Player Interaction Versus Story In MMOs?

By Jim Rossignol on April 7th, 2011 at 12:33 pm.

An unhealthy longing for this kind of interaction.
This article by Secret World lead Ragnar Tornquist, in which he argues that there’s still room for stories that aren’t generated by player interaction, is a bit awkward. I can’t help thinking that it’s a defence against exactly the kind of criticisms I usually make of MMOs – that the effort put into their stories and quests would be better spent on providing players with the kinds of tools that they need to make their own stories. I am thinking here of the years I spent in Eve. But it made me think about the MMOs which actually put player interaction first. Other than Eve and Mortal Online I couldn’t really think of any. The Twittermind came to my rescue, suggesting Planetside – of course, with its lack of anything aside from purely player driven combat – but also Wurm Online, Neverdaunt, Love, and A Tale In The Desert. Which led me to think: What else is there? Could we make a list of MMOs where dev-developed story, fiction, and narrative content is necessarily secondary to the interaction of players? And how would be set up criteria for deciding that in borderline cases? What are the best examples of doing away with story? And what is it that generates the best stories from player interaction in MMOs? Comment peoples, open your brains.

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99 Comments »

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  1. PureUncut says:

    That’s quite a list there, whilst not the most popular of MMOs they are the ones that certainly deserve the most attention for what they did/do.
    I’ve personally always thought that the interaction and stories we craft with other people in the MMO world are always far more memorable and overreaching than any of the guff about big dragons they usually centre around.

    I think that’s why you can never really quit Eve once you’ve played for a year or so. You can stop subscribing but you’re still playing it through in your head every time someone mentions it.

    • gorgol says:

      Mortal Online now has a 14 day free trial! Time to finally try it for me! :D

    • Berzee says:

      I would love to play Mortal Online if it wasn’t for the (utterly pointless) nudity/immodesty. The screenshots looked fine, I DL’ed it, watched the trailer and was subsequently VERY SAD.

  2. Ralud says:

    Love?

  3. trjp says:

    Given his involvement in the spectacular failure of Anarchy Online to actually deliver the content they always promised, I’m amazed he’s still banging that drum…

    When the game was unplayable – when the game was changed in ways to make player characters useless – all you ever got from Funcom was “but we have a STORY ARC”.

    I tend to agree with the idea that MMOs should offer users the tools make their own world. If you want to tell stories and other things, stick to other formats…

    • trjp says:

      p.s. I always felt that AO players were really just filling-in HIS world instead of making the world their own. I think that’s the main difference between these concepts – whether the players make the world or whether they’re just extras in it.

      Oddly, Age of Conan didn’t really do this – I’d assumed that was because they’d sacked the pillocks who drove AO but apparently not! :)

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      mpk says:

      The reason I’ve always given to people as to why I enjoyed EVE over WoW was that WoW was a dead world – the stories had been written and you’re only there to witness them, like that big bald guy in the Marvel comics. In EVE you’re writing them as you go along, because it’s a sandbox.

      It’s similar to the differences I found in JRPGs and WRPGS as I grew up. Final Fantasy et al had a story written that you took part in and could not influence, while the western model, as time progressed, involved multiple endings and moral decisions to affect the storyline.

      Give players some boundaries and a set of tools and they’ll do the work for you – you don’t necessarily need to create a story arc, or storyline quests. Just give people enough backstory to flavour your universe and then let them loose.

    • Quine says:

      Personally I’m much more interested in the results of interactions with players (or the world if single-player) than reading a chunk of text, no matter how great the lore behind it is.

      So the outcomes of some choice squad actions in Planetside, or an hilarious lucky TD in Bloodbowl resonate far more than an on-rails piece of plot development. Mass Effect 2 made the exposition more palatable with the cinematics, but I guess I’m more interested in the doing rather than the seeing.

      Shame I never really got into EVE as the emergent gameplay always sounded awesome.

    • Kdansky says:

      Except nowadays, Western RPGs are all but completely linear; In Dragon Age or Mass Effect you can hardly influence anything beyond “That one guy over there is a bit more or less sad”, and the Japanese games have started to include multiple completely different endings. Check out any of the Fate games or even Sengoku Rance (yeah, it has sex in it, but also about thirty endings or so).

  4. gorgol says:

    I approve this message.

  5. StingingVelvet says:

    As someone not interested in raiding most MMOs just come across as singleplayer RPGs with bad stories that I inexplicably have to pay $15 a month to play.

    EVE is a real MMO if you ask me, as was Ultima Online. I wish more MMOs like that existed and were made, but WoW has shown the opposite to be more successful.

  6. Vexing Vision says:

    Ryzom certainly was mostly player-driven, with clever world-mechanics that would allow monsters that are hunted nearly to extinction to migrate into different areas of the world, and mass-harvesting of resources to permanently change resource-nodes globally.

  7. wcaypahwat says:

    It seems obvious to me that player created stories will stay with you much longer mostly because the whole raid/dungeon aspect of these games….. defeating Evil Dragon Lord Whatsisname tends to lose it’s excitement when the local hero has to oust him every darned week.

    • trjp says:

      Raiding in most games simply because a “it’s Tuesday so it’s big dragon night” or “Fridays are quiet – we’ll go find the slime monster” etc. etc.

      It’s heroism but with commuting and a shift pattern…

  8. McDan says:

    This is just an idea, don’t know how it would/could be implemented. But what about as well as what other quests and stories etc. the designers make, have some way of letting players create quest chains/stories actually in the game themselves? Obviously some time of moderator approval would be needed as it would be taken advantage of for easy loot for example.

    Apart from that idea, I still kind of prefer story in my games, playing guild wars as my favoured MMO. But I do like and play EVE, which works really well, with the player interaction being the major part of the game. For me at least.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s been done in several MMOs to date: City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, Ryzom.

  9. Vexing Vision says:

    On the other hand, an overarching story with pieces only gradually revealed is one of the reasons I’m still playing – and loving – RIFT. The discussions about the true nature of the Vigil’s messengers, and if the Gods are real or have been usurped by less benevolent entities, as well as the motivation of some of the leading NPCs are glorious.

    I’m really excited for the approach the Secret World takes – I love immersing myself in well-written stories.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Come on. Rift scenario is cheesy. If you think of it as a masterpiece of storytelling, then you’ve got pretty low standards (which isn’t a bad thing at all these days, mind you).

    • Jesse L says:

      I for one wish my standards were lower. Being a snob about all writing everywhere is definitely its own punishment!

