- Skunkwerks's brow furrowed in concentration as he studied the blueprints of the orc fortress.
- “Cool story bro. No, really”, he said, putting on his robe and wizard's hat.
This is all OOC info about me, but then again, it's a user page and I promise you much of this regards my involvement in Roleplay, so why not?
Some of you may know me by this name through the Official ER Realm forum, but may not be as familiar with my presence as a Roleplayer on Earthen Ring. Aye, it's true, long before I was being called a Troll on the WoW forums (and a few forums of other MMOs) I've been a tabletop PnP (that's Pencil and Paper) Roleplayer for about 15 years running. As in a lot of cases, RP troupes break up and well, I found the MMO setting to be terribly convenient to get my fix for RP.
At first I fiddled in "chat-based RP" (not really sure if you'd call it MUSH, MUD or whatever, I wasn't well-versed in those terms as I think I got involved at the tail end of their popularity) as MMO's hadn't yet reached their full splendor anyway, and I ended up helping to administrate a portion of a White Wolf Games-based RP setting. It was pretty big. Big enough that White Wolf was considering co-opting it as their official online presence at one point, as I understand it (and this was back in the day when games like Vampire: the Masquerade were still a big deal). It was also big enough to make the Oprah Winfrey show at one point, where we are all vilified as "a cult of vampire-worshiping satanists" or something to that effect.
After that, I started fiddling with MMOs, leading me through City of Heroes, and eventually, here.
As with other MMOs I've been in, I actually typically have ended up following the missus. She was actually here before me, but I hopped in about a month later and took to it like a fish to water. Some months later, I started posting on the Official Realm Forum and gained notoriety for "zOMGNOTPOASTINGONURMAINWTF*%$GOHAN!!!111!eleventyone!" This lead to many lulz, including the meme that I am basically everyone on the server, since, you know, I've been accused of being an alt of just about every major "forum personality" on the server at one time or another... something that still occurs every now and then, I'm told.
But anyhow, yeah, all part of my style, if people suggest something that is outlandish or ludicrous, I just sorta pick it up and run with it to the point of total absurdity. I guess it never occurred to anyone that I could just be some guy who came to the server fairly recently and just really liked to post on forums and really preferred to do it with one particular character regardless of other higher level characters I may have had at the time. The simple explanations for things are rarely the ones folks like to think about, I guess.
Yeah, I have opinions, and I like to post, I like to write, you know? I don't expect folks to agree with me or anything. But because I've frequently lodged my disagreements with certain popular forum "movements" (usually because they were completely ridiculous in premise and I don't mind pointing that out when I see it), I eventually earned the title of "Forum Troll". Which as I've come to learn from my time on the internet, really is an empty accusation, and really isn't all that hard to earn. Just disagree with someone who can't really form a cogent counter-argument to your assertion (and on the internet, these sorts of people are legion, I assure you), and you pretty much have it in the bag.
As such, I don't really believe in Trolls myself, but I don't really care if people call me one. As Bullet-Tooth Tony said, "You can call me 'Susan' if it makes you happy." In the meantime I do actually "play the game"- I play it decently, and in many ways, RP being one of several.
I started initially with little interest in Horde Races, and had actually planned to roll entirely Alliance at first. So for a good while- about a year or so- I had all ten slots filled with various Alliance characters. And then I got invited to play a bit Hordeside by some friends. I rolled a Tauren Warrior (Cualgne) and decided I had a bit of interest after all. When Blizzard finally announced Burning Crusade, I was hooked. Rolled up some placeholders (Sharael, Facet and Siderael- I would move Tenebrai from a Night Elf Alliedside to a Blood Elf Hordeside as well) and bided my time. Now I'm still a bit imbalanced- 6 Allies/4 Horde- but I'm getting better with it, and I've found some friends over that side of the line as well.
There's a pretty good chance I will finally balance all this out when I go to roll a Death Knight- my option seems to be nixing my Warlock Malchiae and rerolling him Hordeside as a Death Knight (same name and all). That'll finally bring it even, and possibly make Mal fun to play- never could get into Warlocks, for whatever reason.
This sort of information, I suppose, gives away the "big secret" about who SkunkWerks is, but then again, to my mind, it was never really a big secret anyway. And while I don't broadcast who I am, finding it out really isn't terribly hard if you want to. For more information on why Skunkwerks has, and always will be "my main", see this.
Current Black Projects
Sooper Sekret Stooph!
- All About Addons
- Big 'Ol List O' Addons.
- Account safety page.
- Pretty much any of my ten alts' pages on here.
Buying 6th tab for Alliedside "Guild"bank.
- Getting my Wife to level alongside me in Northrend... with ANY character. This is a lot more challenging than you'd think- she's more distractable than I am, if you can imagine this.
- Hellyna 72
- Aelevere 63!
- Aracelis 63!
Bringing Skunkwerks to 80... first. Figuring out just where the heck one gets a Flying Machine pattern for Engineering (for Skunk)- I am under the impression there's two. Getting Skunkwerks Epic Flight. Getting Skunkwerks Cold Weather Flight. Getting a Mekengineer's Chopper (This may or may not entail getting Skunk the pattern- which he must first get Alliance Vanguard Exalted for).
Getting Skunk to the 75 pet mark (two sources I am currently working are the Argent Tourney and the Outland Fishing Daily for Crocolisks in the City).
Getting Malchiae to 80
Getting Sharael to 80
Getting Facet to 80
- Mountain of Mounts Achievement (96/100)
Glory of the Hero Achievement Loremaster Meta-Achievement 3000 Quests Completed Obtaining all of the pieces of the Bloodfang armor set.
- Getting the "Blue Bloodfang" set.
Chestguard of No Remorse Cowl of the Guiltless
- Mantle of the Unforgiven (Heroic Mana Tombs - Prince Shaffar)
- Armwraps of Disdain (Heroic Underbog - Swamplord Musel'ek)
- Gloves of the Unbound (Normal or Heroic Arcatraz - Wrath-Scryer Soccothrates)
- Liar's Cord (Heroic Slave Pens - Rokmar the Crackler)
- Leggings of the Unrepentant (Heroic Blood Furnace - Keli'dan the Breaker)
- Boots of the Unjust (Heroic Auchenai Crypts - Exarch Maladaar)
- Another Bloodfang Look-a-Like
- Promoting and supporting the ForTheAlliance and ForTheHorde RP Sandbox Channels. Why? Because.
- Prying nerds and geeks out of their comfy dark corners whereever possible.
- Fomenting chaos.
- Entertaining myself.
- Confusing the crap out of people.
- A Theatrical play to be put on by <Masque>... one of these days...
Roleplay "style". I suppose everyone's got one (those who roleplay, anyway). Mine primarily involves inclusiveness the the rejection of pretentiousness, reclusiveness and exclusivity in Roleplay. I also believe in promoting good player relations first. Because if you can't stand the people you play with, you're probably not going to enjoy anything you do with them, Roleplaying included. This also leads me to say a few things that bear relevance specifically to Roleplay in the WoW environment- and in particular in regards to "RP Servers" and how they should ideally be treated (or perhaps, not treated).
Bear in mind, this is all my opinion, of course. But maybe it will help you, the reader decide how (or perhaps even not) to interact with me. If you get something out of it, cool, if not, well, I can't really offer you back the time you spent reading it.
Good Player Relations come before ALL else
This, to me, seems elementary. And yet in my experience it's something a lot of WoW players (not just Roleplayers, but also Raiders, PvPers, etc.) seem keen to forget or ignore. But it's not hard to see this at work (and is probably even easier to see when it doesn't work).
If I don't like you, I probably won't play with you. Not for Gold, not for XP, not for Quest Completion, Honor, Rep, Marks, and yes, not even for RP.
To some Roleplayers, this concept may even seem unfair or "favoritist". These people especially are forgetting that WoW is, first and foremost, a game- a game I started playing to have fun. Let's put this in a slightly different context: would you play Monopoly with a guy who routinely cheats (or, for that matter, routinely beats his children)? No. Why? Knowing this, you probably wouldn't enjoy it. The same principles are at work with RP- I am not obligated to play with anyone, for any reason. And if I'm not having fun playing with you (and worse, the act of playing with you is actually causing me grief), guess what I'm going to do?
It's not wrong to seek fun in a game, and avoid that which is not fun. If that-which-is-not-fun happens to unfortunately find it's embodiment in a player, then understandably, people will avoid that person, and would be well within their rights to do so.
Things I LIKE
Strange as it may sound, I do indeed have some things and qualities I watch out for in Roleplay and Roleplayers because I think they are intrinsically good things, and given the length and breadth of my rants about my dislikes, felt they need some sort of representation here as well.
Sense of Humor
Very underrated in Roleplayers and in Characters, and very under-exercised as well. In real life, I value any person who can laugh at themselves. And this is because people who can do this are more fun to be around, don't take themselves so seriously, and generally aren't so sensitive about small things.
This really works no differently with Characters. And it's a common flaw I see with a lot of characters I meet out there that they have to be ever-freakin' serious all the time. Indeed, they can NEVER be made to look silly- either by others or even by themselves, so on and so forth. Being around people who treat thier characters this seriously frankly becomes a yawning bore really quickly.
