5 issues with roleplaying in MMOs: why you can’t just live the dream

Tesh wrote an insightful post discussing why daydreaming about what a game might turn out to be like can be the best part of gaming. We all have our ideal types of games, our ideal IPs or genres, our ideals of what a game could be like to capture our hearts. And sometimes we love our favourite games because they’re a shadow of the game in our minds.

I see this a lot with early adopters of MUDs/virtual worlds/MMOs. These things started before the internet was really mature. Wandering around in a game and encountering an actual real person (well, behind the text) was exciting just because this kind of virtual life was such a new experience. And your imagination filled in all the rest. Even without formal roleplaying, the fact that all you knew about the other person was what you could tell about their character was very very immersive.

I’ve also seen a few posts recently about the notion of a RP-centric MMO. Wolfshead in particular posts about his ideal of a RP game. The concept of this terrifies me on several different levels, and I’m a dyed-in-the-wool roleplayer. I have played RP-centric online games, and they were fantastic. Also dreadful. But that’s what happens when you are so dependent on other players for the experience, you get a mixed bag 🙂

But if you see his post as describing the dream, unsullied by practical considerations (such as players acting like players), then it reads in a different light. After all, without a vision, we’ll never get anything better than the games we currently have.

There are some specific issues with making roleplaying work as the entire basis for a game.

1. Who watches the watchmen

The big difference between a tabletop game and an online game is the lack of a GM. In tabletop, one player assumes the GM role and ‘runs’ the game for the other 2-5 players. In virtual roleplaying, the players run things themselves. So there is no one to arbitrate when they come into conflict.

The GM actually has three roles in a tabletop game. One is to describe the world to the players (ie. we open the door, what do we see?). Another is to resolve conflicts in game (ie. I try to hide behind the door, can I get there before he sees me?). And the third is to weave a story around the player group and whatever they are doing.

In a computer game, no one needs to describe anything (this is the HUGE advantage of the virtual world), and players can tell their own stories, even if they aren’t particularly good ones.

But who resolves conflicts between players? Who decides if player cop #1 can track down player thief #2?

Any game like this needs to give players the tools to resolve their own conflicts. Random rolling isn’t good enough – it removes too much of the game if you just randomly decide whether the cop catches the robber.

2. So what is my motivation?

You don’t need to be an award winning actor to roleplay but players need to share some kind of common understanding about the game world. When you walk into a room, you need to be able to answer the question, “what does my character do next?” If someone addresses you in character, you need to be confident enough to answer them.

I’ll give an example of this: In EQ2 I had created a dark elf alt and done a couple of quests. It was on a roleplaying server so it wasn’t really surprising when another higher level player came up to me and addressed me in character. Except he mentioned names of (presumably) NPCs I’d never heard of, and threw in a few phrases in some random fantasy language I didn’t know.

I had no idea what to say to the guy. Clearly he thought my character should know these things. But I was a noob OOC (out of character) and just didn’t. All I knew about dark elves is that they were an evil race, and the questgivers had been vaguely sarcastic.

So in order to RP with any kind of depth, the game needs to present its lore to the characters well. And players in general need to understand that not everyone knows the background in depth and off by heart.

Wolfshead compares RP with a film:

This is exactly the scenario that the characters of Micheal Crichton’s amazing Timeline novel found themselves in. In his story, a bunch of modern day scientists and anthropologists travel back in time to the 13th century France and are forced to deal with the people and politics of the time in order to survive. One small mistake in dialect or custom and they would be imprisoned and even worse burned at the stake.  The result was that they HAD to role-play — it was a matter of survival.

Yes, but they were modern day scientists and anthropologists. They had the information they needed. A new player in a strange world won’t know all those things. You can’t expect them to RP as if their life depended on it – they simply don’t know the things their characters should know. (Unless you start them all off as amnesiacs, which would be a workable background, especially in a scifi type of game).

3. Hell is other people

One of the characteristics of a strongly social game is that they get very political. People can and do try to manipulate each other by faking friendliness, cybering, and ganging up against each other in their various cliques. Or in other words, metagaming.

In a RP type game, who you know and what you know can be as important as stats in a typical MMO today. And if you can schmooze people OOC and persuade them to tell you interesting things about their character or other people’s characters then you may be able to use the information to boost your self in game. Being a particularly entertaining RPer (or just being good at cybering) can make a player very popular – even if it’s not appropriate for their character.

