BioWare: MMORPGs Have "No Point"

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BioWare: MMORPGs Have "No Point"

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BioWare's philosophy on MMORPG development has been formed by the lack of purpose in the titles on the market today.

BioWare designer and Star Wars: The Old Republic writing director Daniel Erickson really wishes that there was more to most MMORPGs other than killing 20 ravenous giraffes to satisfy a nondescript NPC's quest text. Speaking to CVG, he says that MMORPGs often forget about story, giving them "no point."

MMORPGs first came along with the promise of a single-player RPG that was much larger. However, Erickson feels that many left out an important component, saying: "It was the ruleset to an RPG: There was combat, and there were areas, but that was all ... There was no story, there was no point. You just kind of wandered around. And that hasn't really changed all that much over the years. "

He cares a lot about the issue because he's developing the next big MMORPG hope with The Old Republic. Erickson says that BioWare is not forgetting what an RPG should be: "Old Republic should be all the things we thought an MMO would be in the first place - which is all the parts of an RPG."

Primarily, Erickson believes The Old Republic "should just be fun," and shouldn't force players to "ignore all of the content to get to the end as fast as possible." BioWare genuinely wants to put the fun of a single-player RPG into the fun of an MMORPG, despite resistance from people saying it was "sacrilege" to "put interesting bits in an MMO."

BioWare surely has been talking as if it knows it's cracked the eternal problem of crafting a great story that fits with the gameplay of an MMORPG. Hopefully, all the money EA is putting into BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic will ensure it does have a point, along with the expected thousands of Sith Lords kicking the crap out of innocent droids.

Source: CVG

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we can only hope they succeed.

Well I'd completely agree with that! I only hope BioWare don't screw up big time. I'm really looking forward to this.

Here's hoping they succeed in marrying singleplayer fun and quality to rich multiplayer content.

Well, if anyone can do this Bioware can... I look forward to this game.

If they succeed, I will love them forever.

This is the only MMO I've actually gotten exited for. Sure APB looks neat and I'm sure the MMO's out now are cool, but they just don't interest me.

Can't wait for this.

Is it just me or are BioWare being extremely controversial recently? First the FFXIII thing, and now this, which is sure to piss quite a few MMO players off.

My only concern is that a story has to end. And if a MMORPG ends then it, well, ends. No more money, no more customers. The only other option is to have multiple stories, one after the other, giving people a way out if they want (Leaving when the story's over) or continuing with the 'sequel'.

But that gives rise to all the problems of sequels, and I don't think even Bioware is good enough to stave off sequelitis long enough for a MMORPG

The thing about story is that in game development the plot or story is meant to be a starting motivation for the player and that is true in most mmo's.

WoW encouraged players to fight and help rebuild their position after the damage of Archimonde and Arthas. Tabla rasa was the fight to prevent the human race from going extinct by being part of their army. City of heroes wanted players to be heroes solving crime in the city.

The problem is always with end game, while there is story there the one thing they always lack is resolution. Sure you kill the big guy but he will be back next week thereby nullifying your achievement or at the very least putting your story at the end making the story at that point have no point.

If anything story is always just one of many hooks to try and catch the players interest if the gameplay doesn't work or if their friends are all playing.

I don't play MMORPG's much but even so i hope that Bioware makes a good one.

Blizzard kinda advanced the warcraft lore with the Fall Of The Lich King patch. I hope Bioware can integrate a single player experience to a multiplayer game with a good story. I am pretty sure they can.

Lack of story is why I quit WoW. If the story is half as ggod as all other Bioware RPGs, then this game may be worth a look indeed.

Isn't the point of an MMO to interact in a world with a large number of other players? Why must story be crucial to that - it could be argued, in many ways, that MMO's have "more point" to them than traditional single-player RPG's.

In a traditional RPG you're playing to continue the story, to see the next area - but in an MMO you could be playing for any number of reasons; to beat a friends level, as a member of a clan are just two examples. MMO's will always have a point because the freedom usually offered allows players to create their own "point".
Just because the game doesn't have the same type of structure a traditional RPG has doesn't mean it lacks a "point". Stories in MMO's aren't really entertaining - of the few I've played I've never really cared for the story because ultimately, unless it really benefits me, there's no point to having a story at all.

MMO's aren't about story - and they aren't fun with a story because of the way they're told. For example, you can't have the same sort of character progression system seen in games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect - thus the story will always end up lacking any significant impact. I don't know if they're going to add such a system in this game - frankly I've not been the slightest bit interested in it. Then, to truly factor out any real impact the story will have, you've got the world - a world filled with people that will play out of character - will destroy any immersion you have in the world by acting in any other way.

I disagree with the points made; Bioware really need to stop making such controversial topics; I strongly disagreed with their assessment of Final Fantasy, and I strongly disagree here too.

A story isn't really much of a concern as more as making a living, breathing world in an MMORPG. A story is something that will end at some point in time, but it has to be a certain length without it being dragged out.

