It's been a tiny bit sparse with new information lately, so here's just a small article, talking about the choices we all make in most games, and why explaining these choices so often lead to conflict.

This is a subject I’ve been thinking quite a bit about and have made some effort in changing the past couple of years.

It will be mostly focused on game related, though I’m sure it can be translated to other things as well.

When there’s two or more choices that really only depend on personal preference, it seems like it’s quite natural to want to explain why you made the choice you made. I certainly know I’ve done so many times.

However, what I very often find happen, and what I’ve found myself doing in the past, is, rather than argue FOR the the choice picked, they start arguing AGAINST the other choice. It might sound like it’s the same thing, but the focus is very different. If you argue for your personal pick, you can still easily accept that the other pick is just as valid, which, since we’re talking personal preference here, is most likely the case. If you argue against the other choice, on some level, you’re saying it’s wrong: That your choice is the better or more right one. This, I think, can end up leading to quite a bit of hostility that isn’t necessary and probably wasn’t intended.

Let’s take factions as an example. This is just one example, I’ve seen it happen with stuff like which game to play, what race to play, etc, but factions is a pretty clear cut one, so I’m gonna use that as an example.

Now, I’m not talking friendly banter between the two factions.

What I mean is arguments like:

"I picked this side because all the kids will be going the other side"

"I picked this side because the elves are on the other side, so you know everyone there will be vain and only want to ERP"

"I picked this side because I think the other side will be too goodie-two-shoe"

"I’m picking this side because everyone else picks the other side because it’s the most popular"

Seeing the pattern? With all of these types of argument, you’re basically saying that picking the other side is less desirable, not just as a personal preference for you, but for a specific reason that affects other people. You’re indicating, even if it might not be intended, that someone who picks the other side is a kid, vain, only interested in ERP, a goodie two-shoe, a sheep. You might not have meant that, but it’s pretty much what you’re telling people, and then many will feel a need to defend themselves, which will often happen with a similar statement about why YOUR side is the wrong one.

This create a conflict where none need to be had. In a game with factions, you have to pick one, that’s just how it is. You really don’t have a choice, and so, you will end up with some people picking one side, and some people picking the other, each for our own reasons. (Of course there will be people who have alts on both sides, I plan on doing this myself, but this is beside the point, so let’s just pretend you have to pick one for now).

What I’ve been working on myself is to avoid above scenario, avoid explaining my personal choice by putting the other choice down, and instead focus on the positives, the reasons one faction attracted me. It’s not always easy, because explaining by focusing on the reasons we DIDN’T pick the other side is such a common thing to do, and such a natural reaction. But it creates much healthier conversations, because people doesn’t have to feel attacked: They can explain their choice rather than defend it.

The same goes for race choice. You can personally choose not to play a certain race, but you don’t have to explain why that race is bad to pick. Instead, try focusing on why you picked the one you did, what attracted you to it?

If we can avoid putting people on the defensive based on their choices of purely personal stuff that doesn’t affect us, I think we’d find that we can avoid a lot of the minor arguments and hostility that can be quite common in the gaming communities.

Growing Together

Ender a posted Jun 7, 13

For a little while, as WildStar has been growing in popularity, WildStar Roleplay has also had a bit of a grow spurt. And with more people come more issues, more people you disagree with. The warm honeymoon phase of the early days fades, and you start laying the tone for what is your "community marriage”. Will it last for the long haul, having a few issues sure, but overall last on a mutual love, or will it turn into bickering over who left the toilet seat up again?

This is the point we are slowly reaching at WildStar Roleplay.

So far, I have to say, it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve had several people tell me that we’ve managed to build a truly great community, and it is a community I’ve always felt proud of representing. I don’t know about you guys, but that is a feeling I’d very much like to retain, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

I think all of us really wants the same thing: A nice, welcoming community where we can feel at home. A good place to be.

And to me, WildStar roleplay -is- that. We got amazing people and we’ve been able to add some really great members to our staff lately. I’ve had some of my best time in an MMO-RP community on these forums, without the game even being out yet!

Our Community is as diverse and awesome as these guys

I love it here, and I love you guys. I have a great passion for this community, and as it grows larger, I hope we can maintain the feelings we’ve had so far, of a warm, welcoming place to be.

However, in order to keep WildStar Roleplay this way, we need -your- help, both old and new members. Having a great community is well, a community effort. The forums are not made up by moderators and rules, they’re made up by you guys, the members. You are the body of this community, and you can be proud. You’re good guys! I’ve had several people come and apologize when they feel they stepped out of line, and you know what, that’s huge! It takes so much character to admit to that, and I admire you guys for it!

I wrote an article earlier, when we first started these forums, about how to stay calm on the forums (you can find it here). You can consider this a bit of a follow up article to that, a small set of tips that can help us all work together on keeping these forums the home -we- want it to be.

