Roleplaying

Life in Tyria: How roleplaying in GW2 works…

It’s been a week since the Crimson Ashes Guild accepted me in on a trial period and in that time I’ve been on a steeeeep learning curve about what RP in GW2 is and how it works. Here’s what I’ve uncovered so far.

As in SL, live RP is just a matter of typing out loud (/s) and emoting (/e) the words, deeds and thoughts of your character whilst remaining totally in character. any out of character stuff is done via private, group or guild chat (/w, /p & /g respectively*). There is a lot of suspension of disbelief as well as a lot of nothing happening to the characters on screen, with all the action being described in chat rather than ‘acted out’ on screen.

With the monster hunt I took part in on Saturday I had expected it to be a group fight against a real in-game monster but the day before I had the opportunity to ask the leader, Craywin, about how this would work. Bloody good job I did otherwise I’d have gone in all guns blazing and looking like a right nutter! No, instead of fighting a real game monster, the ice brood minotaur was imaginary and operated by Craywin, who was also there as Craywin. It worked like this:

  • We met up in game and were from then on in totally IC with all OOC chat behind the scenes.
  • We walked to the location Craywin had in mind for the encounter (along the way taking part in any dynamic events that naturally happen but doing so totally IC).
  • Once at the location Craywin OOCed us to start the encounter. From then on in he was being both player and DM and he emoted the beast’s movements and actions in chat.
  • A marker was used to show the rough position of the beast (in this case a banner) so we could better work out a reply.
  • After each batch of emotes describing the beast’s actions, we could emote our actions and talk/shout out loud to each other IC.
  • The length of each ‘turn’ was not set but quickly found a natural pace.Essentially not too much action and no players saying “I hit it dead in the eye and it dies!”, the DM decides those kinds of things both to keep the experience fair & fun for all but also building to an exciting conclusion.
  • Dice rolls weren’t enforced, it’s up to the players if they want to use them to add an element of chance to the action otherwise it’s much more about a shared trust that all parties work together on a shared narrative.
  • It took about 4 turns to kill the beast which took us 40 mins or so.
  • Afterwards we RPed about the aftermath, healed the wounded, etc, Again, most of this was done with out loud IC chat & /e emotes but there was also some use of positional emotes such as /kneel for bending to a fallen player and /sleep to be that player.

All in all it was both not what I was expecting and exactly what I should have expected. It was great fun. It was back to my teen yaers playing MERP on the kitchen table. It was collaborative story telling. It was roleplaying and it was good. It’s a long time since I’ve been this excited about a game, probably since writing Steal Head if I’m honest and that’s because I get to create the story once more. Hell it’s even made me think about SL again, something I never thought could happen!

*GW2 commands are listed here with the emotes here and a guide from the emotes programmer here.

Roleplaying in Guild Wars 2: Meeting the Family…

I was hoping to have written up a follow up to my ‘Humble Beginnings’ post by now but alas, I need to sleep in between work and playing GW2 😀

When I last left off I’d met some of the Crimson Ashes Guild in the Maiden’s Whisper and had been invited to an IC meeting with the rest of the Guild at the same place the next day. I only just made it after tearing down the motorway from work, but make it I did and I walked Jurak up into the pub – right past all the Guildies who were watching my with what I can only imagine was bemused pity as I strode on by. Luckily the same player who had met me both the previous night and in the Lomar’s pass camp was on hand to save the day (and my blushes).

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Victoria introduced me to the group, including who I think is the boss, Craywin (although they may have no overall leader, it’s hard to tell) and we all chatted in character for a while. In the end they agreed to give Jurak (and me, lest I forget) a trial period. Jurak was invited him on a beast hunt deep into Svanir held territory whilst I was told that whilst attendance was casual they do expect active participation a couple of times a week, which seems both fair and manageable to me. They came across like a nice, friendly bunch. I’ve not been in many guilds in my gaming life (this is number three) but I’ve always been lucky to pick friendly ones. My only complaint in the past has been the last of a cohesive narrative for the group to exist, something to hang the whole suspension of disbelief on. Yes it’s nice to chat in the guild channel about the game and the wider real world and that is invaluable, but it can’t (for me at least) be all there is. I think that in Crimson Ashes I’ve found something really special – a group with which to grow and share stories.

