Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Fuzzy Avatars Solved! Please re-upload your avatar if it was fuzzy!

[Column] General: Give It a Read!

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,581MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

One of the thing that often is overlooked by many MMO players is the overall story told through questing and interactivity with NPCs. In Matt Miller's latest column, we take a look at the importance of reading in all the many ways in manifests itself in the MMO-niverse. Read it all before lending your voice to the comments.

A lot of time quests and missions are completely finishable without reading more than the summary text in your quest log. This is a fine way to play the game, but someone was paid good money to actually craft the text to go along with that missions and you may find your immersion a little bit more believable if you at the very least skim the story of why you need to do what the designer is asking you to do.

Read more of Matt Miller's Give It a Read!

image

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

image
«1

Comments

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    Hey Matt,

    Interesting column. I think the thing that really killed text in RPG's was not the transition from text MUD (old MUD player here, btw) to graphics but the Big Glowing Question Mark, along with mini-map markers etc. I remember some of the first graphical RPG's....and one of the reasons why you stopped to talk to people and LISTEN to what they had to say was that it was really the only way to figure out what was going on in the world and where it was happening.

    Paying attention to the text of what was happening was really the way to approach logicaly playing the game in a way that didn't have you constantly wandering around and getting pulverized by things you weren't prepaired to deal with.

     

  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon
    What game is the 3rd pic of? I feel I should know it. Driving me nuts.

    image
  • BebbohBebboh WalesPosts: 29Member
    Originally posted by Senadina
    What game is the 3rd pic of? I feel I should know it. Driving me nuts.

    Guild Wars

  • Trudge34Trudge34 Stevens Point, WIPosts: 392Member Uncommon

    Maybe if the majority of the games weren't over saturated with mundane tasks that are touted as quests people would take time to read more of them. Quests should really be epic in nature. Something you pick up from someone and embark you on a long journey to get to the completion.

    I could really care less why this guy wants me to kill 10 of these while another guy 5 feet to his side wants me to kill 5 of those things, plus 5 of another. Then upon returning, asking me to loot 10 things from the 20 things I just killed.

    I treat those quests like I did when I was younger (or at least my mom had hoped I would) in just saying "Yes Mom, I'll get those for you." The reason didn't matter, but it was your mom that told you to and you're taught to listen to your mom. Same thing with the quest givers. "You want this extra exp and some coin? Then do as I say." 

    Played: EQ1 (10 Years), Guild Wars, Rift, TERA
    Tried: EQ2, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Runes of Magic and countless others...
    Currently Playing: GW2

    Nytlok Sylas
    80 Sylvari Ranger

  • BenbradaBenbrada Plainfield, ILPosts: 328Member Uncommon
    The other thing I'm NOT reading is the long winded e-mails one gets in GW2 after completing certain quests... sheesh.
  • craftseekercraftseeker kynetonPosts: 845Member Uncommon

    It seems to me people would rather pick up the quest and go read the Wiki/Fansite instructions on how to "easily" complete the quest rather than read the text so that they can figure out what to do to complete the quest. 

    Why I have even seen cases where during alpha and beta tests Dev's leak out how to do the quest which is subsequently posted on said Wiki/Fansites when the quest goes live.

  • koboldfodderkoboldfodder Danbury, DEPosts: 390Member Uncommon

    Thatnks for telling me what MMOs evolved from, and thanks telling me what Twitter is.  Hey, it's Copernicus' birthday...did you know that the planets revlove around the sun?  I just found that out on twitter, rather remarkable.

     

    If people stop after reading 140 character.....then why are there still those paper thingies around.  You know....darn, what are they called.  Ah, Books!

     

    This genre is all about the blind leading the blind.  Bad designers, bad reviews, and a blog like this.  Here is a novel idea, make a better game. 