1.) Always remember that there’s a person behind the screen

This may seem simple and make you go "Yeah, well, of course!”, but to me, it’s helped a lot in the past. If I got into a heated debate with someone, or even if I just was semi annoyed with them from time to time, it's good to really focus on that. Think about the person who are writing these words. Perhaps go into the image thread and figure out how they look if they’ve posted a picture. Imagine them, at their computer, writing.

I think a lot of the time, it’s easy to forget that there’s a person behind the words. The words gets detached and we get annoyed or upset -by the words-. You can’t convey tone very well in text, and you can’t see the expression of the one typing those words.

I find that really focusing on the fact that there’s a real person behind the screen really helps me get less annoyed or angry when I’m talking with people online. Think about what they’re saying. Are they really trying to offend you, or are they just miscommunicating?

2.) Be respectful

Again, a simple one, but a big one. You might disagree with someone, and that’s totally fair, but instead of thinking that they’re probably stupid for having the viewpoint they do, think that they’re probably nice, intelligent people, who just happen to have a different perspective. Most discussions turn out much nicer when both parties consider each other worth a bit of respect.

3.) Focus on what you have in common

We’re all here because we love, or at least sort of like, the same thing: WildStar. And Roleplay, probably, or lore, or whatever it is you guys are here for, specifically!

There will always be a ton of little things we disagree about, or even larger things, but that point up there will always stand. We’re here because we share a common interest, have at least some taste in entertainment in common. Added to that, many of the heated debates I see crop up often have people pretty much agree, just from different perspectives that make them think they disagree. They’re arguing the same points, but it still turns into heated arguments. Try looking at the very basics of what the other person is saying and see if you can’t find some common ground.

4.) Step away from the conflicts

This is a tough one, I know. In my last article, I had my 2-post rule of thumb, and this sort of ties into that. It’s almost never a bad thing to step away from an escalating conflict. If someone is making you upset in a thread, or in the chat, take a breather! If it’s really bad, talk to a mod about it, but if it’s just a matter of conflicting personalities, perhaps it’s enough to just do something else for a while, until you cool down enough that it won’t affect you as much negatively anymore.

A while back, I read this advice from a Cracked article, and it really resonated with me: No one is keeping score. I’ll repeat -no one- is keeping score. In a day or a week, no one will remember who got the last word in that discussion, or what exactly what said. What we will remember is the overall feel: What is a bad discussion or a good one? They both stay with us, the feeling of them. Take the bad ones out of the equation, so it’s the good ones that stay.

5.) Stay open minded!

We have different ways of roleplaying, and different limits, but try to stay open minded. It doesn’t mean you have to roleplay with everyone, it’s perfectly fine that you find people who are similar to you and who you enjoy playing with. But try avoid bashing people over the head with your differences. Honesty is good, but so is tact, and you don’t HAVE to tell people their idea of fun is stupid, right?

6.) Don’t turn things into a bigger issue than they have to be

Again, sort of a difficult one, but one I think we’ve all done from time to time. It can be an argument, people talking about something you’re not interested in, etc. Issues will crop up, and they shouldn’t be ignored. But there are also different ways of dealing with them. When you’re having an issue, try looking at it critically. Is it really a big issue, or is it sort of a smaller issue that might solve itself, or be solved relatively easily? Is it necessary to do something about it, or is it really not that big of a deal?

There can be big issues, definitely, and this is not about ignoring those issues. It’s just about not turning the little ones into the big ones.

7.) Let go of the anger

I’ll quote Cracked again on this one (this article). Anger feels good, and it’s addictive. But try to let go of it. If you feel someone has wronged you, it’s so tempting to hold that grudge, but moving on and letting go will help ease up so much tension.

To quote the article:

"Eventually I realized that none of the most positive moments in my life were centered on how angry I was at someone or something. (...) I learned that none of my favorite anecdotes started with "I was still not speaking to [random person] when I went on [crazy adventure]." None of my greatest memories were made greater by the absence of people I was feuding with based on some perceived slight.”

8.) Think about the impact of your words

It doesn't always have to be butterflies and rainbows all the time, and I'm not saying that people should constantly be tip-toeing around each other to avoid someone getting upset. But sometimes, we say something that accidentally ends up upsetting someone, or ends up creating a conflict that could have been avoided.

This could be bashing a specific faction/race/class. You might not love a specific race yourself, but being openly hostile towards it, in a non-joking way, is a surefire way of making someone playing that race feel uncomfortable. Ask yourself, is there really a reason for saying this if someone will be offended they made the choice you're bashing?

It can also be in your reply to people. Think about the tone you can convey. There are usually more than one way of saying things, and perhaps you can say how you're feeling in a way that won't put people as much on the defensive?

