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robert4818

Story in MMORPGs

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Just some thoughts on stories from MMO's. One of the goals of an MMO is to have players create thier own stories. Unfortunately what I see in alot of games is that the games do not really provide the necessary items for players to really do that. Some games, like EQ provide no story at all except a background. After that the world remains pretty static with just quests for the players to go through. Other games such as FF11 and guild wars, try to run the player through the GAMES storyline. Either way though the game does not really provide much of a way for players to forge thier own story in thier game....just an endless grind to the top. By forging their own stories, I mean getting the feeling that the player gets to react to a changing world, but is not being led around by the nose.... What are the items that MMO's can provide that will allow players to forge thier own stories... A dynamic world. This is one of, if not the most important concepts in the idea. A static world just does not lend itself towards the creation of stories. Its nothing but walking around a gameboard. Now when creating a dynamic world, there need to be some story changes that get affected by the players, and there needs to be some changes that the player CANNOT help and can only react to. Most games that strive fof a static world go in only one of those two directions. The game's dynamic world needs to set up situations to draw players in. (i.e. a town being ravaged by plauge, thieves, etc) that the player can choose to help or not...Situations like this may need to be instanced. This way players can feel that they are the ones reacting to the world, not trying to compete with other players. I'll stop rambling for now...but just some thoughts on story.

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Yeah, this is one of those negative things about MMOGs that I'd be pleased to see solved some day. Basically what I'd like is to have the same experience I have in a single player RPG, in which I am immersed in a fantastic story.. for the most part I'll find myself wanting to play the game because I want to see what happens next, etc. But when it comes to the MMOG and stories, if there is even much of a story, it is very patchy. You might begin a story arc on Monday, then level up until Friday before you find out what happens next.. that's just unacceptable, there is no way you can be immersed in the story using this method.

So what are the differences between SPRPG and MMORPG in terms of story telling?

SPRPG:
1) Non-patched, immersive story telling method.
2) Other characters (on your side, in your party, etc) that are a part of the story.

MMORPG:
1) Patched story telling method.
2) For the most part, when thinking of "other characters" you think of other human players. These other human players may not be at the same point in the story as you, may not be online when you want to push the story forward, etc.

So I think the real solution would be to add NPCs that you can ally with.. these NPCs are completely involved in the storyline and whatnot. Obviously playing with other human players is a huge part of MMORPGs, so a possible battle setup could be a max of three real players and three NPC players (one of each real player's) in a non-storyline group or a group that is at the same point in the story and wishes to push forward the story.

This could also solve other problems, I'm sure most of you have been pissed off at the fact that you can't find a party when you need one, or you've got a nearly full party but you lack something like a healer..

But the main point is, you're not always logging on to level up, but to get further into the story. In just about every SPRPG I've played you can gain enough experience as you play through the game normally and follow the storyline, there is really no time when you have to gain levels in order to take on the next area..

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Original post by ferr
So I think the real solution would be to add NPCs that you can ally with.. these NPCs are completely involved in the storyline and whatnot. Obviously playing with other human players is a huge part of MMORPGs, so a possible battle setup could be a max of three real players and three NPC players (one of each real player's) in a non-storyline group or a group that is at the same point in the story and wishes to push forward the story.

This could also solve other problems, I'm sure most of you have been pissed off at the fact that you can't find a party when you need one, or you've got a nearly full party but you lack something like a healer..


Funny you should mention it, FFXI just implemented that in the last patch a few weeks ago. You can now call out an NPC to aid you, and effectively have 3 NPCs per party. Of course, like anything in FFXI, it has to make sense and there has to be a story and a catch. So, the catch being that the NPC will only stay for either 45 min or 15 kills, at first. You have to improve your "relationship" with your NPC for him/her to help you more and be more effective. You also need to help them level up as well. So, I guess its about half of what you want.

I guess everyone wants to have an MMORPG where you can create your own story, but then the question would then be, then how do you share it with others or have other people participate in "your" story? Then there's also the question, do people want to be involved in your story. In the end, it all comes down to design. How do you walk the fine line of having a MMORPG that encourages people to work together and play together and not have it fall apart into something that's simple an online single player game. In the end, its all about compromise in the grey areas.

Personally, after reading many thoughts all over about stories in MMORPGs, I'm becoming somewhat of a cynic on the topic. And in the aftermath of cynicism, I've started questioning whether we're asking too much of the MMORPGs we play and whether it wouldn't just be best to go back to our single player versions if we really want tight stories.

