Why Text Based RPG Games Are A 'Must' For Every Roleplayer

By Lisa Ohanian and Jeremy B Saunders

I remember what roleplaying was like before I discovered text based RPG 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 RPG 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 text based RPG 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


The enormous scope of how things can turn out, is pretty much infinite. A great roleplayer is always ready to jump in, and help flourish what is being created. Yes there are times that some plots have a series of events to follow, or open-box dialog, however that doesn't mean you can't improvise and use your imagination and creativity to turn something that could be portrayed as boring, and get other players involved.

Text games will always have that extra element that graphic frames-per-second computer games will not. It's like those fancy new 3d tv's compared to even the best Plasma and LCD's around, you'll never get that "In-your-face" realism that can always be found in the text games.

The human mind is infinately more capable of bringing a text world to life simply because there are so many different ways we each view certain things. We aren't restricted by the vision of the programmer on a computer game or the director for a tv show.

Great article. Just gotta say they can be addictive and time-consuming. For some, that can be a minus.

Just speaking on this with a few others, but there's a reason why people always come back to Iron Realm games. There's so much depth to them. World of Warcraft, Halo... any other game is great for its own reasons, but there's so much more depth to Achaea that it keeps you coming back for more.

You can learn different aspects of the realms by joining different cities, orders, houses... or even as different rogues. Your mind can see things slightly different than another in each description. With any other RPG- visual ones- your imagination gets stunted by what you see.

It's why no matter how many times you'll 'quit' Iron Realm games, you just keep coming back.

I don't think that the key here is really depth; World of Warcraft and Halo have rich backstories and histories that aren't told through the game(s) but are nonetheless present. Both have professional writers that work on their universe. To me, the key difference between them and IRE games (and any good RPGs) is the accessibility of that depth. To get the full story of Halo you have to play all the games and read all the books and find all the one-off interviews with the designers. To get all of the information in Imperian or Achaea or any of the games, all you have to do is actually play the game. It might take a lot of playing and a lot of time, but it's all there to learn and find.

I totally agree and totally disagree at the same time.

Basically, you're right, there's NOTHING shallow about the WoW lore. Still I do think it's a shallow game; if I write a thriving, weepingly beautiful background to the original Space Invaders videogame, it doesn't make it a deep game. It makes it a shallow game with a rich background. For me, that is where RPG has utterly lost its way outside of a very select number of text games. In the console market, and increasingly in online-gaming 'roleplaying' has come to mean one or more of the following things:

1) Choose a face, a name, and what you'd like to have between your legs,

2) Decide whether you're Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid or something-in-between-that-we-haven't-really-thought-that-much-about-during-game-development-but-the-choice-is-yours, and represent this choice through a handful of in-game dichotomies ("Commander Shepherd, would you like to be an asshole, a boy-scout, or an utterly ridiculous heads-or-tails, scene-by-scene combination of the two?"),

3) Choose which skillset you're going to use to murderdeathkill your way through the game (if you think this one's a bit harsh, try to beat Oblivion without any combat skills; and that's a -good- RPG!); alternatively, choose what motions your character will go through on-screen whilst you, the player, mashes an identical pattern on your keyboard in response to every situation,

4) Make an arbitrary decision in the last 5 minutes of gameplay that will decide which of the ten (varyingly satisfying) endings you get to watch without regard to ANYTHING you did during the rest of the game.

Now, my point is this: when's the last time you played an RPG game where the point of the game was to play a role? It sure as hell hasn't happened in any 'mmorpg' I've ever played, where the research question always appears to be 'How do you want to kill your way to Level X?'. It doesn't happen in Final Fantasy, because how far would I get if I decided that -my- Cloud is a homosexual pacifist? For some strange reason, the 'natural' progression from table-top role-playing-games has been a bizzare death match of Approximations-of-black-white-morality-meets-sandbox-tom-foolery-cum-multiple-choice kill-your-own-adventure-stories vs Linear-fantasy-storytelling-with-frequent-opportunities-to-choose-which-kill-skill-to-learn-next.

If you're left in any doubt, I am UTTERLY disgusted with console RPGs almost without exception, and with most of the rubbish that comes up when I do an internet search for 'Online-RPG'. Text-based roleplaying is the last bastion of the once-proud, creative and liberating artform that is roleplay. I'm not saying that people shouldn't play MMOs. I do. If you want -roleplay-, then its time to head to Iron Realms.

