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MMORPGs - Ruined By Non Role-Players? 100

Thanks to RPGDot for their new editorial discussing why actual in-character roleplaying in MMORPGs is dying out, as more and more 'action fans' are being attracted to RPGs. The article suggests: "When you take an MMORPG apart to analyze what it is, you discover pretty quickly that it's mostly a huge graphical chat room... the role-playing aspect of an MMORPG is nowhere in the [priority] list, which leaves the few poor souls who are willing to do so in the dust, grinding their teeth at the l337 speech they are subjected to." But it seems in-game bugs and glitches make it difficult for even the most hardcore role-player to keep in-character: "It's hard to sustain a willingness to role-play when the mindless android in front of you swallows your shuttle ticket without so much as an apology."
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MMORPGs - Ruined By Non Role-Players?

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  • by TibbonZero ( 571809 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:30AM (#6489967) Homepage Journal
    This happened with MUDs, The Realm, UO, EQ, and is still happening today. It's nothing new. Perhaps if there was some way that players (of higher levels???) could reward roleplaying, and make it an important part of the game. Even automatic filters/penalities for using leet speak? Use something akin to the grammar checking programs in various work processors to figure out your 'roleplaying level'? At one point I would have said GMs could help in these efforts, but there are too few of them, and they are always just fixing problems in the games for the most part.
    The Best solution would be if quests required some degree of roleplaying (thus actually making it a roleplaying game), instead of just having to kill something, find something, or deliver something.
    • by lafiel ( 667810 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:38AM (#6490028) Homepage

      The author forgot to mention RO (Ragnarok Online): the perfect example everything he complains about. (

      A Korean beta game that offers no story, no actual quests. Just dungeons for people to go to and kill, find items, and kill in new dungeons. I cannot stress how little story and quests (aside from "search for three of these different rare items to recieve an even more rare item" quests) there are. It makes Diablo 2 look like a classic book in comparison.

      In fact, people are paying to play this game now, it's no longer a free beta. Definitely a bad direction for mmorpg's to go.

      • by suyashs ( 645036 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:37AM (#6490804)
        If anyone wants to see how bad this game is, there is a free beta period coming up... Gravity has announced a free three-day trial period for users interested in registering for the popular PC MMORPG (International) Ragnarok Online. The free trial period will begin on July 22nd at 11PM PST. Source: RPGfan
    • by Roxton ( 73137 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @12:46PM (#6491358) Homepage Journal

      The question is whether the mainstream market is adequately interested in genuine role-playing to make for a worthwhile MMORPG. MMORPGs are not a fad. I believe that the longer they are around, the more diversity we'll see, and the more room there will be for experimentation on the part of the developers.

      One problem with role-play focused MMORPGs is that they would be very high-maintainence, most likely requiring more staff than conventional MMORPGs to regulate player behavior and to keep the game interesting.

      There are large, persistent, thematic worlds of genuine role-play that exist presently. They're labors of love, and entirely textbased, which is the only thing that makes them affordable. These are termed "RPI"s or Role-Play Intensives.

      In these games, there are no experience points. Everything tends to be purely social (although there is a skill element). "But Roxton, what's the fun if there's no room for advancement?" You've been playing conventional RPGs too long, Kemo-Sabe.

      The worlds of RPIs are incredibly rich, complete with backstory and detail to rival the best of sourcebooks. Like real life, position and power are not conferred by some universe-implied system. They are conferred by people in positions of power, or by others willing to support you. There are existing power structures in conflict, with checks, balances, and the genuine possibility of one overwhelming another.

      There's no formula to it. Perhaps you can sell your skills and become a hired hand. Maybe your heritage entitles you to noble privileges, if the setting is medieval. As a merchant, you'll be involved in city politics and be in a position of influence. Or perhaps you could be deeply involved in one of the world's many variously flavored churches in matters both internal and external.

      When you start these games, you spend a lot of time developing a character, complete with backstory set in the rich world upon which the game is based. These games have role-play administrators who are responsible for verifying the quality of these applications, helping new players, and generally policing the in-character nature. While most of the play tends to be wonderfully player-driven, the role-play administrators support the players and also create a few well-made plots of their own, often including a large over-arching story.

      In these MUDs, the playerbase drifts away from the immature segment you find on hack n'slash games. You'll find mostly college-aged students and middle-aged history buffs (often SCA types), as well as some bright and responsible younger folk.

      One of the ones I've enjoyed is Harshlands [] set in the Harn role-playing universe.

      A more popular RPI, though slightly more combat-oriented, is Armageddon, which you can learn about here. []

      Seriously, if text-based gaming is not a serious turn-off for you [And considering the number of CLI-fans in the Linux community, I wouldn't be surprised if that was a great many of you], give it a try. While someday the market will turn its tastes to more sophisticated multiplayer gaming, you can keep on the bleeding edge in the low-tech, non-profit worlds of RPIs.

