Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is there such a thing as "good" roleplaying? -- differing styles of rp in SL

Marrant Vita's funeral--a nice example
of real time interactive rp that worked

My friend Marrant Vita is cranking out posts like crazy on her excellent new blog--it strikes me that bless her heart, she 's been storing up some things and mulling them over, and by golly, now she's overflowing with interesting stuff that she has got to say.

One of her recent discussions was about "what makes a good roleplayer?" It's a very thoughtful piece, based on her long-term, on-going experience with roleplaying in SL. And it really got me thinking about something that had been eating at me for a while, and I figured it was time to say something.

I can be pretty judgmental sometimes.

*waits for the gasps of shock and surprise to die down*

Yeah. I know.

But seriously, I tend to be that way about a lot of things, including roleplaying and roleplayers. Like a lot of folks, I have a tendnecy to think--and sometimes to say--things like "that's really good rp there," or "you're a great rp'er," or "that's some bad rp," or occasionally, "your hopelessly self-absorbed approach to roleplaying has produced such spectacularly indifferent results that it will take me a while to find the proper term to describe it since "wholesale shit-sucking waste of time and effort" is far too generous.

But for the most part, that's not really being fair. I realized this the other day when I was given a notecard about a situation that happened in Hogwarts. Judging by the chat that was copied in the notecard, one of the roleplayers descended into a screaming, obnoxious shit-fit because the other people he was interacting with didn't adapt their style of roleplaying to his style.

Before being banned, he stated in no uncertain terms that he felt that all the other people in the sim were terrible roleplayers, that he was the only one present who knew how to roleplay, and that he was in fact, just about the greatest roleplayer, ever.

Totally aside from the fact that, yes, this particular individual as a person (distinct from their qualities as a roleplayer) is clearly a bilious, narcissistic, crap-spewing pecker-faced baboon, as a roleplayer they should not be accused of doing bad rp (other than going out of character and turning into a flaming asshole in open chat). The reality of the situation was that no one involved should be painted as "bad" roleplayers--but neither should anyone claim to be "great" or even "good" at the art form. Why? Because the conflict was essentially over style.

There are different kinds of roleplaying you can find in SL and other venues. In this case in Hogwarts, the conflict seems to have been initiated by this one individual who prefers to do an extreme form of "paragraph" rp.

"Paragraph" roleplaying is a style that I assume has its origins in purely text-based rp. In this form of rp the players not only write lines of dialogue--as well as some short "emotes" such as "smiles," or "frowns" or "scratches crotch with considerable enthusiasm"--they actually write out an entire paragraph or paragraphs detailing their inner thoughts along with their facial expressions and extended dialogue. Practitioners of this style also tend to include elements of physical action combined with extensive descriptive passages such as "casually brushes away the loose strand of golden blond hair that the gentle breeze had pulled out of place on her otherwise perfectly coiffed hair," or "walks purposefully across the floor, the staccato clacking of his boot heels on the rough planks mingling with the sparkling noise of the silver jingle-bobs on his large-roweled, Spanish-style spurs."

Logically, in a text-based rp you have to include all this Bulwer-Lyttonesque type prose in order to compensate for the lack of actual visual evidence of what is going on or how the player-writers are imagining the scene. In text-based rp, if you don't tell the other players that someone has a huge rack of epic proportions or is pointing a large blued-steel revolver of a foreign pattern at you, how the fuck are you gonna know?

Now of course, in a 3-D environment like SL, you don't have to put everything into words in the same way. You can simply look at your screen and see that the gal over yonder has temptation bumps that make the Sierra Nevadas look like molehills, and that, yep, she has got a really big fucking gun out and is about to blow your punkin' head into applesauce. Unless, of course, you're still waiting for everything to rez, in which case, you're just boned. And you also might as well say fuck trying to type out paragraphs at that point, because chat is probably lagging as well.

Seriously though, paragraph style of rp in SL is a choice, not a necessity. But it can enhance the experience for some people, and if you enjoy doing it, then hey, knocketh thyself out.

It's not bad or good, it's just a certain way to play the game.

Similarly, there is a style of rp that some folks call "RP Lite." This version of roleplaying is the kind where, yeah you sort of have a character, and maybe you thought about a back story and maybe you didn't, but usually you have taken on some kind of "role" like sheriff or old-west pole-dancer. People in this form of rp typically are somewhat flexible about staying "in character" and are more casual in their approach to speech patterns and vocabulary, including the use of LOL's and other internet-speech abbreviations.

