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    What is an app?

    In the context of roleplaying games, particularly in online formats such as MUDs, MUSHes, and play-by-post forums, app is short for “application” (not the software kind).

    It refers to a form or set of requirements that a player must fill out and submit for approval before they can participate in the game.

    This application often includes details about the character they wish to play, their backstory, and how they fit into the game’s world. The app process helps ensure that characters are well-developed and align with the game’s setting and story.

    Some games also use apps to review and approve certain kinds of storylines and events.

    Claim Roster Character: Adaliah. Previously Played. App Required: Email address: Tell us why you want to play this character: Consult your local game policies and/or the roster contact for details about the app process.
    Example of a simple application to claim a roster character in Concordia MU.

    A brief history of the term

    The term “app” originated in the early days of online and text-based roleplaying games, where players needed to submit detailed character profiles for review before joining a game. This process was essential for ensuring that characters fit the game’s setting and storyline.

    As roleplaying games evolved, the use of the term expanded beyond strict application processes to include any form of character submission or registration.

    In some communities, it has become less formal, often replaced by simpler methods of character creation and introduction. However, in others, especially those emphasizing detailed world-building and character development, it remains an integral part of the game setup.

    Modern usage

    Today, the term is prevalent in text-based roleplaying games and communities that prioritize detailed character development and storytelling. It helps to ensure that characters are well-developed and fit within the game’s world, providing a foundation for immersive and cohesive storytelling.

    When you join a game by submitting an app, it’s often referred to as “apping in.” In contrast, games that do not require an app are called “appless.”

    Types of games that feature apps include but are not limited to:

    MUD, MUSH, PbP, MMORPG, Chat RPG, Social media RPG, and their respective communities.

    App examples

    • Character Backgrounds: An app might require detailed descriptions of the character’s history, personality, and goals. This is a fairly common type of app in games that feature original characters (OCs).
    • Roleplaying Scenarios: Some apps, especially in play-by-post games, ask for a sample roleplay post to demonstrate the player’s writing style and understanding of the character.
    • Game-Specific Questions: Applications could include questions specific to the game’s setting or lore to ensure the player’s familiarity with the world. For example, an application to become a game master (GM) or staff member might include such questions.
    • Character References: In some cases, apps may require references from other games to vouch for the player’s roleplaying skills or their understanding of the game’s RP culture.

    Myths about apps

    A common misconception is that an “app” in text-based RPG contexts refers to mobile or computer software. Actually, in these games, “app” usually stands for “application” related to character creation and storyline approval. It’s a detailed submission process ensuring characters fit well within the game’s world, not a software tool.

    Another common misconception is that the term “app” only involves filling out a basic form. In reality, creating an app for a text-based RPG can be a comprehensive process that may include writing samples, character histories, and detailed descriptions, depending on the game.

    App FAQs

    What kinds of things usually require apps?

    Depending on the game, apps may be required for character creation, joining specific guilds or factions, and engaging in particular storylines or events. These kinds of applications ensure that characters fit the game’s setting and overarching storylines.

    Apps can also be used to select new game masters (GMs), storyrunners, builders, coders, and other kinds of staff.

    How do I write a good character app for a roleplaying game?

    A good app should provide a detailed and coherent character backstory, clearly explain the character’s motivations, and demonstrate how the character fits within the game’s world.

    Be honest and creative, and make sure to follow the game’s specific application guidelines.

    How long does it typically take to get an app approved?

    The approval time can vary greatly depending on the game and the availability of the game moderators or administrators. Some games may take just a few days to review applications, while others may take a week or more. It’s a good idea to check the specific game’s guidelines or ask the administrators for an estimated timeline.

    What should I do if I’m unsure about a part of my app?

    If you’re uncertain about any aspect of your application, it’s best to reach out to the game moderators or admins for clarification. They can provide guidance on how to properly fill out your app and ensure it meets the game’s requirements.

    In my opinion, it’s better to ask questions beforehand than to submit an incomplete or incorrect application. It’ll save everyone time and unnecessary frustration.

    Can I apply for multiple characters at once?

    This depends on the rules of the specific game you’re playing. Some games allow players to apply for multiple characters simultaneously, while others may have restrictions in place to make sure that players focus on developing one character at a time. Check the game’s rules or ask the administrators for their policy on multiple character applications and/or multiplaying.

    What happens if my app is rejected?

    If your app is rejected, typically the game moderators or admins will provide feedback on why it was not approved.

    For example, you may not have answered every question sufficiently. Another common reason for rejection is submitting an app for something that is not allowed or would upset the balance of the game.

    Regardless of the exact reason, you should use this feedback to revise your character or address any issues before resubmitting your application.

    Can I change my character after my app is approved?

    In most cases, minor changes are allowed after approval, but significant alterations to your character’s fundamental traits or backstory may require re-applying or at least notifying the game’s administrators for approval.

    Failure to notify staff of a major change could be considered undermining the spirit of the game or its rules and could lead to a warning or temporary ban.

    Are there games that don’t require an app?

    Yes, many games are “appless,” meaning they do not require a formal application process to join. These games often have more flexible character creation rules and are more open to spontaneous roleplaying.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."