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Author Topic: Bioware Austin.. damm more Dragons.. or Lightsabers?  (Read 165650 times)
trias_e
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Reply #35 on: November 28, 2006, 09:02:53 AM

As someone said, people don't want this, or at the least won't be expecting this in their MMORPG.  Bioware might have this grand story planned out 'choose-your-own-adventure' style where you get to make decisions that influence the outcome, sure, and that would be somewhat new for an MMORPG.  But no one is going to look at it in terms of roleplaying or story.  They are going to look at in terms of which piece of phat loot they want to get at the end, by reading spoiler sites.  Unless if they really change the MMORPG quest paradigm in ways I can't really predict right now this is basically going to be a waste of time and resources.
Soln
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Reply #36 on: November 28, 2006, 09:14:28 AM

too early to tell IMO

but they have to have a reason to want to put in more stories, or more quests that aren't immediately accessible (non-pez) because people won't want a throttled experience unless it means something for their progression.  Unless reading all the text of the story means something -- like solving a random puzzle -- people won't care and will skip through it no matter what.  And if the quests are just longer for the sake of being longer... won't be appreciated.  Remember the frustration of having to wait for the quest text to be "written" in the original WoW quest log?  just give me the mission already, etc.

to me all this means that if they are genuinely worried about story/character/semi-customization it could mean there will be more than just a combat grind.  If their advancement model is not based on just combat xp it could mean that reputation, faction, dark/light ethical actions etc. will mean something for people's progression (e.g. open different skills/abilities/NPC's/classes).  That's the only way I can see having "stories" and "non-pez" quest gives etc. in the game to matter.  But stir, bake, hype and let cool 2-3 years to be certain.

tazelbain
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tazelbain


Reply #37 on: November 28, 2006, 10:15:20 AM

> but tazelbain, do you really think it said nothing at all?
Yes.  The interview displays no more insight into MMOGs than 3 teenagers who got to level 60 in WoW and said "That wasn't hard, I could make a game like this."

I am sure Bioware are good story people, but MMOGs are a bad story medium. I have respect for things they have done in the past but this interview is crap.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2006, 11:07:44 AM by tazelbain »

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Daeven
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Reply #38 on: November 28, 2006, 10:37:13 AM

I have a novel idea. How about if we actually let this thing get into playtesting before we all go into some 'gothy / angsty / hating MMOG's is the new black' mode. mmkay?

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Nebu
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Reply #39 on: November 28, 2006, 10:38:58 AM

I have a novel idea. How about if we actually let this thing get into playtesting before we all go into some 'gothy / angsty / hating MMOG's is the new black' mode. mmkay?

I'll do it your way when the makers of mmogs start doing more than rehashing the same circa 1997 spin on things.  Deal? 

 

"Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other."

-  Mark Twain
Krakrok
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Reply #40 on: November 28, 2006, 10:53:02 AM

I have a novel idea. How about if we actually let this thing get into playtesting before we all go into some 'gothy / angsty / hating MMOG's is the new black' mode. mmkay?

I'll do that... when the game comes out around 2010. Starting the PR machine a little early? Mmmmkay.

tkinnun0
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Reply #41 on: November 28, 2006, 11:10:24 AM

I am sure Bioware are good story people, but MMOGs are a bad story medium.

Might that be because nobody has given stories the WoW polish, not even Blizzard?

I got from the interview that they understand the importance of WoW's level of polish and they want to tell stories, so I'm cautiously hopeful.
HRose
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Reply #42 on: November 28, 2006, 11:15:04 AM

I have a novel idea. How about if we actually let this thing get into playtesting before we all go into some 'gothy / angsty / hating MMOG's is the new black' mode. mmkay?
The point is that after the very first months a team is build and a project started, you already have the whole path already traced.

Of course it's hard to see things from the outside, but rarely first impressions are wrong.


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HaemishM
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Reply #43 on: November 28, 2006, 11:21:25 AM

[edit] Oops. I mistook this for Dragon Age.