      • You could also try the starshiptraders crossover. Since it has telnet, webmode, and a graphical client - you can play it in the fashion you want. (RPI RPG or somewhat 3rd / 1st person shooter) All these modes can coexist if planned properly.
    • There is a game that started on Mplayer back in the day that is still going today, kind of.
      It's called Underlight.

      It holds strict to roleplay while remaning inviting to new players. It's very dated though but the concepts would do well to be ported into a newer next gen MMORPG

      It's game mechanics and ideas would take me too long to explain here but a google and a check of the forums woulden't be too hard
  • Quality of Games (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vokbain ( 657712 ) *
    I don't play any MMORPGs, but from what I hear, they are all pretty badly made, with all kinds of bugs, glitches, lag, etc.. That right there would discourage me from remaining in character if I played.

    Hopefully Blizzard's World of Warcraft will be of much higher quality and they will take steps to encourage role playing. This will most likely be the first MMORPG I play, and I look forward to some real role playing. I hope they deliver.
    • by Winterblink ( 575267 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:43AM (#6490050) Homepage
      WOW being better quality than others? It won't, I'll tell you that right now.

      The thing with MMORPGs are that they are in a perpetual state of being broken, right from the get-go. Launches are inherently troublesome times with client bugs and play balance issues. Only over time do these things become lessened. They're still doing fixes to Dark Age of Camelot after what, two years of being in operation? They're primarily fixes to balance issues, the odd glitch, no real show-stoppers.

      Once you come to terms with that you'll have a pretty fun time with MMORPGs as a whole. I guarantee you though that WoW will suffer the same problems at launch that they all do. Busted registration/logon servers, lag, goofy gameplay balance, etc, etc, etc. It's the nature of the beast, and don't let the Blizzard name fool you. It's their FIRST MMORPG, and it will be at least one thing to them -- a learning experience unlike any they've had before.

      • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3&yahoo,com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:00AM (#6490486) Homepage Journal
        guarantee you though that WoW will suffer the same problems at launch that they all do

        You may be right, but I'm not so sure. Blizzard has a pretty good reputation about delaying a game until it is truly ready to ship. I mean, Warcraft3 took years to make, they cancelled that Warcraft Adventures game because it simply wasn't going as well as they wanted (but come on, they coulda released a dried up turd with the name "Warcraft adventures" on it and sold a million copies - see Enter The Matrix).

        So Blizzard may finally get it right. They're not Eidos. Blizzrad could have released a new Warcraft every year since 1998 (like Eidos has done with Tomb Raider), but they like to wait until a product is ready...
        • Re:Quality of Games (Score:4, Informative)

          by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:29AM (#6490712)
          You may be right, but I'm not so sure. Blizzard has a pretty good reputation about delaying a game until it is truly ready to ship.

          Blizzard may get the game itself into better shape than some MMO developers, but the servers will be the same old story. The release of a new game from Blizzard has routinely crippled from it's inception, and Diablo 2 only made it that much worse by hosting the games and character data in addition to the registration/login functions.

          When US West became overcrowded because the Asian server(s) went down, Blizzard took action and added more servers in Asia. Unfortunately, it didn't change anything for US West, because all of the Korean players that had been playing on US West didn't want to leave their characters behind, and Blizzard had not supplied any way for them to transfer those characters. Will they have the same types of problems when WoW hits? Who knows for sure until it hits, but even if I were planning on buying WoW, I would wait until at least the first week is over and judge how the servers handled the load.

          Beyond that, there're the little things, like bugs in both StarCraft and Diablo 2 when they shipped after much delay that prevented people from continuing with the games until they were patched (or in the case of Diablo 2, if they started over and then didn't duplicate the circumstances that caused the bug). Not to mention the play-balance issues. If WoW gets to 1.03 (assuming a 1.0 release) without an overhaul of some play-balance issue that a large number of people exploited, then I'll be surprised.
        • Oh I fully agree with you that Blizzard is one of those rare companies that doesn't release games until they're well tested. The problem is with MMORPGs, unless you do a wide open public beta you're never going to see many of the major issues in a game. You HAVE to get the server population up, trying out different areas, crafting items, pushing the envelope a bit. Only then do you get your effective stress test. In house testing and limited beta do NOT cut it in this regard.
  • Moderated MMO's? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thing12 ( 45050 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:35AM (#6490001) Homepage
    Are there any MMO's out there that have community or operator based moderation? (i.e. a way to tell if people are good role players, or just don't care.) It would seem that you could divide most game universes into two - one for real role players and another for everyone else who just wants to chat. If you step out of character one too many times the system operators could warn you; and if the behavior continues, they'd simply kick you from the 'Real RPG' universe to the 'Big Chat Room' universe. You'd still have fun playing the game the way you want to play it, but you're not interfering with those who want to play it differently.
    • They are called muds - go to and search through the listings, make sure you check the role-play box.