     

    I will give you a history lesson.  In the early 80s the video game market reached total saturation with carbon copy titles of Pac Man, a game that wreaked havoc on the popular culture.  That game crossed over on so many levels and made so much money that everyone just decided to have their own version of Pac Man.  It made sense.  If Pac Man was a monster money maker, why not make the same game over and over.  You had Pac Man with a ladybug, you had Ms Pac Man and little Baby Pac Man with his pinball game.  Over and over until Spielberg had the novel idea to make a video game based on E.T.....we all know how that turned out.

     

    The MMO genre is right now in the same boat right before E.T. burst the whole bubble.  Instead of Pac Man it is now WOW.  So history repeats itself and we get the endless remakes of WOW and none of them are any good.

     

    It took an outside designer from an old card company to steer the console genre back on track with a litlle guy called Mario.  It will also take an outside developer to steer this WOW crapfest MMO genre back on track.  I am not sure what game he/she will make, but you can bet I would rather be playing that then spending my time reading about what Twitter is or how MMOs evolved from MUDs....

     

     

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    The more I stop and read (or stop and listen), the less it feels like I'm in a living world and the more if feels like I'm flipping the pages of a static story.  Quest text is like the panels of exposition in silent movies.  It's there because it has information that can't be communicated efficiently in-game, but it's still a mismatch of mediums.

    The how-you-are-viewed example from Mists of Pandaria is an interesting example of where it still the optimal way to communicate with the player - the quest text is actually aware of its surroundings and communicating reactions that you want the player to imagine but are not efficient to encode in the game any other way.  it's actual lore rather than a rationalization for an activity.

    That said, I think it would have been more fun to have little pandarian cubs running around, ocassionally following/fleeing/emoting around different race/class combinations.

  • RateroRatero Tallassee, ALPosts: 337Member Uncommon

    Well... I guess I'm almost part of the .0001%.  I've heard of Twitter but I never use it.  I do not use any form of Social Media and avoid Facebook like the plague.

    I cut my gaming teeth on MUD's back in the 80's and loved all the descriptions given by the quest givers and even when you walked on certain tiles or entered certain areas.  I guess that is the reason I still read each and every text message a quest may pop up on my screen and I listen to all the NPC's as they talk in the background for clues as to what may be around the next corner.  Once I've done the quest a few times on different characters I may tend to skip some of the more uninteresting quest lines but I still do them anyway.

    Personally, if you have to condense your thoughts into a 140 character message to get people interested enough to decide to read what is going on in that particular quest then it's your own darn fault for making it shallow, dull and bland.

    Give me background stories, clues to what may lay in wait for me if I go on a particular journey, give me atmosphere, colorful dialogue and you will hold my interests; otherwise I'll log out and look for something else that gives me what I want in a game.

    Ratero.

     
     
  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon

    I like the "informal game master reading quest text for the group in Vent" idea! :D 

     

    I want to set up something like that now! :D

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • HrimnirHrimnir Qeynos, COPosts: 1,597Member Uncommon

    Ok, so i respect the author and everything, but i'm sick of explaining this to people.

    Some of us simply DONT CARE. We don't play MMO's for personal storylines.  We play them for explorations, character advancement, seeing cool stuff, killing cool stuff, etc.

    If i wanted to read a story i have these things called books.  They do a FAR FAR FAR FAR better job of it.

    At the very least if i was concerned about story in a game, there are literally dozens of single player RPGs which are much better suited to telling story within the framework of a game.

    "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

    - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • KaeriganKaerigan None Of Your BusinessPosts: 689Member
    Why can't more games present quests in the form of dialogue? I sure would prefer something along those lines. And let me ask NPCs things that aren't neccessarily related to quests. It's not very realistic running up to a person needing help and then the person unloads 30 sentences on you without you getting to say anything.

    <childish, provocative and highly speculative banner about your favorite game goes here>

  • HrimnirHrimnir Qeynos, COPosts: 1,597Member Uncommon

    Dialogue is expensive, if you're referring to spoken dialogue.  Thats why SW:TOR cost 200 million dollars to make, something like 80 million of that alone was spent on just voice acting.

