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Reader Comments (64)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 1:59AM (Unverified) said

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@Mikx Bullshit.
It's an added feature, not a replacement. Thinking otherwise is not using your brain.

Story makes your questing and leveling experience more interesting.
The lack of it doesn't suddenly provide you a wealth of freedom where you can make your own choice, it only makes questing and leveling more boring.
The addition of OTHER features next to story will enable players to have freedom of choice.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 5:39PM Mikx said

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@(Unverified) If I may, I call bullshit as well.

You've obviously never played a game where some "feature" or whatever that ruined or degraded your experience.

Does anybody think Mario was better before he had that idiotic voice attached to him? I sure as hell do.

Hearing some disembodied, annoying childs voice exclaiming "itsa me!" doesnt make the game more interesting, it makes me want to turn it off or play the game as bowser.

Lacking that voice certainly made those games much more enjoyable and yes, gave me more freedom to imagine mario as I wanted.
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Posted: Nov 1st 2011 8:49PM Cyclone Jack said

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I think one of the big issues with story in an MMO is that there is a big difference between playing a story and experiencing a story. When you play a story, it is linear and doesn't change from player to player. This, I think, is where most players (especially RPers) get upset with developers adding story to their game, because the developers are making the choices for the player, even going so far to tell the player what their motivation is. City of Villains is a great example of this, where it has an overarching story and a number of missions that tell you your motivation. At times, the player has to just ignore the quest text and just run the mission. I think the main cause of this is because there can be numerous motivations for being a villain, and there are varying degrees of a villain.

When you experience a story, it is much more open to player choice and interpretation, it allows the player to mold the story around their character and not the other way around. City of Heroes (and Going Rogue) is a good example here, where the games allows you to set your motivation and tries not to interfere with what may or may not be your characters story. With Going Rogue they take it a step further and let the player make choices with varying outcomes. Guild Wars is another game where the story feels open to the player. Yes, everyone has the same goals and quests, but the blanks (motivation, personality, etc) are filled in by the player.

One last point. Just as a choose your own adventure novel isn't any good if every choice leads to the same ending, just giving the player choice doesn't solve everything if the choices don't matter. Look at Dragon Age, where your choices mattered, they affected the world and the outcome of the story. Deus Ex:HR, on the other hand, gave the illusion of giving choice to the player but none of these choices mattered in the end.

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 9:13PM mysecretid said

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I couldn't have said it better myself, Justin. Thank you.

There's a vicious rumor (and /only/ a rumor!) that I beta-tested SWTOR the last time it was available. All I know is, after that weekend, I stopped posting about SWTOR in any significant way.

Somehow, I went from undecided and curious, to someone who knew he just wanted to play that game for its story. I dunno, I must be psychic.

Similarly, I'm looking forward to trying out Guild Wars 2 and Secret World for their story aspirations as well.

Basically, I'm sick of defending the notion that story is a valuable, vital, and deserving part of the MMORPG genre -- I'm going to vote with my money, and vote a resounding YES to the idea.

The naysayers can go do whatever makes them happy. I'll no longer care, once I'm playing story-driven MMORPGs and enjoying them.

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 9:30PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly!!!

With the massive influx of console gamers and burnt out mmo gamers still playing mmorpgs, they care more about getting to max level and being "leet" than actually enjoying the adventure of the mmorpg itself! And, because the majority of players on forums giving input to game's devs are in fact the "vocal minority" of burnt out, jaded, spoiled bratyy players full of level rushing azzes, we dont have the voice we used to.

If games just polled , through an email, every account holder, they would see that we rpers(light and heavy) ARE the majority, if they cared enough to find out. I miss mmoRPGS and I find myself playing these now linear console-ish mmos, instead of the epic mmos I loved. I will ALWAYS play these games MY way, which is the way they are allINTENDED to be played - but we shouldnt have to work soooooo hard to play an mmoRPG the way the game itself was created for!