      Oh, wait, you want pretty graphical pictures? Argh!!!! Wait a second, I have an 'Ask Slashdot' question to submit: 'Why Do the Self Described "Role Players" want pretty useless pictures and a graphical world that basically limits what the player can do?'

    • Dark Age of Camelot has servers specifically set aside for those who wish a complete in-character experience. The most populated of them is the single most populous server in the game, and there are two others that are middle and low population respectively, not because they've made it that way, they just are.

      The roleplaying servers are watched over in a pretty draconian fasion by the CSRs and a lot of players on those servers will appeal every little thing they find inappropriate in public chat, or name
      • I'm one of those people who play on percevial and find it really annoying when people come up to you and ask questions like "Can you salvage this helm, thx dude!". I make it a point to lay it on thick at that point... However, you generally find as long as you play in character and keep it the language and topic realivent to what's going on inside the realm, people generally aren't going to freak. As for the example above if the person had said "Good sir, I have a broken helm and I am looking for a craftsme
    • Maybe I don't truely understand what a real role player is, but I think this may be one thing LucasArts did right w/Star Wars Galaxies... they acutally made professions for people how just want to chat. If your biggest goal is to sit around and talk the whole time, become an Entertainer and hang out in the Cantina. And while you're there, you can get music/dance/image design Expierence Points and advance in that skill. Or if you'd rather wander around and kill stuff, you can choose the Brawler/Marksmen type
  • by LordYUK ( 552359 ) <(jeffwright821) (at) (> on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:37AM (#6490024)
    The only MMORPG I was ever "serious with" (I had dabbled in the free trial of AO and the AC2 Beta, but neither of those took an hour of my time total) was the SWG Beta. If you've read any of my other comments, you'll know what I think of it (as a "game" it sucks). Thats not the point, however.

    The problem with Role Playing in a computer game is that you are artificially limited by the constraints of the game. If the programmers have decided that you have to get past (kill) target A to get object B, then you have to kill target A to get Object B. In a "true" RPG (DnD, or whatever "flavor" you prefer), there is a DM who may *want* (or goad) you into fighting target A, but in the end, you could at least attempt to bluff your way past it or sneak around or whatever. Also, in a PnP RPG you can interact with your environment in ways that a MMORPG cannot currently let you. For instance, I've never quite been able to walk through tables or other party members in DnD, yet in SWG you have a rather incorporealness that, well, breaks immersion. Also, the NPCs can be only so engaging. If I told an NPC to "blow off" in a PnP game, he'd "hear" me, and react accordingly, whereas unless its a specific encounter, if I type "blow off" to a random NPC he'll simply ignore me.

    So it all comes down to the Game Master. Without the human interaction, its very difficult to stay in character, IMHO. Of course, one day that might not be the case, and there isnt anything wrong with MMORPGs, other than they are in fact glorified chat rooms most of the time.
    • by deemah ( 644363 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:16AM (#6490196) Homepage Journal
      Absolutely right. The only game that I've seen that does things differently is Neverwinter Nights. The online gameplay you experience depends on what sort of server you connect to. There are RP heavy servers which encourage DM interaction with players.

      This is the only time I've noticed a feeling of true immersion. You don't see the DM rolling dice or looking things up and the only constraints are those imposed by the module/world builders.

      When these builders work well with the DMs on a particular server, it's a fantastic experience.

    • where someone will be paid minimum wage to play an in game "Non-Player" character. Much cheaper then inventing AI. Give them a script for some events and have them wing it on other occasions. Of course, if you have too many people playing NPCs it could get prohibitively expensive.

      Or you could offer someone free in game time or items if they spent a certain amount of time playing a character. It would be kind of funny if teenagers could earn minimum wage sitting behind the counter in a virtual shop, j

      • There are live-action roleplaying games (mostly the higher-end fee-based ones) that do this as well. NERO in particular practically required you to play an NPC for a weekend before getting a real character, and volunteering to play NPCs earned you XP and sometimes discounts on the cost of a weekend.
      • It would be kind of funny if teenagers could earn minimum wage sitting behind the counter in a virtual shop, just like they can IRL.

        You don't even need to pay them minimum wage, because it's not really a job. You don't need an employment contract, etc. Of course, they do have to be 18 - that way you can treat it like gambling :)

        The best thing would be if you could "work" these jobs via mobile device. Then while you were sitting behind the desk at your real job, you could also be working your online

      • >where someone will be paid minimum wage to play an in game "Non-Player" character.

        I'd much rather see this be worked on in the commercial MMORPG world than having a bunch of people yelling at you to speak "Olde English."

        If you want RP it has to start in the design process first. Everything from the instructions, tutorials, etc have to have an RP element to them. Now toss in NPCs that you aren't sure are just AI or real people and you'll begin to build a world that lends itself to RP.

