With my brother talking about Roleplaying on his blog and supplying a few links to the background roleplay story for his AoC toon ‘Udrath’ it got me thinking to different styles of indulging in MMOs and the huge variety of populous that the adaptability of MMOs nowadays can support.
Mostly I would say that the greater number of folks play an MMO following the main technical side of the game through levelling and developing their character attempting to get as much good equipment as possible. That appears to be the main focus and aim for most players. The beauty is with an MMO you can generally choose how to embark upon that journey in many ways. From power levelling, to twinking, and from questaholics to group/guild progression to PvP and PvE.
The interesting thing is, you can do most of those (aside maybe from the power levelling thing) in a ‘normal’ or indeed if you so choose, a roleplay fashion. I must admit I have only ever been in a few groups where they will roleplay the whole time throughout conquering content. I can recall clearly a sojourn in to Unrest with one of my old guilds on the EQ2 Antonia Bayle server ‘Fellowship of the Dragon’. OK, so the adventure in to Unrest, the unravelling of the plot line and the subsequent completion of the zone took about an hour longer than normal, but it was a really great night. Everyones toon and their personality came in to play and it helped us forge quite a strong bond in the group with us each knowing by the end what type of player we were. It was a lot of fun, but I am not sure I would be able to play the whole game that way.
My Bro is now in a hardcore (you know the score) roleplay guild. It got me thinking to if they play the whole game that way from start to finish. If visiting the equivalent of the market broker, do they stop and chat to other people in their roleplay alter egos? Do they go on pick up groups or raids? If so, how do they play those out? I would say mostly they are probably the only one in the group who roleplays that way, so how do the other group members cope with it when they are just up for ploughing ahead to conquer content?
We had a younger player in our guild once who continuously roleplayed their toon. The problem was, being a bit on the younger side their background story was a little contrived and a tiny bit weird. You know the sort, heroes with some form of madness induced by some amazingly unlikely encounter with a God or such like and now they have bugs eating at their brain which they have to quell by the spirits talking to them. Now it’s not for me to say if they should or shouldn’t play their toon like that. But it’s not a way I would choose. In a social guild where no one really roleplays in guild chat it just seemed a bit out of place. Funny though. Nothing like checking out guild chat to see “The BUGS!! BUGS!! In my brain...arrgghh. I can’t think clearly”, especially when the next comment was “Oh man!! The cat just took a crap on the rug, brb”. It just didn’t seem to fit. But in guild chat where everyone is roleplaying it would probably work out a bit better.
One thing roleplaying does do, is remind you that the journey from level 0 to level cap is not about the arrival, it is about enjoying the journey. Ok, for some who are extremely adept at power levelling the journey in EQ2 to 90 only takes a few days, but the content you lose out on must be huge. That’s one of the reasons I am an advocate for roleplaying of all kinds (unless you are a emo vampire bloodsucking male, playing a female toon who wants to cyber – of course) as it helps to promote what I see is one of my fave parts of EQ2, the bit between 0 and 90. The content that has been crafted carefully for our enjoyment [No. To make the production company like SoE loads of money. That’s why it was crafted. – Ed] is there for the exploring yet many simply hop past it in their rush to get to level cap.
If roleplaying helps you experience that content, then it has to be a good thing. If it’s right for you. That’s the thing you see and it’s why an MMO can support pretty much any playstyle. They allow you to play pretty much how you want to play. You get a choice of classes and races usually to help you on your way with this. Then usually a choice of starting area, then all the other decisions, like what type of guild to join if any. Solo or group or a mix of progression. That’s the beauty of most MMOs. They allow you to play how you like to play. OK, if you are a hardcore roleplayer who does not raid, no, you may not get all the top end equipment, but you can easily equip yourself very satisfactorily for group dungeons and enjoy that content. It just takes a little more time is all but probably worth it if you have a good RP group.
Having said that there are apparently roleplaying raids that occur. I have never been a part of one and wonder how effective it would be, especially as there is so much technical information to relay to your raid force. Would be interesting to try one out. Perhaps.
As for my play style, well I guess I am mostly like the rest. I play to conquer content, to meet my friends, and on occasion I may be found doing a bit of roleplaying (of the non dodgy sort – see Vampire comment above). The way I ensure I can still experience content fully through all tiers of levelling is to go back and mentor to do the stuff I missed out on. I guess the point is that there is a huge amount of content in an MMO and you can enjoy it exactly how you wish to, be it roleplaying or not. Like I said, personally, I like to dabble in a bit of both [That’s what she said – Ed].