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Theory about the decline in Role-playing

Would like everyone's input on what has happened to Roleplaying in this genre - specifically I want input from former UO players.

In UO roleplaying was everywhere ( and when I'm talking about role-playing I'm referring to character speaking to character rather than player speaking to player..... stories, and conflict which were character driven.) A lot of the action in UO was really like an improv theater. It really made the world come to life, and added great fun in addition to the typical activities of skilling up and killing monsters.

When I see the issue of roleplaying brought up on modern MMORPG boards, a typical response is "people aren't interested in roleplay anymore... the younger generation... blah blah."

It seems to me though, that newer games are not designed for roleplaying.

There were two crucial design aspects that UO had that few if any MMORPG's have had since.

1) Floating text.

2) Fixed Point-of-View

And in order to have floating text you must have a fixed point-of view, otherwise it doesn't work.



The floating text allows characters to speak with characters. Chat boxes are for players to speak with players. UO had a chat box, it was called ICQ. In ICQ, players socialized with players. In the game, characters talked with characters using the floating text. It was natural and it worked.

I believe the main reason that floating text has not been used widely in modern games is because of the dynamic Points of View.

In UO, when you saw someone on your screen, they saw you. If they were looking at their computer screen, by god they knew where you were, what you were doing, and what you were saying - and they could "act" accordingly.

In modern games, if you see someone on your screen, they may be looking in a completely different direction. Why type something into a chat bubble if they may not even see it? Why perform and emote of any kind if the other player is looking from a completely different Point of View and will only see you by chance? There is no improv theater, and roleplaying dies.

Does anyone else think that these basic changes in game design from the grandfather of the genre (UO) are the real reason why roleplaying only exists sporadically in modern MMORPG's?

 

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Comments

  • Tommy211Tommy211 Member Posts: 41

     I still enjoy a good roleplaying gam, but FPS is the way forward in my books. Although World of Warcraft is pretty popular so it's a mixed argument on the subject.

  • jonrd463jonrd463 Member UncommonPosts: 607
    Originally posted by Tommy211


     I still enjoy a good roleplaying gam, but FPS is the way forward in my books. Although World of Warcraft is pretty popular so it's a mixed argument on the subject.

     

    I agree that FPS or TPS/3d are more immersive in that you're in the world as opposed to looking down on it. There's no way I could go back to a UO type interface because the very nature of it is not conducive to a suspension of disbelief. This is, of course, my opinion, and is subject to all the frailties a personal opinion can be.

     

    What is needed, I think, is for the original design philosophy behind UO to be applied to current technology. Yes, it should be about the gameplay and not the graphics, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. The graphics can enhance the gameplay, so long as the focus is on keeping with the old school RPG conventions.

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  • Quasar451Quasar451 Member Posts: 18

    Not a UO player, but I'll add my 2c anyway, since it really is impacting the whole genre.

     

    IMO, the addition of the jock caste to the mix has given role-playing a bad name. Before, role players played in relative harmony with eachother, knowing full well that we were dorks (or nerds, or geeks, whichever you prefer). Enter WoW, and now Johnny Q Everyboy gets to play with his guild and compete in E-Sports every night after football practice.

    Instead of being left to our own devices, jocks and the jock type of game have dominated MMOs, and now role players are essentially ridiculed in the very genre they created, by playing it the way that devised it in the first place.

    And if not enough jock types play the games, the numbers look "thin", and since in the end it's all about money and not making a decent product, MMO publishers are catering to them instead of us.

    My take on the issue anyway.

  • meadmoonmeadmoon Member UncommonPosts: 1,344
    Originally posted by jonrd463

    Originally posted by Tommy211


     I still enjoy a good roleplaying gam, but FPS is the way forward in my books. Although World of Warcraft is pretty popular so it's a mixed argument on the subject.

     

    I agree that FPS or TPS/3d are more immersive in that you're in the world as opposed to looking down on it. There's no way I could go back to a UO type interface because the very nature of it is not conducive to a suspension of disbelief. This is, of course, my opinion, and is subject to all the frailties a personal opinion can be.

     

    What is needed, I think, is for the original design philosophy behind UO to be applied to current technology. Yes, it should be about the gameplay and not the graphics, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. The graphics can enhance the gameplay, so long as the focus is on keeping with the old school RPG conventions.



