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May 24th, 2012, 16:38
I firmly believe that any MMO that tries to tell a story first and foremost or base its strenght on story told via quests is going to fail. MMOs are not good mediums for telling preset stories nor do they lend themselves well to heroic character arcs, not when everyone in the world becomes the same Hero Who Saved The World or the like. Add to that the respawning enemies/bosses/etc and all that the storyline can really do is tell an endlessly repeating story which has no real effect on anything in the game world, and thus becomes more or less irrelevant and pointless.

What an MMO should do, IMO, is to base its strength on gameplay (it is a game after all, not an e-book) and player freedom and interaction (the strenght of a multiplayer game is that there are other humans to interact with and compete against). If the gameplay is boring or stiff and if you aren't really engaged much with other players, you are missing the strenghts of an MMO and the story isn't really going to help much then. The player will leave, eventually.

If an MMO really, really wants to tell a story, let it be via emergent stories, where the player tells the story himself by how he plays the game. Fill the game world with lore and some opposing factions and you have an emergent story cooking. Each player can have their own personal story by how they play and what they do, not by some thinly-veiled and shallow blabber from quest giver #259 that "we need 5 rat tails, because Ukkukruk the rat god must be appeased… again… like the hundred times before by guys before you."

Before I read anything about the upcoming Elder Scrolls MMO, I had thought a TES type of game would/could really shine in multiplayer too (player freedom, no classes, skill-based, skills increase by use, loads of lore sprinkled around, etc.), but it seems they are going to be more of a "traditional" MMO afterall. Doesn't bode well for them. Like many have said before, you can't out WoW WoW. Do something else or die.
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