Again, I would argue it's not good or bad--it is just what individual players are comfortable with. However, there are places where this style of rp is not accepted, as it can distract others who are playing in a different style. Most places where it is not acceptable will make that clear in their rules, which is why players looking into a new sim should, by gawd, read the fucking rules. If there are none, or they don't mention things like "must stay in character" or "no OOC in open chat," then you may have hit on a place where RP Lite is going to work.

Finally there is the style of roleplaying that I call "real-time interactive" rp. This form of rp has really just recently evolved in virtual worlds, though I think stylistically it owes a great deal to the traditions of theater (particularly improv), and first-person interpretation in museums and history sites. In this style you the players perform more as an ensemble, interacting and playing off each other and developing situations in almost real time (obviously real time interaction is not completely possible due to the fact that most of us don't type as fast as we speak--plus you add in lag and a convo can take forfuckingever). But it is as close to real-time as we can get.

The players using this style concentrate mostly on short, quickly written pieces of dialogue that sounds like natural conversation as much as possible. As Marrant points out, spelling is not always as important as getting an idea across quickly. There is give and take, and if you wait too long, or take a while trying to generate a long paragraph, you often will get left behind.

Yes, there is a time and place for longer soliloquies, but they are the exception. And the emphasis is on the speech itself, not added descriptive elements. Mind you, players in this style do utilize some necessary and useful "emotes" such as "smiles slightly" or "grins like an idiot." Sometimes the emotes being used may be downright poetic, such "tries to smile bravely, even as a single tear etches its way down her face." But for the most part, the players only write out what is needed to compensate for the limitations that still remain as to what visual clues and actions are possible in SL. Furthermore, inner thoughts are eschewed (since nobody should be able to read your goddam thoughts anyhow).

I will freely admit this is my favorite style. But does that mean this is good rp, or that it is better than other styles? No. It's just what I happen to enjoy, which, considering that my background includes some theater and living history stuff, should come as no surprise.

Now I will tell you I firmly believe that the different styles are not mutually exclusive. Someone can come into a sim where real-time interactive rp predominates, and adapt their own personal form of rp to what is there. The only thing is, you have to be willing to make some adjustments--maybe break your writing into shorter segments and pay attention to what is going on around you so that you don't get too far behind. I have known some paragraph people who are real fun to rp with, but when they are wrapped up in cranking out a long segment of text, the interaction can kinda break down. Especially if they have their typing anim turned off, you have no idea if they are busy writing, have fallen asleep or are frozen up from lag. Other players tend to wander off and then the paragraph style player gets pissed off because no one stayed to hear what they had to say.

Likewise if a real-time interactive rp'er goes into a place where they like to do a lot of paragraph style, you need to slow down, wait for people to finish writing, and maybe go ahead and expand your own writing as well. I know I try to do a better job with controlling my typos when I'm around paragraph rp'ers, because what the hell, everything is going to take longer anyway, so why not try to fix shit?

So instead of saying something is "good" or "bad," or it's "great" or it "sucks huge purple-veined donkey schwanstuckers," let's ask if a particular bit of roleplaying "feels comfortable, or "fun." We can also ask, "was it successful?"

That's a topic for another conversation another time. But for right now, let me leave you with a snippet of some rp that I thought was successful.

This was from the time when Dr. Brooklyn Alcott, 9 months pregnant, is in a buggy accident and goes into labor:

