Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRolecraft: Beyond the BarriersJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
One of the neatest game items in UO are the communication crystals. When activated, these crystals allow the user to speak into them, and send that speech to another character with a linked crystal a great distance away. Yes, they have their drawbacks, but the concept remains solid up to today, especially for roleplayers. For example, every character in WoW has a hearthstone, which allows them to set a home inn they can magically teleport to. In RP fashion, this hearthstone may also be enchanted to allow for communication between characters near and far, and is a very common element brought into use among members of an RP guild.
Whispers and in game IMs are other game mechanic aspects I hear roleplayers rumbling about. How can someone who is leagues away from me "whisper" to me? Again, this is another game mechanic I ignore, meaning that I see it as what it is - a way for a player to contact me in game without having to download and have a third-party application take up valuable hard drive space to do so. To that end, that is why I am adamant about being IC on all other in game channels, and keeping whispers and "/tell" strictly for OOC chat. Of course, that is my choice only, the way I choose to RP. You should RP whispers in a way that feels comfortable to you.
Class and Profession
The last game mechanic I'll address here is about how easy it is to see what every character's class is in game. By default, a character's class can be seen as text under their name hovering above their heads. Dude, talk about RP-unfriendly! Thankfully, this is usually a setting you can alter in the game interface options, but it doesn't remove it completely, as is evidenced when hovering your mouse cursor over a character and still seeing their class.
For roleplayers, the RP ways around this are to manipulate it with an addon, constantly proclaim your own version in conversation, or just ignore it. LotRO has done an excellent job with this with their inclusion of a vast number of titles to earn, through increasing their character's skill in their class, vocation, Deeds, and by allowing characters to add a surname if they wish upon reaching level 15. WoW roleplayers make avid use of addons, like FlagRSP2 and MyRoleplay, to add in class and profession titles, nicknames, house and clan names, and surnames.
I feel it best to just have your character introduce itself as they want to be known. That way, it's done in a solid RP style, and there should be no mistaking it. This method can also be changed on the fly, much quicker than it can be through an addon or interface option, if the character so wishes it.
Roleplaying your way beyond these game mechanics will still require a small amount of suspension of belief, where the player has to keep in mind that this is just a game. I certainly do my best to immerse myself as fully as possible into the RP experience, but there is still only so far that I can go, since the game isn't taking place inside my own head. That is one reason why imagination is such a vital part of RP. Expand your imagination as far as you wish into your game time, and just let everything else be. Whatever else it is, it's a game, first and foremost, and games are meant to be fun. Do what you can to make them so, and role on!