Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

17 August, 2019

Playing at RP
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:37 PM

This week, I talked about RP from a player’s standpoint, how RP looks like to get into, to maintain, and to enjoy. Next week, I want to talk a bit about RP from a developer’s point of view. So, let look a bit at the subject RP between these two perspectives.

What’s RP like in that space between?

Building tools for development

One of the most interesting combinations of development and RP has to be Total RP for WoW. It’s an addon that gave you a bunch of new features to the game to facilitate RP. Given WoW’s deep addon system, it made sense that people would turn this to their own purposes.

One of the most interesting features is the ability to create items in the game. Other people with the same addon an accept these items, store them in their inventory, or even see the items dropped in the world for others to pick up. This made it easier to have some sort of macguffin for a plot. Or to create an object for someone as a symbol of RP. Or even create an item that people can show to others to “prove” they got some sort of blessing from another character.

RPing with developers

Another potentially interesting idea is RPing with developers. Obviously, some developers like RPing (*points to self*) and it might be interesting to RP with others. Actually, at one time I tried to start up a little RP in Meridian 59, where I tried to play a priest of a “church” in the game on one of the alt characters I created. Nobody really joined me, probably because I was really careful not to let people know it was me, but I had fun playing it up and thinking about it.

MUDs that had RP often had admins that would stop by. I remember being part of a few World of Darkness MUSHes and there were admins that came to play in scenes. I never got very deep into these games, but it always seemed like a fun idea. I actually had the idea to have RP with admins be a big part of a text MUD I was creating with some friends in university; the admins would play the part of demons that would tempt the mortals with the purpose of finding good RPers to corrupt and add content to the game through PvP. Yeah, I’ll admit, that’s a bit naive on my part, but hey, it sounds fun!

But the idea of RP in games was supposedly a big part of The Matrix Online, with the original idea being to have actors to play out scenes in the game. The problem was it didn’t really get to scale, and they were paying people to do something in the game that only a fraction of people would be able to see. The idea never caught on in other games unfortunately.

The future of RP

Given that MMOs are no longer the coolest thing out there, I kind of wonder if they’ll follow the same trend as MUDs did. As I said, RP was a big part of a lot of games, and later commercial MUDs often had a big focus on RP as a unique selling point. I’m wondering if a game could do the same for MMOs, although they’re still huge games that are difficult to develop even in the best of situations. But I wonder if you could pitch an MMO with a big RP focus as something that would draw enough of a crowd to stay profitable, assuming the right business model.

What do you think? Could you see RP being the primary reason to play an MMO?

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