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Gameplay or Story in RPGs?

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Which is most improtant in traditional role-playing games, or on a more general note, in all rpgs, i.e. ARPGs, MMORPGs, etc... Just asking for your opinions on each and why you think one is more important than the other... And... One other question... How important are stories in MMORPGs... should they be the focus of the game? Or are they only for short term development of the characters in the game world. And last but not least... which would you play? An MMORPG with awesome gameplay... or a Single Player RPG with a totally immersive story? Thanks, Darkan

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MMORPGs are examples of gameplay without story.
Movies are examples of story without gameplay.

I think gameplay is more important for an interactive video game, but I'd rather play an RPG with a story than without.

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A good story makes the first couple times through an RPG a lot more interesting, but if it doesn't have good gameplay, those couple of times are the only times I will ever play the RPG. Also, if I am playing an RPG and become interested in the story, but do not enjoy the gameplay very much, I tend to find myself irritated by the fact that there is gameplay at all. I like an RPG with a good story, but the gameplay is ultimately more important to me because if the gameplay is difficult but not fun, it won't even be worth the trouble to me to reveal the story, and because RPGs with good gameplay are a much better value, since they are replayable.

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Story is ONE OF MANY ELEMENTS that keep you playing. Locations (as visuals) are the second. Gameplay has all the rest. What is the meaning of listening a story if you DON"T PLAY A ROLE IN IT? To enjoy playing a role then it's the gameplay who offers you entertainment doing so.

World of Warcraft (MMORPG) does have "local stories" through its quests and little talks; they reveal the world where you are role playing. You begin humble and, in time, become one of the true leaders of that world to fulfill the major story - defeat the enemies. Each location, item, monster or everything lives permanently through its own story. Give "pieces" to players and let them imagine the links and build up the puzzle.

A too strongly defined story from the beginning will only give the feeling of "pushed" or forced to play an already known role. This is why stories have turn overs.

Adding all this up I say that story has his role. Don't make it the most important but don't throw it away or you will lose some players. Just make it bold enough.

My 50 cents.
Cod.

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Well, In RPGs Balance between story and gameplay should be equal. But since we're talking explicitly about Role Playing then story seems to be more important.

Action RPGs should be gameplay, though. Same thing with MMORPGs, however if you want to twist the genre a little bit make sure you somehow add a storyline to these genres.

Though, as we talk about MMORPGs it seems that alot of mmorpgs are all about gameplay and almost no role playing or story even. But since alot of us know how repetitive these games can become (Even though addicting), its always good to add some gameplay twist, or just an open storyline (Morrowind? I think morrowind could have been very well done as an online rpg, since it plays like an mmorpg because its world is open and you can go anywhere at any time and do whatever quests you want and join whatever guild you want).

To conclude this, I think RPGs (Real RPGs) should concentrate more on story than gameplay while ARPGs/MMORPGs should concentrate on gameplay and perhaps add some storyline in an open enviorment (So you dont have to follow the storyline linearly).

Just my 2 cents :)

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Well, for RPGs I consider the story to be so vital that it is part of the gameplay!

I'm actually a bit confused by the term "gameplay" anyway; what parts of a game consitute the gameplay, and which parts do not? (This isn't meant to spark an argument, I'm just wanting to know what the general consensus for the meaning of this word so we all don't get confused).

If by gameplay in RPGs you mean the combat mechanics (which is what most of the interactive bits in RPGs boil down to anyway), I think in RPGs story trumps that; however, the combat mustn't be so dull that it drivers the player away (which is a problem I've had with several big name RPGs, most notably Final Fantasy 6).

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I suspect its not so generally answered. It depends on the specific design and play experience that you are creating. There were some very intelligent people from MIT media labs at GDC basically bah-humbugging that games without stories were any more entertaining that those with. In fact, the reasoning was that people (that means players) need stories to be told to them whether interactivity is involved or not.

I am not pro or con, just reporting the suggestion.

Adventuredesign

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Guest Anonymous Poster
What the above poster forgets is that most people playing those two games are 12 years old and have ADHD. Oh, and most show their intelligence once they start speaking. I cannot wait for 10 more years to pass and see the English language completely butchered by these morons. wht up g!

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Quote:
Original post by Daniel Miller
The two most popular games, Broodwar and Counter Strike, have no story at all.


Umm, neither of those are RPGs [smile]. I can't think of a popular (non-MMO)RPG that didn't have a story of some sort.

And I'm pretty sure Starcraft:Broodwar had a story.

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Personally, I think RPGs should focus on story, because I'd like my character to be able to have some discernable long-term effects on the world they exist in.

I think good gameplay is a lot easier to create than good (open-ended) stories though, so the most successful RPGs are heavily focused on gameplay over story-telling. World of Warcraft is a completely static world with regard to the player, for instance.