So cheers! Lets keep the story alive!!!!

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 9:34PM Valkaern said

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No story forced on me by developers has ever once felt like my story, the stories that were 'written' by friends and I as we played hold far more value for me; that's why I play MMOs.

Looking back on over more than a decades worth of MMO gaming, it's clear the stories that stand out and have stuck with me are all based around the escapades of friends and I, not some quest flavor text.

Providing players with a world and the tools necessary to create and have their own adventures is what the industry should have been striving for ever since MMOs first became even marginally successful, not this funneled and cramped linear chore list 'adventure' that's been rehashed and replayed repeatedly since WoW destroyed the MMO landscape by bringing the industry to a grinding halt in terms of variation or genre exploration for half a decade.

There are many avenues and media for being spoonfed anothers story: books, movies and television all being obvious examples. Interactive online worlds are probably the single best setting for allowing people to create and live their own adventures, why try so hard to force someone elses story on me here of all places?

Given the fact that there's 13 Leggollass's, 4 Seepphirotths and 7 Ghandalllfs over there, all on the same heroic step of the developers story as me, it seems clear to me it'd be best to stop fighting the medium and quit trying to shoehorn in these contrived story quests and start using the resources wasted writing shallow flavor text on exploring ways to allow me to create and take part in my own story.

One that I might actually remember a decade later.

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 9:51PM Graill440 said

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The easy fix the devs want no part of, servers based on particular playstyles. They could make everyone happy, but that would again be to much work, the money would come, but the work is the thing they do not want.

Silent rooms, servers buzzing, bringing in money, one or two folks monitoring lights and a computer, anymore and it isnt good business.

Story is important, just not to developers, no matter what they tell you as they smile and state to the contrary.

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 9:51PM (Unverified) said

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Storytelling can go wrong in a pen and paper RPG too. If the DM isn't providing enough direction and the players aren't very good at coming up with their own story, it gets boring. On the other end of the spectrum we have railroading, where the DM essentially just wants the players to follow a script that he's already decided on to the letter. Being unhappy with either of those states is not a systematic problem.

Likewise I don't think that MMO players are against story in principle, but WoW in particular has been suffering from extreme railroading syndrome in this expansion, going from zones filled with lots of individual quests that players could assemble into their own rudimentary narratives to everything being part of one massive linear quest chain that you can't deviate from in any way. Rebelling against that system doesn't mean that we never want to hear another story from Blizzard ever again, but simply that it's not very fun to have no choice in our characters' development whatsoever.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 4:12AM Space Cobra said

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@(Unverified)

"Storytelling can go wrong in a pen and paper RPG too. If the DM isn't providing enough direction and the players aren't very good at coming up with their own story, it gets boring. "

Just to point out, I've seen some player groups, notably take over the story and go in their own directions. To them, it's not about gaining levels/items but just having fun. Of course, this could leave many a DM out in the cold, but I feel, a good DM would adapt to this. Sorta take it like a challenge and meet it: sometimes it can be a meeting of the creative minds.

No, I don't know how other MMOs can do this currently besides players running events and playing loose with the given set-up/framework of such a gathering or unless you suggest something like "Second Life" or even player-created content and I admit, some of that is dubious/trash, but I feel the potential of great diamonds can be found...but you have to sift through lots and lots of coal.
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Posted: Nov 1st 2011 10:35PM Mikx said

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What happens when a story based game breaks immersion by only offering you stories or options that your character wouldnt choose? What if the options are seemingly acceptable but your character has incredibly embarrassing responses and voiceovers?

Why can't your Jedi go rogue and kill Old Republic Yoda at level 1 or die/get kicked out trying? Why can't your jedi fall into dispair and become a nerf herder or a smuggler or a bounty hunter or cantina dancer?

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 10:37PM Mikx said

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@Mikx

bleh. This was supposed to be a response to mysecretid.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 2:07AM (Unverified) said

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@Mikx Lol. Have you been playing MMO's the past couple of years?