    • trjp says:

      You don’t have to be a snob to see Rift’s writing as a emo-teenager-tiresome-nonsense it is.

      The intro video is appalling – really really cheesy SHITE

    • gorgol says:

      I’m goddamned intellectual snob and proud of it.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I like the background motivations of the main leaders (Orphiel, Asha, Shyla and Kain at least). The intro video may be cheesy, but the connected story quests? Pretty brilliant, and I don’t see any other MMORPG out there with the same depth, and more importantly, consistency of lore.

      Sure, MMORPG writing will probably never achieve depths like Digital’s writing, or Planescape, or Morrowind’s biography of the Wolf Queen – but for MMO terms, RIFT has a lot of background to think about and explore.

      Be as snobbish as you want, but don’t skim past quest texts and then complain that a game has no story to speak of. :)

    • The Great Wayne says:

      If recognizing a bunch of fantasy clichés put together is being snobbish, then I most certainly am. However this puts a lot of people in that category especially about Rift, which kinda defeats the main point of being a snob. But whatever.

      You want a good example of writing in an mmorpg ? Try EvE. For a game that’s so player driven CCP created an amazing, and I mean *really* amazing, sci-fi background and written material.

      Read the chronicles, learn, then see the Rift mediocrity for what it is. Don’t come telling me that eve chronicles aren’t ingame scenaristic content, because when you can just complete quests without reading a word, questing background content is just as optionnal.

      And if sci-fi ain’t your stuff, from the top of my mind you could look at AoC: RotG, Lotro, or even GW which – each in its own respect – are far better examples of good storytelling moments, interesting plots and quality writing.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Sci-Fi ain’t my thing, but I’m not a big fan of the EvE background. Which I know everything about there is, because I’m living together with an EvE geek. We even played the boardgame, and I was forcefed the books. It’s not my world, immortal space captains that now (or soon) walk around space stations while the other two thousand members of their ships don’t even get to scream when blown up just doesn’t work for me.

      Lotro has good writing but uninteresting characters. I already know their motivations, I’ve read the books. The good guys are always good, the bad guys are always bad, and the few grey-area humans are soon forgotten. AoC has well-written and believable dialogues but uninteresting characters I care nothing for, and no global plotline – once you’re out of an area, you get into the next closed plot and don’t meet anyone again. Whoo. I prefer Howard’s original writing, myself.

      I *really* like the mystery behind Orphiel’s betrayal, Asha’s questionable loyality, and I want to find out why in the Defiant future, both Marshal Kain and Shyla have chosen to betray the Vigil – or if they found out what half of my characters are suspecting, that the all-present Messengers are actually not what they seem to be. There’s a lot of mystery there that I’m not finding in other games, and that appeals to me.

      But each to their own! All the reasons why I like the Rift-storyline so much are the reasons why I’ll love and play Secret World. If other games have been written for you, go for them. :)

    • The Great Wayne says:

      We’ll have to agree to disagree then.

      Imho, good writing has less to do with getting attached to characters than how different archetypes echoes within the reader. I got a 16 year old niece who’s a big fan of Twilight, she rly cares for the characters. Does that make it good ? LotR is definitely quality writing. But I can’t care less for the characters. Still, it’s a fantastic book.

      Most Lovecraft stories include very basic first role character (and are, more often than not, another iteration of the same archetype in every story), who are just open windows on a darker world. That world/paradigm being the real and interesting protagonist in the books. And I could go on and on. Different litterary content got different appeals.

      There are people that will connect to charismatic, “badass” or “familiar” characters even in a crappy story for a lot of reasons. It doesn’t prove the quality of the writing. And that’s – imho – the case with Rift.

      I completely respect that you dig the characters as it’s really a question of taste and feeling, but overall the background and scenaristic material can’t really be qualified as anything more than cheesy.

      NB: Just to be clear, it’s just my opinion. Not on the game itself, but on that particular topic. And of course, no offense meant (a little Internet-proofing is never too much).

    • Jumwa says:

      You’ve got my vote Vexing Vision.

      I started out thinking Rift was generic in every possible way, the story no exception. But as I played it and read the quest text, spoke to random unrelated NPCs around, read the comics, it started to sink in and infect me.

      As you say, the interesting characters help make it more interesting, but I think the biggest appeal for me is the fact that my faction is ideologically motivated rather than simply being a national or racial faction. The Defiant’s cause really speaks to me, and it helps give a bit more fire to my own character other than pure necessity to survive.

      Meanwhile I have enjoyed the more morally gray nature of both factions. WoW claims to try and go for that, but they always fall flat, their writers just aren’t capable of adding that much nuance to their characters or world.

      I think like most everything about Rift, it appears rather generic and unremarkable on the surface, but once you get into the lore of the world it starts to sink its claws into you. You do start to appreciate it more and more.

    • Berzee says:

      *sigh* I would love to play Rift. If only I could mod it so that everyone wore enough armor to cover their body. Oh LotRO and DAoC, are you still alone in the world?

      (Hmm…do you think it *is* possible to change the visuals like that? I would like to see this Rift story for myself).

    • Jumwa says:

      I don’t know what you’re referring to. Aside from the bare bones starter clothes, all the armour I’ve seen has been very covering. Far more than any other MMO I know of.

    • Berzee says:

      I got this by googling for Rift Screenshot, is it from the game?

      http://0.tqn.com/d/internetgames/1/0/k/g/rift13.jpg

    • Jumwa says:

      Ahh, yes. Some NPCs are like that, for sure. Though when it comes to player gear I haven’t seen much of anything in the ‘skimpy’ vein.

      But I am still a mere level 20 yet.

  10. fenriz says:

    Many of my blog articles concern this. I’ll just point out that a real-time world and static stories is a contradiction in terms.

    Give power back to players.

    • Berzee says:

      If we actually did find a way to allow players full free will but also make sure that the developers’ grand purpose for the world was worked out…well, we will have simulated on a small scale what God achieved with our universe ;)

      Maybe that would be the best way to invent that sort of hybrid MMO…a sort of tension between Fate/Destiny and personal freedom. That might be a mighty interesting theme (haha, that’s the way, take the weakness of the genre and make it the central struggle of the characters!)

  11. Gothnak says:

    NWN 1, played online, City Of Arabel Server. Greatest RPG moment i have ever had when i lied about witnessing a murder of a merchant so i could get friendly with the local red mages guild (Who i’d seen kill them). I was invited to their castle, sat down for dinner and the leader said, i hear we have you to thank for unneccessary complications with the law, why did you help?