    Voice acting is also tedious, people want to play a game, not watch a movie.  Very few people don't just spacebar through that crap.  I'd be willing to bet large sums of money if we mined the data from bioware that less than 20% of the people who played SW:TOR didnt spacebar through all the dialogue.

    "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

    - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • craftseekercraftseeker kynetonPosts: 845Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hrimnir

    Dialogue is expensive, if you're referring to spoken dialogue.  Thats why SW:TOR cost 200 million dollars to make, something like 80 million of that alone was spent on just voice acting.

    Voice acting is also tedious, people want to play a game, not watch a movie.  Very few people don't just spacebar through that crap.  I'd be willing to bet large sums of money if we mined the data from bioware that less than 20% of the people who played SW:TOR didnt spacebar through all the dialogue.

    I used to think I loved spoken dialogue in MMORPGs then I played SW:TOR  I listened for a while and then did a couple of joint missions the only way not to be left behind was to spacebar the dialogue options.  After a while I was spacebar, spacebar, spacebar  oh not the faction change I wanted hit escape and spacebar again.  Nope SW:TOR killed spoken dialogue for me.

  • black_isleblack_isle IstanbulPosts: 238Member Uncommon
    I believe Wildstar is doing that 140 character quest text thing. I remember reading about it. We'll see how it will work out.
  • TwiPhoenixTwiPhoenix Aion Correspondent Texarkana, TXPosts: 19Member

     

     

    I feel as though if it depends on whether there's an actual story or not.  I've played two MMOs to a large extent (and a little of some others, but not enough to say much on them):  City of Heroes and Aion.  In CoH, I enjoyed reading the mission text almost all the time.  Even in a lot of the older mission arcs because, hey, it's an actual story unfolding.  It wasn't always a great story, especially in some of the older content, but it was good to know why I was doing these missions in this specific sequence of events and why I'm breaking up a fight between Arbiter Sands, Captain Castillo, and Nocturne.  In fact, there were times I'd go look up the mission dialogue on the Paragon Wiki for the task force I was in just to see why I was there.  Really, not being able to see all the mission dialogue when I wasn't the team leader or mission owner sucked.   Oh, and the "quest givers" and even random NPCs acknowledging the missions you completed was a neat touch.  It was always cool to be standing around Atlas Park, chatting with friends, and Bob the NPC to walk by and be like "Hey, that guy punched Lord Recluse in the face!  He's awesome!"

     

    Now let's look at Aion.  99% of the quests are one-off "go do this random task because I said so".  They don't lead anywhere and are hardly relevant beyond the quest giver and the objective.  Nobody ever mentions them again and, even if I went and spoke to a certain NPC as part of a quest, they'll never mention it if they give me a quest or I talk to them for casual dialogue.  And it was a shame, because there were a few gems in those quests (amidst a lot of mundane dialogue, of course) that go nowhere and if you want to know more, well tough.  The quest giver isn't even going to acknowledge you ran errands for him when you talk to him later.  Hence, why bother reading it?  There's little to no story and nobody ever mentions it again, so it's just kind of meh.  Even if you read it all, you forget even the gems as you go on because you can't do them again and it just gets lost in a sea of forgettable quests that no NPC in-game even cares about.

     

    So yeah, I really wish more games would take the City of Heroes approach.  It was all just the little things that made it worth reading.  Little things that Aion and, from what I hear, other games just totally ignore.  Yeah sure, maybe I'm the 58395th hero to beat up Frostfire, but at least the quest giver thanks me for arresting him, random people on the street talk about the fight, and Frostfire himself might mention our fight in a later mission (or not mention it if I didn't beat him up on that character).  

     
  • PhoebesPhoebes New Orleans, LAPosts: 87Member
    I have a limited amount of time to devote to playing games and I would rather spend that time fighting, exploring the world and talking to other players than reading thousands of stories that I really don't care about.