As long as this is an advantageous strategy (and it is) then you cannot stop players from doing it. They’re never ‘just playing their characters’. They are playing the other players too.

In many ways, our stat and gear and skill based games are much more even-handed and accessible. If you do the grind, you get the gear. You don’t have to actually make friends (or fake friends) to get anywhere in game. This is not to say that social networking isn’t a useful skill, but in social games it can get quite toxic.

4. He said. She said.

In an RP centric game, the influence of NPCs is kept to a minimum. That means that all the most important resources in game are ‘owned’ by players or player-factions. A resource might be anything from an important NPC (their influence may be monitored but that doesn’t mean that there might not be NPC faction leaders – often we do this to keep some continuity in the storylines, even though players may come and go), to a city, or a crafting guild, or any story entity. And that sometimes means that players need to somehow ask permission from other players before they can work story elements into their story.

I’ll give a WoW example for this. Assume a night elf player thinks up an awesome back story for himself – in the past he got captured by blood elves while spying near Silvermoon, then he was tortured, but he managed to bravely escape and make it back to his own people. This is fine as far as it goes, but what happens if the blood elf players say ‘Wait, why would we have let an enemy spy escape? Surely we’d have just executed them. We don’t agree with that history, it didn’t happen. He is ICly making it up.’

Now imagine this kind of scenario every time a player wants to write a backstory that possibly involves other player factions. Bear in mind that some players will never ever agree that their faction might have made a mistake which could weaken them in future, even though it might make for a better story. So given one faction which occasionally agrees to being flawed for the sake of making a better story and another who never ever agree to making mistakes, the latter has an in game advantage.

So basically, it’s very very hard to get gamers to put story above personal gain. There’s no real way to reward it. That’s where the GM comes in – s/he takes that option out of the players’ hands. Left to their own devices, players will tend to play safe.

In MUSHes, we got around this by having an active set of staff. We reviewed all backgrounds before characters went live and agreed any background details with appropriate people. We also made notes of who had which links so that we could set up various stories between different players. (For example, if one player had been a cop and another was an ex-con, we might OOCly point out to them that they might have known each other – then it’s down to the players if they want to run with it or not.)

This is important because although it’s all very well to write your own story in a vacuum, it won’t work in a MMO unless everyone else buys in.

5. Tracking the history

A characteristic of this kind of game is that political allegiances and storylines can change rapidly. Even vast world-spanning conspiracies may be over in a couple of months. What players do can and will affect the world –- or at the very least it affects other players. But how to keep track of the in game history? How are new players to know the recent history of some faction or other? And bear in mind that from point #2, they may need to know these things in order to roleplay with other players who remember it.

This is a very real and very difficult problem. It is best solved by bboards and wikis and other means for players to record their own histories for other people to read. And these suffer exactly the same issues as real life histories –- they are subject to bias, and to the author only having one side of the story. They’re subject to not being kept up to date, by the maintainer getting bored, by small grounds of players deciding to keep their own faction history somewhere else and forgetting to tell people, etc.

Hopefully some players will take on the role of chroniclers or journalists, so that the stories will not be forgotten. The reason this is important is because things that have happened in the past affect the present. If a leader of one faction was snubbed by the leader of another, then she may hold a grudge for years. Pity the poor player who doesn’t know what anyone in game at the time would have known (ie. not to mention the offending faction in the presence of the other faction leader) and gets into serious IC trouble for their pains.

Towards a better roleplaying experience online

I’m going to write a series of posts about improving RP in MMOs – probably one a week. I don’t think they ever can or should be the sort of game that Wolfshead describes. Aside from being full of RP Nazis (you know the sort of person who barrages you with whispers every time you open your mouth, telling you that your  character wouldn’t do or say that and that you’re doing it wrong?), it simply doesn’t play to the strengths of computer generated worlds.

In a MMO, no one ever has to ask the GM ‘what can I see?’ or ‘what can I do next?’. Every time you see an awesome vista in game, fly across a crazy zone full of giant mushrooms, or cast a fireball, you’re experiencing something very different and very special compared to your tabletop compatriots. It’s like being there.

Tabletop players have all the freedom in the world. But computer gamers don’t have all their experiences filtered through a GM. Vive la difference! And that’s the charm.