     

    Agreed the MMOFPS/MMOTPS is the future. MMORPGs today are the "dumb blondes" of the gaming world: pretty on the outside but a whole lotta nothin going on underneath.

    IMHO, MMOs will see a resurgance in roleplay when the environemnts become immersive again -- and I don't mean graphically...

  • Quasar451Quasar451 Member Posts: 18

    I always had trouble immersing myself in a high fantasy theme, but lately I've been really excited about the role-play possibilities in TOR.

     

    I think the reason kids aren't really into role playing is that they think they will get picked on for being dorks (let's face it, they probably will). I don't remember older games having a lot of kids under 18 in them; that seems to be a new theme post WoW. Also, with more gaming advents like voice chat and more personal-lives-on-the-internet, it's harder to remain anonymous in video games any more. Most guilds make voice chat required. Kids don't want to get picked on, and traditionally, it's the dorks that get picked on. I never heard the term "mangina" until about 2 years into WoW. Nobody cared who you were, they were playing with your character. It was what your character said and did that mattered.

    If you're 18 or older and care about other people making fun of you, you probably have more on your plate than being a RP dork.

  • Hammertime1Hammertime1 Member Posts: 619
    Originally posted by Quasar451


    Not a UO player, but I'll add my 2c anyway, since it really is impacting the whole genre.
     
    IMO, the addition of the jock caste to the mix has given role-playing a bad name. Before, role players played in relative harmony with eachother, knowing full well that we were dorks (or nerds, or geeks, whichever you prefer). Enter WoW, and now Johnny Q Everyboy gets to play with his guild and compete in E-Sports every night after football practice.
    Instead of being left to our own devices, jocks and the jock type of game have dominated MMOs, and now role players are essentially ridiculed in the very genre they created, by playing it the way that devised it in the first place.
    And if not enough jock types play the games, the numbers look "thin", and since in the end it's all about money and not making a decent product, MMO publishers are catering to them instead of us.
    My take on the issue anyway.

    "

    "jock types "

    ???

    Sorry, you're are going to need to explain this, it made no sense to me.....

  • Quasar451Quasar451 Member Posts: 18

    There's a stereotype for the nerdy role player. They are the kids that a few decades ago would be ones sitting around a table playing D&D and giggling about girls. If I had been born 10 or so years earlier, I would have been one of those. There's also the stereotype of the football captain that would give these kids wedgies.

     

    While i'm not trying to say that these stereotypes actually exist in any real sense, most people are familiar with them. MMORPGs specifically, have always been seen as more of the realm of the nerds. The football captain would never in a million years admit to being a D&D player. That's changed.

     

    Now that MMORPGs are more accessable to the general public, and less stigma surrounds them as nerd games, more people play them. This is good AND this is bad. The good points are that there is more money in the industry to spend on developing the games, and making them better. The bad point is that a lot of the original players disagree with what "better" is.

     

    This thread was originally about "why is role playing declining?", specifically in UO, but I extrapolated it to the genre in general. MMOs are becoming less about role playing and more about E-sports. We even need "teams" now to accomplish anything of value. Making up a persona and playing along with it isn't part of the core anymore, because that's what dorks do, and even though this genre was founded by dorks, it's not vastly populated by them anymore.

  • karat76karat76 Member UncommonPosts: 1,000

    Think the sheer number of people playing which makes it possible to have all the selecions we have has also destroyed the great communities we had. Though if the genre switches to first person I will never buy another one. I have never liked those types of games.

  • Quasar451Quasar451 Member Posts: 18

    I like 1st person shooters, I used to be pretty good at TF, Quake 2, and even the first CounterStrike when it came out. 1st person shooters are great games, but they are not at all what I look for in an MMORPG. When I play an MMORPG I want to spend time developing my character, both statistics and personality, interacting with other people (not just in raids or pvp, but actual interaction), doing meaningful quests that feel important to my character and the world around me, and most of all, relaxing. I play 1st person shooters when I want an adreneline rush and a half hour of intense seat-of-my-pants gaming, and I play RPGs when I want to chill out and socialize.

     

    I'm tired of developers crossing the two in EVERY TITLE that's released.

