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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