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Is 'Combat' Limiting Games As A Storytelling Medium?

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  • DimTheDungeonMasterDimTheDungeonMaster Member UncommonPosts: 21
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    In truth I don't think "story" belongs in mmo's. At least in the way most mmo's offer it.

    MMO's with "story" are really offering story on a single player level. You are the champion, you are the savior and you and your party at that moment are the one to learn of the nefarious plot. Come back the next day on the same leg of the quest with different people and relive it all over again!

    My thought is that the world should have a story and depending on where people are and what they do they experience the fallout, repercussions of that story.

    At times they might be a part of it and at times they just hear about it.

    If anything, I think the weak single player stories that are offered get in the way of exciting combat.

    Kill x of y run back now collect y of z and run back, etc. Your whole game is reading story text that may or may not be good and running here and there.

    I say let the world have an evolving story that happens on the npc level and then can incorporate the pc's depending on some variables and let that be the story.

    So this way not everyone is the hero. But maybe one guild does some gun running for some npc faction and those guns get in the hands of some npc rebels that then contact a player driven alliance to attack some player controlled enclave.

    That enclave then puts out the notice that it needs not only warriors but certain supplies. Players who craft sell those supplies and those that offer to fight then defend.

    Depending on that outcome the world gets shaped and certain people rise to power and certain people fall from grace and the world's story evolves.

    Probably not to everyone's taste but I feel it's a lot more immersive than having every one of us do the exact same set of steps as if the mmo was a single player game.

    And yeah, I get that there is a suspension of disbelief when it comes to mmo stories in that you just "buy" that you are the chosen one. But it does get rather tiring when you really haven't earned it and you are just being shuffled down the storyline. 

    These are all great ideas, and totally touch on the MMO questing trope that "You're the best #1 only person we've got.." while youre standing next to 10 other people. Yes, the suspension of disbelief does go with games but when things don't truly add up in whatever context, it doesn't engage people. There needs to be a base 'common man' level that players directly feel, and when their status changes, it is told to them, whether new quests lines, work, roles, recognition or what.

    All of that would build into your greater role as you progress and gain status, affecting greater and greater storylines in the game, up to the most epic earth shattering conflicts (that might not necessarily always succeed or perceive to work out). Cause and effect.

    Originally posted by reeereee

    Aside from a few notable exceptions I don't think vanilla WoW really did that much story telling of its own... it was more about giving an open world form to the previous epic story telling they had done in the RTS games. 

    Games like ESO/SWTOR/FFXIV while investing a lot of dollars into story telling did their story telling almost exclusively through the medium of quests, which I believe may be the larger issue than the combat itself.  A number of developers have come to the conclusion that quests are how you do storytelling which is probably what you are dissatisfied with. 

    And back to my point about swg:  The idea that an an MMO could have such compelling noncombat elements and character advancement that a significant amount of people who had no interest combat and did not engage in combat would pay to play the game seems amazing.  However, i don't believe having good combat would really interfere with making good noncombat content other than they compete for the same development dollars.

    I do think WoW was about storytelling and a hidden world behind your own. There were tons and tons of quests to do, and leveling took a very long time. The environments and NPCs told stories, and you moved from common problems (like in West Fall) to more dire ones (like Blasted Lands). There were crazy varied dungeons that everyone knew the story to, across all continents. Everywhere around you was a story waiting to be told, and questing, character progression and itemization were huge in that game on TOP of combat. Now things are less about the player and more about the action, which should be the other way around.

    The way we do iquesting now (exclamation points over heads, or flowers to pick in a town) is hurting storytelling in MMO's and games and there needs to be better ways for players to find things to do in a world rather than rote, mindless gathering of tasks that don't invest players or give any effect for what they've done.

    Slowly, but surely, developers can start to change this trend by taking creative risks on systems that simulate in a fun way more real life aspects than fighting. Games inside games (cards, racing) economics, dynamic world pressures, character health/death/relationship progression, politics/jobs/tradeskills/mercenary/army/guard for income/living quarters, hardcore death systems, cooking, building/expanding, all are types of things developers need to start to think about.

    Everything needs to be living/churning in a direction that players can affect. Static world, combat-centric games are boring.

  • maybebakedmaybebaked Member UncommonPosts: 305

    There are a few good "games" that don't have combat, and tell an amazing story.  One I really enjoyed was Going Home.  It's pretty much a walking simulator but the this gives the developer the freedom to show you a great story.

  • AlcuinAlcuin Member UncommonPosts: 331

    Yes.  Combat is over done.  It is the main activity.  We log on and look for things to kill. 