    I replied, that being a peasant for most of my life i abhor merchants, their guild and anything they stand for. The mage replied the merchant was killed as an example for for not paying them enough tax and that the red mages ran the merchants guild. Never in a computer game have i ever had that ‘oh shit’ moment as i did then. Needless to say, i was murdered. :s…

    After respawning with less xp, i did get my own back and managed to kill him while the city was under attack by demons one evening…

    Players are better than AI :).

    • Berzee says:

      This reminds me, somehow, very vaguely, of one of my greatest RPG moments…trying to trick my little brother’s former patron (who had stolen my brother’s pants and axe and then broke fealty with him) to let me become a vassal so that I might inherit those selfsame pants and axe and return them to my brother.

      I lacked the subtlety to succeed, given I was a coarse youth. But it was a good time.

  12. The Great Wayne says:

    MMO history-wise, pretty all sandboxy and/or free pvp titles. To name a few more than your list:

    – Ultima Online
    – Asheron’s Call Darktide (the title is debattable tho out of the darktide server)
    – Star Wars Galaxies pre-bullshit era
    – Ryzom
    – Darkfall
    – Neocron

    That’s everything that comes to my mind atm.

    • Berzee says:

      Agree about AC — Darktide had its own special flavour (harsh existence >_<) but the game as a whole stands in my mind as one of the great examples of lore done properly in an MMO. =) I can still spend hours reading the scraps of parchment from the Martine arc, when I've a hankering for the olden times.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Yeah, and there was a lot of courage into this game too. The server-unique nexus armor concept comes to mind, and has never been reproduced, sadly. Guess everyone want his cookie from the infinite cookie box these days.

      That said I often found that lore quality in another title of Turbine, lotro. Some might argue that LotR content was plentyful to start with, but I think they’ve done a great and smart job in interweaving their storyline with the main background.

    • Berzee says:

      What’s funny to me is that I went back to AC to try the trial (no moneys or times to subscribe right now) and it looks like they’ve done everything they can to update the quest system, short of putting exclamation points over people’s heads. I had conflicted feelings…but overall I was really happy some of the old never-visited dungeons were now being re-explored because you could turn in the junky old quest items for mad expee.

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      Oozo says:

      That’s what I wanted to point out, too: There was time I when player-driven stories were all there was, because nobody had mastered the concept of instances yet.

      It was also the only time I ever played MMOs; Ultima Online on a (free) German server. Back then, the idea of all the players reliving the exact same stories over and over again would have been seen as… visionary. Or bizarre. (There were moderators, though, who tried to come up with grander schemes from time to time, and a bigger tribe war going on in the background. So it wasn’t really only PvP, but you were pretty free to ignore that stuff and go on living your ignorant life in your corner of the world.)

    • Berzee says:

      I hate instances with every fiber of my being.
      jsyk

      But the lack of instances doesn’t always mean player-driven stories. As pointed out here somewhere, it might just mean a line of people waiting to kill the same quest pig. =P

      I *still* like that better than instances.

  13. JohnnyMaverik says:

    **Insert obligatory where the hell is the sequel to Dreamfall you MMO making fools comment here**

  14. DrazharLn says:

    I see no reason why developer lead stories cannot coexist with player created narrative. It was my understanding (based on an old PCGamer preview of Secret World, I think) that the Secret World would have a finite story, that it would have a definite story structure with an end to the whole world.

    If the story the developer is telling is done with broad enough strokes and if player actions have a real affect on it, then I think this is a valid approach.

    That said, I do love wholly player driven narratives very much.

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      mpk says:

      If you’ve got a defined story with beats that players need to hit to progress, then you’re limiting them and limiting their play value.

      What if, for instance, enough players hit a certain story beat and trigger the equivalent of WoW’s Cataclysm, changing the face of the world. All of a sudden the people who haven’t got to that section yet will be wondering why there’s now a Northern and Southern Barrens, when they were supposed to be completing their quest in Camp Tuarajo. (extreme example, I know)

  15. Tei says:

    Age of Conan was full of Invisible Walls.
    Some patched added yet more walls.
    Why?
    The game was not linear enough. Some people created his own paths, played the game how want to play it, and not how Funcom want the game to be played. So this go FIXED on patchs.
    Ragnar Tornquist is one of the most excellent game designers on the world. But he secretly want to make movies. He is, in some ways, too good to make videogames, in others not good enough. Thats why.

    • Hidden Thousand says:

      Exactly! When I’ve first read about his plans to make some movie by 2011, I thought it funny. But it was a long time ago, and the time showed me that Ragnar should really make movies. He’s so hell-bent on telling his stories, he needs a proper medium. His stories are good, it’s just that making them into games cripples either a game, or a story, or, as I see Dreamfall, both.

  16. malkav11 says:

    In my experience “player interaction” in MMOs without dev-created narrative = “hitting other players in the face” which I can do in TF2 if I really want. And I don’t.

    • Mutak says:

      In my experience, it’s mostly emote-spamming and dirty chat, though there are small pockets of Mary Sue meets General Hospital.
      The non-roleplaying (non-story-driven) interaction is mostly just epeen measuring. Whether that takes place via face-bashing, verbal bashing, or corporate espionage, just depends on the game, but in the end it’s the same thing. People acting out their power trip fantasies.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I think that’s the important bit here. The question ‘how do we interact’ is much more important than ‘what MMOs do this’. It’s the variety and number of options to interact, and they consequences they have for the world that should be the focus if you want this to take place. People can roleplay and pretend certain things happen in any setting that contains a chat option, but ideally you’d want things to actually happen, of course.

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    Richard Beer says:

    I think we’re talking about two different kinds of entertainment entirely, to be honest.

    1) Escapism to another self. This is at the heart of very many stories. When you read a good book or watch a good film, you are often transported into the experiences and thoughts of another person. Games with heavy plot-lines definitely come from this camp, because you’re basically an actor with a little improvisation at your disposable but otherwise following a script. Assassin’s Creed.

    2) Escapism to another world. This is you, whoever you are in real life, in another world (and that includes you creating an evil character or playing as the other gender: it’s still a facet of you). This is Second Life and Planetside and, basically, other people enjoying the same fantasy thing at the same time as you whilst still being themselves.

    In the middle of those two things (let’s call it 1a) is co-op gaming. You’re sharing a story with someone and enjoying it all the more for that. Left4Dead.

