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

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171 posts found
  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 21172

3/17/14 8:12:43 PM#141
Originally posted by Creslin321

Second, I actually DO like personal stories.  I just don't like them in MMORPGs.  For example, I think that SWTOR should have been made, but I think it should have been a coop RPG...no persistent, shared world.  There is really no point for it to have one.  You see other players in the world, but they may as well not be there most of the time.  Same with ESO.

I don't disagree that many MMORPGs can be made into a better co-op RPG (which i have said before). But what is the problem with personal stories in MMORPGs?

Does it make it better for you if we call those games by some other genre name instead? It is just a convenient label to me. I evaluate the specific game without any regard to how it is labeled. And if there is a good personal story that i can enjoy, i wouldn't care less if the game is a FPS, MMORPG, or SRPG.

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  3/17/14 8:16:00 PM#142
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Creslin321

Second, I actually DO like personal stories.  I just don't like them in MMORPGs.  For example, I think that SWTOR should have been made, but I think it should have been a coop RPG...no persistent, shared world.  There is really no point for it to have one.  You see other players in the world, but they may as well not be there most of the time.  Same with ESO.

I don't disagree that many MMORPGs can be made into a better co-op RPG (which i have said before). But what is the problem with personal stories in MMORPGs?

Does it make it better for you if we call those games by some other genre name instead? It is just a convenient label to me. I evaluate the specific game without any regard to how it is labeled. And if there is a good personal story that i can enjoy, i wouldn't care less if the game is a FPS, MMORPG, or SRPG.

Let's remove the genre label to clarify.  Let me restate the purpose of this thread as...

"I have a problem when devs insert a "you are the chosen one" style personal story into a persistent, shared world."

No genre labels there ;).

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

  hallucigenocide

Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/18/14
Posts: 341

3/17/14 8:21:26 PM#143
generally i think it's garbage since i'm not interested in the whole " me the hero" type of stuff but i can see why it's needed.. alot of people need direction, they cant really progress unless they're told what to do...

kek

  reeereee

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/13
Posts: 780

3/17/14 8:21:38 PM#144

I agree that personal stories where you're the "chosen one" or doing things only one person can really do don't fit the genera but that doesn't for a moment mean that it's not possible to craft stories that aren't inherently contradictory with a persistent world. 

 

Personal stories when done well are amazing, but so far I've only come across one that's done it well in an mmo setting and that's the SWTOR agent.  It's ruined me to a certain degree.  After playing that stories in mmos like FFXIV and ESO just seem hollow, shallow, and poorly written.  Although in ESO's case I feel like they went for quantity over quality so none of the quests seem that well written but there are just so many of them... to kill time and "add content" I guess...

  Distopia

Drifter

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 16197

"what a boring life, HATING everything" -Gorilla Biscuits

3/17/14 8:30:37 PM#145
Originally posted by SEANMCAD
Originally posted by Tholdornas

Personal story CAN work if pulled off right. While it's right that the very concept of having a 'you are the chosen one' story that mostly happens in instanced areas within a persistent world is ... let's call it weird, with a few things it could work:

1. The personal story CAN'T have a final ending

This one is obvious, yet no story-driven MMO seems to glance at this point: if you give the story a ending, of course players get bored, but if you set your story up so that there is no 'epic final boss' waiting at the end of the line and then nothing, the story itself can flow seamless into the player-driven content. I'm no story-telling genius and I sure as hell have no actual idea how to do this in every scenario, but if you focus on it right from the start, it should be possible, especially when we decide that ...

2. The story HAS to give the player choices

In a sense this one should explain itself: players love being in control. SWTOR gives us a glance at the concept, although even there it's not fully realized, in my opinion, at least. Personal stories should be split in smaller stories that just ... happen, coming from a lore perspective, meaning: say, we're in a space MMO and after the introductional part you have the choice of visiting one of three planets. Depending on your choice, another story begins and, for example, a certain villain is introduced. Let's say the story continues in a way that this villain doesn't die or vanish by the end you finish that particular planet; after that he can (maybe even kind of randomly) pop up on other planets, in addition to the (story-driven) problems you may find on your next planet, making it possible for multiple story-related incidents to occur simultaneously.

What I'm saying basically boils down to: maybe building a story around the player/protagonist is the wrong way to go and even if I just kind of writing down my thoughts on the subject, building stories off the lore and letting them clash with the player's journey makes a whole lot more sense than building the story following 'stereotypic hero story' formula B.