    The answer might lie in a robust faction system.   Gaining favor with the local populace by helping build something or by farming, etc.

    That makes me think of crafting.  Crafting is pretty robust in some games, but might expanded.   

    One might also think of other types of power rather than the ability to hack, slash, shoot, or fry some monster; Could there be political power? Economic influence?  Stuff like that.  

    In D&D terms, think of using your Charisma score to influence the policies of the merchant's guild maybe.

    I also think that avoiding combat should be a goal.  We should need to sneak through enemy territory more often than slaughtering masses on our way through.  

     

    That's just me trying to come up with solutions off the top of my head.  I'm not a programmer.  I don't know what it would take to implement any of these ideas.  

    There are probably a good portion of players who don't care... they just want to "see big things go down."  Good for them.  The current and even traditional crop of MMO's is right up their alley. 

    _____________________________
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  • bcbullybcbully Member EpicPosts: 10,209
    Very nice post OP. Decisions and ramifications with tons of outcomes that manifest overtime.

    A few hundred million should be able to cover it.
  • ArchlyteArchlyte Member RarePosts: 1,405

    In my mind, video games are just not an adequate device for players to tell stories. Even the most ardent role player within a game on the computer is resorting to essentially adding on or ignoring the visual representation to be able to tell any story not coded into the game. I think an assumption was made 15 years ago that MMORPGs replaced Table Top RPGs, and while in participation this is certainly true, MMORPGs have never been able to reach the complete freedom and logical consequence that Tabletop RPGs can.

    My personal philosophy on this is that MMORPGs should not be used as a substitute for actual role-playing games. The big elements that you need to make a good story and campaign in a tabletop game are not at your disposal in an MMORPG. Storytelling by devs is possible on a very limited scale, but the thing that you control in an MMORPG is not a character. It has no in-game attributes that make it anything other than a machine for picking up inventory values and removing respawning enemies from the game. It has no family, no history beyond play, and it has no ability to emulate life.

    Most games do not have permadeath so there is also no danger. The character can only be delayed, and the avatar will never die unless deleted or the servers shut down. This means that there is no existential tension for the avatar, and it's not a character. Because the game world is supposed to have death in the story but players cannot die, they have limited ability to be a part of the very world they exist within, further separating the avatars from their environment. An MMORPG character is a super being that can literally accomplish any coded action within its existence given enough time dedicated by the player.

    So Video Games used as a medium for role-playing games fall badly short, and can only be used as a medium for limited interaction. If you want to experience a story you have to use your imagination, and then you are just playing tabletop while you run your avatar around and pantomime with it.

    Add to this that neither the game companies(or they would make the games conducive to RP) nor most of the players in the game want you to role-play, as they have rightly concluded that the game mechanics will not bear out any fantasy you are engaging in within the game. The only way to make it work that I can think of is to essentially say that your avatar is dreaming of a situation in which he actually is a part of the world, and has meaningful relationships and events that are beyond the scope of the game to emulate.

     

     

    MMORPG players are often like Hobbits: They don't like Adventures
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Member EpicPosts: 16,775

    combat AND story telling is way overdone in video games.

    games at their best are platforms for players to interact with a world rather than following a story (at least in my opnion)

    Please do not respond to me, even if I ask you a question, its rhetorical.

    Please do not respond to me

  • iridescenceiridescence Member UncommonPosts: 1,552
    Originally posted by Archlyte

     

    So Video Games used as a medium for role-playing games fall badly short, and can only be used as a medium for limited interaction. If you want to experience a story you have to use your imagination, and then you are just playing tabletop while you run your avatar around and pantomime with it.

     

    I'd be very happy with a game that actually allowed me to do that well. Any RPG is going to require imagination. A tabletop character is "literally" just a bunch of numbers on a paper, The game is all just in the imaginations of the players. Many people I think have become too literal minded with RPGs. They want to see their character be able to act out every little thing they imagine it doing. They want a mechanic for every aspect of roleplaying. 

     

    The game will not impose permadeath on you but you can delete your character when you die. The game will not force you to make a backstory but you can make one for yourself. The sad thing is lack of tools for emotes and RP in most modern MMORPGS combined with their insistence on constantly having "video game" elements such as quests which flash on the screen out of no where and fast travel with no earthly reason behind it and simplified action combat made for a console.

     

    If you're saying that it's impossible to make a computer game conducive to roleplaying I disagree. It's very possible. Companies just don't want to do it I guess because they figure there is more money in the "video game" crowd (and they're probably not wrong) but some day I'm sure a niche game is going to come along and make a real MMORPG with emphasis on roleplaying.

