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Reader Comments (7)

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 11:02AM (Unverified) said

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The times I've joined guilds out of convenience, to reach higher content regardless of not knowing many people in that guild, have been disastrous. Opposite that, the times I spent 'roleplaying' and getting to know both the characters and the people behind them were some of the best years I had in MMOs. Made friends that I feel, even years later, I could drop in on and share a few beers while talking about family, friends, and life.

The difference, this was mostly durring the hayday of Everquest. Hell levels, massive death penalties. A group of college+ aged idiots doing things that could have landed our characters dead in places where we would never recover a corpse. I don't know if that was the reason, or if my character's willingness to die in battle was a bigger reason. I do know that WoW just has not had that same effect.

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 11:10AM (Unverified) said

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I'll riff on this tangentially - persistent character development as an individual in the world they inhabit - is grotesquely lacking. Having better gear and skills is something that anyone with patience can accrue; however, having a reputation among the NPCs (not merely speaking in terms of the faction grind, this is something more universally pervasive) should matter, and should affect your experience in the game.

For instance, take the system employed in games like Black & White and Fable and Knights of the Old Republic, where every choice you make has consequences along a moral axis, which is then bestowed upon your character as a slight change in appearance.

I would be thrilled if an MMO employed something like this; you don't die, being an immortal hero and all, but what you do *matters* to how the world (and, if they choose to, the other players) perceives you (or your character).

Want to be a goody-two-shoes Warlock? Want to be a reprehensible Ranger? Want to be carefully neutral?

Instead of just picking up the phattest lewtz for turning in quests, you also have to give your rationale for completing (or ignoring) a quest. Are you merely greedy? Are you altruistic?

Give us an orthoganal meta-game experience within the game to consider, and suddenly, people will be very, very aware of how their actions impact the universe their avatar inhabits.

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 1:55PM Durinthal said

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Agreed. More choices in completing quests (both in doing and turning them in) would be nice ways to influence your reputation. Example time!

A farmer asks you go to retrieve a locket containing a picture of his daughter that was stolen from him by bandits. You come across the bandits sitting around a campfire, but they haven't spotted you yet.
Option 1: You attack from the shadows and kill all of them, then find the locket on one of their bodies. (neutral because they're all dead)
Option 2: You walk up and talk to them, and find out that one of them has fallen in love with the farmer's daughter.
2a: You agree to tell the farmer the situation and try to get him to introduce the girl to the bandit, and he gives the locket back to you. (good because they say you helped them out)
2b: You refuse to do anything for him, at which point the bandits attack you. You kill them and take the locket. (neutral)

You go back to the farmer.
Option 1: You tell him that they didn't have a chance and never even saw you before you killed them. He is very upset by this because he never wanted anyone to get hurt. (evil because he thinks you're a cold-blooded killer, regardless of what you actually did)
Option 2: You tell him that the bandits attacked you immediately and you unfortunately had to defend yourself. He farmer is distressed, but understands that you had to do it. (evil if you agreed to help the bandits, neutral otherwise)
Option 3 [only available if you picked 2a with the bandits]: You tell him that one of the bandits is in love and would like to meet his daughter. The farmer is concerned that they're lying.
3a: You offer to watch over the meeting to make sure the bandits won't try anything. (good, starts another quest)
3b: You tell the farmer it's his own problem. (neutral)
Option 4: You tell him that you couldn't find the bandits at all. (neutral, evil if you picked 2a)

Now the farmer asks if you found the locket.
Option 1: You say that the bandits didn't have it and then keep it for yourself. (neutral, evil if you picked 2a and then 3)
Option 2: You give it back to him, saying you just happened to find it if you picked 4 last time. (good)
Option 3: You tell him you have it, but either won't give it back or expect him to pay for it (evil).

Now that's a lot more complicated than talk to farmer, kill bandits, get locket, talk to farmer again to complete. It's also a lot more rewarding and has more consequences to it, I feel.

