There is no wrong way to roleplay. As long as everyone involved is having fun, you’re doing it right. However, it’s important to recognize that other people need different things than you do in order to have fun. Not everybody is going to be compatible with your play style, and that’s okay. You’re not compatible with everyone else’s play style either.
If you want to play a lot, it helps to be flexible – adapt as much as you can to the people around you. But you don’t have to be so flexible that it stops being fun. It’s okay to let people know what you’d like. Some people put it in their profile, and some people read profiles. If someone’s style is unpleasant to you, you can (nicely!) ask them if they’d mind playing more the way you want them to – but they might say no, and you need to accept that.
The bottom line is, you’re entitled to set any limits you want on who you’ll play with – but you can’t demand that anyone follow your rules. You can only choose to avoid those who don’t.
Below are some roleplaying style recommendations for ACS. They are based on what the owner of ACS likes and has found to work well. You don’t have to follow them, but you’ll probably get more positive attention at ACS if you do follow most of them.
Emoting (also called Posing), in SL terms, is when you use text to let others know what your character is doing, rather than what she’s saying. When you type:
Hello! You look great today!
…you’re telling us what you say. When you type:
/me walks over toward the new arrival, his gaze moving up and down her curvy body. A smile comes to his lips, and he gives a little whistle.
…you’re telling us what you do. You can also mix the two:
/me walks over toward the new arrival, his gaze moving up and down her curvy body. "Hello!" he says. "You look great today!"
Do as much of it as you conveniently can. Sometimes you get in a conversation where it’s just two of you pretty much standing or sitting around and talking, and that’s fine – though even then, adding some minor emotes (smiling, scowling, nodding, looking at things, pausing for thought) can really help. But sometimes emoting is the way to go. When you’re doing things more than saying things – repairing an android, having sex, taking a tour – use lots of emotes. They’re also great for when your ability to speak is more limited than your ability to act:
:sighs. "Oh, yes, miss!" she groans, looking down at the floor, off to the side, anywhere but at you. "I'd be happy to explain anything you'd like to know about my features!"
It’s generally best to keep your poses to what is visible to others. If you pose something like,
/me sees Beth's unusual smile. He remembers that the last time he saw her, she seemed pretty miserable. He wonders why she is acting so strangely today.
There’s a lot of words there, but nothing for anyone else to react to. Beth doesn’t know what you see, what you remember, or what you wonder. Instead, try something like:
/me looks curiously at Beth, taking a cautious step back. "I've never seen you this happy before," he says. "Have you had a maintenance check lately?"
That said, occasionally indicating thoughts you aren’t able to express can add to a scene, especially a private scene:
/me keeps smiling, wiggling her hips as she approaches. She doesn't feel happy at all, but as hard as she tries, she can't wipe the smile off her plastic face. "I'm just fine," she purrs. "But you can check me out all you want." Inside, she groans at the corny line, but outside, all that can be seen is a sexy toy.
In Character (IC) and Out of Character (OOC)
I prefer to consider all public chat IC unless indicated with ((parens)). If an android responds to a request with,
Sorry, no, that really doesn't sound fun at all.
I’m going to assume that’s your character talking, and probably insist, because I don’t care whether your character is having fun. But if you reply,
((Sorry, no, that really doesn't sound fun at all.))
I’ll back off immediately, because I do care about your player having fun.
Reacting in Public
I welcome anyone arriving in a public place and behaving appropriately – responding to what is going on, interrupting in an appropriate way if they want something, and so on.
I view ignoring public chat (without being OBVIOUSLY afk) as equivalent to not being there at all, and would prefer people who are in the habit of doing that actually not be there. Even if your character can’t respond to what’s happening, an occasional emote along the lines of “/me stands silently, apparently unaware of everything around her” lets us know that the player is there and paying attention and, hopefully, enjoying being unable to react.
Keep in mind that participating in a scene doesn’t just mean talking and emoting. It means talking and emoting in ways consistent with what others are doing. Which means, first, pay attention for a little while so you know what others are doing. Sometimes something may be happening that isn’t visible just from looking at the avatars. You should probably react differently when you walk in on a group of people who are having a screaming argument, compared with a group of people who are just standing around idly. So wait long enough to know.