Be careful with those broad generalizations. "All Aurin just want ERP" or "People who think XX are idiots!" are almost guaranteed to bring more negative emotions than positive. Even if you find some, or even most, people agreeing with you, do you really want to be on that side hurting others? Do you want to be a bully?

This also goes for other forums. A lot of us have been part of forums in the past, and not all of our experiences were great. But before bashing another forum too hard, remember that there might be people around who are still members of those forums, and enjoy it there. You don't have to ruin their experience because your own wasn't positive. Criticism is good, as long as it's constructive. When it's just bashing, it's rarely helpful.

9.) Seek out the positive instead of the negative

This is probably the most important to me.

Enjoy yourself, that’s what we’re here for. Don’t look for things to be upset about, don’t take every minor bump on the road as the warning of hell to come. Relax. Focus on the things you enjoy, like the threads that put you in a good mood instead of seeking out the one that makes you feel upset. If the chat is going in a direction you don’t like, talk to people you enjoy! Have a private chat with them instead, or delve into an interesting forum thread. There will be stuff that grinds your gears or make you annoyed or angry, but you can usually avoid a lot of that, simply by realizing what those things are and then making an effort in not actively being part of them.


So yeah, there you have it. It’s not rules, it’s not even guidelines, it’s just a small set of helpful advice that hopefully can help us all get along splendidly and grow together. Because we’re all splendid people, aren’t we? *sparkles*

When exposition is all you see!

A solid piece of advice given to aspiring writers is "Show, don't tell.” This time-tested advice means to warn young writers of the peril of losing their reader in long, dry exposition when simple descriptions and allusions would work wonderfully. You can tell the reader that the One Ring will turn you invisible but alert you to Sauron. You could have another character explain this. Or, Frodo can simply put on the ring and hear the whispers himself, experiencing this first hand with the reader.

And soon, about to hear the whispers

And soon to hear the whispers...

Often enough, it is a writer's, and a role-player's, wish to be crystal clear in meaning and intention that they would choose to remove any chance of misinterpretation by simply spelling out their meaning in exposition. Not to say exposition is evil (more on this later!), but saying sometimes it simply isn't the most elegant solution. An example I was given was it's far more effective to not state that a character had issues handling stress without her teddy bear, and instead show us her breaking down begging for her Mister Whiskers, even without any prose explaining who such a doll is. Never you mind why someone would name a bear Mister Whiskers.

Let's assume this is Mister Whiskers

Let's assume this is Mister Whiskers

The obvious benefits is that the actual severity of the action and meaning cannot be confused. Saying Sally was happy about this turn of events simply tells us that she has a positive emotion. Even adding an adjective, saying she was extremely and profusely happy, doesn't quite paint this picture. What do we have to compare her happiness to? We can definitely tell that whatever she is witnessing is pleasant to her, but exactly how? And in what manner? Perhaps instead state "Sally clenched her fists to her chest, and hopped up and down excitedly. Her grin stretched across her face, exposing pearly white teeth. Her giggles were melodious, ringing out like a little child's xylophone.” Now we know exactly how happy she is. She simply cannot contain all that happiness!

So much excitement!

SO much excitement!

This paints a very vivid picture, as an added benefit. We now perceive the motion, the actions, the reality of being in this scene. Instead of simply getting across an idea, we succeed in making an event as real as if we were witnessing it ourselves. This sort of immersion is what role-players dream of. That picture in our minds of our characters, and the characters of our friends, actually existing and playing out. Even if we separate ourselves from our character, it gives us joy to view their wants, desires, and mannerisms in the same light one sees another human being on the street.

In role-play, players often choose to share their character's thoughts in full, written form. The idea behind this is to provide the reader with some insight, and perhaps ask them to instead react to the body language such a thought would provoke. This is flawed, in that the body language one would share would change person to person. John Hawkens might smile at you, and nod his head approvingly while thinking "By the Elden I'm going to murder that damnable Exile scum!” But, if all that was posted was the thought, we'd assume he'd be glowering and sneering at us. And if you state the body language was stifled, then one must ask what the point of sharing the thought was in the first place? Simply put, the reader cannot use that knowledge, unless he plays a telepathic character which is another bag of worms entirely. If you are providing information the reader cannot use or be affected by, then one must ask what the motivation of sharing the thought was in the first place. This isn't to say it's entirely not viable, as the insight might serve as foreshadowing, or an expression of a duplicitous character (Though the constant sharing of thoughts in this case would likely sabotage your efforts of his duplicity being accepted. If one is given too much expression of an idea, it becomes instinct to assume that idea is observable).

Not that him smiling was ever really a concern...

Not that his smiling was ever really a concern!