But a character with a good sense of humor about themselves and other things? Now that's something I always see as an encouraging sign. You may note that many of my characters have something of a humorous side to them- either by cracking jokes directly, or sometimes by being humorous without knowing it.
It's okay to laugh at yourself- really it is. And it's not going to ruin the quality of your Roleplay. Try it sometime.
Open-minded to Others' Ideas
This one is to me very important. As I state many times throughout this diatribe: MMO RP is a communal setting. It's created by absolutely everyone who participates in it. This means that participants, ideally have to be ready to accept a certain degree of compromise when it comes to their characters. Not everyone can completely have their way in things, or else other people feel as though they've been ignored.
You can't force people to be fair- this rather defies the point. So it's comforting to see people who are willing right from the get-go to compromise for the greater good of the setting and the Roleplay unfolding in it.
Many people like to take the "scripted" approach to RP- to more or less have everything that will or won't, and all that which could or could not happen defined in advance. They will then stick to this outline very rigidly, with little room for compromise. Now, as you can see here, I like to write quite a lot myself, and am all too eager to write outlines for my own characters, but usually this concerns their background. I instead prefer to give an idea of what's likely to happen rather than what will. And if circumstances allow for other opportunities, I take them.
Seeing other Roleplayers out there that are willing to "take the plunge" and do things other than what was planned is a great comfort to me. And I welcome it whereever I encounter it.
Serverwide OOC Channels/Sandboxes
Why? Well, as I said, player relations come first, and any opportunity to introduce players to one another and "break the ice" as it were is to me a good thing. Another reason it's a good thing is that Roleplayers are, as I've said elsewhere in this "manifesto" nearly always a minority group. When there's RP going on, it's nice to be able to find it- even outside the usual hangouts, such as the Park in Stormwind and so forth.
And as with all such things, participation is of course, voluntary. It can't really be anything other than this. But ideally, it should be free. I've seen channels that were created with the idea of restricting topics of discussion ("must be about RP or RP-related" and so forth). They really don't work, and they create mostly silent "lurking places" that may as well not be chat channels.
You may hear my tone a number of times throughout my writings- that RP is not something to be ashamed of, to be hid, to retreat. RP should be bold, it should be forward, and it should be unafraid by my reckoning. New seekers will fairly often make this mistake- assuming there can be no RP where there aren't already Roleplayers. The concept of starting their own seems somehow... risky, or undesirable. I say this isn't the way it should be. People can and should try to incite RP where there is none.
And this won't always succeed, of course, but lack of a 100% success-rate really isn't a terribly good excuse for not trying, or ceasing to try. Keeping a positive, proactive attitude is a great thing, and I find it to be an encouraging sign in other Roleplayers.
While reactiveness is obviously a part of RP, too often have I seen it be the dominant, or worse, the only mode in which RP operates. This usually expresses itself as a certain set of conditions which must be met in order for RP to occur- it must be in a certain place, or a certain person must be there, or certain "other people" cannot be there, and so on. Frankly, I don't think this is terribly healthy either. People should be willing, again, to be the first domino in the chain reaction. I'm encouraged when I see Mohammed go to the mountain.
Static RP Venues
This form of venue tends to be more common to the Alliance side of RP on Earthen Ring, using the game's empty buildings, glades, fields, beaches and other environments as a basis for regular RP. A good example of a venue of this sort would be Stormwind City Park- wherein is presently housed a player created sub-venue: a bar called the Laughing Jester. This sort of venue is one where you can generally always find Roleplayers at nearly any given time Roleplayers are on.
It's argued back and forth sometimes whether static venues are better or worse than mobile ones. Personally I feel both have their advantages and are worth benefiting from. A static venue has the advantage of "always being there" for a Roleplayer on-the-hunt for activity. Seekers and new Roleplayers may ask where to find RP, and places like these are often pointed to. The disadvantage of a static venue (aside from obviously taking advantage of some environments over others that may be equally worthy places) is when people become overly dependent on it to the point where it becomes a "hidey-hole" and little RP is found outside it.
Mobile RP "Venues"
While I suppose you couldn't truly call a moving place a "place", there's really no better name for this phenomenon. It's often said that Horde-style RP may be found anywhere out in the open- i.e.: anywhere there are Roleplayers. The advantages to this approach are many. Besides the ever-changing freshness of the setting, you open yourself up to running into many different people out in the open environment that you may otherwise not meet cloistered in some particular setting.
The big disadvantage of course is that mobile venues may be hard for many players to find- you just sort of have to get lucky and run into them. OOC channels and forum announcements ahead of time can help. Both the static and mobile venues are open in my opinion to about the same amount of players, but just to different sorts. The wandering or curious roleplayer may find himself running into mobile venues quite frequently.
This simulacra term comes from the classic PvP nomenclature in which one player attacks another player from an unflagged state- initiating PvP without warning and usually without provocation. The term has been adapted to RP since and has been tossed around with the colloquial meaning of initiating Roleplay with another Roleplayer without prior warning. But whereas in PvP the practice is often frowned upon as "unsportsmanlike behavior", in RP it is usually good.
This sort of off-the-cuff approach often generates RP that is fresh and vibrant for those who are open to it. For those who are more committed to script and protocol however, it may seem discomfiting and perhaps even rude. For my part, whether I'm doing the bluewalling or being bluewalled, I usually take it as an encouraging behavior, and an overall positive phenomenon.
We has them. And whereas other peoples' tend to be "surface" things like improper grammar, use of "genre" speech, and so on, mine over the long time that I've RPed, in WoW and elsewhere, has evolved into something a bit more fundamental. If you're brave enough gentle reader to read on, I'd strongly advise that you keep it in mind that these are just things I've witnessed over the course of my tenure as a Roleplayer. When I call out "Roleplayers" I am doing so in a very general sense, and this by no means applies to absolutely everyone who Roleplays (let alone everyone who Roleplays in WoW). It does however seem to apply to at least some of them to varying degrees.
And if you're looking at any of this, and say to yourself "hey! I resemble that remark!" well, the only I have to tell you here is that I hold no grudges, and I really do mean it when I say, "as it harm none, do as thou wilt". All the same, I don't give up the right to render judgment on things I see.
There's other reasons this matter of Player Relations is important though- and in particular, to Roleplay...
Try not to take this too personally dear reader (and in particular since I willfully include myself in the following stereotype), but it has been my longtime observation that there is a certain, intellectual, socially-avoidant personality that tends to get involved in RP most readily (the layman's term, I believe, is "geek"). And because of this, we have a population of enthusiasts who, well, for lack of a kinder way of putting it, would often rather shove their heads in the sand than deal with new or unfamiliar people.
What does this lead to? Well, it can lead to a lot of cliquishness and exclusivity, but the more common form is that I've noticed certain "troupes" of roleplayers will often distrust and mistrust certain other players or groups of players for no real reason other than the fact that they don't really know them. I call this "cattiness"- cats being full of sound and fury at new cats in their territory, but seldom fight over it.
So, how do you fight that? Well, get to know people. It's a lot harder to make bad assumptions about the way people act if you get to know them. There's a lot of ways this can be encouraged in communities, but no way to enforce it. Players really need to check themselves, honestly. If you find yourself shrinking from other people, take a moment to ask yourself why. And if you can find no good reason, then for pity's sake get back out there!
Exclusivity and Elitism
I think a lot of Roleplayers forget that an MMO is a communal setting for RP- an environment where ideally, every character is on an equal footing with one another, and has an equal right to what I like to call "spotlight time". This might not be true in an IC sense (not everyone is a Lord of Stormwind, a High Magister of Silvermoon, etc.), but it is always true in an OOC sense. And if you recall from above, I believe relations between players need nurturing before we start worrying about the relations between characters.
Or to put it in the short form: IC drama = good/OOC drama = bad.
For a variety of reasons (most of which I'd probably attribute to the typical tendencies of people who get involved in Roleplay as a Hobby) people in these MMO RP settings get very "cliquish" and "clannish" about their relations with others outside their normal accustomed circle of acquaintances. They tend to ignore such people more often, and even get a bit "catty" if forced to relate with them. Mind you, once again, I'm not speaking of IC conflict due to some ongoing storyline between characters. I'm talking about Roleplayers and their tendency to turn their noses when people (and circumstances) come along that they aren't familiar with, or don't personally identify with as fitting with their vision of "utopian" roleplay.
Obviously, this doesn't help player interaction much, and Roleplay fails along with it.
Now I'm well aware that others' Roleplay interests may not include the entire purview of others- there's many different ways to Roleplay, and many different Roles to take on. I'm a very strong believer in letting people do as they will- because, when gaming activities become compulsory, what's the point? Still, what I find funny is that many of the same people that preach about fostering a good community ethic of roleplay seem to only really mean to do so when it fits their image of what roleplay is.
