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:
- I find the atmosphere more immersive
- I really like the idea of players organising their own events, and RP servers/guilds are more open to this
- I’m not big on leet speak and I find more people who feel the same on RP servers
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.
- How often do guilds fail?
- How many alliances are there? How many guilds are involved in these alliances?
- How long does it take a new player to find and join a guild that suits them? (Assuming that they wanted to.)
- How many level-capped players know each other? Do people recognise the names of all the guilds?
- How active is RvR/ PvP between the two sides? Is it evenly matched? If not, does the lower pop side still win fairly often?
- 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?