Why Text-Based RPGs Are A 'Must' For Every Roleplayer

By Lisa Ohanian and Jeremy B Saunders

I remember what roleplaying was like before I discovered online text games.

I've played a lot of RPGs in my time, but all of them left something to be desired. I either couldn't customize my avatar enough to match the picture in my head, or none of the pre-written dialogue options fit my character's personality, or the game mechanics didn't allow for my character to change and grow like I wanted.

The sad truth is that most roleplaying games with graphics have to be like this; there is only has so much room for your character to be unique. In reality, these "roleplaying games" are more plot-driven than anything else, and your character is simply along for the ride.

Online text games, however, are nothing like this - and that's why anyone who truly likes to play an in-depth character is bound to fall in love with them.

In text-based RPGs, the lack of graphics means the lack of a pre-programmed 'realm of possibility'. No longer are your poor characters constrained to only whatever graphics have been consciously added to the game, and no longer are you given only two dialogue choices during significant, game-changing conversations. Text-based games may not be as pretty to look at, but their true beauty really shines through in the form of their ability to facilitate high quality roleplay that is customizable to every single character.

For example, text games allow players to design practically everything that others will experience in relation to their characters. Players are given the freedom to write their own descriptions, dialogue, and actions word-for-word, which means that every single detail about your character is under your control at every single moment. Many games will even allow your character to name and design their own armour, weapons, clothing, houses and food, which can further help to define a character and give the world a sense of originality and realism. Unlike RPGs with graphics, your imagination is quite literally the limit. All you have to do is think it and then type it out.

Another reason that online text games are an ideal atmosphere for high quality roleplay is because of how open-ended they are. Most RPGs with graphics come with plots that follow a set path - and no matter how hard you might try, there is no compromising on some (and, often, most) aspects on it. While the story may be compelling and the game itself might be great, this can make roleplay feel dry, clichéd and forced, especially if your character needs to do something that doesn't fit with his or her personality for the sake of the storyline. In graphical RPGs with set storylines, then, it is near impossible for a character to undergo any kind of meaningful change (unless, again, that change was part of the storyline).

Online text games present roleplay opportunities that are much more flexible. For example, most text games will have a variety of organizations that a character can join and become involved in (such as cities, clans, etc). This means that you can pick and choose your character's goals and outlooks and join organizations accordingly, without being required to "play along" with a pre-determined storyline. While the world of any quality text-based RPG will often have an overarching set of events or a few loose storylines to keep the game as engaging as possible, the extent of any character's involvement are completely up to the player.

It is this extreme flexibility that characterizes text-based RPGs and makes them a truly perfect medium in which to roleplay. The power to customize every single detail about a character, every word and every action in real time, is not to be underestimated.

For anyone who does (or aspires to) call themselves a fan of roleplaying, then, these games are just waiting to be your next love. If you're trying to roleplay a character of any depth whatsoever through any medium but an online text-based RPG, I can assure you that you can do better - because once you go text, you'll never go back.

If you would like to try out some great online roleplaying games, check out these RPG text games.

Lisa Ohanian is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lisa_Ohanian

Comments

I've been a slave to Graphic games for years. Once I heard about Aetolia I was hooked from the get go.

I also like how you can customize anything you want in it. Just to have things look the way you want instead of something generic is purely awesome!

I plan to stay with Aetolia for as long as I can, and I will gladly recommend it to all of my friends and family members. Thanks!

Been at it for 10 years and still play it

I can easily see how this could become something you stick with for a long time. No graphics to get old, no newer better thingy. I enjoy what the Iron Realms has to offer.

Text games are a great experience, and I agree how it should be something every RPG player tries at least once (granted, it is a quality IRE game!).

I've seen it pan out where a person who didn't think they would enjoy it actually found it enjoyable. On the opposite side, I've also met people who by all means dislike text games and never gave them a shot (oh those unlucky souls).

In the end, I believe I'll keep coming back to Achaea through generation after generation of graphical RPGs, all because I gave it a try. I don't think the video cut scenes will ever match up to a strong imagination.

Mighty fine avatar!

The one thing about multi user dungeons, even if RP is enforced, is that there are always those who like to take it 3 steps more in depth than others. What this means is that many players who are new don't expect the levels of RP that the game has, and sometimes are looked down upon by other players. It is true that the text games bring a new medium and a vast amount of tools to RP, and this is a great thing if everyone is on the same page.

... text based RPGs are limitless in actions.
... you can't emote anything you want in graphical RPGs (and have the audience actually see it)
... a flash of imagination depicting a description you just read is much more educational
... the combat system has a complexity -impossible- to surpass

Plus, why watch the movie when you can read the book?

I have been playing achaea for atleast the better part of 4 years, it has never gotten old. I am still learning new things i can do everyday. I can do what i want with my character when i want to, if i feel like making him a babbling drunk i can do it. Its a great experience, other RPGs can olny give you a quarter of the customization that a text based game can. I've always said its not about the graphics its about the gameplay

I've been playing Lusternia for a while, on various different accounts. While work and life got in the way, I always ended up coming back to it for whatever brief respite I get from the usual hustle and bustle of my life. I must say, I have always loved the community feel, and the overwhelming depth to these games. There's just so much you can do in it, you never run out of options. You can never say you've done everything. It's just getting bigger and bigger every day.

