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Reader Comments (10)

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 12:44PM (Unverified) said

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Seems that the LOTRO instancing trick could be done for entry into any zone. A storied set of quests in an instanced zone that results in that zone being in the condition it is in for the rest of the game. I know FFXI does that in a way, though I was seriously unable to even approach endgame in that one and by the time I got to my first "Prommies", everyone else on the server was way past this.

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 1:44PM (Unverified) said

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LOTRO has a pretty good story for an MMO, and I don't just mean following the books. You have your own story to go through that is almost as important as the One Ring itself. Compared to a US single player RPG, its almost even on par. Its very low on the totem poll if compared to Japanese RPG's though.

The best thing about LOTRO is every couple of months you get a new book with added story. You actually find yourself anxious to see the next part of the story line as it starts to get real good around Book 10.

WoW had some really good story too, like the one quest in the Plaguelands where a guy's father was once thought dead, but you start reminding the evil son about his former life and his father and well.. i won't spoil the end.

Story is slowly progressing in MMO's, but then you start losing the sandbox style play. The more story that is in an MMO, typically the more your role is defined. You ARE the good guys in LOTRO, you ARE helping them get the One Ring safely to Mt. Doom. You can't be a reluctant hero, you can't be an anti-hero and you can't be evil. So the next trick will be allowing us to choose what we're doing without forcing too much upon us.

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 1:51PM J Brad Hicks said

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I'm starting to feel the same way, but I don't blame the developers. If you care about the story in an MMO, it feels like to me, you almost have to solo, because all any pickup group wants to do is find a predictable way to level up and grind it as efficiently as possible.

They tell me there are clans, guilds, whatever full of people who care about an MMO's background lore and story arcs. Eris knows, I've never found one. I think maybe it's a myth.

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 2:14PM Scopique said

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I just completed Vanguard's Isle of Dawn starting area, and I think this is very much along the lines of what LotRO has done, except without the instancing. Having a discreet, locked area allows the devs to focus on a single, driving storyline that is easy to follow, and relevant to the tasks you're being asked to undertake.

Part of the reason why MMOs have stories, I believe, is because there ARE those who look for them in the genre. RPers are one group. They're probably more apt to read every quest panel and integrate themselves somewhere along the prose, at least among themselves.

When players get to the higher levels, though, story isn't what keeps them paying their monthly fee, which is no doubt why you see narrative drop off. True, people probably skip the prose and just read the details (WAR even bolds this info, to draw your eye), but I think it's more that people have put in the time to build their character, and now they want to put it to the test.

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 3:00PM (Unverified) said

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If you like Oblivion, try it with some mods. Most importantly, the FCOM mod.

http://devnull.devakm.googlepages.com/convergence

Once you've played it like that, no way you could go back and play the Vanilla Oblivion. ;)

I know exactly what you mean with the burnout. Lots of MMO vets are now in their thirties, kids and jobs, and the MMO industry constantly turns out things that disappoint us. It seems creativity and cutting edge were all the rage 10 years ago, now we just get the same recycled garbage over and over again.

Here's to thinking outside the box. *cheers*

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 3:05PM Syme said

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Other players often do detract from the story, but there's also the problem, at least in WoW, that the developers too often send you traveling all over the place. You don't get a chance to immerse yourself in the area. Even in Oblivion, if I run around a lot, I start to lose momentum in the story.

But yes, mostly its the players. I have had someone try to share a quest with me three times, but he kept running out of range before the "Accept" button could be clicked. He was suprised to meet someone who still had the quest text set to scroll.

Posted: Sep 15th 2008 5:41PM Tanek said

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I am a big fan of games with a storyline where it feels like you have actually effected some change on the world. The start of LotRO is perfect for this, but later on, while keeping the great story, it drifts closer to the MMO standard where anything you do is quickly undone so the next person can come along and do it again.

A game like GuildWars holds up a bit better, but only by extensive instancing that effectively walls you off from players not in your party. (Which I personally don't mind, but which comes under fire for making it less than a "reall" MMO.)

Now my hopes lie with WotLK and "phasing". I have seen some of it in action and, although I don't know if it will work throughout the expansion on a large scale, it seems to be one of the most promising storytelling tools WoW has used to date. I won't give anything away, but I will say that if they use phasing correctly you will really feel you have an impact on your game world.

Posted: Sep 16th 2008 8:36AM fzzzt said

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Good post, mirrors many of my own thoughts, which I've been meaning to write down...

I think the loss of RP from MMORPGs is particularly sad. When I first started playing EverQuest with my friends, when Kunark was released, I loved the story and lore I was thrown into. It made the sub-par graphics and horrible grind almost completely irrelevant. Any serious gamer knows that gameplay > graphics, and back then the gameplay was new and exciting, so the game was awesome. Unfortunately everything since then has focused on the latter, with tiny smatterings of improvements to the former (spread out among many games).

I think with the way the genre has evolved due to bottom-feeder games like WoW has made the expectations change, so a story-heavy MMOG won't be attractive to the corporate world. I think, in order for this to happen, we need real innovation in the genre. Not in graphics or writing, but gameplay and the environment, the most unique aspects to MMOGs.

Only after players can interact in new ways with the game will storylines be able to captivate enough players to make the game a non-niche game. MMOGs need to be more dynamic to allow players to actually _do_ something. They need good stories so players have a reason to want to do something, and they need effects and outcomes that continue the one true quest: change.

All current MMOGs (that I know of) are static. Yes, they have lame scripts. Yes, they have mobs that path around in circles. Yes, you can attack a building and get yourself 5% more experience while mindlessly grinding. This is all static content. Maybe meta-static. It's the same thing, over and over. There's no change, permanent or semi-permanent. This is one reason I loved Shadowbane (but there were oh so many reasons I didn't). You could affect the game world--really affect it--with your cities, wars and politics.

In current MMOGs there's no way to significantly change the world. You can't take over another race's city, and prevent players from starting there. You can't wipe out an entire clan of Gnolls. You can't burn down a forest. At the same time, Gnolls aren't smart enough (via the engine) to spread their territory and defend themselves. Forests don't grow and expand. People can't effectively ally and retake their capital. I don't think I'll really have fun in an MMOG until things like this are doable...the current status is just more of the same to me.

Hopefully WAR will have enough new ideas to make it fun for longer than WoW was (which was three to six months). Hopefully their use of instances and imposed limits doesn't make it all seem too fabricated and fake.

Don't even get me started on GM events and server GMs...

Posted: Sep 16th 2008 7:17AM (Unverified) said

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I love story content altough, yes it's true about the impatient pug people. I'm playing for me though and someone has to tell them where to get the Shieldbrother's ring (lord I've seen people ask for that one a lot.. read the bloody quest!) later.

I can see how all the side-stories can be a bit petty and get into the way for some (love em myself but I'm like that), but now imagine a MMO world without them. Grats now you have a deathmatch map. Story's part of the genre really, can't just do away with it and keep the same gametype around.

Posted: Oct 1st 2008 9:15PM (Unverified) said

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Technically, you never left the genre, you just went from and MMORPG to an RPG : \

I usually play a shooter or a platformer when I'm bored of WoW, which seems to be never. I took one 3 month break from the game and then I was back in full force.

I'm unfortunate in that when I'm playing Portal or Mario Bros. all I can think about is playing WoW, atm it has my entire gaming attention.

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