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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Why the obsession with "personal story" in MMORPGs?

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  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/16/14 3:31:26 PM#1

So one trend I've noticed in modern MMORPGs is that they all seem to have some form of a "you are the chosen one" story that every player is expected to play through.  In fact, in many MMORPGs, even the run of the mill quest are of this variety.  And to tell you the truth, I think this is one of the WORST things that has happened to MMORPGs and here's why...

 

1.  Personal stories naturally clash with the persistent, open world concept of MMORPGs.

The whole idea of an MMORPG is to have a persistent virtual world inhabited by real people.  In contrast to single player RPGs where people may play to hear a great story, in MMORPGs people play to "live" in the virtual world.

And when you try to add a "you are the chosen one" style story to this concept, it just doesn't work.  While you are on your quest, you see other players in the world, but you know that they are also "the chosen one" but for another world personal to them.  Sure, you can cooperate with the other players, but they have no real context or impact on the world you are playing in.  If you have a quest to save the farmer's daughter, she won't be saved until YOU do it, even if you witness other people doing it beforehand.

This just works to destroy the immersion of both the story and the world.  You feel less immersed in the story because you see tons of other players completing your objectives before you get around to it.  And you are less immersed in the world because it's clear that the actions of other players in the world have zero impact on "your" world.

 

2.  MMORPG stories are typically lower quality than their SPRPG counterparts.

MMORPGs are huge, very broadly focused, endeavors.  Because of this, any one part of the game tends to be inferior to games that can focus more tightly on that one thing.

Story is no exception here.  Stories in MMORPGs are infamous for being dull, cliche, and normally vastly inferior to SPRPRGs that focus on story much more.  MMORPG stories normally prize quantity over quality because of the need for a lot of replayability...and it shows.

In fact, I think if you were to judge the stories of most MMORPGs on SPRPG standards, they would seem absolutely horrible.  Because of this, I would normally MUCH rather play an SPRPG if I want to get a good story.

 

3.  Long-term MMORPG players don't play for the story.

You might think I'm making a bad assumption here, but think about it.  Most folks get through the story content of an MMORPG in a month or two...yet people play MMORPGs for years.  Clearly, these people are not playing it for the story, if they were, they would stop once it's over.

No, long-term MMORPG players play for the world, social aspects, grinding, etc...

 

 

So in conclusion, I don't see why so many devs feel this obsession with having to put a "personal story" in their MMORPG when it basically clashes with everything an MMORPG should be, is normally inferior to other games due to lack of focus, and isn't even the main reason why their most loyal customers play.

In addition, modern stories are EXPENSIVE.  They require loads of voice work, animations, writing, etc.  Imagine how awesome a AAA MMORPG would be if they used their huge budget on making a persistent world with tons of things to do that never ends, as opposed to making an incredibly expensive, sub-par, one shot story that you will probably never want to play twice.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  Shrilly

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/24/11
Posts: 363

3/16/14 3:35:56 PM#2

You are absolutely right. Nail on the head. If quest were more of your a normal mercenary rising to greatness your name gets spread around a little bit bugt you aren't the one.

I get what your saying.

  Mardukk

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/05/11
Posts: 1445

3/16/14 3:36:37 PM#3
I have no idea why devs throw so many resources into personal story.  I would like to make my own story in a virtual world than be hand held and told one.  I understood why Bioware did it as that was their signature style.  These other devs have no excuse.
  WellzyC

Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/11
Posts: 546

Ceaseless

3/16/14 3:37:30 PM#4

 

Right on every point.

 

Devs will continue to churn out single player mmos for that cash now opportunity.

 

And so my signature says:

The way mmo's were: Community, Exploration, Character Development, Conquest.

The way mmo's are now : Cut-Scenes,Cut-Scenes, Linear Questing, Cut-Scenes...


www.CeaselessGuild.com

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16781

3/16/14 3:57:23 PM#5

Far more than a few players like this and having some instanced solo stuff for anyone liking that is fine as long as it is optional content. If you more or less have to do them it gets tiring fast for us that prefer playing with other people.

Keep it but don't use up too much of the games resources on it, a MMO might as well have a bunch of different content for different people.

The whole "You are the hero" thing is probably because many people just don't think being a small part of something is fun enough.

Then again, I wouldn't cry if they took it all out but as long as most of the game is about playing with others it is fine. 

I personally think that long quests chains is a lot worse since it splits up players in the open game world, I want to play with my friends after all. 

  Cephus404

Novice Member

Joined: 2/27/08
Posts: 3697

3/16/14 3:58:27 PM#6
There is no personal story, everyone who plays the game gets the same personal story.  It's fine in a SP game because there are no other people to compare your tale to, but in an MMO?  Forget it.  Everyone you see in the game is doing the same story you are.  They're all the chosen one.

Played: UO, EQ, WoW, DDO, SWG, AO, CoH, EvE, TR, AoC, GW, GA, Aion, Allods, lots more
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  ste2000

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/28/04
Posts: 4735

3/16/14 3:58:42 PM#7

OP You are obviously right.

