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Bigdeadbug

MMORPG storytelling survey

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Well i need to gather some information on what MMORPGs players think about the state of storytelling within MMORPGs. The goal of the project is to try and improve those methods currently used using the information i have gathered from other sources and this survey, if you have any more questions feel free to ask here. The survey itself shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to fill out and most answers require about a sentence to complete.

Heres the survey:[url="http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RVC2LRC"]http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RVC2LRC[/url]

Thanks in advance to anyone who manages to fill it out. :D




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I would like it if you would post the results when you are done. There's a lot of material there which is totally on topic for this forum and could spark some good discussions.

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I should be able to, just need to clear it with my moderator. Will probably keep it up for a couple of weeks so will try and post something when i take it down.




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What's my motivation? :P

#1 Issue I have: Shouldn't the players be experiencing the stories rather than having them forced onto them?

World history is a great thing to have in a game, but should that be how players live their lives within the game? By some artificial control? Provide the means to create your own stories and you will be better suited. Not player created content per say, but content that allows players to create.

For the record, I did fill out the survey.

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@Caldenfor. Well thats precisely the problem at the moment. Theres a certainly popularity with the idea of focusing a lot more on players creating their own story, i will admit i personally love the idea, and less on the developer made story. The thing is you need, or so convention would have you believe, to first give some back-story to the player to spark their imagination. Whats the best way to get that story of that world to the player so they can "role-play" within the world?

Also an interesting thing is the fact that although the designers may like the idea of not "forcing" a story on a player what do the players themselves think? Look at WoW and the countless games that copy it, the majority of them are successful. At best they provide no encouragement for players to create their down story at worst they seem to discourage it. Espen Aarseth argues (in [font="Arial"]A Hollow World: World of Warcraft as Spatial Practice) that this almost "theme-park" design is why WoW is so popular. What I'm trying to get at is that in the end maybe the majority of players would rather have the story "forces" upon them than create their own story. [/font]

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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1312664731' post='4845539']
@Caldenfor. Well thats precisely the problem at the moment. Theres a certainly popularity with the idea of focusing a lot more on players creating their own story, i will admit i personally love the idea, and less on the developer made story. The thing is you need, or so convention would have you believe, to first give some back-story to the player to spark their imagination. Whats the best way to get that story of that world to the player so they can "role-play" within the world?

Also an interesting thing is the fact that although the designers may like the idea of not "forcing" a story on a player what do the players themselves think? Look at WoW and the countless games that copy it, the majority of them are successful. At best they provide no encouragement for players to create their down story at worst they seem to discourage it. Espen Aarseth argues (in [font="Arial"]A Hollow World: World of Warcraft as Spatial Practice) that this almost "theme-park" design is why WoW is so popular. What I'm trying to get at is that in the end maybe the majority of players would rather have the story "forces" upon them than create their own story. [/font]


[/quote]

They are successful because they are new. They want something else to play, but people keep spewing out games like WoW because WoW was so popular. People find that the games don't offer anything new/fun, except the same old gear up and fight in battlegrounds mess, then quit. Well, some, like myself, do. I don't foresee many of these games being considered truly good games, but that doesn't meant hey didn't make money.

I think just having a description of the world I am entering on the back of the box/start of the game is enough to get me started. Once there you will need to further develop the history a bit, but I don't think quests, as they are in games of late, are the way to go. Perhaps some monuments with plaques that you can read can give you a bit of history about the people of the world. Books could be able to be found/etc. Let players discover the history, don't force it. Like I say about current politics in the US... maybe we have the wrong type of people designing games. Then I say... maybe it isn't the people, but the system, of which they work within. So... down with the system?

Aspire to make good games, not money, is how it should be. Good games will sell on their own merits.

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I have very rarely felt like a game was forcing story upon me (and I've played a dozen MMOs of different types), so I have difficulty seeing that as a major problem. What I want to see is players given more options to make choices _within_ the game world, not outside of it or meta to it.

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1312689608' post='4845653']
I have very rarely felt like a game was forcing story upon me (and I've played a dozen MMOs of different types), so I have difficulty seeing that as a major problem. What I want to see is players given more options to make choices _within_ the game world, not outside of it or meta to it.
[/quote]

I felt that all of the mundane quests, primarily starting with WoW's release, were forcing info. I stopped reading, solved that problem. I really wanted to care what they wanted me to do, but I just... couldn't. The stories had no meaning to me. I most recently tried it with RIFT and I stopped reading those quests within the first 5 levels. There were just too many of them and they didn't bring anything to me as an individual as I knew everyone else that walked through had the quest too.