  • TyezBaylorumTyezBaylorum Member Posts: 18

    My Theory - PvP Killed RP

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  • mikepatsonmikepatson Member Posts: 45

    That is a good theory, it's one I share. I think basically PVP is responsible for the decline of roleplaying, since most people are just interested in killing/looting to be bothered with character interaction of any kind - so most roleplayers get the equivalent of 'funny' looks.

  • AntiquitasAntiquitas Member Posts: 26

      I'm afraid any noticed decline in RP to be the harsh reality is a spoon fed lack of imagination. Someone previously coined phrases such as "jocks" and "nerds", but it's more a matter of intellect and intelligence. I'm not saying you have to be a genius to RP, but it doesn't take one to run around earning achievements and player killing when everything is one click and then deem to call it skill? I'm afraid it's more societal and we're all being brainwashed to accept what we are fed rather than challenge, adapt and change. I'm not going to get into that deep dark pit of psycho babble.

      Another part is on many posts in that quality RP sessions do require some dev or moderator involvement to make it more exciting. In EQ moderators would randomly appear as bards or even take control of some of the mob bosses. I'm sorry I never took part in UO in its prime since I understand the player base truly created a complete world on that 2 dimensional surface. I do believe the same can be done with today's MMOs, but it requires involvement and quality interaction with the world presented. It's really a shame there isn't a path of games to play (Pen and Paper, Mushes and Muds, Ultima series, d&d, battletech pc games, EQ,etc) in escalation for everyone to understand why those game worlds were so complete so they can understand the rants some of us toss. It's all too obvious how many have come along with a console upbringing with how much gear do I get, what's the next achievement, how many points is this thing worth, just sad - as a populace we're losing our depth.

  • veritas_Xveritas_X Member Posts: 393

    Former UO player here, and longtime roleplayer.

    In my opinion, its simply a reflection of society as a whole.  People are getting lazier, and roleplaying takes effort.

    The majority of mmo gamers nowadays want to log on, complete a series of tasks to get their 'accomplishment' fix for the day, and do a bit of socializing on Vent or whatever.  Generally if they want stories, they'll watch a movie, television, or perhaps read a book.

    MMO's have turned into the virtual equivalent of a round of golf.  Yeah there's a game going on in the background, but the real reason for playing is to schmooze with your fellows, advance your networking, or just blow off steam and relax with something that is totally trivial.

    Also, as someone mentioned earlier, games with robust roleplaying features are virtually non-existent.  The last game that truly catered to roleplayers in my opinion was SWG (pre-NGE or post-NGE doesn't matter, and I'm not getting into that tired debate here, the roleplay tools were excellent in both game versions). 

    The storyteller system, the entertainer/image designer professions, the housing and absurdly high levels of crafting customization all conspired to give roleplayers a canvas which doesn't exist in most other games, and probably won't for the foreseeable future because hardly anyone can be bothered to take advantage of that stuff anymore.

    When you couple the lack of good toolsets and developer support with the fact that being a roleplayer and running roleplay guilds/events takes a lot of work both in and outside of the game, its no mystery why we're a dying breed.

  • StellosStellos Member UncommonPosts: 1,491

    Interesting point.  As a former UO player I have tried to figure out the cause of this for awhile.  I have never thought about your fixed point of view theory.  I have thought that the floating text does cause for more RP oppose to chat windows.  UO was a slower paced game with more risk vs reward then games seen today.  Most games now there is no time for RP, as it is critical to use every avaialable minute effeciently so that you can organize your 10 hour raid accordingly.  In UO you didn't have this.  Anything could pop off in UO any second anywhere and organizing large raids just wasn't something that I saw done.  I think your theory has a lot to do with it, but also it is due to time restraints like I have purposed.  In a slower paced game people take the time to enjoy the environment actually sit in the pubs and talk.  In todays MMOs there is no time to do that type of socializing IMO.

  • CaldicotCaldicot Member UncommonPosts: 452

    I believe that the main issue is not so much about a decline in RP but rather a growth in other play styles.

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  • hooptyhoopty Member UncommonPosts: 788

    My thoughts would be after the full blown of crap to free to play games and allot of restriction on the chat and the grinding and the over priced Item mall and a game with a IQ of 1..It would make anyone not play as long.

