My druid had a backstory
June 11, 2009 1:45 PM   Subscribe

What's the best massively multiplayer role-playing game for actual role-playing?

I almost succumbed and installed World of Warcraft again last night after a couple of years WoW-free, when I realized that if I'm going to descend into the depths of an MMO again, I might as well try something new.

Looking back on the things I enjoyed about WoW, it was all about creative player interactions; story circles on Thunder Bluff, clever banter with passing strangers, handing out gold to good role-players in newbie areas. I liked actually playing my characters as characters, and finding others who'd play along.

What's the best game for that sort of interaction? Are there games out there that have active communities that do role-playing, or is it all like in WoW, where even on role-playing servers finding someone who was RPing was rare?

(I realize that my best bet might still be WoW, in which case... how do you find good role-playing players?)
posted by MrVisible to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: DDO just went free-to-play, so that might be worth a shot.
posted by Oktober at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2009

My understanding is that this is more about the players than the game itself.
posted by garlic at 2:14 PM on June 11, 2009

Best answer: Ryzom has a fantastic community - best I've ever seen in all my MMO explorations - that also has a ton of players who enjoy roleplay. Their Ring also allows you to create your own scenarios. It's honestly the only MMO I keep coming back to, time and time again. And the only one I would truly recommend.
posted by Bakuun at 2:25 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your best bet might be to join a roleplaying guild. (They're also called "RP guilds.") There's a list of RP guilds on the Warcraft forums that seems to update pretty regularly.
posted by lore at 2:26 PM on June 11, 2009

Best answer: AoC has roleplaying guilds *and* boobies.
posted by kaseijin at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2009

(and actually there is a sizeable RP community on the Wiccana server. I am not a part of it, but they are always doing things)
posted by kaseijin at 2:41 PM on June 11, 2009

I've always been a fan of Achaea. Roleplaying is enforced (i.e. no going Out of Character in public). It's free to play but special items/more skills can be bought. It's owned by Iron Realms which has several other games with good roleplaying. Oh and by the way these are all text based.
posted by Deflagro at 2:48 PM on June 11, 2009

If you're into MUDs, DragonRealms always had a ton of RPing going on. You have to pay monthly, and little charges for having additional characters can really add up, though. Every couple years I play again for a few months.

There's RP to the extent that if you saying anything out of character, a GM can reprimand you.
posted by Nattie at 2:50 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lord of the Rings Online is much more focussed on story and lore than most of the MMOs. There's some role-playing servers and role-playing kinships. And of course it can't be beat for the back story.
posted by Nelson at 3:03 PM on June 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback. Now I have a few I'll be trying out.

I'm afraid I'm not that into MUDs, though. I'm spoiled by graphics.
posted by MrVisible at 4:10 PM on June 11, 2009

Ironically, the most RP-heavy online game I've ever played was Puzzle Pirates. I think it's much, much easier for people to get into talking like a pirate than to act like a medieval human or orc or dark elf, as might be evidenced by the existence of Talk Like a Pirate Day. That being said, RPing didn't really extend past standing around in a circle saying "Ahoy" or "YAR" a lot.
posted by zompus at 4:39 PM on June 11, 2009

EVE Online has a lot of potential for RP -- especially if you get involved in factional warfare and that kind of thing -- because there's a lot less back story and it's very much an open world in comparison to things like WoW.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:50 PM on June 11, 2009

Maybe try Second Life. It's free and there are dozens of sims (blocks of virtual land) dedicated to RP.

The game doesn't come with combat and levels (though there are many weapon systems that add these), and so the focus is generally on just the RP elements you describe (as well as on creating avatars, buildings, items, and entire sims).

Now, finding a good RP sim is a different story, but they do exist. Use the search function and try out a few of them.
posted by zompist at 5:27 PM on June 11, 2009

I've been playing Ultima Online for 10 years and have loved every minute of it. Get a trail account, check it out. I think once you get past the new player tedium of building up your characters and learning the many facets of the game, you will LOVE IT. Here's hoping you do!
posted by loquat at 10:40 PM on June 11, 2009

As a current WoW player with more than a decade in the MMO scene myself, I sometimes get the same urge to try out what else is out there, particularly in search of actual RPG elements. The problem invariably is, and I have played almost every game mentioned thus far, that I load the game up and within 15-30 minutes I am so completely frustrated and appalled by the klunky interface, terrible graphics, and general feeling of 3rd rate production that I come right back. As much as I love role playing, when it comes down to it I am just not willing to give up the last 10 years of software and usability advancement to get at it.

The only games I could really recommend to someone in the same situation are (2nding) Lord of The Rings Online and Oblivion (or even Morrowind). While the Elder Scrolls franchise games are obviously not MMOs, they do have that same massive scale and feel like the closest thing to a modern MMO without all the associated problems. LOTRO, on the other hand, is a great MMO which pulled me away from wow for quite a while and offers a fantastic experience and community for both classical role players and wow refugees. As usual, you can find a free trial on their website.
posted by sophist at 12:35 AM on June 12, 2009

I don't do RP, but I do play Warhammer Online (which I find to be more fun than I ever did WoW). There are definitely active RPers playing.
posted by transporter accident amy at 1:42 AM on June 12, 2009

For those who read the thread later or who are not in gaming, would you please spell out the acronyms at least once in your posts?
posted by plinth at 2:36 AM on June 12, 2009

MMO = MMORPG = Massivly multiplayer online role playing game
WOW = World of Warcraft - The "800 Lb Gorilla of MMOs"
RP = Role playing - Staying in character while playing a game.
MUD = Multi User Dungeon - A predecessor to MMOs, usually text based games.

Chiming in on the topic:
I have allways craved a RP experience. I think I have played *almost* every MMO put out so far and ever found it.
I've joined RP guilds, played on RP servers, sought out RP players. And every time the thing that ruins it for me is this:
Guild Chat.

I cannot STAND asshats ruining my RP experience talking about real world crap in guild chat, or otherwise messing around. I have never found a guild that enforced a OOC (out of character) channel that was optional.

My favorite out of all MMOs? Warhammer. I had the best time RPing in that, but its still never been as good as playing a RPG with real people around a table.
posted by JonnyRotten at 6:42 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

DDO: Dungeons and Dragons Online
AOC: Age of Conan
posted by kirkaracha at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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