29 thoughts on “5 issues with roleplaying in MMOs: why you can’t just live the dream

  1. The only way to make RP right if you don’t have to “make up” stories, because they would happen (or not).

    If the world would be shaped by our actions the “I was there at the battle where we razed Stormwind to the ground” story would be objectively true or false. Of course it would affect other people’s play, and most people want to be in control while playing and would not accept the “I was running like a whipped dog to the docks when the hordies took Stormwind” story.

    I would love to have a game where we shape the world, fund cities, fight battles that change the course (not just make one more mob respawn). But I don’t think it would be more than a niche game for a couple 10-100K players.

    • You’re way ahead of me 🙂 But yeah, this is part of the conclusion I’m heading towards also.

      It’s no accident that PvP actually makes for a more satisfying RP experience in MMOs at the moment, whether it be open world PvP or economic PvP via auction houses and profiteering. It’s because these are the only forms of interaction at the moment where conflict resolution actually is built into the game. If you get into a price war with another merchant, you will absolutely know who ‘wins’ (subject to whatever your win conditions are).

      The trick in many ways is to RP a character who acts the way you like to actually play the game.

  2. To me it’s a matter of putting the action first.

    Walking around Booty Bay with a parrot on your shoulder saying Yarr doesn’t make you a pirate. The leet ganker who gate camps in Eve IS however a pirate.

    Design a game where people play their roles and the dramatisation will follow. This is what Gygax and Arnesen did in the 70s.

    • Still, there’s no special reason why EVE pirates couldn’t have a free pirate base where they could roleplay chatting about piracty if they wanted. And there’s nothing wrong with playing a fantasy pirate with a parrot … but you’re right, if you can’t actually go out and perform the actual role then it all feels a bit shallow.

      • No, it’s more than that.

        I think if you have people acting out roles because of the game mechanics then RP behaviour is more likely to emerge.

        Let me give you an example.

        Suppose you are a house decorator in EQ2, a profession which has emerged simply because players want to pay other players to do this without necessarily being planned by the devs. At some point it will dawn on you that acting out a character gives your customers a much more immersive and fun experience and your reputation will go up.

        Would you rather hire Leetboy to decorate your house and have him ramble on about this table gives +2% to whatever or would you rather have Clarissina DaVinci running around exclaiming “darleenk, this wallpapere is sooo you!”.

        Build the world and let RP emerge, rather than shoehorning it into worlds like WOW where players must break immersion to play the game. (well gl on a raid if the raid leader does it all in character!).

  3. The main tripping point for me is that whole “the world never changes” thing. In WoW, I mean, there is one plotline to the quests so there’s effectively only one choice for your character to make.

    It’s much more similar to running tabletop using a very linear pre-made adventure. Which is fine if you like that stuff, but not if you are inclined to do other things.

  4. Thanks for the link! Part of what I’m angling at in that article is that game design itself should work to leverage those preconceived notions by being a very malleable thing, allowing players to mold the world to accommodate their dreams.

    We’ll never please everyone, but if the game world can and does change because of what players do, it’s a much more vital place that stands a better chance of fulfilling those player dreams, including RP concerns. It’s much easier to play a role in a world when you actually have an effect on that world.

  5. Only problem with our logic is that it’s leading us to a world that would make Darkfall fans run for their mummies.

    If you want full freedom, tabletop style, you kind of need players to suspend their douchebaggery.

    I expect most of us have DMed tabletop games for players who want to murder quest givers, conquer the kingdom then lead invincible armies on campaigns of world domination, break the economy by buying up all the ten foot poles etc etc.

    In tabletop there comes a point where you say to them look guys we can either do the dungeons thing or we may as well just bin these rulebooks and just make it up. Want to conquer the world? You win! Game over.

    At that point either your group breaks up or settles down.

    But with 100 000 players totally free to do anything they want maybe you end up with everything destroyed, a world in flames and hordes of level 1 people fighting in their underpants at the noob spawn point.

  6. Just some thoughts and in no particular order…

    Some of my most favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation took place in the Holodeck. The fictional and futuristic Holodeck was the ultimate virtual reality simulator. You could physically walk in to this machine and it would simulate any scenario from world history to popular novels.

    The participants entering the Holodeck knew full well about the period, culture and customs they were entering. It was up to *them* to play the part or suffer the consequences. Normally there was a “safety” in that the computer that monitored the Holodeck would never let anyone feel any kind of physical pain such as being shot, etc.