Just my two cents.

many of us are asking ourselves 'why bother'.

instead of giving me a back story or a quest story just provide me with a large world with things to explore on every corner.

If I want a story I will watch a movie or read a book

What I see is that many of you simply play the wrong games, you want simulations or survival games not RPG's. There's a huge difference. Yeah you can roleplay in those games, but RPG in gaming is a different beast than actual RP.

For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  Distopia

Drifter

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 16197

"what a boring life, HATING everything" -Gorilla Biscuits

3/17/14 8:44:21 PM#146

Personal story is just that, your story. It's there for you to experience alone. It has nothing to do with the virtual world(the MMORPG) or the other players. Suspension of disbelief is key here, not to mention the idea of playing a big part in a story.

There are plenty of shared experiences in every MMORPG. The story behind those things are more "world" related and typical account for everyone else in that world. How many dovahkins are out there in the real world? DO you consider every single one of those people when you take on such a role? I don't see it much different in an MMO setting, you're not meant to consider there are others. That's why they use phasing and instancing in these scenarios. Imagination is really the key factor in all of this.

 

 

 

For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 21172

3/18/14 12:00:47 AM#147
Originally posted by Creslin321
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Creslin321

Second, I actually DO like personal stories.  I just don't like them in MMORPGs.  For example, I think that SWTOR should have been made, but I think it should have been a coop RPG...no persistent, shared world.  There is really no point for it to have one.  You see other players in the world, but they may as well not be there most of the time.  Same with ESO.

I don't disagree that many MMORPGs can be made into a better co-op RPG (which i have said before). But what is the problem with personal stories in MMORPGs?

Does it make it better for you if we call those games by some other genre name instead? It is just a convenient label to me. I evaluate the specific game without any regard to how it is labeled. And if there is a good personal story that i can enjoy, i wouldn't care less if the game is a FPS, MMORPG, or SRPG.

Let's remove the genre label to clarify.  Let me restate the purpose of this thread as...

"I have a problem when devs insert a "you are the chosen one" style personal story into a persistent, shared world."

No genre labels there ;).

Great .. in that case, i agree.

"you are the chosen one" style personal story is great in environment where devs have good controls. Instances are great .. persistent shared, not so much.

In fact, personally I prefer games with good controlled personal stories, and not persistent shared world. And label don't matter ... i can find such games in SP games, online co-op games, and MMOs.

 

  SuperNick

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/10/07
Posts: 465

3/18/14 12:14:51 AM#148

Feeling connected to your character is an important element of any RPG in my opinion. Personal stories and direct interaction of your character and the world give you that connection and sense of "my character", even if thousands of others go through the same thing.

Nothing more satisfying than doing my class line quests in LOTRO, finishing my Hunter bow quest in WoW Classic or seeing how my Commando evolved in SWTOR.

To put it in perspective: GW2 is basically a game that did nothing to connect the player to the character and it felt somewhat off as a result. I didn't feel like  I had any impact on the world, I felt as if I had no role beyond hitting stuff with any class I played and the skills felt muddied to the point of forgetting what class I was on sometimes.

RPGs are all about making you appreciate not only the world but also the uniqueness of what you're playing.. otherwise why bother having quests and classes in the first place? Just have players and monsters.

  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6299

3/18/14 1:14:30 AM#149
Originally posted by Creslin321

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.

You were all over this feature when GW2 was in the pre release phase. why the change of tune?

  Pilnkplonk

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/02/10
Posts: 1566

3/18/14 1:51:20 AM#150
Originally posted by hallucigenocide
generally i think it's garbage since i'm not interested in the whole " me the hero" type of stuff but i can see why it's needed.. alot of people need direction, they cant really progress unless they're told what to do...

Yes, but clear direction doesn't necessarily mean "story" with a protagonist character, a beginning, middle and world-changing end. You have crystal clear direction in tetris, for example or puzzle games in general. Or Spelunky and Desktop Dungeons. Or any online FPS.... What is being argued here is that this particular kind of giving direction, that of "Hero's Journey" where you are the super-special hero capable of changing the fate of the world is the worst possible one for a massively shared, persistent game structure. It is inherently at odds with the main distinctive feature of mmos, and that's why both the story and the mmo-ness necessarily have to suffer. (Hence games like SWTOR which, despite fantastic dev pedigree and enormous budgets manage to present only mediocre storytelling and sub-par mmo experience). Not to mention that stories themselves by their very definition have to end ("Neverending Story" is actually an intentionaly paradoxical title)... which is again also very much at odds with revenue models that rely on players playing the game indefinitely rather than console "play it a couple of times, buy a new box" model. As I said before, I blame it all on consoles. Square pegs, round holes and all.

