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Reader Comments (30)

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 10:12AM Deadalon said

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I will have to agree with him. Games are based on gameplay first. Everything else comes second. MMOs are no diffrence. The main diffrence between MMos and others is probably the need to include character progression (with both improved skills, levels, abilites and then items (like AOC found out). Then comes the story. Tho I personally would consider UI customization to be even more important. After all - we are talking about months and months of gameplay and ppl will crave some changes that they can make themselfs.

Now.. This is ofc from a PLAYER perspective. This doesn't mean that the story of each character isn't important. But it should not be the main focus. Because after all - the story is not going to change the world that the character lives in. It might affect some 10 -20 other gamers. But that is it.

One thing that I would like to point out here.. while we are talking about stories and endless amount of dialogs. I personally DONT like cutscene dialogs. It hinters FREEDOM of my character that I am controlling. If I am talking to some NPC then I would like to be able to look around me while he babbles away in a speech dialog. It is the perfect time to enjoy the enviroment instread of watching some poor lip movements and pick 3 diffrent options on what to say back.

Dragon Age and Mass Effect are both really well made games. But they do not have a great gameplay mecanism (specially dragon age). Having control over 4 characters like in DA should mean alot more exiting choises and diffrent skills and abilites. That is not the case. ME2 on the other hand is a blast to play. But it has some really really crappy systems like the space movement and extracting ores. Just horrendusly bad design.

In terms of WOW... THey give you freedom. And personally - freedom is the key to great MMO game. The more that the player can affect the game (in terms of look of the UI, skills abilites and look of character - the greater long term enjoyement the gamer will have. They key here tho is conrolled freedom. 100 options on UI fonts or 50 options of shoes to wear - does not bring enjoyment. Then we are talking to much detail. Find the perfect medium and you get a perfect game. But again - gameplay comes first. And that includes proper animations.

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:02AM Cendres said

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These are the reasons why TOR worries me and BioWare's considerable PR also worries me. I love this company to bits but if there's a game where they could overreach and miss the mark it's with an MMO.

You can say a lot of negatives about AoC, but it's combat is way fun. This is the main reason I was drawn to the game and have given it a few changes, that and the great looking environments too. But I can honestly say that when the client performs I simply have a lot of fun each session.

TOR may be lackluster in gameplay mechanics, that has never been BioWare's strength which is why they hyper focus on story, so the fun will probably mostly come out of dialogue choices and cinematics. For people who don't like a lot of blah blah I wonder if and how annoying it's going to be for them. For those of us who like it, it's going to offer something different. Is it going to be enough to make for an awesome MMO? Not sure, I like your points about freedom. BioWare seems to think that freedom comes with a dialogue tree and 'choices', but those choices are drawn by their pen and directed by them, it's like they miss the whole free form rpg experience that comes from pen and paper and comes to MMOs. You give people a bit of info and they make up the rest.

That's the difference between an online RPG and a single player one, or at least it was. People have expressed they want more 'story' because have none. Which is false what they want is to be told what their entire story is. To them this is going to be awesome. For myself I am going to enjoy this but I fear I
l'll burn through this game faster then any MMO before..
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:03AM Cendres said

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*changes = chances

:P
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 10:40AM Draccan said

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Too bad Funcom is moving AoC from being a PvP game to a PvE game with a heavy grind.
AoC is still the best game on the market today, but they need to release something soon to make up for the PvE focus or lose their way completely.

If Funcom improved the broken sieges, focused on pvp as parallel to the PvE grind and introduced better mechanics they may have a very long-lasting game on their hands... but they have to do something soon!

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:04AM Draccan said

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What I mean to say is that while story is good the best story is what you create yourself. The best story I have seen in any mmo (and I have tried many) have been in SWG due to features that supported creating stories.

Key to creating story in SWG were player housing - any where you want. Player cities, in depth crafting with shifting ressources, non combat classes. Generally the game had a lot of variety.

Age of Conan is suffering from a WoW syndrome. They develop it less and less as the brutal, hardcore PvP game and more and more as a WoW clone. So therefore I think Funcom needs to be able to not just talk the talk but do the walk. Their niche status is in peril due to the recent expansions heavy PvE grind.

Am I the only one who remembers all the promises around PvP how PvE and gear wasn't centric to compete in AoC PvP?????
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:04AM Dblade said

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I don't think he is right.

Thing is, you can make those same stories on a couch with 4 of your friends playing Goldeneye, or playing games on Xbox Live. Or in a bowling league. Player storytelling like that is not MMO specific, it's a function of any multiplayer experience that you can create stories, even offline.

I think the reason why no one reads quest text or cares about backstory is because they don't make story have a purpose in the game. You go out and kill ten rats but killing ten rats is pointless in the lore of the world, so people zone it out. Maybe one day events will tie into stories more and fix that.

