Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

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Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:05 pm

Restored post: Myst/Uru-Style Story • Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds
Hypergrid 10.2.2010 um 02:32 Nalates


Role play is a popular form of play and storytelling in many multiplayer games. So much so that many games are labeled MMORPG, Massive Multiplayer Online Role Plying Game. The Myst community in playing in Uru has an odd flavor of role playing. The idea behind Uru in the early 2000’s was for a player to play their self in the game. The idea was they had traveled to New Mexico and found the Cleft and entered the underground world of the D’ni.

Uru was my first MMO. Until then I had always played solo games like the original Myst. I think some significant part of the idea was to make it easier for the Myst game fans to make an easy transition from solo play into a multiplayer environment with as small a learning curve as possible. Thus the idea to play one’s self in Uru (U-R-U). It worked well.

Now most of the Uru fans have been in other MMO games. We have been exposed to more role play and seen various levels of role play. Some role play communities are very advanced coming from a long tradition with roots in the original paper and dice Dungeons & Dragons. Mixing new role players and advanced role players is frustrating for both levels of players.

Uru is what I would consider a casual role player game rather than hardcore role playing. In Uru many consider role play optional. But there are parts of the story that are role play. Groups like the DRC, D’ni Restoration Counsel, are about the story of Uru and the events happening in The Cavern in an ongoing story fashion. In some ways it is hard to make a case for not being involved in role play when one is setting at a keyboard pretending to be in a Cavern below the New Mexico desert.

The role play in Uru also started out with ARG, Alternate Reality Game, aspects. The history of billboards (in RL – Real Life) and things to be found at Mysterium events is outside my experience. However, the parallels of story events in game to RL events confused many of us. The lines between make believe and real life got blurry at times. That was often deliberate. An example of these oddities is game funding. A source of financing was found in real life. In game a financer was found and played by a character in the DRC. Sometimes the real life facts were not revealed, but hinted at in game by role play story. That sort of storytelling and transfer of news has continued down today.

While role playing in Uru is not really avoidable, neither is formal role playing and knowledge of the rules mandatory. We will likely see some mix of those avoiding what they consider role play, casual players, and advanced role players. This thread is about the ideas and concepts involved in role play. Knowing them is not required, but knowledge will aid one in respecting others play and in understanding how to join in during spontaneous moments. This thread is about providing the knowledge and information as it is found or people are motivated to write.

The Short Start
Good role playing is both good acting and storytelling. Through in a healthy dose of respect for your fellow players and common sense can pretty well guide you. Think in terms of cooperative independence and allowing others freedom to create their story. Remember that no one person in the story is in control. Only the game master, if there is one (usually Cyan in previous incarnations of Uru), has any real control.

The Long Start for Advanced Role Play – Ongoing Thread
Massively has this article on Role Play: The Tattered Notebook: Roleplaying advice for veterans and newbies alike

I and others will be posting more from time to time. Feel free to join in
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:14 pm

Restored post: Myst/Uru-Style Story • Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds
Hypergrid 12.2.2010 um 02:07 Nalates


Special Role Play Guidelines for Uru RP

Tweek wrote a set of guidelines for role playing in Uru. He points out some of the differences between Uru RP and RP in other games.

Uru Live IC/OOC Standards Article - Cira 2006
Tweek wrote:Uru is not quite like most RPG environments, due to the "you-are-you" attitude prevalent in it. Thus, "IC" and "OOC" cannot fully express the different styles of play in Uru. Adding the term "RP" may help clarify certain issues.


With Uru, IC does not mean "In Character;" it means "In Cavern." In Cavern players will treat D'ni and Uru as a real thing, as if they are actually there in the Cavern.

The IC being generally understood to mean In-Character should be appropriate for any conversation. The meaning would be the same if one meant In-Character or In-Cavern. Either way the abbreviation works and should not add to confusion. (see: IC/OOC confusion: how to deal with it? (OOC)

However, in writing out In-Cavern will likely be confusing to those not familiar with Uru RP. I suggest the written out Cavern form be for the Open Uru sections only.

Otherwise, I think it is a good document. The discussion that follows is interesting too. Some of the liaison friction pops up in the thread. :(

In the discussion are some comments on playing a D'ni. In general that does not work for the story or community and has been generally frowned on and Cyan has reserved it for their part of the game. Plus that they disappeared 200 years ago. This shows some of the limits that are placed on RP. Understanding story limits is important to role play.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:26 pm

Caprica- Technology Levels - An interesting look at others considering technology (IC Tech) in an RPG. If you have seen the TV shows BattleStar Galactica and Caprica you'll understand what they are discussing. Otherwise, it may be hard to understand. Both are shows of stories taking place in the same time frame and universe. Battlestar is a spaceship engaged in its saga and portrays a then old but futuristic ship, which I think turned out to have both Star Wars like and Cyberpunk like features. Caprica is taking place a generation before, but essentially in the same time frame. The mix of technology on the planet seems much more varied. Which caused some players problems with how they relate to the show and RP's in related games.