     

     

     

  • Mtibbs1989Mtibbs1989 Member UncommonPosts: 3,161
    No I don't think the combat is limiting a game's story telling. I think it's the person(s) behind creating the stories and other content that are the problems. Look at Dungeon & Dragons Online. The vast majority of that game is based off of Story telling but the video game is nothing more than a monster slaughter fest. Of course there's nothing wrong with that if you simply like killing monsters but D&D is much more than just that. I'd love to see a game really focus on different aspects for a game.

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  • ArchlyteArchlyte Member RarePosts: 1,405
    Originally posted by iridescence
    Originally posted by Archlyte

     

    So Video Games used as a medium for role-playing games fall badly short, and can only be used as a medium for limited interaction. If you want to experience a story you have to use your imagination, and then you are just playing tabletop while you run your avatar around and pantomime with it.

     

    I'd be very happy with a game that actually allowed me to do that well. Any RPG is going to require imagination. A tabletop character is "literally" just a bunch of numbers on a paper, The game is all just in the imaginations of the players. Many people I think have become too literal minded with RPGs. They want to see their character be able to act out every little thing they imagine it doing. They want a mechanic for every aspect of roleplaying. 

    The game will not impose permadeath on you but you can delete your character when you die. The game will not force you to make a backstory but you can make one for yourself. The sad thing is lack of tools for emotes and RP in most modern MMORPGS combined with their insistence on constantly having "video game" elements such as quests which flash on the screen out of no where and fast travel with no earthly reason behind it and simplified action combat made for a console.

    If you're saying that it's impossible to make a computer game conducive to roleplaying I disagree. It's very possible. Companies just don't want to do it I guess because they figure there is more money in the "video game" crowd (and they're probably not wrong) but some day I'm sure a niche game is going to come along and make a real MMORPG with emphasis on roleplaying.

     

     

     

    I don't think we disagree from how I read what you are saying, and I think it is only impossible right now for companies to make a true RPG because there is no viable market and the game isn't technically possible to my knowledge. It would have to have a generation process, every object would have to have an interactable representation in the game, the NPCs would have to be much much better as far as AI goes.

    A tabletop character has stats on paper that allow the character to interact in the game world according to the ruleset, but the tabletop character has the ability to interact and interface with his world much more than the MMORPG avatar does.

    If you have fun RPing in MMOs then I think that is great, but the pitfall is to start thinking that MMORPGs are capable of doing what tabletop games do, and they absolutely cannot. MMORPGs are, have been, and are increasingly of the Genus and Species: Video Game. They left their common ancestor of Tabletop RPG a long time ago. Like Neverwinter Nights type long ago.

     

    MMORPG players are often like Hobbits: They don't like Adventures
  • nbtscannbtscan Member UncommonPosts: 862
    With the amount of people that talk about how they'd rather skip over quest text and story cutscenes, I'm gonna go with no.
  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Originally posted by DimTheDungeonMaster

    I think combat is an overdone archaic video game mechanic that hurts games narratively.

    I've heard the argument "it's easy to program to shoot people" but does that mean what's easy is what's only what we should be doing? It's easy to program X, so Y should never be attempted, is a rationale that we are stuck on in games as a whole.

    I think we confuse conflict with combat. Conflict is something we deal with every day in our regular lives. We conflict with our loved ones, with our bosses, with our friends, with nature, with time. Combat is not something we go through every day.

    'Fighting the bad guys' is a glorified pasttime that has become a small fraction of most of the world's reality.

    Games should try to focus less on killing, more on storytelling, and we will see games transcend the kill X, gather Y types of reasons for playing and instead allow things like "help Jane get through the forest/help clean/help cook/help build" which would be different and creatively be way more fun on TOP of defending your world with combat.

    We need reasons to live in a world, not only to constantly fight in one.

    It isn't really the combat mechanics, it is more that it is way easier for devs to make combat than none combat content.

    What I want to see instead is a multiple solution thing, where you as a player could choose if you want to fight, use stealth or talk yourself out of situations.

    Even if you just have basic quests there should still be more ways to solve your problem than constantly killing stuff, if nothing else then for that the game will feel more interesting if it offer choices, even if you usually solve the problems the same way.

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Originally posted by nbtscan
    With the amount of people that talk about how they'd rather skip over quest text and story cutscenes, I'm gonna go with no.

    There are other ways to tell a story then an annoyingly long cutscene or a wall of text you know... Like actually letting the thing happen in the game instead. If an assassin backstab the kind, let us see that in game instead.