    It sounds to me like Ragnar is talking about co-op gaming rather than a persistent MMO, and the reason those two are different is that co-op gaming has a beginning, middle and end which doesn’t really lend itself that well to a true, persisitent MMO world.

    The only MMO that really bucks these trends is WoW (and imitators), but that’s because within its massive, impressive story arc, you get to write your own little stories in incredibly complex ways involving many other people so, ultimately, it still conforms to the model.

  18. Quine says:

    I’d lump story in with quests as props used to shore up a deficient game world, to be honest.

    In my ultimate dream sandbox gameworld people would find their own objectives to ‘quest’ for as part of the interaction between groups of players and the stories would emerge. Having stuff handed down by the developers just isn’t the same.

  19. James says:

    I think if you’re willing to push your preconceived ideas a bit, Die2Nite is probably one of the better arguments for player-driven, emergent narrative through a common set of tools out there. Those are actual stories, composed entirely of meaningful player actions.

    There’s also an argument that SMP Minecraft shares many similarities with MMOs, or at least the type I think we’re talking about here. Sans the massively, of course, unless you want to start considering individual servers as shards or something.

  20. djbriandamage says:

    The dev-supplied story is always secondary to the player experience. I played WoW for a year and although I enjoyed the story I have more vivid memories of raiding with friends. I think it’s unfair to consider story to be a hindrance on freedom; it’s more a motivation that is always present even when other players happen to be absent. Story can be enjoyed or ignored at the player’s momentary preference.

    • James says:

      That’s a good point, in the case of WoW anyway.

    • Ryuuga says:

      Yes, I found my days playing WoW an intensely social experience: chatting with unknowns and guild members, raiding a lot, etc. The backstory of particular raids or quests never mattered much, it was in the meeting with other players stuff happened. So while WoW does have a lot of badly written lore and heart-achingly boring quest texts, this didn’t stop it being a game totally centered on player interactions for me. We had our goals of loot and leveling and killing off all them big bads, and that was what drove the game. Any story tacked on my the devs didn’t really matter. About the only thing that mattered was the picture of the other side (allies, as I played horde) as an enemy. And it really never mattered why they were the enemy, just that they were.

      In short, whatever game you set out to make may not be the one people end up playing. Putting in tons of tedious lore-text or tedious speeches by NPCs does not mean lore will have any weight in the world at all.. In MMOs, keep the lore as brief as humanly possible.. and please, hire some better writers.

  21. Stuart Walton says:

    In MMOs the story provided by developers should merely be just framework for what the players do. I look forward to the day when the actions of the players have a dynamic effect on how and when that framework changes.

    The game I am waiting for is one that dynamically models factions which set out the rules for the NPCs and PCs that are affiliated with them. The factions would be so dynamic that it would be possible to nest them in one another, they could merge, splinter and split or they could be created by an NPC, PC or GM either explicitly or by their actions. The goals that charaters have shape their factions, the actions of faction members complete and create new goals, player goals drive the system. It would be possible for a single player, if they were totally awesome to do things that change the world. Though it’d be much easier if he and a few of his buddies shared that common goal.

    Eve pretty much does this except the CPU factions are pretty static and very little PC faction interaction is modelled in the game. The majority is played out in the meta-game (I’m including in-game comms as meta-game since message content affects players but not the game).

  22. CMaster says:

    What the game needs for players to really tell their own stores over, is a way for them to (even temporarily) change something.

    In EvE, Neocron, Planetside etc, this comes in the form of territory control. That battle to hold somewhere matters, because it wasn’t a scripted quest where if you fail, you try again. Instead it was a real battle, where if you lost the fight, you lost control of the territory and wouldn’t be able to get it back without another fight.

    Perhaps we need to see an MMO where not only do (the majority of) quests have fail conditions, but where you only get one go at every quest. One chance to do it right. Then it really matters each time.

    Of course, good stories don’t only come from combat. Quinn’s tales of Wurm were interesting because of just the struggle. Meanwhile planetside’s fights lost a lot of their meaning when you realised that while you did really win or lose territory, it was always so brief that it didn’t feel like it really mattered (in contrast in Neocron, clans could hold territory for weeks or months with enough vigilance, or in EvE, where the map hasn’t changed that much in years).

    tl;dr Good player-stories arise from freedom. The freedom to change but most importantly the freedom to fail. A classic RPG-story won’t work in an MMO as the world can’t change as the story moves on. But let the players make less scripted changes, let the players fuck up and lose it all. Then you’ve got a story players will be telling on TeamSpeak and Mumble for years.

  23. Lobotomist says:

    Story in MMO should be just a backdrop upon which players build their own stories by interaction with world and with other players.

    But MMO should give players the tools to make that possible.

    Problem is that few MMOs managed to do this. Of major ones probably only Ultima Online , SWG pre NGE and EVE.

    If you can not provide players with tools you go with shortcut. And this is your common theme park MMO.

    Just a lazy solution

  24. Cooper says:

    Whenever an issue like this in regards to MMOs comes up, I always take a moment to mourn the passing of SeeD

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      SeeD was only in your head. It was never real. Shed not a single tear.

  25. MasterBoo says:

    My best MMO moments were in Ultima Online, which is still consider my most favorite MMO (and was also the first).
    The fun of adventuring around, always under the threat of the famous Player Killers of my shard.
    The awesomeness of buying a boat and exploring new lands, only to die on an ice-island due to freezing.
    The laugh I had when I bought my own villa with 3 friends and a famous Player Killer threatening us to move it to another place due to it “blocking his favorite pathway” [of course we disagreed which led to us being ambushed a few times, until he gave up]).
    The most funny story is this though. I saved lots of gold to buy a special mount called Zostrich. Unlike other mounts, these are marked as “gray”, which means they are neutral and can go wild from time to time. So I was riding my new Zostrich thru the roads of Minoc the mining village, and encountered a close friend who was really excited about the Zostrich and wanted to try to ride it. Of course I let him, but one he was on it, the Zostrich went mad and started to attack him. MY friend, instead of running or letting me tame the Zostrich again, stroke him with his giant axe and killed him in a blow, leaving me shouting: “WTF ARE YOU DOING”.

  26. TSA says:

    Well, there was Seed, which was no combat, all politics. Sadly never made it out of beta.