I'm confused.

Don't be. Unless Dragon Age tanks, the MMOG will be in that setting. You don't go to the trouble of creating a whole new IP these days to stick on just a single-player PC RPG.

As for their ideas, there really aren't any. They are going to try to take on the 70-billion headed Hydra that is "enough PVE content for the slavering hordes of shitheel whiney MMOG players." They are going to fail. YOU CAN'T HIRE THAT MANY MODELERS, PROGRAMMERS AND QUEST DESIGNERS, no matter how many writers you hire.

The writing isn't necessarily the hard part. I see a whole lot of naivete in that interview.

EDIT: And if Dragon Age does tank, I expect it'll be in the Mass Effect world.

Sky
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Reply #44 on: November 28, 2006, 11:24:19 AM

I think anti-mmo dev angst is pretty reasonable here for reasons mentioned. They are the 'good story' people, and mmo is bad for stories. The Smaug example is laughable "Hey look, I killed Smaug!" "Yeah, we killed him last week."

I'm extremely cynical about the chances of any mmo, even Bioware, who I really admire. Dragon Age will probably rock, Mass Effect is looking great. MMO? We'll see, but...

HaemishM
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Reply #45 on: November 28, 2006, 11:25:38 AM

Bioware CAN produce a great MMOG. Unfortunately, they aren't going to do it by focusing on PVE storytelling. That way lies the road of whiny madness and the trail of community rep tears.

Sky
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Reply #46 on: November 28, 2006, 11:33:09 AM

If they were smart, they subcontract with Blizzard to write content for WoW. They wouldn't be under pressure to do everything, and they could of course never keep up with the rabid players, but it would expand the world with some high quality stuff. And Blizz could afford to pay them to do it right.

Nebu
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Reply #47 on: November 28, 2006, 11:34:59 AM

I honestly think that good story is lost on 95% of the mmog playerbase.  Just look at the more popular gaming forums.  People won't even bother to read any post longer than a line or two.  I sincerely doubt they'll read any text and likely will skip through any voice-acted script. 

I WANT TEH SHINY NOW! <click click click>

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HRose
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Reply #48 on: November 28, 2006, 11:40:01 AM

Bioware CAN produce a great MMOG. Unfortunately, they aren't going to do it by focusing on PVE storytelling. That way lies the road of whiny madness and the trail of community rep tears.
If you consider from where those guy arrive (SWG) you can see deeper.

They come from a systemic game, it fails and now they are all for the directed gameplay "because you cannot be successful without". And because of the WoW "me too" syndrome.

They are just running around aimlessly, glad that they now have "Bioware" printed in their resumes.

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Margalis
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Reply #49 on: November 28, 2006, 12:52:33 PM

Yes, the Smaug example was awful. How is that any different than how any game works now? Hey, Smaug might not be dead in the game, but he is to you!

Maybe once you kill Smaug he can never respawn for you and in your world he will be dead for good? Even that seems unlikely. So instead it will be "Hey, Smaug might not be dead in the game - and hell he isn't to you either even though you killed him 3 hours ago!"

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Morat20
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Reply #50 on: November 28, 2006, 12:56:40 PM

Yes, the Smaug example was awful. How is that any different than how any game works now? Hey, Smaug might not be dead in the game, but he is to you!

Maybe once you kill Smaug he can never respawn for you and in your world he will be dead for good? Even that seems unlikely. So instead it will be "Hey, Smaug might not be dead in the game - and hell he isn't to you either even though you killed him 3 hours ago!"
I thought LoTRs was looking at some mechanic much like that. You kill Smaug, Smaug is dead to you, you can't go back. Of course, there's some technicalities if you're grouped with a buddy who hasn't killed Smaug yet and go visit the smoking ruins of his cave....