    The Holodeck was pure escapism.

    Yet my most favorite episodes happened when the Holodeck broke down and there was a real sense of immediacy and danger. Suddenly the stakes were real. Say or do the wrong thing and you could be injured or dead.

    What does this have to do with virtual worlds and role-playing?

    Creating the realism and total immersion of the Holodeck for players is what I aspire to as a game designer. For me it’s the Holy Grail of what this genre is capable of.

    If you consider the Holodeck or the Timeline movie you can readily see how things would have turned out bad if the participants would have not bothered to be “in character”. The experience would have turned ugly and become pointless — much like what we see in most MMOs today.

    What I’m surprised and shocked at is how modern day game designers require so little from their players. Players have been cursed with low expectations. All you need to do is purchase a MMO and basically show up. Players are spectators who come with the mindset of being entertained rather then the more nobler vocation of actually enthusiastically participating in that virtual world.

    So if you embark on a journey to a virtual world as a player you have a responsibility to know about your destination. Showing up and playing the ignorant fool is not an excuse. We should not disparage role-playing because of the weakest links among us.

    RP is not just saying a bunch of fancy words, rather it’s really becoming a character while you are in that world for but a few scant hours.

    As far as the subject of GMs, those days are gone. We don’t need referees or babysitters. The world should be set up (via coding) with a consistent set of laissez faire rules and principles and let the chips fall where they may. Nobody said that creating a world was would ever be easy. Ask J.R.R. Tolkien who spent most of his life creating the world of Middle-earth.

    Regarding conflict. Why is conflict between players a bad thing? Conflict is good. Freedom is good. It creates drama. Virtual worlds need more if it. The result is we have MMOs like WoW and Free Realms where the player has no real choice or liberty. Without them, the player has no potential for investment in the world and no opportunity to affect it for better or for worse.

    I see players as an great opportunity not a customer service problem.

    I talk a lot about the potential of virtual world. Here’s what I mean:

    I want to *feel* when I submerge myself into a MMO. I want to be elated, disgusted, joyous and sad. I want to have access to situations, scenarios and mechanics that can provoke a full range of emotion. As Tesh and I have said on numerous occasions, we need to give players more of a stake in affecting the world they are in if we expect them to be more emotionally invested in their virtual world.

    Due to unambitious, sleepy developers, modern day MMOs do not come even remotely close to providing this. In fact all they are are childish number games with pretty pictures.

    We need better game designers and we need better players. Without both, attaining the dream of simulating virtual reality is impossible.

    Due to the reality of people stealing ideas, I’ll never publish my vision about the perfect virtual world, instead hopefully some day I’ll have a chance to implement it. Maybe at some point players will get tired of being treated like adolescents and instead opt for a more meaningful and visceral MMO experience. Someday!

  7. You will never ever get better players (at least not until we can engineer better human beings). What you may get is small pockets of players who can agree some basic ground rules between themselves. I actually think the holodeck model is a great one for this, not the huge sprawling MMO.

    I don’t see players as a customer service problem but you cannot stop the metagaming. It is not possible.

    And I also don’t agree that we’re past the days of needing moderators. You can RP without them but the types of stories you can reasonably tell will be more limited. It isn’t purely down to unambitious developers. It’s down to the realities of needing player buy-in to different stories, sorting out player ownership of in game and story elements, and the complexity of doing this in a massive environment. It is possible to design games so as to keep the number of moderators down, let players sort a lot of issues out between themselves, or even nominate each other to help moderate when necessary. If you look at some of the largescale LARPS, they have this down to a fine art.

    “So if you embark on a journey to a virtual world as a player you have a responsibility to know about your destination.”

    How much reading are you prepared to do before logging on? Or should all game worlds be based on well established IPs? I remember playing in a strongly medieval themed game once, they were a bit uptight and made me go read books about Galen and medieval medical theories before I could play a doctor. But the books don’t tell you the minutae of everyday life that players have made up in game.