Roleplaying in Guild Wars 2: Humble Beginnings

It was, I have to say, a weird night in Tyria last night. I started in Divinity’s Reach at the bank where I had logged off the day before in order to sort, recycle, bank & sell the bag load of bumpf I had picked up from a couple of tours of Lion’s Arch. After that I toyed with the idea of TPing back to LA to start all over again but in the end opted for donning my town clothes (the second time I have ever done so since the game started), toggling the run speed to ‘walk’ and heading off to my home instance to see what was happening. Had I thought about it, I could have answered my own question with a big, fat “Nothing!” because the home instance only ever has one real person in it, you. Luckily I mis-remembered the name of the home instance and didn’t read the map carefully enough and headed over to Rurikton which, in hindsight, was a lovely piece of serendipity.

I walked through the old Ascalonian settlers’ quarter half suspecting this wasn’t my home instance and half determined to keep up my frustratingly slow walk through the town and into the next area (which, given the fact I was heading north, would have been Salma, my home instance). As I passed a large building I heard (and saw thanks to faint chat bubbles visible in the air and through walls) NPCs chatting away. They were coming from the large building, which turned out to be the Maiden’s Whisper pub, so I headed in and straight away found it was full of not just NPCs but also players. Standing around. In town clothes. I glanced down at my chat box and saw they were chatting in character and realised I’d blundered into an RP event! Again!

I didn’t recognise anyone from my previous encounter with RPers but what were the chances of that, eh? I tentatively began to RP with the Charr landlord (the pub seems to be open to all so I guess enterprising RPers just RP they own – I do wonder what would happen if two characters were there at the same time and both their RP stories claimed they owned it independently – what would an RP fight like that look like?). It was fun, I bought beer which didn’t exist with money I didn’t really give and talked to the Charr about how he kept a good brew. It was fun. Odd but fun. In a tabletop game it’s a given the beer & money wouldn’t exist but in a richly detailed 3D world I sort of expected they would. In Second Life the bar could give you scripted drink. In LOTRO I’d have to buy a drink and then use it. I *think* that’s the same in GW2 but I’m not sure. So I just stood there and typed /e takes a deep drink of the ale “That’s a good brew there, barkeep!” and the like*.

After a while I grew a little restless and wandered off. I headed to the Salma district and regretted 1.284 seconds after entering as I was remembered that I would be the only person there! What a waste! I have more to say on home areas and instances but that’s for another “World Building…” posts in the future. I turned around and left, heading back to Rurikton abut before I could get there real life interrupted and took me away from the game for an hour or so,

I logged back in after the kids were in bed and took up where I had left off. I walked back to where I thought the pub was but got hopelessly lost. I saw a couple of other non-armoured, non-running players and took them to be RPers but rather than stop them I pressed on. I became aware that the chat window was cycling over with player chats nearby but it was only after a few minutes I began to recognise names. Names I had last seen in the RP session outside Lion’s Arch by the Durmond Priory. Almost at the same time I realised this I received an in game mail which turned out to be from the RPer I’d spoken to during that event and who had promised to get back with details of an in-game, in-character interview – not only that but it was one of the players in the pub I was stood near to at that exact moment! Someone somewhere was leading me down a path and so who am I to refuse them?

I met up with the RPers in the pub, they were a different bunch from the ones earlier in the evening and I think they were all part of the same guild, Crimson Ashes. I was made very welcome and some faltering RP (faltering on my part I hasten to add) took place in which I was gently interviewed to see what kind of player I was. In the end I was invited to a second interview (tonight – must remember! 8pm! Set a reminder with Google Now!) and if I pass that I’ll end up in a RP guild on a probation period. I’m still really unsure what the players do – hopefully it’s more than RPing in pubs as I don’t think that will suit me. Ideally I’d like to run game story content & dungeons with them but in character as well as plan some interesting storylines we can act out in world, but as it stands right now it’s all a bit of a mystery. Still, so was RP in Second Life but I worked that out in the end 😀 I’ll keep you posted.

Roleplaying in the Maiden's Whisper pub (I'm the blue top).

Roleplaying in the Maiden’s Whisper pub (I’m the blue top).

*The /e means that what appears in the chat window starts with your character’s name so that line would appear as Jurak Gearwright takes a deep drink of the ale “That’s a good brew there, barkeep!” to everyone nearby. I’ve yet to figure out all the conventions of RP but this is a mainstay as far as I can tell. This appears to be a great resource site I have yet to mine for more guidance: http://guildwars2roleplay.wikispaces.com/Roleplay+Guide

 

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the camp…

As I’ve mentioned I’ve restarted my Guild Wars 2 game playing and although I’m enjoying it I’m still left with that weird, empty feeling afterwards. There are several reasons for this, not all of which I can adequately express despite several hours in the last few days of quite serious introspection. What it boils down to seems to be a feeling of disconnection from the game brought about by an unsatisfactory social play model and the inability of the game to tailor an experience for me to lose myself in. I feel it is only fair to say this is not unique to GW2 for me but so far all MMOs such as LOTRO, Star Trek and even Second Life have shared this exact same issue. I plan to write more on this but I’m still trying to organise my thoughts and feelings into a coherent body that I can lay out for inspection but before I do I just wanted to share with you an experience from last night that made my soul sing with the sweet possibility of a solution.