    Now if the game wasn't based on having to complete a ridiculously large amount of tasks in order to level, but rather had a few quests that entailed actually going on an adventure or actual "quest", then I would be more inclined to read the story. But the way games are made now, the player is just bombarded with so many meaningless tasks that it's just not worth the time. It also doesn't help that the rewards are usually just some vendor trash and a few coins.
  • tweetstweets CambridgePosts: 10Member

    I'm surprised to read some of the comments here, that reading quest text is a waste of time?

    I've been playing RPG's for a very long time.  Back when I was a GM doing paper and pen, I lovingly crafted many worlds with the goal of giving my players a history to use, or a background of why they're doing what they're doing.  I feel safe in mentioning the excellend "DM of the Rings" and "Darths and Droids" here, since they are a really good example of the ability of a good GM to craft a believable environment, but where the 'players' aren't interested.

    The thing is, many of our MMO's have a great IP sitting behind them.  LotRO, Star Trek, Star Wars... the reason a lot of these games have such a solid following is that many of these players love the lore and setting.  It's not just about "go there, kill that", a lot of the reason we pick these big name games is because of the IP!

    Otherwise, there's no difference between WoW, LotRO, Aion, or Secret World, other than the graphics.

    I do have a limited amount of time to play, with probably no more than 4 hours a week devoted to games.  From a time, when I used to play 10 - 15 hours a day, this is very limited.  But it still doesn't make me want to miss out on the story, just because my time is limited.

  • rounnerrounner CanberraPosts: 602Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by tweets

    I'm surprised to read some of the comments here, that reading quest text is a waste of time?

    I've been playing RPG's for a very long time.  Back when I was a GM doing paper and pen, I lovingly crafted many worlds with the goal of giving my players a history to use, or a background of why they're doing what they're doing.  I feel safe in mentioning the excellend "DM of the Rings" and "Darths and Droids" here, since they are a really good example of the ability of a good GM to craft a believable environment, but where the 'players' aren't interested.

    The thing is, many of our MMO's have a great IP sitting behind them.  LotRO, Star Trek, Star Wars... the reason a lot of these games have such a solid following is that many of these players love the lore and setting.  It's not just about "go there, kill that", a lot of the reason we pick these big name games is because of the IP!

    Otherwise, there's no difference between WoW, LotRO, Aion, or Secret World, other than the graphics.

    I do have a limited amount of time to play, with probably no more than 4 hours a week devoted to games.  From a time, when I used to play 10 - 15 hours a day, this is very limited.  But it still doesn't make me want to miss out on the story, just because my time is limited.

    I was lovingly crafting worlds in the 70's too, but I am not interested in text or long cut scenes or IP. Sorry but ip is just randomly generated drivel to me. You would then polarise me into only wanting to 'go there and kill that'? What about my crafting alts, and explorer firsts? If you think pve and pvp combat between games is all the same then I question your choice of hobby. 

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by tweets

    I'm surprised to read some of the comments here, that reading quest text is a waste of time?

    I've been playing RPG's for a very long time.

    There's precious little roleplay left in RPGs. Whenever you see some, water it and feed it some plant food.

    "Reading quest text is directly averse to power leveling. Kills precious efficiency and wrecks your xp/hr rate."

    Meh, where's the alcohol?

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • KaeriganKaerigan None Of Your BusinessPosts: 689Member
    Originally posted by Hrimnir

    Dialogue is expensive, if you're referring to spoken dialogue.  Thats why SW:TOR cost 200 million dollars to make, something like 80 million of that alone was spent on just voice acting.

    Voice acting is also tedious, people want to play a game, not watch a movie.  Very few people don't just spacebar through that crap.  I'd be willing to bet large sums of money if we mined the data from bioware that less than 20% of the people who played SW:TOR didnt spacebar through all the dialogue.