Imo it would be much better to play the strengths of your core design choices, rather than weaknesses.

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 762

3/18/14 4:30:59 AM#151
I hate the conflation of personal stories with the hero monomyth.  There are so many other great personal stories we could be enjoying in MMOs, but it seems like few people can imagine an MMO with a great story that isn't about being a warrior hero.  Either that or they can't imagine anyone paying for it.
  LoverNoFighter

Novice Member

Joined: 9/05/12
Posts: 334

SWG pre cu > all

3/18/14 6:57:53 AM#152
Originally posted by jpnz
people like a good story. SWTOR just made 200 million last year.

 No.

People like Star Wars. That is why SWTOR made money.

 

  Muke

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/04/07
Posts: 1659

3/18/14 7:02:07 AM#153
Originally posted by jpnz
people like a good story. SWTOR just made 200 million last year.

SWTOR is one of the reasons MMOs should be divided into sandboxes, themeparks and semi-MMO themeparks.

Swtor is closer to a coop SP game then a MMO.

 

"going into arguments with idiots is a lost cause, it requires you to stoop down to their level and you can't win"

  Distopia

Drifter

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 16197

"what a boring life, HATING everything" -Gorilla Biscuits

3/18/14 7:11:44 AM#154
Originally posted by LoverNoFighter
Originally posted by jpnz
people like a good story. SWTOR just made 200 million last year.

 No.

People like Star Wars. That is why SWTOR made money.

 

Star Wars or not most people don't play what they don't find enjoyable. They also certainly won't continually throw money at it. Hence the mass exodus months after launch, it was no longer enjoyable. They fixed some of the reasons behind that, hence why they're able to keep players coming back today, in turn they make money.

For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  User Deleted
3/18/14 7:16:51 AM#155

I agree completely OP.  Every single MMO that has focused on personal story has been a big fail to me (note that I said 'to me', not commercially).  If I wanted a deep hero style experience I would play a single player game.  When I am playing the hero, I don't want thousands of other heroes running around with me.  Its absurd. 

I would like to see MMOs focusing on community, worlds and working as a team again.

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5773

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/18/14 8:58:46 AM#156
Originally posted by Creslin321
Originally posted by Quirhid
 

In this thread, all I've argued for is that personal stories as seen in games like AoC, GW2, and SWTOR don't really fit with the whole persistent, shared world idea of an MMORPG.

I never argued for anything beyond that really.  I just want the freedom to explore the world and make my own story, as opposed to being told the same story that every other player is being told.  I never said that I think games should be like old school sandboxes with politics, sieges etc.

Your arguments were specifically against old school sandboxes ideas, which you assumed I was arguing for, but in reality, I was not...hence strawman.

You didn't exactly stay on topic there, so I don't see how you can blame me for grasping onto that. You said you wanted to make your own story and I responded to that. You've made your case quite murky.

And like I said in my first post, it seems your beef is not with personal story, but with the static world MMORPGs, all MMORPGs are built on.

 

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

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5773

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/18/14 9:03:09 AM#157
Originally posted by Creslin321
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Creslin321

Second, I actually DO like personal stories.  I just don't like them in MMORPGs.  For example, I think that SWTOR should have been made, but I think it should have been a coop RPG...no persistent, shared world.  There is really no point for it to have one.  You see other players in the world, but they may as well not be there most of the time.  Same with ESO.

I don't disagree that many MMORPGs can be made into a better co-op RPG (which i have said before). But what is the problem with personal stories in MMORPGs?

Does it make it better for you if we call those games by some other genre name instead? It is just a convenient label to me. I evaluate the specific game without any regard to how it is labeled. And if there is a good personal story that i can enjoy, i wouldn't care less if the game is a FPS, MMORPG, or SRPG.

Let's remove the genre label to clarify.  Let me restate the purpose of this thread as...

"I have a problem when devs insert a "you are the chosen one" style personal story into a persistent, shared world."

