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[Editorial] General: Games and Story - The Third Paradigm

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  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Daessar
    Originally posted by Po_gg

    Hmm... Architect in CoH many years ago? Foundry in STO since (I think) 2011? Also in Neverwinter since launch.

    "if they ever let the players create their own stories"  The concept is among us quite a while now... :)

    I believe both of those are F2P games with cash shops that sell power. So the question is, are those 2 games immensely successful? and if yes, then is the success attributed to the Foundries, or something else.

    Nope, CoH had the Architect while it was a sub game (true, later it went f2p then got axed by NCsoft)

    STO has the Foundry also from its sub times, but yep, it's freemium now (you can still sub if you want). Neverwinter is built as a purely f2p game. Since you can get Zen from the game, the cash shop doesn't sell "power", only time.

     

    Being "immensely successful" is relative I think. Both are in pretty good condition. The Foundry has some part of it, naturally, but of course that's not everyone's cup of tea, it's like crafting or housing or pvp, etc. Some like it, some don't. But yep, both games are stuffed with great / good / and often pretty weak Foundry content, and Foundry is an important part of the games. At Neverwinter's launch Grakulen had a Foundry series here on mmorpg.com, you can check those videos if you want more infos.

     

    "Would Foundries be hugely popular in AAA MMO's, or would they be seen as just another type of daily "chore/grind"?"

    It can't be a chore or a grind, since it's an optional creative process... if you don't have the skills, or the idea etc. to build some new content, you can skip it entirely and still can enjoy the works of other's. Would it be hugely popular? Dunno. Modding communities are usually the most tight-knit fanbase of any game (just check NVN, or ES, or GTA), the success would depend on how much the content creators are jumping onto the game. If they pour lots of good new content into the game, the non-creator players would have an endless supply of content to enjoy.

     

    Btw, there's no word lately of AC, and I wonder how that move will succeed on the long run. (officially backed player-run servers, with the editor tool so the admins can build anything into the world, even change the rulesets and mechanics)

  • Solar_ProphetSolar_Prophet Columbus, OHPosts: 875Member Uncommon
    Sorry, but after the debacle of Firefall (which was largely the result of Mr. Kern's inept leadership) this article has only slightly more credibility than one supposedly written by a toaster oven, and even then it's close.

    AN' DERE AIN'T NO SUCH FING AS ENUFF DAKKA, YA GROT! Enuff'z more than ya got an' less than too much an' there ain't no such fing as too much dakka. Say dere is, and me Squiggoff'z eatin' tonight!

  • DaessarDaessar Chino, CAPosts: 204Member
    Originally posted by Po_gg
    If they pour lots of good new content into the game, the non-creator players would have an endless supply of content to enjoy.

     

    Ya when I said those 2 games, I was referring to STO and Neverwinter because I was commenting on the Foundry part, but I do agree that extra content for players is great, it's just that I saw so many comments of people dismissing it because it didn't give them buckets of astral diamonds, go figure.

    Most of my reply was towards the idea of "player created stories" as a replacement for the Dev created ones. That seemed to be the theme of several of the initial comments. I'm not sure that would work as a replacement, but I think as extra content it would be a great addition to a AAA MMO.

    ( Side note:  I thought the Neverwinter shop sold astral diamonds and you could buy all the high end gear from the AH using diamonds. It was this way the last time I played.)

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    I agree that "show, don't tell" is a wonderful concept, but it is almost impossible to implement in a MMORPG game world without removing the other players from the frame.

     

    In a single-player game, the scene and the action can be perfectly controlled and paced. In an MMO not so much. In any game setting, there are typically certain actions that have to be performed to advance the plot. There are inevitably interactions with NPC's that have to take place. When you have 5 or 10 players that have to pass through this "scene" at the same time, it creates a problem.

     

    Many players just want to spacebar through the dialogue so they can get to the action. Others want to stop and sort their inventory, look at their map, pause to have a chat with guildies, go AFK to let the dog out or answer a telephone call in RL. A few others will try to see if they can can jump onto random terrain features while waiting for their friend to finish sorting their inventory, etc.

     

    Non-instanced parts of MMO's are completely uncontrollable environments. It will take true genius to replicate the starting experience of HL2 in an MMORPG without using instancing.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Daessar

    Ya when I said those 2 games, I was referring to STO and Neverwinter because I was commenting on the Foundry part, but I do agree that extra content for players is great, it's just that I saw so many comments of people dismissing it because it didn't give them buckets of astral diamonds, go figure.

