Online RPGs: Why Text Games Rule Roleplay
By Tony Celentano
1: No acronym-laden channel spam
The last time I played a graphical MMO "role-playing" game, the market channel was nothing but constant "LVL 20 HUNTER LFG!" or "WTB EPIC SWORDS PST". Sorry, I didn't realize acronyms and channel spam were consistent with a fantasy universe. Even the "roleplay" servers on these games suffer from this, and it's ENCOURAGED. Have you ever seen a game admin step in to enforce roleplay on a graphical MMO? The thing I love about text RPGs is that this kind of nonsense is quickly smacked down by admins who will deduct your "credibility", or roleplay points if you will. Lose too much 'credibility', and soon you'll start suffering all kinds of punishments like decreased XP gain and not being able to communicate.
2: Storylines to introduce new areas.
Text game MMOs offer the best roleplay, hands down. When new areas are added to the game, there is always an accompanying event that players get involved in. There's no such thing as waiting for an 'expansion pack' which is just a few new dungeons to grindfest in and a higher level cap. The worst part is, these expansion packs usually charge as much or more than the monthly cost of playing the game! IRE text games will NEVER tell you "Sorry, your account is restricted from accessing this area until you buy it with real life money". How do you even explain that in roleplay terms? You can't, and that's just pure laziness and disorganized implementation on the developer's part, in my opinion.
3: No auto-target; No auto-attack
Text games offer more hands-on combat, so that PvP is more 'realistic'. I don't mean realistic like, casting fireballs is something you do in real life. I mean that in graphical MMOs, you just click on your target, press the auto-attack button and that's it. Your 3d MMO character will continue hacking away at your target, without you having to do anything, whatsoever. Some real complicated combat mechanics, huh? In text games, you have to be on top of what's going on. Every skill takes some sort of "balance", which is the delay between attacks. The length of the 'balance' depends on the skill, so you need to plan 5 attacks ahead in your brain. You also have to keep track of afflictions your character is suffering so you can properly cure them. In graphical MMOs, afflictions are usually just timer-based. "Lose -5 HP for the next 10s, every 1s" or "Run more slowly for a minute". You can't do anything about these afflictions until the timer runs out. In text games, each affliction has a different cure, and it's up to you to use those cures. If you're paralysed and you don't have the proper cure, you're pretty screwed until a buddy comes to your aid. This adds a level of danger and excitement, and turns combat into a chess match instead of a diceroll.
4: No "falling through the map"
Text game admins are committed to releasing a polished product that works on release, compared to graphical MMO admins who go "Oh, we'll release this and then patch up the bugs next week". In text games, you don't have to watch your step because you might find yourself falling through the game world. You ever get your 3d character trapped behind a bookcase and have to click the "STUCK" button, which then suddenly teleports you 5 feet from where you were? Some people might think that's a good feature, but I think it's evidence that graphical MMO developers expect these kinds of problems to happen. If you took the time to polish your product, you wouldn't need these kinds of safeguards. Text game developers have stricter, higher standards, ensuring that each new area is bug free. This means you can explore and roleplay, without having to worry where you step.
5: Your opinion matters
In text games, there are characters who are not admins, but have many of the same powers. These are "God" characters. Your character can join a God character's Divine Order, which can open the doors to the best roleplaying experience of your life. Most "God" characters are former players who showed such a level of commitment that they've basically become volunteers for the game. Their responsibilities include writing and running text game roleplay events. They're almost always open to suggestions and some of the best roleplay events started out as a players idea that was proposed to a God character. What I'm basically saying is YOU can have input in the storyline and mythos of the game. If you become a well-known roleplayer, who knows, you might even have the opportunity to become a God character yourself someday.
So why wait? Too busy being a "lvl 35 pally LFG"? Put that grindfest crap away, and come have a real adventure.