It does have one, at least me, considering the levels of tech in use in our current day. One person is riding a space shuttle into orbit and another is driving a Model-T to a show and yet another is riding a horse. The mixes of technology on the ranch, at the car show, and on the launch pad are all different.

Whilyam started an interesting thread on what fan created content for AGAIN/Open Uru might include. Paranoia Lives

The various people in the community will see all of these mixes differently. How they will role play them and how imaginative they will be in the process should be interesting.

I think the ideas start to give us new ways to look at what is or is not Myst Style play. Current day people in an old D'ni city that starts with a mix of strange D'ni technology and our current day technology being carried down to the Cavern are a basic part of the game. Many have been stuck with the idea from the older Myst games happening centuries before, which adds to a steampunk flavor for the games, aren't liking some of the proposed changes. How we look at all these variations and bring the larger community along will likely be challenging.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:01 am

An interesting article on Massively: The Mog Log: Know your role play

I suspect many in the Uru community are unfamiliar with active RP or only have a vague idea about. It would be interesting to know the stats for the community. More than half… less than half?

Whatever the case, it seems role play is becoming more important in MMOG’s. There are good reasons to start to consider RP. Especially for those of us living in multiple virtual worlds.
Eliot Lefebvre @ Massively wrote:Most of the time, roleplayers are the quiet and polite members of the party who want to form consensus, avoid conflict, and get things done. Roleplaying in an MMO generally requires a very flexible personality, so we don't try to start conflicts. And we're mostly devoted to keeping the game world as immersive and interesting as possible, because let's face it, playing an MMO for enough time takes the magic out. There are so many known quantities and so much information to absorb that you stop really looking at the scenery around you.

Taking a step in -- putting yourself in the shoes of your character -- gives some of that wonder back, that sense of exploration and novelty. That's something everyone benefits from, even if you're generally not fond of roleplaying. I'd like to think, on a whole, that the dedicated roleplayers of a server help boost the environment as an aggregate.
I think many in the community have similar feelings and a desire to keep the magic in the game. With new content only coming soon (Cyan soon) many will need to do something to keep the game interesting. Others... well they'll be in the 'Nothing to see... move along" crowd. I think many of the older fans recognize the new shiny eyed fans that burst forth and then fade away. May be RP can slow that cycle.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:36 am

Pure speculation, but I suspect that the proportion of Uru players who actively RP is going to be significantly less than half. With the many fresh new players that seem to have joined MOULagain, that will no doubt have gone even lower.

An online Uru is the kind of game that really requires you to have had some immersion in one of the previous games or the offline version, in order to "get it" from an RP/IC perspective. Alternatively, you might pick up the thematic elements from the forums, but that won't necessarily be the first port of call for new players.

Maybe going slightly off-topic, I think one of the issues that I find is the awkward first encounter with a player you don't know and may be completely new: Will "Shorah!" be met with bewilderment or do I play safe and just go for "Hi!"? If you do the latter then the other player, if they're in the know, may assume you to be taking an OOC stance and follow suit. If the former, might they think I'm shouting someone else's name? Generally I try to stay non-committal until I sense the tone of the others around me, but if everyone does that then it does create a strange, abstract kind of conversation. Anyway, the point is that conversations may tend to gravitate towards OOC unless at least one player promotes an IC persona.

Another aspect is "canon" versus "non-canon" stories. Many shards/worlds will want to adhere to established canon, and I'd expect that anything run by Cyan will tend towards maintaining canon. Others will feel that imposes too much of a restriction on creativity. So long as people understand where each world stands on that point there should be no confusion. But canon creates it's own problems for would-be RPers, as there's a very long history to try to follow and it can take a considerable length of time to get even the basics squared away in your head. The supporters of canon can become very agitated when things seem to breach their rules, so I'm not sure that the first line of that quoted extract really applies here! Even RAWA has commented elsewhere that he needs to be very careful about anything he says. I'd liken it to researching a legal argument and establishing all the precedents for a case, and it is daunting for first-timers.

I think everyone probably needs to "start small"; maybe some RP banter in a 'hood or similar to get a feel for it, where mistakes don't become too public. The worst thing someone can do, I guess, is creates some huge, complex storyline then find it getting picked apart as soon as they start to try to play it out.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Dot » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:43 am

That's a lovely quote, Nal -- and very true for Uru I think. The article is a good read.

