To RP or not to RP? Is it even a question? (With Poll!)

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What open world RP might look like.

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.

Role-Players in the wild. Make no sudden movements.


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!

Further reading:

  • Chalky

    I don’t care much about RP, but I’m not sure the concept of RP servers work all that well in the fluid world system that GW2 will apparently be using. With quick, instant movement of any character between servers, the potential for inter-server trade and WvW causing constant interaction between servers at random, how could an RP server remain isolated from non RPers?

    • I don’t know that isolation is the point at all as much as just officially supporting an area for RPers to congregate. Non RPers aren’t a bad thing and most of them aren’t jerks. If people wanna trade cross server, so be it. I’m sure they can do it without issue and move on.
      Having the RP Server label will just let them know what to expect, I suppose, if they move over for whatever reason.

      Trolls will always find a way to bug people whether or not you can freely move between servers. That’s how I see it, anyway. And again, I don’t know that people will be moving around as much as everybody assumes they will just because they can. Even if it’s free, there will be cooldowns (from what I recall) and you still need a pretty good reason to leave if you have friends / a guild in one place.

  • I absolutely love RP and if we’re not getting RP-servers I’ve already made myself a RP-Guild for GW2 😉 (which will continue even if we DO get RP-servers >3>

  • I got my Wizard Hat on! Seriously, we began the concept and recruiting for Sentinels of the Six back in December 2009, even before the reveal of Personal Story, character attributes, and the home instance.

    Arenanet has already introduced so many new tools/options for a person to RP his or her character in private, so why not dedicated a few servers for those who wish to take it to the next level?

    • I agree wholeheartedly. It would be a minimal contribution of resources and they could even make the server non-PvP (i.e., doesn’t participate in WvW) to solve that problem before it starts.

      Regardless, I’ve already written stories for all of my characters and I’d say there’s a great possibility that few of my characters will even share the same guild. I’ll be seeking an invite from the Sentinels and prolly creating an RP guild with my charr character. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep it as my character’s warband or expand it to an actual guild (i.e., let non-charr characters join). I’ve also toyed with creating a thieves’ guild or cabal of necromancers. Honestly, the fact that we have more guild options more than makes up for the possible lack of an RP server.

  • yolaus

    I’d give an RP server a whirl. Think having one RP server would be good for RPers to easily find each other. Not everyone wants to RP all the time, but having the option to switch servers would be fun, and something new for a lot of players

  • A lot of people look at PvE as RP and at PvP as, well, PvP. I think the gaming community would be better described as 4 groups: PvP, PvE, RP, and Mix.

    PvPers enjoy playing against other players. There are a lot of FPS games out there that are the bread and butter of this group and many MMO PvPers take part in it as an ESport.

    PvEers are people who play the game for the game. They roam the lands, learn the lore, fight the baddies, and generally enjoy the game for what it is. In many ways PvEers treat the game like a console game that happens to be (massively) multiplayer. Think Zelda with friends.

    RPers are people who really get into their characters and character stories. They think like them and speak in their voices. They write their stories down and interact with other players as their characters. They are supported by games that include RP servers, but manage just fine in towns and guild halls otherwise.

    The final group consists of people who enjoy multiple playstyles. They play PvE to enjoy the story or challenge big bosses. They have 1-2 RP characters who spend less time working on achievements and more on social interaction. They enjoy the occasional, or more than occasional, PvP and prolly have a character or two dedicated to that approach.

    What I really like about GW2 is that you can do all 3 well. Whatmore, the transition is apparently seamless since you can use PvE characters to PvP and it isn’t hard to RP a character. I think one of the biggest beefs RPers (myself included) have is the griefing and trolling, which I believe is why so many people are interested in an RP server. It would serve as a haven from a lot of that. A server isn’t necessary, as we’ve shown in GW1, but it would be nice.

    As for me, I’m rolling all my characters as PvE and letting them do their thing. Some of them will be more RP heavy than others and I’ll prolly have one or two who I use for PvP when I get the urge to bust skulls.

    Ultimately, we have the freedom to play whatever type of character we like. We can combine any race with any profession. We can use any character for any/all of the above playstyles. Heck, we aren’t really all that limited in our battle playstyle (e.g., damage, support, control). RP server or not, how many other games offer this many options on how we can create and play even a single character?

    • great comment. I fully agree with just about everything. I’d put myself into the MIX group. I love to explore, I LOVE pvp, and I do enjoy RP. Although I don’t take it too seriously, I usually play goofball characters, but not to the point of being obnoxious or troll-ish. Just fun and lighthearted.

      It’s a lot of fun, and I think anybody who is interested even a little should try it.

  • Malchior’s Ele looks rather feminine in that pose, something about the back, waist and legs… Lol.

    I haven’t done RP for serious before. A few weeks ago I was running around Fort Aspenwood as a motivational commanding paragon, shouting tactics and inspiring allies to take the battle outside the fort to the Luxons. I got reported, even though I ran more amber than anyone else, and handed the winning amber over to Gunther. My fast little fingers were in a frenzy trying to type typo-less coherent sentences and still play the game.

    In general though I’m not that interested in chatting to players, and role-play adds a whole new complex layer on top of it. With ad hoc groups forming for events, I think a lot of the game will be doable without talking to people… So that’s likely how ‘ill play. If there’s an RP server or special event I might give it a go.

  • Haha, I’m totally one of the twitter responders there 😀

    Anyway, while I probably wouldn’t be too into RPing myself in-game (it’s just never really been something that appealed to me), I am a huge RPer (tabletop FTW). So I know that RP is awesome and fun, just this style isn’t really for me. So I think that an RP server would be neat…just I probably wouldn’t play on one.

    However, I don’t really like the whole server ‘split’ thing that’s common in MMOs to begin with – if you want to play with your friends, but their server is full, then you’re screwed. That’s something I’d worry about happening here. But if they could make it work, then it’d be nice. And if they don’t, we all know that the players would make a district an unofficial RP server anyway, because us GW players are awesome like that.

    • That’s a good point, Verene. RP servers tend to be quite populated. Of the 25 US WoW RP severs, none are low pop. All are medium, high, or full. Same with Rift. Risk of overpopulation, especially when GW2 first comes out, may be quite high.
      The ability to switch servers kind of alleviates that. And obviously, should Anet include RP servers I’m sure they’ll offer a decent amount. I’m really glad they decided to include that as a feature.

      • Ahh, yeah, I forgot about the whole switching servers thing.

        Either way, whether they include official RP servers or not, there’s going to be RP servers in the game, I’m sure 😉

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  • Morrivar

    One of the main things that always made RPing on WoW so unappealing to me was you had to choose between looking the way you wanted and actually being able to play the game. With transmutation stones in GW2 this issue is no longer, well, an issue, and that alone makes GW2 far more conducive to RP than WoW ever was, servers or no.

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