You have no choice at all when doing quests in current MMO's: just the option to do the quest or ignore the quest. Shouldn't you have run into this problem long ago, that you were forced to do quests with no choice at all and maybe things that your character would never do?

That's why your reasoning is stupid and moronic, because everything you say applies even far more to current MMO's and questing.
Double standards much?

At least SWTOR will give you more options than just ' do quest or ignore it', it'll provide choices and decision paths within those quests, and will remember what decisions you made, your decisions to a lesser and bigger degree having impact on follow up quests.

If you want to go that road complaining, start with the current MMO's and questing first, else you only sound like a hypocrite.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 5:24PM Mikx said

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@(Unverified) This is innacurate. Accepting a quest, going to the area indicated on the map, killing a few people and going back for your reward allows for much more unique story, because the elements that are forced on you are abstract.

"Double standards much?"
No, there is no double standard. And being needlessly confrontational doesnt help your case.

If you've ever read a book, you might know that you can more or less imagine the way a character looks or sounds like. If you've ever seen a movie or tv show based on a book, you might know that you have much less freedom to imagine the way a character looks or sounds like because there is an actor on the screen portraying that character.

This is what I'm talking about, its not hard to understand, and the effect is magnified in MMOs because *you are the character*. you exist in a world alongside other characters.

"it'll provide choices and decision paths within those quests"

Thats good as far as it goes, but by opening the door to choice you are actually shining a spotlight on all the parts where you dont have choice.

So Yoda gives you a quest to kill a guy. You do the quest and can decide to either kill the guy or decide yoda is wrong and let him go. So you decide Yoda wanted you to go kill an innocent man and let the guy go.

If you can't decide to go kill yoda after that, and rid the world of yoda's evil influence, you have no choice.

Even worse is you decide Yoda was wrong, and yet still go back to Yoda and get more quests like nothing happened.
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Posted: Nov 1st 2011 11:19PM Space Cobra said

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I am speculating, but I like to think those folks that click through stories and "don't care", actually do or want certain experiences "compartmentalized". So "shooting things" would be different from "reading about story". I mean, why not just exaggerate things in a game, like a shooter to the point of not needing strong graphics but providing the action? In other words, just make an 8-bit FPS or stick figures and use a game engine's physics to full extent?

(Of course, even I have been affected by the "better graphic" bug to an extent, but I realize if you give good gameplay, I can forgive most graphics and I think other players can, too).

So, those that skip story have various reasons, but they are simple ones. I don't think they are the majority, but everyone feels, the need to do something (and not "read" online) or boredom because they've done a story before.

Posted: Nov 1st 2011 11:25PM Space Cobra said

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@Space Cobra

Really, even in simple games, I can't imagine too many Devs not putting in a "story" of some sort to explain the player's role or experience in a game. Part of game making is art and in this medium, story-telling and passing of viewpoints/morals help that. While I *have* seen minimalist games that were designed that way (and they have their value), we must remember that players/audiences will constantly theorize or even make up their own stories. For example, in Team Counterstrike, you got the spy class (and others). There are many jokes and even a bit of personalization to these classes, especially the spy. Jokes are made and the internet spreads the infamy, especially if it is funny. In that regard, a personality and story are given to characters that are just basically on a limited game map and whose only purpose is to kill the other team's players within a set limit (time or kills).

People really will personalize most things, even those that say they don't. They will have favorite classes and develop some sort of fondness for them and at least, remember a good web-comic that told a story about their character and possibly pass it on as internet meme.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 5:12AM Jeromai said

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@Space Cobra

Even FPSes like TF as you mention have a kind of story. In this case, the 'lore' is presented as distinctive characterized classes, and the players create their own stories through their interpretations - I think the gender of the Pyro under the suit was the subject of quite a few forum discussions, fer example.

