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Godric_Barbarosa

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PostSubject: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeWed Apr 13, 2011 8:47 pm

This article led to a discussion on The Secret World forums. I thought it was relevant here as well, especially since we have so many SWG veterans here.

I'll take my carefully crafted interactive branching (not linear-this is key) storyline that will hopefully be in upcoming games like TOR, GW2 and TSW. If that writer wants a grind there are plenty of games already out there for him,

He is right that stories in MMOs to this point have been weak. That's because they have been linear. All a player does is follow along- like watching a movie.

What I am hoping from the next batch of story centric MMOs are interactive branching stories driven by players decisions and actions. The MMO that does this the best will be the one I play for years to come. I would like to see something akin to the group story telling of pen and paper roleplaying. Don't say "then play PnP games," I do, but I more often have only a few hours to play and not the half a day or more it takes to really get into a PnP session.

Quite frankly Ragnar is right (and the author is wrong) when Ragnar says
Ragnar wrote:
Yes, it is true that players will always write their own stories, and most of these stories are largely unrelated to whatever universe the game takes place in.

Oh and if the EVE Online Bank Hoax is the author's idea of good player created stories, no thanks I'll pass.
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Kai-Sun
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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeWed Apr 13, 2011 11:29 pm

I think TOR will be incredibly open, story wise. At least I'm hoping it is, we know there's an end to each of the class stories...and I'm just not really sure how open those will be.

Considering how well the ending for Dragon Age was done and how many options you had to end it, I'm pretty hopeful.

There was an MMO that was going to be released, can't remember the name (have to talk to Lord_Paladin) where the developers were directly interactive with quests and actual events very very frequently that changed how the story developed for the world.

They'd spawn a quest, say, to save X important person, and the players would all embark on that quest. They'd also sometimes grab players for the monsters to have a somewhat active experience when the dev's weren't acting as NPCS they can talk to, so they can fully influence the story.

If they fail, she isn't rescued and the on-going story would reflect that.

That'd be a lot of fun, even if it sounds like a lot of work.
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azarhal

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 12:14 am

I haven't read the article, despite seeing it today, my reaction of the headline was: somebody want a new sandbox.

Guild Wars 1 already proved that story work in an online game. The problem of most MMO is that they don't care about the story (i.e. no focus) and that they "teach" their players to rush through that part of the content to reach the repetitive endgame.

I suspect that SWTOR will have a divided playerbase:
People who care about the story vs People who only care about the endgame.

Somehow, I expect the people who care about the story to stay in the game longer, complain a lot less about the gameplay and most of all, to have a lot more fun.

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Godric_Barbarosa

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 11:54 am

Kai-Sun wrote:
There was an MMO that was going to be released, can't remember the name (have to talk to Lord_Paladin) where the developers were directly interactive with quests and actual events very very frequently that changed how the story developed for the world.

They'd spawn a quest, say, to save X important person, and the players would all embark on that quest. They'd also sometimes grab players for the monsters to have a somewhat active experience when the dev's weren't acting as NPCS they can talk to, so they can fully influence the story.

If they fail, she isn't rescued and the on-going story would reflect that.

That'd be a lot of fun, even if it sounds like a lot of work.
Kai, what you are describing is similar to old MUD's. The problem became that there was not enough GMs for the size of the player base.

azarhal wrote:
The problem of most MMO is that they don't care about the story

I disagree. I think the writers of WoW cared very much for their story. There even were some stories I really liked in that game. The Defias Brotherhood and the kidnapping of the king, and the origin of the dwarves for example. The problems with games with story so far (and I suspect that Guild Wars had this problem too) was that there really was no choice in the story. It was basically you did the mission or you didn't. The biggest choice I remember making in WoW was do you help centaur group A or centaur group B and it basically felt the same either which one you chose.

The story lines may be good but ultimately if they are linear then the player has no real control over them. As the author says at that point you are better off watching a movie or reading a book. That is why I was stressing the need for branching story lines like TOR and GW2 is stressing (I don't know where TSW stands on branching). One of the problems with this is then the game design has to spend a lot of time and money developing content that a player may never play through. To me this is a false argument because it is those alternate story lines that give a game replay value. The counter to that is that some people only want to play one character ever and don't view rerolling as valid endgame.

Some people would argue (and I'm surprised the author didn't stress this more) that it is a weakness of the MMO medium. You can't change (so they argue) a persistent because it would change everyone else's experience, and everyone is expected to do the same quests/story.

