Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRoleCraft: A Roleplayer's Christmas Wish ListJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
'Tis the season for giving thanks, and for joyous celebration, which I did in the last edition of RoleCraft. Before the year winds down to the upcoming holidays, I'm feeling the desire to get my gift list in a tad early. I'm not saying I believe in a Santa Clause, and my list is not for him. Instead, I wish to direct my list to the attention of MMORPG developers, in hopes that one day they will finally make the perfect roleplaying computer game. Here's my short request for A Roleplayer's Christmas List.
Hidden / Player-named Classes
Roleplayers are the type of people to push the limits of their favorite MMORPGs, to stretch the boundaries of the game far beyond what the developers envisioned. Having set character classes is both a bonus and a hindrance for roleplayers, at it gives us a quick and easy reference point to start at, while it also tends to confine what they can do with their characters. What's needed is the simple option for choice here, in the way of being able to toggle a character's class on and off as seen by other players.
For example, take a burglar or roguish type character. Those who wish to RP their characters as being the nefarious type should go right on doing so. However, there should be an option to remove the character class from public display for those players who want to disguise their scoundrels with something more socially acceptable, or with nothing at all.
I once played an elf rogue who only performed his roguish activities under the guise of being a cartographer. Roleplaying him this way was no problem for me, but always in the back of my mind, I knew that his class was highly visible to every player in game, which muted the cartographer RP to them. A simple 'Show/Hide Character Class' option would indeed be a wonderful thing.
Skill-based Open World System
This one is a tribute to Ultima Online. Having a skill-based system (versus a level-based system) would eliminate the restricting affair of having every character be obligatorily skilled in some form of martial art. Players could take on more profitable and longer living careers, such as traveling merchants and innkeepers. Hiring a bodyguard, or setting up full merchant caravans, would I think make for very RP-conducive environments.
Take a close look at the number of players that are highly interested in and knowledgeable about the economy of World of Warcraft. I've heard players say they create characters for the sole purpose of buying and selling on the auction house. Now think how much more quality time could be had by players who were able to (role)play those NPC-type characters, and how much more of a feeling of actually having an impact in the game world that would give. Not everyone wants to be an adventurer.
Ultima Online is still the best MMORPG I know of that allows players to play non-warrior types as their primary class, and one of the many reasons the RP there is so good. Note that the game is now twelve years old and still alive and well, yet MMORPGs have shut down that only hit the three, four, and five year mark. Maybe there's a big message here?
More Physical Options
I would absolutely love to see a MMORPG with the same physical character options as the character builder in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I want to have that level of highly detailed and precise control over how my characters look. Why is that mechanic still only available in an offline game? Can we stop it already with the cookie cutter body builds, also? Take a cue from Anarchy Online, and let's have varying body heights and widths, only to a greater degree. Sadly, I have a feeling that I may be waiting for these options until The Elder Scrolls or Fallout MMORPGs arrive.
Before the start every match in Team Fortress 2, we players do a lot of jumping around and whooping and hollering and taunting each other, waiting for the match to commence. And you know what? For the most part, we can actually hear our characters' voices! The game has built in hot keys that trigger words and phrases and other vocal gibberish that other team mates can hear. Think how great that would be to have in your favorite MMORPG.
I know that characters in WoW and Lord of the Rings Online have their own auditory sounds. I often hear the dwarves of LotRO sounding off with a loud and thunderous "Baruk Khazad!" I also know that WoW characters have some physical emotes that are matched with an appropriate verbal response. Still, those are not on the same level as the macros in TF2, and do not offer the same degree of control. Could that please be worked on for the next expansion?
RP ONLY Realm
I daresay I'm not the only roleplayer who has this on their MMORPG Christmas list. Since the dawn of time, roleplayers have had to keep the /ignore command on hot key status, as the only way to semi-effectively deal with those fraktards who roll on a dedicated realm specifically marked for RP, for the sole purpose of doing whatever they can to disrupt roleplayers and their RP.
For starters, I would love to see MMORPGs at least enforce their own rules regarding established RP realms, such as naming and harassment policies. Additionally, I'd like to see game makers give the same quality attention to roleplayers that is given to Raiders and PvP'ers. That alone would be more than enough to fill up my stockings, believe me!
What's on your RP Christmas list? Share yours here or through Twitter. As always, feel free to click over to The RP Archives, a blog where I gather all the roleplaying knowledge from across the interwebs into one handy reference place. Until next time, role on!