The Cost of Freedom

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Duvessa
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The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

So, a number of people have asked me to ponder this, and I have. Here's the results:

What if the Raven detached itself from EverQuest? What if we became a completely independent operation, and EverQuest was just a game we had a presence in? What if we created a world inspired by EverQuest (and high fantasy in general), but not PART of EverQuest? What if you could talk to your gods? What if you could actually BE an officer in the evil city's militia, and your authority HAD to be recognized? What if you could be the head of the mage's guild in the city of light? Would you like a world that was actively run, that had a long-term plot that you could be a part of?

More importantly... what would you pay to make that happen?

Because here's the deal: I love EverQuest, and it's been part of my life for over 12 years now. But with these latest outages, with Rift, with the coming of other games, with general roleplayer burn-out... I've been pondering just what it would take for me to turn the Raven into a for-profit operation that catered to roleplayers. And I don't mean something where I tinkered on weekends, or caught a few hours on at work every other day. I mean something I do full time, as my job.

I've tried to crunch some numbers in my head. I'd save money by not having to drive to work, though I'd suddenly be paying an enormous amount of money in insurance, accounting fees, server costs, and bandwidth expenses.

Well, here's what it would take to make that happen:

At $15 a month, it would take 335 subscriptions.
At $20 a month, it would take 200 subscriptions.

Well, I don't know 335 people willing to shell out $15 a month for forum-based RP, no matter how cool.

The only way to make more money would be to set up an item and services shop:

Say... $5 a month for an independent PHPbb guild web site (isn't that what GuildPortal charges?)

$60 per year for a custom e-mail address using Google Aps, which provides Google Aps sync, a powerful system that allows a full sync on Outlook, mobile devices, along with a slew of other functions that you don't get with regular Gmail.

A one-time, non-recurring, fee of $60 for an independent chat room system that you can manage on your own and can hold 20 users. $145 for 50 users, $250 for unlimited rooms and 150 chatters.

Maybe a charge of $10 per year for a private chat room within the main chat server (What is now the Rumpus Room).

And then, within the game and RP, and not something I have really thought through, offering people a greater level of participation in the world in exchange for either cash, or services. That is.. someone could simply pay more per month to be a high-ranking official, lord of the castle, and so on. These people would have actual authority in the game, and would be the equivalent of NPC faction leaders. Other extra RP advantages could also be purchased.

On that note, I was also thinking we'd have some non-money authority roles that were determined by public elections.

People could gain advantages and offset their own costs by donating time as "dungeon masters" and "guides". Also, artists could contribute arm in lieu of subscription fees. There's be a limited extent to which I could do this, since I'd be really scraping for every operating dollar I could.

And so on... this would be one hell of an undertaking, but it just MIGHT be workable, if I could somehow get enough user interest. And come up with some kind of good conflict-resolution system. That'd be a hell of a thing, though.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Zhadowsee » 05/06/11

I think you're onto something.

Here's my skeptic input.

People will always make snap-decisions and tend to follow a social wave. If their friends are signing up, so will they. This is good. However, after a month or two, and after EQ2 comes back, along with attentions now on F2P games or other new MMOs, what will the retetion rate be? Will they unsubscribe after a couple months? What will you--and your team of storytellers--be able to provide to keep them paying month after month?

Further, what does the RM offer that the other MMOs will not? Most people are visual. To see someone walking is different than having to read how they are walking. While some prefer chat-RP to spatial-RP, I think the greater demand is for the latter.

I think on the initial release you'll see a fantastic flow of income, but I believe it runs a significant risk of fizzling out within two or three months.

I'm sure you've thought of this already, but I'd like to know what your thoughts are.

Thanks!

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Duvessa
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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Zhadowsee wrote:I think on the initial release you'll see a fantastic flow of income, but I believe it runs a significant risk of fizzling out within two or three months.