Even though many people like the Story in MMOs, it is obvious that's not what MMORPGs are about.

And that's exactly what's wrong with modern MMOs and their lack of longevity.

Once you take the Story out of the equation those MMOs have very little to offer in terms of social interaction, which is the main factor that gives a MMO longevity.

 

Although what really is killing MMOs are the Quest Hubs and leveling through quests.......... it has to stop.

I refuse to play any other MMO that implements this idiotic system.

  DocBrody

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/24/13
Posts: 1532

3/16/14 4:00:26 PM#8

because every MMO needs to b a single player game these days?

Doesn't make sense but the casuals pay the bills

  Shrilly

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/24/11
Posts: 363

3/16/14 4:03:32 PM#9
Originally posted by ste2000

OP You are obviously right.

Even though many people like the Story in MMOs, it is obvious that's not what MMORPGs are about.

And that's exactly what's wrong with modern MMOs and their lack of longevity.

Once you take the Story out of the equation those MMOs have very little to offer in terms of social interaction, which is the main factor that gives a MMO longevity.

 

Although what really is killing MMOs are the Quest Hubs and leveling through quests.......... it has to stop.

I refuse to play any other MMO that implements this idiotic system.

I mean let there be a story element but you don't need to go over the top 1 shot quest story line to the finish deal. Story can be just like part of the world where its all broken up into different places. It allows for exploration and individual story.

I would even like to put out the idea of a questless game and see what some people can come up with.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20226

3/16/14 4:08:58 PM#10
Originally posted by Creslin321

1.  Personal stories naturally clash with the persistent, open world concept of MMORPGs.

True. So if personal stories are preferred by the audience, junk, or reduce the persistent open world. It is not like MMORPGs are not already doing that with the use of instances and phasing.

 

2.  MMORPG stories are typically lower quality than their SPRPG counterparts.

Yes ... so there is room for improvement. In fact, they should have better writing, add in more scripting and events .. and so on.


3.  Long-term MMORPG players don't play for the story.

Cater to the short-term MMORPG players. Problem solved.

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/16/14 4:18:07 PM#11

Thanks for the replies all, glad that most folks here are on the same page as me :).

Anyway, this has obviously been a problem for a while, but the reason I wrote this is because I just tried out ESO and it's got the same issue.  It seems like every major MMORPG is doing this and I just don't get the point.

I mean, why don't just make a coop RPG?  Like Diablo, Guild Wars, or even Dark Souls?  There's no reason to make a game an MMORPG when it really doesn't need to be.

I feel like so many games try to force themselves into the MMORPG mold for no real purpose.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  jpnz

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3565

3/16/14 4:18:41 PM#12
people like a good story. SWTOR just made 200 million last year.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5627

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/16/14 4:19:35 PM#13

Oh, its an obsession now? *sigh* You get a couple of games with a personal story and now its an obsession.  Here we go...

1. Personal stories are an attempt to include the player in an engaging story much how SRPGs do it. Story is an excellent way to flesh out the world and make the player invested in it. A good story will enhance everything you do in the game.

Immersion-breaking static world is not really an argument against personal story but against all open world content; everything from resetting quests to respawning mobs are all static content. From my understanding, player's personal stories are almost exclusively run in instances which reduces the impact of other players ruining your immersion.

2. There are many good stories in MMORPGs, and many more still worth telling. The argument that a kin to "some are bad so just don't bother" is rather weak.

3. If you yourself identify your third argument to be a weak one, why not just leave it out and focus on the first two?

 

Oddly enough, games with stories tend to fare far better than games without them. How dull would it be to just grind, grind, grind all day without context and no other objective but to farm money and advance your character?

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  bonzoso21

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/13/04
Posts: 107

3/16/14 4:22:15 PM#14

I agree that instanced, single-player stories ala TOR and GW2 are a bit misplaced in MMOs because they take players out of the open world and accelerate their leveling, but I'm not sure I agree with your third point. I may not play MMOs for "The" story, but without compelling stories to build a dynamic world with interesting lore, every MMO is doomed to be short-term for me. Of course, that's just me, and one of the cool things about games (and MMOs in particular) is that everybody plays them differently and enjoys them for different reasons, none of which are more correct than the others. I could argue that it's investment in the characters (the NPCs as well as their own) and the world of Azeroth and its lore that lead so many people back to WoW every so often, as plenty of games have come along since that expanded on its gameplay.

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/16/14 4:22:38 PM#15
Originally posted by Shrilly
Originally posted by ste2000

OP You are obviously right.

Even though many people like the Story in MMOs, it is obvious that's not what MMORPGs are about.

And that's exactly what's wrong with modern MMOs and their lack of longevity.

Once you take the Story out of the equation those MMOs have very little to offer in terms of social interaction, which is the main factor that gives a MMO longevity.

 

Although what really is killing MMOs are the Quest Hubs and leveling through quests.......... it has to stop.

I refuse to play any other MMO that implements this idiotic system.

I mean let there be a story element but you don't need to go over the top 1 shot quest story line to the finish deal. Story can be just like part of the world where its all broken up into different places. It allows for exploration and individual story.