Have you ever played D&D? Warhammer? Vampires? This is sooo much better! I am so amazed everyday at what I find on Achaea. Having the ability to do almost anything, and then having all these other people doing their own thing. Just astounding!

...and I concurr!

I'd like to suggest that Elizabeth Bishop's descriptive poem 'The Monument' shows the potential textual description can have to be as rich or richer than visual show, I'll quote the first few lines, you can find the full poem at http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-monument/:
----
Now can you see the monument? It is of wood
built somewhat like a box. No. Built
like several boxes in descending sizes
one above the other.
Each is turned half-way round so that
its corners point toward the sides
of the one below and the angles alternate.
Then on the topmost cube is set
a sort of fleur-de-lys of weathered wood,
long petals of board, pierced with odd holes,
four-sided, stiff, ecclesiastical.
From it four thin, warped poles spring out,
(slanted like fishing-poles or flag-poles)
and from them jig-saw work hangs down,
four lines of vaguely whittled ornament
over the edges of the boxes
to the ground.
The monument is one-third set against
a sea; two-thirds against a sky. (...)
----------
All the potential of literature to describe place and occasion is present in the MUD. MUDs don't -require- that great care be taken in such matters, but they -do- allow for it, and other collaborative mediums do not.

Intrigued by what you've read about text? If so, perhaps one of IRE's games is for you. So give them a whirl, they're absolutely free with no commitment. Who knows, you might just find where you belong, just like I have after searching for over a decade.

"For example, text games allow players to design practically everything that others will experience in relation to their characters. Players are given the freedom to write their own descriptions, dialogue, and actions word-for-word, which means that every single detail about your character is under your control at every single moment. Many games will even allow your character to name and design their own armour, weapons, clothing, houses and food, which can further help to define a character and give the world a sense of originality and realism. Unlike RPGs with graphics, your imagination is quite literally the limit. All you have to do is think it and then type it out."

For me, this is what roleplaying is all about. I started out reading much than playing games because my peers always reminded me to read more and play less. However, when I saw a text-based game like this, I thought, "this is a cool mix of reading-writing activity while playing or enjoying at the same time..." Moreover, this kind of games allows me to be in control of everything I want, merely expressing ideas from what I've read before.

Just like movie adaptations compare to the books they are based on, so does roleplaying in a graphical environment compare to text games. Our own imagination is the best graphics engine, not to mention that there is much more room for development as writing can be done by everyone, where as graphics have to be put in by the developers.

I'm just commenting for the ten credits, which is also a good reason these games are a must, the producers are very active in the everyday things of each game. It shows that they really do care and still want the games to be enjoyable and to help them grow and flourish.

It's true, text-based games are much better than graphics-based games as far as freedom of character development is concerned. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that they're also a lot more work. While I don't begrude these (wonderful) games the effort it takes to play them, the amount of energy you need to invest in them is higher than most graphics-based games. In fact, because you have so much freedom, you need to work harder to make the most of it. I'm willing to put in that work, but sometimes it's hard to bring the necessary energy to bear.

I agree with the article on a 100% basis. Mudding is the ultimate roleplaying experience for me on computer. The freedom you have in IRE games is unmatched by anyother RPG game in the world. I keep telling this to my friends and they cannot believe it!.

I played VG since I was a boy but IRE games (Achaea) shocks me everytime I log in. I am still discovering the world there. Incredible, it is just incredible! No joke!

I've also played quite some Graphic MMOs, as well as loads of solo player RPG games. The quality of text games is just something on a totally different level. Wouldn't want to miss it for all the graphic orgies in the world.

games do leave alot to be desired. Quite alot really, but they can be a nice break for a bit.

I didn't think I'd like achaea when a friend told me about it, but almost eight years later, I'm still playing.

...said "it's a book you live."

so many options

The freedom allowed by text-based games is at once overwhelming and inspiring. It's why I fell in love with Achaea in the first place.

I don't often care for these text vs. graphics posts because a lot of times I don't think they're fair, and I play both kinds of games for different reasons and neither is inherently better. But this article is one I find myself agreeing with. Good show.

I played a graphical game last weekend and played it out, thinking ok, that was fun, uninstall and let's see what is happening in Achaea. You cannot play out Achaea. The story changes all the time, and the only limitation is your own imagination.

I was introduced in high school. Now, almost ten years later, I've been an admin, a player, and an all around happy super-nerd

Interesting.

Nice read.

real-time multiplayer text provides a venue for creativity that I have not seen matched in other kinds of RPG's.  And they seem to draw a more mature crowd than graphical MMO's, in my experience.

Character customisation and emoting really is something you cant do as well anywhere else.

Just this one

Some MUDs are apparently built around roleplaying, but just don't have the atmosphere conducive to it like IRE games do. Maybe I'm just too used to the formula, or something.