[18:39] JanMae Jun: The head is crowning some more
[18:39] Brooklyn Alcott *throws her head back down, her hair soaked in blood and tears*
[18:39] Diogenes Kuhr: baby's head is showin Brook, yer doin it
[18:39] Silver85 Koba *cuts down a piece of the curtains and places them next to JanMae and takes some of the bloody pieces of cloth and throws them away*
[18:40] JanMae Jun: Push again, Brook *presses firmly but carefully on Brook's upper belly*
[18:40] Brooklyn Alcott *closes her eyes and prays for strength*
[18:40] JanMae Jun *gasps* Brook! Come on, you can do it.
[18:40] Diogenes Kuhr: dammit this would be easier on her if she warn't on her back, but we can't do much with them broke legs
[18:40] Brooklyn Alcott *musters up all her courage and strength...for her baby......*
[18:41] JanMae Jun: Dio, oh, lord, the baby's head is out
[18:41] Silver85 Koba: Want me to hold her up?
[18:41] JanMae Jun: Brook - a little more -- you can do it
[18:41] Diogenes Kuhr: the cord ain't round the neck is it?
[18:41] JanMae Jun: Dio, we need to clear the baby's mouth - check the cord
[18:41] Brooklyn Alcott *falls back on the table....exhausted and scared*
[18:41] JanMae Jun: Seth - please hold her head and shoulders so she doesn't fall off the bed.
[18:42] JanMae Jun: she's still very woozy
[18:42] Diogenes Kuhr: *peers at the little head and scoops in the mouth with her finger*
[18:42] Brooklyn Alcott *blinks at the man*
[18:42] Diogenes Kuhr: nope cord is fine *gently supports the head*
[18:42] Silver85 Koba *gently leans in behind Brook and grabs a hold of her*
[18:42] Brooklyn Alcott *body shakes uncontrollably*
[18:42] JanMae Jun *feels another contraction mounting* Push, brook! Push!
[18:43] Silver85 Koba: Remember me? *winks at Brook, trying to have a happy expression*
[18:43] JanMae Jun *reaches down to guide the baby's shoulder out*
[18:43] Diogenes Kuhr: here comes the shoulders, Brook!
[18:43] JanMae Jun: come on, come on now
[18:43] Diogenes Kuhr: Hon this is the big part, yer doin fine!
[18:43] JanMae Jun: Push, Brook! Stay with us! Push ---
[18:43] Brooklyn Alcott *screams as loud as she can, which is just under a whisper but pushes against the man's hands*
[18:43] JanMae Jun *tugs and pulls the other shoulder out*
[18:44] Diogenes Kuhr: *cups her hands under the head and and keeps supporting the baby as it starts to slide*
[18:44] Brooklyn Alcott *tears flowing like a waterfall, her body battered and bloody and in excruciating pain she pushesssssssssssss*
[18:44] Silver85 Koba *grits his teeth as he fight to keep Brook in place*
[18:44] JanMae Jun: *helps the baby as it slips out fully*
[18:44] Janmae Jun: Dio - do you still have that razor?
[18:44] Brooklyn Alcott *gasps and groans*
[18:44] JanMae Jun clears the baby's mouth area again*
[18:44] Silver85 Koba: In my back pocket
[18:44] Diogenes Kuhr: *places the baby head down slightly to allow it drain out some, over Brooks leg*
[18:45] JanMae Jun gasps: It's a girl, Brook! A girl!
[18:45] Brooklyn Alcott *musters up a slight smile and cries harder*
[18:45] JanMae Jun: *smiles as the baby cries out, a welcome sound to everyone*
[18:45] Diogenes Kuhr: ok Brook, gonna need to push out yer placenta in a bit don' take a goddam nap jus yet
[18:45] Silver85 Koba smiles "i'll be dammed"
[18:46] Brooklyn Alcott *spits up blood*
[18:46] Diogenes Kuhr: Jan mae let me get some thread fer tyin off the cord
[18:46] JanMae Jun: Seth - I need that razor
[18:46] Brooklyn Alcott *lifts her head a bit more to see her beautiful lil bundle*
[18:46] Silver85 Koba *looks down on Brook seeing the blood* "Something is wrong"
[18:46] JanMae Jun: * grabs a bolt of string from the shelf behind her*
[18:46] Silver85 Koba: reach for it . it is in my back pocket
[18:46] Diogenes Kuhr: * looks through the medical kit for sinew or suture thread*
[18:47] JanMae Jun *reaches filthy hands into Seth's pocket*
[18:47] JanMae Jun *hands Dio some string* - this will do, if you can't find any other
[18:47] Diogenes Kuhr: nah I got proper suture thread here
[18:47] Brooklyn Alcott *eyes roll around and she tries to whisper*
[18:47] Brooklyn Alcott: mmmmmmisssssss
[18:47] Diogenes Kuhr: I kin feel her crampin' agin...
[18:47] JanMae Jun: Dio, if you'll take care of the cord, I'll help her push
[18:47] Silver85 Koba *looks down on Brook, sees her lips move*
[18:48] Diogenes Kuhr: time to push the placenta out ain't it?
[18:48] JanMae Jun: Brook? Come on, hon, you're almost finished.
[18:48] Brooklyn Alcott: myyyyyyyy
[18:48] Silver85 Koba: What did you say Brook?
[18:48] Brooklyn Alcott *bubbles of blood form in her mouth as she speaks*