It would seem to me that having faction controlable area or planets that gave a meaningful but not overpowered benefit would be an easy solution to that. To me this control should not reset at the end of mission objective (like TOR) or the end of a set time (like WvWvW in GW2) but until the other faction seizes control. I was Initially intrigued by what Bioware said about being change the fate of Taris and Voss when those planets were released, but I will have to see what they are able to do on the follow through.

azarhal wrote:
Somehow, I expect the people who care about the story to stay in the game longer, complain a lot less about the gameplay and most of all, to have a lot more fun.

I don't know about this either. You and I are both story people I'd guess and we both have complained about the return of the Trinity, stand and trade blows (even if choreographed) combat, and bonus missions as the thinnest veil over what is essentially grinding

I'm not saying TOR is going to be bad gameplay wise, I just don't think they are trying to fix the problems with the traditional model of MMO gameplay (or they have abandoned those fixes such as companions to fill missing roles) and are banking solely branching storyline and IP to differentiate themselves from the pack.
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Godric_Barbarosa

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 12:10 pm

NOTE: I broke this part off of the last post because it was getting kind of long and I am now returning to the specific subjects of the article in question.

Back to the article. Part of my problem with it is that I'm not sure what he is arguing for. Is he arguing for a sandbox game like SWG? Is he arguing for a player created missions like CoH? Is he arguing for facilitating RP? What are the type of player stories is he arguing for by mentioning EVE? I'll admit that I haven't played any of these games and that may be part of my problem with what he's is trying to say.

If he want's something similar to what I have heard Force Academy member describe as their mentoring system in SWG that sounds great, but most sandbox games revolve around a lot of grinding.

From what I've heard of player created missions in CoH you'd get one gem amongst hundreds of dreadful ones.

As for facilitating RP all they need to do is create an interesting Universe and open backstories for the player characters (i.e. not the route TOR is going). But then what do you do about combat and player progression does that just become a grind again?

EVE I have the least knowledge of but the only player stories I have heard coming from that are about exploiting the economy. That really doesn't interest me. If it did I'd become an investment banker in New York and have someone to pay me to do that instead of charging me to do it.
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Aldemarran

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 12:16 pm

Godric_Barbarosa wrote:
...
It would seem to me that having faction controlable area or planets that gave a meaningful but not overpowered benefit would be an easy solution to that.
...

This is the model of world PvP in WoW now. PvP zones such as Wintergrasp or Tol'Barad are controlled by whichever faction wins them. I haven't played Tol'Barad but in Wintergrasp your role in the periodic fight (defend or assault) was dependent on whomever last controlled the zone. They had significant problems with 1 faction controlling the zone continuously, so they give out benefits to the side that losses enough consecutive battles. They also had to introduce a buffing system for the faction with the fewest players on the field.

Then they tied access to a PvE raid to control of the zone... /wrists

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azarhal

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 2:04 pm

Godric_Barbarosa wrote:
azarhal wrote:
The problem of most MMO is that they don't care about the story

I disagree. I think the writers of WoW cared very much for their story. There even were some stories I really liked in that game. The Defias Brotherhood and the kidnapping of the king, and the origin of the dwarves for example. The problems with games with story so far (and I suspect that Guild Wars had this problem too) was that there really was no choice in the story. It was basically you did the mission or you didn't. The biggest choice I remember making in WoW was do you help centaur group A or centaur group B and it basically felt the same either which one you chose.

The story lines may be good but ultimately if they are linear then the player has no real control over them. As the author says at that point you are better off watching a movie or reading a book. That is why I was stressing the need for branching story lines like TOR and GW2 is stressing (I don't know where TSW stands on branching). One of the problems with this is then the game design has to spend a lot of time and money developing content that a player may never play through. To me this is a false argument because it is those alternate story lines that give a game replay value. The counter to that is that some people only want to play one character ever and don't view rerolling as valid endgame.
Just compare the quests in DDO or the book quests in LoTRO with the one in most MMOs. You'll understand what I mean, by "most MMO don't care". Most of the time the only thing MMOs have is background lore that doesn't change or evolve. They don't have any quality to their stories/quests, they are just meant to dispense XP, not to entertain the player.

I never played WoW, so I can't comment about it. I played a few other MMOs and beside LoTRO, none had a real main plot. Although, in the last few years, more and more MMO have started to add "main plot" to their games or at least are trying to.

Quote :
azarhal wrote:
Somehow, I expect the people who care about the story to stay in the game longer, complain a lot less about the gameplay and most of all, to have a lot more fun.
I don't know about this either. You and I are both story people I'd guess and we both have complained about the return of the Trinity, stand and trade blows (even if choreographed) combat, and bonus missions as the thinnest veil over what is essentially grinding
But once we start playing and the story is good we won't care about the gameplay. While the people who are just in it for the "gameplay", who love the trinity, grinding and static combat will leave "because WoW does it better".

