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Why story is right

ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,906Member Uncommon

A reply to Royalkin.

 

I have been playing MMOs for about 7 or 8 years. My first MMO was SWG, a sandbox game, and back then I had a blast in this game. Still, I never could really shake the feeling, that something in MMORPGs was totally and fundamentally wrong, or missing. I was a gamer ever since I was 16, so some 25 years now. I also grew up with Pen and Paper Role Playing Games, in my childhood and youth, it was the German "The Dark Eye". Now unlike D&D back then, the Dark Eye was not a dungeon crawler, acutally fighting took only a very very minor part. In a whole evening you could play 6-8 hours with maybe 1-2 combat situations. The rest was narration and interaction. Living a fairy tale. This was the childhood dream of games: the "what-if" dream, where you were someone from a book or a movie. What if you were Frodo, or Captain Kirk, or Luke Skywalker - or anyone from movies, TV series or book novels? And now, you CAN be a hero or villain from Star Wars!

I loved RPGs ever since I played Ultima VI - The Quest of the Avatar somewhere in the 1980ies. For me it was a revelation. I was the hero of a mysterious land called Britannia, the Avatar of the Eight Britannian Virtues. I spent years with delving into the lore of Britannia. But one thing I never did: I NEVER played Ultima Online. I couldn't. For me, as one who LOVED the Ultima RPG single player series, I passionately vividly hated Ultima Online. The reason was simple: if I had been the Avatar, the hero of legends in many Ultima CRPGs, why in the world should I be a nobody in Britannia now? Why should I spent months and months to do some mundane tasks like crafting chairs or daggers or fish? Why should be be just one anonymous nobody among thousands in a MMO, doing mundane tasks or mindlessly killing mobs just so, when I was the Avatar, the hero of stories and fairy tales? In Ultima the single player RPGs, I had Iolo, Shamino and Durpre, I know Lord British as a friend and adventures of me were sung in tavern and depiced in paintings! It was epic, it was a great tale I was part in. When I played UO a few days on a friend's account, I was HORRIFIED. This was a perversion of Roleplaying! People did mundane tasks like WORK! They killed each other! They hunted wild animals just for XP and loot! Where was the story? Where was the magic? Where was the purpose? Nowhere. For me, this sort of gameplay was the ultimate horror. Pointless, mundane and like a factory job. "Let's go kill stuff." Reason? Because we can. Yes, a lot  of people made up stories in their mind. But then, for what?

I was a while happy in SWG, which sounds like a contradiction. But that was because I was with nice people, and because I am such a big Star Wars fan that you could essentially put me in a grey box with a lightsaber, and I would be happy. A while. But for me, MMOs of the sort of Everquest, UO, and all up to WOW were always reduced RPGs, a RPG cut of the essential part, that part which made playing Ultima, Baldurs Gate, Stonekeep, Wizardry, Might and Magic, Bards Tale and all the other RPGs so great: STORY. A place where things are connected to you, and not just some "fetch me 20 Gnoll paws, because you get some reward". For me, that sort of gameplay was always a reduced, limited concept.

And that brings me to SWTOR: this kind of personal, heroic story, is what I always wanted to see, and what I always saw as the logical, necessary next step of Online Role Playing Games: giving the role, the personal story element into the massive world. A story which was connected to YOU as class, as race and as person. Giving you choices to actually decide the outcome of your story! So far we could NEVER make ANY decision! For me, SWTOR is like two-dimensional games finally became three dimensional! Yes, SWTOR has flaws. Yes, SWTOR is only the first baby-step in this new dimension of Online Role Playing. But what I abhorred was this WOW like concept, that a MMORPG is only about grinding items, grinding dungeons, grinding faction points. WOW had developed MMOs into work! Into a job at the rubberband factory! For me, WOW was the ultimate low point of MMO development, keeping people in a hamster wheel of "push buttons to grind points", without any personal reason, any moral choices and total lack of consequences. You just killed because you were told to. How people loved this mindless, soulless points grinding always was beyond me. Now sure, SWTOR does not re-invent the genre. But SWTOR DOES re-invent the genre, because it adds a depths, a third dimension: story. You have a personal story, all things have some meaning and most important you can make decisions and alter the outcome of the story. Opening up this new avenue for Online RPGs was THE most needed step for the genre, and from here I hope we see this as a whole new way to play online role playing games. This first step is of cause in some points flawed, because heck, it is the first time we see this! But from here on, a new era is there, and for me there is no turning back to EQ/WoW-like mindless "kill all that moves because we say so" MMOs.