[18:48] Diogenes Kuhr: *steadies the baby lying across Brooks belly and guides the cord*
[18:48] JanMae Jun *notices Brook has suddenly gone very pale*
[18:48] JanMae Jun *reaches for Brook's arm to feel her pulse*.
[18:48] Silver85 Koba wipes the blood away from Brook's mouth with his sleeve*
[18:48] JanMae Jun: Dio, her pulse is very faint -- she's still losing a lot of blood from the inside.
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott * talks soo low its hard to hear her*
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott: baaaby
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott *gasps for air*
[18:49] Diogenes Kuhr: just a minute Hon give us another push here
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott: seeeeeeeeeeee
[18:49] JanMae Jun *wipes her eyes with her shirtsleeve*
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott *shakes head*
[18:49] Silver85 Koba leans down to hear Brook better
[18:49] JanMae Jun: Brook?
[18:49] Brooklyn Alcott nnnnnnooooooooo
[18:49] JanMae Jun: Hold on, Brook!
[18:50] Brooklyn Alcott:* shakes head and cries harder*
[18:50] Brooklyn Alcott: babyyyyyyyyyyy
[18:50] JanMae Jun* lays the baby on Brook's tummy and reassures her *
[18:50] Diogenes Kuhr: Jan Mae that after birthing out yet?
[18:50] JanMae Jun: Brook? Stay with us! Look - here's your baby ...
[18:50] Brooklyn Alcott *blinks at the pinkness laying on her belly*
[18:50] JanMae Jun: oh, god, Dio - there's so much blood.
[18:51] Brooklyn Alcott *tries to raise her hands but they won't move*
[18:51] Brooklyn Alcott *blinks through the tears*
[18:51] JanMae Jun *reaches to pull the rest of the sac out, guiding it since Brook can't push*
[18:51] Diogenes Kuhr: allright here it comes *ties one piece of thread on the umbilical near the child's stomach*
[18:51] Diogenes Kuhr: gimme yer razor agin Seth
[18:51] Brooklyn Alcott *looking down at her newborn as she feels soo light and weak*
[18:51] Silver85 Koba: JanMae got it
[18:52] JanMae Jun: *hands Dio the bloody razor*
[18:52] Diogenes Kuhr: I jus gotta trim that thread off there so I can tie another piece on
[18:52] Brooklyn Alcott:* looks up at the man*
[18:52] JanMae Jun: Brook?
[18:52] Brooklyn Alcott: pleeeeeeeezeeeeeeeee
[18:52] Silver85 Koba *looks down on brook trying to smile*
[18:52] JanMae Jun *reaches to feel her pulse again*
[18:52] Diogenes Kuhr: allright *cuts the thread and puts the razor in her teeth to hold it while she ties the second knot a short way from the the first one*
[18:52] Brooklyn Alcott: baaaabyyyyyyy
[18:52] Brooklyn Alcott: mahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:53] Diogenes Kuhr: Seth hand me that whiskey bottle behind ye
[18:53] JanMae Jun: Her breathing is so shallow ...
[18:53] Janmae Jun: Brook, look at me, Brook --
[18:53] Brooklyn Alcott * gasps*
[18:53] Brooklyn Alcott naaaaaaaammmmmmmmmeeeee
[18:53] JanMae Jun: Mah isn't here, hon - Look at me -- stay with me!
[18:53] Brooklyn Alcott: dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:53] Brooklyn Alcott: liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
[18:53] Brooklyn Alcott: llaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:53] Silver85 Koba *pulls out his own whiskey flask and hands it over* "This is stronger stuff. will work better I think"
[18:53] Diogenes Kuhr: *takes the bottle from Seth pulls the cork and splashes whiskey on the blade*
[18:54] Brooklyn Alcott: dahhhhhhhhhh
[18:54] Brooklyn Alcott: liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
[18:54] Diogenes Kuhr: allright Hon hold the cord out there fer me
[18:54] Brooklyn Alcott: lllllllllllllllllllllaahhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:54] JanMae Jun *holds the cord with one hand*
[18:54] Diogenes Kuhr: ready?
[18:54] Diogenes Kuhr: *cuts the cord in between the two knots with Seth's razor*
[18:54] JanMae Jun: *checks Brook's heartbeat on her chest with the other*
[18:54] You: Brook?
[18:54] Brooklyn Alcott *tears streaming down...feeling woozey and lightheaded....trying to get them to hear her baby's name...........*
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott: dahhhhhhhh
[18:55] Silver85 Koba * tries to make sense of what brook is saying*
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott: liiiiiiiiiilahhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott: mahhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott *sputters more blood*
[18:55] JanMae Jun: Brook - you stay with me now, you hear?
[18:55] Diogenes Kuhr: *wipes the cutthroat razor on the sheet and closes it with one hand and hands it back to Seth smiling*