A fine example of this is "skill level" and those that are new to Roleplay. I've seen a lot of people completely crushed and disheartened to the idea because some prissy nitwit decided to give them the working over for a stray "lol" or hassle them about their name. I actually find a lot of newer Roleplayers don't understand very basic concepts about the use of "non-genre" language and communication, and will often mix in "WoW-cronyms" and other "WoW-speek" without really being aware of it. And yet, instead of playing the role of benevolent sagely advisors, all too often the "educational" approach seems to be either point-and-laugh or far more often, abandonment.
Reach out to other people. Don't be so quick to dismiss them. Introduce yourself, say hi. Encourage other people to interact by your examples. Because, if the fact that you are excluding other people from your "reindeer games" isn't enough to motivate you to do so, the fact that you are probably hatching the same stale plots over and over and over with the same sorts of players over and over and over should.
Pretentiousness and Ego
Then there's pretension. I suppose maybe my reading of it isn't the only one, but I notice this in a lot of roleplayers (and sadly often in the ones the necessarily nebulous "everyone" seems to regard as quite good). So okay, what the heck am I talking about, I mean, Roleplayers should excel at putting forth false pretense, right? They are after all, pretending to be someone else. And once again I guess I have to say that the problem comes in when the pretense crosses that elusive IC/OOC line- and it does more often than it should, in my opinion.
It comes out in a lot of different ways, some uglier and more obvious than others (e.g.: "godmoding"), but some are more subtle. Now you can see here that I have a penchant for verbosity. I like to write a lot of stuff, but oddly enough, I think you'll find that while Roleplaying in WoW, I try to keep most of my speech and emotes fairly brief. Why? Well, WoW RP is a different format for one thing. See this here? This is my typing space. Now look behind you. The chair your sitting in, and that desk in your living room or bedroom you've got your computer at? Ok, that's your reading space.
I can type as much or as little as I like, and you can decide to read as much as you like or stop reading whenever you feel like it.
In WoW, I am sharing a space with other people. And as such, I feel I should try to be considerate not only to the people I'm directly Roleplaying with, but also to the people around me in the "background" who are also trying to Roleplay at the same time.
I've seen extreme cases of this, where people will hammer you with 10-to-15-line paragraph emotes. There's a few things to be said here- not the least of which involves good writing and how it relates to the concept of 'K.I.S.S.' (short for 'keep it simple, stupid'), also known as brevity. If you can't do it in 1-3 lines, you're probably not doing a good job in the first place. But as we're also talking about Roleplay, another issue comes to mind. I type at, oh say 50-60 words a minute. This is pretty high for your average computer user (and I look at my keyboard too, like I'm not supposed to), it's not exactly clerical speed, but I've got an edge on a lot of folks.
Since when should the acronym "WPM" mean to Roleplay what "DPS" means to Raiding?
Yeah, you heard me. Stop spamming my chatbox with extraneous crap. You're not that important, and if your character isn't trying to dominate the setting, then you are certainly having a good go at dominating my reading. Knock it off. Three lines will most likely suffice where you bludgeoned me with thirteen.
Most characters can't read minds (ok, maybe some, but frankly claiming yours can kinda borders on godmoding anyway). Unless what you're thinking is really, really obvious: show, don't tell. I don't have access to your internal monologue. I have, as an outside observer, only what I can read on your face to go on (which, incidentally, is why the channel's called "Emote" rather than "Narrative"). This isn't a novel you're writing here, and even if it were, since when did novel-writing become a spectator sport? Ever watched someone write a novel? It's pretty freaking boring.
And if you're thinking "well, some people might miss out on my great RP," I've got news for you, if your emotive expressiveness doesn't interest me enough to inquire or investigate further, then it's very possible that you're not interesting, or that my character is just not interested for their own reasons. Let it lie. Find other people who are interested, or otherwise inclined to be. If you think you aren't getting it across clearly to me and maybe that's why I'm not biting, okay, that's fine too. However, the solution to this isn't necessarily making your emotes longer, is it?
This seems to be the present "WoWcronym" for it- with a caution that I don't think it's ever apt to supplant the more generally popularized term "cybersex" or "cyberz". I think it's meant to be a sanitization of the latter in an attempt to stand out and seem more distinguished and legitimate than common "cybersex". "ERP" apparently stands for "Erotic Roleplay". And it's more distinguished proponents will try and sell you on the notion that it "enhances the realism of RP" while sorta shaming you by implication that if you fail to engage in it, then you're "limiting" or "handicapping" yourself as a Roleplayer.
To be blunt, for the most part, I find this line of reasoning to be a crock of you-know-what.
And while I do actually believe that "Erotic Roleplay" as it's called can be distinguished, noble, and even used in ways that can enhance Roleplay, I would add that most people, even many of it's distinguished proponents, rarely if ever do so. Instead, so-called "adult roleplay" is more often than not an orgy of wish-fulfillment-at-any-cost and has little if anything to do with advancing plot or character development.
Now, It'd be awfully hypocritical of me if I went looking down my nose at others for the way they choose to play, and so that is why I say here, I don't. It's not my business what consenting adults do behind closed doors (so long as they keep it there, anyway). I just refuse to acknowledge the majority of frankly vapid arguments that there is typically any "higher" or more "noble" cause behind it than the garden-variety desire for self-gratification. Don't try to mask your overactive hormones by calling it Roleplay, I guess is what I'm saying.
And if you're okay with the shallowness, that's fine by me. My Wife and I have, as a couple, engaged in this sort of RP before as a kind of foreplay- I won't get any more graphic about it than that, I promise you. But when we have done so, we have kept it very much to ourselves (often found venues other than WoW, for instance), and we don't try to fool ourselves or anyone else that we're doing this for any "higher purpose"- it is what it is to us.
It does concern me somewhat the "freedom" with which this sort of thing is tossed around as well, and for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the rather obvious pitfall that there are many people playing MMOs that are not of age to be experiencing such things.
Because of what it is meant to simulate, I feel this sort of Roleplay has the potential to be every bit as emotionally disruptive and damaging to individuals and relationships as its real-world counterpart. And it kinda bugs me that a lot of people discount that- suggesting that, if its not actual sex, then it doesn't "count". I guess it doesn't "count" in a lot of ways then. But personally I think that, just like people trying to fool themselves that it isn't wish-fulfillment, they also try to fool themselves that it comes with no responsibility.
That's a shame, quite frankly.
"RP is dead!" (Doom!)
Now here's an oldie but a goodie. A statement that really makes me wonder if even some Roleplayers themselves have the faintest clue just what Roleplay really is. I suppose it shouldn't be too hard to get people to agree that Roleplay, being an idea rather than a person, can't really "die". But that's really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to debunking the attitude that belies it.
That attitude seems to be one where the concept of ongoing Roleplay is externalized and assigned responsibility to some nebulous "other" entity (left undefined as often as not) for its well-being rather than seen as the responsibility of everyone taking part in it. In other words, once again, the notion that Roleplay is a communal activity (particularly in MMOs) is entirely missed. If Roleplay "dies" (in the metaphorical sense) who's at fault?
Well, I'm going to tell you: it's us. ALL of us.
In which case, it's up to all of us to get out the defibrillator and start performing CPR. No one else. Us. And what's more about this metaphor of "RP dying" is that being an activity that's fueled by so many of us, it ebbs and flows, dies and is reborn constantly. Just like trends in clothes, nothing ever dies, it just gets recycled.
I'm not really sure where this trend began, if it's unique to WoW, or what, but it seems as though people are very into divvying up RP into categories. You'll even find this in many popular RP flagging Addons in WoW: a selection for "Light", "Medium", or "Heavy" Roleplay (whereever possible I usually indicate "normal Roleplay"- let people scratch their heads about that one for a bit). What to say about this? I guess there's nothing wrong with trying to be descriptive, to explain a concept to someone you need descriptive words.
To some these words are a reflection of how much time you spend Roleplaying, or In-Character. To others this may reflect an elusive 'other' element- such as how "hardcore" you are about RP. I guess as long as you and the other people have an agreement and understanding of how you're using these terms, then it's ok, as a means of communicating a concept. But at some level you have to understand that using a concrete word to describe an idea as large and vague as RP- and specifically how one person or group of people engage in it, falls to pieces if you don't have that ephemeral understanding between the communicator and the listener.
The real problem comes in when people start trying to set standards across large groups of people according to vague notions like this. So many things affect those concepts that it's really just flat out impossible to use them in ways that large groups of people are going to agree on. None of this of course stops people from trying, and that is, of course, where it all starts smelling pretty rank.
LOLlore: Thou Shalt Have No Sci-Fi in Thy Fantasy (and Vice Versa)
What is "LOLlore" and how does it happen?
"LOLlore" is the term that seems to have cropped up on the forums meant to describe any discussion, dispute or complaint with regard to WoW's central "Lore"- or the myths and history that pretty much defines the events and reality of the WoW universe. In other trades, such as novel writing, this collective of writing and ideas is usually referred to as a "fantasy world", "mythos" or "legendarium" (if you like fancy-schmancy speek).
As for how it happens? Well, there's a lot of people out there that will tell you that LOLlore happens when some stupid stinky writer (usually new) goes and deliberately pinches a big steaming loaf and then cleans off his posterior with pages containing, in hallowed runic script, the mythos of WoW. Later on Archaeologists will discover this ancient writer's rectal ablutment parchments and confuse scatologists and paleolinguists alike with his heresy.
