| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (84)

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:03PM Dblade said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
He's dead on though. All the stories in EVE have zero to do with the actual lore of the game, and all about packs of players fighting each other. EVE has almost no role-playing, and it rarely drives conflicts. Can you tell me what overarching story drives most of 0.0 or lowsec ganking?

Honestly, you could remove the whole persistent nature of EVE, and just feature the massive 1000 player fleets and no one would miss it. People complain about the MMO parts: the need to grind isk and skills, the whole sovereignty thing, and only want good fights.

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 5:02PM Irem said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
Yup. Any game that allows people to fight each other at will is always going to have people who are playing because they want to fight each other as their primary user base.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 5:29PM SgtBaker1234556 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Dblade

I think CVA and Ushra'Khan might disagree with you.
There's a plenty of Amarr vs. Minmatar roleplaying in EVE - I grant you, that the hayday for that is probably long gone, but it's not dead by any means.
Reply

Posted: Apr 13th 2011 12:04AM Dblade said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@SgtBaker1234556 The RP was a fiction, really-Atlas was the one pushing an invasion because CVA was supposed to have allied with the goons, and the death of providence I think was more because of that catastrophic one-sided lag battle where CVA got murdered.

The events happened, but it was really non-rp elements driving it. Most of EVE stuff is the same. Apart from U'K, you'd be hard pressed to name any recent development that was true to the storyline. Even the militias pull a RVB and do purple joint ops.
Reply

Posted: Apr 13th 2011 12:08AM Transientmind said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Dblade

Yeah, I have no idea why ANYONE holds up EVE as a shining example of player-generated stories. There is only one story: Spreadsheets Online: Sociopaths in Space.

There is nothing compelling about any of the giant megacorp/alliances and certainly nothing distinctive about them. All it is is a bunch of egomaniac psychos killing each other in 0.0 space for resources.

Make me a cog in some Alliance's corporate machine, or give me NPC-generated quest-text that makes me feel like a badass and you know which of those two stories I will choose every time.
Reply

Posted: Apr 13th 2011 1:09AM SgtBaker1234556 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Dblade

I wasn't really talking about the fall of CVA and loss of Providence, I was referring to the RP-fueled conflict between CVA and U'K - the whole thing had gone on for six years before CVA decided to expand to -A- (not Atlas) territory and consequently lost everything. The final battle didn't really have much RP behind it (apart from CVA's decision not to yield), but that was just couple of months in real time terms. The real RP conflict between CVA and U'K has/had much longer roots than that.

There's some history here:
http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Ushra%27Khan_%28Player_alliance%29

There are still a lot of smaller corps and alliances in NPC0.0, Factional War who roleplay - it's not as visible as it used to be 4-5 years ago, but RP in EVE is not dead, even though only the big alliances get the headlines.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:07PM Irem said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree with your overall sentiment, and it's something that I've been thinking about since I saw an article from...I think it was Eliot, maybe, in Storyboard, talking about how more and more games seem to be trying to appeal to roleplayers. Except they're getting it all wrong, really. It's great that GW2 wants me to "roleplay" my way through the story with a character biography and all that good stuff, and I think it'll be really fun. But you know what was apparently eschewed as a game feature the last time someone asked? The ability to make our characters freaking -walk.- I was impressed with nearly everything I saw at PAX East except that none of the chairs the demo players came across seemed to show any sign of being usable (and I mean for sitting, not for breaking over someone's head in a bar brawl minigame).

It seems like developers have picked up on the fact that a lot of people like to roleplay, but they've completely missed the part where we want to roleplay with each other. For the most part, they're just adding a singleplayer RPG as a side-dish to the MMO portion of the game. You make an excellent point about the fact that RPers spend a great deal of time trying to roleplay around what we've been given; usually there's a set backstory for our player characters of some kind, for example, and we handwave it if it doesn't fit and make up something else. I love what I've seen of GW2, and I'm sure I'll be happy playing it, but the personal story is really just the set backstory on a wider scale. It's "You begin your journey as a novice in your hometown of Somewhereset, having trained with the local guardsmen since your youth," only it spans the entire game and branches off in different directions at points. My character is still not -my- character until I've made up a lot of this stuff for myself.

