Food for thought: Gameplay vs Roleplay

HavenHaven World BurnerFlight SchoolMember Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭✭✭
Aetolia is a game that centers itself around conflict because at its heart the game is a collaborative story about the Midnight Age and the characters that inhabit it. The game encourages players to explore different roles and embrace and or branch from the many themes and ideologies that are provided as the foundation of the game. And yet...

There is this constant tension between two types of players around this understanding; those who wish to engage the game from a roleplay/story driven perspective and those that wish to power game their way through similarly to an MMO-style video game. Naturally there are those that fall somewhere in between both ends of the spectrum and in truth neither end of the spectrum is the right/wrong way to play the game. However, what's become alarming to me is that over the years, we've lost sight of the story and as a result appear to be aggressively phasing out one in favor of the other.

To the power gamer and some might even argue casuals, you don't typically control territory or collect quests to spread the influence of your faction’s ideology and enhance the story; you do it to win/complete the minigames and prove your skills. Guild/Tether ideology matter less and organizational culture end up getting built around a personality or friend group/clique - often with as mild and generic a philosophy as possible to keep the most appeal by not rocking the boat. But more importantly the roles of competing ideologies get changed or outright ignored in favor of taking on a mere moderator role amongst the community where "disturbing the peace and quiet" or conflict outside the minigames are considered bad form and punished. As this becomes more prevalent throughout the game, overall conflict diminishes and indirectly regulates conflict to exist almost exclusively in hard-lined mechanisms like Sect, Orrery, and Lessers.

This often fuels misunderstandings or mistrust between players OOCly. Motivations get misconstrued as "griefing" or bad faith actors because people can't fathom or see why else would anyone rock the boat? “Good/Bad" guys don't get to clash because they stand in the way of RP. In fact, they are generally encouraged to ignore each other outside of the minigames or worse issued without any real exploration of resolutions. Antagonists are ultimately ostracized and or punished first as "griefers" instead of being engaged for their role.

In literature, a conflict is a literary device characterized by a struggle between two opposing forces. Conflict provides crucial tension in any story and is used to drive the narrative forward. It is often used to reveal a deeper meaning in a narrative while highlighting characters’ motivations, values, and weaknesses. It feels like a growing portion of the community has either forgotten and or doesn't care about "playing the game" per se but more about "winning the game" despite the fact that it's intentionally impossible to "win" in this type of format.

This isn't a post to say we should or shouldn't do anything in particular as much as it's a PSA that I think more of us should discuss or at the very least be consciously aware of.
¤ Si vis pacem, para bellum. ¤
Someone powerful says, "We're going to have to delete you."
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Comments

  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 16
    Haven said:

    often with as mild and generic a philosophy as possible to keep the most appeal by not rocking the boat. But more importantly the roles of competing ideologies get changed or outright ignored in favor of taking on a mere moderator role amongst the community where "disturbing the peace and quiet" or conflict outside the minigames are considered bad form and punished. As this becomes more prevalent throughout the game, overall conflict diminishes and indirectly regulates conflict to exist almost exclusively in hard-lined mechanisms like Sect, Orrery, and Lessers.

    Man I can't echo this enough and it has been a constant struggle for me to the point where I've been tempted to make a post very similar to yours of my own, except obviously with more of a noncom perspective. There's lots of reasons why many of these things happen, but it's been my experience that many people, although aware that "separate IC from OOC" is something we consider a mandate and something to aspire to, do not in the slightest do this at all. Many people play self-inserts, which is actually pretty good! It can make roleplay very easy, because you're playing from a familiar place. Unfortunately, this has a side effect of making it much more likely to take things that happen in a violent, chaotic world personally, because you're more personally tied to the character you're playing.

    Disruptive characters are perhaps justly treated with skepticism; there have, at times, definitely been people who "played characters" in bad faith and essentially laundered their griefing and abuse through the lens of roleplay, justifying making everyone around them IC and OOC miserable under the guise of "I'm just playing a character." Unfortunately, I think we as a community have overcorrected for this problem and gotten to the point where any disruption at all is treated as someone griefing, being a bully, targetting someone, etc etc. It does not elude me that there are many people playing who also probably have an unhealthy attachment to the game and would be better off not logging in, as well, as things in the game world that are normal (death, political strife, simply not winning) impact them to a disproportionate degree.