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:19AM Cendres said

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Or people don't make the difference between following the main story of the game and it's major events to killing 10 rats to LEVEL UP. The quest grind muddles the whole role playing part of the game, but the quest grind is practical in nature and has only one goal and that's to level you up while masking the amount of mobs you have to kill in order to do so.

Events already tie into story?? Every MMO I have played have them, I don't understand where people get this utter lack of story in MMOs, it's there but you're just ignoring it. Sure it can always be done better, but focusing exclusively on that and letting gameplay slide, hehhh we'll see how that turns out.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:04AM (Unverified) said

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MAKE AO 2 CRAIG MAKE IT

Sirrilion i used to hang out with you in game!

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:36AM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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One day maybe...I would love to get the chance to revisit Rubi-Ka at some stage, and I am sure there are many here who would as well. Never say never...
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:39AM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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...although just to be clear, before it gets misquoted :p There aren't any plans at the moment for an AO2...while I would personally love to make another game based on Rubi-Ka we have quite a busy schedule already, and the existing AO is still there and getting new content and features all the time :)
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:51AM (Unverified) said

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Sirrilion if you would talk to me 'a bit' as an old fan, man I always reminisce about the game, I have a couple questions about AO's current state, and in general.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 3:41PM Lateris said

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I have always felt that AoC already has the story telling element that a single player RPG has. I like how it envelops the single player just like Guild Wars does but in its own style What I want to see is more of that single player graphical functionality that is in single player RPG games and not in MMORPG’s. To me your game has those elements. I do think average gamers are going to complain about the story line in TOR. Most will just click to get through it.

This is really cool to talk to the producer of the game I play. I only Eve and AoC.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:48AM (Unverified) said

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Oh wow man, you replied personally

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 11:49AM (Unverified) said

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HEY I posted a LONG response where is it!

Bah, Craig the main gripe I have with the current game is the choppyness, whats up with the engine? With a good machine and connection I still CHOP like mad D:

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 12:23PM Muddleglum said

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I find this a little strange comming from the creator of TLJ and Dreamfall. I loved both and there are many others that adore these games, but one thing is for sure I did not play them for the "gameplay".

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 1:03PM Craig Silirrion Morrison said

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...that would be the other Funcom Game Director, not me ;) (http://twitter.com/ragnartornquist). Ragnar is currently heading up team creating The Secret World, and I am sure you will see some great story elements there as well :)

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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 4:11PM Muddleglum said

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How anyone could mistake/forget names like these is... But I did it folks!
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Posted: Jun 7th 2010 1:47PM Heraclea said

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Apart from gameplay, the most important story line an MMO can give their players is the ability to chart their own.

This is one reason why I like City of Heroes more than City of Villains. Heroside, your relationships with the authorities of Paragon City are very loose. Villainside, you are given a relationship for life with Arachnos, and access to certain powers is made contingent in participating in the Arachnos story. Which, because the game is static, forces certain choices on you: you can't opt to destroy the world, even if that's what some villains might want.

I will say that Age of Conan generally serves quite well as a neutral, sandbox style background in which characters can chart their own paths after the get out of the starting zone. The destiny quests are mostly unobtrusive and lack urgency.

One game that did not serve me well was Lord of the Rings Online. I was inspired by a music video from the late, great Frank Tovey of Fad Gadget

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_wJYXGuafM

to create "Samhall Gaolster", a thoroughly despicable hobbit burglar. I came armed with lore from outside the game, and was ready to play Gollum Junior. I learned that the game was expecting me to polish my halo, acquiring points for Hope and Compassion and other sterling qualities that did not jive with the quite evil hobbit I wanted to play. This proved to be a turn-off in an otherwise very pretty and well made game.

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 2:41PM (Unverified) said

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"A lot had been made about the quotes from Bioware about how MMOs haven't had a good single player narrative to them as yet. Now while I think that in itself is a little contradictory (MMO's haven't had a good single player narrative to them because they inherently aren't single player titles despite sharing many elements)... "

Nice to see someone understands this, even nicer that said someone is the director of the game i currently play. It's even supernicer to see the director of the game i currently play comes here to read the comments and replies in person.

Really, keep up the good work Silirrion.

Posted: Jun 7th 2010 3:10PM (Unverified) said

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The idea that you can make a static story through quests and cutscenes in an MMO is silly. The game developers need to be proactive, watching how players play and manipulating the game world to suit these tastes. Even when you introduce systems for conquering zones or creating guilds, you need to have a human hand in place to balance and mitigate so that it feels like a world, and not a lump sum of mathematical equations.

Basically, more MMOs need to take a D&Dish approach and have game masters watching and working to make the world seem alive. On multi-server games this is hard, but not impossible. If nothing else, just watch for trends (like popular guilds or a player affinity for certain zones and monsters) and make sure that these player-created ideas are echoed and entered into the world's lore.

-SirNiko

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