I'm just as confused as you are about the inability of game developers to grasp how little work it would take to add some support for people to do their own thing. I'm even more confused about how some of them seem actively hostile to the idea, or at least reluctant. That manor house full of empty rooms you add out in the middle of nowhere will keep us occupied for years, guys, especially if you add some random objects we can put anywhere we like. It doesn't take much.

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:24PM gallahad said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Irem

"...how little work it would take to add some support for people to do their own thing."

That's the programming equivalent of "Hey, guys, watch this!"
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:29PM Irem said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@gallahad
How so?

Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 5:33PM gallahad said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Irem You can't make assumptions about how easy implementing something can be without knowing about the requirements and stresses it puts on the underlying architecture, not to mention about what is even capable.

Take, for example, your manor thing. About having the capabilities in the system to support dynamic objects, it can not be stressed how not simple this can be. Everything that is dynamic and replicated to all clients has to live on the server, which eats up database storage, CPU, and RAM. It also requires update packets to be sent to and from the server. Dynamic objects may also have to be treated differently on the client, depending on certain rendering tricks. All of that overhead might be small for a single object, but multiply that by the thousands of objects that you would need for it to be more than just a novelty, and then multiply that for each shard you have it on.

And where do you put the object? Is it out in the open where everyone can use it (and thus opening you up to griefing issues), or do you instance it for groups and raids (and thus adding the even more server overhead for instances)?
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 5:57PM Irem said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@gallahad
When I last played WoW, there were buildings in several major cities that had no vendors or major NPCs in them. There were chairs you could sit in and that was it. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. Were there griefing issues? Yes, but only of the kind that exist any time you have players together in a single space.

The kind of content roleplayers usually ask for are things like items that have no ingame use. In WoW, again, that was often a plain object--an icon with text attached to it telling you what it is. Many of these already exist. The kind of random objects that can be placed already existed in-game, too. There were toys you could put down anywhere you liked that disappeared after a given amount of time, for example.

This is what I mean by developers not getting it: during the Day of the Dead event in WoW, there were these really awesome candles. They worked just like the toys that you could buy from one of the Dalaran shops; they could be placed anywhere, and they vanished after a short period of time. It was a very simple yet versatile atmospheric tool for roleplaying, and in the short period of time in which the event was ongoing, we made pretty good use of them. After the event was over, they disappeared. Because fun, useful things like that are special, you know, just for events.

All roleplayers really require in terms of support is versatile tools like that and some spaces to play in that are accommodating. It might take some work on the part of developers to do that, but that's why I said that compared to the amount of work they do on endgame content, it's very little, and it lasts a lot longer. It's just not considered important, even though there are quite a few roleplayers--probably because they haven't ever -needed- to add things for us to keep us from quitting en masse, and so there's no real reason to bother.
Reply

Posted: Apr 13th 2011 12:55PM Anatidae said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Irem What I find crazy is that Ultima Online had all this and more 10+ years ago.

I was mayor of a player created town and the GMs would sometimes come and "lock" down items outside for us or place items players could not build themselves for atmosphere.

After I got bored of that, I started an assassin guild. Which was really a organization for hire for weaker players to extract revenge on the PvP killers. We had a rune for a hidden area of the world (not on normal maps) and we would decorate it very creepy. All people with an appointment would have to arrive wearing only a robe and would be "searched" (snopping was a skill to go through people's bags) so the player could not mark our secret hideout. It was very RP and super fun and I bet our customers remember that encounter better than any text quest from WoW.

What was even better, I was the first smith to hit Grandmaster on my UO shard and smiths where very important as that was where you could get gear repaired without durability loss. In UO - everything was eventually lost or broke, but you did do what you could to keep it in shape as long as possible. Anyway, the point is, my smith was friends with everyone - including the mass murderers.

So, as my smith I could go anywhere without worrying about being jumped and killed. I liked to wear a straw hat that most people didn't to be recognized from afar too. During the assassin guild phase, I would work out a deal to kill the Player Killers to take their heads to my clients.