    I see why you would think I was referring to spoken dialogue seeing as a lot of games nowadays seem to think that's important, but I wasn't. Having proper voice actors is nice, but it's far too expensive for games that are as large as MMOs in my opinion, at least fleshed out ones.

    About dialogue being tedious, you could always implement the system a lot of single player RPGs have used the last few years - one dialogue option is marked in a different colour and by choosing that you're essentially on the fast track to getting your objective.

    <childish, provocative and highly speculative banner about your favorite game goes here>

  • MueslinatorMueslinator AugsburgPosts: 78Member

    I am an avid reader. Seriously. I've read through the Wheel Of Time four times now, read all Pratchett books at least thrice, have three shelves full of books. I LOVE a good read. I practically never leave my house without a book.

     

    And yet I have stopped reading quest texts in MMORPGs. Why? Because for the most part, they are completely irrelevant, badly written and a waste of space.

    Sure. There are occasional gems. Pamela Redpath. The Onyxia chain for Alliance. But look at the ratio: How many thousands of quests are in WoW? 5K? 6K? And you have a bare handful of quests worth remembering?

    That's a symptom of a system that is not working.

     

    Games have different narrative devices than books or films, and yet a lot of developers do not utilize them. "Show, don't tell" is a cornerstone of good writing. This principle works so much better in games, and yet we get told instead of shown all the freaking time. It's a medium neither realizing nor utilizing its potential.

    Wanna know why Half-Life is so critically acclaimed? It's not the story. It's not the graphics. It's not the mechanics. It's the way the story unfolds. How the environment SHOWS you instead of TELLING you what happens and why. You were In the story, living through it, not reading or listening about it.

    In effect, it's removing a layer of indirectness from the experience. And quest texts re-integrate that layer of indirectness and then some.

     

    There are other ways of getting exposition out there in a much more immersive way, too. System Shock had audio logs. TES has lore books.

     

    Quest texts, for me, are a lazy solution any way you look at it, and shouldn't have the ubiquitousness they do have in any game - MMORPG or not- nowadays.

  • ChakaCanChakaCan San Antonio, TXPosts: 22Member
    Originally posted by Hrimnir

    Ok, so i respect the author and everything, but i'm sick of explaining this to people.

    Some of us simply DONT CARE. We don't play MMO's for personal storylines.  We play them for explorations, character advancement, seeing cool stuff, killing cool stuff, etc.

    If i wanted to read a story i have these things called books.  They do a FAR FAR FAR FAR better job of it.

    At the very least if i was concerned about story in a game, there are literally dozens of single player RPGs which are much better suited to telling story within the framework of a game.

    THIS ^^^   

    I wish gaming companies new how much money they are wasting on something the majority of gamers are tired of - Quests!

  • MuppetierMuppetier SouthamptonPosts: 277Member
    If you cannot be succinct enough to make your quest text 140 chars then face it you need to stop being such a waffler and refine your commun
  • MightyChasmMightyChasm londonPosts: 298Member
    Originally posted by ChakaCan
    Originally posted by Hrimnir

    Ok, so i respect the author and everything, but i'm sick of explaining this to people.

    Some of us simply DONT CARE. We don't play MMO's for personal storylines.  We play them for explorations, character advancement, seeing cool stuff, killing cool stuff, etc.

    If i wanted to read a story i have these things called books.  They do a FAR FAR FAR FAR better job of it.

    At the very least if i was concerned about story in a game, there are literally dozens of single player RPGs which are much better suited to telling story within the framework of a game.

    THIS ^^^   

    I wish gaming companies new how much money they are wasting on something the majority of gamers are tired of - Quests!

    I agree, I just want to play a fun game (although I think quests are a necessity in most pve-centric mmo's).   

    The box of text explaining why I have to kill ten rats is never going to be Crime and Punishment anyway.  If I want an intricately developed plot and characterisation I'll go read a book.  

«1
Sign In or Register to comment.