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The Daily Grind: How would you like your story?

Jef Reahard

Story is on the mind of a lot of developers these days, whether it's the wunderkinds over at BioWare or veterans like Funcom's Craig Morrison. Predictably, there are wildly differing viewpoints regarding implementation. You have BioWare trumpeting thousands of lines of (spoken) prose as leading to meaningful narrative gameplay, and then you have people who think that story in MMORPGs is a marketing gimmick unless it is created by the players.

Yep, you heard me. EA/BioWare is spending umpteen bazillion Republic credits on voice acting, novel-quality quest dialogue, and who knows what else, but at the end of the day, all of it will pale in comparison to what can be done by a couple of roleplayers using naught but their imagination and a few in-game props. TOR will likely be a well-made game but at some point, the developer-generated stories will run out and repetition will set in.

If MMO devs truly cared about advancing storytelling in this genre, don't you think they'd design systems that facilitate player generated content? SWG's Storyteller system in particular should serve as a blueprint for any developer that spouts off about the importance of story. Without it (or a similar system), frankly, it's all just a lot of PR-speak. What say you, Massively readers? Do you prefer developer-crafted stories in MMORPGs, or would you rather players be given creative freedom and robust storytelling tools?

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