So, in a situation in which sharing the thought would serve little or no purpose, perhaps simply explain the body language we are to interpret anyway. Rather than "Just one more shot and I pass my rifle exam!” as a thought, perhaps instead "Randal stared down the scope of his rifle, pausing after the three successive accurate shots he just pulled off. He bit his lip, a bead of sweat down his forehead. He shook his head, and took a deep breath. He realigned his aim, his gaze focused as a hawk's, and pulled the trigger with the same confidence he took his prior shots with.”

Another question a role-player may have to ask himself is "what do the words I'm saying actually describe?” Sometimes, what seems to be an acceptable description falls apart when you ask yourself "How does one precisely give a cocky grin?” The response given to myself when posing this question was a simple, blunt "If you can answer that question, why isn't that your description?” Blunt though it may be, it's a good point. A cocky grin on one character may be different to another, and the differences in this help flesh out and give life to a character. The difference between "He smirks, his arms wide open and his chin held high,” and "He looks up from his work, grinning ear-to-ear and offering a slick wink that was well hidden from the glances of anyone else,” is a mountain of difference in something even as specific as arrogance.

Now, how practical is this? Role-playing is a hobby done in the moment. Unlike normal writing, one doesn't have infinite time to embellish and/or go back to an idea and rewrite. Truth be told, Role-playing is the Improvisational Comedy of writing. You have to describe your situation and get your meaning out right there, on the spot, with only minor planning prior. Sometimes, in your rush, it's much easier to state "Regi was angry at Steve,” and not "Regi's nostrils flared, and his gaze simmered from his narrowed eyelids. That stare was focused squarely on Steve's eyes, locking and not breaking, unwilling and unable to step down.” And given the speed of the role-play, details like this may, frankly, be impossible.

Don't mess with Regi

Don't mess with Regi!

If I may offer a suggestion, it would be that maybe combine exposition with descriptive writing. In the scenario prior, one may compromise and state "Regi's eyes narrowed, and he glared angrily at Steve.” It's not terribly descriptive, and fails to describe what, precisely, an angry glare entails for Steve, but it's still a great deal more exciting to read than simply "Regi was cross at Steve.” Being scrapped for time (And with absolutely no shame, being lacking for that momentary creativity) it gets across severity and means to an acceptable degree.

So, it may seem that I'm simply stating "Write more!” but the opposite is also very bad. If you're writing far too much, not only are you taking a lot of time to make your posts, but maybe all your details aren't relevant to the idea you wish to convey. As Earnest Hemingway put it: "...The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water...” In this sense, less is more, and efficiency is key. Just as much as your reader will enjoy the berth of details you're offering him, you may just as easily intimidate or lose your point in too much prose. There is no set rule to this, but be certain to describe enough to get the scene across, and that should be sufficient. We don't need to know how much your Aurin's chest bounces as she hops around excitedly unless your intention is to bring our attention to that. We don't need to know about the hydraulics in your Mechari's neck every time he moves it, simply establishing their range of motion initially should suffice.

As nice as they are, we can assume her chest has buoyancy

Nice though they may be, buoyancy can be assumed!

The last thing to cover is when exposition is appropriate. According to famed suspense writer James Scott Bell, "Sometimes a writer tells as a shortcut, to move quickly to the meaty part of the story or scene. Showing is essentially about making scenes vivid. If you try to do it constantly, the parts that are supposed to stand out won't, and your readers will get exhausted." What to take from this is some scenes are meant to be brushed over, are meant to be given a bare bones explanation. Some scenes, frankly, aren't important enough to be expanded upon. And you need these scenes, because it makes the scenes that stick in our heads actually stick in our heads. An introduction is important. A brief hello in passing isn't. A routine landing of a hoverbike isn't worth the prose. Landing a hoverbike in a dangerous or stressful situation is.

This can safely be skipped, in my opinion

This scene can safely be handled with exposition, in my opinion.

Understanding when your prose should be showing and not telling is a skill that many writers spend their entire careers mastering, and role-play is first and foremost a relaxing experience. As such, though this article offers the reader advice, it is not meant to be taken as a bible or a means to point to another and suggest that by not following these rules, they're doing it wrong. So long as someone is conveying their character's actions, ideas, and personality, strict rules are hardly needed. It goes without saying that we do not write role-play with one another to offer to the mass market as an author would, so the only people who need be satisfied are those involved.

I ain't judging

 I ain't judging!

On the contrary, though, if one is very passionate about their hobby, they will no doubt seek to improve themselves. And if this humble little article helped at all, I should be so lucky.


Discuss and comment here!

Carbine Hearts Roleplay
This weekend a few of us at WildStar Roleplay were given an amazing opportunity.  We were invited to join the developers of WildStar (the lovely people of Carbine Studios) by it’s publisher NCSoft to come and spend some time with the minds behind this wonderful game we have all been anticipating.

