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Game by Night

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Author: GameByNight

Actually, story does matter.

Posted by GameByNight Monday October 5 2009 at 3:02PM
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Sometimes, trolls get the best of you. I mirrored yesterday’s post on WoWRiot and the very first commenter, Pink, threw this out at me:

“go rp nerd. no1 cares about what a quest involves, only what the reward is.”

The asshat couldn’t have even read the article because what I’m saying is that I stopped reading quest text but we’ll put that to the side for a minute.

I’m going to come out and say that, even if you’ve never RP’d or read a quest in your life, story matters. PvP fanbois such as Pink might not think so, but, whether they like it or not, it’s true.

(This is Pink. The Pink from WoWriot is a guy. Draw your own conclusions.)

Here’s why:

Without story, there is no context

If story was irrelevant, some of the best and most epic encounters in MMO history would never have been. Take WoW for example. If no one cared about story, Blizzard wouldn’t have bothered to design Onyxia, BRD, Blackwing Lair, or the upcoming Icecrown Citadel. It wouldn’t matter that those world dragons are corrupt or that somewhere there’s this thing called the Emerald Dream. Elwynn forest? Well, I guess that’s just a happy little fairy tale town that’s got no use for a history behind its name.

You could just as easily stick a boss in a big white room, I imagine him as a cube, and tell people to go to town. The why doesn’t matter. Just the reward.

Doesn’t that sound just a little empty to you?

Want a game where context doesn’t matter? Download Pong.

Without story, there’s only grind

You know, before MMOs came about you had MUDs and, sorry, most of them were entirely grindfests. Those that did have quests and story had little and it was usually held on a few web pages written up by the game’s maker. You know why that’s not the case anymore? People want a reason to do something, even if it’s shallow. Without that, why even have a quest giver? I bet it’s a lot easier to come up with a vending machine to hand out new objectives. When I played MUDs, the closest thing we had to a quest was Mob Mastery. You’d type ‘mobm’ and it’d hand you a mob to hunt down. Want to spend 80 levels doing that? Without story, what else is there?

And, apparently, Blizzard agrees. According to this article, people didn’t have as much fun without quests. Hence it now being the biggest quest driven in existence.

Without story, “RPG’s” become just “G’s”

That’s right homeboy. Isn’t the point of an RPG to deliver some kind of story? If you take context out of MMO gaming, you’re left with a shallow gaming experience that lacks purpose. In any other world, we’d call that a waste of time. MMOs aren’t here to provide challenge. They’re here to give us narrative social experiences that we can get devote a lot of time into. Compare the difficulty of WoW to any modern single player RPG and you’ll see what I mean.

Can you get lost in stats and killing blows? Yeah, probably. But that’s what Counterstrike is for.

I’m not going to ramble on and build up some huge case. The sheer ignorance of some people in our community is astounding to me and I had more to say that what could be held in a single comment.

If you don’t care about story, context, or world in your MMO, I’d just like to know why you even bother paying that subscription fee. You’re playing the wrong genre of game.

Call of Duty ----> is that way.

Update: I'll let Tom Chilton lay it out for you.

"What we found was that all the feedback that we got from our alpha testers was that once they ran out of quests, the game got boring. They were like, 'I don't know what to do any more, and I don't really feel like playing any more once I run out of quests'. We came to that realisation that, wow, this quest thing really works. We need to do this throughout the entire game!"


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Annwyn writes:


It is quite sad to see players not bother with story anymore but I have to blame many game designers for that. How many games have we seen with unoriginal quests and barely any story? You know, the type of game where you just press "continue" non-stop even though the button can't be pressed yet in hope that you can skip that useless text?

It sort of give the illusion that story doesn't matter anymore and what only matters is to become the strongest, become succesful and well-known. When I look at most of the popular new titles though, I still get that feeling. Quests don't seem to be too important as only the rewards will help you reach that end-game.

I personally love games with stories, I'm always reading quests when they are well-done, etc and one thing I noticed, was that the story in Sandbox was, most of the time, much deeper than the usual mainstream themepark game we get. Fun fact though is that those sandbox don't always have that "Main Story-line". Instead, I find the player-driven story much more entertaining.

But doesn't that kill the "Role-Playing" part of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game? Most designers seems to have misinterpreted the meaning of Role-Playing as having a character and controlling the stats when it is actually much more than that. The story that is supposed to exist has disappeared. What remains are grocery list quests with barely any point in reading the content other than to discover your next target.

Luckily there appear to be a few games slowly trying to make questing much more interesting (WoW WOTLK) and some new ideas like Citadel Of Sorcery which is trying to bring back actual story in Quests.

Mon Oct 05 2009 3:44PM Report
GameByNight writes:

Excellent comment madness. Thanks for the props and for making these points.

Mon Oct 05 2009 6:05PM Report writes:
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