Speaking of -- just got a beta invite for LoTR. Worth the d/l?
tazelbain
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Reply #51 on: November 28, 2006, 01:05:26 PM

Might that be because nobody has given stories the WoW polish, not even Blizzard?
Polish isn't the barrier to good storytelling.
How many good stories are there where the protagonist has no history and no personality?
How many good stories are there where the world is indifferent to and isn't affected in anyway by protagonists actions?
How many good stories are there where the protagonist can never die?

Fundamental aspects of the medium put sever limitations on storytelling. Can these ever be overcome, maybe.  But "Stories are good" and "Fed Ex quests are bad" doesn't display any knowledge of the medium they are building game in.

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Rasix
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Reply #52 on: November 28, 2006, 01:08:28 PM

Speaking of -- just got a beta invite for LoTR. Worth the d/l?

We can't answer that.  And no one here should.  I believe we're all still under NDA.  NDA

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Sky
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Reply #53 on: November 28, 2006, 01:30:16 PM

LotRO sucks monkey nuts and you shouldn't play it.

Of course, I'm not under NDA :P

Krakrok
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Reply #54 on: November 28, 2006, 01:37:19 PM


You're better off playing the Mount & Blade LOTR mod. You know the LOTR MMO is going to be the same old bullshit.

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Reply #55 on: November 28, 2006, 01:39:45 PM

Quote
Unless if they really change the MMORPG quest paradigm in ways I can't really predict right now this is basically going to be a waste of time and resources.
Well, that's the goal.
Quote
The game may be worth following only because there's Ubiq working on the combat system, and lately he seems more enlightened than usual.
I am?  That's probably just the Nyquil talking.
Roac
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Reply #56 on: November 28, 2006, 02:03:21 PM

Quote
Unless if they really change the MMORPG quest paradigm in ways I can't really predict right now this is basically going to be a waste of time and resources.
Well, that's the goal.

I hope you guys do.  Everything in the interview sounded like almost every other MMOG interview done at this stage, though.  The only mechanics that were hinted at were lots of storyline content and instancing.  I also hope that the choices hinted at consist of more than:

"I need help with something"
A) Sure.  Also, take my purse.
B) Die.  *sizzle*  "

...And that the outcome of which is more than one metric that slides back and forth, and has little bearing on the actual consequences in the game.  I liked KotOR, but I couldn't imagine playing KotOR Online. 

That said, I think BioWare has made good games so far which is a hopeful start for the MMOG side of things.  This will definately be one to keep an eye on.

-Roac
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trias_e
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Reply #57 on: November 28, 2006, 02:15:35 PM

Quote
Well, that's the goal.

To clarify my statement, you will specifically need to change not only the way quests work, but how the MMORPG works in general.  MMORPG's currently are time to reward ratios, where the players try to get the most rewards in the least amount of time.  If this is how your game is going to work as well, (that is giving rewards to players for completing quests), then your concept is in trouble because people won't care about your story arc, and will simply min-max your story progression using spoiler sites to get the reward they desire, resulting in a waste of resources.  If there are no rewards to questing, I am curious as to why you think the average MMORPG player will play the game over a more pavlovian version that has seen great success (WoW).

This is why I can't imagine the solution you have in mind.  I might just be slow or unimaginitive, but I just am having trouble seeing you drawing subscribers using a reward-less method, or somethow making the story more important than the reward (the reason people pay for these games at this point, unless you are talking a 'world/player-driven' game like EVE, which survives due to high escapism and player versus player factors).
« Last Edit: November 28, 2006, 02:18:19 PM by trias_e »
Daeven
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Reply #58 on: November 28, 2006, 02:18:46 PM

The point is that after the very first months a team is build and a project started, you already have the whole path already traced.

Of course it's hard to see things from the outside, but rarely first impressions are wrong.
Conversely, at the start of the project it's all about the fetuspults. So really who cares what they say?

BIOWARE! MMOG! IN YOUR PANTS!

There. Marketing done. Everything else is hearsay.