        Its the classic
      • I like this idea. I can see the money come pouring in when while away at my regular job, my own custom-developed bots are playing away at home for me, all for minimum wage.

        Unfortunately, I'm afraid someone would catch on to me once they noticed that my simple bots based on Eliza appeared more intelligent than most of the regular teenaged NPCs. Maybe if I threw in frequent spelling/grammatical errors and a dash of 133t speak...
    • Two points to make:

      1) Most people treat online RPGs in a similar manner to offline RPGs. That is, they treat it as a quest to go through, an item to get, etc. I have to admit that I did this when I played them, too. With such a steep levelling curve, if you don't borg, you get left behind. Now with games encouraging RP less and less, it's just magnifying the "problem." I quote that word because I'm not sure it /is/ a problem. People are paying money for these games, and unless they begin affecting ot
      • For some reason, Ogres in EverQuest tended to be mostly roleplayed...

        Tho' it be 'cause it easy ta talk dum.

        Oh oh me hab no bandiges. Kin sum smart guy wave hands 'n gib me sum?

        Trolls, rarely, because they were more of a powergamer's thing with the regen. But ogres certainly.

        In all my travels of my necro through level 51 and counting, I only once encountered a paladin who was roleplaying and refused to help me. Awesome! My necro gnome-ette was a rather Dr. Doomish character in search of raw power. S
      • The people who want to RP (clearly the minority) need to get together and do it, and fight off the barbarians if they try to invade (the non-RPers).

        Now there's an idea - treat the non-RPers as an element of the RP world. Treat them literally as barbarians who don't speak your language, and kill them on sight - they'd quickly learn not to cross the borders on their own.
  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:45AM (#6490059) Homepage Journal
    Sadly in America imagination is rather dead. All the online RPGs have been reduced to Diablo-like play and sadly, due to the current cultural trends people in the US have a complete lack of imagination. After DM'ing for over a decade I have see a massive transition in play style. Now all that players do is dig through a manual and "Min-Max" their characters. They have no sense of role-playing, they mearly want to maximize their statistics realative to the game mechanics. I gave up role-playing about 2 years ago due to the fact that I could not find people with any sense of what role-playing is. The richness of teh American imagination has been replaced by spoon fed crap and television. The quality of role-playing can be measured by how much a person reads. It requires imagination to read a book (without pictures) and I see year after year book stores close and literature section sin the big "Chain" book stores fill up year after year with self-help books, technical manuals, and New Age religious crap.

    My 2 cents
    • You should try messageboard-based roleplaying. For a while, I helped run such an RP (I'd link it here, but the site's down right now due to a server transition), and although the world we used was derivative (based on a commercially-released RPG), there was a lot of imagination at work.

      In running this RP, we drove the point home that it's story-driven, not battle-driven, which turned off a lot of newbies but also brought us great ideas and characters from others. Needless to say, our strongest players were

    • This is one of the few comments about America that I see on slashdot that I can really agree with as an American! Of course, in Soviet Russia, IMAGINATION REQUIES ROLEPLAYING!
  • I have to confess that I am both a a pen-an-paper role player and an avid computer game player. I have noticed this problem is mainly to do with, as people have already said, how you let people go about the tasks they are presented with and also what tasks they have to do. I have been involved with Neocron [] since it ending its open beta stage. There are elements in Neocron which could allow for more traditional GM (Games Master) situations as there supposed to be players out there which can effect the world
  • by Echo5ive ( 161910 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:58AM (#6490109) Homepage

    I used to play a lot on a MUD where they had both an age requirement (18 or over, or no go), and roleplaying was required. If you didn't roleplay, the other players simply started to ignore you, and sooner or later the admin would give you the "start acting your role or look for another MUD" deal.

    It did have a chat channel for out of game-talk, though. I pity the soul who used it for metagaming talk...

    I think I'll start playing there again. I miss it.

    • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:27AM (#6490282)
      MUDs could afford to do that, because MUDs are (generally) free, running off the goodwill of the admins or the donations of the players. For-profit MMOGs have a much tougher time enforcing any set of play rules, because the player base is much larger, and the marginal rate of return per player tends to increase (so they want as many as they can get); and any subjective rule set meets up against those two facts, increasing the difficulty in enforcement as well as increasing the monetary costs of enforcement.

  • um.. role playing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:48AM (#6490426)
    if its role playing, and you create your own character, then you can't possibly be out of role, because its your role. I can see this arguement holding water if you were playing an already established role, but for the most part, you don't. To put it in SWG terms, if you were playing Luke, Leia, or Han, I could see someone getting angry with you if you strayed out of line.

    If its your own character, then its your own role and you can't escape it or betray it. That, to me, is the beauty of online role playing games. The universe you're in becomes much more than what you've already seen.

