Reply To: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

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“…You’re right Chris, that idea is very Sims-like. I think the problem with it is that there’s no actual storytelling….”

Yup. Or at east there is only in the sense that any story is just a case of “X wants Y so he can do Z” at heart–but indeed this type of setup would largely require that the players read stories into the game-play themselves instead of just viewing it as the world’s largest version of playing dolls.

“…I would argue against your basic premise (that this would work) and say instead that planned stories, of the epic variety, are neccessary to adventure games, and without those you do not have an adventure game….”

Valid. The problem being how do you allow a player to have this grand epic quest while still allowing multiplayer. For instance, in City of Heroes, they have “Task Forces”, which is a 5 hour series of missions with a story attached to it. But only a very few people do it simply because you essentially have to set aside 5 hours to just that as you are chained to the other players that you are doing it with and if all 5 decided to try and do just one mission each night, you could never be certain that all five would be able to, or properly show up each of the subsequent nights.

“…I’d rather play Sims than play a game with nothing else except for character interaction. Betrayal was a game that appealed to gamers across genres.

Don’t know Betrayal so can’t comment there.
But I do think that given a soap-opera engine as described above, you would have the fexibiility to be able to create large scale stories (at the developers end) that would require players working together (since individually they have only limited control in the large scheme), with the freedom that you wouldn’t have if you were always busy trying to create mini-missions by hand.
For instance, if you were to announce to the players that the kings of each of the kingdoms was going to meet. And then you replace the NPC kings with actors for a large get together (maybe repeating every hour or so) and have some spectacular display of enmity between the kings. And continue doing such stuff working the world into a state of war. But you would announce every time some important event was going to happen and the players would have chances to try and maneuver things so that everythig went well instead of getting worse.
But if, for instance, they failed you could make all of the young men disappear for a week, and then only return a few with different personalities. I think that the players would care very much and that they would indeed view it as that they had lost in the story that had been organized, even though individually they had only a small amount of influence in the result and it was the entire community which failed.

But as said, this is just a kind of thing I could envision if I wanted to stick very strictly to the ideas I said earlier. That it is wise to stick to those is not clear. I just think that those are the kind of rules my mom would have laid out for herself if she were to approach making an MMO adventure game.