"There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. That term is idiot." -SMStirling

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Tairnyn
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Reply #59 on: November 28, 2006, 02:37:59 PM

I honestly think that good story is lost on 95% of the mmog playerbase.  Just look at the more popular gaming forums.  People won't even bother to read any post longer than a line or two.  I sincerely doubt they'll read any text and likely will skip through any voice-acted script. 

Agreed. Part of the problem in these digital world is that there's almost no ability to enhance the gaming experience with semantics. My opinion or thoughts about a character and their dialog has no bearing whatsoever on my ability to achieve the 'goals' set forth by the game. There's no tangible reward for having knowledge of the world and the characters in it, no power in knowledge outside the mechanics of the game. If the Grand Warlord sends me off to kill 10 bunnies there's no value in the knowledge of his motivations or a grander meaning to his tasks. I can not leverage his bunny slaying ways to undermine his power in a future conflict, or unleash the Bunny Preservation League on his ass. Human emotion and social interaction is far too complex to represent in such a discrete environment, forcing the writer to cobble together some semblance of drama with a very limited toolset.

*Everything* in these games is based on a defined task/reward structure. When efficiency is measured by how fast one can progress through these structures there's no real benefit, other than personal gratification, to being aware of the story arc. As a result I often see the story elements as temporal barriers to their efficient progression through the content.

Velorath
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Reply #60 on: November 28, 2006, 03:07:03 PM

Bioware CAN produce a great MMOG. Unfortunately, they aren't going to do it by focusing on PVE storytelling. That way lies the road of whiny madness and the trail of community rep tears.

I think that Bioware can produce a great MMOG by focusing on storytelling.  I just don't think they can produce a successful one.
shiznitz
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Reply #61 on: November 28, 2006, 03:28:04 PM

So they are going to have classes. Then, there will be directed storylines (with a few options) that will lead to some ultimate reveal. Sounds nice. What about loot along the way? If they don't let people re-play instances, then all gear/spell/money rewards have to be uniform (for each class?) at each stage of the story. If I kill the red dragon at the end, can I help my friends kill it even though it is dead to me? Of course I can or this wouldn't be an MMO.

The zone specific, solo questlines in EQ2 are technically fedex quests, but they do have reasonably good story to them. Is Bioware going to throw a few FMVs (!!!!wheee!!!!) into the mix?

I have never played WoW.
ajax34i
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Reply #62 on: November 28, 2006, 04:16:14 PM

Y'all are assuming that if you kill the red dragon, it'll respawn, or what you killed is an instanced version of it.  Permanent NPC death can be implemented (if I kill the red dragon, it's dead, no more red dragon for anyone else).  You're all going to argue that that's a waste of content, and that it leads to the crappy gameplay that EQ had, whereby guilds would camp world dragons and grief each other over them.  I agree with that, but they can still choose to do it that way.

They've mentioned they're focusing on polish and "storyline"; they haven't said anything about game mechanics.  They could have permadeath, one character per account, story-driven servers which shut down when the story is "finished"...  all sorts of things that seem non-profitable to us, who knows.
HRose
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Reply #63 on: November 28, 2006, 04:24:37 PM

Quote
The game may be worth following only because there's Ubiq working on the combat system, and lately he seems more enlightened than usual.
I am?  That's probably just the Nyquil talking.

Yes. The Austin speech and the post on classes/Tactical transparency.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2006, 04:26:46 PM by HRose »

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Reply #64 on: November 28, 2006, 04:49:41 PM

I don't care for all the doom-mongering quite yet. There wasn't a Ton in that interview besides that they might want to try things differently. Ok.

We don't know much about the actual Game. Yet. So I will withold judgement, and not armchair the game as if I had a clue.

Also, I would be in favor of some of the things mentioned above, as they look like things that would weed out powergamers.