    To me, those that complain are the ones that are really, really hardcore, those that demand that you talk in your characters native tongue, and not English, for example. Yes you exist, yes I respect your opinion, but there's a bell curve here, and you're on the edge, and that means you ain't ever gonna get your way, so long as the curve stays where it is. The converse of this in in your guys' favor though, because the people that don't even play according to the universe are few and far between also. What lies in between (the middle of the curve) is what exists in Online RPG's.

    RPGs are however they are because the majority of people play the game in that way. That means that the majority of the people playing are happy with it that way. You've been outvoted. Take it or leave it.
    • It's not a question of being outvoted so much as it is there not being a product on the market that caters to this niche group.

      The reason for this has been touched upon by earlier posters: Enforcing true Role Playing is not conducive to Making Big Buck$.

      For purposes of this discussion, "Role Playing" is defined as communicating in-game as one's character would, not using 1337-speak, and leaving one's Real Life self and Real Life concerns "at the door". Looking for help with a quest one just recieved wou
      • I'm all for a Heavy-RP-only MMORPG - it'd get the purists off my back for not speaking in thees and thous. But their RP utopia would almost have to cave to market pressures or be exorbitantly priced in order to stay afloat.

        I think what the previous poster was saying is basically that the 'thees' and 'thous' don't really have a place in most of these games, except in the minds of those that keep insisting they be there. Just because it's a fantasy setting doesn't mean that people talk like that in that par
        • by Chasuk ( 62477 )
          I like role-playing, but what our original poster was complaining about wasn't about thees and thous.

          It's about the trying to figure out why the 26 year old guy I'm playing with still thinks that naming his avatar "BoogerSnorter Maximus" is even remotely funny.

          It's the lack of imagination implied in the avatars in SWG named Duke SkyClocker and Obie's Frend (both real examples).

          It's the player who shouts "Wazzup?!!?!!!?? DUDEZ!?!?!!?" for the 40th time to his friends in half an hour, and they all think i
          • It's about the trying to figure out why the 26 year old guy I'm playing with still thinks that naming his avatar "BoogerSnorter Maximus" is even remotely funny.

            Who knows? Some people have a childish sense of humour no matter how old they get. I know people that do this in their normal every-day lives, repeating the same tired old jokes for months, until they find something new ('thats what she said'). I have a good friend that got sick of the whole idea of coming up with character names about 2 years ago
      • I think A Tale in the Desert caters to role-players quite well as you have defined them. If you are not playing it, give it a go.
    • If its your own character, then its your own role and you can't escape it or betray it.

      sure you can. pick up a strategy guide and act upon information that your character should have no idea about, instant out of character action. while you can argue that pumping up your stats and going after cheap and easy XP is in character, it's a weak arguement.

      don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with getting cheap, dirty, XXXP and powerleveling. I've been known to do it in more than a few games. but it's sti

  • The problem with role playing in MMORPGs is the limited interaction that exists within them, as a post above me touched on. He attributed the problem to Dungeon Masters, but I think it's a bit more prevalent than that.

    The richness of a given social experience is directly proportional to it's significance, and the amount of options you have. If you have the option of acting maliciously if you so choose, then a positive interaction is more meaningful. In addition, a reputation or something that imparts a co

  • by xyrw ( 609810 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:56AM (#6490469) Homepage
    It's not just that adventure gamers are `ruining' the experience.

    I used to play Dark Age of Camelot. Excellent MMORPG, as well designed as they come. But I've long since stopped playing, because the experience was just too artificial.

    In a pen and paper or even a computer RPG, the world changes in epic ways as you advance through the story. But because the world of an MMORPG has to be consistent for players, the world cannot change too much. For example, the king of the fairies will have to always be there, you can't guide empires to ruin, buildings stand forever-- the sense of changeability that is otherwise present in RPGs is lost. So is mortality, because you respawn. You might be penalised, but your character can't be dead and gone. Where then is the comradeship? Can you really feel for an immortal character as you would for a real companion (well, RPG companion)? There's a good reason D&D players become very attached to their characters, and spend a lot of time mourning their deaths, but it is partly that mortality that makes their journey perilous and exciting.

    I think some of the MMORPGs out there really are very good, but they lack a certain je ne sais quoi that story- driven RPGs have. And that is a problem with the melding of genres, rather than who's playing them. I recognise that there are many more issues to consider, but i feel that this is one of the major ones.

    Just my 2 cents. :)
    • In our PnP group this weekend, the characters we have been playing with for the past year bit it. We made a mistake and ended up with a bunch more than we could handle. We are dead. We're not coming back. There is a real sense of loss associated with that.

      Immediately after the incident, the group had a "so-now-what" discussion. While the DM seemed open to the idea of a roll back, the players were concerned with the precedence that would set. How would this safety net affect future play? It looks l
      • That's an interesting idea. I think it's technically feasible, but there are of course game balance issues. If player killing is allowed on the same server, newer characters will never have a chance to advance.