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I see the trouble here is what is meant with the word "GAMEPLAY." Basically its used in two different ways. One is valid for argument, the other is not.

The first one is for game features. How you do combat, How things are done, and quite frankly, what the GAME side is like.

The second one is more along the lines of how OFTEN you are playing while in the game.

The first one is not affected by the story. Your story should NOT be an excuse to make a crappy game.

The second one..Thats where you need to balance. You don't want to spend too much time involved with the story when you want to be playing. But at the same time you don't want to play forever just to get the next bit of story done. So that's where the careful balance is needed.

Ideally you're gameplay AND your story need to be good. Neither one should be an excuse to skimp on the other.

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I agree with some of the other opinions expressed, that gameplay is more important than a plot to a certain degree in a role-playing game, but without any plot, (or at least a semblance of one), the reason for the gameplay in an RPG is almost non-existant.

The whole point of an RPG is to have the user playing the role of a character, (or a group therof), through (hopefully) a variety of situations, which causes the character to develop in as many ways as possible fully or partially chosen/influenced by the player. It's the input the player has in the character development that makes an RPG what it is. You can have a game with a plot and character development that the player has no control over, but than it would be an adventure game, not an RPG.

Darren Tomlyn
www.ic-musicmedia.com/DarrenTomlyn

My (MMORPG) game idea:
http://www.ztgd.net/shwmessage.aspx?ForumID=10&MessageID=5203

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I feel that I should throw in my penny as well, considering I mostly play RPGs.

Personally, I feel story is more important than gameplay. Yes, you may have a great combat system, but if your story and presentation of that story is really bad, then you've lost half the hook. Its the story that usually keeps me hooked anyways. Best example, that I use alot, I played through Suikoden 4, which I felt had the worst gameplay ever to just get to the story.

Its not true that MMORPGs don't have stories. I play alot of FFXI. The reason being that it has a story. It doesn't just have local stories related to quests, there is also a global story that differs slightly in point of view based on your starting nation. Though most people don't really care much about the global story since its usually tedious and requires coordinating large parties at time spending hours to complete, but I feel that Square-Enix put alot of thought into it. To date, I don't think they've implemented any new feature without some sort of story behind it.

So, story is possible in MMORPGs, its just whether players are interested in it or not. Most non-Asian players I've met don't really care about story in MMORPGs anyways. It may just be I'm in the wrong crowd.

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Quote:
Though most people don't really care much about the global story since its usually tedious and requires coordinating large parties at time spending hours to complete
See now I wouldn't class that as a story, or even part of one. The world itself doesn't change as a result of traversing the "global story" (else how could others do it). One defining feature of stories is that things *happen*. If you look at what actually happened in most MMORPG "stories", you'll see that they amount to a bunch of characters receiving some item upgrades. Exciting stuff..

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I don't think it's even a question to be considered. Gameplay and story don't have to conflict. Turn up the volume on both.

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Quote:
Original post by Argus2
Quote:
Though most people don't really care much about the global story since its usually tedious and requires coordinating large parties at time spending hours to complete
See now I wouldn't class that as a story, or even part of one. The world itself doesn't change as a result of traversing the "global story" (else how could others do it). One defining feature of stories is that things *happen*. If you look at what actually happened in most MMORPG "stories", you'll see that they amount to a bunch of characters receiving some item upgrades. Exciting stuff..


Seems you've never played FFXI. For the most part, people don't participate in the stories because most times you get nothing more than a higher rank, or a little money, which amounts to nothing. Sometimes advancing the story gain you access to new areas in the world, which can be seen as "your" world view changing.

One problem with worlds changing due to advancement of story in MMORPGs is that everyone is in a "shared" world, so you really don't want one player's story advancement to affect others' gameplay experience (like you said). So, as long as the world doesn't change, it isn't a story? Now, I really have to disagree with that. A story doesn't have to change the world "itself," it can also change a "world view." The "world view" is how the players see the world and what they see in the world. This can be done in MMORPGs, and if its written with enough depth, I don't see why you can't say its a story.

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It's true, MMORPGs, the big titles, nowadays lack story. They've tossed out things that facilitate story, and story itself for automated repeatable quest chains which can never be actually woven into the story of the world, after all if the badguy is Van Cleef and 1000 people have taken his head, where does that leave the story?

I do think that MMORPGs can have story, and that there can be mechanisms for players to alter the world to a very minor degree, but it takes work and probably has less of a financial payoff than simply adding more content for the powergamers to devour.

Really, the fact that MMORPGs are all gameplay and no story, and the added fact that the gameplay usually isn't even exciting makes me dread for the genre. This is the formula, and I don't see it changing anytime soon. After all, stimulating gameplay isn't pulling a monster from a bunch of them with a bow, and then standing in a face off for over a minute while you watch your character auto attack it.

