Rolling With Role-Players

Age of Conan is just around the corner, and as with any game, the

href="" target="_blank">Age
of Conan is just around the corner, and as with any game, the
community is establishing itself. One of the longest-established groups
of players is the href=""
target="_blank">role-player. They've been around
since well before Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) have hit
the market, and continue to populate the computer games today. But the
role-player population at times seems to be dwindling. Has its day
passed only to make way for a more combat-centric gaming experience?

you don’t know what a role-player is, chances are you
haven’t been communicating much with the rest of the gamers
in whatever MMOG you are playing. Role-players are the people you may
see in game acting in character, doing or saying things as their
in-game character would.

sat down with four role-players from the upcoming game of Age of Conan
to hear their thoughts and experiences as role-players. Not
surprisingly, they all had similar comments.

of the first things we wanted to uncover was the age-old mystery of why
people choose to roleplay. Isn’t a MMOG just about the game?
Killing monsters and baddies, and getting loot? Not to Khalathwyr, a
veteran role-player of almost 18 years, from the guild “ href="" target="_blank">Dark Haven.”
Khalathwyr describes his in-game persona as "akin to Robin Hood, but a
little 'darker.'"

target="_blank">MMORPG. The genre name says a
lot,” explains Khalathwyr. “I understand that some
gamers want to just ‘play a game’ and not get
involved with role-playing, which is perfectly ok. There are, however,
many gamers who grew up playing pencil and paper RPGs and enjoy taking
that experience to a computer game format with other players.

roleplay because it allows me to gain further enjoyment out of the
world my character is in. Anyone who has watched any of the Conan and
Star Wars movies or read any of the novels and thought to themselves
‘How cool would it be to live in that universe?’
has an understanding of why I roleplay.”

isn’t alone in his desire to take the games he plays to
further levels that the average player may not experience. In fact, all
of the players we spoke with said the same thing; they roleplay to have
fun. Except Rocqu who plays an assassin from the guild “ href="" target="_blank">Sanguiphoria.”
He says he does it to meet chicks.

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title="Title of Your Image"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 113px;" alt=""

style="font-style: italic;">"I mainly look for what the game
developers are putting into their game that does not

directly involve bashing something over the head." - Khalathwyr

may be onto something though. Among the players we interviewed was
Laura “Arcania Arabell” Johnston, who has been
role-playing since 2002. She describes her character as "young but
savvy, and quite determined," and is part of the European guild
target="_blank">Dark Desires” who have
caused quite a bit of a buzz on the internet with their unique guild

a group of role-players who enjoy the more adult and sensual RP
themes,” Arcania explains. “I need to stress that
we're not a guild based upon the desire to have cyber sex at every
turn; quite the opposite. We're just a group of people who enjoy
role-play[ing] with a more fun twist than the clichéd themes
of mighty warriors or hardy Amazons - roleplay with a kink.”

not uncommon for a role-playing guild to have a theme, a self-described
“prostitution guild” is certainly not commonplace,
and has been met with a lot of cynicism.

the start there was a LOT of hate,” Arcania tells us,
“whether on our [forum] threads or in our PM boxes.

days though, we sit in quite high regard with other RP guilds and just
other guilds in general. When people started to realize that we're not
sexually depraved children and we're not pedophiles, the hostility died
down and people started to get to know us. 

still get the odd nasty PM or message, but the person is usually
'converted' and they realize that their stereotypes serve no real

play a large role in the gaming community’s views of
role-players as well, and these stereotypes can lead to animosity. So
the question then becomes whether or not it proves to be beneficial to
have an entire server, or set of servers, dedicated specifically to

can be a lot of hate on servers geared towards hardcore RP
Guilds,” Arcania continues, “so to have a server
specificaly for RP is a big plus.”

only is it fun to actually be immersed in a world where people are
acting out their characters but ‘usually’ the
players are a bit more mature,” says Zason, a theatre major,
and emissary of the guild Sanguiphoria when he was asked about
his feelings on role-playing servers.

what do people actually do
on a role-playing server or in a role-playing guild? Is it just a bunch
of running around, talking in character, never actually accomplishing

player city we had in Star Wars Galaxies held dueling contests,
marriages, speederbike races, [and] elections,” Khalathwyr
tells us. This time Khalathwyr’s guild plans on building
another city in Age of Conan to serve as an economic hub.

primary goal is to establish the city of Dark Haven,”
Khalathwyr details, “bringing together a diverse and talented
community of craft-oriented players as well as hardy adventurers. We
would like to see the city grow to become a true center of trade, with
players on our server knowing that they can always come to Dark Haven
and find a wide selection of goods readily available, and the finest
crafters around available to take custom orders. We understand not
everyone will want to be in a guild and thus may not have access to
higher end craft goods. We want to be a place those players can always
turn to.”

