March 23, 2017

Question of the Week: Should Game Developers Consider Role Players when Designing Online RPGs?

why i don't roleplay
Sometimes, after months away, it's just nice to have a place to call home. © Turbine

While I don’t properly role play, I consider myself something of a halfway RPer: I don’t talk in character to people but I often “rp walk” and emote; all of my characters’ personal banks are COMPLETELY FULL of cosmetic gear, my second guild bank is full of fireworks and party supplies and I’m constantly keeping my eye out for interesting ways in which I can interact with the world of Azeroth. I am pro-player housing and pretty much anything else that, while useless in combat, is there simply for players to have fun and interact with (heaven forbid we goof around and have fun with the world rather than grind out dungeons or raids every night…)

So here’s my question to you: should game developers take role players into consideration when coming up with new content and features for their games or do you think it’s a “waste of development resources”?

why i don't roleplay
A quaint player neighborhood in Bree-Land. Also, a proper cloak. © Turbine

After having played World of Warcraft for awhile I sensed that something was missing: the ability to truly become my character. Upgrading my gear was frankly quite boring. While I enjoy transmog runs I can’t stand gearing and I have no interest in getting gear from dailies, vendors, or raids unless it’s something I like visually. People have to nearly beg me to upgrade my gear because I personally feel like it’s a waste of gold when I could be buying something far more interesting.

Why I don't roleplay
© Turbine

So for a short period of time I quit WoW to play Lord of the Rings Online. And while I fell in love with the neighborhoods, the houses, the guild halls, the better horse walking animation and the amazing opportunities for role play, in the end it just wasn’t Azeroth. I know someday WoW will be shut down and I’ll have to find a new MMORPG to replace it, but the world of Azeroth will always hold a special place in my heart. Hell, I’m wearing a Dalaran shirt today because it’s one of my favorite in-game cities of any game ever.

Why I don't roleplay
© Jinx
© Blizzard Entertainment

Let’s take this question further though. Are gamers viewing these features in the wrong light to begin with and so disregarding them as only for “role players” and possibly alienating developers from working on said content? I’ve had discussions with players in the past who see player housing as something that is useless and only appealing to those who role play. One player responded several months ago with: “Find an empty building in your preferred city/village/community. Pretend it is yours.”

I explained that it just isn’t the same. The doors don’t shut, there’s no customization, and people can walk in whenever they bloody well feel like, ruining any and all hope of immersion.

To which the person replied: “All of which gives you great opportunities for imagination and role playing.”

/Facepalm.

In that case how about we remove all the mobs and bosses from dungeons and raids and you can use your imagination to decide how the fights go?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for pen and paper role playing in which you build the world from the ground up. Hell, I’m a fantasy writer so one of my favorite things to do in life is create worlds and characters. But the entire purpose of playing games like these is that all of that is done for you. Your job is to learn how to play your character and create his or her story if you so desire. Video games are there to be immersive, to allow the player to feel as though they’re really in that world. Telling me to “just pretend” I have a house (or anything else for that matter) in a virtual world is fairly stupid as far as I’m concerned.

Why I don't role play
Lighting the fire in my living room. © Turbine

But what are your thoughts? Are you opposed to such features as player housing? Why or why not? Do you think developers should broaden their work instead of only focusing on non-role players? Is it the fault of the community that online RPGs have gotten so far from their pen and paper (and therefore role play) roots in the first place, or are the devs to blame? Perhaps you feel it’s a combination of both?

This is something all three of us are interested in so let us know what you think and, as all always, have a bloody fantastic weekend!

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Raeyn
About Raeyn 91 Articles
Founder of +10 to Fire Resist | Streamer | Happiest when it's storming.⛈ Feel free to email me at Raeyn@plus10tofireresist.com and follow me on Twitter! @JustRaeyn
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