[18:55] Silver85 Koba: I think she is trying to tell us a name
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott dahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
[18:55] JanMae Jun *leans over closely to Brook's face*
[18:55] JanMae Jun: Dahlia?
[18:55] Brooklyn Alcott weakly smiles at the man*
[18:55] JanMae Jun: I think she said Dahlia.
[18:56] JanMae Jun: Brook? *looks at Brook's blank stare*
[18:56] Silver85 Koba *takes back the razor, smiling back at Dio*
[18:56] Brooklyn Alcott *uses her last bit of strength to nod*
[18:56] Diogenes Kuhr: *Folds up the placenta and mess in towel and places it beneath the cot out of the way*
[18:56] Brooklyn Alcott: give
[18:56] Brooklyn Alcott: Mah
[18:56] Brooklyn Alcott: Mahhhhhhh
[18:56] JanMae Jun: oh, sweet Jesus - Brook?
[18:56] Brooklyn Alcott: give
[18:56] Silver85 Koba *looks down* "Dahlia? is that it?"
[18:56] Diogenes Kuhr: Brook? think ye kin nurse any?
[18:56] JanMae Jun *strokes Brook's forehead*-
[18:56] JanMae Jun: Dio -- she's fading again'
[18:56] Silver85 Koba: Give Mah what Brook?
[18:56] JanMae Jun: her pulse - I can barely feel it.
[18:57] Diogenes Kuhr: *softly * goddammit
[18:57] JanMae Jun *wipes Brook's pale face and tries to listen to what she is trying to say.*
[18:57] Brooklyn Alcott *head falls back....her eyes roll back...she gasps her last breath.....and lies there motionless, no air escaping her lungs she fades away quietly*
[18:57] JanMae Jun: *speaks softly* Please, Brook - Don't leave us.
[18:57] Diogenes Kuhr: *wraps another clean towel around the baby and tries to hold it where Brook can see it*
[18:57] JanMae Jun gasps: No ... Brook!
[18:58] Silver85 Koba *feels Brook's body go limp*
[18:58] Diogenes Kuhr: *gently lifts Brook's hand and softly places it against the baby's head*
[18:58] JanMae Jun *checks her neck, her chest, her wrist ...*
[18:58] Silver85 Koba: Come on Brook *start to shake her slightly*
[18:58] JanMae Jun *weeps and keeps checking for a pulse that isn't there*.
[18:58] JanMae Jun: No...
[18:58] JanMae Jun: *the baby cries*
[18:58] Silver85 Koba *looks up* "Anything?"
[18:59] Diogenes Kuhr: Seth...would ye oblige me by closin' her eyes?
[18:59] JanMae Jun *wipes her face on her sleeve and shakes her head*
[18:59] JanMae Jun: oh, Dio -- how can this be?
[18:59] Silver85 Koba * nods and slowly drags his hand over Brook's face closing her eyes and gently easing her back down on the pillow*
[18:59] Diogenes Kuhr: *softly almost a whisper* sonofabitch...dammit, where we gonna find someone to nurse this tadpole?
[19:00] Silver85 Koba: Maybe that was what she was trying to tell us
[19:00] Silver85 Koba: She said something about Mah?
[19:00] Diogenes Kuhr: *cradles the newborn*
[19:00] JanMae Jun: Mah is her cousin, but Mah is no nursemaid.
[19:00] Diogenes Kuhr: I think she knew she was she wants Mah to raise the babe
[19:01] Silver85 Koba *nods* "Yeah I think so to"
[19:02] JanMae Jun: surely there is a new mother in town who will nurse her
[19:02] Silver85 Koba *takes off his hat, holding it against his chest while looking down on Brook*
[19:02] Diogenes Kuhr: *Cradles the baby swaying gently, tears welling up in her eyes*
[19:02] JanMae Jun *looks at Brook's body in disbelief.*
[19:02] Silver85 Koba: Damn shame!
[19:02] JanMae Jun *covers Brook's body with the rest of the sheet that Seth ripped up earlier.
[19:03] JanMae Jun: Dio -- can you find Mah? Oh, gracious, me, she will be dumbfounded.
[19:04] Diogenes Kuhr: *looks up distracted briefly*
[19:04] Diogenes Kuhr: huh? word, yes
[19:04] JanMae Jun *turns to Seth* Thank you for helping.
[19:04] JanMae Jun *feels tears welling up again*
[19:04] Silver85 Koba: Don't mention it.
[19:04] Diogenes Kuhr: here Hon will you take the chile?
[19:04] Brooklyn Alcott is Offline
[19:04] JanMae Jun: *takes the infant carefully and holds her close*
[19:05] Diogenes Kuhr: *Looks at the pale, now peaceful face of Brooklyn Fargis*
[19:05] JanMae Jun: Seth - could you notify Mr. Deerhunter or whomever can arrange a funeral *feels out of sorts and doesn't know what to do with Brook gone so suddenly*
[19:05] Diogenes Kuhr: see ye in the happy huntin' ground Hon...*smiles sadly*
[19:06] Silver85 Koba: Of course. I'll see to it that she gets a proper burial
[19:06] Diogenes Kuhr: ye lived well and dammit ye died well too
[19:06] JanMae Jun *looks at Brook again and squeezes her hand softly: Thank you, Brook. You were like a big sister to me.
[19:07] Diogenes Kuhr: *shakes her head slightly and then gets a determined hard look on her face* right
[19:07] Diogenes Kuhr: well
[19:07] Diogenes Kuhr: life does goddam well go on