Story was the long overdue, logical next step of Online RPGs. And despite all details about we may argue in the future of SWTOR, despite issues this game may have, I am happy to see this long needed evolution finally manifested. It is the return of what made games like the Ultima RPGs so great: the story of a hero and the moral dilemmas of decisions and consequences. From here on, it can only get better!

People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

Comments

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

    I actually don't disagree that story can be good in MMORPG.

    My problem with SWTOR is just that the story is too linear and pre-defined.  This leaves me with the feeling that I have no control over where my character goes and I'm just being pushed along a rail.  I would love if the story elements of the game were basically spread out and players could consume them at their leisure.  So instead of the story being forced upon you, you would just adventure and find different quests/events that involved you in an interesting (short) story.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • AnubisanAnubisan Boulder, COPosts: 1,801Member

    For once I completely agree with you Elikal. Great post!

  • ZekiahZekiah Aurora, COPosts: 2,499Member

    I'd rather the majority of story-telling be left to movies and story-making left to gaming. I believe that gamers can create their own stories without all the linear hand holding.

    Makes me shake my head to think of what MMOs have become after so much promise of its foundation. I find it quite sad really.

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • kaliniskalinis Dexter, MEPosts: 1,428Member

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    I actually don't disagree that story can be good in MMORPG.

    My problem with SWTOR is just that the story is too linear and pre-defined.  This leaves me with the feeling that I have no control over where my character goes and I'm just being pushed along a rail.  I would love if the story elements of the game were basically spread out and players could consume them at their leisure.  So instead of the story being forced upon you, you would just adventure and find different quests/events that involved you in an interesting (short) story.

    Its a story, All stories are pre defined. Even books with choice usually have the same outcome, u just choose what path it takes to get u there, That is what the choices in tor do.

    Sure they may not have a huge impact on the game world , but they do impact teh story, Sure they may do so in subtle ways but it does impact the story u are playing at least thats the way it seems to me. 

    sure the end of the story will be the same and u take pretty much the same path, but in the end the chocies u make are what to me make the story feel more personal.

    I love the choices. U cant have a  story that goes 10 million diffrent ways os every player in game gets a diffrent story u cant do that  it would take u 100 yrs to make that mmo.

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

    Originally posted by kalinis

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    I actually don't disagree that story can be good in MMORPG.

    My problem with SWTOR is just that the story is too linear and pre-defined.  This leaves me with the feeling that I have no control over where my character goes and I'm just being pushed along a rail.  I would love if the story elements of the game were basically spread out and players could consume them at their leisure.  So instead of the story being forced upon you, you would just adventure and find different quests/events that involved you in an interesting (short) story.

    Its a story, All stories are pre defined. Even books with choice usually have the same outcome, u just choose what path it takes to get u there, That is what the choices in tor do.

    Sure they may not have a huge impact on the game world , but they do impact teh story, Sure they may do so in subtle ways but it does impact the story u are playing at least thats the way it seems to me. 

    sure the end of the story will be the same and u take pretty much the same path, but in the end the chocies u make are what to me make the story feel more personal.

    I love the choices. U cant have a  story that goes 10 million diffrent ways os every player in game gets a diffrent story u cant do that  it would take u 100 yrs to make that mmo.

     The difference is...

    ONE story that predefines what you do from level 1 to 50.

    Or

    SEVERAL optional short stories that you can choose from and mix and match at your discretion to level from 1 to 50.

    The latter gives you much more choice and would greatly enhance replayability.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • dragonordragonor WaltPosts: 19Member

    Originally posted by Elikal

    A reply to Royalkin.

     Story was the long overdue, logical next step of Online RPGs. And despite all details about we may argue in the future of SWTOR, despite issues this game may have, I am happy to see this long needed evolution finally manifested. It is the return of what made games like the Ultima RPGs so great: the story of a hero and the moral dilemmas of decisions and consequences. From here on, it can only get better!

     

    just 2cent about this: story (+ full voice) requires alot of work/money and is at least a "finite" content.. which means: you go through the story for maybe 1-2 months and then..?

     

    also: how important is a personal story in mmo's when everyone is doing it on their own?

    player1 to player2: "oh.. i just killed darth mole.. the story was epic.. was a hard fight.."

    player2: "well i already killed the same guy 3 days ago.. was pretty easy.."

    hrm..

     

    developers could/should put that work/money in some real good maybe "infinite" (endgame)content..

    also: normally.. imo.. in mmo's story is made by players.. who are playing with and against each other..

     

    swtor and the story-part is the evolution of mmorpg's? omg.. hopefully not..