I'm sure you've thought of this already, but I'd like to know what your thoughts are.
My thoughts are that it is POTENTIALLY doable, but it's a hell of a steep climb up.

Take a gander at this web site:

https://myworldofdarkness.com/content/

This is a forum-based game set in the World of Darkness (1st Edition LARP rules) universe.

The have rates for membership that range from free to $25 a month:

https://myworldofdarkness.com/section/f ... rvices-12/

You'll notice there that the free forum accounts are vastly crippled compared to what I allow now for free. For example, free accounts can have no more than five messages in their inbox!

They also sell "player points" for $1 per point. Points are also earned slowly just for showing up, or awarded over the course of RP. These points can be used to buy attributes and abilities. They also have item shops you can spend your player points on:

https://myworldofdarkness.com/vbshop.ph ... tegoryid=8

Here's some of their stats:
Threads
6,373
Posts
104,968
Members
6,595
Active Members
907

There are currently 97 users online. 21 members and 76 guests
Most users ever online was 355, 02-02-2011 at 08:00 AM.
So could this be done, in theory? Yes, I absolutely think there's a market for this sort of thing. One thing I noticed in my time over at the other forum (I have an active character there), is that a LOT of those players just don't have computers than can support a graphical experience. They couldn't play EQ2, or even WoW if it was begin given away. Also lots of people that just don't have the time to log in nightly.

What would it take to get enough people to make the operation sustaining? Well, Zhadow is right to be skeptical, there WOULD be retention issues. There would be a start-up phase, a growing period. It would require a lot of word-of-mouth evangelism to get more sign-ups than needed, just so I could have some assurance of players who persisted over the long-haul.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Abyzou also pointed me at this:

https://realmcrafter.com/store/home.php

Yes, it'd certainly be possible to offer some kind of graphical meeting realm as well. I have ZERO experience with RealmCrafter, and couldn't promise it as any sort of immediate thing that would be available. I'd certainly be looking into the option of leasing or buying some kind of MMO system for the long-haul.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Beth » 05/06/11

I love this idea, I think it would be fantastic for you, and something that you would love to do. But I don't think that it's a very stable idea. I love the features of the raven, specifically the image box, but the vast, vast majority of the players are poor. I know that I couldn't contribute financially to this, and I would probably weep to lose the imagebox. I play in a star trek game, and its been running for 14 years so far. It pays for itself via donations and there are perks that can be bought like a domain email, there is a small cash shop for mugs and the such. I love it and contributed to it when I could. But financially, right now, I could not.

I also know that you hate your current job and you would love to do this. And sometimes following that is most important.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Zhadowsee » 05/06/11

Inzilbeth wrote: I also know that you hate your current job and you would love to do this. And sometimes following that is most important.
This

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Nikatell » 05/06/11

Agreed. I know that I hated my job with vital records as it left me very little time or desire to just write. It's scary to step away from something "safe" and "certain" for the big unknown, but frankly, as in the Lesson of the Moth. Sometimes it's worth risking burning out to see that spark of light than to play it safe in the dull bleak. I wish you a lot of luck Duvessa, so you know you've got someone rooting for you on the East coast.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Well, I think I would absolutely have to have a free-to-play option, because I wouldn't want to lose people like Inzilbeth. Also, I just think there's no way in hell I could garner 300 subscribers, period. Maybe, over time, somehow, I could manage to get that kind of fanbase, but I'd have to really come up with something fantastic.

What I could do is set my sites a bit lower, and offer something less ambitious, but perhaps more controversial in nature, and that's trading titles, position, and power within the RP universe we're in now for donations to the Raven's operating fund.

In other words... you know how when you walk into the Raven, you agree that the wards can kick you out, and similarly, the wards can't be defeated without my prior consent? Now what if I also asked that you agree that people who donate X dollars for a title MUST be recognized?