        Harsh death penalties put people off. I can't remember which developer said that, but it was in a developer interview somewhere, not necessarily on DAoC. Maybe what we're thinking of is really the kind of system that has been implemented in games like NWN.

        But I wouldn't give up hope. The gaming indu
  • Joke right? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antin ( 185674 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:07AM (#6490549)
    You are telling me it is easier to roleplay while making it all up over a coffee table, than it is in front of a computer game where you look like your character, move like your character, get to interact with mobs, explore a true virtual world and basically see what it is you are talking about? Oh and do it in realtime...

    Who cares how buggy it is, it has to be a step-up from rolling a dice to see how much damage you do (yeah like that is real...).

    In fact having fewer uber-geeks who have memorised the rule book, and look at me funny when I order quiche from the tavern vastly improves my gaming experience.
    • >>>You are telling me it is easier to roleplay while making it all up over a coffee table, than it is in front of a computer game where you look like your character, move like your character, get to interact with mobs, explore a true virtual world and basically see what it is you are talking about? Oh and do it in realtime...

      Yes. In a computer, you're restricted by the constraints of the programmer(s). When you're with literally, a party, neat things happen that normally wouldnt.

      What matters most
    • You are telling me it is easier to roleplay while making it all up over a coffee table, than it is in front of a computer game where you look like your character, move like your character, get to interact with mobs, explore a true virtual world and basically see what it is you are talking about? Oh and do it in realtime...

      yes, actually it is. I tell the DM that I want to do something and he tells me the results. no lag. no worrying if the game's engine can handle complex dialogue written on the fly, no w

    • I have always hated the term 'mob.' I mean, how exciting is it to go out and fight movable objects? Oh boy, let me at 'em.

      I mean, I can handle non-roleplayers. It doesn't bother me that much (of course, I haven't played an MMORPG in about 3 years now). But the second my party started fighting 'mobs' instead of orcs, gnolls, kobolds, or whatever, it completely ruined any immersion I felt.

  • by SnowDog_2112 ( 23900 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:19AM (#6490637) Homepage
    While it's not quite in the league of MMORPGs, there are numerous Persistent Worlds set up using the NWN engine. Some of these encourage/require active roleplay, usually through the presence of DMs who oversee everything, give NPCs life beyond scripted conversation, and reward roleplayers with experience or other in-game prestige.

    The problem, of course, is finding a good PW and integrating yourself with the cliques and whatnot that have surely already formed there. Likewise, since these are usually run out of some guy's bedroom or dorm room on their home machine using an existing connection, you're probably not going to get the stability or scalability of a true MMORPG.

    On the other hand, the personal touch can be quite nice. It's worth dabbling in, at the very least.
  • Alternatives Exist (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    EQ/AC/DAoC/etc aren't the only "RPG's" in town. Neverwinter Nights gives people the tools to run games on their own server with a live DM. No, you won't find 5000 people on an NWN server but really, is that necessary?

    I'm one of 50 or so DM's in a NWN collaborative world project that spans several computers (come check out A Land Far Away [] if you're interested). All players are screened and the servers are all 100% roleplay oriented. There are numerous projects out for NWN and many of them offer some gr

  • Back in the day... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:34AM (#6490755) Homepage Journal
    when me and one of my freinds ran some MUDs we ran into this problem, left unchecked they would have devolved into a big OOC chat room, with little or no role-play. And some of the larger MUDs REALLY suffered from the OOC Syndrome. (btw, OOC = Out of Character) with almost every message being a global OOC, with some of the Admins even happy with this, running all manner of OOC games/quizes for free exp.

    The nonRP thing is partly because of the Admins, of course, if the admin PCs don't set an example, or reinforce nonRP behaviour, then the online enviroment will devolve into an interactive chat. Or if there is not proper incentive to RP, meaning that experience gathering and item farming is 100% from just plain game interaction, and not social interaction, then people will not roleplay, since it is not required.

    Our solution was to make higher-advanment contingent on the admins, meaning you had to RP quests socially to advance. Guilds were also good to enforce RP, since most guilds were controlled by people who knew the admins, and had respected status, they enforced RP within the guilds (all of which were storied) and kicked out non-RP players and blatant PKs, and since not being in a guild wasn't advisable in our MUDs since you were fair game without backing, and got no favors from patron gods.

    When I was a god on NeoGeno I offered good items to those who RPed their devotion, and did RP quests, with some in game elements and mobs included, but used within an RP framework. Also having good roleplayers causes it to spread, people want to fit in with clans/guilds who have killer rep and resources, and who RP well, and have a damn good story.