  1. Great thoughts there Dio. I like the categories you broke things up into but more than that, the positive way you focused on how differnt folks with different style could work together was, for me, right on the money.

    One thought about ppl putting lots of long emotes into chat (whichever style they fit into). I know you quite rightly said that as it's a 3D visual world we can see what's going on, but I think this misses a major weakness in SL (and other virtual worlds). Although I can see HBA talking to another avatar, it's not always true that I'll be looking directly at that av (by which I mean that av taking up my screen space, not HBA glancing at the av) and therefore I can’t always see facial cues that would help determine meaning and emotional context (and that's assuming the player knows enough to manipulate their av's face - let's face it, SL SUCKS at av puppeteering). Similarly, the lack of pre-determined camera focus means visual clues can all too easily be missed.

    Whilst I'm not defending the sort of inner-thought paragraph broadcasts you mention, I do see why some folks may go overboard with some of their descriptions in order to compensate for SL's "weaknesses".

    Now having said all that, I think people should look at the very moving (seriously!) piece of chat RP you added at the end and learn some valuable lessons from it. Consideration to other players and the bigger story, short-but-accurate emotes and an understanding of SL's limitations - all these and more come out through that one piece and serve to remind us why folks strive so hard, sometimes against the odds, to RP in this crazy made up world :)

    For me, my style I hovers between RP Lite and Real-time depending on the circumstance. I’m still trying to get my head around switching from ‘me’ and ‘character’ whilst in-world – I’ve spent 3 years being ‘me’ that it’s hard to lose that, but I’m getting there :)

    p.s. A quick q - do you keep your typing animation on?

  2. Marrant Vita sits down and begins reading Dio's post, tucking strands of her curly red locks into place as she reaches with her tiny porcelein hands for the fresh hot cup of chai latte tea she had just carried into her family room, placing it next to the computer. Sipping the tea, she was vaguely aware of others sitting around her, waiting for their turn to make comments about Dio's post but so many thoughts filled the Irish role-player's adorable mind that she could not help herself, and so she continued typing as she sipped and read. She gasped as she read Dio's comment on being judgmental, wiped tears of laughter from her shimmering indigo eyes after reading the portion on paragraph role-playing which of course she entirely agreed although she thought there should be some limitations on it on as she did recall periods of waiting for what seemed like hours as another player's little avatar hands kept working working working as others stood about until finally the thoughts from its mind came out and role-play could continue; she nodded in agreement with the lite Roleplay comments as she herself considered herself pretty lite in her little avatar head; and then found herself applauding vigorously at the discription of Real-time roleplay, so much so that what was left of her latte spilled onto her lap, scorching her knees. Before she rose, she read through the dialogue and found her eyes filling with what would eventually become shimmering tears which she mopped off with the sleeves of her hand-knit sweater before reaching for a pen with which to compose a commentary in which she would briefly convey her approval of this most excellent post.