  • iridescenceiridescence Member UncommonPosts: 1,552
    Originally posted by Archlyte
    Originally posted by iridescence
    Originally posted by Archlyte

     

    If you have fun RPing in MMOs then I think that is great, but the pitfall is to start thinking that MMORPGs are capable of doing what tabletop games do, and they absolutely cannot. MMORPGs are, have been, and are increasingly of the Genus and Species: Video Game. They left their common ancestor of Tabletop RPG a long time ago. Like Neverwinter Nights type long ago.

     

    Yeah, I'm not disagreeing with you. A tabletop RPG experience will always be better than an MMORPG experience and in a perfect world where I had a multitude of compatible tabletop groups at my constant beck and call so I could wake up at 3AM and play a couple of hours of tabletop if I wanted  I wouldn't need or play MMORPGs at all.

     

    In the real world though it's nice that MMORPGS can provide an alternative  for the tabletop-experience which is much more convenient even if it is inferior. I hope some MMORPGs never totally give up the dream of being tabletop stand-ins and instead keep getting better at it even if they'll probably never be as good as the real thing.

     

     

     

  • DimTheDungeonMasterDimTheDungeonMaster Member UncommonPosts: 21
    Originally posted by Loke666
    Originally posted by nbtscan
    With the amount of people that talk about how they'd rather skip over quest text and story cutscenes, I'm gonna go with no.

    There are other ways to tell a story then an annoyingly long cutscene or a wall of text you know... Like actually letting the thing happen in the game instead. If an assassin backstab the kind, let us see that in game instead.

    This. Just having a static world with 'this happened!' isn't enough anymore. Quest text and cutscenes are ways of telling a story, but actually letting players see things unfold in game in some ways is better. There needs to be justification behind what we do, that we can see, otherwise it becomes boring with 'no point' and all of a sudden 'nothing to do'. Because nothing has happened.

    Combat with no result is boring. Give players a 'reason' for doing things that actually affect the game world.

    It doesn't cost millions to create quests that aren't lazy 'eliminate X things' or 'gather Y things'--it should take players through a mini-story, not assign them a numerical task like we see most quests boiling down to. They need to think of ways towns actually use resources from the area around it that change (big or small) in some way if they don't get what they require, which in turn may affect the capital city and the quests that are available. They need to have deep mini-games (like original card games or casinos or racing/flying spaces) and different interactions that give another layer of interacting with players besides chat and standing around. There should be cool places to hang out, like taverns with entertainment at different times of the day that change every month, or open arenas with fighting and seating, or weekly efforts that players can invest in that affect the gameworld's efforts in some way. Player characters should have health, sleep, political, job systems. Things that don't involve just pushing buttons to kill stuff.

    Creating worlds where players' sole interaction is targeting and killing stuff is boring. We're over it. Creating a breathing world with things to do that changes based on why you fight...is interesting and gives players an actual world to come back to, and to ultimately help fight in.

  • EdliEdli Member Posts: 941
    Originally posted by DimTheDungeonMaster

    Combat with no result is boring. 

    Not really. Boring combat with no result is boring. A game with boring combat needs something else to keep you hooked and that's often story.

    I can name a crapload of really fun games with weak or no story whatsoever but are fun only because of combat. Games like TF2, L4D, MOBAs.

  • DimTheDungeonMasterDimTheDungeonMaster Member UncommonPosts: 21
    Originally posted by Edli
    Originally posted by DimTheDungeonMaster

    Combat with no result is boring. 

    Not really. Boring combat with no result is boring. A game with boring combat needs something else to keep you hooked and that's often story.

    I can name a crapload of really fun games with weak or no story whatsoever but are fun only because of combat. Games like TF2, L4D, MOBAs.

    We're not really talking about 'any game' we're talking specifically about MMO's--we are on mmorpg.com.

    You sound like a TF2/Moba player who doesn't have that much game experience because making the argument "boring combat with no result is boring" is nowhere near the actual narrative in this thread, nor does it make any sense. You realized what you said made no sense and is unrelated, so you wrote "A game with boring combat needs something else to keep you hooked and thats often story". Yeah, that is correct. Yes. That's exactly what is being said in this thread.

    And no, it's not "often" story....it's ALWAYS story. What else is there besides meaning or a story behind doing something? I'm not going to tap colors on a screen unless I'm a total novice gamer and candycrush is going to satisfy my low-level gamer fix. 99% of the gamers on here are high level players and are not going to be fooled by just flashy combat and colors anymore. There needs to be more to get us invested, and I've written tons of ideas that can get devs thinking.

