Hyperspace Beacon: Truly immersing yourself in Star Wars: The Old Republic

I have long been a proponent of roleplaying in MMOs. I’ve often been the roleplayer’s spokesperson on different podcasts and new media broadcasts. I’ve always been steeped in a game’s lore, and I always attempt to learn as much as I can about a game’s in-game history and what lead to the events that happened up to that point. Most games have lore; I can’t think of an MMORPG that doesn’t. So why is it that lore is so often overlooked by much of the MMO community? I honestly don’t understand it.

A fellow Star Wars: The Old Republic personality and YouTuber SWTORista published a video on the basics of roleplay yesterday in her SWTOR Academy series of videos. As she does in all of the Academy videos, she outlines the basics of that aspect of the game. She explains how to makes a character, the differences between the types of venues, and how to go about roleplaying in the game itself. It’s a great video, but this critical question is beyond its scope: Why should you roleplay in the first place? I think I can answer it. Here’s why I think roleplay is important — for both the players and the developers.

Immersion

I should state first that I don’t believe that roleplay is for everyone. When Star Wars Galaxies first started, I had a close friend who was a great gamer and even a wonderful social gamer. But when it came to immersing himself in a character and doing things that his character would do, he just couldn’t wrap his head around it. He tried, bless his heart. We even went so far as to try to get him to play a character that was a little odd to play off his particular idiosyncrasies. That didn’t work; he ended up licking the walls. At least his character did!

Despite issues with the rare person who just can’t wrap his head around it, there are many people who find a new level of fun, immersive storytelling when roleplaying a character in MMOs. I personally believe that the Star Wars Universe is one of the best to try it first because of plethora of lore to pull from. Even though in the end it wasn’t for him, my friend told me that when he first started to roleplay in SWG, he said that it felt like it was the reason that he started playing MMORPGs in the first place.

I don’t believe that you have to start jumping into roleplay at the cantina on the fleet pretending to be a Sith Lord looking to pick up a local Twi’lek dancer; your first step could be as simple as to write out a character backstory. How did your character come to be where he is now? Where was she born? Why did he end up in the Sith Academy in the first place? One of the great things about the SWTOR storylines is the amount of lore that you learn organically. And as the original lead writer for the game, Daniel Erickson, said before the game launched, the SWTOR story is set up so that the how and why of your arrival on Korriban is completely up to you. (I’m sure he said “absolutely” in there somewhere, too.) Maybe that’s a good place to start.

Creativity

There is a new scientific study put out all the time; we hear on the news one day that chocolate will cure cancer, then two days later we hear that chocolate will cause cancer. Of course, that’s usually media outlets misreading the results of the study in the first place, so when Forbes says that creativity increases productivity, take it with a grain of salt. But I think the underlying truth is that creativity is good for the human psyche.

There are very few things especially in modern video games that sparks creativity like roleplay. Again, I’m not saying that you have to do anything super crazy; a character backstory, a foundation, is still creativity. There is something satisfying that you have created something that works.

I enjoy the Batman: Arkham series; I like BioShock. Both of those games have wonderful stories, and I will play them again and again. But there is nothing like making your own story, then sharing that story with other people around you. If you find a good group of roleplayers, they will help you create a story that is not just fun for you but also something that benefits other roleplayers as well. And that’s another side benefit of creativity: Creativity breeds more creativity.

hsb-mop-2016-roleplay-03

Longevity

This one’s mostly for the developers. Maybe it will encourage them to focus some time on the quality of life for roleplayers. Roleplayers are in a game for the long haul. In the midst of players demanding new raids, new PvP warzones, and more story, there is a quiet voice saying, “I’d be happy with chat bubbles.” That voice will be there for long time, and the reason that roleplayers will be in a given MMO for a long time is simple: They make their own content.

Most roleplayers will play through any new content. Many roleplayers that I know are avid PvPers as well, but ultimately, roleplayers will make their own content. I’ve done posts in the past about events that I spearheaded, and I’m far from the only one who does that kind of thing. Every roleplayer in his or her own way creates content. Some will go so far as creating events for large groups of people, but even the person who is roleplaying a bartender is important for creating an environment of immersion. All of them will stick with a game for a very long time — if the developers don’t neglect them.

As I mentioned, roleplaying has many benefits for the gamer and for the game itself. If you’re looking for a good how-to on roleplaying in SWTOR, then hit up SWTORista’s video, and if you’re looking for a great, welcoming server, then I would recommend Ebon Hawk, personally, but that’s only because I’ve not had that much experience on the other two large RP servers: Begeren Colony and The Progenitor. If you ever have any questions about roleplay, you can always hit me up on Twitter, I make my best effort to address anyone who asks a question there or in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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26 Comments on "Hyperspace Beacon: Truly immersing yourself in Star Wars: The Old Republic"

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blackcatcrosses
Guest
blackcatcrosses

mourasaint  And yet completely correct.

mourasaint
Guest
mourasaint

Hahahaha clueless

blackcatcrosses
Guest
blackcatcrosses

mourasaint  Or, you know, sub and never get nickle and dimed at all.