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Morat20
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Reply #65 on: November 28, 2006, 05:06:36 PM

So they are going to have classes. Then, there will be directed storylines (with a few options) that will lead to some ultimate reveal. Sounds nice. What about loot along the way? If they don't let people re-play instances, then all gear/spell/money rewards have to be uniform (for each class?) at each stage of the story. If I kill the red dragon at the end, can I help my friends kill it even though it is dead to me? Of course I can or this wouldn't be an MMO.
That's easy. You just end up helping your buddy kill the Dragon's pissed off brother. It'll say "Dragon's Pissed off Brother" right over it (although your buddy will see "Dragon".

Loot's a real issue. The only reason anyone ever redoes instances or dungeons is looking for rare drops or for XP (or to help a friend do the same). If you can only go through once, do you get to pick your loot? Do you only get the snazzy loot as a reward thing "Pick your reward!"? Is there some "hunt through the treasure for one decent item, and take the rest as gold" mechanic?
Xilren's Twin
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Reply #66 on: November 28, 2006, 05:08:20 PM

I think anti-mmo dev angst is pretty reasonable here for reasons mentioned. They are the 'good story' people, and mmo is bad for stories. The Smaug example is laughable "Hey look, I killed Smaug!" "Yeah, we killed him last week."

Such jaded birds we are, albeit for good, historical reasons.  However...

Let's look at the example they gave again.

Quote
Smaug is a good example. You can have a personal quest to kill an ancient red dragon; you can have a story that goes all the way through, and you can meet all these interesting characters, and eventually you end up killing the ancient red dragon. Other characters in the online world will know you killed a red dragon, but you haven't changed the world for them. And they can still -- especially when you use things like instances -- go on a quest that involves killing an ancient huge red dragon. We can change the player's personal story, and that gives players the sense they're having an impact on the game world.

Firstly, note the part I bolded.  The player could have a quest to kill A dragon, not the one and only Vox/Smaug/Grendel.  There's nothing wrong with setting up a story arc leading up to a personalized ecounter with some sort of powerful critter that isn't the same named mob everyone else got.  To stick in fantasy terms there no reason you couldn't have 10 or more varieties or these type of long story arcs. Hell, just having it vary between a dragon, beholder, lich, titan, etc as the end target of the long quest BY INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER would be hugely different than what we have today.  Just because I got a red dragon at level X doesn't mean you got that same adventure.  So being known as a red dragon slayer may affect my characters development differently than Bilbo the lich slayer over there.

The key is in something else they said.

Quote
One thing we don't want to do is NPC Pez dispensers, as I call them -- go over there, dispense a quest, and then go "vacuum-clean" a zone. We want to make sure you listen to NPCs, because choices matter. And that's really important.

Choices.  Give players meaningful choices that affect their play and you can start to have more tailored experiences.  It's not a hard concept to introduce branching storylines that open, and more importantly close, in game options.  But, obviously there are limits to how many choices you can reasonably accomodate without hitting the dreaded development cost vs usage ratio.  A big quest that only 1% of the players can do and can only be done once.  Yikes! Development black hole!

And also, if there are too few choices, or some ones that are considered "best" than everyone will gravitate towards those.  Plus the inevitable whining that will arise some people who would feel locked out of all the content they want to experiences, let alone if there are particular loot, skills, abilities, character visual appearance traits they cannot get b/c you can't do everything.  Which is why i think someone else said it best.

Can BW make a good story focused MMORPG, probably, but can they make a successful one?  /cue magic 8 Ball picture...

Xilren

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Velorath
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Reply #67 on: November 28, 2006, 07:14:24 PM

It's not a hard concept to introduce branching storylines that open, and more importantly close, in game options.

Of course it isn't a hard concept to introduce.  City of Heroes already does it to an extent, although they still have the Pez dispenser NPC's that Bioware wants to do away with and the stories in CoH are only mildly interesting.
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Reply #68 on: November 28, 2006, 07:17:26 PM

What's the word on....

Voice acting?

Cutscenes (or at least...some kind of panning )?

And whatever other modern storytelling devices.
Megrim
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Reply #69 on: November 28, 2006, 07:22:42 PM

Ugh... they are good?

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