The Problem with RP Servers – Part 1

25 Aug

Is the people on them.

You heard me.  I did not stutter.  Nor did I use a contraction.

Verily.

From my first tentative steps into WoW I have played on RP Servers.  When I wanted PvP I went to an RP-PvP server.  When I tired of the ganking and was looking for a nice home to settle down on, I went back to (wait for it) an RP server.

They are, in my opinion, some of the best and most flawed servers in the entire game.  They are that way, I believe, wholly because of the people that inhabit them.

As inflammatory as that statement might sound, the situation isn’t quite as clear cut as most would like.  First off, just because you happen to live on an RP Server doesn’t mean that you RP.  In fact, a inordinately large number of people on Moon Guard (my home server and arguably one of the largest and most well known RP servers) do not actively RP.

Which leads of course to the big question:

If you don’t RP – what the hell are you doing on the server?

What follows are some of the more interesting (or at least prevalent) observations as to why folks that don’t RP invariably end up on RP Servers.

Bottom Feeders and Transfers

That RP servers tend to lag behind in progression is more than just anecdotal.  According to WOW Progress there are NO pure role-play servers in the US top 100.  While RP-PvP servers like Twisting Nether (US RP-PvP) and Lightninghoof (US RP-PvP) are holding on in that august space, there are few active RP players that would describe either of these servers as particularly RP friendly as they once were.  A quick perusal of their respective realm forums seems to support this as there are few RP threads in existence short of the one required “sticky” thread that describes where RP can in fact be found.

The Bottom Feeder Theory is based on the belief that whole guilds of either actively anti-RP or RP-antipathetic players will transfer to RP realms in order to dominate PvE progression.   It’s a benign sort of abuse and one that is almost impossible for Blizzard to prevent.  Players pay their $25 to server transfer and simply make their way to a place where they believe they have a better chance at getting a realm first.  So where’s the harm?  Well as many hopeful raiders on Wyrmwrest Accord will tell you, it may be the reason that the gulf between the PvE scene and the Role Play community is so wide on their realm.  According to player comments on Wyrmwrest Accord.Net’s forums, several RP’ers hoping to get their raid on have been selectively denied positions in raid guild rosters because of their desire to RP or the fact that they were running RP based addons.

In one player’s words:

“I was told to go roleplay and leave the raiding to the real players.  Nice.”

While these stories can be hard to corroborate, the problem of the PvE / RP gulf is one that seems to exist on all RP servers.  On Moon Guard, the horde have a successful and entertaining guild known as Hard Corps.  The guild master and several of the core players in HC transfered to Moon Guard after tiring of both progression and personalities on their old PvE server.  Their choice of Moon Guard was not arbitrary, as they had friends who had been living happily on MG for some time.  While neither guild was what I would have called an “RP” guild or even particularly RP friendly, many of them had originally arrived on the server because of ties to old school pencil and paper role-play games.   They identified with the RP Server monicker if not the “style” of play that many feel should come along with being a part of a role-play server in World of Warcraft.

That last point is one that may actually be one of the most telling problems of RP servers in general, the question of what it really means to be an “RP Server”.  What does RP mean to you?  Is it old school graph paper and polyhedron dice?  Is it about being in character and furthering a shared plot line amongst like minded friends?  Or is it the kind of RP you see conducted in Goldshire by players with names pulled from Saturday morning anime and wearing black mageweave?  Are any of these kinds of RP more valid than others?  And why can’t players that all seem to support and espouse a similar kind of gaming agree on how to act around or behave to one another?

(Part II – Stagnation and the Death of RP – later this week.)


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One Response to “The Problem with RP Servers – Part 1”

  1. Len August 25, 2010 at 21:18 #

    Funnily enough, I rolled on an RP server because when I started playing WoW, it was through my developing interest in D&D (pen and paper version) in which of course I roleplayed on a regular basis. However… the amount I actually roleplay in WoW is very limited. I keep to the policies, respect RP-ers and often wish I did it more, but it’s not what has kept me interested in the game over the years.

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