It happened before and it will happen again.

Quote :
I'm not saying TOR is going to be bad gameplay wise, I just don't think they are trying to fix the problems with the traditional model of MMO gameplay (or they have abandoned those fixes such as companions to fill missing roles) and are banking solely branching storyline and IP to differentiate themselves from the pack.
TOR is going to be bad gameplay wise. Here I said it. afro

Actually, I have the feeling TOR look bad gameplay wise, because the people play it like they play WoW. Example: How many smugglers have you seen use cover, running&gunning, etc in fan made PAX videos. Answer: almost none. They all stand out in the open and shoot without moving. The same thing can be seen in GW2 videos...

Back to the article, I have the feeling that what the author want can't exist, unless the MMO playerbase change a lot. He actually dismiss role-players and they are the closest to give him his "user generated content"...

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Godric_Barbarosa

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 2:54 pm

azarhal wrote:
But once we start playing and the story is good we won't care about the gameplay. While the people who are just in it for the "gameplay", who love the trinity, grinding and static combat will leave "because WoW does it better"
I agree. However, if game A offers me good story and standard game play, whereas game B offers me good story and better gameplay, I am going to choose game B. Of course if either game offers me a payment model without a subscription fee or game-balance altering cash shop that game will have an extra advantage (subtlety- I has it No)

It happened before and it will happen again.

azarhal wrote:
Actually, I have the feeling TOR look bad gameplay wise, because the people play it like they play WoW. Example: How many smugglers have you seen use cover, running&gunning, etc in fan made PAX videos. Answer: almost none. They all stand out in the open and shoot without moving. The same thing can be seen in GW2 videos...
True enough. Additionally, I hope that the Shadow (and Assassin) Tanks will be required to use movement to survive like the Guild Wars 2 Thief. Now that I say that I hope the Vanguard (and PowerMech) Tanks need to keep mobs at range to survive. However, the statements and gameplay videos of the of the Guild Wars 2 devs have reassured me about the importance of movement and positioning in their game despite poor demo player technique. I have not received the same reassurance from the TOR devs.
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azarhal

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 5:22 pm

While GW2 and TOR have opposed design direction when it come to combat and group content, both have the same "problems" when it come to the story.

1. In your class/race story, other players in your group will be your companions/sidekicks, they can't advance their stories unless they roll the same classes/races. Multiplayers are way to used to everybody is the "hero" of this quest, to mesh well with the concept. Role-players don't have that problem.

2. The system is really made for people to reroll the different classes/races to see the content, not for you to get to experience everything with one character. And I think that having to re-roll to experience the content is annoying quite a few people out there. The worst is that these same people will probably complain about lack of content, simply because they don't want to play the content provided to them.

3. Content generations will be slow. Good story take time to create, which mean that content generation for both GW2 and TOR will take more time than the usually MMO.

In a way, both GW2 and TOR aren't "same old" MMOs, the game structure bring a new gameplay element, which in turn demand a new mentality when playing them...but so far, in TOR cases, everybody act like it's the same old same old, totally ignoring the new gameplay element.

Godric_Barbarosa wrote:
I agree. However, if game A offers me good story and standard game play, whereas game B offers me good story and better gameplay, I am going to choose game B. Of course if either game offers me a payment model without a subscription fee or game-balance altering cash shop that game will have an extra advantage (subtlety- I has it No)

What about game B offers standard story and better gameplay?

Godric_Barbarosa wrote:
I have not received the same reassurance from the TOR devs.

TOR devs are happy with showing "simple" tactics. I actually suspect that "marketing" is behind it, attracting MMO tourists is a sure way to sell a lot of box.



I'm starting to wonder if we could (should) "extend" the R.I.G to Guild Wars 2 once it get released.

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Godric_Barbarosa

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PostSubject: Re: Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox   Why MMO story is complete and utter bullox I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 14, 2011 5:49 pm

azarhal wrote:
Godric_Barbarosa wrote:
I agree. However, if game A offers me good story and standard game play, whereas game B offers me good story and better gameplay, I am going to choose game B. Of course if either game offers me a payment model without a subscription fee or game-balance altering cash shop that game will have an extra advantage (subtlety- I has it No)

What about game B offers standard story and better gameplay?

Then I play game A. Of course I'd only play game A until a game with good story and better game play came out. I really am looking for good story. I'd prefer one with better game play but I am content with standard game play.
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