  • NethermancerNethermancer Toronto, ONPosts: 520Member

    Agreed. I did not like WoW, AoC, LOTRO, WAR etc. etc because i didnt see any point to anyhting.....i had no connection with the lore or my character. I love sandboxes becasue i can make my own story and feel connected to the world and my character.

    SWTOR has made me want to get immersed in the world...it has made me like my character and want to see him grow. For us non-RP'ers this is the closest i have felt to role playing even if its on rails.

    o and SWTOR is the first themepark that feels anythign close to epic. 

    So i am having fun.

    But i am certainly not playing SWTOR like i have played other thempark mmo's. 

    Playing: PO, EVE
    Waiting for: WoD
    Favourite MMOs: VG, EVE, FE and DDO
    Any person who expresses rage and loathing for an MMO is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

  • DistopiaDistopia Baltimore, MDPosts: 16,915Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    O

     The difference is...

    ONE story that predefines what you do from level 1 to 50.

    Or

    SEVERAL optional short stories that you can choose from and mix and match at your discretion to level from 1 to 50.

    The latter gives you much more choice and would greatly enhance replayability.

    I'll take the first option any day of the week. The idea the latter gives me is the piecemeal stories you find in typcial MMO's, finding browns stolen crops, delivering mama's pies.

    The former implies a steady narrative that expands while you play. That is just a lot more preferable to me.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

    It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

    Originally posted by Distopia

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    O

     The difference is...

    ONE story that predefines what you do from level 1 to 50.

    Or

    SEVERAL optional short stories that you can choose from and mix and match at your discretion to level from 1 to 50.

    The latter gives you much more choice and would greatly enhance replayability.

    I'll take the first option any day of the week. The idea the latter gives me is the piecemeal stories you find in typcial MMO's, finding browns stolen crops, delivering mama's pies.

    The former implies a steady narrative that expands while you play. That is just a lot more preferable to me.

    It doesn't have to be so simplistic though.  What you listed aren't really "stories," they are side quests.  Even a story that lasts like 2-3 hours can be very interesting.  Think of the guild storylines in the Elder Scrolls games.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • kaliniskalinis Dexter, MEPosts: 1,428Member

    What makes the story matter to me is the choices i get to make, It makes me actually think about what my character would do.

    Also many short stories u choose to mix and match, would take alot of time to do also . This is a themepark game

    sorry but i dont see how people dont get that. Themepark games tend to be linear driven games, pt a to b to c, 

    Seems what u want is a sanbox game that gives u story, which defeats the purpose of a sanbox.

  • KuinnKuinn MestaPosts: 2,093Member

    Originally posted by dragonor

    also: normally.. imo.. in mmo's story is made by players.. who are playing with and against each other..

     

    Sure, story is made by players if everyone is a roleplayer, and what maybe 5%, at maximum 10% of the overall population are roleplayers that you dont have to facepalm at.

     

    If you are saying player made story is a random lol raid attacking some backwater town in a mmorpg, it's not. It's just a lol raid for giggles. Story is what makes the game world feel like there is something going on and some reason for all that is happening, VERY rarely does other players, other than decent roleplayers, manage to give this feeling outside the game mechanics. That's why Rift felt so boring to me, the game didnt tell me a story, nor did the players, so I was just running after map marks. I'm basically often running after the same marks in TOR, only this time it is fun, even if I dont listen to some side quest details closely, but for the reason that I have a good overall impression of the planet/zone and what is going on and what my role in it is.

  • EthianEthian Montreal, QCPosts: 1,216Member

    If the next generation of MMOs evolve from TOR and its linear model the genre is doomed. Cut-scenes and lots of money to push a MMO don't make a great game. Inovative and unique game mechanics do. The fluff will eventually where off, sadly Bioware will make so much money many of the games to follow will stay on the themepark bandwagon.

    "I play Tera for the gameplay"

  • Cthulhu23Cthulhu23 Tempe, AZPosts: 994Member

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    I actually don't disagree that story can be good in MMORPG.

    My problem with SWTOR is just that the story is too linear and pre-defined.  This leaves me with the feeling that I have no control over where my character goes and I'm just being pushed along a rail.  I would love if the story elements of the game were basically spread out and players could consume them at their leisure.  So instead of the story being forced upon you, you would just adventure and find different quests/events that involved you in an interesting (short) story.

    If you are talking about a central storyline, then of course it's going to be linear.  Every game will have a linear central storyline.  It has to have a beginning, middle, and end, and there has to be a way for the character to get from Point A to point B.  TOR has it, and so will GW2.  That's right...GW2 will have a linear personal story too.  

