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Putting the story into MMOs


It's hard to be a hero sometimes. You wait in line behind a dozen other adventurers for your chance to hand in your twelve warg ears in return for some silver. You'd been sent to help clear the fields of wargs and even though there were several other heroic warg hunters slicing through the weeds for them, you eventually found yours. The old farmer was pleased, but he had a new job that only you -- and the hundreds of people like you -- could perform. There were more wargs out there! But this time, he would need their feet. As you headed back out into the night to continue warg genocide, you thought -- there has to be more than this. There has to be more to being a hero than hunting dogs and bears, then heading to a new town to look into their ant problem.

What you're missing, is story. The game has been designed to make your story the same as every story. A long history of slaughtering trivial mobs, occasionally grouping with others to kill a greater monster who will be prowling the hills an hour after play ginsu with its spleen. In "It's Story Time, Boys and Girls!", Warhammer blogger Syp explores the different ways MMO developers try to add story to their games, some more successful than others. NPCs in City of Heroes will talk about your deeds and exploits as you pass. GM actors in EverQuest once presaged world-changing events with missions ordinary players could affect. Lord of the Rings Online slowly advances the plot of the war with Mordor with each update. Syp also wonders how quests might change if the decisions you made in the game slowly wrote your own unique story, and generated new quests based on it. Some great suggestions about a problem all too common in today's games.

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