It’s okay to only be interested in one person in the crowd, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore everyone else. That’s rude at best. Instead, try something like
/me approaches the crowd. She smiles when she spots Chris. "Hi, everyone," she says. "Would anyone mind if I borrowed Chris for a while? I've got some plans in mind..."
Then wait for a reply. Someone else may be using Chris. Chris might prefer not to go with you. Or everyone might be happy for you to take Chris away.
Or, another example…
/me spots Mr. Chelton behind the console. Ignoring the others around him, she runs toward him, almost knocking the girl in green off her feet on the way. "Oh, Mr. Chelton! Are you busy? I think I'm malfunctioning, and I need help."
Now others can react. People can glare at you. The girl in green can grab wildly and fall against the redhead. Mr. Chelton can tell you to apologize, then shut up and wait in the corner until he’s ready for you. The android on the workbench can take advantage of the distraction to make another attempt to escape. The metal robot can snicker at you getting taken down a few notches. Instead of interfering with the scene, you’ve actually enhanced it!
Be aware of what ACS is and what it’s not – or at least, avoid acting like you know what it is when you don’t. There’s a lot of information on this website to help you understand that better. Try reading About ACS, About Constructs, and ACS Policies for a good start on the basics.
I consider IMs mostly OOC, although at times I will drop in elements of character. But if you have something to say to me OOC, actually say it. Don’t just say “hello” or “can I ask a question?” Let me know what you actually want.
- Good morning! I’m free if you want to continue our scene from the other day.
- I keep getting a stack/heap collision error from my CCU every time I reboot. I think it started when I added a new program. Can you help when you have a minute?
- Hi! Is there someone available to answer some in-character questions about ACS?
Put some effort into how you present yourself. That means a well-considered avatar – not necessarily an attractive one, but one that suits who you are. It means a readable profile that tells me something about what kind of interactions you want in SL. (If all your profile says is “if you want to know something, ask,” then how am I to know if I would want to know something?)
In a world of text, your presentation also includes your spelling and grammar. They are important enough to try to get right, but not important enough to stress about. Capitalize. Punctuate. But there’s no need to go back and correct every little mitsake as long s your meaninng is clear. If your error is likely to be understood, it’s a good idea to correct it.
… likely to be MISunderstood, I mean.
I highly recommend that all emotes be in third person, present tense:
/me gets up on his soapbox and pontificates about grammar.
Past tense makes me wonder why you’re telling me what you did yesterday:
/me got up on his soapbox and objected to using past tense.
Well, fine, but I wasn’t there then. What are you doing now? That said, most of the fiction we read is written in the past tense, so it’s kind of natural to use it.
On the other hand, some people use the subjunctive mood, which just confuses me:
/me would get up on his soapbox and denounce the subjunctive mood.
Well, okay – so what’s stopping you? Are you programmed not to? And how do I know you would do that if you aren’t actually doing it? (I really am curious where this standard comes from. I’ve seen enough people do it to think there must be some community where this is considered the norm, but I’ve never encountered it.)
When interacting with just one other avatar in the area, I prefer to refer to them in the second person:
/me walks over to you and opens your access panel.
But if there’s more than one other avatar, it’s important to stick with third person, because otherwise it’s unclear who I mean.
/me walks over to Gwendolyn and opens her access panel.
Be careful when referring to other people that you aren’t dictating their actions. Phrases like “You realize that…” or “You return the embrace…” make assumptions about another person that usually aren’t yours to make. Limit your poses to what you do, just one or two actions per pose, and give others the chance to tell you what they do in response. The one good exception to this rule is if you’re playing with a construct that you have recently programmed. In that case, sometimes narrating their actions can be a great way to help them discover their limitations:
/me snaps her fingers. Before Andrew has a chance to think, he finds himself moving to a position just behind her and to her right. As she strides off, he follows helplessly, unable to even offer his friend an explanation.