..And told by their own gameplay. "I singlehandedly went Scout and whisked away loads of control points away from the other team" or "We were losing badly, then I went Medic and joined this non-noob Heavy. Together, we pwned the disorganised other team, and let us push the orecart all the way to victory."

It's not going to win any Pulitzers, but it's the player's own story, and thus more personal in a way.

Yet some other players may feel that their stories aren't interesting enough and would prefer to be passive recipients of a good story told by someone else. Others want to be the storyteller.

There are some interesting blends of story games out there that MMOs might crib ideas from. Fallen London uses random text snippets with some choices chosen by the player to create the illusion of a story - the player fills in the gaps. Bastion uses a player's current choice of actions to play recorded voice snippets to create the illusion of a continuous narration of one's actions.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 2:09PM BigAndShiny said

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I have played TOR extensively, and am familiar with the game.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 4:50AM Jeromai said

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I'm puzzled. Who are these hypothetical people who ask to remove story from their MMO?

I've seen many more comments for the opposite, though sometimes it's expressed in complaints - such as the MMO doesn't feel immersive enough as a virtual world - lore is story too, and scenery can be good set dressing to help tell a story.

Or the story being presented isn't compelling because it's a) formulaic and generic b) word dumped on the player in a wall of text or c) repetitive (often due to needing to play through the content repeatedly for gameplay design reasons).

The really interesting question is, what kinds of story do different people prefer, and which are longer-lasting or best suited to an MMO?

A linear story? A non-linear one?
One that is told by the devs or writers? Or one that is told by the players?
Interactive story, told through player actions? Or static in text, cutscenes, dialogue, or whatever?
How can the players affect the story? Success only, or failure possible? Or are they just along for the ride?
Are there any lasting consequences once the story plays through? Or does it repeat and loop for the next person? Or is it only seen once per person?
And how episodic or standalone is the story?

Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 9:00AM Rimeshade said

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I'm all for story being added to mmoRPGs in a more detailed and central manner, however, from what I've read from leaks from swtor, although the stories are certainly interesting, they never feel like YOUR story.

I currently RP in WoW and so I'm used to simply making a character and building up their lore via interactions with others and imagination whilst keeping it within the WoW lore framework. I feel like I have a unique character with a unique background. This issue I see in swtor is that of "railroading" by the devs, espeically with regard to certain class stories (for example the Shadow and Sage sharing a storyline makes little sense as they are both very different operators, the Sage meditates and studies, the Shadow infiltrates and spies).

I want to have more control of my characters in a story based game, I'm playing something of my own creation so I want control of him. I love a good story (loved the Legacy of Kain series) and enjoy watching one that's well crafted but I'm controlling premade characters in that, I feel no sense of personalisation or deep attachment to them, I'm "borrowing" someone else's intellectual property to all intents and purposes.

When it comes to games that let me make my own character I want to reflect his motivations in the game story, not be told what they are. For example, my Jedi Shadow is somewhat of a laid-back, intelligent but lazy type with a "gray" allignment. Ingame not only can I not give particularly humourous/snarky/witty responses (all choices are divided up into saint, neutral and asshole) but maintaining my gray allignment means balancing "bad" and "good" acts rather than e.g. performing the right action with bad intentions/reasons or performing the wrong action with good intentions/reasons.

I'll still be playing SWTOR but I'm fully aware that I'll need to largely ignore most of my class storyline in order to craft my own RP backstory which kinda puts story on the backburner for me. Maybe GW2 will have more options for impacting the world in a permanent way (which I would love) but I'm not holding my breath on being able to log out and when i log back in all of the outlying villages are beig sacked by raiders because not enough players completed quests to reinforce their defences or not enough players voted to raise military funds etc.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2011 10:44AM Rodj Blake said

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The best stories in MMOs are those that encompass the whole game with everyone who wants to be involved playing a unique part - ie not what we see in 99% of MMOs where everyone does exactly the same quests. I mean why do I have to go and kill Zargoth the sorceror when my buddy already did that last week?

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