But I'm not here to try to explain to you what stupid people think, so I'm going to offer you what I think to be a far more reasonable explanation for the phenomenon of LOLlore.
Some wise person in the general discussion forums (whose name I can't recall, and whose words I can only paraphrase from memory now) once said the following in a thread speculating that the Wrath of the Lich King expansion could be the end of LOLlore. What he said was (roughly) thus:
- "LOLlore will always continue to exist because there will always be some fan of WoW out there whose vision of how they should have written it doesn't agree with the way Blizzard did write it."
And that pretty much sums it up. But if you'd like me to expound a bit more on the phenomenon, sure, why the crap not?
LOLlore happens (as many percieved slights observed by Roleplay-types often do) when someone has one or more completely unreasonable or unrealistic expectations about how such things are accomplished. The first and foremost of which is this general sense you get from complainers that they somehow believe "lore" is written, start to finish, in one go- no rewrites, no drafts, no edits, no "retcons".
In this vision of things, Tolkien for instance sat down on the john for 3-5 years straight and crapped out one long loaf that we now know as the Middle Earth Legendarium. Moreover, it came out his arse in exactly the same condition as it went into his mouth. We know this isn't true, of course. And even with Tolkien, grandaddy of fantasists, the disjointed collection of thoughts and ideas that were written and re-written and eventually coalesced into the final product over time, is fairly pronounced and easy to spot given that much of Middle Earth's "lore" was written in notes that were published after Tolkien's death in more "polished" form, such as the Silmarillion.
Tolkien frequently writes and rewrites ideas, changes character names (ever notice how many different names a single character in Tolkien's writing can have?), and retcons the crap out of everything. And this is Lore-with-a-single-author, we're discussing here. In the case of WoW, we're talking about a universe that was written more or less by committee- dozens of people brought it to life- and you're seriously expecting this to be a perfect product with no inconsistencies whatsoever?
Another common insipidness LOLlore accusers like to spew like vomit is this notion that, somehow, a fantasy setting should contain no "modern" elements in it. Now I don't know about you, but as long as I've been reading fantasy novels, I've been finding them in a section of my local Waldenbooks usually titled "Fantasy/Sci-Fi". Moreover, many of the books I took from those thusly-labeled shelves indeed sometimes mixed the two genres.
Excellent examples of this phenomenon can be seen in the works of Larry Niven, or Stephen King's Dark Tower saga- which blends elements of spaghetti western, post-apocalyptica, medieval England, feudal Japan and the notion of alternate dimensions into one continuous, strangely homogeneous fantasy setting. Heck, if you really read into Tolkien's work in Lord of the Rings, you can very clearly see that one of the themes he's expounding upon with Saruman and his re-envisioning of Isengard is a theme of industrialization.
This isn't a new idea. And yet these nimrods will make posts, and throw around terms like "space goats" like it's some sort of absurdity that everyone should see and that only Blizzard could author so "blitheringly".
Ok, we get it, you don't like how it's written. None of that means it isn't written well. Furthermore, you aren't the one writing it, so please go stick it in your ear.
And I Raaaaan, I Ran So Far Awaaaaaaaay...
Part of the "sticking your head in the sand" variety of coping with adversity, this one usually comes up when other methods have been exhausted- such as making a very long, poorly-reasoned dissertation on the forums about how underloved Roleplayers are in WoW and being predictably ignored and or mocked off the forums for it. This usually only comes up with those Roleplayers who have established a particular place where their RP centers on, such as a particular empty building or area of a capital city, or whatever. It usually only finds cause to occur if that area is at least close in proximity to either "non-roleplayers" or has somehow attracted the attention of pretty much just any large mass of people with an undifferentiated variety of interest in the game.
In other words: people not like you.
Now then, I don't believe that all good RP has to be rooted to a particular location, but there is a certain charm to all this environment Blizzard has created for us, and it's nice to appreciate it by using it. There's scores of empty buildings, plazas, taverns, glades, ports and what-have-you out there that make really idyllic backdrops for hanging out in-character. And what's more, RP centered on a particular place can always be found by those who know where to look. So it's a shame to me when a group of Roleplayers suddently decides to abandon a place, particularly when the reasoning seems to be that there's people noticing goings-on there and trooping on in to hang out, basically.
The deserters will then typically offer up some vapid, imagined excuse for why it's no longer a good venue- usually having something to do with "lots of n00bs hanging around saying 'lol' and such all the time" even if said "n00bs" are in fact Roleplayers themselves just making an honest effort to join in the fun and make things interesting. Wouldn't we want to encourage these people? Bring them amiably into the fold and show them how it's done?
Of course not! Are you MAD?
Yeah, I am just about that crazy. I have this crazy notion in mind that Roleplay and engaging in it are, first and foremost, nothing to be ashamed of, and secondly, something that is most fun when shared.
You may pull the paddy-wagon around now. I'm ready Warden.
A Roleplayer's "Utopia" or "Home Is Where the Hermit Is"
The farcical notion that Blizzard has "failed" (either through incompetence or neglect) to keep RP servers for-RP has lead some among the broader WoW RP community to thinking that even more drastic measures need to be taken in order to "save" RP from the "filthy unwashed hordes of non-RPers". To this end, many of this persuasion will advocate that Blizzard should create for them an even more exclusive place to keep their RP "inviolate". More exclusive even than a server that has the little "(RP)" on the end of it. Now given that I've already discussed my feelings on just how utterly pointless I think servers flagged for RP are in the first place, what form an even more exclusive safe-haven for Roleplay would take completely boggles my mind to envision, but yeah, there you have it.
And barring that idea, some of these "pilgrims" decided to make it for themselves. A good for-instance of this is that, not that long ago, there had been a big movement for Roleplayers to conduct a mass-exodus to the Moon Guard server. Posters on the forums were at that time sniping at the Realm forums of many RP servers imploring them to flee their oppressors and go to a shiny happy place where they would be more welcome, and presumably meet more people like themselves. Actually this still occasionally crops up now and then.
In the first place, the notion of "Utopia" is really highly overrated. A world in perfect balance, while predictable and comfortable, is hardly ever interesting. And while Roleplay does tend to thrive in more "sheltered" environments, this is as much due to player "shyness" as it is any statement on the value of "safe-havens". In short: Roleplayers would get out more if they would get out more- and the world (imagined or otherwise) wouldn't end because of it. Yes, sometimes Roleplay and Roleplayers, need safety. But sometimes they also need a swift kick in the ass.
If the concept of Utopia isn't highly overrated, then it's typically completely infeasible. And this is why Moon Guard is now reporting that its movement for a "perfect" RP venue is fading and losing vigor. This is partly due to principally not being able to keep those filthy unwashed hordes of non-RPers off your server, as I've discussed elsewhere, but it also because, to be quite frank: just because someone is a Roleplayer, doesn't necessarily mean they're anyone you'd care to hang around with.
I've yet to meet a play demographic that has cornered the market on decent players, Roleplayers are no exception.
I've been to places- other MMOs- where the quality of the PvE content is so poor, so "broken", that the only thing you really can do is roleplay. This draws in a lot of roleplayers in, who then sit around, cyber in harems with one another, plot against one another in the same old stale ways over and over, and generally look down their nose at anyone who doesn't think their scat don't stink.
Welcome to Roleplayers' Utopia: a place conceived by and for Roleplayers. Please enjoy your stay.
Fish or Fowl?
This is actually one I haven't really personally experienced, but I have heard from friends before that this kind of thing happens. Apparently, at least to some Roleplayers, if you Raid (PvE) or PvP, and in particular you appear to have some obvious outward evidence of your efforts in those endeavors in the form of Gear or Loot, you can't RP.
The more reasonable among you may be thinking at this point, 'what the heck is he talking about? Does he mean that Raid and PvE gear often looks ridiculous and/or infeasible as RP attire?
And the answer would be, no, not really (though actually I do agree that some if not a lot of raiding gear does in fact, look ludicrous- it's not really what I'm talking about here). What appears to be happening here is that some roleplayers (I stress that I have yet to meet any who do this myself) apparently are trying to enact some sort of edict in the form of a classic "fish or fowl" commandment: Thou Shalt Not Mix PvE Game Content With Thy Arpee. Apparently if you forsake this commandment, to these people, you can't be in the club.
Why? Well certainly there are a lot of places you would probably want to avoid tacking your characters and roleplay to PvE content (saying your character personally killed Edwin Van Cleef for instance- when hundreds of players do this every day in the Deadmines is a good example of this common faux pas). But this bit of discrimination seems aimed at the very idea that one can even engage in both interest groups at the same time. Personally, if I were to offer a line of reasoning it would be more narrow-mindedness, jealousy, and garden-variety human stupidity.
There are some Roleplayers that I understand have actually not troubled to involve themselves in a lot of the game's PvE content- sometimes to the point where they have never even gotten a character to "endgame" (whatever that happens to be at the time) despite having played WoW for years. And I'm not going to criticize that philosophy: as I said, I'm a big fan of another commandment: as it harm none, do as thou wilt. But when a personal philosophy does start to "harm some" is when you go around expecting others to subscribe to it, or else. And I think that's where this one comes from, personally.
