Creating an Immersive RP Experience

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Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:54 pm

What is an immersive RP experience?

An immersive RP experience occurs when you're able to focus fully on the thoughts, behaviors, and motivations of your own and other characters, as though they're part of a believable and engaging story. You don't have to be a seasoned veteran of TI to create and maintain an immersive RP experience for yourself and your fellow players. Here are some suggestions to help get you started right away:

1) Be aware of your character's physical and social surroundings and blend them into your emotes.

If you walked into a crowded Irish pub or stepped into Times Square, what is the likelihood that you would spot a group of your friends instantly from across the room/intersection? How likely would they hear you, if you spoke to them in your normal indoor voice without approaching them first? Probably not very likely. These physical and social aspects of location are important for creating a believable, story-rich atmosphere in RP. Whenever you join a scene, pause to skim the room's description, the mood (if there is one), and any characters' action lines. Consider what obstacles your own character might face in order to engage others who are present: will he need to cross the street? Will he need to scan the crowd? Will she need to weave her way around a cluster of tables? Will she need to raise her voice? Will he need to compete with others for a Lord or Lady's attention?

If your character is in a public location, remember that busy places like intersections, taverns, markets, and so on are likely to be populated during most times of the day by vNPCs (virtual NPCs, or background NPCs), so even if there are only two obvious PCs (player characters) in the room, they're not likely to be truly alone. Don't forget that NPCs are characters, too, and should be treated according to their occupation and social status. The NPC population is important for making Lithmore seem vibrant and alive, even when the playerbase is small or RP partners are scarce.

Common ways immersion is broken:
  • - walking into an area and immediately addressing someone who may be standing on the other side of it, without emoting an approach or a raised voice
    - overtly noticing and addressing every interesting detail in a busy location, including things that happen or are said across the room
    - ignoring the presence or existence of vNPCs and NPCs, including your own
Ways to improve immersion:
  • - acknowledge obstacles in the room, attend to volume levels and distance
    - let things realistically slip by your character's notice, only notice choice tidbits, or notice discreetly (help hemote)
    - portray and engage with NPCs in a themely manner (help general npcs)

2) Cut back on out-of-character (OOC) chatter, especially in public locations.

One of the easiest ways to break immersion is to use osays (local OOC communication) during a scene. While it may be tempting to 'osay lol' or 'osay haha' at something funny another character does, this can interrupt the atmosphere and flow of RP for people around you. The next time you're tempted to make an OOC remark in a public place, consider whether it fulfills the purpose of the 'osay' command: does it help clarify RP or help new players learn the game? If not, then it probably doesn't need to be said in osays. Note that tells (which are private) and channels (OOC, guild chat) can be turned off if other players don't want to be distracted by OOC communication, but osays cannot.

Common ways immersion is broken:
  • - using osays to laugh at an in-character situation when your character cannot or would not
    - using osays to compliment someone's RP or talk about how 'cool' something is
    - using osays to express sympathy for someone else's character, etc. etc.
Ways to improve immersion:
  • - express your compliments through recommendations (help recommend)
    - express your good humor or sympathy through tells
    - avoid using osays to make complaints about RP
    - use osays sparingly in general

3) Play a character with believable flaws and limitations.

An immersive and engaging story has characters with believable flaws and limitations -- people who make mistakes. Is your character arrogant? Hard of hearing? Frail? Overzealous? Easily distracted by a beautiful body? Giving some thought to your character's flaws and blending those flaws into your roleplay will help make your character complex and interesting. If you're new to the game, one of the easiest ways to break immersion for yourself is to create a character who should know a lot of things about the theme and setting that you, the player, haven't had time to learn, yet.

Think about it: if you start out playing a character who should supposedly already know everything there is to know about being a soldier in the Farin army, what happens when she's corrected because of something you didn't know about Farin? Your character is going to look weak or ignorant, and you're going to feel frustrated, because she's not supposed to be ignorant, she's supposed to be a hardened veteran. The easiest way to keep yourself from falling into this trap is to start with a character who knows and has achieved less. Instead of building up a grand and impressive backstory, make learning and gaining experience part of the journey that shapes your first character INTO that hardened veteran.

Common ways immersion is broken:
  • - playing a character who knows more than you do
    - attempting to play a character without flaws
    - playing an unthemely character
Ways to improve immersion:
  • - start with a character who knows or has achieved less and therefore has more room to grow
    - play a character with believable flaws and limitations, whether physical, mental, or social
    - read the cultural helpfiles, ask for help on visnet with theme-related concerns, and be open to learning by example

4) Rely less on OOC communication when there's a good in-character (IC) alternative.