Ok, so it wasn't true revenge, but my clients felt vindicated. The player town I formed always offered replacement gear for anyone down on their luck, so along with a head I would always supply a set of GM crafted armor too.

The point of this story is that modern MMOs offer almost nothing to create real stories in their worlds. If it isn't about doing, preventing or healing damage to something, it isn't a focus of the MMO. Temporary candles? *sigh* I would love to see a true spiritual successor to UO - which was a simulated world, not a leveling-quest-rails-game.
Reply

Posted: Apr 14th 2011 4:34PM Irem said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Anatidae
That's really awesome, and EXACTLY the kind of thing more recent MMOs need more of.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:09PM cowboyhugbees said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
It's funny, now that I think about it, there always was something bugging me under the glitz and high production values of SWTOR.

Having the room to "grow" your character, on your own terms, certainly makes MMOs something unique. Strict story-driven narrative, I feel, takes away from that "Role Playing" nature.

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:46PM Interitus said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@cowboyhugbees

This is true. For all the hype (all of it). All the talk about story etc.. You really have little control over your character.

You choose from a handful of pre-determined backgrounds.

There is X number of races

Races tend to be limited to a particular side.

Classes are limited to different sides.

So if someone wants to roleplay a bounty hunter wookiee working for the republic.. It's not happening. At all. Even a human bounty hunter working for the republic.. not happening.

You get a few choices and then you are sent in a direction. Sure you can make some choices that will give different outcomes. But it's never eally your story. This is completely Bioware's story for you to enjoy.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:10PM Nalina said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
You present a compelling argument in favor of player generated content (with which I mostly agree); however, I feel you make some subjective generalizations about the player base and a lack of desire to play through a developer authored story (if it is actually one of quality, and *that*, in my opinion, is the criterion which should always be factored into this debate).

For example, I think it is ludicrous (disingenuously so) to uniformly apply a label to every MMO that features a developer crafted story as if they were all of the same caliber. Consider Guild Wars (which was irrefutably sleep-inducing where depth and its patent banality were concerned), with Mass Effect or the original Knights of the Old Republic (both of which I've played through to completion multiple times). I expect this level of superlative quality from Bioware with The Old Republic, and if I'm wrong, I will gladly eat my words.

Perhaps I misconstrued your intent, but I believe many people would enjoy a *decent* story if it were actually presented (e.g. the previously cited examples). It is true that in terms of longevity, after a few times completed, the story will inevitably become a "grind," as you say.

Conversely, that doesn't mean that a developer created story should be neglected or omitted entirely simply so people who don't enjoy playing a story crafted by the developers (such as the author of this blog, it seems) can have their *personal* preferences satisfied--and that's what it boils down to: You're saying you want it to be your way because no one can possibly counter your argument, or if someone does, we must be an infinitesimal minority who should be swept under the rug like pesky dust. Yet why can't both camps be taken into consideration?

I've been waiting for a story-driven MMO now for years. I (being subjective here) don't really care if other people follow the same quest path; it's still a play style I would derive gratification from. I would also enjoy player-created content as someone who has utilized various toolsets when available (I received much enjoyment from NWN's toolset years ago), but it could be used to complement a cinematic experience; it doesn't have to work at cross purposes as this article seems to insinuate.

As someone who has been a fan of Bioware since the days of Baldur's Gate II (and loved the multiplayer component of that game), a role-player, and a die hard Star Wars fan, I have been impatiently waiting for Star Wars: The Old Republic to release ever since it was announced years ago.

I have been wanting to play a new Bioware style story with my friends (and fellow role-players) for years now, and at last we will have that opportunity. I don't see how the option to play through a storyline crafted by the developers is detrimental to anything, assuming the option to skip cutscenes is available for those who would elect to do so.

As I iterated before, why does it have to be either/or when it comes to developer crafted content and player generated content? Why not allow for both? That would be ideal. Both could potentially even serve as some form of progression, although now I realize I'm digressing.

Nonetheless, if I understand the author correctly, he is concerned that games such as The Old Republic will establish a new precedent--a criterion that must be satisfied (i.e. the "fourth pillar") in every subsequent major release following TOR.