So... Soandso wants to be a Lucanic Knight. He wants people who RP with him to recognize that authority. Right now, if someone walks into the Raven and say's they're a Lucanic Knight and therefor their authority in Freeport must be respected, I'm completely free to blow them off. What if they pledged $5 a month to have that title formally recognized? What if they further pledged $5 a month to have their own faction forum, where they handled Militia business, and had the ability to formally hold court and make decisions that others had to accept as part of their RP. Would people go for that? Would they go for it if was possible to vote someone out of office (which would also terminate their donations)?

Or, maybe to make it simpler.... if we created a points-based forum RP system where points could be earned for free, but also paid for... would people participate?

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Ghomp » 05/06/11

I think this is a stellar idea. Personally, I would be more inclined to move away from EQ lore, in favor of some brand spankin' new races/classes/civilizations. I also believe that if anyone could make this work, it's you, Duv. I am excited to hear what people have to say.

The potential for some of us to create, manage, and role-play organizations of our own design would be exquisite, especially broken free of EQ2 lore/game mechanics thrills me to no end. Long ago, Duvessa, you talked about an NPC dark-elf like race, I would love to see you breathe life into that. Long, clawed fingers, burning orange veins of crackling energy.

I would devote whatever capital I could to help this endeavor.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Yeah, that's another notion, of course... start a completely new 'verse, slowly, and just see if enough momentum builds.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Kartikeya » 05/06/11

This is probably a decent idea for turning cash, but it makes me ultra leery, and lemme see if I can properly put into words why.

Right now, there's no real moderation of anyone's RP beyond what the community is willing to buy. For instance, I can walk around and say that Shard is a werewolf and a ranger and people go with that, because ranger is a class in the game and werewolf is something the community accepts as a reasonable enough thing to play. If I were to suddenly say that Shard is also a super secret agent with the personal ear of Antonia Bayle, the number of people willing to go with that would probably shrink, unless I was really really super ultra responsible with it and people were feeling pretty lenient. If I were to suddenly say that not only is Shard a super secret agent with the personal ear of Antonia Bayle, but she actually IS Antonia Bayle secretly sneaking out to keep an eye on her subjects and the world...I'm pretty sure most people would go 'um, no' and stop playing with me or acknowledging this part of my RP.

A system in which this is legitimized via my wallet and suddenly everyone has to acknowledge that I <i>am</i> Antonia Bayle's secret identity and have the power to govern an entire city and her armies and throw people into prison and etc etc etc would be kiiiind've annoying for people who don't particularly want to deal with someone playing the Queen of Qeynos.

That's a pretty exaggerated example, but let's take your Lucanic Knight example. Lucanic Knights are pretty elite, powerful people. They're Lucan's personal guard, essentially. Up until it fell down, they were pretty much the only people to see the inside of Deathknell Citadel. In IC terms, they definitely have the power to order people around, throw people in the dungeon, and certainly execute people. Technically they're carrying out Lucan's will, but since Lucan D'Lere doesn't play on RM, that's something left up to the player to manage.

Now, I'm pretty sure the community will go with someone playing a Lucanic Knight. There are people playing more unusual, exotic things, after all. We've had people playing a powerful division of the Militia, after all, and Ambassadors, and members of the Qeynos guard, and powerful noble houses, and so on and so forth. But the thing is, as it stands now, if a Lucanic Knight waltzes into the RP channel and starts throwing his RP weight around and trying to have characters executed and making other characters do something because it's the 'will of Lucan' and generally abusing the position they've chosen to play, all the other players have to do is ignore him, and either he moderates his own RP or he has less people to RP with.

So the question is, if we remove the ability of the community to moderate its own RP in that fashion, would this theoretical version of the Raven have actual GMs that would step in and go 'no really, stop abusing your position'? And would that be fair if Mr. Lucanic Knight has paid real money for it? And would the community appreciate people telling them what is and isn't acceptable use of RP power in RP?

