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Does Story Matter?

Posted by lordaltay1 Wednesday May 28 2008 at 11:26PM
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Most Asian single player RPGs are story driven while almost all Asian MMORPGs are completely void of any semblance of plot. I've never been able to fully understand this contradiction. Unlike Western MMORPGs, Asian ones are usually free to play and instead supported through cash item shops. This certainly goes some way in explaining this phenomena. "Lore" is regarded as a luxury that developers can do without. We gamers are expected to accept this compromise -- free game play but no lore.

To get into this matter a bit deeper, lets take a look at two very successful games with vastly different approaches to story. World of Warcraft has mountains of in game text. Each of the thousands of quests is attached to lengthy dialogue and players can go out of their way to read books placed throughout the world. Entire novels have been written set in the Warcraft universe. On the other end of the spectrum we have Maple Story. With something like 50 million users worldwide, there is no doubting Maple Story's success. Yet Maple Story doesn't even give players the pretense of a story.
 
Obviously there are many factors that go into making a good game, but I would really like to see a game like Fly For Fun or Dream of Mirror Online that has the same dynamic back story that we see in single player Asian RPGs. Story might not be a top concern, but why not develop it as time goes by? For example, for the first year or so Maple Story had very few quests but as time went by more and more were added. Couldn't story elements be added the same way? Start with basic stuff then add more as the game develops.

What are your thoughts on back stories in MMORPGs? Are they needless or do they help enrich the experience and immerse the player in the game world? Share your views through the comments below.