Plus, do you really need a story for killing other players? =P

Well the fact is that MMO's are mad that way on purpose, it's part of a system (yes this sounds like a conspiracy theory but is REAL science) that is purpose built to cause addiction in the people who play it. Google B. F. Skinners rat box. There are people at microsoft, blizzard and other companies dealing in the MMO who are there to shape the product to create addiction.

D_987:
Isn't the point of an MMO to interact in a world with a large number of other players? Why must story be crucial to that - it could be argued, in many ways, that MMO's have "more point" to them than traditional single-player RPG's.

In a traditional RPG you're playing to continue the story, to see the next area - but in an MMO you could be playing for any number of reasons; to beat a friends level, as a member of a clan are just two examples. MMO's will always have a point because the freedom usually offered allows players to create their own "point".
Just because the game doesn't have the same type of structure a traditional RPG has doesn't mean it lacks a "point". Stories in MMO's aren't really entertaining - of the few I've played I've never really cared for the story because ultimately, unless it really benefits me, there's no point to having a story at all.

MMO's aren't about story - and they aren't fun with a story because of the way they're told. For example, you can't have the same sort of character progression system seen in games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect - thus the story will always end up lacking any significant impact. I don't know if they're going to add such a system in this game - frankly I've not been the slightest bit interested in it. Then, to truly factor out any real impact the story will have, you've got the world - a world filled with people that will play out of character - will destroy any immersion you have in the world by acting in any other way.

I disagree with the points made; Bioware really need to stop making such controversial topics; I strongly disagreed with their assessment of Final Fantasy, and I strongly disagree here too.

It's funny you should think that since WoW, back in the days of yore when I tried it was excruciating for me for that exact reason. Way too many people play games that are online, or that have online components, like they are alone. This is insanely frustrating and boring. There is a lot more to a branching story structure than just playing the quests you played before but instead of killing 20 sand-gimps you have to kill 20 space-pigs.

This is why i love Bioware so much, they are willing to dumb down graphics to bring in immersion and heavy story. GOD BLESS BIOWARE! And thier next title, 'The Old Republic' i have a feeling that they will skyrocket past World of Warcraft very quickly. Though people may not like the Star Wars Series, it is deffinetly worth a try, just because its by BIOWARE!

If they succeed, I might break my oath of never buying another mmorpg.

brunothepig:
Well, if anyone can do this Bioware can... I look forward to this game.

Agreed, I despise MMO's so far but I'll definitely keep an eye on this.

Holy shit that Sith killed a lot of troopers.

OT: I hope Bioware pulls this one off. I'll be awaiting it's launch.

The problem with MMORPGs isn't that the story is absent, WoW has quite a bit of lore. The problem lies in the fact that any game, especially competitive games like MMOs and shooters, will get torn down to its barest mathematical roots. "Elewin's Wind of Celestial Healing" might have three book's worth of story behind it, but to every single person who uses it enough it will become "HOT 150". It's not like they are intentionally doing this, but if you want to be competitive you really have no choice.

FargoDog:
Is it just me or are BioWare being extremely controversial recently?

There is a difference between controversial, and having a decent point.
Bioware has the latter.

While I still feel that this MMO was a huge copout so they wouldnt have to make KOTOR3, I have to somewhat agree with what theyre saying here. I actually had this discussion with a friend of mine not to long ago. I asked her what was the point of WoW, she told me the the whole point was to go around completing quests and leveling up. "That's it?" I asked. She was angry at me for phrasing it in such a way but she had no other real argument.

This shocked me because she is huge on reading books and looking into character development and plot on stuff, yet she was playing a game with hardly any story with no memorable characters nor a reason to care about the world.

MercenaryCanary:

FargoDog:
Is it just me or are BioWare being extremely controversial recently?

There is a difference between controversial, and having a decent point.
Bioware has the latter.

Not necessarily. A decent point can still be a decent point, but people can still have strong negative reactions to it. I'm not saying BioWare are wrong by any sretch, it's pretty much opinion and they can back it up, but I can see how people could ferverantly disagree with their statement.

I love pretty much all MMORPGs, but I cannot wait to see what Bioware can do with one. if any game company knows storytelling, it's Bioware. I'm so excited!

Hm... this may sound a bit weird BUT:

I think he is partially wrong.

FIRST: Yes, he is right about MMORPG having nearly no point. You shuffle around having IMMENSLY boring "Raids" for example... waiting for 40 people to get their heads out of their asses to mechanicaly and totally unrealisticaly kill some weird boss. Most MMORPG have no atmosphere, no logic (internal consitency) and the only things entertaining are:

1. Talking with friends while doing "stuff with your hands"
2. pleasure your primitive Hunter/Gatherer caveman part of your brain with: MUST KILL MORE RATS... OHHH SHINY NEW SWORD
3. figuring out the rules (Even though you find out that they are sickengly balanced and you never will be any different than one of the other 500 million-billion nightelf hunters... or whatever)

BUT: he is wrong with trying to emphasize good written story in an MMORPG too. NOW, don't get me wrong: I LOOOOOVE me some good story. It is one of the two essential great things needed for a good game (The other is "Atmosphere"). But the story in an MMORPG has to be written by the players. What most MMORPG's do not do is: Having the players change the world... have them feel rewarded for controlling something ( a Road, a village, a Planet.. whatever. Form their own alliances, betraying people, becoming friends. Not just "Go do some quests together"

Quests has to be authored by the players themselves. Of course there should be NPC's with some agendas too. Maybe have some GM play out story parts, involving the players.