I never got a chance to complete my EQ Druid Epic, I started just after Kunark release, but it seemed like a really great thing. People really really wanted their epics, not necessarily for the item itself, but for the bragging rights. A quest that was actually a quest, not a task. It also made me feel special to own one of Quillmane's cloaks. It wasn't meant for the Druid, but I was able to track him down, no Mages wanted at the time, so I pounced. Things have just been watered down and less individualism is available in the more recent games.

I think a coalition needs to be formed. Get a committee together from the various game creative fields and develop more than just a good game, a great game. Use the expertise of those on the committee to plan it as best possible, establish the concept, get feedback, and then finally round up like minded folks with the qualities to see it through and make a demo then go from there. Not one person's game, truly a game developed by the people, for the people. Gosh I am such a homer.

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Caldenfor, do you read novels much? I think the ability to get into quests is much like the ability to suspend your disbelief to get caught up in the story of a character's life in a fictional world. The quests are pretty much the story of your character's life within the game. Whether it's a game or a book, it really shouldn't matter how many other people experience the same story. Or it should even be a positive thing to know that others are having a similar experience to you - like the communal feeling of watching a movie with friends.

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Well you have one of the main problem of quests right there. Since the western market is adversed to a lot of grinding quests have been used to mask it and give purpose to the whole thing. The issue is then that you have to make a huge number of quests to stretch out the time it takes a player to do X thing (say get to max level) and then obviously those quests become monotonous, theres only so much you can do with them using the hot-key style game-play design most MMORPGs follow. But is the solution to remove quests all together? I personally don't think so, as sunandshadow said a good quest is like a good book if you find one you can really get into it. But there aren't many good quests out there and thats probably more down to not knowing exactly how to design them effectively for an MMORPG. I could write an essay on the issues i have with quests in current generation games but I'll spare you that.

As for the story in general theres a lot of techniques being proposed by people in the industry as too how to improve the story telling methods of a game (check out "writing for mmos: your doing it wrong" if you haven't already). The style of storytelling your advocating is something similar to Mortal Online and from my short experience of playing the game one of its major failing was that is provided no general history to the world beyond what was written in the intro section. That to me is the worst way of telling a player the story since your not using all the resources available to you.

You may love that style of game but in all honesty other may not. My point about WoW being popular is that style of storytelling must be appealing, or at least not objectionable, to a huge section of MMORPG players. The projects goal, and sorry for not explaining this sooner, is to not only see how/if current storytelling techniques withing MMORPGs can be improved but also what effect they have on different kinds of players. By that i mean whats (if indeed there is) the best way to tell a story to say a PvE player and get them engaged in the world compared to a PvP player.

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1312699187' post='4845691']
Caldenfor, do you read novels much? I think the ability to get into quests is much like the ability to suspend your disbelief to get caught up in the story of a character's life in a fictional world. The quests are pretty much the story of your character's life within the game. Whether it's a game or a book, it really shouldn't matter how many other people experience the same story. Or it should even be a positive thing to know that others are having a similar experience to you - like the communal feeling of watching a movie with friends.
[/quote]

I do read novels(currently in middle of 1984), but only when they are recommended to me in some form, I don't just pick them up and see if I like them. Not that heavy a reader.

It wasn't necessarily the quest stories themselves that I disliked, but the combination of it all. The quests themselves were not challenging and often rather repetitive, in WoW at least. It was because of their sheer number, I am assuming, that I became dissatisfied with them. PVP, Quest, Craft, grind, there really wasn't anything else to do in the games.

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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1312720817' post='4845758']
Well you have one of the main problem of quests right there. Since the western market is adversed to a lot of grinding quests have been used to mask it and give purpose to the whole thing. The issue is then that you have to make a huge number of quests to stretch out the time it takes a player to do X thing (say get to max level) and then obviously those quests become monotonous, theres only so much you can do with them using the hot-key style game-play design most MMORPGs follow. But is the solution to remove quests all together? I personally don't think so, as sunandshadow said a good quest is like a good book if you find one you can really get into it. But there aren't many good quests out there and thats probably more down to not knowing exactly how to design them effectively for an MMORPG. I could write an essay on the issues i have with quests in current generation games but I'll spare you that.

As for the story in general theres a lot of techniques being proposed by people in the industry as too how to improve the story telling methods of a game (check out "writing for mmos: your doing it wrong" if you haven't already). The style of storytelling your advocating is something similar to Mortal Online and from my short experience of playing the game one of its major failing was that is provided no general history to the world beyond what was written in the intro section. That to me is the worst way of telling a player the story since your not using all the resources available to you.