    Also, pretty sure TF2 has an entire "story" of characters and videos of them, with fictional companies they work for (Red vs. Blue, Man Co) that make it "alive" on top of being an FPS. L4D is all about story, you run through connected campaigns with different things to do to survive...you aren't just killing zombies in single white room, over and over, like Killing Floor--super boring. Moba's are popular because they are accessible, but also have 100's of characters, each coming from their own world, having their own story.

    Anyway, I appreciate your response and to respond to what seems to be your main point, "craploads of games are fun with no story"....the answer I would give to you on that is "not really".

  • LokeroLokero Member RarePosts: 1,514
    Originally posted by DimTheDungeonMaster
    Originally posted by Loke666
    Originally posted by nbtscan
    With the amount of people that talk about how they'd rather skip over quest text and story cutscenes, I'm gonna go with no.

    There are other ways to tell a story then an annoyingly long cutscene or a wall of text you know... Like actually letting the thing happen in the game instead. If an assassin backstab the kind, let us see that in game instead.

    This. Just having a static world with 'this happened!' isn't enough anymore. Quest text and cutscenes are ways of telling a story, but actually letting players see things unfold in game in some ways is better. There needs to be justification behind what we do, that we can see, otherwise it becomes boring with 'no point' and all of a sudden 'nothing to do'. Because nothing has happened.

    Combat with no result is boring. Give players a 'reason' for doing things that actually affect the game world.

    It doesn't cost millions to create quests that aren't lazy 'eliminate X things' or 'gather Y things'--it should take players through a mini-story, not assign them a numerical task like we see most quests boiling down to. 1.)They need to think of ways towns actually use resources from the area around it that change (big or small) in some way if they don't get what they require, which in turn may affect the capital city and the quests that are available. They need to have deep mini-games (like original card games or casinos or racing/flying spaces) and different interactions that give another layer of interacting with players besides chat and standing around. There should be cool places to hang out, like taverns with entertainment at different times of the day that change every month, or open arenas with fighting and seating, or weekly efforts that players can invest in that affect the gameworld's efforts in some way. Player characters should have health, sleep, political, job systems. Things that don't involve just pushing buttons to kill stuff.

    Creating worlds where players' sole interaction is targeting and killing stuff is boring. We're over it. Creating a breathing world with things to do that changes based on why you fight...is interesting and gives players an actual world to come back to, and to ultimately help fight in.

    I agree with most of the thread.  Combat is the sole focus of alot of games, even ones that tout story still entirely revolve around combat.

    I will disagree with you on WoW, though.  While WoW did have some neat lore and story, it had very little to do with WoW's success, IMO.  WoW was a raging success for the fluid, immersive combat systems and animations it brought to the genre.  I still think WoW has one of the most reactive, fluid combat systems to date, even though I lost interest in that game long, long ago.

    GW2 tries so hard to provide a story, but the game's style and engine simply don't provide a suitable medium for any depth ot story.

    1.) I think this is the main thing I wanted to hit.  The future is believable, reactionary systems.  Games need to have believable environments and systems that harmonize and feed off/affect each other.  Everything needs to be intertwined and impactful, from one part of the game world to the next.  SOE is somewhat attempting this with the StoryBricks/EQNext experiment(I don't think it'll go as well as they hope, but at least they are trying).

    Overabundant rains flood the area:  Crops fail, cities short on supplies pay more + hire caravans(and players to guard them) come in from other cities on the roads, water monsters move into new territory because of the rising water, bounties arise on said invaders, guards increase, etc.

    ^ Generic example showing weather, economy, AI reaction/migration, changing borders/territories, new quests(and so on and so forth) all feeding off each other.  And, boom, you have a natural storyline of players being required to stop the invasion and supply and save the kingdom.

    I think developers finding new and clever ways to create "living worlds" is really the answer to all the problems.  Story needs to be part of the world as you guys were saying, not just repeating, pointless NPC quest hubs and such.

    Side note:  I do think there should be NPC quests and such you get from chatting with NPCs, though I'd rather see it be more like original, old Everquest where you randomly stumble upon them by talking to NPCs, rather than obvious flashing neon signs(read as: more natural).

    I think we are still bordering on AI/engine limitations with alot of that stuff, hence, why I said "clever ways" to do things like that.

    To end my rambling, combat is definitely overused, and we could certainly see more variety in how your character chooses to "live", be it diplomacy, crafting, cartography, mining, musicians(LOTRO and GW2 already have instruments).  But, in the end, I think the problem is moreso how stiff and compartmentalized the worlds are. 

    Less focus on producing content for the world, more focus on building a world that produces content.

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