    One little code snippet we were working on before we lost our server/interest was to have two classes, RP and non-RP characters, like Bad Trip did with PK/non later in its life. People who pick RP auto-ignore OCC and nonRP globals, gain levels faster, can use better EQ, and have PK free areas. Also the admins would favor the RP people in all global quests, and arguements. The nonRP people would have access to a nonRP channel, but not Tells, and could here globals and such, but not Quest channels. They couldn't Pray, and weren't safe from PK at the healers, unlike the RPers, who were safe from PK there, and there were no penalties on nonRP PKs.

    As you can see the whole setup has to be indicative to RP, RP has to be a goal during the actual implementation of the code, AND you have to tweak the social enviroment to make RP better for gaining levels and eq (positive reinforcement). But I really don't think the Sony or anyother MMORPG maker cares if the game is RP or Chat, since you still pay for it, and there are more chat people out there than RP people, so it is a better market.

    Personally, when I want RP I'll stick with the remaining MUDs out there, or paper&pen RPGs.
    • I didn't read your message before posting mine. I will use this as advice for the social MUD we are trying to build (see below).
    • Shameless plug:

      Eternal Struggle MUD []. 90% of character advancement is done via an "RP AWARD" system where players can reward those who RP well. The old-fashioned SMAUG combat system has been replaced by a shiny emote-fight system, which basically means that combat is resolved via descriptive actions rather than boring "X hits Y. Y hits X." crap. There are MUDs out there that cater to RPers, and no MMORPG will *ever* get this right, so there's no point to even trying to play them.
  • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:52AM (#6490960) Journal
    We are a group developing from scratch a GPL'ed MUD/MUSH in Spanish based on Tolkien's Middle Earth. Of course it's not intended to be 'massive'. But we expect it to be fairly populated, and in spite of that we think that people in it will remain mainly in character.

    We are working hard to achieve that goal, and we have some guidelines and ideas that hopefully will aid us to get rid of l33t people.

    First of all, our targeted audience is people in the Spanish Tolkien Society. That give us a strongly motivated public, which will surely enjoy themselves more from a good role-playing than from a killing session.

    Second, it will be quite a bad idea to go out there carelessly hunting orcs... because the damage/healing system is intended to be reallistic. It means that if you get hurt it won't be just some Life Points down, you'll have a broken leg or a poisoned injury, and you'll have to be in bed for in-game months to be healthfull again. And only if you don't get killed. No magic potions (remember Frodo?). So, only warrior characters will go to battle, and it will be dangerous.

    Third, it will be difficult and dangerous to travel. People will stay at home, and will have social intercourse with their neighbours. Of course there will be adventures, but mostly those that just delay dinner!

    Fourth, we will not ban out-of-character speaking... but we will mean it to be rude! 8-D (This is an idea of mine). We hope to introduce a culture in which newcomers, that are not aware of this social rule, will talk about not Middle Earth subjects, and then everyone will get scandalized!

    In summary: our game will not be a huge graphical chat room, because it will be socially designed to be a parallel reality not a videogame, and only people in character will enjoy it. Wish me luck!
  • by Mantrid ( 250133 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:59AM (#6491007) Journal
    Ever since I saw it, when I think of roleplayers, all I can think of is that short internet video that has a bunch of characters sitting around a table (with a monster in the kitchen looking for beer or something), doing their roleplaying thing. It's just hilarious, and I really wish I could remember the link/title etc.!

    I don't know about RP'ing, when I play games it's to have fun - occasionally it may involve some RP'ing - but I'm not going to be 'forced' into playing a role all the time. I know the hardcore RP'ers always have to point out that an MMORPG is, in theory a ROLE PLAYING Game (usually typed just like that), but let's face it in computer-land an RPG means you have a character(s) with stats and upgradable weapons, armour, magic/psi powers etc. That is the 'vernacular' I believe for a CRPG.

    The majority is out there playing and having fun, and sometimes I can't help but resent the roleplaying types - at least the 'aggressive' ones that feel you should play 'their way'.
  • Playing to Win (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThePyro ( 645161 )

    The problem with modern online role-playing games is that the vast majority of players are simply playing to win. "Win" is defined, in their opinions, as increasing experience, beating quests using any means necessary, and aquiring gobs of "phat l3wt".

    Why? Because the game engine is spewing tons of this kind of information at them: stat points, hitpoints, experience, weapons which do Xd6 damage and have Y enchantments, etc... Numbers, numbers, and more numbers - none of which have anything to do with

  • Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ae0nflx ( 679000 )
    This is a tough topic, for me at least. I love Role Playing Games. I started with D&D back in the day and I have continued ever since, switching to computer/console based RPGs after my 'friends' ditched me.