a pretty hefty goal, and can certainly be seen as an incredible
accomplishment should Dark Haven succeed in their plans. Part of the
challenge they may face is that Age of Conan hasn’t been
focused primarily on the crafting aspect of the game. One of the real
draws of the game, it gloats, is its robust PvP content.

how does PvP fit in from a role-player’s perspective? While
Dark Haven and other guilds may settle themselves on a PvE server,
other role-playing guilds like Sanguiphoria have decided to land
themselves deep into the PvP game.

really feel part of Robert Howard's universe we think a PvP server
would feel more like the world Howard portrayed in his
stories,” says Rocqu.

think there are a few RP/PvP guilds out there. I think what a lot of
people want out of Age of Conan are mature guilds where we can fight
against one another and have fun doing it. The RP in PvP helps keep the
exploiters and gankers out of guilds that want to have fair and epic
battles between one another.”

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title="Title of Your Image"> title="Actors of "Who's Line is it Anyway?""
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alt="Actors of "Who's Line is it Anyway?""

style="font-style: italic;">"Sometimes it feels like I'm
watching an improv comedy show that I'm a part of." - Rocqu

us, it comes down to the thrill of the hunt,” adds Zason.
“Many of us are really into the PvP aspect and the freedom
that can come with it. I like it if someone is giving you a hard time;
you have the option to feed him your sword.”

has teamed up with other like-minded guilds to form what they refer to
as the “Hyborian Accord,” which is a group of
role-playing guilds with its own political stories.

have had good and bad experiences within our own ranks and in the Age
of Conan community; there are always those who sneer at the idea of
role-play[ing],” Zason goes on to explain. “That is
why role-players should stick together and be on friendly terms OOC
(Out Of Character). We are in a group with other role-play[ing] guilds
called the Hyborian Accord. We have alliances and enemies within the
accord. I think it’s better this way.”

with all of the stories within the guild and the Accord, the fun
involved, and the events planned, it’s not always easy to get
others to try out role-playing and to join in on the fun. Sometimes it
takes a bit of motivation to have friends join the festivities in a
role-playing spirit.

says that “encouragement mainly comes from a few people
taking the lead and just being in character themselves. Those that wish
to give it a shot usually jump right in and, I hope, find it's not a
big weird bear that so many people on forums make it out to

can be hard sometimes depending on who is in your group or if everyone
starts using ventrilo instead of chat channels,” adds Rocqu.

major difficulties, though, don’t stem from the player base
and an unwillingness or hesitation to participate. Some of the biggest
challenges actually come from the games themselves. Developers nowadays
just aren’t putting as much focus into the little things that
make the world feel alive, and rather concentrate their energies on
combat content.

think that idea of role-playing is the most streamlined and/or
neglected concept when it comes to AAA MMORPG developers
today,” tells Khalathwyr. “What I mean by that is
that combat is the focus and that other aspects are ancillary if at all
included. Everyone gets to play a combatant with meager non-fighting
abilities to round the character out. Star Wars Galaxies (Pre href=""
target="_blank">NGE) was the last AAA title that I
believe gave equal attention to both combat and all things non-combat,
and allowed for many enjoyable hours of hanging out with people I'd
never met in cantinas listening to the music. I know many believe that
it's up to the role-playing community to be creative in this respect
and I think that has been the case as much as possible. I do believe,
though, that there are many non-combat related items/abilities that
companies can add to their games that we've seen in the past, such as
in-game books that players can write in; this and other tools of
role-playing creativity, that aren't making it into games anymore and
the idea of a persistent online world, as opposed to an online game, is
narrowing in scope and may be dying.”

role-playing is dying. New MMO games come and go a lot more rapidly in
today’s market than they did even five years ago. Maybe
developers are in such a rush to push a game out to appeal to the
immediate masses, that they are overlooking the addition of enough
detail into their games to make them feel “alive.”
Without this kind of life of its own, it’s not surprising
that the lifespan of most MMOGs is a lot shorter than it ever has been
in the past. Players, whether role-playing or not, eventually lose
interest in something that doesn’t feel immersive. While
having a role-playing population may certainly help; if those players
aren’t given the tools they need to keep things fresh and
involved the game itself may very well stagnate and eventually fade
away with all of the other titles that didn’t have what it

come and go, but good gaming experiences last decades.

style="font-style: italic;">Guild Links:

href="" target="_blank">Dark Haven


target="_blank"> href="" target="_blank">Dark

Thanks to Arcania,
Khalathwyr, Rocqu and Zason for their contributions and comments.

role-playing destined to extinction? Are game developers ignoring the
one important aspect of games that will give them lasting value? Tell
us what you think on the href="">Ten
Ton Forums.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.

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