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Actually, story does matter.

Sometimes, trolls get the best of you. I mirrored yesterday’s post on WoWRiot and the very first commenter, Pink, threw this out at me:

“go rp nerd. no1 cares about what a quest involves, only what the reward is.”

The asshat couldn’t have even read the article because what I’m saying is that I stopped reading quest text but we’ll put that to the side for a minute.

This is Pink. Pink from WoWriot is a guy. Draw your own conclusions.

This is Pink. Pink from WoWriot is a guy. Draw your own conclusions.

I’m going to come out and say that, even if you’ve never RP’d or read a quest in your life, story matters. PvP fanbois such as Pink might not think so, but, whether they like it or not, it’s true.

Here’s why:

Without story, there is no context

If story was irrelevant, some of the best and most epic encounters in MMO history would never have been. Take WoW for example. If no one cared about story, Blizzard wouldn’t have bothered to design Onyxia, BRD, Blackwing Lair, or the upcoming Icecrown Citadel. It wouldn’t matter that those world dragons are corrupt or that somewhere there’s this thing called the Emerald Dream. Elwynn forest? Well, I guess that’s just a happy little fairy tale town that’s got no use for a history behind its name.

You could just as easily stick a boss in a big white room, I imagine him as a cube, and tell people to go to town. The why doesn’t matter. Just the reward.

Doesn’t that sound just a little empty to you?

Want a game where context doesn’t matter? Download Pong.

Without story, there’s only grind

You know, before MMOs came about you had MUDs and, sorry, most of them were entirely grindfests. Those that did have quests and story had little and it was usually held on a few web pages written up by the game’s maker. You know why that’s not the case anymore? People want a reason to do something, even if it’s shallow. Without that, why even have a quest giver? I bet it’s a lot easier to come up with a vending machine to hand out new objectives. When I played MUDs, the closest thing we had to a quest was Mob Mastery. You’d type ‘mobm’ and it’d hand you a mob to hunt down. Want to spend 80 levels doing that? Without story, what else is there?

And, apparently, Blizzard agrees. According to this article, people didn’t have as much fun without quests. Hence it now being the biggest quest driven in existence.

Without story, “RPG’s” become just “G’s”

That’s right homeboy. Isn’t the point of an RPG to deliver some kind of story? If you take context out of MMO gaming, you’re left with a shallow gaming experience that lacks purpose. In any other world, we’d call that a waste of time. MMOs aren’t here to provide challenge. They’re here to give us narrative social experiences that we can get devote a lot of time into. Compare the difficulty of WoW to any modern single player RPG and you’ll see what I mean.

Can you get lost in stats and killing blows? Yeah, probably. But that’s what Counterstrike is for.

I’m not going to ramble on and build up some huge case. The sheer ignorance of some people in our community is astounding to me and I had more to say that what could be held in a single comment.

If you don’t care about story, context, or world in your MMO, I’d just like to know why you even bother paying that subscription fee. You’re playing the wrong genre of game.

Call of Duty —-> is that way.

Update: I’ll let Tom Chilton sum it up.

“What we found was that all the feedback that we got from our alpha testers was that once they ran out of quests, the game got boring. They were like, ‘I don’t know what to do any more, and I don’t really feel like playing any more once I run out of quests’. We came to that realisation that, wow, this quest thing really works. We need to do this throughout the entire game!”

3 comments

  1. Ferrel

    One of the “joys” of posting outside of your own medium is hitting a different audience. For a while I mirrored my stories over at MMORPG. That is a fine organization with some great content but a good portion of their community is PvP fanboys. Many of my stories had polite agreement but many more just had trolls.

    I am quite used to trolls from my years of dealing with the server forums on EQ1 and EQ2. They never really bother me but it does mean having to waste time on them. After a while that gets a little old and I just stopped posting there. Why write for an audience that isn’t your target?

    People that read Epic Slant like what I have to say. Some don’t but most people don’t constantly read things they hate. The same way that I read GBN because I like it! I’m far more inclined to listen to you make a point that I might disagree with than some blogger I don’t read regularly. I suppose that is just human nature!

    Well said though and I agree!

  2. Chris

    Thanks Ferrel and I feel the same way. I have no problem with disagreements and I actually love the discussions they can start. Hell, usually even trolling doesn’t bother me.

    When I wrote this post, it was the day after being forced to quit my job through corporate bullying. I live in NYS and there’s no wrongful termination law. My company decided to mandate overtime and require that I miss enough college to earn me a letter grade drop in two classes. When I explained that I wouldn’t be able to do it at the times requested, they told me in no uncertain terms that I would be terminated if I didn’t. I submitted my notice, which irked my boss’s boss since the company was in a “time of need” and he decided to, literally, change policy just for me to hang termination over my head. I was forced to resign on his day off or else be terminated the next day. I was frustrated and, honestly, a little depressed that three years devoted to a company saw me slinking out the door to save this guy from tarnishing my work record.

    So, I was at a predisposition to be annoyed I guess.

    To everyone else who may see this post as more aggressive than usual, hopefully, this will explain it.

  3. Brian Johnson

    Yeah, totally agree with you. Without meaningful and compelling story, any rpg or MMO game will be like some hack and slash game. There is no good of playing that kind of game. Even role playing games on smartphone and tablets such as Infinite Blade has great storyline, even though the game is basically a hack-and-slash game. Not to mention, another mobile role playing game called Horn. And awesome third person role playing game with great graphics, great combat system and great storyline.
    Brian Johnson recently posted..How to Get a Better Understanding About Bioshock Infinite Plot?

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