We were expecting a fun event where we got to sit down and get some hands on experience with the game and hear some presentations by the Carbine team on what they plan for their unique MMO that mixes aspects of science fiction with fantasy to create a technomagically tremendous setting.  We were a bit wrong however in our assumptions because that is not what we encountered, exactly.

Instead, we got all that AND discovered the developers of WildStar care about Roleplayers.  In fact, I am confident to say the developers don’t just care about us, but LOVE us.  How do I know this?  They flat out told me.  Read on for my experience at Arkship EU and why I believe WildStar is shaping up to be the first game in many years to be a Roleplayer’s perfect playground.

I wouldn’t normally describe myself as a cynical or jaded individual.  Over the years in my MMO gaming career, I’ve gone from just dabbling in Roleplay in Ultima Online to full fledged "hardcore roleplaying with few OOC moments” in Everquest 2.  Through all my experiences, however, be they in City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, or even the recent Guild Wars 2, one thing has remained constant: No developer really cares overmuch about the RP crowd.

WildStar RP Crazy Example

Though to be honest, sometimes there are those of us that are... hard to understand

Let’s face it, we have always been a minority.  When you are spending money on developing a major title, the last thing you normally want to cater to is a minority.  You want to focus on the big picture!  How many subscriptions can you get, and hold?  How many boxes can you sell? What is the best way to balance time and effort with the budget to focus on content and systems that appeal to a large majority of people?  When you consider all the various ways money affects the industry, you can probably see why a trend began to occur where concern for minority communities in MMOs was left by the wayside.

We’ve all experienced this in various ways.  Maybe a feature you really enjoy (wardrobe system, chat features, walking) was ignored in development as it was deemed not worth the expense.  Maybe you expressed concern about a game as it was forming in the aether of the interwebs and were shot down for being "just a roleplayer.”  Maybe you’ve been griefed by someone who isn’t a RPer and felt like they never suffered any consequences for it.  Heck, maybe you even heard some developer say in an interview "Well, roleplayers don’t matter that much in our design process.”

George Bush doesn't care about Roleplayers

Yeah, I bet he never cared about Roleplayers either!

Regardless of your experience, there is a reason for why we often feel so defensive about our creative process.  A majority of gamers just don’t understand what we do is create stories together.  That’s ok, as if we were all the same it would be a very dull world.  However, despite me being upbeat about all this over the years, I have come to accept that’s the way the world works in a slightly dejected way.

This weekend, Carbine took that viewpoint of how MMO development and the community is run and threw it out the window.

Arkship EU

Know this, beyond the table lies a Cave of Wonders... touch nothing but the GAME!

The very first day, Ender and I were welcomed with open arms.  Team WildStar greeted us with smiles and jokes and then said something I’ll never forget: "We want to sit down with you guys at some point and talk about Roleplay.”

I will admit my first reaction was to slowly pick my jaw up off the floor.  Troy Hewitt, Carbine’s Community Director and Producer, expressed such excitement to see us at first I thought he had confused us with someone else.  Chad Moore, their Lead Narrative Designer was so ecstatic to hear we came for the Lore that he later said Roleplayers were his new favorite people.

And not just those developers expressed enthusiasm to converse with us.  Jonathan Jelinek, you may remember as the Lead 3D Artist in charge of all those wonderful props and more, was the first to really chat with us after we were invited to sit next to him while we waited for everyone to gather.  Stephen Frost, the voice of their Devspeak videos and their Game Design Producer sat down with us next, and it felt like after that every SINGLE developer in the room sought us out specifically because they were curious and interested in the Roleplaying Gamer’s perspective.

WildStar Roleplay Rush

We basically felt like this crafting station for the duration of the event...

Tiffany Chu, the Feature Team Lead and the one in charge of WildStar’s social systems of course wanted our input on chat, circles, and other various things.  Jen Gordy, Lead PvP Designer, was actually interested in what our favorite character creations might be, besides obviously being a font of information on their PvP and Combat systems.  Their Game Systems Lead Designer, Chris Behrens, opened up later all about various features they have in place that appeal to Roleplayers as well as every gamer under the sun. He was a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge and quite eager to share with us whenever we approached him.

Even their Information and Technology specialist Chris Gray talked our ears off.  Yes, the "IT guy” not only plays and loves the game, but he has a rich history in the MMO space and was able to chat with us for hours and hours, well into the evening.  This is the kind of company making WildStar.

WildStar Chris Gray

In this writer's opinion, Chris Gray resembles how I imagine a young Dorian Walker to have looked.

And of course that’s not even mentioning their entire global community team, made up of NCSoft employees. Led by Aidan Taylor who did a phenomenal job organizing the event, we got to meet Loic Claveau (Carbine’s own Glodbal Community Manager) Mélanie Corolleur, Ramon Domke, and David Ortiz.  Each one was a simple joy to interact with and they all exuded this aura of friendly approachability. I can safely say that because NCSoft employees these people, I am a strong supporter of the company from here on out!

