First of all, I’d like to discuss (compare and contrast) the way all the major Massively Multiplayer Games tell overarching stories, as well as smaller individual stories.
I’ve not played many of these games, but I am currently in the research stages of designing one, so I was hoping the wider experience of the community can help me out as I’d really like to discuss what approaches work and what don’t, and what solutions are plausible.
The overarching basic problem I see is that they have to deal with hundreds of random players running around not all of which will cooperate or roleplay. Players all want to be THE hero, THE protagonist driving the story, but of course that’s not possible. You can either have a cohesive, realistic world storyline: and risk most players feeling left out of the real action, have a world without much of a storyline and just lots of monster killing/leveling up, or quests that pretend that players are the main heroes… as different groups win these supposed “quests” over and over and over again (some games, like Matrix Online, supposedly have quests that can only be won a limited number of times, but even that seems sort of silly)
How do different games deal with spoilers? What’s stopping some idiot from running around yelling “I just completed quest X and Baron von Doorstop is the traitor!” I assume a lot of them deal with it by either benign neglect or simply having stories that are borign and uneventful enough that no one cares (i.e.: “You kill Dragon #234 and it like DIES! And then you get GOLD!”)
How can stories progress collectively when people log on and off unpredictably?
Is there an ingenious storytelling alternatives out there to “standing in line waiting for quests to respawn”? Don’t things like respawning, repeating quests really break the illusion of the game world? And what is the point of having hundreds of other players in the game if they don’t really affect or play into the storylines you are playing through? Isn’t that a waste?
I hope we can have a interesting discussion about the past, and hopefuly future, or these games. I LOVE social engineering/storytelling problems.