Saturday, 5 June 2010

Moar RP: Timing and Communication, the importance thereof.

The most important tool by far, in any RP scenario, is the ability to communicate. One of the better known 'rules' on RP servers is that anything in /say or /yell is In Character and, from what I have seen, this is quite closely adhered to on AD. Of course, there are those who ignore this convention, there are the trolls who spam /Trade with 'anal...' etc etc; RP realms are still a cross sector of people and until Blizzard unleashes entire teams of GMs onto RP servers to 'monitor' the interactions (which I don't necessarily want, bringing, as it does, images of 1984 with it) this won't change. The responsibility I hold, to myself, my characters, my fellow RPers, to the server itself, is to be as respectful of the atmosphere as I can. And from this I have a set of 'internal conventions' I try to follow:

  • I have FlagRSP, so if I'm flagged as 'In Character' then I will be.
  • If I'm flagged Out Of Character, for example, whilst questing, and you engage with me I'll likely default to being IC anyway.
  • If you don't have FlagRSP, or are using another addon that I can't read (Total RP or similar) but you speak to me in /say I will probably respond IC, if you then reply with 'lol' or similar I won't bother to engage with you any further. It's doubtful I'll /ignore you or report you. I just won't interact.
  • I won't run in cities .
  • If I speak in /say to another Sin'Dorei it will, 90% of the time, be in Thalassian.
  • If the person/group is of another race I will speak Orcish.
  • I try, where possible to communicate with emotes as well, not just the standard /smile, /wave, /whatever, but custom /emotes as well.
  • I assume that if people want to communicate with me OOC (guild chat notwithstanding) they will do it in /whisper.
  • I'm not concerned if you use (single brackets), ((double brackets)) "OOC", ((OOC)) or if if you do nothing at all. If the text is pink, it's OOC in my book. You can type however you want in /whisper though for the sake of my sanity, I'd appreciate it if you didn't use leet speak...
  • I will be respectful of your experience and your immersion as long as you grant me the same respect.
I have no desire to impose these on anyone else but they do make it easier for me to get into, and stay, In Character...

Ok so, all constructed rules and regs aside, communication is the thing. I've had some glorious RP ficlets, from tiny little scenarios: assisting blind trolls and experiences with poisoned apples through to the more expansive Murder Row liaison right up to the pinnacle of Pure Shores and many more that never made it as far as the blog (else I'd be writing 1 or 2 RP posts a day...) The running theme of these good scenes was the other person's willingness to communicate OOC in /whisper. The difference this makes to my RP cannot be over-stated. I have no desire to know everything about your character but stuff that I need to know, probably for my own comfort, is appreciated. Whether this was my Forsaken 'friend' with the foot fetish asking me very politely if he was making me uncomfortable, the rogue/poet explaining that he would lose 'the girl' his character loved if he continued to womanise, hence why he looked right through Pilf the next time she saw him, etc etc.

As I looked through the Pure Shores chat logs the one thing that really amazed me was how little conversation we'd had about the scene in /whisper as it played out. There were the odd moments of humor to lessen the intensity; at the point where the Beachcomber is feigning ignorance (maybe not 'feigning', I don't know... I'm waiting for more Strong Voodoo as well!) about Pilf asking him why he calls her 'darlin', and she finally capitulates and says *the word* I had a whisper, "Oh the joy of making her say that :)" which alleviated the tension considerably. As the scene neared its end, at the point where it became obvious that he wasn't going to kiss her, I sent a whisper saying "I'm not sure she will." Swiftly followed by one saying "Gah...!" as I floundered, caught between Pilf's headspace and my headspace. As she looks up at him, clinging to the hope that he will close the gap and the pause continued, he whispered to say "I think in TV terms, this is the shot they end on. In all honesty, I think she'd walk at this point." And he was right, she would... and did. But on the whole there wasn't the need to discuss much. Call it serendipity, synchronicity, what you will, for some reason that whole scene just clicked.

Onwards, then, to appropriateness of dialogue. I've been lucky, I think, is as much as I haven't really ever witnessed something I could class as being completely inappropriate in either /say or in /emote. There has been the occasional time, usually in an Inn where some of the chat bubbles on my screen have made me a little... but it's usually a /sigh response, not a /rage response. I try to be careful of what I'm saying in /say, back along, when I was still a timid and terrified beginner, I left a comment on, I think WTT:RP, which regularly has open 'what do you need help with?' threads, asking about communication and channels, and the response really stuck in my head; words to the effect of: if you wouldn't say it on a crowded bus, or in a pub (for example) it probably isn't appropriate for /say. Take it to /party or IC /whisper. I revisited this during Pure Shores, asking myself, as I wrote the post, if there had been anything said that was hugely inappropriate for public viewing, whether we would have had a similar conversation in Orgrimmar or whether the beach afforded some degree of privacy. And whilst any adult, with a bit of nous what have known exactly what was being said (or unsaid in many ways) nothing that I can see could be classed as, crude, inoffensive, inappropriate or anything else. Other than the troll/Sin'Dorei situation, obviously...!

Finally, timing. A slightly strange thing to try and write about, admittedly, because it's rather more in the doing than in the writing but good timing, knowing when to pause, when to /say, when to /emote, increases the tension and the intensity of a scene a great deal. In my view, RP shouldn't be rushed. It should be savoured, enjoyed - if you're on a tight timescale either let the other person(s) know, or don't get yourself drawn into something complex. RP is a dialogue, your opposing number needs to have the time to process what your character has just said/done, then think through what their character would say/do in response and then type this! It's not something to rush. If your dialogue seems to be turning into a monologue ask the other person, either in OOC /whisper, in /say or in /emote. Or maybe just stop talking and give them a chance. If they are just standing their talking at you, rather than to you, let them know, maybe their character does ride roughshod over anyone they can, maybe they're blathering on out of nerves, maybe (sadly) they just do like the sound of their own (textual) voice. But it's worth trying to establish which.

Don't be afraid to pause. During Pure Shores there were many occasions where nothing was being said, no emotes, no OOC /whispers, nothing. I tried, where possible to imply, through /emote or through a stuttering /say, that there would be a 'pause', the same as there would be if you were having a similar (!?) conversation in real life. But sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I just let it hang and hang. If you think about 'big' conversations in real life, there are pauses. There are times when you have to stop and process what's just been said, times when you need to gather your (shredded, tattered, butterfly-esque) thoughts together before responding, and times when what isn't being said is just as big (if not bigger) than what is being said. And also, and I'll be be honest here, there are times where, in fragile, new, relationships, at moments similar to those within Pure Shores, I do pause delibarately. For the same reasons as Pilf did, because sometimes you need to hear what you're thinking echoed before you can say it. Or not hear it echoed, and then you know it's probably best not to say it. And now I'm rambling - probably a good indication that I should wrap this post up.

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