Mehitobel
Guest
Mehitobel

Well, that is one kind of RP Deadborder . Whatever gets you through the night.

mourasaint
Guest
mourasaint

How to RP in SWTOR: close your eyes and pretend really hard you’re not being nickle-and-dimed every two seconds.

mourasaint
Guest
mourasaint

Smiggins what does that even mean? 

Themeparks are inherently more immersive than sandboxes.

5Tone
Guest
5Tone

I think that the author left out a veryrelevant topic that feels to me to be relevant
to this article:

Entitlement:
Many RP’ers believe them to feel entitled to a great many
things when it comes to RP.For example,
the author felt himself entitled to use a picture he took in-game with a guild
that he was an officer in, and another guild for his own personal gains.
Now, a respectful author would consider citing the guild and
characters he used for his article or an even more respectful author would ask
the guild leader or at the very least…mention to the guild leader that he
wanted/was going to use a picture of an RP between a guild that he was a member
of and another guild.
However, this author deemed himself entitled to take and use
other people’s characters for his own purposes.
I will take the liberty of citing the guild members of my
guild that this author didn’t respect enough, starting from the left:
Wearing the sunglasses, Guild: Galactic Fifth Column, Character
Name: Trafalgar
Wearing the blue armor, Guild: Galactic Fifth Column,
Character Name: Ajax Kilvaari  **My character**

Brandishing the killer brown beard, Guild Galactic Fifth
Column, Character Name: Kreighton
Arms crossed behind his head in the red skin, Guild Galactic
Fifth Column, Character Name: Xirix
http://www.gfcguild.com
In the end, RP is all about respect.  Show respect to the people and characters you desire and are RPing with and chances are…they will return that respect towards you.

Shaddoe
Guest
Shaddoe

FacelessSavior I’m assuming you’re speaking in hyperbole because I don’t omit the things that happen in the storyline of SWTOR. I just say they were done by someone else. For instance, as a Sith Warrior, you become the Emperor’s Wrath. Of course, -my- Sith Warrior isn’t an Emperor’s Wrath, but there -is- an Emperor’s Wrath and he/she did those things you did.
That said, there is a clear separation between the RP world and the game’s story. But there is always going to be that. You mention dueling. I like game mechanics and some games do them very well, but the vast majority of MMOs’ mechanics are not reflective of what a character should be able to do in game. So there has to yet other separation. It all really boils doing to what is most important to you.
(PS I dislike it when people force a narrative down my throat, too. Most of the time they are bad to begin with then it’s forced on you ar the same time. Horribad.)

FacelessSavior
Guest
FacelessSavior

I try to do the same. I’d also throw in the folks who have a pre-scripted story Already in mind they won’t break from. That ignore functions like dueling, to instead emote combat so they can control the winner. The Tavern RP’ers don’t bother me as much as those guys. At least in the tavern they’re creating with each other, off the cuff. Not force feeding a script down people’s throats, and ignoring/berating anyone who doesn’t conform to their script.

FacelessSavior
Guest
FacelessSavior

@swtorista Not made for Role-playing, It’s made to be a Massively Multiplayer Role-playing Game? :P

theeknighthood
Guest
theeknighthood

camelotcrusade Good advice, I tried once but I was not very creative and I felt like I ended up making a very boring character, ill have to give it another go sometime as I am sure once you get into the grove it must be fun :)

Smiggins
Guest
Smiggins

Immersing yourself in a themepark. Hmm, good luck.

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

melissaheather

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

melissaheather
Guest
melissaheather

plynky12 There are no rules.

Deadborder
Guest
Deadborder

How to RP in SWtoR in two easy steps

Step 1: Create your Twi’lek girl who’s entire character is based around your one fetish that you’d never publicly admit to

Step 2: Stand around in the fleet cantina looking for other Twi’lek girls who’s entire character is based around that same fetish

plynky12
Guest
plynky12

swtorista plynky12 Thanks very much for your extensive reply. Still not sure it would be my cup of tea, but it is nice to get a bit more of a handle on what actually goes on. I’ve been a bit muddled about it for quite a long time.