    And I don't understand your point about being able to adventure and pick up shorter stories at your own leisure.  Isn't that exactly what side quests do?  Not only in TOR but basically EVERY MMO?  Some of the side quests in TOR have some pretty complex, long chains to them that take a while to resolve.  And due to the overwhelming number of quests in this game, you aren't "forced" to do all of them.  You can literally pick and choose which ones seem interesting to take part in, and never have issues with not having enough to level.  I'm currently on my 4th trip through Coruscant, and am skipping entire quest hubs aside from when they are presented in my class quests, and am having zero issues levelling.  

    So I don't buy your argument about linearity or being "forced" to do anything, aside from the class quests, which is no different from other games with a central storyline---just better written. 

     

     

  • DistopiaDistopia Baltimore, MDPosts: 16,915Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    O

    It doesn't have to be so simplistic though.  What you listed aren't really "stories," they are side quests.  Even a story that lasts like 2-3 hours can be very interesting.  Think of the guild storylines in the Elder Scrolls games.

    I thought about TES games when I read your post. Didn't change my opinion a whole lot. I'd still prefer the flowing narrative approach.

    Well to clarify if you would take the idea of working for multiple people as you can in TES games, while at the same time making those choices all tie into a flowing narrative I'd be all about it.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

    It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

    Originally posted by Cthulhu23

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    ...

    If you are talking about a central storyline, then of course it's going to be linear.  Every game will have a linear central storyline.  It has to have a beginning, middle, and end, and there has to be a way for the character to get from Point A to point B.  TOR has it, and so will GW2.  That's right...GW2 will have a linear personal story too.  

    And I don't understand your point about being able to adventure and pick up shorter stories at your own leisure.  Isn't that exactly what side quests do?  Not only in TOR but basically EVERY MMO?  Some of the side quests in TOR have some pretty complex, long chains to them that take a while to resolve.  And due to the overwhelming number of quests in this game, you aren't "forced" to do all of them.  You can literally pick and choose which ones seem interesting to take part in, and never have issues with not having enough to level.  I'm currently on my 4th trip through Coruscant, and am skipping entire quest hubs aside from when they are presented in my class quests, and am having zero issues levelling.  

    So I don't buy your argument about linearity or being "forced" to do anything, aside from the class quests, which is no different from other games with a central storyline---just better written. 

     

     

     Yep GW2's personal story will indeed be linear and "all the way through" as you say.  A difference with it though is that it is completely isolated from the rest of the game.  In GW2, you can wander around the world freely and do dynamic events at your leisure.  Then you can go do your personal story when you feel like it.

    This is in contrast with SWTOR where your story pretty much always decides exactly where you go, and side quests are just things that you "run across" while doing your story.

    I wouldn't mind the GW2 approach either.  I just don't want the story to complete dictate my PvE leveling experience.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • DistopiaDistopia Baltimore, MDPosts: 16,915Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    O

      I just don't want the story to complete dictate my PvE leveling experience.

    This wasn't my experience in TOR at all. I actually felt there were plenty of sidequests around to deviate from the main plot, especially as you get further into the game.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

    It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  • VryheidVryheid Baltimore, MDPosts: 469Member

    Excellent post, Elikal. At the end of the day the core of any RPG should be the role play, of which most classic MMOs were horribly lacking. We can talk about sandboxes vs themeparks all day long, but without a coherent plot the foundation of a game is agonizingly static. That's really why you preferred the single player Ultima games- when you finished, you felt like you had actually accomplished something which had a significant impact on the game world. This is a step beyond most MMOs which simply railroad you to disjointed and ultimately trivial arbitrary quest chains.

    Personally I think more MMOs should take notice of ToR's approach. Eventually having a strong storyline and presentation will become so standard and fine-tuned that developers will finally be able to expand storylines to uniformly impact an entire server rather than be instanced out to individuals. Imagine the assassination of a king occurring from a great battle between an entire game population rather than having him simply respawn after being killed in an individual quest chain. Perhaps the storylines will branch out depending on who manages to win or lose a key battle. This kind of interactivity doesn't exist yet, but at the rate we're going it's very much possible.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by Creslin321

    Originally posted by Cthulhu23

    Originally posted by Creslin321
    ...
    If you are talking about a central storyline, then of course it's going to be linear.  Every game will have a linear central storyline.  It has to have a beginning, middle, and end, and there has to be a way for the character to get from Point A to point B.  TOR has it, and so will GW2.  That's right...GW2 will have a linear personal story too.  
    And I don't understand your point about being able to adventure and pick up shorter stories at your own leisure.  Isn't that exactly what side quests do?  Not only in TOR but basically EVERY MMO?  Some of the side quests in TOR have some pretty complex, long chains to them that take a while to resolve.  And due to the overwhelming number of quests in this game, you aren't "forced" to do all of them.  You can literally pick and choose which ones seem interesting to take part in, and never have issues with not having enough to level.  I'm currently on my 4th trip through Coruscant, and am skipping entire quest hubs aside from when they are presented in my class quests, and am having zero issues levelling.  
    So I don't buy your argument about linearity or being "forced" to do anything, aside from the class quests, which is no different from other games with a central storyline---just better written. 
     