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  • ErstokErstok Member Posts: 523

    Decline is hardcore people murdering whatever community might be had with people on all sides of the fence. Put it simple people no longer really care about anything outside themselves hence why most MMO's these days is instant gratification above anything long lasting.

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    When did you start playing "old school" MMO's. World Of Warcraft?

  • jonrd463jonrd463 Member UncommonPosts: 607

    Who is to blame in the decline of Role-playing? The obvious answer, of course, is the catering of the genre to people who otherwise wouldn't give a RPG a second thought. If I had to guess, I'd say only 1 out of 5 people in a monster like WoW would ever play a game like Ultima. Not Ultima Online, but the singleplayer games before it. Sure, they may play Oblivion, but that's such a watered down shell of a RPG it really shouldn't count.

    So yes, it's the bias towards the competitive PvP atmosphere that's served to marginalize RPers in their own genre. However, RPers must accept some of the blame for keeping it that way.

    Without a decent game to play, and without anything to do to pass my time while I recover from hand surgery, I've had a lot of time to think about stuff. Since working a mouse hurts, I can't play any of my games to while away the days, I've been left to surf the net or watch TV. Given the abundance of garbage on TV, guess what's taken up the bulk of my time? So, I've been checking out various official game forums for MMOs, and then the independant ones such as this place, and I've noticed something that was quite startling at first. After the shock of the initial realization settled, I saw that it's true. RPers are some of the most intolerant, xenophobic people in the genre, and I am just as guilty.

    Before I go further, let me get one thing out of the way. It's okay to hate the types that go out of their way to disrupt RP. Those people are griefers in their own right, and should be treated as such. So, let's remove that group from the beginning.

    So who's left? Well, there's the average Joe that wants to play the game. He has a neutral opinion of RPers and figures he'll let them do their thing and he'll do his. That is, until he fucks up and asks an OOC question in a /say channel, and then all hell breaks loose. "/SAY IS FOR IC DISCUSSION ONLY!!" "OMG, YOU'RE KILLING MY IMMERSION!" "Egads, man, what is this 'server lag' of which you speak? You must be mad!" and so on. Why not show a little good will and, you know, answer the question? A polite /tell with the information he seeks, and a gentle reminder that /say is usually used for in character talk can do wonders.

    Then there's the RPer who has the audacity to RP in a way different from the herd. Maybe he only has limited time to play and chooses to run through cities. Rather than chide him with tells asking why he's in a hurry and how other people running around in cities kills your immersion, why not accept the fact that to some people, time is valuable? And while we're on the subject of  RPer vs RPer, typos happen. There's no sense in wasting 10 or 15 minutes going on and on about a mispelled name or other word. Quit being so god damn arrogant and accept the fact that not everyone writes all their poses in Word and runs them through grammar and spelling checkers 50 times before copying and pasting into chat. Some of us RP dynamically and let the chips fall where they may-- typos and grammar faux pas and all.

    ERP. Jesus Tapdancing Christ Almighty, this has got to be the biggest blight upon a roleplaying community ever. You wanna cybersex? Do it in IM. Seriously. Nothing gets the anti-roleplayers' giggle on more than discovering people doing ERP. And then it's all over the forums-- "Oh lawd! Those silly RPers are at it again!" I understand you say you want to RP your characters' love for eachother and all that stuff, but just like real life, you don't do it in the public. I don't see any use in the practice myself, but that's just me. I just don't care to see it myself, and I've got a hand shaped mark on my forehead for the gazillion times I've facepalmed after seeing thread after thread about busted ERPers on official MMO forums, complete with screenshots.

     

    I'm sure there are more cases where RPers are their own worst enemies, but that's all I can think of for now.

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  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 30,719
    Originally posted by TyezBaylorum


    My Theory - PvP Killed RP



     

    my thought is that originally, it was very geeky (sorry but it's sort of true... though we are all geeks in one way or another) players who really enjoyed the character acting in rpg's. Probably also a niche set of people who actually played these things. Sorry, but games like dungeons and dragons were never "cool". Except maybe among people with more of a geeky bent.

    Then games come out that are a bit more accessible, easier to get into and they attract peole who enjoy fantasy or sci-fi but aren't really enamored of the whole acting/improv that earlier adopters did.

