To my mind, "Hardcore RP" is when you use an overzealous interpretation of lore to try to create conflict where none really exists, and to allow that desire for conflict to trump common decency, or even the commonly accepted interpretation of the lore that includes things like treaties or members of different factions working together. When you think you know better than the devs and the community, maybe you're taking things a bit too far.
LOL. "hardcore" primarily means 'dedicated and faithful' or even 'purist'. A hardcore gamer is someone who plays a lot, plays intensely, for whom gaming is a big part of his or her life, and who generally knows a lot about games. By the above use of the word, however, a hardcore gamer would be one who kills people or avatars nonstop, completely forgetting that there exist countless games which have no killing in them: board games, card games, and - on computers - SIM games, to name some examples. MMORPGs are by nature more like those SIM games: a world is being simulated in which (as in any world) many things are possible. Hatred and killing are only two of them, and - quite frankly - not all people want them. I sometimes can't help but wonder about those who want nothing else. ;-p
The normal meaning of "hardcore" seems to me to be much better matched by Gidget's definition of "casual":
By contrast, "Casual RP-ers" may get totally immersed in their character, but they at least stay OOC enough to remember that for every homin on Atys, there is a human at a computer, that Ryzom is a game played by people seeking a pleasant diversion, and act with enough courtesy to not ruin other people's fun.
As I mentioned before, RP has two letters: R = role, meaning you play in character as much as possible; and P = play, meaning you keep it fun for yourself AND the other players. Otherwise you may soon find yourself playing all by yourself (as happened to an AD&D GM I recall who played so much against rather than for his players that we all soon abandoned the campaign).
The combination of R and P means, you enrich the atmosphere of the simulated world for yourself AND everybody else through your roleplay as much as possible, rather than spoiling the game for yourself and others through such things as excessively speaking or acting out of character (spoiling the mood) or intentionally or carelessly borking other player's play. Since players are part of the OOC world, the latter (dragging OOC issues such as player dissatisfaction created by yours truly into the game) also injects too much OOC stuff into the game experience, so it is not only for the sake of "P" that one should be considerate of other players in one's RP, but also for the sake of "R" since you make it easier for others to participate in and contribute to the "R" if their game participation isn't torpedoed by you.
You do this by carefully designing the character you will play, and by letting the character grow from experience as needed. While challenges can be the spice of life for those who seek adventure in an RPG (remember: not everyone does), life brings all sorts of challenges which aren't conflict with other people, and even conflict amongst people doesn't have to always be rude or lethal (in fact, most people in the real world try to avoid both).
In this regard, I find Nuzanshi's voice of reason refreshing in this discussion. I only have two caveats with his/her post:
(1) In this day and age, where the term roleplay has been both watered down and distorted a lot, I would no longer define RP as "cooperative story telling" since there now exist comparatively large initiatives of cooperative story writing which label themselves (or are mislabeled by others?) as roleplay. Nowaday's, to better distinguish from those, I would define it as "cooperative story living". In RP, unlike cooperative story writing (or "telling") there is usually no product (a tale which can be published), and the story - if one develops - develops organically through the spontaneous play of players, much as history in real life.
(2) For this reason, I also find the idea of planning an RP romp as a pre-scripted "story with start, climax and end" as both impractical and abstruse, much as if in real life I would have to arrange with other people something like: "from 4 to 6 PM we will be alive, the rest of the day we will be dead". The same applies to GM-run "events" which I therefore see as a symptom that RP is lying on its deathbed. Additionally, in an MMO, prior arrangements are also often impractical (unlike in a pen and paper game), since you rarely know in advance whom you are going to meet as you log on. However, occasionally breaking out into OOC communication to exchange intentions and such with other players where RP could get into a direction a participant would find objectionable is a good idea if players don't manage to negotiate this IC or if OOC considerations happen to be unavoidable.
Quite frankly, RP starts as nothing more than simply speaking in character (avoiding references to "game", "stats", etc. as much as possible), then acting increasingly in character as well. A good roleplayer does this convincingly but also knows where to draw a line, namely when he/she or other players are negatively impacted, since - at the end of the day - we are humans putting up with life on Earth and making time for a bit of R&R as homins on Atys. A good number of us, especially older ones I suspect, already have more than enough conflict and hardhip in RL on Earth than to want more of it in life on Atys. Some players may find relaxing play boring. Some may hunger for interpersonal conflict and tactical duels and battle against other human minds and their hand-eye-coordination with keyboard and mouse. To each his own. All is good, as long as one doesn't ram one's preference down other people's throat. There is also nothing to be gained by pooh-poohing one another's preferences. And one thought to mull over: as long as we have homin avatars who can wield weapons and cast spells and traverse a beautiful fantasy world, don't we all imagine that sword or this spell to be real, at least for a moment, at least deep down somewhere in our minds? And don't we all have more fun with the game during those moments? This is the essence of roleplay. How could any of us here consider this evil and not wish for more of our play time to be like this?
Thus I don't see this either/or duality proposed by many, this idea that you can only either be a roleplayer or a gamer. RP is simply the immersive part of one's playing the game. The more, the better. And it doesn't come with special license to spoil other people's fun. Neither does a holier than thou anti-RP attitude based on experiences with bad roleplayers who forgot the "play" in roleplay.
Sorry for the long post. Just digesting what I read and giving feedback. ;-)
Doc Crick - Free heals on the quick. ;-)