may some day influence the variety of quests available for combat players. If that happens, then an element of non-gratuitous role-play (in the Gregory Bateson sense of a half of a relationship) will have been integrated into the game.

    Many games have implemented crafting to give players something to "do" besides combat, but it is often a don't-care with respect to "game success" outside of its sphere of influence. However, I find that combat players are often quite jealous of any influence on their play experience that does not derive from combat. With respect to crafting, this is the basis of the "craft versus loot" argument. I can envision the same thing happening with a diplomatic game. Combat players may feel threatened that some mere "diplomat" has greater influence over NPCs in ways that affect their combat opportunities or success than their own combat prowess does. SWG had an interesting notion of entertainer characters. In the game mechanics the effects of these character skills were not as well developed as they could have been. I suspect one reason was the implicit resistance of combat players to the need for "fluff" in the "serious" business of fighting.

    Steve Wilson is suggesting that enlarging the second, integrated, sense of role-playing to non-combat activities. or at least getting beyond the exclusively killing-centric activities, is an area of opportunity that developers should consider. I would expect role-players to see the additional aspect to what role-playing could be. I anticipate the response of some hardcore combat players that real games are about combat and killing things. I disagree: real games are about surviving and prospering; killing things is just one of the means.


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