Saturday, August 17, 2013

Many Paths: RP Mediums


This weeks WildStar Wednesday discussed a bit about the two big upcoming conventions that WildStar will be attending: Gamescom and PAX Prime!

The next Meet the Devs is out:
Part Eleven: Global Brand Manager: Mike Geldard

Also. I just got back from watching Pacific Rim and it was just as amazing as I had been told. Sure it could have used a lot more time to flesh out the story and side characters a bit. But I enjoyed every moment of all my childhood (oh who am I kidding? 'and adult') delights being thrown around in full glory on the giant theatre screen. Of course this has led to all sorts of fun crossover for our characters, because you know what? ITS FUN! :D

Hawkens and Gaius as Jaeger pilots!

(I recommend you check out this Jaeger creator! It's fun!!!)

A quick sketch and color I did of their Jaeger: The Relentless Talon (can you tell I loved the movie?)

There are many ways and mediums to enjoy roleplaying. The important thing is to find what suits you best.

There are many ways to roleplay, spanning many mediums, from traditional pen and paper to forum chat and mmos and everything in between. Each one of these methods has their own advantages and disadvantages that can lend them to being useful at certain times, or if you wish certain aspects of your rp over others.

The two biggest methods for the online community tend to fall under in-game (or "live") roleplay and forum chat. Especially as we grow a bit nearer to a potential release date for WildStar, I figured this might be a good time to talk about these two. However, before I start with these, I do want to touch on a few other points first.

To start with, never be ashamed to roleplay, or of enjoying your characters or your friends. What I mean by this is have fun! When I have found a good group I really enjoy roleplaying with, we often have spontaneous roleplay with our characters amongst many different mediums. We might type out a few silly lines on Skype or our Enjin walls, or perhaps we act out their lines over our voicechat for the lulz. Usually this ends in much laughter, though this can also lead to some very insightful roleplay scenarios as well.

We also enjoy plugging our characters into others games and situations as well! When you flesh out your characters, you find they fit into certain roles and tropes that can usually be translated elsewhere fairly decently. For instance, Agent Hawkens made a great Sniper in my partner's XCOM run, while his rival/friend Gaius made an excellent Heavy. I also got a kick out of naming different characters after our team in Wizardry 8, Shadowrun, Might and Magic and lots of other games. Hell, we get a kick out of finding pictures or actors for each other that might share the same attitude or look of their character or our own.  Maybe it sounds silly, but it is personally a lot of fun. For one, it's enjoyable bonding time with my friends. You know how I said awhile back that one of the best ways to get to know someone, was to ask them about their character? That never stops being true, nor does it stop being flattering or enjoyable. Spending time chatting characters with my friends is extremely enjoyable to me. It is a wonderful exercise of creativity!

Just remember, roleplaying is about fun. As The Doctor said : "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

Okay, now onto the main topic. Forum RP vs in-game or "live" RP. Both of these mediums are equally as powerful in their own way, though they certainly have their strengths and weaknesses. I know I often hear people say how they prefer one over the other for various reasons so I thought I would throw out my thoughts of the subject and why I use which one, and when.


Forum roleplay allows for freedom of the imagination!

- One of the greatest strengths of forum roleplay is the freedom of control. YOU control the setting, the characters and the actions. The only constraints are the words you use to paint the picture for yourself and others. Action sequences, such as combat, tend to do much better here as you are able to have a far better reign on the movements, actions and weapons involved. For example: my agent in TOR could use blaster pistols in his cutscenes...and as an Imperial Agent, I figured firearms training was just par for the course. But unfortunately, unless I played a sniper, there were no blaster moves amongst my abilities. Forum roleplay, however, allowed for me to do what I wanted. I could not only point out that he had firearms training, but I could fine tune his vibroblade knifework to be much more graceful or useful then just simply using in-game moves. In-game, there is also zero control over any non-player characters from enemies to allies, as well as little control with the rest of your surroundings. This makes it difficult to physically interact with the environment. Forum roleplay lets your imagination run wild!

On the other hand, forum rp can be limiting in many other ways. One of them is timing. Although forum roleplay allows people to rp together, even if their times do not synch up well, it also means you are usually spending your time waiting on another person's post. By their very nature, forum threads tend to go rather slowly. This can make it very difficult to do a number of things. Want to meet up with a person on the opposite end of the ship? Might take awhile. Heck, events might shape that postpone it even further on the way. Have something really epic to say to someone? Evens may line up to make your statement or action an irrelevant piece of the past. So the aspects that allow people to meet up and RP whenever and wherever, can also lead to some issues.

In summary:
PROS: freedom of control, easily manipulated world and characters, freedom for imagination!
CONS:slow posting speeds, potential to lose focus on previous statements, actions, or ideas.


Live roleplay is great for social interactions!

-One of the greatest strengths of live roleplay is the ability to convey emotions, thoughts and ideas through timing and body language. Though you do not have as much freedom to manipulate the environment, you do have the freedom to move about it as you wish. Whether your character sits, stands, turns their back on or reaches out to another can be a very important part of roleplay. Whether your character pauses before an answer, or shifts awkwardly can change the words and actions of those around you. Plus, you /usually/ are interacting with someone as they are also at their computers and you are least likely to have to wait around forever for them to respond. There is also the visual aspect! Though the game may not be perfect, getting to run around behind the wheel for your character is very exciting and rewarding. You have space, and a world in which to play and friends that you can also see physical representations of. These help make interactions easier and flow in a much more natural way. It is really amazing how far games have come along in physical representations of real life. We better understand and can portray subtle movements and body language that we really rely a lot on in our day to day interactions. From WALL-E where almost no words are ever spoken in the entire story, to games such as Uncharted, where humor is given through well-timed pauses and "looks", live RP allows one to facilitate such natural tendencies in their own interactions!

On the other hand, with these reasons, live RP suits social interactions more so than any other kind of RP. Action scenes and combat are limited by action sets and the world around one’s self. Characters and their looks are limited to the character creator and clothing/weapons found in the game. Conversations and meetings do really well, while planned missions or events often require a significant amount of the suspension of disbelief to be pulled off. I know with my agent in TOR, he ended up mostly doing paper/desk work and talking to people, as he was not able to do much of his fieldwork in-game. So instead, I saved most of his "badass adventures" for the forums instead!

In short
PROS: subtlety in social cues, body language, timing as a communicative tool, faster RP, good social environment, visual representations of the adventure
CONS: limited to the visuals of the game, difficulty interacting with the environment/nps, action limited to the confines of the game

So ultimately, I enjoy more often than not the live action roleplay within the game. But when I really want to do some specific missions or heavy action based character development, I will turn to forums and story writing! That's my two cents. Until next time!

Just take the time and enjoy what you do! That's what it is all about!

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