These people can't/won't take the time get PvE-geared themselves, and look down their nose at anyone who does. They see you as part of those people and won't let you join in any of their reindeer games as such. Like I said, I have yet to see this firsthand, but I think if I ever did it would make me very sad, and want to punch babies at the same time. I don't think I can quite express how stupid I think this is.
*often incorrectly spelled as "godmodding"
I suppose it deserves an entry here under Pet Peeves. But since there's already plenty of good articles on what it is, I'm not going to bother much belaboring that point. I think instead, I'll take an opportunity to try and discuss what I think causes it and/or leads to it.
Briefly put: godmoding results when one or more players completely ignores the wishes of another player, going forward with a roleplay in which the other party or parties involved have little or no say in the outcome. That said, what causes it? At the simplest level I suppose you might blame selfishness and ego, but to elaborate a bit...
Communication is at the heart of any good roleplay setting- that is to say, communication between players, not characters. Good communication allows us to elaborate and mutually agree upon the direction we'd like Roleplay to take while out of character. It can diffuse tense situations where the OOC/IC line is about to be crossed. And if it's done regularly and with tact, it doesn't need to be particularly involved communication or belabored at all.
So what happens when you get someone that won't communicate with other players and has no interest in communicating? Usually it means someone storms into a Roleplay setting and just takes it over. They may cite weak excuses for doing so, but more often than not, they'll just assume that the communal setting is their playground and theirs alone. If anyone chooses to challenge them ICly, this will generally just result in further strong-arm RP where the challenger has no choice but to submit or at least call a stalemate. Anyone who wants to challenge them OOCly will likely get little if any response that differs much in it's validity.
Cases at this extreme will often be chalked up to ego and selfishness. But I don't think they're as common as you'd think.
Lapses in communication can also result in Godmoding, I think.
"zOMG THIS IS AN ARPEE SERVUR, WTF?!?!!"
Guys and gals (hey, it works for Sarah Palin, right?), I'm going to let you in on a little something I've been thinking about, more or less since starting to play this game and roleplay in it- well okay, it's not exactly something I've kept secret or anything, but here it goes anyway:
Creating and labeling specific servers as "for RP" is probably one of the dumbest things an MMO can do.
...if it isn't a complete waste of time for the company, it actually tends to be more harmful to RP than it is helpful to it.
Yeah, I know... blasphemy, right? How could I say something like that? Well, if I haven't driven you off already with my heretical tone, then I'll trouble you with the following primary reasons:
- Unlike the difference between PvE and PvP servers, the difference between an RP server and any other is in name only. There is no ruleset you can create that will promote better RP, nor discourage griefing and other behavior detrimental to it.
- Despite the above fact, people are not in any way discouraged from thinking that those two letters in Parentheses somehow make for WORLDS of opportunities for the company hosting the MMO to enhance their roleplay experience, somehow. Now not only has the company wasted it's time promising the consumer what it cannot deliver on, but the consumer is now wasting a whole lot of time demanding that delivery.
- Because of point one and in despite of point two, Roleplay and Roleplayers thrive just fine in many places in many MMOs that don't have those letters and parentheses, and in fact, they're often happier for it.
Take LotRO for example. Now there's the Holy Grail of RP right? I mean, it's based on Tolkien, and pretty much any Roleplaying game in a fantasy setting is based on his work. So they'd like, totally have to have RP Servers, right? They don't in fact. But does RP happen there anyway? Oh most definately. And it's a similar situation with City of Heroes. I mean, sure, Players themselves will often declare one particular server as the "unofficial RP server" (as I understand it that was Virtue in CoH, and Landroval in LotRO) but you don't get a whole heck of a lot of this animosity between the RPers and Non-RPers. And this is because everyone understands that the MMO is first an MMO and only an RPG second.
Is that so terrible a thing? I don't think so. I mean sure, some games offer more widgets suited to roleplayers than others. LotRO for instance offers Player Housing and a pretty flexible music system where players may share custom music and performances with one another, and CoH has a character customization system that would put WoW's to shame any day of the week. What has two letters and a couple parentheses ever given us though? Save perhaps for the imagined notion that a lot of complaining about a "problem" Blizzard can't ever hope to fix for us anyway is a worthwhile endeavor.
And while I know I don't need these widgets to have an enjoyable RP experience (PnP gaming, 15 years... if anything it ought to tell you I've got an imagination powerful enough to turn a piece of paper into a fully emotive character and a dirty green table laden with chips into a rolling plain of fantasy excitement), I'd frankly rather Blizzard put their time into any one or more of those than pursuing pie in the sky.
...even though pie is good.
Still, yeah. RP Servers. Same situation as any other server: Roleplayers are a minority and Roleplaying isn't exactly a popular hobby with most folks. Is it any real surprise to us that a majority of players prefer to do other things? I don't think it should be, personally. Unless that is if we've totally deluded ourselves in this fantasy dice game into thinking we really are wizards, warriors and warlocks worthy of such a bastion against the "banality of a cruel, cold world".
Yeah, it sounded like a ridiculous metaphor. That was intentional.
Argh! I Think My Immersion is Ruptured!
As I said earlier, I started my hobby in roleplaying gathered around an ugly green table in my parents' basement. Somehow I re-imagined that setting not only as a medieval-era fantasy venue, but as a cyberpunk cityscape, an intergalactic theater of battle, and just about anything else you might dream up. I imagined sheets of badly-photocopied paper to be epic characters whose deeds would shake the very pillars of dreamed-up places and fanciful "legendariums".
In fact, when you get right down to it, imagination- the ability to see things not as how they are, but as how they could be- is a Roleplayer's most important tool. Without it, you're still some guy who flips burgers at McDonalds for "mad money" and your rolling green plain of battle is still a green plywood table in your parents' basement, not too far from the washer and dryer and the kitty litter pans.
The trade term for this, as it seems to be used among WoW Roleplayers, is "Immersion". And there's an awful lot of talk about this word when Roleplayers discuss all the "problems" they have. In fact, pretty much every woe Roleplayers suffer in WoW as an "oppressed people" pretty much centers around this one word. Names can hurt immersion, language can hurt immersion, the very presence of "non-roleplayers" can hurt immersion... The list goes on and on.
There's a "viral video" that goes around the web often referred to simply as "Lightning Bolt" that depicts a number of Roleplayers engaging in a session of LARP (or Live Action Roleplay- where more play acting is substituted for dice-rolling to achieve better "immersion"). Few people can watch this video without laughing (see if you can), even Roleplayers themselves- who arguably understand better than most exactly what's happening in the video, and yet, viewing it from a different perspective at the time, still see the humor in it.
So what is immersion exactly? There seem to be lots of ways of achieving it, and from many different various "starting points" - some closer to what we imagine than others.
If I can imagine my parents' basement as a whole fantasy world, and sheets of paper I had dad photocopy at work from a book of mine as great warriors and powerful sorcerers, and the clickety-clack of ten-siders rolling around as the thunder of lightning bolts being thrown, how is it that WoW roleplayers, with all these fancy graphical aids and giantic continuous 3D environment, have issues with their ability to immerse?
Someone, please, explain this to me. Because I can't figure it out, really... I can't.
I think it's because, rather than letting the effort to immerse come from the player himself- as it damn well should- a lot of those eager to complain about immersion are spoiled little children either too ignorant or too lazy to use their own immersive powers and are expecting, as usual, for someone else to do it for them.
NON-RPers? On ~OUR~ RP Server??
It's more likely than you think...
Sometimes I wonder if either Roleplayers at large fail to understand that our interest demographic is a minority in the larger population, or just refuse to acknowledge it... or maybe a little of both? Many Roleplayers seem to display a sort of "siege mentality" about their past time, so it seems reasonable to assume that they at least have some awareness of themselves in relative to the rest of everyone who plays WoW. So I guess it's possible that they are aware of their status as a minority interest group, I don't really know.
But I am forever puzzled at the bewilderment and frustration that Roleplayers often display in regards to the notion that there are so many people out there on their server that just flat-out have no interest in Roleplay. Maybe they know that there aren't that many of us, but just think that Blizzard can somehow round us up into some "wildlife preserve" for roleplayers and protect us from them nasty lolspeeking poachers?
That thought leads me to wonder if this rag-tag collection of ex-hippies and former D&D cellar dwellers completely fails at understanding just what "Roleplay" is. Last I checked it was a set of ideas leading to a very specific way of acting and carrying oneself in accordance with a fantasy setting of some sort. This is typically done as a leisure activity, too. And I understand, this is a very broad definition. But as I'm about to explain, the broad, vague nature of my definition isn't an accident- it's a necessity.
There's no sure-fire way to identify people that engage in this past time, really. Since it's a practice based on a set of ideas, not a certain brand of jeans you wear, a color car you drive, or something that is very tangibly identifiable. And not only that, but even among people who arguably do espouse the Roleplay past time, there are many varieties of expressing it, and many disagreements on that which is and is not "canonically" Roleplaying. Now I think it's pretty silly to try to single out people by how they choose to dress, or what car they choose to drive, who to vote for in a senate election, and so on anyway.