I logged into GW2 and rezzed where I had left off, in Lion’s Arch in the second phase of the invasion storyline. It’s fun but unless you are with a zerg you are screwed. The previous night I reached near the end and fought the Prime Hologram that is somewhere just before the final fight with Scarlet Briar but we (the zerg) fluffed it and poof! I was back on Terra Firma with no more clue of how I got there than I did of how I got into the hologram fight or what the bloody hell I was doing for 99% of it. I was, it’s fair to say, despondent. My time is limited and to find myself so close to the end, whether by accident or design, and then plopped right back at the start felt like a total waste of my evening. Worse, it made me want to give up on the content because I could see no hope of ever getting to the end of it again. I left Lion’s Arch and headed for the old refugee camps to see if I could trade in the guff I had uncovered from the city (in itself another sticky point as I was unable to get an achievement in time due to being a solo player and now I’m stuck with a permanent 80% record despite my best efforts – argh!) only to find the bloody vendors have now gone!

I was, as you can imagine, more than a little hacked off. What is the point in playing if I can’t take part in any but the most trivial of content? Why carry on at all if all I can ever hope to be is a dull foot soldier lobbing in grenades from the side-lines and never getting to the end of the battle? What, I wondered, was the point of playing the game at all?

It was at this point I noticed some players walking. In MMOs this is unheard of except for role-players. I stopped dead, realising I’d just run directly into one of them and our bodies were now clipped together. If this was an RPer then this is just the sort of thoughtless action that would piss them off and I quickly disengaged and backed off. Sure enough the group, which all sported the same guild tag, began to talk to each other. Out loud. Without using LOLZ. Jesus! they *were* RPers! I set my guy to walking speed, found a seat by the camp fire and sat right down to watch.

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The story began to unfold in front of me, each player using a mixture of IC & OOC chat to drive the tale on. After a while I began to join in and rather than getting a private message to butt out they actually let me join in. It was all very tentative, me wondering if I was going to fut my size nines in it and they no doubt wondering if I was about to take the piss or do something to ruin their carefully nurtured sense of immersion. Neither party was, I think I’m justified in saying, disappointed in the behaviour of the other – I tried my best to fit in and not be a cock whilst they certainly didn’t come over as elitist jerks and they were very welcoming. In fact so much so that I ended up asking if I could join their guild. I have no idea what came over me but I just decided that nothing ventured nothing gained – the logical outcome of me not asking would be the removal of the game from my machine in a few weeks so I asked. And they said yes! Well, a qualified yes. I will have to have an interview with them to see if I fit in, but that’s fair enough. If we both like each other then maybe this is the start of a new renaissance* on my gaming. Maybe, after all I have tried this before in SL but never found an RP community I really liked. Maybe in Tyria I will. I’m willing to try if they are 🙂

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Purpose is what gives life meaning…

MMOs, in my limited experience, strive to do something that Second Life never did. Well, if I’m honest they offer up several things but for the purposes of this post I just want to look at NPCs and what they do when they are not dealing with players. In Second Life there were no such things as NPCs unless created by the users and the AI on offer (again coded by users) ranged from not very good through terrible to non-existent, but that was fine because SL was never about providing NPCs in the same way an MMO has to. In the vast majority of MMOs NPCs are vital as they provide ‘touch down’ points for players to interact with the game’s systems such as the story or inventory management or item upgrading. Bottom line is if every NPC in every MMO went on strike tomorrow the who damn shebang would fall on its arse in an hour.

MMO worlds are touted as living, breathing creations for us to explore and despite the huge amounts of available evidence to the contrary we believe this falsehood. Predominantly I believe this is simply because we want to. We want to believe our games are alive so we can more easily feel we too are a living, breathing part of them and that’s why when we are confronted with NPCs who just seem to stand on the same spot forever it breaks this feeling and upsets us.

Take LOTRO for example, I mean why are the street traders in Bree stood at their stalls all day every day no matter what time it is or what the weather is like? Do they never go home to their loved ones? If I stayed at work all night the missus would have my guts for garters and yet these guys happy to stay there way past their tea time? Same goes for the gate guards, why are they always the same blokes every single time you see them? Does their captain not rotate them? And then there are the old codgers in the same small room of Scholar’s Tower! How come they are always ruddy well there? Sigh… I could go on. Turbine’s Middle Earth is full of immersion-breaking static NPCs & disinterested animals, which is a real shame.