When you find yourself with a question or concern, consider whether it's something you can address in-character. This is especially true when you're confronted by another PC whose actions may not make immediate sense or may be counter to those of your own. Instead of using osays to force an OOC explanation and reveal IC motivations (such as 'osay Why did you just do that? My character is only trying to X, not Y.'), try using emotes and roleplay to find out in a manner that doesn't interrupt the scene or pressure your fellow players into defending their IC actions. Generally, if you're new (cyan), other players will be more accommodating and understanding in such situations, but if you need to halt a scene to ask for clarification, then it's a good idea to be polite and to the point (for example, 'osay I don't understand. Why can't my character wear red?'). Other players will be happy to assist. Also note that if your character starts out knowing less, it will probably be easier to learn the game through immersive roleplay because there's less pressure on your part to play a character who already knows all.

Experienced players can help maintain and promote an immersive RP experience by reaching out to seekers ICly first (it's a fun surprise to receive your first messenger or IC mail!), reminding fellow players to keep visnet clear of chatter or to limit osays in public, and by providing good examples of what's themely and appropriate through actual roleplay rather than going straight to OOC warnings and reminders. Also, if you decide to schedule in-character group meetings via the convenience of OOC means, immersion can be preserved by following up ICly with mail or messengers or, at minimum, describing a realistic IC context for the meeting in advance so as to help explain how other characters would find out about it.

Common ways immersion is broken:
  • - using osays to demand an explanation of another character's actions, when IC inquiry or RP would be appropriate
    - using osays to argue, explain, or defend your own character's actions
    - insisting on or defaulting to OOC communication when there's a reasonable in-character alternative
    - divulging IC info OOCly without respect for other players' IC/OOC boundaries
    - arranging meetings OOCly without adequate IC context
Ways to improve immersion:
  • - be open to learning through in-character means
    - use OOC means thoughtfully and appropriately (visnet for Q&A only, osays for RP clarification and new player help)
    - reach out to seekers ICly from the start (help seek)
    - teach others what's themely and appropriate by example, through engaging RP
    - provide IC context for group meetings scheduled through OOC means

Final Thoughts

Creating and maintaining an immersive RP experience doesn't necessarily mean a rejection of everything OOC or a rejection of the OOC community. It does, however, mean thoughtfully attending to other people's RP preferences and being respectful of IC/OOC boundaries. When in doubt or unsure about whether something is IC or OOC, it's always safe to be polite. The game is full of wonderful players who are willing to help make TI: Legacy your new storytelling home.
Last edited by Andruid on Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:48 am, edited 11 times in total.

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Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:23 pm

I think this is, by and large, a super helpful guide! However, I don't entirely agree with the points made in section 4. I think of OOC communication as an integral way to smooth over certain issues. Certainly we shouldn't be using OOC to defend our characters' actions, or to criticize other people's actions - but there are times when we want to give a new player the benefit of the doubt, or explain some aspect of theme they're getting wrong that their character really ought to know. Moreover, a lot of issues that are OOC and then get handled ICly cause irritation and frustration (read: you're absent from the game for three days and someone ICly says "Where have you been?!" and you're forced to RP an actual IC absence you never planned). Or, for another example, when someone ignores your pose and you don't check OOCly 'was that intentional?' and it turns out they just overlooked you - bad feelings on every side.

In other words, what makes for an immersive RP experience isn't the same thing for everyone when it comes to IC and OOC, and it's worth keeping that in mind!

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Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:53 pm

Those are some good examples of how flexibility, patience, and thoughtful use of OOC communication can help keep the game fun and stress free for all involved. Keeping OOC frustrations at a minimum is one way in which we can focus on the story and thereby improve immersion.

Here are a few more examples of good/appropriate uses of osays, in addition to those Dice listed:
  • - politely asking players to update their actions when you enter a room, if it's clear those actions are no longer relevant to the scene at hand
    - excusing oneself due to an OOC emergency
    - asking for clarification about combat or where characters are positioned in the room
    - checking turn order
In multi-character scenes, it may also be less disruptive to assist new players with tells rather than osays, which can put them on the spot while halting the flow of RP for everyone else.

Ultimately, I hope that this guide encourages all players -- new and old alike -- to be conscientious of how the use of OOC communication might either hamper or contribute the enjoyment of those around you, and to be open to the idea of both teaching and learning by example, through engaging RP.
Last edited by Andruid on Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:25 am

Guide updated for clarity based on feedback!

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Discord Handle: ParaVox3#7579

Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:15 am

Love this guide! Please identify yourself in-game to me for some Quest Points in thanks.

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