Why did I take the time to mention each and every one of them by name?  Because that is the kind of impression they left with me.  These are all gamers just like us, making a game that they want to play as much as we do.  If that’s not enough to get you excited, they also were so interested in the Roleplay community they not only invited us, they hunted us down as soon as we walked in the door and picked our brains as much as they could.

They laughed with us, and made us feel not just like fans, but like friends.  They grilled us about what makes roleplayers, in our opinion, keep playing MMOs.  They wanted to know what they could do for us as a community even before the game launches.  They didn’t just want our input, they wanted ideas for how they could make WildStar be the greatest environment for RP leading up to release as it possibly could.

WildStar Psyblade

The expected result of Troy Hewitt trying his first Chemical Cutthroat creation, the "Psyblade."

One of the most amazing things I took away from my experience at Arkship EU was learning how engaging each developer was.  When we first sat down at the Deradune demo, it took them all of five minutes to approach Ender and ask with a slight grin "Have you played around with character creation?  I bet you want to, right?” and then sit down and cheat through the system to get her to see that.  She was in immediate heaven.  Somehow they knew.  When I was making a joke over drinks and did a funny voice, I was asked "Do you do voice over work?”  This has been a passion of mine and I’ve always wanted to pursue such a career, desperately.  How did they know?

How did they figure this stuff out?  Do they really lurk on our forums and read everything we say?  It’s possible they do keep tabs on us, but I think it’s more than that.  Carbine doesn’t seem to want to hire people who aren’t empathetic.  They enjoy employees who are patient, understanding, and good at picking up tells and reading others.  How else can they make a game that will appeal to so many?  It’s just a small part of what makes them not just wonderful to give feedback to, but also just to chat and talk with.

WildStar Espers

Maybe they read our minds because they were Espers - Oh no wait, we confirmed Espers aren't telepathic!

This is not about what they are giving us as roleplayers though (which is awesome, though I sadly can not talk about much of it until it’s officially announced), but much more about their burning desire TO give us as MUCH as they can.  What other company in the MMO space can you honestly claim has treated roleplayers in this way?  We’re important members of the community to Carbine, and they want to show it. They can’t wait to show it, in fact.  Some of the plans they have for the upcoming months might, in fact, blow you all away.  More on that though as it’s revealed. (I know, I’m a tease)

Carbine Studios is a company that will spend hours explaining to someone why sitting in chairs takes a lot of development work and why they sadly can’t have it in game at launch.  They don’t brush off these questions as not important, they take the time and effort to make a gamer who questions something understand why.  If you have a beef with them and want to talk about a certain system that should be in the game but is not, they actively listen and explain their design choice. They don’t make decisions willy-nilly based on whim. Every single thing they do has a complex iterative process that is constantly in flux until it’s officially set in Granok stone.

Even Tom Selleck goes through this process...

The greatest thing about them is, even when it’s set in stone, they will still listen to the community and change something if enough people can convince them it’s necessary.  That is the kind of people they are.  These amazing individuals make up a company that bases its entire philosophy on listening to the fans.

Sure, you’ve heard that promise before.  "We listen to our fans!”  How many companies have claimed that only to ignore you when you want to speak.

But how many developers have followed that up with actively seeking out roleplayers to get their feedback.  How many developers have made a roleplay community group feel so loved they don’t ever want to leave?  I can’t think of a single one in recent years that has gone to such lengths to make us feel wanted, and that in itself is a feat these people need to be commended for.

 Jon Jelinek and Chad Moore should be commended for this pic alone...

If anything, Arkship EU taught me that developers care about roleplayers much more than I originally thought.  It began with Jeremy Gaffney asking a simple question of us on reddit in response to The Scowling Cassian (our own Johne) blog post.  It has grown into a group of people who couldn’t wait to meet the WildStar Roleplay team.

And they LOVE us.

Well, all I can say to that is the feeling is completely mutual, Team Wildstar. Right back atcha.

WildStar Roleplay War Room

I have been roleplaying in MMORPGs for quite a while, and I’ve been through different stages.  I've been super roleplay focused where 90% of my online time was spent roleplaying and my characters never made it above the first 20% of the game, to pretty relaxed where I roleplayed every week or even every other, when I felt like it. I’ve made friends, seen drama, all of the stuff I’m sure a lot of you guys have been through as well. I’ve been an elitist and I’ve stopped roleplaying completely... until the next character who I just couldn’t help creating a story for and maaaybe just go check out that RP meeting with.

Through the years, I’ve developed various means to make the roleplay experience more pleasurable to me. And believe it or not, most of these tricks have to do with my own reaction to things. Read on if you like to find out just I achieve Peace of Mind... or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Calm.

