Cross-Faction RP in BFA

General Discussion
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When you look at the realm list, there’s only two types now: Normal, and (RP). Aside from one being for roleplay, you might wonder what’s the technical difference? Right now that’s two things: RP realms avoid sharding, and they have a stricter character name policy. I want to talk about how RP realms could really use one more feature to better define them: the ability to interact cross-faction. I know this has been rigorously discussed before, but Battle for Azeroth adds some new reasoning.

As a preface, I can agree with having a faction barrier (controversial opinion, please don’t hurt me). It's a decision that was made at the start of WoW to spur on a healthy rivalry[1]. When you see an enemy player out in the world, so long as you can't hear them whine when you kill them, there's nothing stopping you from guiltlessly cutting them down in PvP. No mercy. It's something that a lot of players want. It makes you fear the opposing faction. It raises hostility. It's fun! And it's a core element of Warcraft. Players don't typically have anything that they need to tell their enemy.

Roleplay is different though. Whether you’re friends or arch enemies, there’s one key importance: You can’t roleplay with someone if you can't communicate with them.

That doesn’t only mean speaking. It's what they're doing too. Roleplayers love describing their character's actions with /em. Despite the two factions entering an intense world-war for Azeroth, being able to comprehend what people are doing is critical to roleplaying with them. Doesn’t it make a lot of sense to allow more communication on RP realms? You can't write a story with someone if you can't see what they're writing.

It might seem a bit odd to "normal" players, but yeah – roleplayers are weird and actually have fun pretending their characters are doing things, and Warcraft offers a lore-rich, fantasy environment to develop myriad scenarios, such as violently purging Lordaeron of Forsaken, or maybe sipping tea with a bunch of panda bear people; I won’t judge. It’s an RP paradise. I know people who played WoW vigorously throughout Legion (like, nearly every day for hours), but they haven't even stepped foot in a Mythic+ dungeon, because they’re too busy having fun RPing in the world and writing stories!

It doesn't matter if the factions are at war. That’s just more cross-faction roleplay opportunity. For example, here's chat logs of one of my characters trying to slay a stinky Alliance pig during the big Flames of War cross-faction RP event this summer: tinyurl.com/ybabh9a7 As of right now, any sort of cross-faction RP has to rely on Battle.net features or other third-party chat mediums, and it's a struggle. It would be a HUGE convenience if RP realms simply allowed talking and emoting cross-faction. RP realms should facilitate RP of all kinds!

This isn't to say that cross-faction RP is for everyone. Different roleplayers have different styles. Some of them do like to mix game mechanics and strict PvP into their fun. They don't care about interacting with the opposing faction, and they would rather treat enemy players the same way they would treat enemy NPCs and slaughter them on sight.

That’s a strong argument against this proposal, so how do you keep everyone happy? Easy! Battle for Azeroth introduces the new War Mode option. When this is turned on, the language barrier can stay strong as ever, and it can be the hardcore PvP environment that some RPers want. When it’s turned off, it makes a lot of sense to allow more social/character interaction, especially on RP realms, and this way, both types of players can be happy.

Battle for Azeroth actually (sort of) makes this possible already, with the new Blizzard Groups feature. I'm the developer of an addon that uses Blizzard Groups to create a bridge for roleplaying cross-faction. All it does is copies your text to a community, so that the other faction can read it and translate text. With this, for the first time in WoW history, roleplayers have been able to interact cross-faction on a large scale, demonstrated all last week at Moon Guard's Tournament of Ages – a huge[2], annual server-wide event which takes place at the Argent Tournament Grounds. More than a thousand people had a lot of fun with this, and I’ve had immense positive feedback. Sure, players were at peace this time around, and some might think, “Wow, why are they chatting and not murdering— THINK OF THE TREE,” BUT as stated above, that doesn’t matter. Interaction is just as important for war and conflict roleplay – you can’t roleplay (murder) with people you can't hear.

This addon solution of piggybacking off of the Blizzard Groups really isn't ideal. While it does work out for large server events, it's borderline abuse of the new game features (quite frankly I'm scared to continue development, only to have it shut down by the devs), it’s not programmatically efficient, and doesn't work so well when people want to randomly start roleplay in the open world with other players cross-faction. We also had quite a bit more than a thousand players at the Tournament of Ages and had to constantly kick people from the community to make space for them. It’s a hassle. Some people don’t even want to install an addon for this functionality. Why should they have to?

What would benefit a lot of roleplayers are a few relatively simple changes. We wouldn't want to take up too many raid tiers of development time for special needs, but here's what would be great on RP realms:

(1) Allow Horde to speak Common. "Horde favoritism in MY Warcraft?!" This is just an easy way to go about it that makes sense[3]. It doesn't really matter what language you're speaking, so long as the other side can understand. For example, I prefer to always use “Orcish” on my Blood Elf, even if they’re speaking Thalassian in-character, just so characters of other races can understand it (others might KNOW Thalassian in-character).

(2) Allow /em text to work cross-faction. You can't roleplay with someone if all they're doing is "making strange gestures."