    Do I sometimes get salty when things don't go my way or someone says something harsh to my character? Absolutely (sometimes aggravated by me knowing the person doing so has the separation of wet rice paper doesn't help). That's absolutely normal. Trying to be separate from your character doesn't mean you always will be and that you'll never feel pangs of defeat or anger. What it means, as a mandate, is that you're supposed to acknowledge and try to frame your reactions to stuff appropriately. This is a game. A roleplaying game. An open PK, PVP, MMO with player-led governments, politics, and (unfortunately) economies. There are many games out there where several of these factors don't exist, and logging out is free. Taking a breath is free. CTOFF when things get too political for your taste is free. I cannot emphasize enough that Aetolia gives you a tremendous amount of tools to carefully dial in how much drama, conflict, and turmoil you personally experience OOC and IC. If you're playing because you just wanna be a PVP bot who literally doesn't pay attention to anything going on, you are free to do so. If you want to play a slice of life in a fantasy world, go for it! If you want to just sit at inner gate in spinesreach and eat pies 24/7, that's your right! But don't act like people who are finding fun in all the other unique aspects of the game that you don't enjoy are playing the game wrong just because it's not your cup of tea. Conflict is really good in a game like Aetolia, and it even makes the world better for slice-of-life RP (every story is better with stakes in it. Having sex or eating cake when a big war is brewing is inherently more exciting!)

    I think we are right to try to balance fun vs "realism" or conflict, and we are right to be skeptical of people who seem to only be around to spread misery in the playerbase or do other toxic things like prey on newbies for MUDsex until they quit playing (looking at you, Spinesreach, get your house in order). But at the same time, we shouldn't be neutering the game to the point of meaninglessness by kneecapping every vector for conflict just because it's something we don't personally enjoy or we take an L or two. I've seen one too many people chased out of this game because they play abrasive characters or got targeted by Discord Server Of Toxic People #22910 for just roleplaying a character at all instead of "going with the flow."

    Wow that's a wall of text, apparently I have a lot of Opinions on this.
    Post edited by Tetchta on
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
    HavenValorieIllidanTeani
  • IllidanIllidan Pray AreaMember Posts: 1,143 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This whole post touched the depths of my SOUL.
    They didn't listen when I said Shamans were strong in groups. 
    Aetolia Buzzwords: Bad actors, disingenuous, disingenuous bad actors, and bad actors being disingenuous. 


                                                                                                   
              
    TetchtaHavenXeniaTeani
  • XeniaXenia Member Posts: 1,083 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Illidan said:

    This whole post touched the depths of my SOUL.

    Not as deeply as it touched mine.

    TetchtaHavenTeani
  • HavenHaven World Burner Flight SchoolMember Posts: 2,419 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @Tetchta brought up an idea that I think could go a long way:

    I think it'd be cool if the game took the concept a step further and introduced mechanisms and the like to help reinforce roles. It doesn't even need to be PvP focused either. I believe there was an interest and the beginnings of a guild missions kinda deal that was going to happen but no idea what happened with that.
    ¤ Si vis pacem, para bellum. ¤
    Someone powerful says, "We're going to have to delete you."
    havenbanner2
    TetchtaLinTeani
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 17
    Iazamat gets credit for putting that idea in my head, honestly. He said it once and it resonated really hard.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
  • BenedictoBenedicto Tentacles Errywhere! Member Posts: 852 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Haven said:

    @Tetchta brought up an idea that I think could go a long way:

    I think it'd be cool if the game took the concept a step further and introduced mechanisms and the like to help reinforce roles. It doesn't even need to be PvP focused either. I believe there was an interest and the beginnings of a guild missions kinda deal that was going to happen but no idea what happened with that.

    The Temps get given a daily mission to go and 'PATROL' a Protectorate area. There's a random chance to encounter a bandit as you do so. Back during the Chaos War there was also a random chance to encounter a Chaos worm scout that you had to chase around.
    (Leaders): Tiur says, "I'll remember not to delete you when the time comes, Bene. Good people."



    Haven
  • XeniaXenia Member Posts: 1,083 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I barely play. When I log on it's 100% to RP and admittedly the character is abstract and probably jarring to anyone in the day to day groove that is playing the game, doing the PK, so on and so forth.

    But I heard there was an instanced random RP situation that I thought sounded awesome. I don't know how it works exactly but I feel like something like this would potentially be a solid tool for generating thematic stories pertaining to orgs. Doe sanyone have any examples of it being used this way?

    I think little quests are cool, but mechanics get old, you have to maintain them and the game doesn't have a dedicated GM that consistently throws out story, instead the staff's role seems to be more around producing coded content that takes a ton of time and contributes to an element of the game that our wallets vote for.

