Making a storyline:
I am writing this because occasionally, people tweet or comment in OOC that they are struggling to make stories. Sometimes I will log in and see everyone sort of standing around on the corner. Don’t get me wrong here! You can start some plots this way and it is a great way to meet people. But I also know so many of you say things like, “I can’t approach people” or “I have anxiety.” Firstly, if everyone is operating under this, no one will ever post first! Sometimes, you just got to put yourself out there and if nothing happens, try again. Rejection does suck but it helps to keep trying instead of waiting on things to come to you.
Getting back on point, I wanted to write my opinion on what makes good storylines and differentiate some things. Feel free to throw in your own suggestions but remember, keep things civil and non-judgmental! The idea is for us to learn and grow; not slander or belittle. Everyone has a different style and that’s okay!
So, I believe there are two types of RP in terms of what people seek or encounter:
Character centered storyline: This is the one where you choose something to happen to your character. Maybe you decide to give your character cancer or have them lose their arm. This storyline primarily impacts your character but has potential to bring in others; albeit briefly. I find these are the most common storylines. Most times, the star of the storyline is your own character. This may cause some disinterest from other players at times. Such as in a fight scene where both players want to win. Or you decide you are going to vandalize a car or break a window. Some people don’t mind to rp allowing you to do these things to them, but the kick back comes when there is no real storyline that stems from it. No real reason for the vandalizing, assault, rape, ETC. Just happens and is forgotten. I feel like so many storylines die because we get in that habit of thinking, “Okay, it would be so cool if my character robs this business.” But what we should be thinking is, “What kind of long-term storyline can I get out of this and what pieces/players do I need to make this happen?” This could be messaging a shop owner and saying, “Hey, I want to rob your business for a storyline. But I want it to be fun for both of us. What can I do to make it beneficial for us both?” This leads into the next type.
Multi-character arcs: In my opinion, this is the best approach for RP. You and some other players decide to start a plot that impacts more than just one character. This can be a small group or even get the whole sim riled up. Anyone with some motivation can pull this off. If you get in your head and say, “No one will respond to me” without trying, then it will fail. Yoda says do or do not. There is no try! These storylines can be fun if you really put yourself out there and get the right people on board. Instead of thinking, “Okay, I can rob this business and make my character look badass.”; try to think like, “Okay, my character needs to do something but my story would be so much better if there was more than one moving piece.”
How do we make it more fun?
Message that business owner or the victim. Ask what would make this more fun for them. Do the same in every scene from medical to FDH related stuff. Most players love to feel involved. But most players just don’t enjoy feeling like a prop. And believe me, I’ve seen that complaint a lot over the years. Especially from doctors, police and paramedics. They love to help and support your RP but it’s a give and take relationship. If all you do is take, then the other players will feel like they are just a prop. Ask what you can give them in return. You may just want to do an arrest scene, but I’ve heard cops say they get bored of simple arrests. But they also get tired of characters using mad ninja skills to escape every scene as well (to the point that often, they stop pursuing you and you are left wondering why you can never get arrested.). You want to escape because it’s part of your storyline maybe? Well, message that cop and plan with them. A good player is receptive to your ideas and you should be receptive to theirs. Tell the cop what you want and see if they will work with your storyline. Do the same for your doctor if you wish for a certain thing to happen and ask what you can do to make it fun for them. And I will add that it is a 2-way street! Not only should you be asking how to make things fun, we all should be! The doctors, cops, strippers, hookers, ETC. It’s all about courtesy!
I will add that some may even try to assume something is fun for a player. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of a serious scene that I am enjoying; only for another character to bust in and suddenly start dying in front of my character. They know I play a doctor, and, they think “Man, this will be fun for me.” But they didn’t think about what others are doing in the scene or even show respect for the scene going on already. And this happens for police too. The police officer is engaged in a personal rp but suddenly, some girl is standing on his police car outside emoting and yelling. Maybe he would like that but maybe he also wants to finish the scene he is engaged in. Ask permission in these cases! See if they mind before you die in front of them or commit crimes! I find most players are receptive but it’s courteous to ask!
Developing a plot line:
Also remember, the best stories have more than one moving piece. It isn’t just about you as said above; it’s about everyone and the impact the story has. Your character catching amnesia is fun for you. But what can you do to make it fun for them? What if suddenly, you are almost positive you are married to someone during your amnesia? To the point that you show up, break into their house and they find you in their bed (with consent of course!). Suddenly, your amnesia plot isn’t just about you; it’s about the poor dude you are stalking relentlessly because she is so sure that she is married to him! And then it branches out and involves the police or the doctors. Or you join a gang and live a whole different lifestyle while suffering amnesia. The gang gets a new member and plays off your weakness and it spreads like a good story should!
When a storyline fails:
I guess it goes without saying, sometimes we can try to do big things, but nothing ever happens. I’ve even heard players go as far as to blame a sim for this issue. But in truth, it is SL issue overall. Even happens on forum RP and other online mediums. Sometimes, we throw out the lure and nothing happens. It’s easy to blame others here. “People are ignoring me.” Is a common one. While it may be true sometimes (because people can be jerks!), it isn’t always the case. Roleplay is ALWAYS about consent. The moment you engage with another character, there is consent going on even if it isn’t verbalized. And sometimes, people just aren’t interested in the storyline you are presenting. This leads to hurt feelings and goes back to that sense of rejection we all have felt in roleplay. What can we do about this?
The short answer is to keep trying. Polite and open communication can help as well. Talk to the player you feel is ignoring you. Check to see if they are really being a jerk or if they just have other things going on. If they are jerks, then do you REALLY want to engage that person? I’d rather have little rp and no jerks in my life than a lot of rp and a lot of jerks! I find most times; people do have a good reason for not taking a RP lure. Communication is a good thing; especially if kept civil. Also look at yourself and how you approach things. Don’t always blame others. We must be self-aware too. Not to be judgmental, but I remember seeing a player one time (I am an avid perv cammer) that would ONLY post to male characters. I would see her going from guy to guy and walking past the women. Then in OOC chat, she would cry out, “Everyone is ignoring me.” Well, did you post to the women? People of the opposite gender aren’t always interested and when you go only up to the opposite gender, it creates that image of “being after one thing only.” Self-awareness could help in this scenario. Yes, you may want a relationship RP and there is like 3 guys at a time on sim; but there are other stories to be had! Also, keep in mind that not everyone is going to be interested in buying what you are selling! It isn’t meant to be an insult! Think of it like RL.
Got any other ideas to spur rp and grow? Share below! As I said, this is meant to be constructive and I hope no one takes it harshly. Please keep comments productive and helpful instead of judgmental. Nothing I said above was meant to be judgmental but observations I’ve gained over the years.
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