But I always end up coming back to Imperian. Sometimes, it's only a week, other times a month. The longest I've been able to stay away was just shy of a full year without returning . But I keep getting drawn back in because friend that I made in the game, let me know of something interesting going on now, and back I come, to get involved all over again. And every time I return theres something new to experiance or do. the game is constantly evolving.

There is something simple about role-playing in a text based format. Firstly as has been mentioned the sky is the limit with what can happen and sometimes does happen. Some of the most fun times I can remember however are moments when everyone realizes their own position within the event. Not everyone can be the hero who does everything. In fact any good role-playing game has supporting characters. So remember when your joining one that it takes time to become the center of a good role-playing plot. At the same time if you are exploring for the first time consider asking some of the older players about events that happened earlier (If your playing an iron realms game go read the events section in the news (check NSTAT and then READNEWS EVENTS #)) and find some events with names that you recognize and ask them about them. You'll be surprised how many 'older' players are more than willing to help a younger person out with the basics of role-playing so long as they are asked nicely. Additionally something you may want to seek out is the basics of history, in most muds history is nothing more than a giant series of events that have happened in the past. If your very blessed you may have the opportunity to sit with some of the other players who helped make those events possible, ask questions about them see what their thoughts are usually they lead to fairly interesting or fairly funny stories. Hope to see you in game soon!

Text role playing games leave a lot to be said, literally. I for one only got into roleplaying during my late teens. I was never involved in table top games and still to this day have never been. I was an avid fan of graphical games because they stimulated me. I liked roleplaying games, but had never gotten into text. During college I found Imperian and started to play, because it was one of the only accessible things to do on a library computer. It didn't take long, perhaps a week and I became addicted. The world created by text games literally sucked me in. Iron Realms games in themselves are welcoming, and built to do so. It not only gives people a chance to roleplay, people like me who never had the chance. But it encourages it, and it encourages people like me to roleplay. The idea behind text based rpgs is such a magnificent invention, the scope of what can become of a single action amazes me. People who roleplay tutors, they tutor someone (a newbie) that newbie (me 8 years ago) ends up sticking around and roleplaying his own character for nearly a decade. This is entirely because of the actions of one person. You will never in your searches find another type of game that will prove to have such a visible domino effect as a text based rpg. You can literally watch how your actions shape the world, while this may seem like an exxageration, it is not. Every single thing you do serves to create something else, to watch it happen is Divine, and when you truly do something special, it becomes exactly that. Special, a memorable moment you will never forget. That is what Imperian has become to me, not just a game, a collection of memories, fictional accomplishments and so many friends over the years. There aren't too many things in life you can say that about. It is truly astounding.

With text MUDS, you can log in any time you like and roleplay in the setting of your choosing with people from all over the world, any hour of the day, and any day of the week. So you're not a Super Bowl fan? On Super Bowl Sunday, you'd much rather discuss the finer points of necromancy with those of like minds, and maybe go destroy a few do-gooders. People over in the UK probably aren't watching the Bowl either. If it you are up late in the wee hours, and want to RP, chances are even if all your buddies are sleeping, there are plenty of folks in any given MUD up at the same hour, doing what you want to do. Table games are how alot of us got started, but as we get older, meeting up on Saturday night at someone's house for a few hours might not ever be possible anymore. Thanks to games like these, you don't have to sacrifice the fun you had.

There's always something new and fabulous waiting around the corner. When I first started Achaea, I had no clue what I was doing, let alone see nothing but words. It gets better and better as you realize that with more determination that you get to, the better it becomes to enjoy it. I'm not saying -throw- yourself into it. Give it time, let it materialize. I've made quite a few friends while playing these games, and I'll tell you what, it's the most fun experience I know that I'll ever have!

The imagination factor is huge. Being able to separate pre-conceived visuals and identities not only allows you to project your character's image upon fellow players but onto you as well. It let's you become a complete character, not a character that you sort of take over and just add your flair to.

"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."

And trade designing! I always love eating what I want to eat and not getting fed up with fishcakes. It also enhances the role-play of the character... Imagine a merian donning a scholarly robes made from sea anemone, holding on to a conch shell vial, wearing a nacreous brooch with coral frame, smoking a squid pipe and wielding a merbloom-wreathed shield!

One thing I'd like to add to your point of envisioning characters is most good MUDs don't tie all characters to a common ambition. There's no common goal of levelling up, becoming really strong and walking around beating on things. I mean, sure, most people do go for that, and that can be fun in its own right. But you aren't in any way limited to that. You can, for example, be a character who doesn't really fight, but spends time influencing denizens. You can be a smooth talker who gets others to do your bidding in such a way. You can learn trades and be the best you can at it, and be of use to your community and make a lot of gold for it, or you could spend time going off to explore the land and complete quests and puzzles.