    Conflict between players is a good thing, it creates drama. But conflict that cannot be resolved other than by either bullying people OOC into accepting your viewpoint or by seeking consensus (which … err.. can mean the same thing) can be extremely frustrating. What do you do if there is no consensus? What do you do if some people ignore the fact that there was no consensus and go do their own thing anyway? What do you do when people start asking for retcons because they weren’t consulted and feel that their characters should have been there? If there is conflict, there needs to be a means for conflict resolution, whether it be coded mechanisms, external arbiters, or in game rules. The conflicts that are most easily roleplayed out are the ones that don’t really matter (fine, you are in a love triangle, go for it). But what if you were in a conflict that might really impact your character’s effectiveness in future. Damn straight you wouldn’t want to just agree to what the other guy wanted just to be nice.

    If you have great ideas then I hope you get a chance to try them. But I’m speaking from my experience of running MUSHes, and a more RP based type of game than that has never existed.

  8. Thing is, we don’t need to speculate what kind of RP we’d end up with if we just made a sandbox, cooked up some lore, and let the players have at it. We know exactly what we’d get. We’d get EVE Online.

    And is that a good thing? Well, it is ahead of WoW or LOTRO for RP, that’s for sure (although, really, that ain’t saying much).

    But it is a long, long way from being good RP, really. A few reasons why:

    — Douchebaggery. A lot of it. You might as well call the game Asperger’s Online or Somethingawful Online. Of course it is not impossible to RP with this sort of thing as the default game background, but it ain’t easy.

    — Metagaming. EVE is the poster child for this. Basically, at this point, everything of importance in EVE is done at the meta-level. Hard to RP the reason for, say, your alliance’s crushing defeat when the real reason for it is, say, spies on out-of-game message boards.

    — Extending stories beyond combat. OK, so I, the evil Amarrian slaver that I am, have just blown away the last remnants of Minmatar resistance in solar system X and have helped claim it for the Empress. Now what? Do I get to write that we’re carting the best slave stock back to Amarr Prime and harvesting the rest of this valuable planet for the Empire? Or do the Minmatar get to say they already evacuated everyone and that you Amarr fools just won a worthless rock? No one can say. (Actually, what happens is one of the “official” correspondents might cook up some fiction in reaction to the event, but that isn’t quite “living the dream” as the original post would have it).

    • Thanks for the comment, I’ve wondered how life feels inside EVE as an insider.

      I know one thing I remember from MUSHes was that they felt way more immersive when I was new to the genre and oblivious to the metagaming. I just thought people were playing their roles really really well, I didn’t realise that a lot of them were just being themselves (the guy who played that really annoying git? Yup, he was actually just a really annoying git. Instant immersion 🙂 ). It got to the point where as staff, we used to try to quietly guide people towards character concepts that fitted them iRL (obviously the really talented actors and roleplayers could take on very different roles successfully but most average players find it easier if they use themselves as a base.)

  9. “We need better game designers and we need better players. Without both, attaining the dream of simulating virtual reality is impossible.”

    Is that what we’re trying to do?

    I think quite frankly simulating reality is utterly pointless. If I want reality I can just log off.

    I play these things for escapism.

    • I don’t want to speak for Wolfshead but I think when he said simulating virtual reality, he meant the ‘in game’ reality. So for example, to simulate a sci fi environment where you can fly spaceships around in EVE, or a fantasy environment where you can throw fireballs and fight dragons, etc.

      I do think part of the appeal of MMOs is that they simulate some kinds of reality though, will probably come back to that. But for example, part of the reason some people love the auction house and profiteering in game is because the laws of supply and demand that we understand from RL are modelled with some degree of success.

      • Even in Eve they break the laws of physics to make the game more fun.

        There are big fiery explosions in the vacuum of space. There is sound in space.

        I listened to the latest Massively podcast. There was a very interesting analysis of exactly the type of game that bloggers’ theorising (and I include myself here) want to play. Innovative and original combat. Genuine puzzles. Immersive in-character live events.

        The Matrix Online. Shut down because no one played it.

        If you listen to the podcast then think how closely the game described matches the perfect game qualities so many of us are arguing for, it really makes you think.

        Quite bleak in a way.

      • That’s because they’re not trying to simulate the laws of physics. They’re trying to simulate the ‘laws of sci fi’ which say that space battles have cool explosions.

        I understand what you’re saying about players not wanting to play the games they’re asking for though.

    • One example of real-world emotional attachment to MMOs can be found in the so-called hardcore PvP MMOs — in EVE Online, there’s a subset of the player base that derives great pleasure when they believe (rightly or wrongly) that they have emotionally hurt another player — not the character, the player — and in fact there are people whose entire game existence is going around trying to provoke a real-world emotional response from someone.

