This is kind of been a hot topic all around since the dawn of gaming. In general, there’s always been a sort of unspoken rivalry between people who play MMOs for the game and those who play for the RP (and then of course those who do both) which has led to some pretty interesting / entertaining conflicts.
At the very least, the idea is that in any RPG video game, you are a playing as someone else (or an incarnation of yourself), and in some sort of role. So in essence, everybody is already technically doing it. Many like to take this to the next level, though, and actually act out as their character. Some do it jokingly, some seriously, and many somewhere in-between. And lets be honest, most of us, dedicated RPers or not, have dabbled in it at least once (don’t lie).
A good chunk of popular MMOs like WoW, Rift, and Aion officially support this style of play by offering dedicated RP servers. Most others like Star Wars Galaxies and Final Fantasy Online will have “unofficial” rp servers where the players will choose a handful of servers to converge on.
Now, role-players will RP as they are prone to do no matter what. It certainly exists currently in Guild Wars, even if on a small scale (even the devs have been known to have fun in-character at times). Furthermore, many players have a very solid idea of their characters personalities, lives, conquests, hopes, and dreams, even if they never actively role-play them.
The issue with GW is that the actual environment doesn’t quite support open-world RP. The lack of persistence, despite being able to choose districts, for some reason is the first thought that comes to mind. The lack of walking and awkward movement I think might also lend a hand in that discouragement (at least that’s how I feel).
Guild Wars 2 is breaking a lot of those limitations, so the question has been bounced around whether or not the game is conducive to an RP environment and if it should include dedicated servers to boot.
My thoughts are … definitely and yes please!
For one, Anet has spent a LOT of time building a rich story, history, and setting for the gamers to explore. Three books; scores of easter-eggs, quests, and missions in the current game; entire weeks and blogs to explain the story; and two wikis full of information. In turn, the Guild Wars universe has some of the most dedicated and meticulous lore-fans I’ve ever seen, and some of these enthusiasts take their allegiances and beliefs to particular extremes.
Why the servers, then, especially when we’ll allegedly be able to switch at will? Honestly, it just helps move along what will be inevitable anyway. Yes, we will have the option to change servers. But people are jumping on the assumption that this will be a common thing that people are doing on a week-by-week basis. I really don’t think that will be the case.
The option is there, and nice to have to allow friends to play with each other. But it feels to me that home is home, and people will find themselves attached to a server and it’s community anyway and switching will be a lot less common than we may think.
RP servers provide a different feel and a bit of a sanctuary, as well. I’ve played on plenty, and although I’d consider myself a very casual RPer, I enjoy the mood. Guilds are a little more solid and dedicated to their members. People tend to be a little more helpful. And it’s just fun and adds to the immersion to see two players, not npcs, seriously discussing the politics or dangers of the world you’re in.
While the gaming community is maturing (slowly, but it is), RP is still the subject of a lot of ridicule which is why some players like having a dedicated server. Trolls will be trolls, but it’s easier to say “This is an RP server, if you don’t like it, you can leave”. Once upon a time, some games actually upheld the law on RP servers so you didn’t have to run into some guy named “I Liek Boobies” or worry about getting harassed for having fun.
To play devil’s advocate here, many might find that segregation of RP is a bad thing that encourages these discrepancies.
I polled twitter a few days ago, asking my ever-ready-to-contribute list of awesome people if they would RP in GW2 and got a lot of interesting replies. The results varied, but here’s a selection of some of the best answers:
Last but not least: lets have a poll and see what people think!
To the readers: So what’s your take on the subject? RP servers or no? Would you be willing to give it a try? What sort of other RP features would you like? Take the poll and elaborate in the comments.
Update: Check out the Guild Wars 2 RP Community, a site dedicated to RP for the upcoming game! Give them some love.
Update 2: And they keep on coming! Guild Wars 2 Roleplayers is an RP forum already getting the ball rolling.
Who needs to wait for the game release? Get started now!