Thanks to Stacy for the quick edit
Corthan raised his sword slowly, eyes never leaving the gargantuan monstrosity. It loomed so large it blocked out the sun. It radiated an evil so intense he didn’t need any magical abilities to feel it. This was going to be the battle of his life. He turned to Farella, the elven mage he’d always thought of as his sidekick (while never questioning if she thought he was her sidekick).
“Are you ready? We can do this.”
“We can kill the Darkling Beast.”
“YOU can kill the Darkling Beast. I can’t.”
“Because I don’t have the quest for it. It’s a level 22 quest and I’m only level 21.”
“Well how far do you have to go?”
“All of it, I just dinged 21 like two minutes ago. This wouldn’t have been a problem if you’d stayed with the plan and only played when I was around.”
“Dude, you’re never around.”
And so on. Welcome to the wonderful world of trying to RP in an MMO. If you’re wondering why so much RP in MMOs takes place in taverns it’s cause you don’t have to deal with game mechanics in taverns. You can sit there and spin stories ’til your arms fall off, interact with people and have a grand old time.
Developers have created huge and amazing worlds, but largely, in order to RP in them, you need to do a whole lot of out of character planning, which is where it all falls down. In fact, due to the vagaries of MMOs, RPing has changed an awful lot in the past ten years.
Let’s be clear here—there are a lot of different ways to RP and different styles of RP. Hardcore RPers who never talk out of character, casual RPers who talk in character but don’t type out long descriptions of what they’re doing and people who use emotes to do EVERYTHING. There are a lot of ways to RP in an MMO. But those of us who were there at the beginning, who RPed playing pen and paper games back when Dungeons and Dragons first came out know a different story. And some of us are still banging around looking to recapture that experience. Obviously I’m one of those people.
I don’t need to type a three paragraph description of how my beer looks before I drink it. I can just drink some beer. For me, RP is about character interaction and the more out of character discussion and description you need to make it work, the more it takes away from the RP. And this is where Guild Wars 2, among MMOs is completely unique. For the first time, everyone can react to the same things without having to have a major conference beforehand.
If you see the Darkling Beast in Guild Wars 2, you’d just attack it, because no one would need a quest to do so, and you don’t have a level requirement. There’s no waiting for someone to catch up to you level wise, because you can go back to their area and have a perfectly valid time while you’re scaled down. The content should still be fun. You won’t need to synchronize quest logs. All you have to do is show up and play.
It may not be all sunshine and rainbows, though. There’s at least one aspect of Guild Wars 2 that might put some RPers off. In other games, you get to make your own story from scratch. In Guild Wars 2, your character already has something of a back story in their personal story line. So you might not be able to create your own back story in detail, unless you plan on ignoring your character’s personal story. This presents a challenge to RPers that other games don’t have.
For me, as an immersion player, it’s great, because I look to the game for that sort of thing. I don’t really develop a detailed history so much as a psychological sketch, explaining how my character reacts to things and why he reacts that way. As the game plays out, my reactions will change based on the events that befall me. In RP that means the other players I’m relating to, as well as what’s happening in the game itself.
And that’s the thing with the way RPing has been in MMOs for a long time now. It’s easy to ignore the story, because the story in most MMOs isn’t worthy of much attention. Until recently worlds had stories…characters didn’t. This is no longer the case and that’s where immersion play comes in.
Tons of people play the Bioware game Dragon Age or games like Skyrim, but I don’t think many of them make their own back stories, because the game provides them. Players develop their character based on character interaction and in game events..the very same way I intend to RP in Guild Wars 2.
One of the things I’m looking forward to is RPing in voice chat, while playing in the world. So many RPers are so attached to text and emotes, they don’t realize the power of voice RP. I’ve gotten a lot of resistance when I’ve mentioned it, yet what do you think happened during all those years of D&D before computers were around—before MMOs existed.
People came over to your house and sat down around a coffee table with dice and character sheets, and we RPed. It’s not that unusual, and it’s certainly more organic than much of the RP I see in games these days.
I’m not saying there’s no place for forum or text RP. There’s room for every type of RP in Guild Wars 2. What I am saying is that Guild Wars 2 offers a huge opportunity to change the way people RP. Just as Anet is shifting genre boundaries in PVP and PVE, so too is there a chance to allow RP to evolve.
This is an opportunity for the RP community that hasn’t been seen in a long time. So when approaching Guild Wars 2, I implore you to do what Anet did when creating the game–question everything. See what truly works, as opposed to the stuff we all did to compensate for inadequate support for our play style in other MMOs.
Guild Wars 2 represents the next evolutionary step in the MMO genre. I believe RP can evolve right alongside it.