Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Are you Joran the 23rd Spearman?

Grouchy Gnome has started another heated debate at Nerfbat about recapturing the epic feel in the MMO game space. While it is true that most elements present in the worlds we inhabit today, are devoid of that feeling of greatness... the spine tingling excitement of a wondrous adventure that we are swept up in and are uniquely a part of. it is mostly because hundreds of thousands of other people are swept up in the very same adventure to kill the very same villain and acquire the same Halberd of Heroism.

Jason responded to one of my posts and made a comment that gave me pause and ultimately led to this post. When you gather your party and go after Gor'lash the Unyielding, are you Joran the 23rd Spearman of the 5th Company, or are you Joran the Hero whose exploits are the stuff of bardic tales?

Designers have a responsibility to set the stage for you to become Joran the Hero, but all of the responsibility does not lie with them. MMOs have deteriorated in some ways, not wholly because of lazy design and capitalistic agendas, but also because the player base has become stale and lazy.

This is not going to become a rant promoting role playing, as I am do not role play in MMOs, but consider how many players stop and read the lore that developers code into their games, and internalize it. How many players take responsibility for their own immersion? In World of Warcraft, what percentage of players have scrolling quest text turned off and simply click accept, alt-tab, read allakhazam for the sekrets and then power level right over the storyline? Is any title out there different?

Developers do need to take ownership of their game content and the storyline that it represents. I have been quite vocal on my appreciation of the lore Blizzard has put into The Burning Crusade, and my thoughts on the epic lack of immersion in Vanguard are no great secrets, but it needs to be taken to the next level for a game to be truly revolutionary. But lets say they do... what then? Is dynamic spawns or epic story going to change the power leveller in each of us? Are we going to chortle a hearty battle shout and leap into the fray, or are we going to CC the adds, single pull the boss, loot the quest item and run like hell to get our 10K xp and shiny new trinket?

The Burning Crusade has offered me plenty of good lore and I read the quests. I have even started writing an epic player fiction tale based on my wife & I's adventures. I refuse to be Cyndre the 234,543rd Warlock on the 47th Server. I am Cyndre Shadowsoul, the tormented hero, and my adventures are EPIC!

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