Still, given all that ambiguity in identifying just who is and who is not a Roleplayer, what is it exactly that seems to make a lot of Roleplayers think that there is some "magic sieve" Blizzard can use to keep "non-roleplayers" off their server?
So what do we have here?
- A lot of people don't Roleplay.
- It's very hard to define a Roleplayer from a non-Roleplayer.
- Blizzard cannot bar people from rolling on a server because of their particular taste in recreation.
So why should it be any surprise to a reasonable, rational intellect at all that there's (~gasp!~) non-roleplayers on RP realms? And not only that there are non-roleplayers on their server, but that the ratio of roleplayers to non-roleplayers is pretty much the same ratio would expect to find in any given population?
Nevermind that whole schtick of nagging individual people on a case-for-case basis that they aren't interested in RP so they shouldn't be rolling on an RP server. Nevermind the multitudinous counter-arguments regarding valid reasons that those not interested in Roleplay could and should roll on an RP realm anyway. The mechanism is very, very simple: Non-Roleplayers can roll on RP servers and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop it- not Blizzard, not players, no one.
And yet you will hear this time and time again from the Roleplay community in WoW, and they will find someone to blame for it, usually Blizzard.
And while we're at it, could someone please tell me what the blasted problem is with having people on your server that don't Roleplay? I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm rather fond of Roleplaying- I wouldn't have done it for some 15 years if I didn't enjoy it- but I rather like the idea that, if I tire of it in WoW, I can go and do something else. This wouldn't be possible if all we had on our server was Roleplayers, frankly.
And yes, I know, sometimes people who don't Roleplay aren't terribly sympathetic to the needs of Roleplayers- but this isn't really an issue with people who aren't Roleplayers, this is an issue that some people in general are jerks (even some of those who are Roleplayers). So really, if there are non-Roleplayers on my realm, and they are at least as considerate and polite as most of any other sort of people, you know what? I honestly can't find it in my heart to complain. Nor do I comprehend why anyone else should.
"RP Names" (and the lack thereof)
Another common sticking point with Roleplayers seems to be the matter of "RP-appropriate" names. Unlike some of the other preoccupations Roleplayers have with percieved imperfections in their fantasy worlds, this one I have to admit, has some limited basis in reality. And that, if you ask me, is part of the grave error Blizzard made when it decided to have specific for-Roleplay servers in the game in the first place.
Take gun. Aim at foot. Pull trigger.
Welcome to one of the few fallacies that actually makes an (RP) Server tangibly different than any other sort of server in WoW- the "naming convention". This is an actual part of a the Terms of Service agreement everyone agrees to when they sign up with WoW and each time they sign in to the game. And what it says, basically is that, if you are on an RP server, you are expected to give your character a name that is "RP-Appropriate" or else face the possibility of being renamed.
The fallacious part of this is really the matter of defining just what is RP-Appropriate. Now here Blizzard has quite wisely taken a step backwards in the direction of what I'd call sanity, and de facto left this decision to the collective will of the given server's populace (there are Blue Posts on the forums laying this notion out very clearly, in fact). To exercise this democratic rule, all the players on an RP realm have to do is submit reports on player names that they believe to be not-RP-appropriate.
Presumably what happens from there is that the complaint goes to a GM or other authority, it is verified that the complaint is at least valid, and then assuming it is that player gets a little e-mail notifying them that they are about to undergo a name change, and if they'd kindly contact Blizzard with a name they'd like to have it change to, they'd greatly appreciate it. The idea seems to be that, through watching the mass of player reports, what is RP appropriate can be kenned out and identified, at least specific to the population of the RP server in question.
And even if you haven't really defined it, then at least the theory is that the server's Roleplaying populace at large is essentially getting what it wants, and so, should be happy.
And that's where this all falls apart, you see. Because they aren't happy. In fact, of the many spurious complaints I hear from Roleplayers about how under-appreciated they are by Blizzard, this seems to be Exhibit A. Many claim this as a grievance on the basis that Blizzard purportedly does not act on the reports it receives. Personally I find this very hard to prove since- as with all reports of misconduct reported by one player about another player- the resolution and any reprimand or punishment the other player receives as a result is kept confidential and not told to the complainant. Nonetheless, it is often heard that once reports are submitted the players they are submitted in regards to do not seem to have been forced to change their name, or whatever.
These criticisms usually include some charge of the variety that Blizzard isn't really doing anything to enforce the naming convention. Honestly, it's hard to judge the extent to which this may or may not be true merely from personal anecdotes given the circumstances.
What I can say is that- something that was understandably imperfect as a resolution from the get-go was offered anyway to the players in an effort to make them happy, and it has inevitably, and quite predictably fallen short of it's goal. I would go on to declare it impossible to enforce in any manner befitting its purpose, and why not just abandon it altogether?
After all, what's in a name, really? And why is it so blasted important to Roleplayers that they be RP-Appropriate?
Roleplayers will then often go on a long spiel about how non-RP names "hurt immersion". Let's be honest here. The last time you went to a party, walked down a street, rode the city bus, or some other activity which involved a fair number of other people surrounding you, did you notice a blue and white tag stuck to each of them with big friendly lettering that says "Hello My Name Is" followed by a sharpie-marker scrawl telling you what that person's name is?
You didn't, did you?
Well okay, that's because when you are "immersed" in real life, you really don't know another person's name until they tell it to you. Why then is something that you arguably shouldn't know about in the first place, an issue to you? What's more of a hurt to immersion? Some guy named 'Arglebarglepancake' or the fact that it's floating over his head in giant serif-lettering?
Don't tell me, "Oh, well I might have to Roleplay with him, and seeing his name in my chatbox would kill my immersion," either. It's a load of bull. A lot of Roleplayers seem to proudly carry the conceit that so-named people "obviously" have no interest in RP in the first place (even though this isn't always true), and ignore these types of people anyway. You'd think, if anything, these sorts of names would be considered a blessing by such people. And sure we could go and get back into an argument about whether people who have no intention of Roleplaying belong on an RP server, but you already know how I feel about that, so why bother?
And you know? Unlike life, there is a way you can lean over and rip that nametag off the guy without having him deck you flat. You can turn the display of "floaty names" off. If immersion is the goal, you'd think more roleplayers would be doing this rather than complaining about what other people name their characters. As a rule, I generally don't report names (unless they contain something that is truly blatantly offensive in them), nor do I think it says much about the quality of another person. I have met some people with arguably "non-RP" names that do RP, RP well, and are quite wonderful people to hang around with.
So then, what's all the fuss about, exactly? Well, frankly Roleplayers will often correctly tout the naming convention (as I have at the beginning of this section) as one of the few things Blizzard promises to do differently with RP servers. Nowhere in this angry venting will you hear a word about whether it's reasonable to expect that promise to be followed through on. Just that Blizzard said so, and we're extremely non-plussed that they're not doing it.
Now you tell me, who here is at fault for unhappiness in a case like that? Is it Blizzard for promising the impossible? Or is it us for expecting the impossible? A bit of both, maybe?
Addendum: My Own Running Afoul of the Naming Policy
So it came to me eventually, and coincidentally not long after I wrote this little rant, that I had one of my own character's names- Skunkwerks in this case- apparently reported by another player as being "not an RP name". I'd predicted it would happen sooner or later, but I hadn't quite guessed completely the form it would take.
In a fit of whimsy I'd decided to "actually play" Skunk that night for a while to see how far I could get with him. Now I'm known to contribute to Trade channel "banter" fairly often, and that night I'd done a bit of jawing it up. Mind you, I'm rarely vulgar or anything like that, but the question of my name had been brought up a by a few that night, and I think it was around that time that the report was filed. Obviously given the confidential nature of reports and complaints from other players, I'd have no way of knowing who did it, or when. But it seems just a bit too much coincidence to me that roughly an hour after I'd been hamming it up in Trade (about the average amount of time it takes a GM to take note of a specific report in my experience) I get a frantic and quite pushy tell from a GM.
At the time I was in Azshara, and was taking down some level 55 Elite Giants for a quest in Blackrock Depths. Any one of these things could squash me flat for a moment's inattentiveness. And now I have some GM all up in my face, accusing me of "violating policy" and insisting that I log off IMMEDIATELY so that he can force the name change. I asked him kindly to wait about five minutes while I finished what I was doing and portaled my character (a Mage, fortunately) to a safe locale, at which time I would log. What I got in response was the repeated demand that I log right then and there, and more accusations of "criminal" behavior slung at me for my trouble.
Now, if my name had been reported for containing some expletive or some other offensive word or language, I could see the need for this sort of immediacy, but what we're talking about here is a policy that primarily operates on perception: someone thinks that my name isn't "RP enough" and has filed a report saying so. Does it do any real harm if that name exists for five more minutes on the server while a paying customer finishes what he's doing? And is the treatment of one customer as a tried-and-convicted criminal because another customer has an opinion about him really a good customer service policy?