And if not, what's to stop Joe Lucanic Knight from paying his bit and then making the rest of the RP community miserable? The only thing I can think of is if someone else ponies up the cash and buys a position that's higher than his, to reign him in. And then you're going to have people trying to leapfrog each other in authority. It'll make money, but I'm not sure it'll create an RP environment that will be enjoyable.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Ethelle » 05/06/11

While I've considered just dropping MMOs and doing chat/forum based roleplay for awhile now. I also know that I probably wouldn't ever pay to do it. Paying 4-6 bucks to get an image host is a slightly different thing, I would sooner do that than pay to have a higher subscription here. It's a matter of independence.

There are other sites out there that (forum RP/chat) do it without pay. I love the Raven, and I love EQ2. The biggest reason I haven't chosen to do that, is because I do like the lore. I love the Lore a lot. I secretly hope EQ Next doesn't suck so I won't be stuck hating the mechanics of the game, because I really do love the world.

But I would probably be turned off by adding to it. I don't particularly mean bending, I bend Lore like other people. But full-blown new races would take some getting used to. I know that there are people who unlike me (I prefer channel/ect RP to spatial) would rather play spatially much more than this.

Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I don't see this working unless you have a very dedicated base of people who are fond of the business model.

I do however think it would be nice on some levels. If I ignore what I inherently dislike about the idea, there are definitely some pros to this that are very cool. (Getting your character's title recognized, for instance.) But I think even if you chose not to give up your job and charge for the Raven, that such things could be done within the Community if the Community is up for it. Honestly I think recognizing such things are GOOD for roleplay in general, not just the person Roleplaying the character. But people get so stuck on special snowflake treatment that they don't swallow it well. Sigh.

But um, you might be careful about it too.. If you kept it in the world of Norrath/EQ2, making money off of it could severely bite you in the ass if SOE were to find out.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Scurray » 05/06/11

I suppose making a living running a mud is doable, since it has been done already. But it would be very risky, especially now with the economy still uncertain.

Divorcing the Raven Mythic from Everquest would be an easy first start, though. RM could become a multi-game RP portal. Perhaps a magical disaster happens to the tavern grounds, similar to what happened to Odus, and the Mythic becomes it's own interdimentional shard, accessible from several game worlds. An EQ2 Halfling could have lunch with a LotR Hobbit :wink:

Later, if you do make the leap into making RM a full self-contained mud, an RP event could have the multidimentional access fail, stranding characters in the RM's new world.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Ghomp » 05/06/11

Scurray wrote:I suppose making a living running a mud is doable, since it has been done already. But it would be very risky, especially now with the economy still uncertain.

Divorcing the Raven Mythic from Everquest would be an easy first start, though. RM could become a multi-game RP portal. Perhaps a magical disaster happens to the tavern grounds, similar to what happened to Odus, and the Mythic becomes it's own interdimentional shard, accessible from several game worlds. An EQ2 Halfling could have lunch with a LotR Hobbit :wink:

Later, if you do make the leap into making RM a full self-contained mud, an RP event could have the multidimentional access fail, stranding characters in the RM's new world.
*Spiderman appears*


*Snicker* Jk, jk

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Scurray » 05/06/11

Ghomp wrote:*Spiderman appears*
*Darth Lucidicrous uses his uber Sith powers to squish Spiderman like a bug* :P


But yeah, this raises a point. Some game genres don't mix and match so well. It might be reasonable to restrict access to fantasy genre characters only.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Erithe » 05/06/11

Multi-game Hub: Good idea! :) I likes it!


RP Hub for Multiple Games: I think I would only be for this if the game RP didn't touch. I don't mix my peas and carrots, tyvm. hah hah


Private/Player made and/or Forum created Worlds: I think this could be an interesting concept ... a world specific to the Raven-Mythic could be created and RP'd within.