      Now, I admit that I cannot remotely defend this position, and if I would ever find myself thinking this way — in either victory or defeat — I would immediately logout — no, I wouldn’t wait for that — I’d yank the plug — cancel my accounts, and get outside.

      And from an RP stand point, , I can’t see excessive real-world attachment to an MMO as helping RP very much — after all, RP can include very non-human character concepts (or at least non-21st Century human), and just making MMOs be as emotionally real as possible is orthogonal to that.

  10. Roleplaying is just not enjoyable for most people. People gloss over how hard it is to make a realistic character with good motivations, and how to interact with others in character. It’s the same reason why so few people are writers or actors.

    Plus the ones that do tend to be drama-fueled wankers. Just mention “Mary Sue” in a veteran roleplaying crowd and watch the venom flow. Endgamers have nothing on roleplayers for drama potential.

    This would be bearable if the stories rper’s did were good, but 80% of RP is an excuse for sex, and not the good types, either. It was always so, even back of the days of MUD’s-now its almost unbearable. You make your MMO friendly to roleplaying, and you’ll have to deal with slave auctions and male pregnancy. The rest tend to be bad fanfiction, and maybe 3% of it will actually be decent stuff, but will dissolve due to drama.

    It’s like darkfall-the idea is awesome, and in the right hands of the right players you could make an experience like no other, but reality trumps the ideal. No amount of game mechanical solutions can change that, cause of the way people are.

    • I think you’re right. But I also think that not every type of roleplaying has to involve detailed storylines and long involved scenes of ‘talking heads’.

      There’s an inbetween halfhouse between an immersive setting and full roleplaying where people can feel that their character is also part of the world and know how it fits in and why this explains the things it does in game. They may not need to go off and do pure roleplaying all the time, but they do know that their character has a background connection with the rest of the world. They know when they see other characters how their character vaguely feels about them. They get familiar with their racial tics (dwarfs like beer, forsaken are sarcastic) and factions.

      I know it all feels very basic compared to crafting your own storylines, but I think a lot of people do immerse into their roles to some extent (even if it’s just disliking the other faction leaders). And it’s the immersion that MMOs could be very very good at indeed.

  11. I agree that that aspect is needed and beneficial. That’s more like good backstory and lore though, so I didn’t really think of it when I thought RP.

    The difficulty in that is what Jeff Kaplan I think said about quest text and people not reading it, people really do skip text that could communicate those things and make for a more immersive setting. Probably the best time to do that would be right at the newbie experience.

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  16. So I know this is an old post…

    The biggest problem is definitely players and the lack of a DM. People may say that you don’t need a DM, but you do…it is essential. Without it not only do you not have conflict resolution, but you don’t have a legitimate rule bender. Example: all the best DnD games I have ever ran when they were at their best roleplaying, very rarely involved die rolls. And to clarify, i have NEVER LARPED. I would craft the backstory into my world when I made it. And contrary to what somebody said about it being difficult to create a world, and referencing Tolkien…I disagree. Tolkien created an alphabet for crying out loud! I made a four worlds, complete with maps and lore, for 4 of the 6 great campaigns I DMed, and I don’t mean that like I am great, just simply saying that it is not as difficult as it seems. For goood RP all you need is a few maps, some good lore, a detailed backstory, and GOOD PLAYERS!!! I never realized how good of players I used to have til I tried to start a new group after moving. All they cared about was metagaming and min/maxing stats. Thats why the DM is a rule bender. “What you want to start the game with a magic weapon? Sure give me a good plot mechanic as to why your level 2 bard has a magic lute.” If they could then I gave it to them, within reason. The game became about the relationships and plot, not about stats and gear. And when I say relationships, I do not mean sex, I mean revenge, betrayal, sacrifice, all the negative motivators that surround our great stories about heroes.

    Bottom line is that these people, who we love to play with also, are the exception not the rule. The average player just wants to max their stats and get better gear, maybe drinking a beer and having some kind of horrible mockery of RP at the same time.

    The bottom line is that the more people involved the less individual attention the player gets, and half the goal in RPing is to stand out or have something special about your character. I really just don’t think an MMO is the proper venue for this. Even DMing a table top game 6 was the maximum number of people I would allow to play, because there would be too much table talk and not enough individual RP time for each player.

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