Really, if an MMORPG managed to consolidate the fast paced, interesting combat in City of Heroes, the RP features of Ultima Online, the overarching plot and GM involvement of Asheron's Call, and the finesse and beauty of World of Warcraft, we'd have the ultimate MMO*RPG*. Right now most of the genre can't be typified as anything beyond an MMOG.

Worlds need to be more than a stagnant stage for the grind or roleplaying, and truth be told World of Warcraft has perfected that angle. The world IS simply a stage for a game of go out and kill stuff and level. Roleplaying is very hard since there is no utility at all for RPers to work from, and there is no overarching plot or events. This makes a stagnant, static world that feels like a stage, and thus games like this cannot be typified as an RPG, no matter how many "quest chains" they have that contain story which you may never use outside your personal experience anyway for fear of story clashing and ultimately the universe imploding.

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Quote:
Original post by Shanira
It's true, MMORPGs, the big titles, nowadays lack story. They've tossed out things that facilitate story, and story itself for automated repeatable quest chains which can never be actually woven into the story of the world, after all if the badguy is Van Cleef and 1000 people have taken his head, where does that leave the story?


I know I may sound like a fanatical advocate of FFXI, but people should really give it a try before saying that all big titled MMORPGs out there don't have a story.

The story behind and within FFXI can very easily be collected and written into a huge volumn. From how the world was created, the myths and legends of creations to the establishment of the current three nations to the neutral trade nation, along with the current political conflicts and backstabbing going on to the power struggle to destroy everything. All this the player can take part in and see first hand, "if" they choose to. The expansions expand the world with more story as adding the history of the creation of races, the plots to destroy all races and the culminating battle to prevent the end of the world. There's a story there if you wish to pursue it, and it is long with many twists and turns. I wouldn't call these a randomly generated series of "chained quests" especially when there are the signature Final Fantasy style cut scenes involved.

But really, most people don't really care and they don't need to unless they're interested in the story. That however, is the beauty of it all. If you want the grind of levelling then you get it. If you want story and the challenge of big badass boss fights, you get those too. Its all there, just depends on whether you look for it or not. As in most story driven medium, the ends doesn't justify the means. For a story driven medium, its the means that justify the ends.

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FFXI is actually one of the very few MMORPGs I -haven't- played yet. Sounds like I might have to try sometime. ^^;

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the problem I encounter in MMORPG stories is the staticness on them.

single-player RPG's usually have a background story, then they throw you in the world and as you play you make an impact on the world and the story.

in an MMORPG (at least the ones I've played) they tell you the background story (usually a conflict), then throw you in the world and you play, but you don't have an impact on the story.
if it's a conflict, you'll never see it turn in favor of one or another faction, so don't even think the conflict will ever be resolved.
if it's a boss (usually a big monster), then ok you did kill him, but the world would be the same if you hadn't (he wasn't a menace for the world, as he wasn't going to destroy any towns or NPC's or whatever), and most of the time that same boss will re-appear (so that other players can kill him too)
if you perform any quests, the guy you did them for will still be the same, and will even have the same quest for other people to do.
your actions will never have an impact on the world, and the world would be the same if you had never been there (this applies for you and the other thousand player characters in the server)

given that, the story of an MMORPG can't unfold as you play, it's quite static because the world is static.

I have yet to see a MMORPG where the world actually changes as players do things on it, or if they stop doing them (real invasions and towns turned to be run by other kingdoms, destroyed towns, new towns built, peace, total war over the kingdoms, etc)
when a MMORPG comes to that point, every player will have their own stories with impact over the world. some players could even become real heroes, kings, commanders, traitor ex-friends, or betrayed ex-friends looking for revenge and taking back what was his, etc, and really play the role of their characters.
then MMORPGs will actually be interesting, and have a real unfolding story for every player.

however that would take an insane amount of development time only for the initial content, and would need an even more insane development for the dynamic content as the game world keeps chaning, unless some very creative method was implemented where the player actions would automatically change the world and a random content generator would generate content based on the current status of the world

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my two cents but when I play a game I want to write the story as I go along with my actions, games that force me to be a certain character or force me to a story make me bored I'd rather watch a movie instead, there's no point in wasting time playing it. But I'm weird like that. The story should be more like giving me a goal than forcing me to go along with it, and if it is non-linear and I can choose different goals than I like it better, next time I play I can try a different route etc. I think that even Diablo had too much story for my tastes... but it was good multiplayer, so the stories I remember were the funny moments playing with others.

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Gameplay.

Story is important but NOT plot or characters.

For me the Setting is important.

I typically would not play an RPG if it was nothing but a bunch of spheres moving
over a plain, with alot of numbers scrolling across the screen.

I don't care about the silly storyline or the character dialog. I'm playing the game, I'll make up my own storyline.

Just give me good gameplay in a nice setting to explore.

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