    There is some info here:
    http://www.runestone.dk/index.php?page=6

    – pretty vague, but that talk about “Gamemaster AI” was what reminded me of Seed when I read your post. From what the developers let on, the plan was to make a system where stories would emerge with players as the characters. They spoke of “casting” players into stories, ie the gamemaster AI would look at all the players’ current status and then find the best fit for a “role” in a given story starting point. Then, it would have things happen to those characters, and NPCs nudging everyone to get things started. In the ideal scenario, this process would set up different motivations, tools and situations for groups of players, so that all the challenge would be achieving some goal with and against other PCs.

    In short, all the key characters in a given story would be players, so the objective would never be to defeat the (AI) King Demon or whatever, but rather to get someone – a player – voted out of relevance, or a decision made with regards to the future of the colony.

  27. CMaster says:

    Another observation, one that MMO devs really need to realise:

    Players will not take your story seriously
    Sure, some players will get invested, learn all the lore etc. But most of them still aren’t realy engaging, they;re just interested. You can put in a story that in a single player game would be getting wide critical acclaim – and most MMO players will just skim across the surface. They’ll read the text enough to extract what they have to do for the mission and that’s all. Chat won’t be full of “so what do you think Durkan Greybeard is up to?” It will be “where is the guy I have to speak to to get that awesome rogue armour?” or “anyone up for PvP?” or “Dev sux”. Hell, my housemate, a generally rather intelligent guy, good at most games, had real trouble with Fallout New Vegas. Why? Because he’s a big WoW player, and expected to be lead by a breadcrumb trail to everything he had to do, expected obvious signposts for quest givers. So he missed almost all the side quests and challenges and was hopelessly lost whenever the mission waypoints were 100% clear – because he skipped straight over the clues, hints and suggestions in the conversations.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      That’s why I like the eve background. You can go in EvE and play without ever reading a npc dialog box, or near. However, if background is your stuff, you go and check the chronicles offline, learn about how the EvE universe ticks and come back with a fresh eye on the game world.

      Some of them are really well written and moving. I recall a particular story that took place during the server downtime for the “wormhole update” patching. It was a real-time update of what was happening (a massive cataclysm) in the galaxy, as if you were reading a “hot news” press agency website. It had dramatic tension, ravaged planets, pirates and formerly hostile factions working together to help the victims, etc.

      Really, a masterpiece.

  28. Navagon says:

    Things that might get me interested in MMOs:

    – Open explorable world. Plenty of opportunity to cut your own path and rewards for not taking the most obvious course of action. So yeah, less story. More ability to make your own.

    – Story elements are mostly determined by any quests you choose to undertake. But maybe there could be a main goal determined during character creation. Equally these quests should have a noticeable impact on both the world and in how people react to you. Given the MMO nature of the game a world upon which all the players are leaving a mark might be difficult to maintain as it would be constantly evolving. Perhaps therefore it would be best if these quests weren’t so scripted but generated by random occurrences.

    – No grindy gameplay. Levelling up is mostly about refining and bolstering your skills. Not turning you into something that is utterly indestructible to the enemies you’re faced with on Newbie Island. If you use these skills wisely then you’ll be substantially more powerful than when you started.

    – Ideally no actual levelling up. Skills will be directly improved based directly on you using them or being trained in them.

    – No damage sponge bosses that just take a long time to kill or a long time to kill you, the other damage sponge.

    – No subscription fees and the game should be playable without buying things with real money. After all I’m still paying the same price as a regular game. So while it might be devoid of optional extras, I would still want all the basics to be there without additional charges. I know this might seem like asking a lot but given how many more people it would attract it would cover costs a lot better than many MMOs.

    • Berzee says:

      I still prefer a subscription fee over the free to play model. For one thing it’s a steady cost and thus easy to budget with no danger of overspending. But I don’t know which version will ultimately lead to the longest and most stable games. Time must tell =)

    • Navagon says:

      F2P is currently the most lucrative. But that’s mostly because F2P games charge exorbitant amounts of money for fuck all. That’s why I made it clear above that I’d want the core game free of any expenses.

  29. Jockie says:

    I’m not quite ready to write off narrative story-driven MMO’s just yet, because none have been released that have had a story worth following. Actively immersing yourself in optional lore isn’t the same thing as narrative. I don’t really count MMO’s that have a series of vaguely connected areas with self contained episodes as narrative really either. Overarching stories in mmo’s so far are either fluff lore, or a quest you do every 30 or so ‘normal’ quests, with a tenous link to the overarching theme of the mmo.

    Bioware/EA are rolling the dice on this, because right now it’s looking like Kotr has nothing going for it except story, Guild Wars 2 has it’s personal Story concept (Guild Wars was actually kind of narrative, but fairly forgettable) maybe these games along with Secret world, will show that narrative in MMO’s is possible and can work.

  30. snv says:

    As others here mentioned/hinted, it all comes down to consequences.
    To really get immersed my decisions have to have lasting effects. They usually don’t with the static environment of most games, but if the environment is primarily defined by the players, they can.

  31. BigJonno says:

    I long for a move towards more sandbox MMOs in the vein of UO and pre-bullshit era SWG (I like that description, I’m using it from now on.) The problem I see is that it seems the majority of people interested in that kind of thing want it for open PvP and nothing else.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Exactly! I don’t necessarily mind open PvP – in fact, I quite like the element of danger that it adds – but there should be large-ish safe areas like UO’s cities. Darkfall took it way too far, where if you were in a guild, another guild could declare war and then kill you in a city with impunity. No thanks.

      The big problem is that these games totally neglect other aspects of gameplay – I want to do something like what I did in UO, become a miner/blacksmith, build a house, etc. I hate when MMO developers of all stripes sneer at “crafting” and tack on some half-assed system that’s just one big gold sink.

      My favorite idea was something like Horizons circa 2001, where it would be the players against a dynamically expanding undead horde. Players could build cities, the undead could take them over or destroy them. So you had to defend, transport resources, etc. I want to play a game where the economy and construction are genuinely major aspects, in addition to the usual fightiness.

  32. MadTinkerer says:

    A friend of mine who loves WoW and plays it all the time thinks Minecraft is an unfinished (technically correct on that point), unfocused, “merely okay” game which currently lacks any features worth raving about. I know. But at least he doesn’t dislike it.

    Canned stories in MMOs are for players like him. I prefer open endedness, though I do long for proper NPCs and/or proper quests/goals in addition to the things I find to do. Once Minecraft finally has the best of both worlds, we’ll see if my friend changes his mind.

