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News & Features Discussion  » [Editorial] General: Games and Story - The Third Paradigm

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56 posts found

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/31/12
Posts: 611

5/20/14 4:32:49 PM#41

Good read. Long winded text and dialogue = skip. Let the players really EXPERIENCE the narrative as they go.


Another issue mmorpgs specifically have is conveying a story where people (together as a community) are the main plot, rather than trying to make 100's of players feel like they're all individually special. As many have said before the whole "you are the chosen one" is quite old and hard to sell in mmos.  MMOs are about big populations, and the stories should fit that overall narrative, while allowing individual players or small groups to carve out their own sub plots.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/06/14
Posts: 75

5/20/14 7:53:21 PM#42
Yeah sure mark, maybe you should stick to writing about making games since you got fired because your ran Firefall into the ground. Please go away.

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/10/13
Posts: 986

5/21/14 10:30:06 AM#43

What no bashing on highly successful MMOs and try to promote your own game that failed and the company fires you later down the road?


Story telling has a place in single player games but has minimal functionality in MMOs.  Sure its a great way to do quests but most people want quality end game and could give a rat's ass of why they are fighting the boss besides the fact that it has epic loot.


If someone REALLY wants a good story then they would read a damn book as no video game will EVER match the imagination of the human mind when they have a good book.  Even the greatest video games of all times will never even come close to a good book by a good writer.  Video games allow player interaction, that is the only good it does.


And really the audience NEEDS to be told that the clay in the Sherlock example is cracked and the color pointed out as most would ignore the details.  Just like the details of the game environment are lost on many players as they can care less or take the time to appreciate the details.


It is completely and utterly laughable at the concept that a video game provides and experience.  Only one thing does that.... and that is called REAL LIFE,  And books will always surpass video games with story telling as it gives the reader the minute details they need to know.  Books far surpass movies, just books are much more time consuming and most people just want to plunk down on the sofa and watch their flick while eating popcorn.  It is even more laughable to even conceive the thought that video games would equate to experience unless we're on the starship enterprise's holo deck or something.


See that Mark is still talking out of his ass as usual.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5663

5/21/14 11:07:46 AM#44

The problem with this is when living it replaces understanding it. That 'boring' monologue would make sure you have all the facts, that boring (for some) quest chat tells you exactly why you should be helping out. Richness of background cannot come from 'experience', it comes from lore, history or the like. That's why some of the best films and games have a literary IP like Lord of the Rings; or if they did not have one, they wrote one into the game, like Elder Scrolls.

This is also about motivation, in Half Life you understand why you are motivated to pursue the story. Not all stories can be told with simple visual clues. You know what side you are on when you see Orcs slaughtering villagers, how do visual clues help when you get involved in diplomatic negotiations between warring peoples?

So there is the issue Mark Kern and the rest need to address, rely too much on visual clues and you dumb down MMOs to an episode of Tom and Jerry. You as Jerry hit Tom on the head, he chases know what to do. MMOs can be far more than that.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/19/11
Posts: 6

5/21/14 1:34:17 PM#45
A superb article! Agree wholeheartedly! Thank you, Mark, looking forward to your next articles.

Elite Member

Joined: 4/04/11
Posts: 4711

5/21/14 2:33:52 PM#46
SO Mark, how do you tell a story to 50 people in the same room at the same time when they are all at a different stages of the game and/or doing different things?

rpg/mmorg history: Dun Darach>Bloodwych>Bards Tale 1-3>Eye of the beholder > Might and Magic 2,3,5 > FFVII> Baldur's Gate 1, 2 > Planescape Torment >Morrowind > WOW > oblivion > LOTR > Guild Wars (1900hrs elementalist) Vanguard. > GW2(1000 elementalist), Wildstar

Now playing GW2, AOW 3, ESO, LOTR, Elite D


Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/18/10
Posts: 65

5/21/14 8:27:47 PM#47

First off I think kern is just putting this out here and not doing so to benifit some game he's working on. I was around when he was working on firefall and I argued long ago what was happening to it and where it would fail if it continued on its path (look at the game now).


if anything in gaming mark know's how to market he doesn't need to come here and make little posts like this

Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

5/21/14 11:54:34 PM#48
Are you sure I don't write here just to troll the critics? ;)

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Novice Member

Joined: 6/05/08
Posts: 60

5/24/14 6:08:46 PM#49

This might be the single best article I've read on  Thanks for your perfect injection of the art of immersion into a genre that is all about numbers and results.


