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Forget Themepark or Sandbox: Why not make an MMO for "StoryTellers"?

sludgebeardsludgebeard Tampa, FLPosts: 532Member Uncommon

In today's current MMO climate I feel as if people get weighed down by these heavy terms like "Sandbox" and "Themepark" or even "Linear" and "Open-World". It becomes this hyper-politicalized system of definition for each game, polarizing the fanbase into two rabid sects with their own (and in some cases well articulated) form of gospel on why their "Type of MMO" is superior. 

 

Well to hell with that, I dont care about either side, nor do I wish to debate their remote intricacies!!

 

Instead I wish to make a claim for a dfferent form of MMO, one designed with the "Storytellers" among us in mind. My favorite memories from MMO's have always been derived from the personal stories I create while adventuring, through questing, exploration, and even mindful tinkering of the in game systems.

 

Take a simple idea of climbing a mountain in an MMO, some games impose certain limitations on areas the player can access, (invisible walls, impassable gaps, etc.) but how many times have we seen players bend the system, zig-zagging up mountainsides just to get to the hidden villa at the top? Its this unique idea of players taking a barrier the developers mindfully set, and carefully or in some cases not so carefully removing them for their own personal experiance. I think we can all agree, if theres a way up, the players will find it.

 

Now take same example and put it into the perspective of events like, the killing of Lord British in Ultima, or even the Corrupted-BLood incident in WoW, and youve set the stage for what im proposing. Its events like these that set experiances apart from one another, because above all else, its a wholly unique experiance for each player, that adds to the grander scale story for the game; as they literally live through these events and implicitly become part of their story.

 

MMO's have become very well-structured over the past decade, which isnt a bad thing, but its strange that in a time where the term "WoW-Clone" is so loosely used, no one takes into account that WoW also had alot of these Ill-Structured problems that gave not only the game's history a sense of greater purpose, but the players themselves and their characters.

 

For me, I would like to see more Ill-Structured MMO's, more room for random error, and above all else, an inconsistency  of design that blends the posibility of random experiance with player-created elaboration as to invoke a greater sense of story.

Comments

  • tom_goretom_gore TamperePosts: 1,796Member Uncommon

    As far as I've understood, Everquest Next Landmark will have a lot of DM tools for the players to create their own adventures.

    In general, sandbox games are exactly what you need to be able to tell good stories and have the game to back it up. We just haven't had many good sandbox games in ages.

    Other than that, there is only PnP and PbP roleplaying games.

  • sludgebeardsludgebeard Tampa, FLPosts: 532Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by tom_gore

    As far as I've understood, Everquest Next Landmark will have a lot of DM tools for the players to create their own adventures.

    In general, sandbox games are exactly what you need to be able to tell good stories and have the game to back it up. We just haven't had many good sandbox games in ages.

    Other than that, there is only PnP and PbP roleplaying games.

    I agree, the DM tools of EQN are currently the only thing keeping me tied to the game in any form. I feel like even if the game itself is sub-par, it will provide the deepest RP experiance of any AAA MMO to date.

     

    On the other hand, I disagree that it has to be sandbox, Tabula Rasa was a pretty straight forward and linear game, but the random encounters and base defense systems allowed for some pretty memorable and epic story-crafted moments.

     

    I remember being a sniper, on some outer rim lava planet, holding off a base against waves of literally a hundred enemies with only two random players, a pistoleer and engineer assisting me. We all were forced to fight or log out seeing as the nearest space port was on the ther side of the map. 

     

    This is again where these definitions like sandbox and linear get too muddled, does random encounters in a linear game constitute as a sandbox element? I dont nessecarily think so. Thats why I hate using those definitions, as it seems to confuse and incite polarization rather than actually stating what the feature actually is.

  • sunandshadowsunandshadow Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 1,055Member Uncommon
    Second Life has been used for a lot of storytelling; it's pretty old now but definitely seems like something to look at an an example of an MMO for storytellers.

    (Me, I find myself in that humorous position of being a writer who sucks at storytelling...)
    I want to help design and develop a PvE-focused, solo-friendly, sandpark MMO which combines crafting, monster hunting, and story.  So PM me if you are starting one.
  • tom_goretom_gore TamperePosts: 1,796Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by sludgebeard
    Originally posted by tom_gore

    As far as I've understood, Everquest Next Landmark will have a lot of DM tools for the players to create their own adventures.

    In general, sandbox games are exactly what you need to be able to tell good stories and have the game to back it up. We just haven't had many good sandbox games in ages.

    Other than that, there is only PnP and PbP roleplaying games.

    I agree, the DM tools of EQN are currently the only thing keeping me tied to the game in any form. I feel like even if the game itself is sub-par, it will provide the deepest RP experiance of any AAA MMO to date.

     

    On the other hand, I disagree that it has to be sandbox, Tabula Rasa was a pretty straight forward and linear game, but the random encounters and base defense systems allowed for some pretty memorable and epic story-crafted moments.

     

    I remember being a sniper, on some outer rim lava planet, holding off a base against waves of literally a hundred enemies with only two random players, a pistoleer and engineer assisting me. We all were forced to fight or log out seeing as the nearest space port was on the ther side of the map. 

     

    This is again where these definitions like sandbox and linear get too muddled, does random encounters in a linear game constitute as a sandbox element? I dont nessecarily think so. Thats why I hate using those definitions, as it seems to confuse and incite polarization rather than actually stating what the feature actually is.

    Random encounters can trigger emergent storytelling, which can be awesome in its own right, but I think the best stories come with some kind of pre-defined framework that only DM tools can achieve.

    Also, sandbox games tend to have more "props" and other RP tools that can flesh out the roleplaying a lot. Most modern themepark MMOs offer little tools and leave almost everything to player imagination. Which isn't bad, but if you base everything on imagination, you can just play a PnP RPG.

     

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