I would even like to put out the idea of a questless game and see what some people can come up with.

Yes, completely agree.

You can definitely have "lore" in the world that builds up a mythos and such.  I would even say this is necessary.  But there's no need for the whole obligatory you are the hero story.

Take something like Dark Souls, it has tons of lore, but there is almost no focus on the story.  You are free to explore the world as you like, and look into the lore of the world if you want, but the game never forces you.  I think this is more along the lines of what MMORPGs should be like.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5627

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/16/14 4:25:41 PM#16
Originally posted by Cephus404
There is no personal story, everyone who plays the game gets the same personal story.  It's fine in a SP game because there are no other people to compare your tale to, but in an MMO?  Forget it.  Everyone you see in the game is doing the same story you are.  They're all the chosen one.

Are you jealous of the other chosen ones?

Seriously. Why don't you just treat them as filler episodes in a TV series (or treat the rest of the game as a filler episodes)? They may interject the main plot line, something might happen, but anything is hardly ever permanent; and afterwards the main plot-line continues as if nothing happened.

I don't see a problem here. All good content should be welcome.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/16/14 4:29:18 PM#17
Originally posted by Quirhid

Oh, its an obsession now? *sigh* You get a couple of games with a personal story and now its an obsession.  Here we go...

1. Personal stories are an attempt to include the player in an engaging story much how SRPGs do it. Story is an excellent way to flesh out the world and make the player invested in it. A good story will enhance everything you do in the game.

Immersion-breaking static world is not really an argument against personal story but against all open world content; everything from resetting quests to respawning mobs are all static content. From my understanding, player's personal stories are almost exclusively run in instances which reduces the impact of other players ruining your immersion.

2. There are many good stories in MMORPGs, and many more still worth telling. The argument that a kin to "some are bad so just don't bother" is rather weak.

3. If you yourself identify your third argument to be a weak one, why not just leave it out and focus on the first two?

 

Oddly enough, games with stories tend to fare far better than games without them. How dull would it be to just grind, grind, grind all day without context and no other objective but to farm money and advance your character?

Couple of games?  I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a post-WoW AAA MMORPG that does not have a "you are the hero" story lol :).  Every one I can think of does.  ESO, GW2, AoC...

And even if they don't have a contiguous storyline, all the quests are still just for "the player" and have zero to do with the shared world.  So it's still a "problem" for an MMORPG.

 

Next point, it's not just that some are bad, it's that the vast majority are just worse than SPRPG stories.  Sure, you may get your occasional interesting quest...but most of them are filler.  I think the majority of people would agree with that.  Even worse, the pacing in MMORPGs in normally terrible because you have to do a lot of "normal" leveling in between quests so it's like watching a 2 day long commercial in between a TV show...you totally lose focus on what the heck you were doing in your main quest.

 

To the third point, I never identified it as a weak argument.  I said you may think it's initially a bad assumption.  Then I went on to say why it wasn't.  People who play a game for over a year clearly are not playing it for the story they completed months or years ago.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  ste2000

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/28/04
Posts: 4735

3/16/14 4:29:47 PM#18
Originally posted by Shrilly
Originally posted by ste2000
 

I mean let there be a story element but you don't need to go over the top 1 shot quest story line to the finish deal. Story can be just like part of the world where its all broken up into different places. It allows for exploration and individual story.

I would even like to put out the idea of a questless game and see what some people can come up with.

My point was that the Storyline becomes the main focus of a MMO while no effort is put on the rest of the game, I am not saying that Storylines has no place in MMOs.

But it is perfectly possible to have fun in a MMO without Storylines or quests (sandboxes)

AoC started the Storylines craze, before it MMOs didn't have any, not even Vanilla WoW.

All the MMOs pre-AoC (except for WAR) were real MMOs, now they are just Single Player RPG with extended Multiplayer function.

That's as simple as that.

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/16/14 4:32:25 PM#19
Originally posted by Quirhid
Originally posted by Cephus404
There is no personal story, everyone who plays the game gets the same personal story.  It's fine in a SP game because there are no other people to compare your tale to, but in an MMO?  Forget it.  Everyone you see in the game is doing the same story you are.  They're all the chosen one.

Are you jealous of the other chosen ones?

Seriously. Why don't you just treat them as filler episodes in a TV series (or treat the rest of the game as a filler episodes)? They may interject the main plot line, something might happen, but anything is hardly ever permanent; and afterwards the main plot-line continues as if nothing happened.

I don't see a problem here. All good content should be welcome.

It's not that I (and probably others) think that these you are the hero games shouldn't be made.  On the contrary, I love games like that.  I just don't think they should be MMORPGs.

For example, I think that ESO and SWTOR would have fit MUCH better as coop RPGs.  There's just no reason for them to have an open shared world.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  Anthur

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 629

3/16/14 4:32:31 PM#20

Player logs into MMO to have some fun.

First NPC he mets says: "Oh chosen one. We are so glad to see you. You are our hero. You are the only one who can save our world !"

Player: "Oh noooo, not again....". Player faints.

Someone should make a comic of it. ;)

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