    So they just took the games as they came and for what they were.

    It has nothing to do with laziness. That's ridiculous.

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  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 40,902

    Voice coms killed roleplaying.

    I used to be in a roleplaying guild called Shadowclan in DAOC and we were hardcore enough that there was no OOC except in dire emergencies, (and in private)and we even had our own bastardized 'language" that used no "c's or "e"s and was it really kept you in character.

    People made fun of us all the time, but most people respected how much we stayed in character, right down to demanding "tribuut" (tribute) from enemies or relentlessly zerging folks like the little kobolds we were.

    (we orgininally only had one race, kobold, but eventually let in sylvans as well)

    But now there's voice coms, and I doubt an idea like SC would be as much fun or work quite as well.

    But it seems between voice coms and game mechancis, typing in a chat window for any reason is a dying art that is mostly relegated to bad chuck norris jokes and gold selling spam.

     

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  • Cephus404Cephus404 Member CommonPosts: 3,675

    I'll be honest, I think MMOs, in and of themselves, killed RPing.  RPing doesn't get you anything and in modern-day loot-centric MMOs, that's all most people care about.  Grind, grind, grind, loot, loot, loot, level up and get more gear.  When that's all that matters to the overwhelming majority of players and it's a race to max level, who has time to stop and RP with people around them?  They don't get anything out of it!

    I think there are some other elements as well, such as the inability to do anything outside of game mechanics or having any player control over the environment that really kills it, especially for me.  Trying to RP in a modern MMO is about like trying to RP while playing Tetris.  It just comes off as silly and a waste of time.

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  • grapes112grapes112 Member Posts: 3

    Rather than decline, I think the genre's just evolving. I really like the FPS direction RPGs like Fallout 3 are going. I know some old schoolers shake their head of the idea of shooter fanboys moving into RPG territory, but I think it's a good marriage of genres. Ah, if only Fallout 3 was an MMO...

  • NovaKayneNovaKayne Member Posts: 743

    It is declining because the mass public did nto like to RP and RPG were not that popular until MMORPG and PvP came about.

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  • SpectralHunterSpectralHunter Member UncommonPosts: 455

    I actually don't think it is declining.  The numbers of roleplayers are the same.  What is growing are the number of MMO players.  So yes, it looks like RPers are fading away.  But the truth is, they are shrinking in percentage because the pool of players got bigger.

    Why are RPer numbers static?  Because it is a niche.  It always have been a niche.  Social criticism is one factor.  

    I've played two MMOs extensively and still play one today.  I never had a problem finding other RPers on WoW (yes, WoW) and CoH.  You just have to find which server they congregate.  In fact, in both cases, the servers I was in were thriving with roleplay.

    Does PvP affect roleplay?  There may be a correlation and personally I lean towards that idea.  PvP really makes people focus on gear and combat.  It's all about taking over a fort or taking out the opposition.  There's no rhyme or reason to why.  There's no reason to write up a story.  Just kill and loot and prove you are better than the other guy.  In my opinion, the more emphasis a MMO has on PvP, the less likelihood you will find roleplayers.

  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 18,948

    It is a conundrum, RP is not a easy fit into a MMO. But I can imagine some steps to make it easier.

    You need more player tools that can set up user content and scenarios, like in Neverwinter Nights.

    There is a problem in play balance between a level system and a leveless one. Second Life has no levels and you can create the environment, I understand some roleplaying is done there. But it was not created to cater for RPing.

    I don’t think seeing your avatar stops roleplaying. It is qiving players too much to do which is not roleplaying based which does that. If you have a levelling system, people will spend loads of time levelling.

    You have to emphasis community, with tools and in game structure to promote people to do things together.

    I can recommend Laurelin (LOTRO) and Hykernia (AOC) for roleplaying, but only if you get yourself into a roleplaying guild.

     

     

    As has been mentioned, we formed a greater proportion of MMO players when MMORPG's began. The RPG has been dropped as we became the minority. There is still room for RP servers, but for the future I am not so sure, I only see the MMO player base getting younger, more intereted in a MMO quick fix. But the tide may change, players may get fed up of banality and look for a MMO with more depth.

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