(3) Allow addon messages to work cross-faction. This might not seem super important, but this is even MORE important than the above two. Roleplayers heavily rely on addon channels to transfer data about their characters (called their RP profile). It describes how their character looks, as well as bits of history you can reference and link to your own character's storyline. It helps you understand just what you're dealing with – like y'know, if someone is actually something stupid like a Saurok (on a Worgen character model). This would also just be a super flexible feature for cross-faction RP, as we can develop addons to suit our needs.

All of this can be disabled in War Mode (as well as any other PvP environment, like battlegrounds), to preserve Warcraft's great PvP experience for those who want it. War Mode is the key new feature that makes these sorts of changes considerable again. You don't really do ANYTHING with the opposing faction out in the open world when PvP is disabled – so why not allow some social interaction? This functionality would work towards improving the environment for roleplay and better define RP realms.

One other thing cross-faction chat may help out with is the ratio of Alliance to Horde players on some realms. I was watching an interview with one of the Horde players during Moon Guard's Tournament of Ages, and they talked about how it's discouraging to roll a Horde character because there isn't a lot of people to play with[4]. It's true. People don't generally roleplay cross-faction because you can't do it without some hassle, so if you're playing on Horde on Moon Guard, you're locked out from a large portion of the realm population. If cross-faction RP was easier, there would be way more events and stories going on between the factions which would make the Horde option far more considerable for fun roleplay.

TL;DR: The new War Mode is an excellent way to separate those who want cross-faction chat from those who don’t, and roleplayers need to communicate to roleplay, even if there’s war.

I'm a casual PvPer, a semi-hardcore Mythic raider, and a heavy roleplayer, and roleplaying has been by far one of the most entertaining things I've done, and I'd love to see more WoW development for roleplayers. And hey, if you haven’t tried RP and think it might be fun, give it a go!

[1] Dev Watercooler – Faction Favoritism, which mentions the decision for banning cross-faction chat. https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/news/3992143/dev-watercooler-faction-favoritism
[2] The massive audience at Moon Guard’s Tournament of Ages who enjoyed cross-faction RP via an addon abusing the new Blizzard Groups. https://imgur.com/ZRKplYG
[3] Wowpedia – Common, a good choice for a cross-faction language. https://wow.gamepedia.com/Common_(language)
[4] Interview with Telchis from the Sunguard, talking about the effect of cross-faction chat encouraging people to play Horde. https://www.twitch.tv/videos/295270716?t=01h52m43s
I have and always will support the ability to talk across faction. This only enhances the experience for roleplayers. Every argument against it can be easily countered.
I whole-heartedly support this both as a roleplayer and a pvper.

It's been odd to me how Warcraft naturally pushes the factions together in expacs like Legion/WoD, but the races haven't picked up an understanding of each other's languages. The language barrier itself isn't really represented from the character-driven interactions that we've seen in BfA between say Saurfang and Anduin respectively, outside of a few color voice lines of Orcish.

It's time to do away with the barrier completely or at the least limit it in certain contexts.
I was about disagree, then saw you advocate for it being disabled in war mode, which works, because only reason cross faction communication isn't a thing is because PvP, all the trash talking it may cause.
You listening, blizz?
I approve 400%
endorsement from mig
As a filthy independent the use of this addon has not only made more Roleplay available but it has introduced people who, otherwise, would never speak to one another due to arbitrary walls.

Just disable it when in warmode...
I would very much like this pls
This is such a good idea.
YES PLEASE BLIZZARD LISTEN AND HEAR OUR PLEE!

A prime example on how well this works is what we just experienced during the Tournament of Ages this past week on Moonguard, hundreds near thousand of role-players on multiple realms, and both factions where rping together. Thanks to the hard work and talent of people like Tammy, to make addons possible for the emergence that is the wonderful world that you created for us.

Do not allow the very old past mistakes of a few back in start of World of Warcraft.. (I remember it well when we could talk across faction) to still limit the full experience thousands of roleplayers wish and begged for.
Yes yes yes and Yes!
As a Death Knight who likes to cleave to his Ebon Blade organizational roots, it's been frustrating that I can't communicate with the other Knights who, until the whole deal with Acherus, I had no problem communicating with.

I'd certainly approve of cross-faction communication for roleplay purposes.
This would be mighty fantastic for RPers everywhere.

Hear the plee, Blizzard.
This is an excellent idea, especially considering that Demon Hunters, pandaren, and void elves (I assume) can already communicate with their faction parallels. I've always perceived Common to be some sort of general language for Azeroth - even creatures like gnolls and kobolds can speak broken Common in some cases. Just makes a ton of sense to have it be usable by everyone from a lore perspective, and we roleplayers would immensely appreciate a convenient option to communicate cross-faction for storytelling purposes.
RP lol
I am dadstril, the best dad on moon guard and I approve of this message
agree 100% i don't even RP but i don't like seeing a horde player and only hear "ooga booga looga joota"
Cross faction RP has been the #1 thing the roleplayers requested in WoW's history. It allows for building a bigger community, more involvement, more engagement.

You know, something a MMO would love to have.
This addon has been absolutely indispensable to me and many others for cross faction RP. I'm always in complete support of people being able to communicate more easily cross faction!

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