Thursday, August 24, 3303

UTC:

 

Role Playing (RP) is probably as old as humanity itself. Children have always been playing that they were animals, knights, soldiers, cowboys and indians, doctors and patients, cops and thieves, famous pop or movie stars... You probably know how to role-play for a very long time.

 

During the early 1970s, the Dungeons & Dragons game was conceived by a group of long-time miniature war game players. Stories were told by a game master, but the actions of the protagonists were filled in by several players. Many tools and rule sets exist for "table top role playing", but those are not essential: all that is needed is a good story teller and the imagination of the players.

 

Dungeons & Dragons, picture by

Dungeons & Dragons, picture by Rocco Pier Luigi

 

Already during the early mainframe era of computing, adventure and role playing computer games appeared. The player could follow the story which was pre-programmed, or alternatively invent his or her own story while the software provided the world in which the story was set.

 

Colossal Cave Adventure on VT100 terminal

Will Crowther's "Colossal Cave Adventure" on VT100 terminal, mid-1970s.  

 

With Ultima in 1981 and the original Elite in 1984, open world games or sandboxes became an important genre in computer games. Such games proved to be a natural fit to role-playing.

 

Ultima I, 1981

Richard Garriott's "Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness", 1981

 

Elite: Dangerous is a perfect setting to do role-playing. The players become spaceship commanders, in a galaxy where the tensions between several factions such as The Federation, The Empire, The Alliance and possible alien civilizations offer a background for hours of imagination and immersion.

 

Role playing is not difficult. As long as a player talks about things which only exist in-game, he or she is already role-playing. There is no need to use funny language (spaceship commanders do in general not speak like Vikings) or to behave in weird ways. The forum can just be called the forum, the chat channel can just be called the chat channel: even in 3300, such things may still exist.

Role playing can add immensely to the in-game experience. Playing a tribal, a pirate, a bounty hunter or an Imperial secret agent can give you inspiration to try things you would not think of if you were playing the game as if it was just a spacey shoot-em-up.

Friends can play that they are hostile to each other in-game, and in this way the hostilities can go far beyond just shooting at each other: they create a story around the conflict.

It is important to keep a distinction in mind between players and their character when not playing. While playing, immersion can be so deep that, for a moment, the players really become their characters. That is what role playing is all about.

Role playing is mainly somethings which is being done in-game. Forums like this one just give an extra framework to expand on that.

 

A great explanation about role playing, by Arkady Sadik of EVE Online's Electus Matari Alliance, can be found here. Most of the points he makes are also relevant to Elite: Dangerous role playing.

 

 

Message to non-roleplayers:

When we meet in-game, we would appreciate it very much if you communicate to us in-character as a spaceship commander - you will probably enjoy it.

We of course cannot enforce this, just know that we will be roleplaying the encounter at our side.

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