Monday, March 10, 2008

The Paradox Experiment, Issue Six - Taking the Lead

I realized pretty quickly on the newspaper littered streets of King's Row that if I wanted to get solid RP while gaining levels, it would have to come in the form of a team. No more running around the streets solo and hoping to chance across someone willing to interact. I was curious if I took the lead with RP reasons for forming a team would other players follow along? After grabbing a radio mission to rescue a Dr. Sophia Jones from Hellions, I scouted through the comlink and asked a few individuals if they were free to help rescue a doctor.

The time was fairly early in the morning for me and definitely not peak time. However, within a few minutes Ibn Asad fired back he could give me a hand. This was followed quickly by another response by the firey fey named Quickfyre. As we gathered in front of the mission door, I offered up the usual Ren reluctance and inexperience. "Do we just, uh, charge in there now or what?"

Followed by Ibn's response of, "Pretty much."

Of course, we took the Hellions down handily and moved on to bringing in a Council villain by the name of Archon Lucretia. Again, handled easily. As we went from mission to mission, I gathered a few more players to the team and we eventually took on a bank mission. Motionblur, Mad Dasher, and SonicGirl joined in and Ren bounced upward in security levels quickly.

For the most part, however, the focus for everyone was on the fight. There was little interaction between missions and little in any sort of character building RP. Both Ibn and Quickfyre responded in-character to certain things and I was pleased to find none of the players were of the RP-hater variety. Overall, it was a fantastic group! However, as I played along and kept notes, the focus continued to be goal driven; next door mission, next level, XP, get a bank mission, get a raptorpack. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. I've spent quality time doing just this with other characters. But, I was conducting an experiment for strong RP.

Now, some would say this is the nature of the beast. There are no rewards whatsoever for RP built into the game design. The rewards that ARE there come from doing EXACTLY what this crack team was doing. Bust bad guys, get points, get levels. How could a game offer rewards for good RP? I've seen voting systems where players get nominations for good RP. Players may only get a set number of votes per a time period, for instance, two votes a week. Once a player gets so many nominations, they are rewarded something for their effort. What other systems are out there?

Perhaps this is just the way MMO's are going and I should get over it? Perhaps this is such a small niche in the overall customer base there is no reason to design solid game content for it? However, I would like to see something put forward. Just because it's the nature of the beast does not mean the beast cannot be retrained. Am I just being unrealistic to say such a thing is possible?

Regardless, Ren jumped upwards in levels quickly from the team effort. He discovered that if you do enough good work the City rewards you with a shiny new raptorpack! And no, I did not RP him putting it on and flying into a building wall by accident. I just ran on to the next mission and jumped in the door.

But... I thought about it.