I’m in no way special. The stuff I've experienced pretty much every roleplayer in MMORPGs goes through, year after year. Roleplaying is an addictive way of playing the game.  It can be amazing and fun and heartbreaking and I’ve made some great friends over there years. But with so many people coming together about something where there are no clear rules, there’s also drama and frustration, and I’ve seen my share of that as well.

WildStar Promiscuous

Like that character who slept with everyone in the guild then emptied the bank and server transferred.

This is not really a guide, and it’s most certainly not an attempt of saying "This is how you should do things!”. I really don’t believe in a "right” way. What works for me might not work for others. It is not a set process on how to become a better roleplayer.

Instead, it’s a list of, let’s call it advice, that I myself have found very helpful in maintaining a positive experience of roleplay in MMORPGs. I’m sharing it because I thought someone else might find use of the things that have helped me.

Some of these things might seem like common sense, and a lot of them are, but I find that there can sometime be a large difference between what we logically think, and how we end up reacting in a specific situation. At least, it helps me to sometimes keep these things in my head, being aware of them.

You can use these tips if you think they might help you, or you can ignore them. That is completely up to you :) You are very welcome to disagree with me, and there is no need to write and explain why one or more of these might not work for you. It’s fine, I understand, and I know. But if you find yourself stressed over roleplay, perhaps some of this can help you like it helped me, even if it can sometimes be hard in the beginning.

WildStar Strangelove fun

1: Have fun. 

Yes, this might seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but I have found myself in situations in the past where I got very stressed from being part of the community. OOC drama started seeping into my real life, and I found myself spending more time being annoyed or frustrated than I did having fun and enjoying my time. And that’s not what we’re here for. To the vast majority of us, this is a past time, it’s something we do to wind down, and it shouldn’t cause us more stress. It’s just not worth that.

So try to remember why you’re here, and find the things that are fun for you. If something frustrates you, you’re entirely in your right to get out and do something else :)

WildStar Strangelove thumb

2: The two-post rule of thumb

This one has been quite a useful (and sometimes difficult) one for me. It’s more forum related, and not just roleplay forums, but every are online where people can talk and debate really.
Basically, I try to stick to the rule of thumb that if I find myself disagreeing with someone, after I have posted twice, and we do not seem to be any closer to agreeing than when we started, I stop posting. It can be hard, trust me. You really want them to see your way and you feel you have all the right arguments. But in reality, you will almost never reach an understanding if you’re not in the process of that from the beginning. So many forum debates turns into an endless spiral, where people keep bringing up the same arguments. Often, the participants in the debate don’t even really disagree, they just have different understandings on the various words.

WildStar Strangelove Argument

"Russians should have their own servers!"
"What!?  Why can't we share waiters?  You racist!"

But remember this: No one is keeping score. No one is counting how many times you ended up getting the last word, and if they do, well, it’s not someone I would strive to please anyway.

Getting into a debate that has no real chance of solution is only frustrating and really not helpful. You can spare yourself a lot of annoyance by simply getting out. Especially if a debate is bottom line about personal preferences, because in that case, it makes about as much sense as debating what is prettier, red or blue.

WildStar Stranglove fix 

3: Realize that you cannot "fix” the community

We all want the roleplay to be the best it possibly can, and a lot of us have standards. I’ve called myself an elitist in the past, and it’s overall a word that split the waters in the community, most often because people read completely different things into it.

Elitist or not is really not the point here though. Instead, the important aspect is to understand and acknowledge that no matter how good your intentions are, and no matter how "right” you might possibly be, you cannot fix the community. Setting up rules won’t help, cursing at people for playing sparkling vampires neither. Half of the community won’t even agree to fix things, and the other half will disagree on how to do it.

I stress it again, no matter how good your intentions are, you cannot fix the community. 

WildStar Strangelove fix2

Will everyone stop FIGHTING and just start HUGGING already!?

Once I realized that and stopped trying, I started relaxing and honestly having a lot more fun.
I was never one of the people who’d whisper others with what they were doing wrong, but I could be pretty vocal on the forums, I definitely had my opinions.

But once I accepted that those opinions were mine, and I could just choose not to play with the people that bothered me, it helped a lot.

I know how frustrating it can be to see places like Goldshire turn into a mish-mash of what you consider to be bad roleplay and hook ups, but there is nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t mean you should give up on creating what you feel is good roleplay, but lead by example instead.  Roleplay how you feel good roleplay is, give advice when it’s asked for, help out new roleplayers. But stop trying to fix people who don’t agree they’re broken. For your own sanity’s sake :)

WildStar Strangelove support

4: Support your friends

Not everyone you play or roleplay with will be close friends, but some will. And you might not always agree with them, or how they roleplay, or what character they’re playing. Still, unless they’re harming someone, try staying supportive. Even if they decide to reroll yet again, or switch games or stop roleplaying for a while. It can be so frustrating when a character you’ve come to enjoy disappears, but as stated in #1, we’re here to have fun, so are your friends. There might be a reason why they don’t want to play a specific character anymore, or they might just want to try out something new. They might have completely fallen in love with another game and not the one you personally love, yet you want to keep what you guys had.