As with anything, it's better to have multiple irons in the fire in case one of them doesn't work out.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Gineva » 05/06/11

As Ethelle mentioned, I would be extremely leery about looking to make money off of any RP game system that officially supported characters, factions, cities, and worldbuilding from an existing MMO. Now, having them similar in style but renamed, you could likely get away with it just fine -- since most MMOs resemble each other in this way. However, making money off of officially supporting titles and factions that have exact names and functions from EQ2 (such as Qeynos, Freeport, the Lucanic Knights, etc...) could land you in a steaming pile of litigation with SOE.

I'd think for it to work safely for you, you would have to break completely from the universe of Norrath (or any other existing MMO universe) as far as any official support from you goes.

Other than that, good luck, Duv!

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Keep in mind, and this is general, and not directed at Shard, that I am just exploring ideas right now. I just feel like the way things are going, I need to do SOMETHING.
Kartikeya wrote:A system in which this is legitimized via my wallet and suddenly everyone has to acknowledge that I <i>am</i> Antonia Bayle's secret identity and have the power to govern an entire city and her armies and throw people into prison and etc etc etc would be kiiiind've annoying for people who don't particularly want to deal with someone playing the Queen of Qeynos.
I'd like to get some clarification here, and ask if this is annoying because it's EverQuest, or because someone paid for it? Would it be mitigated knowing that you could earn rank and powers, albeit more slowly, just by showing up and accruing freebie points?
Kartikeya wrote:So the question is, if we remove the ability of the community to moderate its own RP in that fashion, would this theoretical version of the Raven have actual GMs that would step in and go 'no really, stop abusing your position'? And would that be fair if Mr. Lucanic Knight has paid real money for it? And would the community appreciate people telling them what is and isn't acceptable use of RP power in RP?
Any kind of RP system inevitably runs into the problem of conflict resolution. On AB, right now, the generally accepted way to handle that is to random. Doesn't matter what level you are, how much you RP, how many stories you have written... you just random 50/50. And that's the only thing that works in a community that is split on issues like OOC level vs IC level, and has no dungeon masters.

In my more "premium" scenario, we'd follow the WoD forum system in that there would be two types of RP, free-form, and moderated. In free-form RP, for example, my character is rich, he's got $500 million in his bank account. I decided he'd by himself a nice huge house to live in. I didn't really need GM approval, or player approval, because it's perfectly reasonable and doesn't cause any conflict.

If Shard wanted to burn that house down, we'd be in conflict-based RP. Points versus points, and that would require GM moderation. Likewise, people who purchased positions of power would be expected to act within the framework of RP for that position. If you throw your weight around like an asshole, there would be a player appeals process. If you, say, were donating $5 a month to be a Lucanic Knight, and acted like a non-stop dick to people... you could lose your position, and your then I'd have to stop your automatic payment on that option. My experience in the WoD forums is that people who pay for such premiums are more often than not, not the kind of people who abuse power and authority. But yeah, you wouldn't be stuck with someone.
Kartikeya wrote:And if not, what's to stop Joe Lucanic Knight from paying his bit and then making the rest of the RP community miserable?
See the above, naturally. I wouldn't encourage bidding wars for such things. There'd be an option to vote people off the island. And in many ways, I would imagine this is exactly what happens in many of the major cities. While Lucan likely doesn't give a rat's ass about what the commoners think of Joe Knight, when fifty angry, taxpaying, high-platinum adventures, his "whales", come to his door bitching... then, yeah, he would smack down the knight.

In other words, in any universe a pay-for-points system was part of the deal, there would have to be a system for dealing with bad players. Money would not trump general player satisfaction. To me, any authority for your character is also OOC SERVICE to the players.

Think about Duvessa. You all, and how I fucking love you to death for this, have consented to give Duvessa a great deal of power in her RP. In return I try and do things like the ImageBox, ShoutBox, and other Raven services. And I try and have my RP be reasonable and sane, with Duvessa using her power to help people, fix problems, rather than big-note her own story.

