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Reader Comments (7)

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 6:43PM (Unverified) said

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Sadly, the paid writers aren't particularly good at stories either, one of the real problems with MMOs.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 6:56PM Borick said

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I don't think that individual storytelling has anything to do with the quality of story production. It's about uncharted possibilities -- degrees of freedom, if you will. Most people may not have any interest in telling a story or building their own monument online, but a game that fosters that sort of development allows the few folks who do to provide visible examples of content creation (Good and bad both). In such an environment you get more production than you can out of a repetitive, heavily-engineered narrative.

I daresay that most of the three million people who have purchased Minecraft have NOT used the game to design their own cathedrals or built a custom ALU out of redstone circuits, but some do, and they spread such things to those who otherwise wouldn't learn how.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 8:41PM Irem said

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I would have trouble getting invested in a game where the world itself had no story. I'm not really interested in a blank slate; if I'm roleplaying in a particular world it's because I'm fond enough of it that I want to write characters who live in that setting and be immersed in it as much as possible. That having been said:

"Yes, frequently the story treats player characters as if they're the solitary individuals in the game and everyone else doesn't count. That's problematic."

Depending on how heavy-handed it is, it can kill my desire to RP in a game altogether. RIFT and Aion both turned me off roleplaying in their worlds fairly quickly, because they spent more time right off the bat trying to convince me my character was the sole chosen last hope hero of the world than letting me get my feet under me. When not dealing directly with my character's place in the story, the worlds felt lacking to me. If I feel like the sole reason for the setting and the plot to exist is to prop up everyone's individual player character, I can never really gain that sense of investment necessary to involve myself in RP; it's just as bad as the world having no story at all. Unfortunately, I think a lot of companies think that's what players want when they talk about roleplay: a fill-in-the-name storybook with our PCs as the center of the world.

It can't really be that hard to write a plausible story that treats other players as fellow citizens of the world, and not just other people's avatars running around in a shared space, can it? Is that just a side effect of the trend away from needing to interact with other players much at all? I think FFXI did it well. Sure, my character was the hero, but other players were very much part of the life of the world. Maybe that was because so much of the world--from giant raid bosses to mission spawns--were out in the open where everyone could witness things happening and react.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 9:04PM JuliusSeizure said

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'Next week, for the final column of this year, I'm going to turn around and do what I love to do with these sorts of columns: undermine everything I said here.'

Can I say that I love when you do that? It's one of my favourite things about this column. It was also pretty great when you did it with the Resistance/Loyalist columns in A Mild Mannered Reporter. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wasn't even thinking about playing the game back then.

Anyway, I was going to make some arguments against what you have to say here, but I guess you'll make them for me next week. ;) If not, I'll be sure to. You do have some good points here that are worth considering, but there are some fundamental flaws to the argument that I expect you to pick apart.

Posted: Dec 23rd 2011 11:13PM Borick said

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@JuliusSeizure I agree. That's one of the great things about this site, in my opinion.
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Posted: Dec 24th 2011 7:16AM smartstep said

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Best "story" for me is when game WORLD is greatly done, beliveable, when small things like ambient sounds, music, eco-systems, day & night cycles, etc just all fall into place.

Just some scripted individual story is not really anything great.
I find much better things like that in books and movies.

Anyway story-wise most newer games (mmorpg's included) does not really come close to story quality and compelxing & depth from titles like Fallout 2, PlaneScape Torment or Vampire: The Masquerade, etc

F.e. story from Dragon Age 2 is so shallow and plain & generic - that I don't know if I should laugh of cry over it....

Posted: Dec 24th 2011 4:14PM Dblade said

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The problem with devs trying to create stories has two sides. I'll use FFXI for example.

1. In a cutscene, you are involved in the historical events that shape a nation, and are confidants and heroes righting wrongs and preventing the apocalypse.

2. In gameplay, it takes six of you to kill a rabbit.

In TOR (which I'm not bothering with) I bet its the reverse:

1. You are one of many Jedi, scoundrels, or bounty hunters just trying to do their thing in the world of the old republic.

2. You kill 500,000 people along the line of doing so.

This is why anyone who focuses on story, like RPers, tends to not gameplay in it.

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