Love those pics of Belsavis, by the way. That particular spot is one of my favourite places in the game. Very atmospheric.

swtorista
Guest
swtorista

plynky12 Hey! The appeal is how creative you are willing to be. You’re right – the game itself is very limitting, and it is not made for roleplaying.. it’s made to be a MMORPG. 
When I roleplay with friends, we often pick an area where the environment suits us well. If it’s an open area, we scoot into a corner where the mobs can’t see us, or if its a particular spot we want we kill the mobs and laugh about them respawning. Otherwise we can do it in private instances where everything stays dead or is already safe/neautral. With friends, we do things free-form and kind of talk about where we want the plot to go.
With my guild, there is a “GM” who has plotpoints written down. We also sometimes use a /roll system, where you have stats to determine if you succeed at certain actions, but we freeform things like talking to eachother.
Just like pen-and-paper you need a lot of imagination to make things work. The appeal to doing it IN SWTOR vs just in plain chat or “paper” is that you get access to all these beautiful environments, and being able to “see” your character. We’ve had tons of plot points based on things we’ve found after picking an area to roleplay in. What’s this terminal for? Why are all these enemies here? What’s this funny looking droid? 

Here’s a gallery of images of us roleplaying ingame with friends and my guild.. I love D&D in real life, but there’s a different kind of special going on when you can “see” what you are doing. http://scya.tumblr.com/search/rp

mourasaint
Guest
mourasaint

One of the most immersive games ever made. Cartel Coins for name spaces and quickbars.

MorpayneRADIO
Guest
MorpayneRADIO

My glaucoma medicine maximizes immersion

plynky12
Guest
plynky12

Seriously confused. I’ve heard about those strange people on RP servers, but never really understood what it is they are doing.

So, you aren’t actually playing the game, you’re using your characters as playing pieces in a more free-form roleplay, yeah? So, do people have GMs when they do this, with their own plotlines like in pen-and-paper RPGs? Seeing as you can’t really use the game’s own systems to decide anything, do you have to come up with some other rules? Doesn’t the limited setting provided by the game feel very restricting? What happens if your session is interrupted by some pesky mobs accidentally aggroing? Or is it only done in “safe” places? (which would again seem severely limiting to me).

So, I’m a bit confused as to what actually goes on, and am struggling to see the appeal. In a Death Match my imagination is going to curb-stomp the Hero Engine every time. I’m sure I would rather play a pen-and-paper game, or if we have to be on the internet play on Teamspeak or some such system.

Clearly you are playing, but you aren’t actually playing SWTOR, so why do you need SWTOR at all?

camelotcrusade
Guest
camelotcrusade

I love these columns and this topic.

I would also like to add that practice helps.  Grab a patient friend, give it a try, and if it’s not working, have a laugh and try something different next time. It can take a while to find your groove, and by that I mean the characters and situations you are a natural at portraying.  

Finally, sometimes you have to let go of a concept you love but just can’t make it work.  Don’t force it, change it up and try again. ✍

karmamule
Guest
karmamule

FacelessSavior Those are good points, and I’m definitely not particularly engaged by the Barbie/Soap Opera style of RP that lots of tavern-dwellers seem to love.  (No judging here: hurray for them if they like it!)

I tend to prefer ‘active’ RP when you’re all out and about fighting/trading/crafting in character and just turn a creatively-blind eye to the rather bizarre inconsistencies some of the typical MMO structures lead to.  (e.g. that dread boss you all just took down is back there 3 minutes later right as rain…..)

karmamule
Guest
karmamule

Your point about roleplayers creating content is a very important on to me.  Supplementing the work the developers have done with your and your friends’ imagination really does extend and expand the possibilities.  Games, especially MMOs, are no longer just something to be passively consumed but also platforms which you can build upon, and for me personally that sort of gaming experience is very rewarding.

One reason I prefer games over movies & TV is their less passive nature, so this sort of player activity takes that even further, and can really extend a game’s “shelf life”.

FacelessSavior
Guest
FacelessSavior

Avid RP’ER when the setting allows it. Kinda why I burn out on Theme parks so quick. Hard to RP when every person is sharing the exact same experience. The only way to do it is start making stuff up that never really happened. That’s fine for a back story, but role-playing is a story shared and told amongst a group of people. Very difficult when you have to omit every piece of content you’ve played through with your character, or else everyone has killed the same rats, delivered the same ring, opposed the same Dark Ruler and saved the same distressed Princess.

Sorenthaz
Guest
Sorenthaz

Step 1:  Try your hardest to look past the super cartoony graphics and ignore the fact that there only exists three body types for both genders.

melissaheather
Guest
melissaheather

I have come to realize that I have truly never attempted to pretend to be someone else in these games. Not for more than a failed session or two.  Pretty much, I have always simply projected myself like Alice down the rabbit hole and been myself, and played myself in that setting and situation.   That felt most right, most true, and easiest to keep up with, wink wink blinkety blink.
So yeah. As boring and unimaginative as it may seem, I’ve almost always made an avatar that resembles me, and just played me in the game, in that setting, in those situations.

“So as through a glass, and darkly. The age long strife I see. Where I fought in many guises, Many names, but always me.”
– Gen. Geo. S. Patton

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