    Meanwhile, the best MMO evar? Like super popular on the interwebz? It has a quest early on where you have to kill a giant pig. A supposedly “unique” giant pig. And as soon as the quest is done it respawns right there in front of the quest-giver, but now the quest giver ignores it when talking to me because I already killed it once. And the whole game is more or less like that. Giant immortal pigs that can be killed by anyone once and then the NPCs will ignore them. BUT THE PIG IS RIGHT THERE.

    I don’t dislike WoW, but I don’t think I’ll ever be as into it as my friend is. Minecraft has pigs, but each is unique (you can check their normally-invisible i.d. #s) So right there Minecraft doesn’t kill my suspension of disbelief as much. (My world is made of cubes? Well your world is a cartoon version of an RTS game! But I digress.)

  33. phertiker says:

    World War 2 Online, http://www.battlegroundeurope.com

    I think we all know the story by now, so it’s just a massive battle fought completely by players with no stats or other bullshit. Half-scale map of Europe from eastern France to western Germany. Infantry, light vehicles, tanks, planes, space rockets (not really).
    They have always released a steady stream of patches and content updates but lately they’ve gone Straight Fucking Nuts and produced huge upgrades to the engine, content, and game in general.
    It’s a simulator, though, so if you are a big sissy then don’t bother. They just ditched the CC requirement for the 14-day trial so go sign up and play. I won’t be there because I’ve been playing every day for two years straight and need a break, but you will not regret it.

    Incidentally, the link code appears to be broken.

  34. Berzee says:

    Aside from letting players influence the world, here’s another way to make players feel Pretty Special As Time Goes By — let the *characters* be unique.

    In general, characters nowadays are pretty interchangeable. You can choose your skills and your gear and your appearance but ultimately you are the same as every other (insert character build here).

    But if there was a way that your character could be something rather special…though I don’t know what that way would be (unique skill, unique armor, unique relationship with a well-known NPC…I’ll have to keep pondering for ideas that aren’t so lame)…I think that would be quite good. :)

    As long as newbies roam the land they will have their own legends of That One Guy Who Always Comes Here And Gives Us Presents / Slaughters Us / Defends Us From Slaughter … but those are simply player reputation. I want a system where the *character* can collect his own special brand of scars from previous experiences (metaphorical scars *and* literal scars).

    • Berzee says:

      Now the big problem with my idea is that whenever this has been attempted (that I’ve heard of) in a large MMO, it winds up that only a couple people are temporary heroes. They’re left holding a glowy sword that reminds them of their glorious past, but it matters little. And the rest of the folk are stuck being mundane until they’re in the right place at the right time during a monthly event.

      So what I think would be excellent is if the highly personal combination of *common* experiences a character has, could shape them uniquely. And I’m not talking just “he fought in the snake wars for 50 levels, so he has good poison resist now”…but I don’t know *what* I’m talking. =T

    • Berzee says:

      Another important thing to decide when you’re talking about player interaction is: do you want a world where players are Common People Who Matter … or do you want a world where there are Suspiciously A Lot Of Heroes?

      In other words, are the players the world’s last and greatest hope? Or are the players simply the world? =)

      (^ this will influence the way that the players influence the world, and what their involvement should feel like — both are valid, but I think quite different … and a lot of MMO’s nowadays the words say you’re a living legend but the actions say you’re a grunt, and I think either experience is enjoyable when it’s *consistent*)

  35. ScubaMonster says:

    I have to agree with this. I like sandbox MMO’s. WoW was already on rails enough as it was, and Cataclysm just made it even more linear. I like storylines, but in MMO’s I think that should take a back seat to gameplay. I play MMO’s to be a part of a massively multiplayer persistent world. I want a living breathing world, not a single player game I play online with other people.

    I might give Fallen Earth another try as overall I liked the concept, but the AI and combat left a lot to be desired.

  36. The Great Wayne says:

    I agree with your last statement. You can however just trace this stuff to the core gameplay of games. Because I think that, any way you put it, it’s always the gameplay that prevails on the specific subject of the background/storytelling/interaction.

    You are “just another hero” in most mmo theme parks the same way that you’re a beautiful unique snowflake and “The Client” in most RL big time theme parks. The goal there is to make you feel unique and to please you, personnally. You don’t really care about the others, you’re there to enjoy yourself first and the creators/developers have to make sure you do. That’s why a lot of TP mmos are quite linear: You don’t want to let the player take the tour the wrong way and spoil himself the experience.

    You also don’t need another dude to come rub his superiority in your face, you already get enough of that crap in the real world outside of the park.

    Sandboxes and games that put you in the shoes of an average joe are often more complex because they offer more freedom (and they better do, or they’re just a bad themepark).

    In this more complex context, you often get out of the game what you put in it. It means trying harder to access content, but also accepting that you’re not unique, that you’re not entitled to everything, everytime and that more often than not you’ll be faced with discrepancies compared to the other humans inhabiting your virtual world (be it pure playing skills, experience, social position inside the microcosm of the game, etc.).

    So in fact what you’re proposing in your initial post seems to be what you actually “earn” personnally in a sandbox but applied as a numerical bonus in a themepark. I don’t know if it’s really a good thing. For example, everything one knows in EvE (how to siege warfare, lead fleets, practice interdiction on enemy sectors, etc.) he learnt on the field, from experience. Nobody has had the same experience. They might have been in the same place, at the same moment, but they’ll have seen stuff from a different pov. Just like in RL. People in corporations can also earn medals this way, which could be the mirror to the TP “titles” except players create those for themselves.

    So i’m not sure how your idea could fit in either of the global gameplays. Theme parks are about “everyone can be the hero and get the loot/car/girls” and sandboxes are about “you all start equals, now reap what you sow”. If one was to introduce unique numerical advantages into these equations I’m not sure how it would fare.

    From a straight story and background pov however it’d possible, and it seems that GW2 is heading there.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Fail reply is fail. This was directed at berzee.

    • Berzee says:

      And here I was just getting said that I hadn’t any replies! *reads*

      Edit: CURSES! Lost what I was writing. Angry half-hurried recap:

      Good thoughts good thoughts =) Themepark versus sandbox is a very helpful concept when thinking these things through. One gives you rides while one gives you tools and toys. Maybe halfway between those we might have a playground, to stretch the metaphor? A place with a lot of pre-existing attractions but no regulations on their use (unless the dear little children are doing something dangerous).