No genre labels there ;).

How is persistence relevant? Why not just "You have issues with 'you are the chosen one' stories in multiplayer games".

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

  Kuinn

Novice Member

Joined: 1/10/11
Posts: 2103

3/18/14 9:21:43 AM#158

All these personal story focused mmorpgs should be singleplayer/coop rpg's from the get go, with endgame options once you're done leveling.

 

Allow people to solo or invite others for coop if they wish, but dont make unneccesary open persistent world where you see other solo players and where you can outlevel the area making the permanence of that area useless because the content is too low level for you after you are done.

 

It would be easier to create "end game content" also if everyone runs their own custom tailored instances of the world areas, so you could have the entire world as end game when people are done leveling and doing their story. Separate copy of the area for the initial story mode and then open the whole world as persistent sandbox once people are through with their personal story.

 

This end game world would be max level in it's entirety and you wouldnt see any lowbie levelers in there because they would be in their custom instances leveling and doing their storymode there. SWTOR is a good example where I would love this system. More detailed personal story instances of the world initially, up till max level and then open the whole world as a max level sandbox once the personal story and planetary arcs are done.

 

It could have been amazing singleplayer/coop experience with a vast sandbox on top of that. I hope someday a game like this comes. Fallout Online? No wait, isnt Star Citizen kind of like this? With singleplayer and persistent multiplayer in it? I'm not quite sure of the details about Star Citizen and how it all works.

 

Edit; sorry if it's discussed already, too many pages and too little time to read all.

  Hyanmen

Elite Member

Joined: 10/11/06
Posts: 5205

3/18/14 9:23:46 AM#159
Originally posted by Creslin321

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.

MMO's without a story are extremely dull and bland without exception. It is practically required for me to be able to go through them because it's an extremely solid way to make me care about the world and the setting. On the other hand if the devs themselves don't give a crap about the world then it is the most useless thing ever. When you don't give a flying crap it really shows in your game.

There are many ways to fit a personal story in an MMORPG. You can be one of the "chosen heroes" while the other players are also similar heroes. The story may ask you to form a group of adventurers instead of having you play alone all the time.

MMO stories can be and usually are worse than their single player counterparts but thats on the developer, not the concept of an MMO story. Good developers create stories for their MMO's that rival and exceed that of the single player games. Sure, they cannot go all out on CGI and altering the world but on the other hand they can let the story tell out the lore and to ground the world in the setting. An excellent script and pacing is important here but when done well, MMO stories wipe their butts with single player stories. A Main story can branch off into many sidestories and epics that flesh out the world while giving you a lot of context for the main story.

One amazing thing about the MMO stories is that when grounded in the setting, the story becomes more and more meaningful as time goes on and patches are released while allowing the developers to do great things with it. When you have played an MMO for two years and find out a massive twist that reshapes everything that has happened so far the potential for a powerful story is infinitely greater than in a single player 50h effort beaten in a single week. One of the major selling points for MMO's can be the fact that they are persistent but that they also allow for the creation of stories spanning months and years. In that way they resemble stories in an episodic format like in TellTale games.

You simply don't get involved in the setting and the world in a single player game the same way you do in an MMO you play for years. The modern technology allows the devs to get very close to the level of single player stories as far as the presentation is concerned. The developers simply have to give a damn about getting there. Only a few do what must be done, the rest tack on the story half-assedly.

"Housing is standard in most mmo's."
- yolteotl79

  nitefly

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/26/06
Posts: 340

3/18/14 9:29:41 AM#160


Originally posted by waynejr2
Wow, disagree.  Take a look at City of Heroes.  It is the best example off the top of my head of a game where grouping and soloing were both easily allowed.  You could solo your missions but group up at the drop of a hat with instances scaling up before you got in them.

IMO, rude behavior has killed a lot of social aspects of game.  I don't want to hear about your politics or your god in game.  I don't want to see childish stuff written in chat when grouping. 



I really miss City of Heroes/Villains. That whole mechanic of all challenges scaling to party size and on top of that allowing the party to scale the difficulty/amount of mobs further based on how tough they felt really worked. It also meant you could solve most quests either solo or grouped and it would always be a good experience (assuming your party members weren't muppets ofcourse).

Dungeons & Dragons: Online had a bit of it, but since the maps were static it didn't have the same appeal that the changing maps of City of Heroes/Villains offered.

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