Herein there's a lesson too: anyone who complains that "Blizzard never does anything about naming policy violation reports" is talking out their ass. Not only does Blizzard "do things" about them but it would seem they "do them within an hour after the fact" and that when they do them they do them "NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW-NOW!!!!!".
So after a bit of haggling with this, I finally logged out and logged back in in a few minutes. Sure enough, I was prompted with a name change. So, thinking a bit I selected Skunk's right surname as an alternative, and retitled myself "Ergpivot". I'd already had it in mind to contest the decision, as I felt I had more than the grounds on which to do so. After all, Blizzard seems more than content to name it's own NPCs in reference to Lockheed Aeronautics, how does it fail to be "appropriate" in such a setting when I do this? And, by the way, the above-linked example is far from the only instance of Blizzard using NPC names to refer to things outside the purview of the Warcraft Universe proper.
Of course I also got an e-mail from Account Admin that outlined the naming policy in it. And here we find the crux of the problem:
- Account Action: Warning
- Offenses: Naming Policy Violation - Non-Medieval/Fantasy Character Names This category includes:
- Any Non-Medieval or Non-Fantasy names (i.e. Slipnslide, Robotman, Technotron).
- All normal naming rules (which can be found at http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowgm/?id=agm01722p).
Well, it seems pretty clear to me that the Warcraft Universe makes use of a lot of sub-genres which are quite obviously not medieval- most notably the genre from which races such as Gnomes and Goblins take most of their background, history and "flavor" as it were.
Glass House, meet Stones. Stones? Glass House.
So I challenged the decision, both on the grounds that my name is quite consistent with the precedents for the universe Blizzard has itself set out, and that at any rate, I have been a member of the Roleplaying community here on Earthen Ring for some time under that identity and with no issues- that the complaint, rather than my name was the real aberration here.
And it seems justice and sense have prevailed. About a week later I got a letter back from Account Admin saying they had reconsidered their position, and were restoring my name. They apologized for the inconvenience I may have suffered as a result (aside from the rough handling, I had my whole interface reset by this sudden name change- and with 200 mods that took considerable time to get it back in working condition).
Thou Spakest in Tongues!
It's a common misperception of Roleplayers as observed by those that don't Roleplay (and particularly in WoW) that we all speak in either Shakespearean or at the very least, Elizabethean dialects. And while this isn't necessarily (or as often not-at-all) true, there definately is a sort of finicky attitude on the part of Roleplayers about what is "RP appropriate" verbiage- and not just from fellow roleplayers, but also from those not interested in Roleplay who happen to be in their vicinity. Not everyone shares the same tolerance level on this- if you're like me, a whole lot just rolls off. But other folks see a few stray "El-Oh-Els" and have their RP-bags all packed and ready to go- usually off to some even more obscure venue where they don't have to deal with different sorts of people, or pretty much anything that remotely resembles their rather broad definition of "adversity".
This linguistic plague is apparently so prevalent to some that there have actually been Addons written specifically to "sanitize" WoWspeech for these sorts of folk (not of course that "Addon savvy" and "agoraphobic" are a common combination).
There's a reason I've ordered this dissertation as I have. If you peek above at this section, you'll see my little spiel about how there are non-RPers on RP servers, they're not going anywhere, and you can't do a damn thing about it. Now, that being said, it would be nice if non-roleplayers would show some consideration for Roleplayers, and try not to disturb them, but I fail to see how someone else's white text is really all that big a deal here.
Do what I do: ignore it. We're all here to do what we're all here to do. We might not see eye to eye, but the whole "consideration for others" thing works both ways.
Or if you mean well enough, and are exceedingly polite and humble about it, you can try to correct them- be aware this is a touchy subject, and it's not hard to be percieved by people (wrongly or otherwise) as being petty and perfectionist. So please, use some tact and diplomacy.
What we should never find ourselves doing is laying in to people for stupid crap that really isn't an issue. The better we all get along- because as I've already said, we all have to share this space- the better off we'll all be.
I see no point in what basically amounts to needless antagonism. Get over yourselves and please go complain about something worth complaining about, kthxbai. :P
'O Mighty Blizzard! Why Hast Thou Forsaken Us?
It's not exactly an uncommon delusion among WoW players in general to play the Martyr- feigning "unlove" of their particular class or interest demographic by Blizzard. A good place to see generalized examples of this is Class Forums- where you can, if you can stomach it, watch people endlessly opine (and far more often, just pine) about how Blizzard has not only "abandoned" them but seems to be doing everything in its power to willfully ruin their play experience. Usually the "evidence" served up to prove this neglect/hostility from Blizzard is shallow and/or petty- a fraction of a percentage change in a statistic or itemization, or perhaps the "nerfing" of a specific power or relocation of a power in a talent tree, and you've got grounds to call in Child Protective Services and lay charges against Daddy Blizz for beating its least favorite red-headed stepchild. Spend enough time in these venues, and if you ever did feel good or proud of your Class, play interest or whatever, you'll soon feel dismal and unloved yourself.
Not too surprisingly, Roleplayers in WoW have their own very special version of these Delusions of Martyrdom, and are not at all shy about writing long dissertations about just how neglected and oppressed they are (which, I suppose is why I find myself writing this- which effectively amounts to one giant rebuttal).
Common cited examples of this particular variety of "BlizzBias™" usually include:
- Inaction in correcting non-RP-Appropriate Names.
- Failure to Provide Servers that are for-Roleplayers-only.
- Don't Tase my Immersion, bro!
- Not implementing player-housing.
...and so on.
Frankly I don't really see any of these complaints as particularly valid. More often than not, they're the results of players having deucedly unrealistic expectations of what Blizzard is capable of doing. This game caters to a lot of different tastes, and as the rule usually goes- you can't please everyone all of the time.
If you find yourself in the position of feeling you got the shaft from Blizzard on something, yet can't really see how Blizzard could have reasonably done otherwise, what should you do?
Well, my advice can be summed up in four letters: "S-T-F-U". *
*No, that isn't the acronym for the Space Trade Federation University...
Yes, I poast on threds.
Why? Well, as stated, I like to write. Been a penchant of mine since I was very young and first introduced to the Word Processor. But there's other reasons too.
Two years, and some shuffling around (with more likely to happen with WotLK coming out)... It's brought into being about ten characters at any given time for me on Earthen Ring. Presently, I am directly responsible for the following characters:
- Aphotika Ebonglade- a feral Night Elf girl who has an affinity with felines, and in particular, her bosom companion and "brother", Nyx.
- Vesperal Swiftshade- a very old Kal'dorei who runs a secret society of rogues and mystics called The Masque who puts forth a public front as a group of traveling actors.
- Skunkwerks (AKA: Sascha Escher Ergpivot) (of course)- a whimsical and impetuous Gnome of the "absent-minded professor" archetype. Brilliant, but whose tendencies towards distractability frequently make him a danger to himself and others.
- Sharael bani Aetheri- an amnesiac Draenei woman whose inability to recall her past before the crash of the Exodar haunts her steps.
- Senivel Valefall
- Facet (AKA: Solariath Coronus Magnus)- a wisecracking jewel-thief who leads a double life as a legitimate jeweller.
- Cualgne Setanta- a young headstrong Tauren warrior with a checkered past who has high hopes for honor and glory.
- Tenebrai Swiftshade- a proud Sin'dorei Blood Knight who puts her duties to her people above all else.
- Siderael Suncrest- a young and impressionable Sin'Dorei Priestess who may have spent a bit too much time on the wrong side of the track...
- Malchiae von Ondine
About the Arrangment of My Character Pages
While I did take some cues from the "generic" template offered on the ER Wiki, my pages are for the most part, arranged to my own liking and design. What follows is a Rundown of their content, and what each section and subsection of them generally contains. The Basic Breakdown looks like this:
* 1 Essentials * 2 Appearance * 3 Biographical * 4 In-Depth o 4.1 Appearance o 4.2 Personality o 4.3 History + 4.3.1 [Section 1 Title] + 4.3.2 [Section 2 Title, etc.] o 4.4 Associates + 4.4.1 Friends/Acquaintances + 4.4.2 Enemies/Rivals * 5 Tales * 6 Supplemental/OOC o 6.1 Name o 6.2 Conception
Essentials: This is a section where you're going to find the most basic information about a character- information that could be both useful to RP and to gameplay such as Race, Class, Professions as well as the character's Full Name, various Allegiances they may have to different groups, Associates- be they friends or enemies, and so on. Most entries found here are very brief. You probably won't find "Blood Type" in here, and frankly I don't understand why you see it as part of any character's profile in a fantasy setting. It's not like we're carrying organ donor cards, are we?
Appearance: Here you will find the very basic "raw" statistics making up a character's appearance- height, weight, eye color, hair color. More "fuzzy" descriptors such as Apparent Age can also be found here.
Biographical: These are again very basic fields describing a "rough sketch" of a character's background- their place of birth, actual age, home and so on.
In-Depth: This section (and it's subsections) are all more prosey ways of putting the things described in the above fields. A few paragraphs about the character's Appearance and Personality may be found here as well as a description of the character's basic History.