      I don’t think we should say that themeparks treat every client as unique and beautiful snowflakes, haha. Simply because as you mentioned, you will *not* get a unique experience in a theme park, and you probably don’t even want to. You want to ride the same ride and discuss it afterwards with other people who love it. So instead of “unique”, let’s say that they treat you like you’re “privileged”. Every player in a themepark game is a VIP, but they’re all taking basically the same tour of fantasyland. (<– The Dark Lord of Derkholm should be necessary reading for anyone who is making an MMORPG).

      With regards to the *character* becoming unique as you play him…I wholeheartedly agree that simple numerical bonuses are a pretty pitiful sort of uniqueness. I thought of those at first, but gaining +5 poison resist that most people don't have does not satisfy the need. =P

      If we're talking about player impact on the world, it's pretty lame when *that* boils down to numbers also. Like, "Oh good, you killed this special creature. Now there will be 2% less skeletons in the next raid, or 2% less raids in the next day." Buh. -_- We want to shape the world, not only tweak its stats.

      Shaping characters has always meant tweaking stats (whether personal or something like faction relationships). =) I'm not sure what else there is…but it would be pretty fascinating to find out.

    • Berzee says:

      Then again, that means you’d probably end up with something Sims-like. Characters in MMORPGs are really just avatars, puppets with stats that we can move in order to fight or craft things. I suppose you wouldn’t be able to add much of “unique characterization” stuff unless you wanted the relationship between player and character to be something different. Which you mightn’t, since nobody really roleplays in MMOs ;)

      BTW, this was the apparent paradox that I enjoyed so much: “accepting that you’re not unique…and that more often than not you’ll be faced with discrepancies compared to the other humans inhabiting your virtual world”

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Yeah, but that’s just an *apparent* paradox, huh ? :)
      Likely because what’s to oppose to the discrepancies part is the fact that everyone isn’t entitled to everything, everytime. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear, but hey english ain’t my first language so cut the guy some slacks ^^

      Back to the topic, I think that a good way (maybe even “the only way”) to find a suitable middle playground would be to completely oppose the world to the player. Sounds counter productive from a marketing pov, but if you think of it it makes sense.
      How do you impose coherence in a world where you want – to an extent depending on the type of game – to apprehend the story and the world itself only through the eyes of the player ?
      It’s a conundrum. The pen & paper rpgs which have spawned the mmorpg genre prove that you just can’t. You need to have a dungeon master, an “invisible participant” that’ll be charged to oppose the world to the players, not only to create challenge but also to give life, meaning and coherence to the world.

      Actually most mmorpgs only try to use challenge to oppose world vs player, but that’s not really a tool of coherence, once again it’s there to give some instant gratification to the user. I think that’s a part of the appeal of sandboxes and heavily pvp-oriented game: It’s a point where you try to push a door, but it doesn’t necessarily open. Often it even come back swinging and hit you in the head.

      See, there are some p&p rpgs that most rolists will agree are masterpieces. One of those is Call of Cthulhu from chaosium. In that game, the world and the background was coming at you, running, all teeth, claws and other appendixes out to rip your head off and shit down your neck. You knew you were just fighting against the odds in a desperate try to postpone the inevitable. You knew your character will at one point end up in the trashcan due to crazyness or gruesome death.

      And because of that, what you did mattered. It was meaningful. While it can sounds like another paradox, the frustration was “fun” or at least it gave a sense to the fun you were having.

      Back to mmorpgs, I think that’s what we’re still lacking atm. A non-player character driven world that comes at you really trying to kill you and not just pretending. Metaphorically at least. Imagine a world that would evolve by its own, weither the players get involved or not.

      Players could get involved, and their actions could have consequences (both for them and for the future of the story) but they aren’t by definition the main focus. Instead of seeing everything from the point of view of the players, you create another protagonist, a “dungeon master” whose job is to keep the coherence of the world.

      You could – as a user – try to change the stream of the history of that virtual world, but you could fail. In this case, your failure could be as meaningful as your success. Because you did try to push through a door that you knew could very well not open.
      Instant gratification and insurance of success is a spoiled child habit, adults shouldn’t (and more often than not, don’t) find amusement in that kind of stuff. I’m not too worried on that topic mind you, because we saw that difficulty in games is becoming cool again so one might hope to see more complex and more difficult games coming up in the future.

      That said, once again I think that’s a little bit what GW is trying to do with their “events will take place weither you participate or not and influence the different zones” but I fear they’ll still be too cold on this innovation and keep it controlled. If they succeed however at least to introduce this idea, it could be a nice stepping stone for the genre on that particular subject.

  37. Wulf says:

    Right, I got spambot eaten (again!!), so…

    http://theramblingwulf.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/is-player-interaction-and-story-in-mmorpgs-mutually-exclusive/

    Hopefully you’ll all prefer that to pastebin. And I think it’s one of my better rambles, really, and contains a particularly fun idea for Minecraft that I’m hoping Notch will take to heart.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      If you are using Firefox, there’s an addon that helps. It will save your text area contents, even if firefox crashes. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/lazarus-form-recovery/

    • Berzee says:

      “Wandering through the mind of a writer” is a good phrase and a good goal. =) You don’t feel railroaded into any particular action, but you understand that the world has a mind of its own and you ignore that mind at your own peril (or at least at your own missed opportunity to see something awesome).

      That’s the one thing I miss in Minecraft…I miss *purpose*, and not at all in the sense of needing a purpose for my own existence. I want to know there is a purpose behind the environment. Does Multiplayer Minecraft scratch this itch at all? I’ve only tried multiplayer for a few minutes and got annoyed because I was on a highly restricted server where you couldn’t mine unless you ran out into the boondocks first.

      Funny thing is, if I knew a temple was just a random chunk, I would probably still wish for a bit more purpose. The chunk would have internal purpose (when you’re inside you might find something amazing) but you would know that there wasn’t actually a reason for that temple existing or being built where it is.

      But then…maybe I’m expecting the wrong things from that sort of game. None of that has to do with MMOs though, really…

      I did have a dream once of making an MMO that was as much like the 1990’s as possible in every way, and then implemented a system where people (moderators or sometimes even players) could easily introduce the most ridiculous occurences. So that you might log in one day and find that you had donkey hooves instead of hands, or that a magistrate was stalking you.

  38. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    I might be a tad biased here, but Kingdom of Loathing has a strong history of community driven projects, maybe not to the point of being player driven stories on the scope of Eve, but there’s an undeniable community influence over how the game evolved.