If games were all about this kind of immersion, I would probably be a game developer right now instead of a general software engineer.


Elite Member

Joined: 1/18/06
Posts: 2310

5/27/14 11:39:37 AM#50
Originally posted by grummz

I'm really talking about the HOW to tell a story in games rather than saying that we need more or less in any genre.

For example, in an MMO, rather than being told by some questgiver that "crystals generate power that keeps the city lit at night." I'd rather have a quest that sent me on a mission to bring the town's magical light supply online by getting the right crystal and using it in the right way on the town's lighting system.

This way I will never forget how it works and why these crystals are important to the town. If it was just quest text and then collect three crystals and turn them in, I would forget it immediately. By making me actually use the crystals and go through the motions of inserting it into the magic furnace or other device, its much more immersive and would require much less lengthy quest text (that nobody reads) to "get it."

I agree with what your point is. But I have another issue that's closely related.


These are MMO's, not single player games. For SPG's, this example is fine. But for MMO's I expect to feel like I'm in a world. With that in mind, HOW this example is done is important.

In a SPG experience you can have this be, let's say, a level 5 quest. Everyone does it, and no one expects differently. But in a world such as many of us expect, having a standard level 5 quest that everyone does and then never does it again until the time comes that the lights go out at night because there's no more newbs, then running a boring "rinse and repeat" with no challenge because you're level xx is bad game play.

What I'd suggest is make MMO's the worlds they should be. Take this example and take away the "quest" part. Make it part of the world. Remove the power gaps that make such a run for a crystal too easy, and make the crystals random as opposed to fixed (even better is to add some insight in the game for, say, where a crustal might next "grow") and let players do the run on a whim or in a need. Let the lights go out at night if they don't, let the shop keepers close their doors when it's dark to provide incentive, and let the players have a say in running the city.

That makes it a world instead of a massively single player game experience.

Once upon a time....


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 11/10/06
Posts: 3516

5/27/14 11:54:56 AM#51
Originally posted by Wizardry

Actually the whole point of a role playing is missed,the STORY is what the players can make of their adventure in the game ,NOT what the developer lays out in a designed path to follow.

I could be wrong but i think gamer's want to enjoy their own story.I realize MANY people enjoy reading books which are someone else's story but role playing is not reading a book it is an action of playing out the role of a character.

The story inside of a MMOrpg should be realized through the game itself without having to make it point blank in your face.It should be like a NA going to live in a new Asian country,they wouldn't have someone read them a book but instead would realize the culture and way of life by living it and that is in essence what rpg players are looking for.

So waht is really missing is lively environments and ECO systems that bring the world to life.

Instead we get static NPC's with yellow markers over their head and laid out paths that have zero variation,EVERY player lives out the exact same story.

This trend we see in game design right now is just TOO easy and cost effective,i don't see it getting any better because devs are actually looking to cut even more corners instead of improving the games.

Why does your experience of the game has to be so different of the experiences of others? How would that even work. You can't make it unique for hundreds, thousands of players.

I want quality of storytelling and delivery. I am not too obsessed about having a unique experience which a lot of people seem to be obsessing about.

What you have outlined is your opinion of an RPG. I am more intrested in the story of an RPG. I play RPGs as they supposedly can immerse you in a world with a compelling story. Of course, they can give you tons of options along the way and make it more sandboxy but ultimately the story has to be there and it has to be good. 

I have read too many posts about how developers should allow players to create their own unique story but how does that even work? I haven't seen any specific examples of this which developers can put to practice.