    True... sadly that's not the system's fault, simply it's the era we're living in. People don't read anymore (or they read dumbed down stuff, actually at first I wanted to comment on this part when red the article, but that'd be so long and widespreaded I rather just skipped it... in short, "books can never do that", Mr. Kern, you're wrong in this matter, the written word is the most optimal way to transfer thoughts and ideas and feelings and all those stuff which today's hairy plotter and co. readers haven't even heard of), people don't care about story, all they want is action and killing for rewards. In the time of "speedruns" less and less people are interested in the story aspect, and that is maybe the biggest obstacle in front of player created story content.

    In STO there's a big Foundry community, with lots of awesome content - true, Trek fans were always a unique and special crowd :) In Neverwinter, after Cryptic closed the initial holes and there were less option for xp and money exploit, a lot of folks ditched the Foundry entirely - like you said in the example, not "worth" to them by the time/reward ratio...

    And as time moves forward, this generation of the playerbase will soon dictate the trends which devs should follow if they want to survive, sadly. Fun fact, a few months ago I saw a kid complaining in chat because he couldn't find the auto-path button, and when he was told there's no such thing in here, he totally lost it :) "wtf, do they think i will wandering around by myself, how stupid this game is, blah blah etc." That's the direction we're heading nowadays - but there's a chance web and mobile/tablet gaming will kill the genre even before we could get there.

     

    edit: btw I'd wager if you'd give HL or HL2 for a today's gamer, let's say 14, he'd say it's boring and "how the *** can I skip it, space and esc aren't working"...

  • scrittyscritty WorcesterPosts: 89Member

    I have no interest in story in games what so ever. I know others do, and that's fine. I read books and watch movies for story. Games are where my imagination makes its own story.

    I might be alone in that - and that's fine. Just worth saying that for one person on this planet - story in games means nothing.

  • azzamasinazzamasin Butler, OHPosts: 3,066Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by scritty

    I have no interest in story in games what so ever. I know others do, and that's fine. I read books and watch movies for story. Games are where my imagination makes its own story.

    I might be alone in that - and that's fine. Just worth saying that for one person on this planet - story in games means nothing.

    Trust me when I say your not alone.

     

    I am one of those who feel that Story Driven MMO's take away from the whole virtual world feeling and spreads developmental time, money and decisions too thin.  I loved how the original MMO's had very little story and let the players make their own, like in a real world.

    Sandbox means open world, non-linear gaming PERIOD!

    Subscription Gaming, especially MMO gaming is a Cash grab bigger then the most P2W cash shop!

    Bring Back Exploration and lengthy progression times. RPG's have always been about the Journey not the destination!!!

    image

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 530Member Uncommon

    In single player games the developers have a lot more control over the world and what happens in it.  Not only the environment but the behavior of the NPCs is essential to telling this story.  This is definitely something single player games could do better.

     

    However, in MMOs it just isn't that easy.  Unlike single player games the other players in the world by far do not act in a realistic or believable manner and add far too much noise to what the player is seeing.  If they want people to understand and react to what is going on around them they have to get rid of that noise.  It is hard to tell a serious story through the environment when you have liljohnny over there jumping around in his underpants yelling anal jokes in chat.  Without and story or sense of direction many player get bored and leave because they can't find the content they are supposed to be doing/enjoying.  While some players love such free form directionless gameplay, like it or not it is niche.  If they want people to stay interested and to continue giving them money, they need a hook.  Story is often that hook, but because of the above mentioned problems they often have to tell that story in a controlled environment with no or very few other players around to screw it all up.  That is usually done through instancing or phasing.  It sucks but until you can solve the liljohnny problem it appears to be a necessary evil.

  • Dreamo84Dreamo84 Niagara Falls, NYPosts: 3,437Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by grummz

    I'm really talking about the HOW to tell a story in games rather than saying that we need more or less in any genre.

    For example, in an MMO, rather than being told by some questgiver that "crystals generate power that keeps the city lit at night." I'd rather have a quest that sent me on a mission to bring the town's magical light supply online by getting the right crystal and using it in the right way on the town's lighting system.

    This way I will never forget how it works and why these crystals are important to the town. If it was just quest text and then collect three crystals and turn them in, I would forget it immediately. By making me actually use the crystals and go through the motions of inserting it into the magic furnace or other device, its much more immersive and would require much less lengthy quest text (that nobody reads) to "get it."

    Can't agree more! Good article.

    image
  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member

    Hmm, again, I'm not debating about whether people care about stories in their MMO or if we should have a lot of story in an MMO. In fact, I agree with people who are saying "enough long winded quest text." By having payers *do* the story rather than listen to an NPC describe it to them, I think we get more/better action and skip the more tedious parts of current MMO storytelling technique.

  • NephaeriusNephaerius Baltimore, MDPosts: 1,539Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DamonVile

    Does this really have to be about his past ? He brings up a very good point, that doesn't really need to be turned into a mud slinging trailer park. All too often people complain about quest hubs, limited content that players consume too quickly, lack of story or just down right bad story.

