Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRoleCraft: Scheduling RPJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
My experiences have shown me that sudden and impromptu RP events very often are the best ones. Spur-of-the-moment actions that trigger the imagination into a higher level of RP have happened many times for me, lending it to be my favored style of RP. That's not to say that a pre-planned RP event is to be disdained. Proper planning can in fact garner high quality RP events, and in lots of cases, can not only be better, but may also be crucial to the success of an RP session.
Depending on the MMORPG, there are two main ways to implement and track an RP schedule - in game and/or out. Does one way work better than the other? That also depends on your game, and even more so on your own personal preferences, things that only you can attest to in your daily routine. What I do know are a few ways that scheduling RP works in both lives, and I'll share them with my fellow roleplayers here.
Looking at in game calendars first, if you're a WoW player, then this has been a relatively easy method, and it's about to get easier. Since WoW allows players to install and use mods and addons, a few calendar mods have been developed just for this purposes. The two I'm most familiar with are Group Calendar and Guild Event Manager. Of the two, my fave is Group Calendar. However, I have used both, as a solo player and as guild member, and they worked well in both cases to help me keep track of RP events. The only bad thing I can say is that their usefulness is quickly waning, since Blizzard has finally built in a calendar function to the game interface, which players should see with the next (and final?) patch before the release of the Wrath of theLitch King expansion. A word of caution here, about not deleting your calendar mods until you see that any and all bugs are eliminated fromWoWs calendar.
Let's say that you play an MMORPG that doesn't allow for player-created mods, or a game for which there are no calendar mods made. Well, then you have to search out of game, and thankfully, you won't have to search far. In my opinion, simply posting events on the forums is a slow and poor hit-or-miss method. There are many websites that cater to guilds looking to build themselves an online home, and many of them have a calendar function available. Three that I am using at the moment are Guild Universe,GuildPortal, and Ning.
All three sites have at least a basic calendar, allowing for what can be expected when creating a scheduled RP event: name of event, date, start/end times, location, event host, event description, RSVP, and more. Even more, they fall in with easily with the guild site that can be built around them, making it worthwhile to build your own guild site on any one of these portals. The main points to consider are whether the site and calendar is user friendly, allows for the easy inviting and tracking of guests, and that events can be viewed by all (guests) just as easily.
What about if you don't belong to a guild, for instance, but still have a desire to track any and all open RP events in your favorite MMORPG? Then there is one other calendar service to recommend which I think tops all of those, and that is Google Calendar. Now, I must follow that comment by saying that I am NOT aguildmaster on any of the MMORPGs I play. Still, I don't see any infractions Google Calendar could not handle, whether keeping track of a single player's schedule, or the schedules for an entire guild.
With Google Calendar, its' integration with my main email account is a definite plus. That is closely followed by the added benefit of being able to create more than one calendar, so to speak, and having each calendar you can make be seen on a single page. Google does this with colored tab tracking. For example, I have four calendars: my own personal calendar, another that I use to keep track of upcoming PC game releases, and one each for upcoming RP events for WoW and LotRO . With each of them highlighted in a different color on the calendar grid of a single page, I can see my entire schedule for the week at a glance, which makes it a lot easier to see if RP events happen to tangle with a personal event, such as my precious SciFi Friday.
Google Calendar is also groovy for quickly inviting guests to your events by simply adding their email into an Add Guest box. Or, and this too is a groovy thing, you can simply make any calendar you create a Shared calendar by entering in the email of who you want it shared with. If you give them permission to, they may also add in RP events in cases where you cannot. Follow thisurl to see a better example of what Google Calendar looks like: The MMORPG Roleplayer's Calendar An excellent item for RP guildmasters and solo players, indeed!
You too can make your own calendars completely open to the public, should you choose to do so, and for free, with Google Calendar. Imagine, a single calendar of roleplaying events for an entire server, with each roleplaying guild therein creating and updating RP events in full view of everyroleplayer on that server! I might be dreaming, but I think it could do wonders as far as coordinating and strengthening the roleplaying community, no matter the game.
My apologies if this sounded much too much like a ringing commercial endorsement for Google Calendar, I don't mean it to be. I simply find it to be a great tool instrumental in my MMORPG roleplaying, and I hope it helps you, as well. So, if by chance you don't already employ one of these methods, and you just happen to be seeking a way to get a better handle on RP events for your guild / server / game, give one or more of these methods a try. As always, I'm open to your thoughts and ideas, so if you use a different and/or better way, would you let me know? You may post in the Comments section with this article, or contact me directly at RoleCraft at gmail dot com. Until the next scheduled edition of RoleCraft, role on!