    TetchtaStigandrHavenQelres
  • EleneElene Member Posts: 274 ✭✭✭✭
    Benedicto said:
    @Tetchta brought up an idea that I think could go a long way: I think it'd be cool if the game took the concept a step further and introduced mechanisms and the like to help reinforce roles. It doesn't even need to be PvP focused either. I believe there was an interest and the beginnings of a guild missions kinda deal that was going to happen but no idea what happened with that.
    The Temps get given a daily mission to go and 'PATROL' a Protectorate area. There's a random chance to encounter a bandit as you do so. Back during the Chaos War there was also a random chance to encounter a Chaos worm scout that you had to chase around.
    I would actually like it if we had little things like that for Guilds. We did use to have a little something like that in the Archivists regarding tissue samples, but that has all but stalled after our NPC said they'll churn out results for a mini event thing and will be temporarily suspending equipment usage, and... nothing. :( pls re-enable
    Saidenn
  • NaosNaos Member Posts: 64 ✭✭✭
    Elene said:


    Benedicto said:

    Haven said:

    @Tetchta brought up an idea that I think could go a long way:

    I think it'd be cool if the game took the concept a step further and introduced mechanisms and the like to help reinforce roles. It doesn't even need to be PvP focused either. I believe there was an interest and the beginnings of a guild missions kinda deal that was going to happen but no idea what happened with that.

    The Temps get given a daily mission to go and 'PATROL' a Protectorate area. There's a random chance to encounter a bandit as you do so. Back during the Chaos War there was also a random chance to encounter a Chaos worm scout that you had to chase around.

    I would actually like it if we had little things like that for Guilds. We did use to have a little something like that in the Archivists regarding tissue samples, but that has all but stalled after our NPC said they'll churn out results for a mini event thing and will be temporarily suspending equipment usage, and... nothing. :( pls re-enable

    That's crazy, that was nine months ago.
  • TeaniTeani Shadow Mistress SwedenMember Posts: 2,204 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I don't know how many times I have to email/bring this up, but I've literally sent in lists of quests for guilds to promote small scale conflict for organizations based on their ideologies. It would be small mechanical assists to build on something slightly larger if the organization wants to expand. All this is based on each guild having a solid foundation to stand on. I know I sent an extensive email to Oleis back in 2014 about this, an idea that I have echoed a few times since with good player responses and no Admin reaction.

    Imagine a quest for the guild to promote the org's RP, (gather important items, perform a sacred ritual, escort someone on an important mission, whatever), all depending on what would be suitable for your guild. Maybe even a few of those, but let's not get carried away.

    Imagine also that there are counter quests, where the guild's antagonists attempt to ruin something for the guild (steal important documents, defile their most precious artefact, clean their blood-drenched altar with holy water, whatever), leaving behind obscure clues as to their identity, so that there's a chance to escalate if one wishes.

    It would at the very least give the guilds something to incorporate into their day-to-day RP, and possibly even spark some back and forth battles between characters of different guilds.

    Say that you have a relatively new Archivist member, as an example, and you task them with retrieving some item. They'd need to RESEARCH in the library to find information on the item's whereabouts, then go to the area and SEARCH it. Once retrieved, they would bring it back and CATALOGUE it in the vault.

    Now, let's say that a young Shaman hears about this extremely important item that was taken from the Vintal Glade by the Archivists. They'd need to find a way to bribe/sneak/blast their way into the vault to retrieve it and put it back. This would probably leave some kind of clues behind, so that the young Archivist who was tasked with finding it can puzzle out the clues and confront the Shaman to negotiate for its return, fight for the rights to keep it, or simply take it back again.

    Mind you, this example was thought up in as long as it took me to write it, so it's perhaps not the best, but I am sure people gets the general idea. To make this possible, Org leaders could sit down and think through what kind of things might fit their guild, and even discuss ideas about antagonists with others, and Admin, in order to eventually implement something to bring more life to their orgs through smaller quests.



    SaidennHavenTaye
  • SaidennSaidenn Member Posts: 110 ✭✭✭
    Naos said:

    Elene said:


    Benedicto said:

    Haven said:

    @Tetchta brought up an idea that I think could go a long way:

    I think it'd be cool if the game took the concept a step further and introduced mechanisms and the like to help reinforce roles. It doesn't even need to be PvP focused either. I believe there was an interest and the beginnings of a guild missions kinda deal that was going to happen but no idea what happened with that.

    The Temps get given a daily mission to go and 'PATROL' a Protectorate area. There's a random chance to encounter a bandit as you do so. Back during the Chaos War there was also a random chance to encounter a Chaos worm scout that you had to chase around.

    I would actually like it if we had little things like that for Guilds. We did use to have a little something like that in the Archivists regarding tissue samples, but that has all but stalled after our NPC said they'll churn out results for a mini event thing and will be temporarily suspending equipment usage, and... nothing. :( pls re-enable
    That's crazy, that was nine months ago.

    I have an org request sitting from almost as long now. I understand coding takes time and resources have to be prioritized, but seeing some love to the megasizer and the org requests would be nice. It was great seeing the Archivists given identity that we, as players, simply cannot do. Mechanical stuff has its limits, sure, but it can serve as a great foundation or even a way to help someone find or build their character's roleplay, or even immerse in class fantasy RP.

    I briefly got excited that the digging in the tomb during the Cursed event was a test run for archaeological stuff (one of the things admin-suggested as part of the Archivist's core mission), but alas.
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