If you're paying to be the head of the Militia, yes, you're paying for power. You're also paying to take responsibility for a faction of players, you're paying to lead RP for a group of people. You're paying, essentially, to work. With luck, the work cost is offset by the overwhelming cool of your office.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Ethelle wrote:But um, you might be careful about it too.. If you kept it in the world of Norrath/EQ2, making money off of it could severely bite you in the ass if SOE were to find out.
A major issue that has not escaped my notice either. It makes me lean towards the idea of starting a new world, on separate forums.

I'm leery about charging for anything within the normal world of the Raven, because this site and it's functions were meant to be a gift, not a money-making operation.

That said, OFFSETTING operating costs... I am not against that at all. I really do not want to think about how much money I have spent running web sites and radio stations, paying for chat software, and server space, and all the rest of the crap, that I have shelled out over the last ten years. Do NOT want to think about it.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Ghomp » 05/06/11

I would like a primary character, but could we work out an alt appearance function?

That is to say, generate random_soldier or random_forest-hunter for fodder, I think this would be quite fun to do. Cameo as an NPC, more or less to add texture to someones more personal story? I would enjoy being the leader of say, just for example, a bandit gang, but be able to play as a weaker, less competent informant for the sake of making someone who catches my pawn feel like there is true conflict. Meanwhile my main plots to free the captive, assassinate him, or do nothing.

The possibilities here excite me to no end. :D

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Though, within the Raven, I do think there's something to the idea of donations netting you specific premiums. I think official rank/status/positions within the existing game might be asking too much, but.. we always have the option of inventing our own secret cabals and factions.

Tossing money aside for a moment, I do think it would be great to have factions that had actual faction leaders, whose power was recognized, who could make decisions, and hand out assignments, give praise, and give consequence. I remember in The Matrix Online, every month the Merovingian would hold court with the players in his faction. How fucking awesome was that?

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Duvessa » 05/06/11

Ghomp wrote:I would like a primary character, but could we work out an alt appearance function?
In a free-to-play scenario, you could make as many throw-away Freebie alts as you liked.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Khayte » 05/06/11

I like this idea Duv, but everyone has brought up valid concerns. My head is no where near pain-free to add to the discussion.

However, I really have enjoyed the Rumpus Rooms this week and frankly have not really missed the fact EQ2 is down. I do catch myself saying, man, now would be a good time to grind out some carpenter writs, then I realize, oh yeah, the game is down.

I think with all the creative and supportive people here on RM currently, that something can be found that works. I'm willing to put dollars into it.

I do like the earning faction/promotions through slow/or not work on the forums. I would work towards earning that just as Khayte did to get into Duvessa's and Mahamari's good favor.

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Lysari » 05/06/11

I think this sounds like a very interesting idea that I personally probably would not be interested in paying/playing. For me, the RP is entirely secondary to the game itself (which I recognize makes me a somewhat rare breed). I've not been able to get "into" forum based RP, mostly because I can make it only sporadically and the RP usually scoots along faster than I'm able to really follow. I'm not a writer and have no aspirations to be a writer and no real talent at storytelling. I'm not even a particularly good roleplayer - must of my girls are pretty similar to each other and virtually nothing bad happens to them because I don't want to feel miserable while playing a game.

I enjoy playing EQ2 - the game - and hanging out with Raven-Mythic - the people. I'm perfectly happy dropping a donation to RM when I have the spare cash, not as often as I wish. But it's the game play that I enjoy currently - the questing, the tradeskills, the housing. The fact that I have friends and can pretend and RP makes the world richer, I certainly don't think EQ2 would keep my attention as well without the RP - but I need the visual game.

That said, if ANYONE can pull off something as ambitious as this project would be - it's you Duvessa. The world you've already created here on RM is amazing and rich and it would be fun to watch you continue to develop it. And you also deserve to make money in something that does not crush your soul. *hugs*

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Re: The Cost of Freedom

Post by Scurray » 05/06/11

Crushed soul goes well with tartar sauce. :wink:

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