    I think it’s helped by the fact that aside from PvP, Trade, Buffs, and a few clan instances/zones, the majority of player interaction is purely social. Besides, the overall narrative, while fairly well written, is negligible to the overall experience after you’ve stuck with the game for more than a month.

  39. Chris D says:

    I’m going to come out as one of the few who believes that a strong storyline makes MMO’s better.

    Sure, we can all point to cheesy dialogue, off the shelf plots, cardboard characters and so on, I think there’s a long way to go. But if you strip out all story ( and with it you lose setting and characterisation) then you’re left with something that’s common to pretty much all group activites. You’d have the gossip, the alliances and rivals left, but you’d have that if you joined a football league or an amateur dramatic society, except that their you’d also get football and theatre rather than a probably less than inspiring combat system.

    You can never really have a friend if the only thing you’re interested in is having a friend, you need something else, an experience to share. I guess you can share the experience of beating up that other group of guys over there or watching the numbers go up really high, but personally I’d find that a pretty flat and uninspiring experience.

    Story doesn’t mean you necessarily need to lose any player interaction, it breathes life into the experience. Rather than just watching numbers go up, you’re exploring strange new worlds together, righting wrongs, vanquishing evil (or causing it if you want to tell that kind of story). Story provides a context for everything else, giving it meaning and, I think, enhancing the other stories that players create for themselves.

    • Berzee says:

      Isn’t football just another kind of less than inspiring combat system?

      “You can never really have a friend if the only thing you’re interested in is having a friend, you need something else, an experience to share” — have you by any chance read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis? Or are you just uncannily similar in your thinking? :)

    • Chris D says:

      To take your second question first. I have indeed read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis and am ripping him off quite shamelessly. But if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

      “Isn’t football just another kind of less than inspiring combat system?” Yes, suppose it is, although quite a lot of people seem to like it, even if I don’t see the attraction myself. I think what I was trying to say was that generally we don’t play MMO’s for the combat or for the stats. They’re neither particularly engaging or meaningful in their own right most of the time. We enjoy them because the story gives them meaning, and if even a naff generic fantasy can do that, imagine what an MMO with a really good story could be like.

    • Berzee says:

      Yep yep, I’m glad you decided to steal his friendship theories. :-) (It was pretty funny how he admitted “I have no idea if this applies to girls at ALL”, too).
      The story in lots of cases serves this purpose for me and so, naturally, for everyone else…you will kill 1,000 leathery-winged avians, and then you will question your motives. “Why am I spending all day doing this instead of going to play some football?” you will ask. And then you will remember, “Ah, right. I’m fighting to get strong enough to rescue the kidnapped queen. Quite alright then.”
      In party-based MMO’s like DAoC, one of the other main reasons I liked playing was to feel like I was being useful to people. =) And to see my guy get cool new leather robes.
      But now I’m just pointlessly reminiscing about old games, so I think I’ve exhausted my current thoughts on this topic. ^_^
      (Amazing how useful C.S. Lewis’ friendship stuff has proven throughout my life for various purposes, though…and yet I’d never applied it to MMO design until this moment!)

      Edit: hahaha, I just remembered that C.S. Lewis didn’t like foot-to-ball either, but he considered it a personal failure on his part to enjoy things as much as they could be enjoyed. :P

  40. matrices says:

    We’ll have a definitive answer – one way or the other – when Bioware releases Star Wars.

    Me? Multiplayer, the apex of which is the MMO, killed off much of the industry interest in producing great single-player experiences. That’s part of the reason the epic space combat games (Wing Commander, Freespace) died an unceremonious death: why bother investing time and money in content, stories, and cutscenes when you can just turn gamers into addicts who right-click on Y NPCs on the internet to receive X widgets? A tragedy, really.

    Imagine all the time and money poured into shit MMOs that could have gone into games like Sacrifice, Undying, MDK, and so on.

  41. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Player-driven stories have traditionally only been possible on games where there’s an incentive to roleplay. Before MMOs, this was very obvious on MUDs. Any MMO that creates such tools, and promotes and facilitates roleplaying in general, can still have a rich world with a rich story that conducts and guides players while still giving all the necessary breathing room for player-driven subplots.

    Problem is, roleplaying is a dying art. Neither players or MMOs seem very much interested in it. But if one is to ask a developer to create an MMO that lives off player-driven plots, then I’d call that person insane and unrealistic — and any developer who said “sure!”, irresponsible.

    • Berzee says:

      forsooth

    • Berzee says:

      If you were to redefine roleplaying a bit, though…and say that a player was roleplaying by acting like a certain kind of person, instead of by talking a certain way…

      example:

      You have a pretty normal MMO player, who spends lots of time saying “WTB” and “LFG” :)
      But you want him to be able to create a story, even though he’s not remotely willing to step outside his normal routine of levelling and trading.

      Obviously you won’t be able to make him say “forsooth” or pretend he’s in a real world instead of playing a game. But could we do a Solium Infernum kind of thing and give him “secret victory conditions” or at least interesting ones? Not in the same way as AO, where you write a mission and then assign players to fight both sides. I’m thinking, strangely, something a little bit like Sims Medieval ambitions. You could choose some pretty humble ambitions, or some grand ones like “Become Evil Baron, Crush Local Peasants” — and fulfilling those ambitions would be a very good way to level up. Not sure how much that’d work in a non-PvP game, though =)

  42. Berzee says:

    *thinks he needs to try to get into Wurm Online again, after remembering what he has previously heard of it*

  43. Reefpirate says:

    Perpetuum Online is an obvious example, I think… It’s highly EvE-like, and lacking a lot of back story in favour of getting players to make their own narratives. I played pretty hardcore for a few months and barely remember the dev fiction at all, but I remember the alliance struggles vividly.

  44. eeeickythump says:

    Surprised that there has been no mention of the upcoming World of Darkness MMO. Everything written by Justin Achilli, one of the lead designers, indicates it will be very much in the “players make the story” camp.

    http://justinachilli.com/

  45. Elenar says:

    If anyone still remembers games like Urban Dead and Nexus War, they were very good at letting player groups create stories simply through current events in the game.

  46. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Does anyone know of an MMO where you play as a rat and have to avoid the usual perpetual genocide of wet behind the ears heroes?

    Also, is it genocide if those being genocideded keep respawning? Or does genocide have to have an end point otherwise it’s merely continual massacring. Well, except massacring is indiscriminate killing and most of those RPG quests are very specific killing.