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 11:45AM (Unverified) said

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I think a good reason why people were more "into" MMOs back in the day is because they were new. To a lot of peoples eyes these new games were basically D&D on a massive scale, which of course is awesome. Nowadays, sooo many kids that don't even care about D&D play as well, for different reasons. They haven't even heard of roleplay until this game (wowhat?) and then they try to do it and look like complete asshats.

I don't think this has much to do with the original post, I honestly am not quite sure what the point of the original post was. But I know that most of the older MMOers (meaning played old MMOs not old people) just aren't as immersed in the games nowadays, and I can't blame them.

Over at PKer.org we used to discuss the idea of permadeath, usually ending: "no game would ever implement it". They won't as long as they keep trying to copy WoW and reach WoW numbers.

Just think of UO back in the day, you die, all your loot is gone unless you make it back in time. Those were the good ol days, when you could strike out on your own and create your own story. Become the king you think you are or the thief you've always wanted to be. Not anymore, nowadays you have to fit into a mold and be happy about it.

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 12:54PM Scopique said

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I really don't think it has anything to do with the games themselves. It's entirely the fault of the players.

You'd think that a game like WoW, which has a world history stretching back to Warcraft, way back when, would be a role-player's dream (second only to LotRO), but the players have chosen to skip the lore in favor of the mechanics. I expect that that success of WoW, mostly in the case of bringing non-MMO players to the MMO table, has poisoned the well, so to speak.

These non-MMOers, or maybe none RPGers, might have come from elements which provide instant gratification over stopping to admire the scenery. In a lot of cases, getting the work done is priorities one, two AND three...and there is no four except maybe a bathroom break.

The focus on raid, raid, raid, loot, loot, loot is a low-brow language these people understand. I've seen people blow through a quest description, not caring what the NPC is telling them, only to get the gist of what they need to do from their quest log. The immersion doesn't mean shit to these people, even though it's present in the game.

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 1:36PM (Unverified) said

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"I've seen people blow through a quest description, not caring what the NPC is telling them, only to get the gist of what they need to do from their quest log."

You'd hate playing D&D with a lot of folks the way it's often done, then.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever Lord WhatsHisFace wanted is in that cave. I roll initiative."

(If you haven't yet, set aside a couple of hours to read "DM of the Rings," it is painfully, hysterically spot-on.)

Because the quests themselves are not the reward, but a means to an end (loot, faction, xp, whatever), there is no incentive to get invested in them unless you're trying to seriously RP; there is substantial disincentive to take the time to read them if your goals are not RP-related (ie: time is money).

The fact that, with scant exceptions, *every* quest is available to *everyone* (at least everyone on a given side or faction), there's no sense of unique duty or achievement. If quests were dynamically generated (Hellgate: London is starting down this path, with their dynamic instancing), and based on past character behavior and performance... everyone would have an absolutely unique play experience, because no two characters would take exactly the same path.

Again, I must reiterate: DEVELOPERS, HIRE ME, FOR I HAVE SPICY BRAINS. :-)

Posted: Dec 5th 2007 6:29PM Jeromai said

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Similar arguments have been made before, for permadeath. It's true that you can potentially construct more meaningful stories for your character's lives when there's real risk of ultimate loss, but it's also assuming that the world is going to be fair about it. All it takes is a few bad apples to grief incoming newbie players and the game's not going to be very playable anymore to the masses.

Maybe it's more like wanting -consequences- to our -choices- in a game world. Risk of permadeath or similar loss might only be part of that equation. That seems to cover stuff like the game reacting differently to player personality and so on.

Sidetrekking a little, Call of Duty 4 was one of the best cinematic experiences I've ever had, on par with some great movies, imo. Bioshock wasn't too bad as an interactive discovery-of-origins story either, though you had to construct more of that for yourself.

What makes them different? Starting out as a set character, perhaps, allowing a linear story to be crafted professionally around them? Meanwhile MMOs seem to be more sandbox worlds, where the onus of storycrafting is on yourself - which can be hard since we're not professionals. The existing 'laundry list' of goals set by quest-givers don't help either.

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