Do RP servers have better communities?

I was intrigued by the discussion on the last Chaoscast about how to find a good server. The guys all took it as read that RP (roleplaying) servers have better communities, and I was wondering if that was true.

It’s a tricky thing for me to talk about, since (as Arbitrary reminded me) we’ve always played on RP servers, and will do that again with WAR. So mostly what I have to compare with is posts from forums and talking to friends on other servers. But, just for the record, the reasons I pick RP servers are:

  1. I find the atmosphere more immersive
  2. I really like the idea of players organising their own events, and RP servers/guilds are more open to this
  3. I’m not big on leet speak and I find more people who feel the same on RP servers
  4. I like the idea of RP, I don’t mean cybering and in-depth character arcs, just wandering around cities pretending that we’re from that world.
  5. I like being on a server where people don’t mock RPers

Note I didn’t say that I did RP a lot. I don’t particularly. I just like the atmosphere. And what I have found is that it’s easy to find other people who play the same way I do, and like the same kind of RP atmosphere. I do like the communities that build up, and roleplayers tend to be sociable and cooperative. They also tend to get a more mature crowd (again, means I have more in common with people) and more women. (The downside of this is that you can get crazy amounts of drama in RP guilds — “But your character wouldn’t have done that!!!” is not an issue you’d have on a regular server.)

BUT do they have better communities? Truth is, I don’t know. It depends how you define ‘better.’ A free-for-all PvP server can have a very tight-knit community, success there depends on having guilds and alliances you can trust to watch your back. But these servers aren’t as friendly to solo or casual play. Being tight-knit can mean cliquey and unwelcoming to newbies, but that really depends on individual players.

So I’m thinking: how would you measure server community?

  1. Survey. Ask players on the server if they are having fun. And ask questions designed to see how much they are socialising (Are you in a guild? How old is your guild? Do you feel that you have made friends here? etc.)
  2. Public events. How many public events do players organise? This can mean anything from a RP picnic with storytelling to a public raid. The only requirement is that it’s open to all-comers. To show if the community is welcoming and active, even to people who mostly solo or play very casually.
  3. How often do guilds fail?
  4. How many alliances are there? How many guilds are involved in these alliances?
  5. How long does it take a new player to find and join a guild that suits them? (Assuming that they wanted to.)
  6. How many level-capped players know each other? Do people recognise the names of all the guilds?
  7. How active is RvR/ PvP between the two sides? Is it evenly matched? If not, does the lower pop side still win fairly often?
  8. How much do players on opposing factions communicate with each other, on forums or IRC? Do people feel that they know their enemies and recognise their names?

Just looking at these points, it’s clear to me that Public Quests could change everything. But we just don’t know yet how people will use them. Will they use them as a game provided tool for socialising? Will they try to game them and shut out people who they don’t know? (Is that even possible?)

I like RP servers, because I find that the communities are better for ME, which at the end of the day is the only metric that matters 🙂 But I’ve always thought they were quite a minority interest, which is why I was surprised to hear Syp, Snafzg and Keen discussing them as if it was common knowledge. And also surprised that in a recent thread on Warhammer Alliance a lot of people did say that they’d want to play on a RP server. Maybe they’re getting more popular? Or just among old school MMORPG players who are looking for a certain type of community?

9 Responses

  1. I think you hit is pretty well in the final paragraph. There is no “one size fits all” server community out there but there are usually servers out there for all kinds of personalities.

    I choose RP servers because people are generally more mature. They don’t pick names I think are dumb. They don’t use l33t speak in public chat (or guild chat for that matter). They generally aren’t gankers and have a slightly higher amount of honour. They usually work better together as a realm (more team players).

    I’m sure there are tons of people out there who will look at the paragraph above and say, “Wow, that guy’s a loser! I don’t want to play with stuck up guys like him!”

    And that’s perfectly cool. I wouldn’t want to play with you either. There are (hopefully going to be) servers that appeal to both of us so you can enjoy playing the game your way without affecting my enjoyment. I’m perfectly happy to let you go about playing the game your way if you’re on another server too.

    I’m hoping for 4 server types:

    – Open-RvR
    – Regular
    – RP Open-RvR [x]
    – RP Regular

    X marks my choice! 🙂

  2. I would think it would be unwisse for Mythic to NOt have a true RP(RvR) realm on release. There are tons of people looking at this game as an addition to all those minatures they painted over the years.

    This game is an extension of their life of WAr…rP does sound fun and I like reading the stories those people put out, I just don’t do very well as a RP’er.

  3. I have never played a RP server because all my friends I play with never tried them. I did play LoTRO and it is all RP and the community was awesome but quiet. I have had a lot thought about doing a RP server this time if the head start has one.

  4. Also, larger servers tend to have a better selection of guilds, just because you’re playing the numbers with it.

  5. It’s enough for me that everyone has reasonably tolerable names. Everything else is just a nice bonus!

    Not strictly on topic, but Snafzg mentioned the possibility of Open RvR servers. I’m wondering what would be the difference between regular RvR and open RvR?

    I assume all of the RvR zones are going to be PvP enabled, but is it even possible to enter the other realms PvE zones? I assume this will be necessary for the ‘open RvR’ distinction to be made.

  6. I think that the RP community will pick a server and designate it as the RP one whether or not Mythic do that too (although it would be nice to have GMs changing non-RP names and maybe even helping to organise events).

    I guess I just was a bit surprised to see some enthusiasm for them from the online community because I never thought RP servers were all that popular.

    @Syp I know what you mean but I think that’s a very WoW-influenced view point. Guilds in WoW (and particularly raid guilds) tend to form around players who want to do one specific activity in game. So your chances of finding a guild that suits your playstyle, playtimes, and tolerance for leet speak is way higher on a big server, just from the laws of averages. I don’t know if WAR guilds will be quite so narrow focussed (will they really be recruiting people who can play 4 nights a week, at very specific times, with specific gear levels and experience levels, with specific classes and specs just to do certain raids?)

  7. Open RvR would mean you could fight the enemy faction any place, anytime. Regular would mean you could only fight enemies in certain zones and if you were flagged. That’s how I’d break it down anyway.

  8. I like RP servers because I like that kind of spontaneous 10 min RP conversation that evolves sometimes. Like A and S (and not necessarily coincidently :p) I’ve also always settled on RP servers but very happily so.

  9. thats it, guy

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