Tales: This section is devoted to a listing of Stories the given character was a participant in.
Supplemental/OOC: This section is where I put things regarding the inspiration for the character, how I conceived them, and so on. It's not essential to RP, but might give another player an idea of things I had in mind when I created the character, and perhaps ideas about how to interact with that character.
About the Pictures
Since I sometimes get questions regarding the pictures I use in my profiles, I'll explain how they're made briefly here. I use a small program called WoWModelViewer to get a good shot of the character- then matte it out and bring it into photoshop to add the shadow effects and such. I keep it white because, well, the wiki is white.
Regarding the Dungeons & Dragons Alignment System
...since it seems ever so popular on ER and on the Wiki in general:
I don't use it. I don't like it. I think it falls miserably short of it's purpose (as most contrived systems for defining personality in RPGs do). Props to Gary Gygax for making the attempt. I just see it at best as worthless fluff, and at worst as lazy and uninspired as people who can't be bothered to type out words like "anyone", and "you" instead of abbreviating them as "ne1" and "u".
If you're expecting me to describe my character in two either vaguely-meaningless or rigid-beyond-sense words (True Neutral, Lawful Evil, True Colors, Milli Vanilli, or whatever), you're in for some disappointment. If on the other hand you are expecting to get to know my characters, with all their nuances and subtleties, and interact with them at that level, then I think you'll find "sussing them out" a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience.
As such, you're not going to find any sort of "Alignment" information in any of my characters' profiles. You will find a brief blurb about personality- and even then most of that only really encompasses what is easily observable- the rest you'll just have to figure out through interaction. And the only two words I will use to describe my characters' Alignment is "Not Applicable".
Of course, I will likely regard your characters in a similar fashion with which I am accustomed to being treated, though you are most definately welcome to come up with whatever two words you like to summarize all that- and then (as is usually my experience with such things) not really follow them anyway.
While one of my characters remains guilded with the Grey Tiger Tong (and many others associate with it as well as other RP guilds regularly), the majority of my characters belong to one of two small "personal guilds" I created to act mostly as storage spaces for mine and my wife's Characters. Each of these guilds however was created as a sort of "IC entity" for use in the backstories of various characters.
I did this partly to respect naming guidelines, but also because I saw it as one more opportunity to add depth to the characters I play. At any rate, here are those guilds and their associated pages on the ER Wiki:
I've written (and helped to write) a few stories encompassing the comings and goings of some of my characters. Here's a short list of them:
Yes, I dabble in it. In fact, I hold a BA in Graphic Arts. I do layouts, a lot of digital image work, graphical development, and was even a fair hand at drawing once upon a time. Here's a few places where you can see my "artsy-fartsy" side.
- The SkunkWerks Kollectiv- This is supposed to be my portfolio site... one of these days, when I'm not distracted by, well, other distractions, it's in sore need of some freshening up.
- My DeviantArt Page- Yes, the last journal entry is a fair indicator of how long it's been since I've updated that page.
I am always fiddling with addons of all sorts. I've never been a huge fan of the default interface. I think it's clumsy and tremendously inconvenient. I am however very fond of the fact that, in WoW, I don't have to deal with it. Not too surprisingly, my penchant for addons also extends into my Roleplay as well. Many of my character's traits rely on the use of addons to varying degrees. And so, to help another player "interface" better with my characters, I'll list here some of the Addons I utilize for Roleplay with links to where they may be found.
- MyRoleplay- a fairly new RP addon as the history of RP addons goes, MyRoleplay (AKA: MRP) has a predecessor in the old FlagRSP mod (whose "direct" successor is technically FlagRSP2) and it's function is similar to that addon: to allow a player to write and display to other observing players short bios and extra information about their characters. It remains, to my mind, the best of the trio of competing addons for this function including FlagRSP2 and ImmersionRP (which I believe has fallen into disrepair since). However it is inter-compatible with both other mods, so it's not necessary for players to specifically have MRP, though there are fields for information in MRP not contained in the other RSP-style mods that would be missed otherwise.
- Tongues- This is another new RP addon, but it has a history in a far older addon that was actually authored by Rook Greymantle of Netherbane right here on Earthen Ring. That addon was called Lore. What Lore did (it is now in poor maintenance like so many RP addons and no longer works reliably) is allow a player to speak languages other than the default languages provided. A more savvy player may even create his own language with only a very basic understanding of the coding. Tongues is basically a continuation of Lore, and I use this with many of my characters who, through their adventures, have come to learn languages or speak in funny ways. Having Tongues would help a player perhaps understand some of my characters better as one of it's future-planned features is language learning...
- Ephemeral- This is a mod that has recently been resurrected from disuse. And what it does is allow a player to create and trade "prop" objects. Players may write books, create containers that can be locked, and on and on. I should like to use this more broadly, and yet it doesn't seem as though this addon is in wide use in the Roleplay community here on ER...
- Roleplay Helper 2- This addon allows a player to add a bit more "flavor" to their interactions in the world with NPCs (both hostile and otherwise) by automatically triggering speech and emote in response to in-world events- such as speaking to an NPC, being hit in combat, or even Trading with other players. These emotes and sayings can be custom written by the player and have random triggers whose frequency may be set by the player. Having this is not necessary of course, but it is a neat little mod I thought bears mentioning.
Despite years of accusations of "hiding behind a low level alt" I am in fact, quite approachable, and quite open to being contacted. But since I am fond of alts, and bouncing back and forth between Horde and Alliance, it may be a bit hard to find me.
I don't generally give out e-mail addresses, but I don't mind sharing with folks the many IM addies I use to keep in touch with folks (As I've done so often enough on the Official Forums)- these are:
- AIM: skunkwerksk
- Yahoo Messenger: swk42
- MSN: email@example.com
- XFire: skunkwerks7
You'll note I also use an XFire messenger. This has some practical uses both ICly and OOCly since message notifications can be "overlaid" on WoW even if you're not running in windowed mode. The Grey Tiger Tong (with whom I often interact with and am guilded with with at least one character) uses it ICly as a means of inter-faction communication- since Blizzard seems dead set on never letting this happen in-game. OOCly this can also be handy- as it's a good way to get in touch with me no matter what side of the "pond" I'm playing on at the time.
In-game it can be kinda hard to find me, apart from looking for any one of the names of my Alts, there's one other way that's fairly sure-fire, assuming I'm on at all:
- Alliance: type "/who Masque"
- Horde: type "/who Sereghim"
This will get you nearly any of mine or my wife's alts on their respective sides. And then just say "Hi". I'll probably ask who the deuce you are, but after that it's all peaches and cream, I assure you...
A potentially quite useful solution to the above-stated problem, however, I only use it to a limited degree and I'm quite careful about who I let on my list. It's not personal, mind you, it's just that the longer a friends list you have, the more potential you have for your details reaching people you don't want to have them.
Don't blame me, blame Blizzard, that's the way they designed it. Because of that, you may request to add me as a friend, and I will very likely decline.
Another almost guaranteed clincher for me declining is if I don't know who you are- ironically In-Game. Remember, RealID friend requests are flagged under your real name, not the name of whatever character name I usually identify you as. As such All I get is a message stating "Bob Smith has requested you add him as a RealID friend, and not "Grolmok has requested you add him as a RealID friend."
This would be one of the biggest of my many issues with the system, despite being called "RealID", it actually makes it tougher to identify people given the fact that most of us rarely ever refer to ourselves by our real life names, and have instead, come to be known first by nicknames we've given ourselves.
There is however a comment box on the request dialog, if you want a shot at me recognizing you, I suggest you use it and list whatever character name I'm most likely to recognize you by. This is all assuming that somehow you got a hold of my Battlenet e-mail, which you most likely wouldn't unless I specifically gave it to you.
I dunno, I've got mixed feelings about this still new system. When it was first released, I wasn't quite on the bandwagon of folks who despised it. I found it something of an awkward annoyance on the insistence of using real names rather than a single, unique global handle which each user selects (similar to the way City of Heroes instituted a cross-server global name system). It was an inexplicable and somewhat risky choice to make from my standpoint, but not risky enough to keep from using it entirely.
As such I do keep a small list of RealID friends, but my use of the system is quite limited, as the Friends of Friends feature leads me to having to implicitly trust every single person's friending habits who happens to be on my own friends list.
Later on, when Blizzard announced it's grand plan to force all the Official Forums for the game to use RealID- and thus their real life names (an unprecedented step for ANY forum or message board on the internet)- I began to acquire something of a foul taste in my mouth for it. It seemed obvious at that point it was all part of a business strategy that played it fast and loose with my personal details in a vain effort to sell me on Facebook (or Facebook-like systems)- neither of which I cared for- and potentially sell my personal details to various advertising services.
...Because it certainly did not accomplish in any way the stated goal of "reducing trolling on the forums"- and at least not in any way that a unique global handle couldn't have done- and even done better. They've since relented on that score, but like all bad ideas, I'm pretty sure it'll crop up again at some point.
As such, I still use it, but quite sparingly. Accordingly I completely understand other people choosing not to use it, or in a very limited fashion.