  3. And food for thought. I will have to go back and rethink my own tendency to be judgmental with my post on my blog -- sometimes we think we are sharing helpful information and we end up hurting someone's feelings :(

  4. I'm not sure which I enjoyed more--Dio's post or Marrant's para-answer.

    It's different strokes for different folks when it comes to rp. I've tried them all, and enjoyed each, depending on the situation.

    One thing you didn't mention is how well para-rp works on busy days. You can type something up, go wash the dishes, type something else, vacuum, type some more, worm the dog...

  5. Hey HB,

    Yeah, it really comes down to you have to do SOMETHING to compensate for the lack of visual clues and other limitations that are built into SL. It's just that you don't have to do as much as you would need to do in a purely text-based form of rp.

    But again, as I said, if you have fun writing out the long paragraphs of emotes and detail, then by golly, that is what you should do. And arguably there are those of us who do real-time interactive rp, and then fulfill that same desire to embellish the results by using the rp as the foundations upon which we build stories on our blogs and forums.

    I totally understand the appeal of putting in the extra detail and nuances of expression and inner thought--I just find it easier to do so after the fact, as part o the process of transforming rp into rp-based storytelling.

    Hey Marrant,

    Just so you know, please don' feel like I was being critical of what you wrote. I think I was just trying to follow the direction it started me thinking. Especially because yes, there actually is such as thing as bad rp. It's just that sometimes, we may mix up our dislike of certain styles with assessing good and bad.

    I think we can safely say that bad rp happens when people are so self-absorbed, they don't adapt to what other people are doing. Bad rp happens when people can't break out of cliches or just want to cyber or shoot someone. Bad rp happens with god-moding and meta-gaming. Bad rp happens when people don't follow sim rules and create unnecessary OOC conflict and confusion. Bad rp happens when we let our personal dislike for the typist spill over into how we react to the character--conversely, bad rp happens when you tell someone that you don't care to rp with them, and in their narcissistic angst, they INSIST that you MUST rp with them. And then you have to kill them (and that's god-moding).

    And yes, I got a chuckle out of your Bulwer-Lytton style comment. That is another risk that extreme paragraph rp'ers run into when they deluge the non-paragraph rp people around them with excessively long text segments: the other folks will invariably start mocking them, producing their own ludicrous versions of paragraph rp that will devolve into such ridiculous levels of navel-gazing that everything just completely bogs down.

    And yes, Merry, that is point where it clearly is time to go worm the dog.

  6. Darn, the comments are almost as good as the post itself!

    I'm a reasonably fast typist, but an unreasonably slow thinker, it seems. Or, at the least, an unreasonably slow writer. Consequently, I'm not much good at writing complete paragraphs in real time. (HBA's criticisms of SL as a visual medium are well-taken, though. Try as we might to incorporate the scene around us into our thinking, so much of it is static. And don't get me started on those avatar "emotions." I shudder every time I see a woman smile that horrible, high-priced-hooker smile that we're blessed with.)

    My one and only encounter with that style of RP was when I explored the late Londinium sim, if I recall correctly. I was wandering the dark streets, near the dock, when a woman approached and engaged me. She was able to pull off long, flowing paragraphs and, try as I might, I was reduced to fairly short replies. We had about fifteen minutes of:

    Her: *looks about her furtively, as though she might be overheard* "Be careful walking the streets, miss. They're not safe." *she touches a hand to her brow in a gesture both familiar and worried. Her green eyes scanned the horizon - the wet streets, the flickering lamplight, the darkened doorways - but still there was no sign of life other than the two women talking.*

    Me: "Thank you for the warning. As you can tell, I'm a stranger in town."

    Her: *she fingers the red velvet of her dress, reminding herself of her appointment...."

    I was in awe, but mentally exhausted!

  7. Thanks Dio, but ya know it made me think about how nervy it is for someone who has only been rping for a couple of years to be passing judgment on what makes for good roleplay.

    It has taken me a long time to warm up to the paragraph style of rping - one of the things that helped was the Quaker worship in Deadwood, where ppl sat around in "silence" for 20 minutes or so while sharing their thoughts. That softened me up a bit.