    All of these things fall under how the story is being told. Maybe it goes beyond what he specifically wrote about but that doesn't mean people shouldn't for once take the higher road here.

    Yes his past does matter.  Why should I give two fucks what this guy thinks about game design when his actions in the game world reek of failure?  He's talking about making games' storytelling different from movies but how did his big game open?  With a fucking cinematic movie! 

    Steam: Neph

  • alphatwoalphatwo Rocky Point, NCPosts: 1Member
    This article is reminding of what Citadel of Sorcery is aiming to do by adding immersive story telling in a mmorpg where your choices will matter and affect the game world large or small.
  • NerblasNerblas LeiriaPosts: 32Member Uncommon

    Agree... Make the story (be it a quest or a background story line) unfold gradually and interactively instead of throwing walls of text to the players, is surely the best way... Players often reach end game without even remembering any story, most time without even reading it. It is simply not needed, and to be honest, it is most time boring to follow (too much reading between action). Could we experience the story instead of reading about it, it would surely create a more imersive world, a more pleasant experience, and would probably incentivate more social interaction and roleplaying...

    Even a sandbox needs to have some backbone story or lore, on which the players can build up their fun. The way that is presented may just as well be the difference between success and failure of a sandbox.

     

    "Vidis Fodidis Est"

  • ArclanArclan Chicago, ILPosts: 1,494Member Uncommon
    Brilliant article.  I totally agree.

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • FlyByKnightFlyByKnight Algo Star SystemPosts: 647Member Uncommon

    Good read. Long winded text and dialogue = skip. Let the players really EXPERIENCE the narrative as they go.

     

    Another issue mmorpgs specifically have is conveying a story where people (together as a community) are the main plot, rather than trying to make 100's of players feel like they're all individually special. As many have said before the whole "you are the chosen one" is quite old and hard to sell in mmos.  MMOs are about big populations, and the stories should fit that overall narrative, while allowing individual players or small groups to carve out their own sub plots.

     
     
  • Ragnar1337Ragnar1337 Atlantis, ALPosts: 70Member
    Yeah sure mark, maybe you should stick to writing about making games since you got fired because your ran Firefall into the ground. Please go away.
  • furbansfurbans Tinbucktwo, IAPosts: 965Member

    What no bashing on highly successful MMOs and try to promote your own game that failed and the company fires you later down the road?

     

    Story telling has a place in single player games but has minimal functionality in MMOs.  Sure its a great way to do quests but most people want quality end game and could give a rat's ass of why they are fighting the boss besides the fact that it has epic loot.

     

    If someone REALLY wants a good story then they would read a damn book as no video game will EVER match the imagination of the human mind when they have a good book.  Even the greatest video games of all times will never even come close to a good book by a good writer.  Video games allow player interaction, that is the only good it does.

     

    And really the audience NEEDS to be told that the clay in the Sherlock example is cracked and the color pointed out as most would ignore the details.  Just like the details of the game environment are lost on many players as they can care less or take the time to appreciate the details.

     

    It is completely and utterly laughable at the concept that a video game provides and experience.  Only one thing does that.... and that is called REAL LIFE,  And books will always surpass video games with story telling as it gives the reader the minute details they need to know.  Books far surpass movies, just books are much more time consuming and most people just want to plunk down on the sofa and watch their flick while eating popcorn.  It is even more laughable to even conceive the thought that video games would equate to experience unless we're on the starship enterprise's holo deck or something.

     

    See that Mark is still talking out of his ass as usual.

     
     
  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,757Member Uncommon

    The problem with this is when living it replaces understanding it. That 'boring' monologue would make sure you have all the facts, that boring (for some) quest chat tells you exactly why you should be helping out. Richness of background cannot come from 'experience', it comes from lore, history or the like. That's why some of the best films and games have a literary IP like Lord of the Rings; or if they did not have one, they wrote one into the game, like Elder Scrolls.

    This is also about motivation, in Half Life you understand why you are motivated to pursue the story. Not all stories can be told with simple visual clues. You know what side you are on when you see Orcs slaughtering villagers, how do visual clues help when you get involved in diplomatic negotiations between warring peoples?

    So there is the issue Mark Kern and the rest need to address, rely too much on visual clues and you dumb down MMOs to an episode of Tom and Jerry. You as Jerry hit Tom on the head, he chases you..you know what to do. MMOs can be far more than that.