Mission in life: Vanquish all trolls - especially TESO, WOW and GW2 trolls.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

5/28/14 8:47:08 AM#52

I disagree with the article. A working example of the author's beliefs is TSW - the gameplay is rubbish.


The gameplay should be the main focus. Stories should be considered additional - the icing on the cake.


I think Elite: Dangerous has the right approach.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

5/28/14 4:27:43 PM#53

Great article!

This article really mirrors my feelings on what the main problems are with story presentation in so many games today, especially MMORPGs.

I've played so many MMORPGs that just try to forcefeed me story with paragraphs and paragraphs of lengthy quest text.  Not only is this quest text laborious to read (or listen to, VO doesn't really help IMO), it's nearly always an excuse to make the player "kill 10 rats" and it's usually disjointed from other quests in the game.  So playing an MMORPG really feels like sitting through an extremely long book of mediocre short stories.

Even worse, I've noticed that most MMORPGs seem to skimp on creating a really interesting world with interactivity that can convey the story to the player.  You will have reams and reams of menial quest text, but the world will consist of like 5 copy pasta dungeon designs, some blank outdoor areas, and uninspired cities with barely any interactivity.  How is a world like this supposed to convey the fantastical sense of wonder that the developer is striving for to the player?

If you want another great example of how this more suttle, interactive storytelling method can be effective...look at the Souls series.  Dark Souls hardly tells you ANY story.  It gives you like a few lines of extremely cryptic exposition to start, and that's it.  You encounter lots of amazing areas in your journey, but the game hardly ever explains things to are mainly left to either wander around in ignorance or do your own research to figure out what the heck is going on.

And yet, despite this seeming ignorance of story...Dark Souls has a TON of lore up on the web and a community that really enjoys the worlds, and story, of the Souls series.

Why is this?  Why is it that a game, which hardly contains any story text, generates far more interest in it story than a game that has novels of quest text in it like an MMORPG?

I think that the answer is in the world of the game.  Dark Souls may not tell you a story...but in a sense, it is a story.  The world of Dark Souls is dripping with atmosphere and it's begging for you to uncover its mysteries.  The story of Dark Souls is told in its ruined towers, vast libraries, and glowing crystal caverns.

What Dark Souls gets that other games seem to miss is that we, as gamers, want to experience the story...not just read or listen to the story.

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


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

5/28/14 4:49:37 PM#54
Originally posted by Solar_Prophet
Sorry, but after the debacle of Firefall (which was largely the result of Mr. Kern's inept leadership) this article has only slightly more credibility than one supposedly written by a toaster oven, and even then it's close.

I'm sorry, but I really can't stand this way of thinking.  You can't disregard anything a person ever says just because you interpret something he did in the past as a failure.  The article makes great points, and it stands on its own merit.  Making an ad hominem attack against the author doesn't change that in the slightest.

Also...did you know that Albert Einstein did not believe in the basic principles of Quantum Mechanics, which turned out to be correct?  In fact, he even argued vehemently against them.  So since Einstein was wrong here, I guess we have to just disregard all that theory of relativity stuff that he came up with before right?  Because anything that dude said must be stupid.

Don't you see how ridiculous this is?  I mean...I'm sure at some point in your life you failed a test or got a bad grade in school...would you like it if people disregard everything you say because you got that F in Chemistry once?

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


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/06
Posts: 367

5/29/14 7:19:48 AM#55
Good article, although I assume you were talking about Dungeons and Dragons Online when you mention the narrator telling you what you're hearing? And obviously that was an intentional choice, kind of bringing the role of a dungeon master in a pen and paper game of DND into the MMO, not a lack of creativity on the part of DDO's creators :p

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/14/10
Posts: 176

5/29/14 7:42:06 AM#56
I think, when it comes to story telling, it's not how it's implemented, but how well. If the story makes you forget that you're leveling, then that's good story telling. Only two games come to mind that implemented story really well, one was TSW and the other FFXI. In both games players can recall all the quests by name, that's very good story telling.
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