You see for a world to be alive the people in it must have purpose. We the players do, from slaughtering rats and bears and boars by the zoo-full to raiding the deepest dungeon for the sword of punchy slicey death but this is wasted when the NPCs are nothing more than glorified window dressing. When they never move, never interact, never do anything interesting or even mundane then the world no longer feels alive and instead begins to look flatter than a witch’s tit.

And that’s where I’m hoping Guild Wars 2 will improve on things. Arenanet seems to have worked really hard on making their NPCs live and work in their world and that really makes me want to explore just to see how far they have gone with this. So far I’ve found animals that attack each other, guides that show you around interesting areas, woodcutters that carry logs between piles, children that play games, guards that defend their posts and a dozen other little ways in which, at last, the purposeless are given purpose and the world comes that little more alive. I really hope Tyria is the first world I’ve found that really makes believe it is alive 🙂

Loki Eliot’s New Babbage RP – The Black Heart

Loki Eliot’s been a busy lad of late – he’s rebuilt his Goonie Island and started up a new Babbage-based RP called The Black Heart. Like his previous Shadow of 13, The Black Heart has its own website (http://babbagechronicles.co.uk/) and it was during my search for this site I found a posting on his personal blog I’d missed and boy does it give a great run down of his previous stories. Oddly enough, given my love of shared RP in SL, I’ve never taken part in one of his – despite stumbling across them all in one way or another(1). I don’t know why this is, but I put it down to three things:

1) I’ve always wanted to do my own thing – at the times I’ve come across Loki’s RP I’ve been busy doing my own stuff and that brings me to…

2) I simply don’t have enough time! I never have had enough online time to do what I want to – not just in-world, but externally as well. This blog is as important to me as my stuff in-world. Some of you might not see why and that’s fine because to me it is and that’s all that matters. I can be in-world more but write less, or write more and be in-world less – the line has to be drawn and quite often writing and blogging win out. But under all that lies the fact that…

3) I’ve never felt part of the Babbage community. I tried back in late 2007, but it’s always seen like the preserve of builders and creators and so I just have never followed its development much. Same goes for Caledon really. In fact all steampunk. In truth I don’t much care for Steampunk – it just doesn’t interest me in the same way Star Trek/Wars doesn’t (2).

Anyhoo because I didn’t follow Babbage and because I had ideas to do my own stuff and because I have never been in-world as much as I feel I need to be I tended to miss the stuff that went on in the telling of the tales and that sense of ‘going it alone’ doesn’t do it for me (see my recent rant about Call of Duty Black Ops). This is why in the recent Steelhead RP I wanted to collect all the posts from everyone and make a “Story In Full” list so the whole thing felt like a collaborative effort.

Yet my personal foibles aside (3) I really want to get involved in this one, partly because I know some folks already involved (Myrtil and Miss Chernov) and partly because I want to learn more about multiparticipatory RP (as opposed to the other type of multiparticipatory activity this blog is famed for) and who better to learn from than the master (4). I’m sure that in a year from now Steelhead will be putting on this kind of RP – I have, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, several good ideas I’ve already pitched to the bosses ;-D

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(1) This post (https://headburroantfarm.wordpress.com/2007/09/26/in-other-news-murder-most-foul/) is from 3 years ago and shows how even then I was looking for a RP experience (as well as being quite keen on eldrich horror, a fact that hasn’t – and I doubt ever will – change).

(2) I still haven’t found my perfect world in SL, but when I do it’s going to be horror and/or 1940s LA detective noir based 🙂

(3) None of which have anything to do with Loki, who I’ve never met, or his excellent work, which I love.

(4) Although his building, texturing & scripting skills will always be beyond me – Loki is the perfect package for RP!

p.s. You can read more of my RP waffle posts here.

Amazing Map of New Babbage

Thanks to the Heliograph, I was alerted to a thread on the New Babbage Ning about a simply stunning piece piece of work to map New Babbage in a style that befits its steampunk heart. Pop over to the Ning and see for yourself just what a wonderful job Mr. Elika Sieyes has done 🙂

New Babbage Map (as of 7th Jan 2010)

New Babbage Map (as of 7th Jan 2010)

p.s. While I’m at it, TY to Breezy Carver for alerting to me to what looks like a very interesting roleplaying development in New Babbage – pop over to the Shadow of the 13 site for more details.