But coming back to story: They cannot make the decisions so complex. The potential stories so manifold, the choices, options and COINCIDENCES so vast that everybody has THEIR experience, THEIR virtual "life" in there. Just this one example: All people will start off on some "Newbie Island" there they will bring back the lightsaber of some Padawan/NPC-Friend. And he will be happy. How can you bring it to him if he JUST GOT it... a FEW THOUSAND times from a few thousand people in the last hour? And all of them are right THERE, telling you where to find it, or teaming up to get it? It just destroys the atmosphere (The thing which i called the second important ingredient of a good game)

Ah well, rant over... Hm, Maybe i should really write that ranty-essay thingy about MMORPG-design already.

Most MMO's give you a base story [V has happened, so now you must W X or Y will take over/destroy Z] and the players have little influence in the story. there is only a handful of MMO's where the player can make a significant change in the game:

Planetside: a well placed sniper or cloaker can stop a planet from falling under an invaders influence.

Face of Mankind: you can rise through the ranks and eventually become a senator, Consul, or a leader of an entire faction and make some game changing decisions.

EVE Online: game is too huge to have a single example.

I could go on for a few more, but like I said, almost every MMO has no real story, nor a story line that could be engaging to keep a player coming back every month, and while a good RPG does have a definite ending, you forget the MMO semi-exclusive content maker.

the expansions.

I wouldnt be surprised that if there was to be multiple expansions in line for The Old Republic, nor would I be surprised if any expansion stories were made with the same ability as the supposed full voice-actor'd core game.

So people are complaining about the potential for a story in an MMORPG? REALLY?! I wonder what the hell is the reason why anyone plays MMORPGs. Just to pwn noobs? Gather stuff for crafting?
I fail to understand the logic of paying to play a game just to kill people when you can do that for free.

But at least there is hope that BioWare can change the game by bringing stories back to MMORPGs. More power to them.

wasalp:
we can only hope they succeed.

They cat'n succeed. Or more to they don't want to. An MMO to be true RPG they need to give players the freedom to make permanent changes to teh environment. NPCs that once killed stay dead forever, towns shifting control, growing cities depending player economy, destuctible and rebildable cities. - any mark on the world. But that is impossible in an MMO, because the problem is in money. Current MMO's run on a number of server shards. Players are able to change differen't assets on different servers makes future balancing and adding new content nightmare. Here is an example:
Players are given a choice to protect a town from incoming horde. On sever-A players kill the enemies and teh town prospers. In another server-B the players just don't care and let it burn. Trom this point on the developer needs to make new assets and content for each specific server. The current solution is implement both and make the town attack as repeting event (say every week). Thus players on every sever can experience every outcome. But there isn'r any real choice, no permenent outcome of your actions.
As another example is the unqiness of experience. A quest that a man asks you to deliver love leter to his beloved. I a proper RPG only one player needs to complete teh task. And depending on wether he actualy completes it should result in a diferent behaviour by both NPCs. Currently the lover spend all day writing the same letter over and over, and his belovered is verry surpriesed everytime a player delivers it to her. Again it is repetition as implemeting different outcomes and scenarios based on teh first player to undertake the quest takes too many resourses.

Now don't have any foalse hopes that The Old Republic will be any different than the current MMOs. Sure it might have more intresting stories and varoius endings depending on your action. ut as long as the next player can have do same story arc without any consecuences from your actions then it's not RPG.

The only MMO that has come closest to aciving realy player driven persistent world is EVE-Online. And it is much to teh fact that is based on a single server. This alows teh developer to adapt to teh players actions even if there is no such build-in functionality in the game itself.

But for me the only proper MMORPG I've played are teh persistent worlds of Neverwinter Nights. These player created, and managed by played DMs realy hold some unique experiences for me. And it is all due to the fact of handlin the creator controlls to the users. As only love to teh game and dedicaion can achive the amount of work to make an MMO an RPG.

If a developer can pull this off it's Bioware, here's hoping they succeed.

I stopped playing World of Warcraft, it really is designed to keep you playing so they keep making money. There's not much more to it then that.

Talk about missing the point. I don't even like MMORPGs, but the whole "point" behind them is the social interaction. No MMORPG is fun by yourself, with or without a story.

I hope this and guild wars succedd as both are story driven.

i hate bioware

The more news that is released, the better this sounds.

This could catapult Bioware to godlike status.

monkeypants:
i hate bioware

Good for you.

Care to explain why?

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