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Original post by WeirdoFu
Quote:
Original post by ferr
So I think the real solution would be to add NPCs that you can ally with.. these NPCs are completely involved in the storyline and whatnot. Obviously playing with other human players is a huge part of MMORPGs, so a possible battle setup could be a max of three real players and three NPC players (one of each real player's) in a non-storyline group or a group that is at the same point in the story and wishes to push forward the story.

This could also solve other problems, I'm sure most of you have been pissed off at the fact that you can't find a party when you need one, or you've got a nearly full party but you lack something like a healer..

I've started questioning whether we're asking too much of the MMORPGs we play and whether it wouldn't just be best to go back to our single player versions if we really want tight stories.



Yeah, as I wrote that post I was beginning to think the same thing. What I was aiming at was to find the "feel" of a SPRPG in an MMORPG.. but ended up morphing it into an SPRPG.

Been a while since i've played FFXI, that new addition to the game sounds pretty cool, but that is more in the vein of just hiring temporary mercenaries.

[Edited by - ferr on August 7, 2005 12:43:22 PM]

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I think that there are many layers to this.

A: The lack/degradation of RPing in MMOG's. The cure for this problem isn't a simple one. As I see it, one of the problems is that the focus needs to be shifted from uber loot & skill improvement. Once focus is moved away from theses areas that people will be more interested in the stories. But they will need to be good stories & something that they will want to be part of, currently most people have very little interest in something that doesn't impact on them directly. A good example of this (for non-Canadians). Who is the Prime Minster of Canada? Give up, Paul Martin (and yes I admit that I had to look that up).

B: Lack of dynamic worlds, which you already touched on. While I do see this as being a area which will have one of the largest impacts on the future of MMOG's, I don't think that it should be seen as cure all. Many of us that are gamers & know given enough motivation that we will spend a lot of time/effort on a single project within a game. What happens if the players team up to whip out all the monsters? Will developers give into player frustrations when they have travel farther & farther to find prey & then "remove" part of the dynamic parts so that there is always a steady stream of prey at a location? Do you have dynamic technological advances as well or will players expect them?

I know that there are more layers that can & should be explored as MMOG's move forward.

[Edited by - Lost on August 7, 2005 2:06:29 PM]

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The main thing is that players all can do what any other player can. In order for you to feel like you blaze your own story, you have to be able to do some things or have some encounters that other players can't/don't.

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Original post by Kevinator
The main thing is that players all can do what any other player can. In order for you to feel like you blaze your own story, you have to be able to do some things or have some encounters that other players can't/don't.


My quick thought on that.

"I paid the same amount of money as that other person, so why can't I experience the same thing if I wanted to? What if I see something really cool, but then my friends didn't get a chance to see it? What should I do then to show them? Or will they even believe me?"

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Original post by WeirdoFu
Quote:
Original post by Kevinator
The main thing is that players all can do what any other player can. In order for you to feel like you blaze your own story, you have to be able to do some things or have some encounters that other players can't/don't.


My quick thought on that.

"I paid the same amount of money as that other person, so why can't I experience the same thing if I wanted to? What if I see something really cool, but then my friends didn't get a chance to see it? What should I do then to show them? Or will they even believe me?"


The thing is, that exists in current MMOGs already. Not that many people get to be leaders of guilds, and far less get to be leaders of the most successful guild on their server.. this is something that some will experience and some will not, but everyone has an equal opportunity to reach any goal.

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I guess I will explain a little better. Though in reality the idea is still a little abstract.

A dynamic world is needed, and a player NEEDS to be able to form thier own agenda's in the world. That does not mean that every player has to have a completely unique set of experiences. The idea is to create a dynamic enough world where a players can truly move through it differently.

I.e. Have some of the villans sometimes roam the country side instead of just spawn in a room. I know if a certain villan came up to me and killed me, then stood there for a bit and taunted me over my body, *something a normal mob would not* I might just decide to go and find out about this guy and try to exact revenge on him.

I definately think that there should be some randomized encounters besides just bad guys.

What happens if an old farming couple runs up to you as you pass a farm and ask for help for thier older daughter who's sick?

This could set the player up to go running around looking for a cure...


I'm not saying a player should be able to set up NPC's and such to be able to re-create thier own mega-adventures. But right now a player does not really have a history to them...

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Looks like you guys missed our thread on dynamic storytelling ;)

Here

dynamic worlds with story-telling engines that react to players...yummm.

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