MMO Storylines - A much neglected resource?

Over at WAAGH! (A Warhammer Online Warhammer Age of Reckoning blog) there is a great article that tackles the general lack of quality within MMO storylines and story telling.


The actual piece is quite long, but as I say well worth having a good look at as it highlights many important areas where I can see MMOs developing within the next 5 years or so. That being said, nothing will be able to take on board all of the suggestions as many of them were conflicting and all of them together would be a game of epic proportions needing impossible amounts of resources.

Maybe that is the point. The fact that games have tight resources makes storylines on a micro level a lesser priority, especially if they are to be developer/programmer/GM driven. Isn't it much better to have a rich and developed world on a macro level, to which small amounts of text boxes (or whatever) alude to. Doesn't this satisfy to whatever extent the needs for both those who enjoy the game mechanics, as well as those who enjoy story based gaming within the finite resources available.

The point I wanted to make, was something I was slightly disappointed to not see with the WAAGH! post: the specific example of WAR. From my reading and understanding the story of WAR will be player driven through RvR just like DAoC ultimately became for most of the players involved. Not driven by the IP but enhanced by it.

RvR became the game and the story of DAoC. The battle between the realms creating narratives all of their own. An underdog realm, underpopulated, depending on better co-operation and comradery to succeed (or not) against two other dominating realms. Tragic moments where the best laid plans of a raid were thwarted by chance, or by mischief. Keeps defended against the odds, or whole battlemaps dominated by a single realm. All of which were player driven and all of which changed night by night on account of the dedication and enjoyment by the players.

Some of this is discussed within the article shown above, but nothing I could see relating to WAR. For me WAR is the natural successor is not the the DAoC Intellectual Property but of this style of player driven story; and to a large extent extended to the world at large. Here the two factions (shame there isn't three as the extra dimension really helped with the dynamics) have the ability to not only fight on distant shores for dominance every night but take the main cites of their enemies. Supposedly safe towns will become battle zones to the point where you really begin to engross yourself within the created environment.

This will be no sandbox DAoC style battle zone (though some aspects of this will be there), but something more enhanced... I hope. Maybe the post on WAAAH! by Spy is as confused as I seem to be now I come to think of it. Do we want a single player-styled IP driven experience, or immersion through gameplay?

The point is that in reality MMOs can only develop stories through their players involvement and total immersion. Immersion is not possible with games through prose or knowledge. This immersion does not have to be in the story itself, the background, or indeed the NPCs but in the freedoms allowed for within the game and a loose set of ideals to place their own narrative upon.

As I say, WAR is seemingly doing this. Making the involvement as effective within the environment as it can, whilst at the same time preserving the sandbox style of play held for DAoC.





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:( - ColonOpenBracket

With reckless abandon here you will Colonopenbracketsomething of a unique band. Honestly. Really! Unique! Don't believe me? Well you are probably right, but as far as unique is possible nowadays we have a band of the sort that you will never expect.

8-bit, New wave,

"nintendoemocoreodancethrash", punky, music. Yup! You heard it right. Playing around with the noises you can get from computer keyboards (and other bits of electric wizardry) they create some strange form of jerky beauty. Full of life and love and good times, here is the embryonic beginnings for a group of people who may just take over the world with the aid of Mario, Sonic and Kong.

The tracks they have online are a mixed bag though, which is a shame (when I first got into the band there were 4 gems of which three were taken down). Start with Twin Chevron Action Flash, a tour-de-force for their attempt to hack out (with ASCII-formed pick axes) their own niche space in the world of music. Strong emo hooks held together with tuneful computer-ness and a driving beat.

Other songs available for download include Bring the summer, Game Over and Negative Ways. All available from http://myspace.com/colonopenbracket

"8-bit up your ass"

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Meta life sucks

This is a big one.

I have figured out life.

The whole concept of meta sucks. The most poignant example of this is Web 2.0, the web talking about the web acting within the web allowing for the social and society based within the web.

This all sucks, or indeed is generally false.

The reason why it sucks will be explained in a more general term in a moment, but the reason why it is false is simple. The reality is that the lives of the people (the currency of Web 2.0) are not based upon the web but are based upon the structures they have developed externally of the Internet. These can be families, hobbies, jobs but entirely not reliant on the web for anything other than as a function of support for these. The perfect example of this can be seen in the TWiT network of podcasts, all of the presenters are at the high end of technology but all use this as an aside from their 'real' lives whilst at the same time can be seen as major proponents of the meta-web (though they may not except this themselves). As journalists (in the main) they hold down positions within the Internet but only as ways to make money for their families, to develop hobbies... To drink the best coffee and so on. In this vain, no matter how creative, or complicated or indeed complex the Internet will become its convoluted reality is no better than television.

Unproductive television usage waste lives. That is television usage that is dependency without reflection. The same can be said with the Internet. That is without a critical focus, without a crutch of reality with which to look though the looking glass nothing good can come of it. This is the meta life. A life where actions and activities are a basis for themselves and never about anything more. Just like watching a bad soap on t.v. can be an inane activity, it can also become an activity that stimulates a social context - chatting about how rubbish it is with your friends - using the Internet from the position of needing to be in the Internet is similarly inane. Just as the TWiT'ers have a crutch so should you on what activities you partake in whilst surfing because even though the richness of this new medium is so great it does not escape the reality of banality simply through complexity.

Thus in this state, the only way to grow as a person is through escaping the meta. Escaping the idea that a context can have no context other than itself. You cannot be you without a reason to exist (friends, family, money). The meta Internet should be a tool towards your goals; games should be social, blogs should be career enhancing, facebook should be networking. And in the wider context, fun should be soul enhancing.

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