You may love that style of game but in all honesty other may not. My point about WoW being popular is that style of storytelling must be appealing, or at least not objectionable, to a huge section of MMORPG players. The projects goal, and sorry for not explaining this sooner, is to not only see how/if current storytelling techniques withing MMORPGs can be improved but also what effect they have on different kinds of players. By that i mean whats (if indeed there is) the best way to tell a story to say a PvE player and get them engaged in the world compared to a PvP player.


[/quote]

I guess the first part brings up; Why do we have to have heavy grinds in an MMORPG?

I myself don't want quests removed. I just want them changed to be of more meaning. If people want to have tasks in a game, like DAoC added at starting hubs, then by all means. Have people offer repetitive tasks, but just don't call them Quests. A quest used to have more meaning to it's name. Easiest example: Lord of the Rings. Frodo was on a quest to destroy the one ring. He could have tried to do it all alone, but he may have failed, and more often than not having some help along the way helped ensure victory.

What they have done is enslaved writers to crank out quest after quest to add to the marketing campaign; "Over 1,000 new quests!" How does that actually make a game better?

There have been quests in games, even WoW, that I have read, have enjoyed, but it was only for a brief moment. I suppose the ease of questing has made it so they are less attractive to read than previous. There is a map for everything. Things sparkle. Just... too easy?

I have never played Mortal Online because I am disenfranchised by people that have claimed their independent awesome sandbox game had this this and this and they never delivered. Darkfall really pooped in them waters. I do believe worlds need history, no denying that, but as you have been saying... is there a better way to get it across? I hope so. Maybe less quests, but more powerful stories, would be a start?

I am of a mind where the individuals need to feel as though they matter. The best example I have seen of this was in DAoC. There were often calls from realm mates that help was needed and if you helped, you felt as though you were contributing. Even as simple as "Archer ganking in Mt. Collory." I would go out, as a Ranger, and follow players around. I would check common areas. I would do what I had to do to try and catch this archer off guard. Back when I was first starting the game, on my Ranger, there was a Red Con Hunter doing it, most likely a level 50 at the time. At that stage of the game design he was able to single shot kill people often enough to draw some ire, granted lower level players may have been better off hunting some where safer, but I would get the player engaged and eventually I was able to take him out. This gave me meaning. I felt like I did something good. Keep fights were even more intense. How often did I soften up the enemy army upon rushing the keep lord so my side could stand a fighting chance? It was awesome.

P.S. If I haven't said it in a post you have read before I am a HUGE proponent of bringing back the PVE/RVR split areas for a game design. Lessening the power curve of characters, lessening the power of gear, and making it more of a casual experience. Almost giving it an Counter-Strike feel. You get on the server, do some work to get yourself some basic gear, then you can start using slightly better gear to be slightly more deadly. Not an FPS by any means, just that I want players straight from the start to be able to at least do SOME damage to maxed out characters. 10 new players should almost always, with proper tactics, be able to kill one maxed out player. Defeating those 10 should make you feel giddy inside. This game is more than just RVR though as PVE side would have more options than typical MMORPGs of late, but not necessarily a "sandbox". Really pushing the thought of PVE city building where NPCs can raid them. Cut down on stagnant never changing NPC locations in place of player driven content.

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From my perspective i mainly care about what a quest means rather than what it says. I get a conversation box come up with writing and a box telling me i have 0/10 wood. Do i really need to care what the quest says? i mean do i really need to immerse myself in this poor carpenters daily struggle of finding wood located less than 20 secs from his current location. [i]No[/i], Reading his pathetic excuses would probably lead me to idly attempting to attack him for being so useless in a real world. Quests are meant to add to the world environment and atmosphere and thats whats wrong with them these days.

Going back to games like Ice wind dale and Baldur's gate there was a point to reading the quests because you weren't just walking 6 yards and right clicking, you were uncovering a mystery or exploring for bad ass items. I'd much prefer to see Longer more meaningful quests with side areas akin to dungeons scattered around on Morrowind where each tomb had its own feel and atmosphere but were not essential to the actual game. I'm looking forwards to what Skyrim is bringing to this side of gaming though.

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Hey, sorry it's taken so long but I thought I would keep you somewhat up to date about the results being published. The reason Ihave not posted them yet, apart from being busy, is down to the university technically owning them till Ican have the CR handed over to me. This could take another month or two but I'll try my best to post something on this forum once Iget hold of it.

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