WildStar Strangelove judge

It's the fluoride in the water, isn't it?  That's why you never call anymore!

But trust me, complaining, or trying to guilt or manipulate them into staying will only push them further away. More likely than not, they’re not trying to hurt you, they’re just trying to find the way to play that is the most fun to them. Unless they’re obviously being selfish, bite down your disappointment and support them, keeping your friendship alive outside of the game or those specific RP characters. If they are rerolling, help them get their new character involved in the various scenes going on and don't make them feel like they "owe you" for that. If it was someone you enjoyed roleplaying with before, chances are, you’ll enjoy their new character too. And if they change game, be curious. Perhaps you’d like to try it too? If not, that’s fine, not playing together right now does not mean you can’t remain friends

Games and characters are not like romantic relationships.  You can have more than one.

It can be tough, but in the long run, it’s worth it. Trying to control your friends will only push them away.  The strongest friendships are the one where people support each other no matter what.

WildStar Strangelove sweat

5: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I think most of us can agree that stuff like metagaming, god modding or powerplaying usually are somewhat boring for everyone else involved, and usually considered pretty poor roleplay. However, I’ve also seen several people getting annoyed or enraged about things that really didn’t have anything to do with how good the roleplay actually is. Stuff like "She’s smaller than the average” or "she has curls” has been blamed for just trying to attract romance (Yes, I've actually heard that).

Think about the most important things that make good roleplay for you. To me for instance, it matters that people stay within the lore, that they have fun and a sense of humor, and that they focus on other people having fun too, not just themselves. There’s of course more things, but for this example, let’s just use those three. Those are the things that to me makes good roleplay. If I’m roleplaying with a friend who fits these criteria, it doesn’t really matter if it’s the third character they play this month, if they have legs that won’t quit or if the roleplay in past tense and I prefer present. Sure, I might have my own personal preferences on those matters, but it’s not something that’s going to completely ruin a roleplay experience for me.

WildStar Strangelove pet peeve

This thing with Jimmy always having to be the tallest is getting out of hand... why did he roll a gnome?

Of course you might focus on completely different core principles and rules, and whatever is most important to you matters.  It is when all the little things build up that you realize almost everyone is going to break some minor standard at one time or another that you can't avoid stressful encounters.

Try not having too many rules for yourself, and the ones you do have, make sure they really matter. It is totally fair to only wish to roleplay with people you get along with and who fit your RP style, but if you build up a wall of things that actually don’t matter that much when it all comes down to it, you’re potentially cheating yourself from a lot of fun roleplay (and a lot of good friends).

WildStar Strangelove self irony

6: Don’t take yourself or your character too seriously.

No one likes feeling like a fool. However, there will be people who don’t get your character, or create silly roleplay around you, or have a different reaction than you expected/wanted. Accept it. If everyone reacts differently than what you were hoping for, maybe you need to make some adjustments? But don’t get angry because people don’t treat your character like the most powerful warrior they’ve ever met. Some characters are deadpan snarkers who treat everyone like they are fools, others are boisterous a**holes who will put others down to make themselves feel better. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with you or with your character, and getting upset over it rarely helps. If it’s very important for you that your character is seen in a positive light, it’s especially important that you realize that not everyone is going to like them, especially ICl. Don’t worry so much about it. Be prepared for it, and either shrug it off, or play off of it.

This is something I've struggled with in the past.  People making snide comments OOC, about my character caused me to completely lose interest in her and even drop the character. Even IC reactions towards her contributed to my overall feelings.  It wasn't that I saw her as perfect, but that I let the opinions of others influence my enjoyment of the character.  What I've learned is that I need to be happy with my character, and you can't please everyone.

Have a sense of self irony, both about yourself and especially about your character. Allow them to have a moment where they’re goofy or mess up or stumble. It makes them more "human”, and most often, more likable. Plus, it helps you to not put them on a pedestal.

WildStarStrangelove Relax

7: Relax.

As mentioned, no one is keeping score.  We all make mistakes, even in roleplay.  No one is perfect, and in the end the only thing we have absolute control over is our own reaction.  You can't force anyone into doing anything, and the moment you attempt to you have often already failed.  No one can "fix" the world to conform to their ideal, but they can adjust their own reaction to stress they might encounter.  That's what this little blurb is about.

All these things help me because I've done what I'm advising not to do in the past.  I hope maybe they can help you too, even just a little bit.  Thank you, and remember:

"Gentleman, you can't fight in here this is the WAR room!"

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