  • starmoonsunstarmoonsun Laguna Niguel, AKPosts: 6Member
    A superb article! Agree wholeheartedly! Thank you, Mark, looking forward to your next articles.
  • BladestromBladestrom edinburghPosts: 4,941Member Uncommon
    SO Mark, how do you tell a story to 50 people in the same room at the same time when they are all at a different stages of the game and/or doing different things?

    rpg/mmorg history: Dun Darach>Bloodwych>Bards Tale 1-3>Eye of the beholder > Might and Magic 2,3,5 > FFVII> Baldur's Gate 1, 2 > Planescape Torment >Morrowind > WOW > oblivion > LOTR > Guild Wars (1900hrs elementalist) Vanguard. > GW2(1000 elementalist), Wildstar

    Now playing GW2, AOW 3, ESO, LOTR, Elite D

  • socalsk8trsocalsk8tr bakersfield, CAPosts: 65Member

    First off I think kern is just putting this out here and not doing so to benifit some game he's working on. I was around when he was working on firefall and I argued long ago what was happening to it and where it would fail if it continued on its path (look at the game now).

     

    if anything in gaming mark know's how to market he doesn't need to come here and make little posts like this
  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member
    Are you sure I don't write here just to troll the critics? ;)
  • eindinblocheindinbloch Dallas, TXPosts: 60Member

    This might be the single best article I've read on mmorpg.com.  Thanks for your perfect injection of the art of immersion into a genre that is all about numbers and results.

     

    If games were all about this kind of immersion, I would probably be a game developer right now instead of a general software engineer.

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,425Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by grummz

    I'm really talking about the HOW to tell a story in games rather than saying that we need more or less in any genre.

    For example, in an MMO, rather than being told by some questgiver that "crystals generate power that keeps the city lit at night." I'd rather have a quest that sent me on a mission to bring the town's magical light supply online by getting the right crystal and using it in the right way on the town's lighting system.

    This way I will never forget how it works and why these crystals are important to the town. If it was just quest text and then collect three crystals and turn them in, I would forget it immediately. By making me actually use the crystals and go through the motions of inserting it into the magic furnace or other device, its much more immersive and would require much less lengthy quest text (that nobody reads) to "get it."

    I agree with what your point is. But I have another issue that's closely related.

     

    These are MMO's, not single player games. For SPG's, this example is fine. But for MMO's I expect to feel like I'm in a world. With that in mind, HOW this example is done is important.

    In a SPG experience you can have this be, let's say, a level 5 quest. Everyone does it, and no one expects differently. But in a world such as many of us expect, having a standard level 5 quest that everyone does and then never does it again until the time comes that the lights go out at night because there's no more newbs, then running a boring "rinse and repeat" with no challenge because you're level xx is bad game play.

    What I'd suggest is make MMO's the worlds they should be. Take this example and take away the "quest" part. Make it part of the world. Remove the power gaps that make such a run for a crystal too easy, and make the crystals random as opposed to fixed (even better is to add some insight in the game for, say, where a crustal might next "grow") and let players do the run on a whim or in a need. Let the lights go out at night if they don't, let the shop keepers close their doors when it's dark to provide incentive, and let the players have a say in running the city.

    That makes it a world instead of a massively single player game experience.

    Once upon a time....

  • fivorothfivoroth LondonPosts: 3,657Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    Actually the whole point of a role playing is missed,the STORY is what the players can make of their adventure in the game ,NOT what the developer lays out in a designed path to follow.

    I could be wrong but i think gamer's want to enjoy their own story.I realize MANY people enjoy reading books which are someone else's story but role playing is not reading a book it is an action of playing out the role of a character.

    The story inside of a MMOrpg should be realized through the game itself without having to make it point blank in your face.It should be like a NA going to live in a new Asian country,they wouldn't have someone read them a book but instead would realize the culture and way of life by living it and that is in essence what rpg players are looking for.

    So waht is really missing is lively environments and ECO systems that bring the world to life.

    Instead we get static NPC's with yellow markers over their head and laid out paths that have zero variation,EVERY player lives out the exact same story.

    This trend we see in game design right now is just TOO easy and cost effective,i don't see it getting any better because devs are actually looking to cut even more corners instead of improving the games.

    Why does your experience of the game has to be so different of the experiences of others? How would that even work. You can't make it unique for hundreds, thousands of players.

    I want quality of storytelling and delivery. I am not too obsessed about having a unique experience which a lot of people seem to be obsessing about.

    What you have outlined is your opinion of an RPG. I am more intrested in the story of an RPG. I play RPGs as they supposedly can immerse you in a world with a compelling story. Of course, they can give you tons of options along the way and make it more sandboxy but ultimately the story has to be there and it has to be good. 

    I have read too many posts about how developers should allow players to create their own unique story but how does that even work? I haven't seen any specific examples of this which developers can put to practice.

     

    Mission in life: Vanquish all MMORPG.com trolls - especially TESO, WOW and GW2 trolls.

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