You aren't by any means trapped into a systematic set of goals, and instead, you're free to do whatever you want. Heck, you can even go around being a beach bum if you want (though you might find yourself a little lonely since I noticed most people don't really populate the beaches)

Over the course of the last seven years, I have played Achaea on and off. While much of the game remains stable, the ability of characters to undergo such development and changes as converting from being a chaotic summoner to a beacon of good and serving the Church as a priest allows a player to keep coming back. For many of us, every time we return, we find something new to experiment with and try.

When I was growing up I was fanatical about RPG's. My friends and I would stay after school and play Star Wars RPG, and on the weekends we'd have all-night D&D sessions. Regrettably, however, my family and I moved out to the middle of nowhere of all places. I languished without my regular dose of RPG's. Then, the internet came! I tried forum and e-mail based RPG's, but they were far too slow. I craved something that was more upbeat and expedited the RPG 'high' I sought. Then, one evening I stumbled upon the greatest discovery of my life - text based RPG's. Whoever invented this genre ought to be given a very prestigious award. I could finally connect with hundreds and even thousands of other people and engage in the best role playing that can be found anywhere. I can still stay up late every night if I want to (I know my wife does!) and I can play any time, anywhere. You don't have to worry too much about your connection since there aren't any graphics. Though I do warn against getting too relaxed in your standards if you want to engage in player versus player combat. Text based RPG's - anytime, anywhere. That's my reason for why they are a 'must' for every role player!

Text based games are important for roleplayers because they really teach you what roleplaying is. Most RPGs, especially MMORPGs tend to involve little roleplaying if any. The reason is that there is so much going on that it becomes much more difficult to focus on your character and the role that you play. In a graphical RPG your character is right there, you can see him/her, you don't need to think about who they are, what they look like, or what they're doing.

Text based games force you to focus on and describe every action that you take, and every aspect of your character and their interactions with the world. This focus really emphasizes the "roleplaying" aspect. I have played many RPGs and MMORPGs but I find that it's only in text based games that I, or any other players, actually roleplay. This is partly due to the fact that the games are so open ended, and partly due to the unlimited creativity involved. For example, in a graphical RPG there is no such thing as an emote, there are a few pre-programmed commands, but not much. In a text-based game what you can do is limited only by your imagination and the rules of the game.

Similarly in a text based game your character's origins and paths, especially in Achaea, are determined entirely by yourself, and also are more "on display" than in a graphical RPG where people are more preoccupied with "looking" at a character and what they're doing, than learning their history, and in general characters in such games tend to come with pre-determined back stories.

Text based games stimulate the mind and creativity so much more than any other game, and that's why they're a "must" for every roleplayer

I always saw IRE games as an homage to the past, and an herald of the future in text-based RPG. I vividly remember having a pen and paper being passed around a group of friends, and excitedly waiting how the end would turn out. It was very novice and childish, but that is what really caught my interest. Fast forward 15 years, sitting behind a table in a training room during my first job. My coworker, out of nowhere, asked me if I knew what RPG was. I said yes, "role -playing game". Come to think of it, he could have meant "rocket-propelled grenade", but I guess RPGs was, and still is, a big part of childhood, despite now being into my late 20s.

There's always a possibility with text-rpgs that others really don't have.

best way to have 2 lives!

+1 and a credit

Likewise. I don't have time to write anything more profound right now.



..Yep. :x



hey... nice to see this article again!

I'm still learning to role-play but I think it's a process that will take my whole life. I enjoy RPGs but I enjoy this more. The options are mostly endless and it gives me inspiration to write. It creates a more realistic fantasy world. I don't need graphics, my imagination is more than enough.

I still think that paper RPGs are best. But text based ones are great because there is always someone to play with online when it fits my schedule.

PnP is always going to be more flexible in terms of actions, but text-based is great when you just want to play at odd hours of the day.

Heh course when you dream of walls of text, you wonder how much it has actually set in.

and if you dream of being disconnected?

i was thinking about this earlier today! I've found text games have a combination of long-term achievements, probem solving (in game and in coding a system), and an rpg storyline that all really appeal to me.

I don't think I would equite muds as necessary for roleplayers, but many do find them to be a great medium.

I was sad that this article was graphical RPG vs MUD, rather than having to do with tabletop RPGs or freeform roleplaying or etc.

It's like they like to be stamped into little boxes.



It isn't the depth it is the illusion that you can personally just tweak yourself to the point where you can finally win.