    I really do enjoy people who Role Play, ya know, assume a role and stick with it. This does not mean the l337 h4x0r posing as a level 5 mage. I want the game to keep the concept of role playing. However, not everyone sits behind their computer with a Jolt Cola in one hand and a direct copy of Sting
    • I am a huge RPer, and even though I like other types of games, RPGs are my favorite. I have been playing MMORPGs for over 6 years now, and I have to say that your guild can make all the difference. I have been in a bunch of "roleplay" guilds (always seems kindof sad to have to differentiate roleplay and non-roleplay in a RolePlaying Game) and they have kept my faith in the game I was playing. When they went to a new game, I went with them. Having a community that does the same activity that you do (in this
  • There is no way around this. The developers cannot kick people out who don't speak 'ye olde english' or something like that. People will play games the way they want to play them and you can't force them to act how you want them to act. Its the same way with other types of games.

    And whose to say the people that aren't 'acting' like some people want them to act aren't roleplaying in their own way?
  • Ok, I play SWG, and people are not role-playing then you bring up current events or a current song and they act "well, I'm in a galaxy far far away and I have never heard of that" STOP KIDDING YOURSELVES! Come on, can't keep pretending that your role-playing and not doing it then complaining about non-roleplayers. What SWG needs is a role-playing server so everyone will know what to expect.
  • You should check out some of the player run Shard for UO. Many of them require an application to be filled out and you are either accepted or denied. They also strictly enforce RPing on the server and you will simply be banned if you don't. What the MMORPG world needs is more options in terms of game engines that let people craft their own games. Neverwinter Nights was an excellent start, but we need to keep em coming.

  • by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @03:57PM (#6493406)
    I'm more than well aware of the people who believe that role-playing is some pure, unsullied ideal which everyone who plays these games must aspire to. I deal with them far too often, and wish they would find this role-playing nirvana they're after so they can leave me the hell alone. However, I think most of these people would be better served taking acting lessons than playing games.

    Role-playing games are not the same as acting. Some of them get a good approximation thereof (like Mind's Eye Theatre stuff from White Wolf and a hard-nosed DM on a Neverwinter persistent world) but what your looking for is over there with all the theatre majors. Final Fantasy VII isn't an acting game, it's a role-playing game. The term has come to define that style of game, and all kinds of variations on the theme, but acting ain't a part of it. Most MMORPGs that have ever been are just the same kind of thing with you able to talk with tons of other people and interact with their versions of Cloud Strife, Tifa, Cid, or whomever. Frankly, Warcraft 3, Shogun: Total War, Quake, Half Life, and just about any other non-puzzle game in existance is as much an acting game as Everquest, Baldur's Gate, or any other so-called "role-playing" game.

    I actually like acting, but a game is at best a mediocre stage, and online gaming is the worst of the lot. There are people who have a blast doing it, and more power to them, but acting like the rest of us are ruining your performance is sad.
  • by Muggins the Mad ( 27719 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:52PM (#6495174)
    I'm seeing many different opinions of what roleplaying *is*. So I guess it's no surprise that no game seems to be able to live up to everyone's expectations.

    To me, a shining example of good roleplaying is when the character does something that the *player* knows will be really bad for them, but the character wouldn't have. I've almost never seen that happen in online games.

    But to me, the biggest problem with nearly every online game I've tried is mentioned in the article, but I don't think it's a "roleplaying" thing. It's language.

    One of the reasons I like games is... immersion. Escapism. I can come home after a bad day at work and go into a world where magic works, where the good are rewarded, and where I can slay great evil beasts.

    That is almost *totally* destroyed when there is a continuous scroll of "lol!!!!! I 0wn3d j00r k177!!!!" type stuff. To me, it destroys the immersion and snaps me back into the real world I'm trying to escape when I meet an elven princess who immediately says "greetz!! grp me!!! grp me!!!"

    That's one of the main reasons I abandoned EQ and DAoC (the other being time). Take away the immersability, and I find it hard to see why anyone would play any of the MMORPGs.

    - Muggins the Mad
  • Set up a dictionary of words and phrases that will get you banned after a certain frequency of usage.

    Another potential solution is to allow players to rate other players. Slashdot type moderation but with more adjectives. "Lamer," "AOL User," "asshole," etc.

    For the ambitious you could also set up an automated system of stats that is affected by your words and actions. Everytime you attack something you get a point for agressivness. Everytime you use strong language you get a point for foul mouthed. E
  • Paid Actors (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Npc's just don't cut it in a good RPG they end up being flat... If a game wanted to realy be interesting they would pay select people to play. These people would be in some positions of authority guild masters, lords of a realm ect.. and they could direct the flow of the game one lord could decide to take over the entire universe and try and rally support.... The main thing is having major Events happen and people in role that make intelligent actions would help. In a large population 90 or so actors wou
  • This post is EXACTLY why the game I help develop was designed. In starshiptraders, the playing field is balanced through time limitations. In addition, the game is only player versus player. This means that the universe(s) are dynamic based upon the players themselves. In addition, there are three ways of playing. This means that someone who only wants to see text can play in telnet mode and it is all imagination. The person who likes clicky things can play with the browser and it is just like anythin

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington