Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Players? Oh, you mean my guinea pigs!

Howdy folks! Yet again I have procrastinated my post up to the wire, but it's all good as long as it's posted in time. This week we're going to talk more about some of the new experimental methods I am using in my Pathfinder game with the Snowman, and will be briefly introducing a new ongoing subject in the SpacerGal postings. So without further ado, here we go!

Director's Cut: It's... breathing!

Let's get this out of the way first. I really enjoy online gaming. More specifically, the free to play massively multiplayer online roleplaying game side of things. F2PMMORPG... Even the acronym is a handful. But anyways, my love of the genre has led me to want to try and sort of simulate an open world style game for my players, basically leaving them in charge. Is it hilarious to let the kids babysit themselves? You bet it is. Can it be remarkably more mess than you anticipated? Sure can, but in this mess is where some of the best players will truly shine. But before we get to the PC, let's take a look at the GM side of this endeavor.

Part of my ability to do this successfully comes from the fact that I am wildly scatterbrained and have about thirteen different possible story ideas flying around in my head at any given time. To get started, I sit down and lay all those snakes out straight and figure out how to fit them into my setting without breaking the feel of the campaign, usually by plopping a PNPC, or Prime NPC into the story. Then I have to concoct how not to kill my players on what could be a very high level challenge by either scaling the threat back to a more appropriate danger or taking the quest and placing it in the "High level stuff I hope players play long enough to reach" part of my GM binder. The last step is hands-down the trickiest, especially as other stories in the world progress. How do I make my players choose to take these paths?

In order to give players control while still holding the carrot-on-a-stick, I place what I call Adventure Hooks into the world, just waiting for an interested nibble to trigger some kind of event or NPC interaction that will lead into a full-blown story. Often these involve some kind of crowd gathered around something, or a flyer being handed out advertising something of exceptional interest. If it's an adventure hook within an adventure, there are usually a few ways to find it, whether that be finding an item that someone will take interest in or simply poking and prodding an NPC until he or she gives in and decides to take you on the next big journey. But what if a journey takes longer than anticipated? What happens to those other hooks? Well, some of them may still be around, but because Leviathos is a living, persistent world, some hooks can literally be completely missed, never to be seen again. Unless the game resets of course...

Space-Age Roleplay: Welcome to Cyber-space

Many podcasts and die-hard P&P roleplayers naysay the potential of roleplaying in MMORPG environments, saying it can't be done, there's not enough control, there's not enough customization to do what they want, et cetera. To all of you out there who have said or thought this, I say are you out of your mind? Did you even try to roleplay in an online game? If so, which one, and how long did you spend in your attempt? Did you make sure you chose an RP server? Did you log on during prime hours? Did you make sure you were open, approachable, or available for RP interaction? Are you familiar with the lore and flavor of the game in which you attempted to RP?... And the list goes on for quite some time more. But anyways, I'm here to say it can be done. And not just in a "Well that was an alright experience" kind of way, but rather in a "Some of my best RP experiences have been in MMORPG" way. That's right. When approached with the proper mindset and with the proper tools in hand, it can be both a fun and rewarding pass time for all players involved, without the need of a GM. This isn't to say it doesn't have it's fault, no no no. Far from it actually. There are glaring weaknesses to RP in a GM-less computer world, but these weaknesses can be mitigated by players willing to try. That list of questions should be asked of one's self before diving in, and we will be touching on the subject more in weeks to come.

Final Transmission

Space-Age Roleplay will be an ongoing topic of mine, covering the right and wrong ways to approach MMORPG as sources for RPG outlets, some of the general do's and don'ts of roleplaying in these settings, and some of the best ways to get roleplaying going with a community or even random people out there on the interwebs. I do hope our readers will enjoy a new perspective on the subject, as well as gleaning advice and tips to enjoy their own MMO roleplaying. Of course, more kid games are on the way, one in particular I know most of you have had some interaction with in some form or another, but it requires pictures and my camera is on the fritz. So until next time, this is SpacerGal, signing off. Ya'll come back now, y'hear?

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