     


     Yep GW2's personal story will indeed be linear and "all the way through" as you say.  A difference with it though is that it is completely isolated from the rest of the game.  In GW2, you can wander around the world freely and do dynamic events at your leisure.  Then you can go do your personal story when you feel like it.
    This is in contrast with SWTOR where your story pretty much always decides exactly where you go, and side quests are just things that you "run across" while doing your story.
    I wouldn't mind the GW2 approach either.  I just don't want the story to complete dictate my PvE leveling experience.



    I think the difference is that your level in GW2 isn't as important as it is in SWToR. In SWToR (and most level based mmorpg) your level determines where you can go and to a large extent what you can do. In GW2, being level 1 in the open world isn't going to gimp you so badly that you can't be there. In SWToR, wandering into any of the open world areas at level 1 would result in you getting squashed by mobs or other players, probably within seconds.

    I actually like the SWToR approach. You're going to be moving through the zones in a linear fashion anyway (it's already dictated to you), having a cohesive story line throughout the process is a bonus and makes it worth your time.

    I would probably like the GW2 approach as well...it sounds kind of like playing Fallout 3. You have a story line, but you can also just wander around killing stuff.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,906Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Creslin321

    I actually don't disagree that story can be good in MMORPG.

    My problem with SWTOR is just that the story is too linear and pre-defined.  This leaves me with the feeling that I have no control over where my character goes and I'm just being pushed along a rail.  I would love if the story elements of the game were basically spread out and players could consume them at their leisure.  So instead of the story being forced upon you, you would just adventure and find different quests/events that involved you in an interesting (short) story.

    While I agree that story always can be improved in the mechanics, SWTOR is just the beginning, hopefully. But if you were Dungeon Master once in a PnP game (I was for many years), you know story-telling always involves *some* railroading. It is more about the illusion of freedom. See Baldurs Gate, sure in theory you are relatively free, but in reality mobs and invisible walls confine you quite a lot. But the upside is a story we remember even 15 or more years after it. Sure, there is the philosophy of Elders Scrolls or Fallout 3, there certainly are more than one way to make story-telling. But a *personal* story always involves a degree of railroading.

    I can understand you, and I too would wish more freedom ADDITIONALLY - things a bit sandboxy on top of the story-layer that is there.

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • CeridithCeridith Toronto, ONPosts: 2,980Member

    MMOs need story to give context to player's actions.

    That said, "personalized" scripted story kills an MMO for me. In a SPRPG it's fine, but in an MMORPG I just can't get past the fact that every single other player has or will do the exact same things as I have and will do. The epic encounters aren't so epic knowing that they're pre-scripted with the expectation for me and countless others to beat it.

    In my opinion, it's the unscripted things that make for the most 'epic', memorable, and enjoyable gameplay moments.

  • XzenXzen Los Alamos, NMPosts: 2,607Member Common

    Nothing wrong with story. But don't expect players to stay for long when you have start and a finish. The roblem is that it's all handed to you on a platter. There is no digging required to discover anything about the world you're playing in. There is one path to follow from start to finish and only one way to get there.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member

    Originally posted by Xzen

    Nothing wrong with story. But don't expect players to stay for long when you have start and a finish. The roblem is that it's all handed to you on a platter. There is no digging required to discover anything about the world you're playing in. There is one path to follow from start to finish and only way way to get there.

    But---and we've covered this before in similar threads---

    The kind of "RP Lite" that we're being exposed to is going to have a positive effect on the RPLAWL! players we normally see coming out of x-box live, assuming they actually follow the story.

    Not a deep, immersive experience for olde tyme roleplayers (I wouldn't pick a fixed IP for that crowd anyway), no, but something to crack the shells of the RP-resistant.  And the story goes a long, long way toward introduction to basic RP themes.

    Now if only we could offer a better venue than an MMO (fixed emotes, restricted costuming, etc.) for people who truly want immersive.

    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.

  • DLangleyDLangley Beaumont, TXPosts: 1,407Member

    Please respond in the thread you are replying to. Thanks!

     

    Locked.

This discussion has been closed.