    Ha! We had great fun one night in Dio's #10 Saloon. The place was full with folks standing around drinking beer and cocoa, enjoying conversation when a new couple came by and tied up their horse outside.

    There was a lot of thinking on their side -- but they did come in and he conversed a bit in response to the welcome he received. She was a thinker, not a talker. Her writing was very good and yet....

    Well, it was kinda funny. We all would be talking and then in the midst of a conversation, a huge chunk of deep thoughts unrelated to the conversation would emerge, a kind of shock to the flow but.. most tolerated it several times until...

    I dunno what came over a couple of us... Elizabeth decided to give serious detailed attention to the tying of her shoe and other mundane operations.

    This was followed by at least one other player having a similar experience in putting forth thoughts about the eating of a piece of pie or some such thing.

    All in good fun, with tongues in cheek. The point was missed -- but I do think it would be fun sometime to have some kind of a roleplaying event, a kind of improv thing wherein people would sit around a room and share what their characters are thinking -- it could be a lot of fun and I think it gives for good practice in rping...the prize of course would just be all the laughs and fun that could be shared.

  8. yeah Marrant, actually that occasion with you and tying your shoelace was what I was thinking of as a specific example of an extreme paragraph style rp'er being mocked. And no, apparently she didn't get it at all.

  9. Hey Rhia,

    Yes, I think you make a very good point with your example. When the paragraph style does work, and the rp'er is a good writer, it can be a lot of fun and very effective. And it sounds like the woman you encountered kept the descriptions under control AND tried to connect with you--not just going off on her own extended riff. So in effect she was adapting to your style as well.

  10. What I find interesting about my own RP is, that I, if its a situation like you showed in your example (birth), I'm forced to write short.

    Its such a thrilling story, something urgent, that I come into a hurry as a writer myself because I adopt some feelings coming with my character.

    There are surely times when I sit in front of my screen and look stressed and kinda sweating;)

  11. I know what you mean Deac, in the short, real time interaction I find it easier to be cuasth up inthe metoions of the moment. That's one of the reasons I find it owes more to acting than writing.

    In the scene with Brook dying during childbirth, the rest of us had no idea she was planning on kicking the bucket. All we could do was react to it, and the motions we felt were very real. I know I got teary-eyed when it happened.

    Though oddly enough, the part that really hit me hardest was when I finally got the little message:

    "Brooklyn Alcott is Offline."

  12. Yeah that is really hard!

    Did she never say a word in IM after the play?

    Mhm, I would not do that. I would keep in touch with IM's if I would plan something like that.

    It's a game and my playpartners should know what I, the person behind the screen, is thinking after a play like this, or even thanking for the efford they made.

    But then, I never killed off a mainchraracter so far. I tend to send them to another place and leave them living in happyness ;)

    I killed some of my Bad-NPC-guys, but that was mostly planned from the beginning and everyone hated them anyways ;-P

    Ah well, I liked Doc - sometimes I wonder where everyone is ;)

  13. you know, I don't recall--we probably exchanged some IM's , but mostly what I remember is that she "died" and by golly we never saw he again after that, unless she came back as an alt we didn't know about.

    It's a funny thing about killing your own character, or even getting them into something life threatening like a disease and then saving them: it's not technically god-moding, as you are doing it to yourself, but it certainly is god-like behavior--you are exercising the power of life and death.

    I really don't mind if a person decides to kill themselves and doesn't talk to me about it in IM to give me warning. I would rather have the fun of the surprise. It's just when they decide to try to kill ME that I would like to have a little heads-up.

  14. Hehe yes that for sure.
    And I meant more to keep in touch after it happened, not before, because I like the surprise myself :)

    Anyways, I didnt mean to make a reproach on someone, I was just coming to the fact that, if it would happen to my character, I wouldnt want people feel sad about it and therefore give them at least a smile in IM's - because a beloved characters death is shocking enough.

    I had some thoughts about god-like acting often aswell.
    I think you can find it in quite many computergames right now, not only in RP.
    Maybe its just something everyone has inside and it is fascinating us all. ;)

  15. "Maybe its just something everyone has inside and it is fascinating us all"

    What a piece of worke is man!
    how Noble in Reason?
    how infinite in faculty?
    in forme and moving how expresse and admirable?
    in Action, how like an Angel?
    in apprehension...

    how like a God?

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