This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “Do you play for the lore or the gore?” by bronecar. Simply put, do you play MMOs for the story or for the gameplay?
Bronecar opens up the discussion with his own thoughts:
“The way I see it, gameplay should always come first, followed by a solid background story. After all, MMORPG's are not novels.
I strongly believe they should coexist, but if I were to choose, I'd say drop the lore and go for the gore.”
MumboJumbo draws some comparisons using singleplayer and PvP games to illustrate his opinion:
“Take some examples...
In Mass Effect 2, I found the story to be far more interesting than the gameplay, so on that account, as long as the gameplay was passable, I would be happy with the game and story and lore etc.
But in a game with more PvP credentials or sandbox interaction, the gameplay is by far more important, eg PvP in WAR was all about how satisfying you could kill the enemy especially in scenarios and nothing to do with any lore or story, the PvE in the game was very passable here. Again with a sandbox interaction you can have some story sketched, but as long as you have lots of freedom to interact, combine things and change things in the world then the story is very secondary, because the gameplay sorta is the story for yourself. Eg various god-sims, it's all about how flexible your options are.”
Eyelids asserts that if you want a story, there are plenty of books out there:
“The action of a game is primary. The game should not require lore to hold it up as a crutch for poor gameplay. If the gameplay is solid and they decide to trhow some lore in, thats fine but a game by its very name is A GAME! You want to read about fairies or space pirates, there are a million books out there for that. The game must never be dilluted otherwise it ceases to become a game more like some sort of childs interactive experience.”
Fdzzaigl argues the opposite POV:
“Storyline has always been integrated into new media steadily, becoming better presented over time; the gaming industry won't be an exception.
The 'games are not books' argument doesn't make sense, books are not the only media in which storyline is presented; you've got magazines, comics, theatre, opera, film, and so forth each
presenting storyline in their own manner; you wouldn't go tell all the people enjoying that to "Go read a book instead!".
Games are starting to find more ways to present a storyline themselves in an interactive manner which fits the medium and I think that is rather exciting.
A game should have a good balance between storyline and combat for me; I can't enjoy a pure mindless hack&slash fest for too long; but an interactive movie isn't exactly great either.”
Personally, I’m indifferent to a “good storyline.” I love great storylines in my single-player RPGs, and I can definitely appreciate them greatly in MMOs, especially when they are weaved into the game world itself (I.E. the environments tell a story, there are easter eggs, and all sorts of little details), but it’s not paramount. Good gameplay trumps story for me in an MMO.
What are your thoughts on story vs. gameplay? Let us know in the comments below!