Some other points I took from the article:
  • the importance of name choice
  • having some control over our avatar's appearance and our surroundings
  • 'We like things that make sense, that have verisimilitude, that are aesthetically pleasing.'
Re name choice: Because I was new to playing online in MOUL, at first attempt I tried a made-up name, Tsara. But it didn't fit comfortably with me. After a week or two, I settled on one of my dogs' names -- albeit one that allowed visual and verbal puns -- and dot multiplication eventually followed (a vector-driven virus?). 'Dot' fits in with the U-r-U concept.

With Devokan, 'Dot' has continued in that sort of vein.

'Quinquifid', however, was a new character developed especially for Devokan. There was quite a bit of thought and discussion with others over his name -- including searching through the Oxford English Dictionary (the multi-volume one). 'Quinquifid' means 'cleft in five'.

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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:30 pm

Two thoughtful posts… thanks.

@Mac_Fife, I think we see the same possible problems. I see them differently… but my viewpoint is speculation too.

Those serious role players in Myst-Uru style games (those not primarily role play games – whether Uru is or isn’t can be debated elsewhere) are about 5% according to some article I read. I agree it will be less than half… but I’ve never been sure how many were Rp’ing and how many weren’t. With U-R-U type play in Uru it is hard to tell and I wonder if it matters… I know those of us considering RP issues in Uru have questions and concerns.

‘Awkward first encounter …’ I handle this like I do real life meetings. That works for me in Uru. When I meet someone new I speak English. My experience in RL is that one always first speaks in their native tongue. Then changes to which ever common language works for those involved. For my friends I know which languages they speak, they my languages. So, I may mix language as I speak to friends. It is during the introduction that confusion over language comes up. So ‘Hi’ or any English greeting should work for strangers. Plus, ‘Hi’ is just easier to type.

Mac_Fife, I think you logic on possible IC/OOC confusion is correct. Because of the U-R-U nature of RP in Uru that confusion might be subtle. While I hope we can reduce confusion, I suspect it can’t be eliminated. I think those of us familiar with the game have some duty to help out.

On the ‘canon issues’… I see canon as mostly dealing with history rather than day-to-day role play. A new player coming in might not know any history or story arc. I think getting them the basic concept of current day players being their self as they explore and discover Uru needs to be conveyed to new players. I think that is really the only critical piece of information they need. The rest is sort of part of the puzzle that is D’ni for explorers to figure out. Unless the Myst Online site provides that concept pre-download of the game, we have to hope they pick it up in the game’s prologue that plays just after logging in. Otherwise, we have to get the idea across as we meet new players. I think the prologue was to work with the Cleft and the Zandi and Yeesha speeches. I’m one of those that feel the small town outside the Cleft would be a good game start scenario to change to.

Your conclusion about starting out small makes sense.

Dot, thanks. Glad you liked the article.

Name choices are important for rp types. I have the Nal av trapped in conflicting situations. I’m considering what other name I may use in Cavern.

Being able to affect one’s appearance offers many possibilities for adding role play clues. Being able to affect the environment adds even more. I think SL and the OS grids offer more possibilities than we currently have in Cavern. I’ve thought about making cloths that would hint at what one had been doing, i.e., greasy clothes with smudges on skin from working on machinery, muddy from crawling through cave passages…

The ability to add signs (think a sign pointing this way) and other little changes to the environment can add lots to an area’s RP. In some games, people rent land so they can affect story by making changes to the game area environment.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:49 pm

DocOlanA is considering RP in Cavern. See his post: Tabletop RPGs in the Cavern

The voice RP has problems from my perspective, attracting new players and catching them up with story. But, whatever works for their RP.

However, they are interested in RP in Cavern. :)
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:10 pm

I share your concerns over using Uru's in-built voice chat. There were some weird, disjointed bits of voice getting broadcast through the cavern about a week ago. I think there are some database concurrency issues with the current server setup that sometimes mess up the age lists (e.g. wrong names on list) and can also cause text chat to be either given the wrong source name or in some cases chat PM is sent to the wrong person (so beware of talking behind people's backs ;) ). I expect that will also affect voice.

That's a kind of nutty idea that DocOlanA has: I guess they're not really planning to RP as such, more that they'll actually play a tabletop (board 'n' dice) RPG in the cavern. I guess it'll be more interesting for bystanders than if they'd decided to play chess though! And I suppose it's not that far removed from the old Comedy night's or book readings.
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Re: Role Playing in Uru and Myst Style Worlds

Post by Nalates » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:36 am

I think the difference in what they plan and what happens naturally in Cavern is someone will be moderating it. Plus they would have some story arcs beyond what we usually see in Cavern.

I'm not sure how well voice will work because I've learned my RP in text based systems. Expressing thoughts, moods, facial expression, and more seem problematic to me. But, until I get to watch them, I won't understand how it works.
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