And MMOs are a good example in relation to the original point because, EVE and the like aside, most of them do attempt to tell a story. WoW has actually got really bloody good at it now, and although I'm bound to get responses from a ton of people who last played it five years ago and are sure it's shit, the Cataclysm leveling content does story pretty damn well. At the expanse of exploration and world-building I think, but each area has its own arc that your quests build towards and they flow into each other.
But you can't play the original stories anymore. They're gone.
The problem is that when it's downplayed, it's done so by the audience, not by the writers. A lot of people do skip the quest-text and just "get on with it". On the flipside, a lot of people actually bother to read the stuff and discover that there are some good stories being told there, regardless of whether or not you're interested. (Interestingly, originally in WoW you couldn't actually skip the quest-text, as in an attempt to get you to engage, the game forced you to wait for the text to slowly "write itself" across the window. They changed it to its current design after a couple of months in response to overwhelming demand.)
Within World of Warcraft itself, as the example given, there are a lot of bad and uninteresting mini-stories. There are also a lot of quite good stories, some of which can cross multiple zones and last for weeks of gameplay. It's a big game, y'know? And as Deano said, Blizzard are getting better and better at doing this. (At least they were. I quit late last year, after finishing all of the Cataclysm "single player" content and the first tier of raids. No idea what state the game is in right now.)
On topic, one of my favourite questlines was completely taken out of the game a couple of years back, and I'll never be able to go back and play that again. Remember the really long one about the Black Dragons' infiltration of the Alliance, when in the course of your investigations you wind up freeing that guy from prison, escorting him through the streets of Stormwind to the castle, (while all the guards snap to attention and pay various complements) before getting involved in a big scrap? Gone. Deleted from existence. "Digitally Retconned".
Also, MMORPGs don't solely provide repetitive kill/collect X quests. That is also an urban myth. Still on WoW, the variety of gameplay that Blizzard have managed to get out of that engine is quite staggering.
Moving on to the future, Bioware are about to release "The Old Republic", which is taking the "Everquest-alike" framework and really pushing the storytelling element. I'm sure we've all seen the trailers. The storytelling looks as good as Knights of the Old Republic. The fact that it's an MMO doesn't appear to detract from that. That game is just as subject to "Digital Retconning" as any other online game.
Last edited by Taidan; 31-10-2011 at 08:16 AM.
And again, even if the story of WoW is not the strongest one, there's also the lore of the game, the background stuff which is just as important as the story, and from what i heard, just as subject to digitally-delivered "Orwellian retcons". I have really overlooked that, haven't i?
So like I said in my original post, you haven't played it recently then? As in, post-Cataclysm? In which case I'd respectfully suggest that you don't know what you're talking about. In that last expansion, Blizzard made great strides towards improving the story, and player engagement with the story, demonstrating that you *could* do it in an MMO. It's not just quest text anymore, there are in-engine cut-scenes, voice acting and so on. They've taken the "show, not tell" approach and there are very few quests left now that are "kill X to collect Y" ones. Now, many quests still actually boil down to that, but they're dressed up in story. Increasingly common are the "kill X then use object Z on the corpse" style quests - essentially the same thing mechanically, but you're more engaged with the story as you're actually *doing* something more than just killing and looting.I know they don't, I did actually play WoW for a bit before I got tired of feeling like I had a 2nd job where I paid to turn up to work every day (I already had a job like that, it was called clinical practice!). But to be fair a large portion are "kill X to collect Y" style quests.