That is a valid concern, I concur, for those of you who are disinclined to play a story-driven MMO. (And, yes, as a sandbox fan, I will play devil's advocate for a moment and concede the point that I have been sorely disappointed with the major MMO releases over the past few years, but if I have to play a theme park game, a more cinematic experience would be greatly welcomed in my case.)

What can be done about it? I wish I had a solution. I suppose vocalizing the fact that player generated content is important is a start alone. But I don't want one to come at the expense of the other. Player generated content wouldn't be extremely difficult to implement given its nature.

(STO recently implemented the Foundry, which I found intriguing; it almost convinced me to resubscribe, but the game lacked in so many other fundamental areas that were important to me, I couldn't be enticed into trying it again.)

Also, I want to address one more segment of this article that irked me somewhat: "If you're looking for yet another heavily scripted retelling of the hero's journey, far superior mediums already exist -- books and films, maybe you've heard of them."

That superciliously condescending attitude is exactly why I have trouble being persuaded by the author of this column.

"[F]ar superior?" Truly? How ignorantly presumptuous can you be? At least confess the subjective nature of those remarks. Video games can be far more immersing than much of the banal mediocrity punctuated with a plethora of special effects that inundates the movie industry today; secondly I honestly find myself incredulous as to how you can completely disregard RPG games that present a robust decision-based system that grants the player the ability to determine many facets of the story's direction, from the overall ending to subtle nuances dictating relationships between the NPCs. I have *never* felt as immersed while watching a movie as I have when deciding on a possible life or death option for a member of my in game crew, for example. Books come close, but still don't quite achieve that same level of immersion for me. (Maybe it's different for other people. I respect that fact.)

Again, I'm not alluding to stories that lack substance (like much of what we've seen from MMOs thus far), but the prospective chance to have an engagingly profound story implemented in future titles, which I find quite exciting. (And, yes, I realize a number of you will have dissenting opinions. That's your prerogative, but I don't like generalizations, which is why I felt the need to voice my opinion on the matter.)

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 4:35PM Gildas said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Nalina The nature of an MMORPG doesn't work with developers writing the stories for the characters. That's when the story becomes a cheap delusion that players click through to get to actual credible content. This may be an opinion piece, but there is undeniable truth in that.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 5:24PM Irem said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Nalina
I do see a lot of promise in games concentrating on story, even if I kind of wish they'd keep their hands off my player character as much as possible, narrative-wise (FFXI does a fairly good job of that and the story is great--the cutscenes and lore focus almost entirely on the NPC characters, who are almost uniformly awesome). I want to have characters that I come to love and identify with in the game world, and that does require that the game tell the stories of those characters. It's pretty obvious when lore is just there as flavor to explain why I'm fighting this week's loot dispenser, and that wears thin quickly, but I know I've cried all the way through some MMO quests or cutscenes, or been totally enthralled or on the edge of my seat. Maybe I'm easy to please.

I think part of the problem lies in the way many games try to pretend that my PC is the "main character." I'm so sick of being told that I'm the Chosen One or the Hero of Whatever that it makes me want to turn off any game I see it in immediately. It's nice to feel like I made a difference, but I find it much easier to swallow the idea when I'm not doing it on so grand a scale that the story insists that my character saved the world singlehandedly. It's a lot like getting a gold star for participation. I can't think of many games which actually go out of their way to acknowledge that there are thousands of other "heroes" in the game world through the story, but it'd be nice to see more of.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 7:04PM Gildas said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Irem "I want to have characters that I come to love and identify with in the game world, and that does require that the game tell the stories of those characters."

I think the important thing for developers to realize is that they can make those characters without them being the players. I don't want the developers to manufacture who I am and tell me about it; I want to interact with a world that has a lore and I want to be around characters with their own stories, whether those characters were written into the world or are other players, but I don't want myself to be pre-written into the world. When that happens then it isn't my experience; it's just me wading through someone else's story.
Reply

Posted: Apr 12th 2011 9:49PM Irem said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Gildas
Exactly.
Reply

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW