This subject is one where we end up choosing the type of game we want to have exist by the direction we take. During Genesis' "cambrian explosion" from 1991-1994 in which the earliest guild-building experiments were carried out, the concept of a full-blown RP guild (and game) was put to the test by the wizard Mecien and his efforts with the Mystic guild. In those days, many wizards laid very firm groundwork for what was expected of players in the guilds they had created, and often used very direct means to help (force) the players follow the path laid out by their vision. So while it was not only with the Mystics that wizard-interaction/intervention was experienced by players, it was in the Mystic guild that this was actually essential to the experience, and pushed to its farthest boundaries.Celephias wrote:Let me preface by saying I don't have a solution, but the rewarding RP thing is super hard. Game mechanics are under the purview of the technology and as such can be implemented in code. But roleplay? Very, very subjective. Subjective is hard for code.
I think the world of Amorana's perspective and posts on the boards here, but the "compose a play for votes" thing seems like it misses the mark as a reward for RP. We do not all (any?) RP bards or playwrights. We do however, assume roles in the donut. I think its super hard to know how to reward that in the scope of game mechanics. For example, anyone who has been inducted into MM by Etanukar gets a full on RP experience that is among the best of anything I've ever experienced in game. There is no question the mood set by the Tower plays a role, but he brings it all alive. Truly exceptional stuff. I don't know how that could (would) ever be rewarded in the realm of game mechanics. Exp for every induction done well? Seems like a reach (to me anyway).
In some ways, for me, RP is its own reward. When I have a good RP session its really motivating and fulfilling. That being said, I have always understood the importance of the mechanics side of the game and as such invested to make sure my char could cash the checks my RP'ing self was writing. But if I was a pesky kender, I could probably RP the hell out of that without being huge (nudge Kiara).
I guess I am getting back to the position that RP and game mechanics matter for different reasons. Both are viable, but differently. If you want to be a full-on, in people's face badass, I guess you have to eat your Wheaties.
With the Mystics, Mecien was not simply the creator of the guild who gave the mortals a class to play, and hoped they would enjoy it. Instead, Mecien acted much more as a direct Dungeon Master, appearing to his guild as The Mystic Prophet, giving them sermons on their purpose, performing elaborate rituals in latin, roleplaying the example of what a Mystic should (and must) act like. He would regularly send messages to the members of the guild for their sole benefit, giving them a tailored and unique experience in the game. If a Mystic were not following the path of the Ancients, he would intervene either directly or by influencing the mortals in charge of the guild to do what must be done to please the Ancients (i.e. discipline the wayward soul.)
The result of this was arguably the most polarizing guild in the history of the game. For those who were members, it was an unparalleled experience, made magical by the continuous unpredictable hand of the guiding master of roleplay who was their wizard, their prophet, their benefactor, and their destroyer if they should fail to follow the Ancients. For those who were not members, the reactions were wildly varied. The Mystics had more power, completely unchecked by any type of global balance metric, than any guild has ever had in the game. The number of spells they had was simply incredible. The secrecy of their abilities was so carefully guarded that if you did find something out, you revealed it to the rest of the game at the risk of being deleted by the Admin. Their allies cherished their presence, and their enemies hated them for their precious gifts. The roleplay surrounding the guild was formidable and intimidating, and even to this day is hard to measure up to.
But, in the end, an anti-mystic guild surfaced. Mylos created the Vampyr Family of Emerald. Its powers, too, were vast and unchecked (at first.) He, too, did much direct intervention and took on the role of "benefactor and guide" to his guild. But this situation was one of evil, and attracted players who enjoyed all that that entails, which had a much different effect on the game than the Mystics had. The Vampyr-Wars that resulted were truly remarkable, and probably some of the most fun ever seen in the game. But the wars were happening both with the mortals and the wizards. If Mylos were not supposed to be able to do these things, why should Mecien? It was eventually decided that wizards were not allowed to have a hands-on role with their guilds, and strict guidelines were created to codify everything and create strong senses of balance and control. Mecien, disheartened, eulogized the Mystic guild, telling them that the Ancients had abandoned them, and closed its doors.
So through this crucible in the early years of the game, we began our walk down the path where roleplay cannot be directly encouraged, monitored, or rewarded by the wizards. The best hope we have is through powers doled out by hard-working mortals who have high standards of roleplay, and whose guilds somehow hold enough promise to make them attractive. For years, this was upheld by the unwritten idea that these guilds where things were less controlled by code, and more controlled (carefully) by players would be allowed to have higher levels of power. But as players dwindled, guild councils that were active and could uphold high standards became less and less viable. Only in a few guilds do the old standards remain in place, and even there, things have been forced to change by sheer loss of manpower.
Finally, I came on the scene. Judging from the trends we were seeing, and the lack of realistic wizard or guild-council oversight, I decided that we really needed to move as far as possible from guild-structures that relied on council and roleplay enforcement. I created the Ogres and the new Mercenaries, both of which are completely unregulated by anything other than code and the efforts of the individual members. The global balance efforts focused on further refinement balance, shaving off the advantages that "roleplay" guilds had enjoyed so that all guilds could stand in the light of scrutiny, untarnished by rumours of favoritism or special exception.
We continue to walk this path. Is it the right path? My own choices have been those of necessity rather than preference. I still hear the final words spoken to me by Mecien on the topic, echoing rather profoundly:
> Mecien intones: Automation is not the key.