[MUD-Dev] RE:

Sellers Sellers
Wed Nov 28 14:16:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Jeff Freeman wrote:
>> From: Sellers, Mike [mailto:msellers at origin.ea.com]
 
>> No, these games (The Sims in particular) succeed because of their
>> story.
 
> Erm... but they don't HAVE stories, the Sims in particular.

The game as shipped does not contain a pre-determined story.
However, the game succeeds precisely because of the ability of
players to experience stories within it -- check out thesims.com,
there are literally *thousands* of stories told there within the
game.

This is a good example of one new way (by no means the only one) of
how we need to conceptualize story: even though The Sims does not
have a packaged storyline, the players walk away having experienced
a story.  That more than anything is what has made The Sims the
largest selling PC game *EVER*.

> I'm all for games that let players create their own stories while
> doing stuff in the game.  What strikes me as a terrible idea is
> the notion that we should be crafting these stories and shipping
> them to the players, then stomping all over the story that the
> players would be creating, if our story wasn't getting in their
> way, in order to shove our story down their throats.

Well yeah, when you put it that way... telling the players, "stop
making up stories, that's our jobs!" is pretty stupid.  But like I
said before, I think we're taking a very narrow view of the story
experience.  I think focusing on the experience the player has is a
lot more fruitful then focusing on the form or mechanics of the
story creation (though that has its place too).

>>> All the people playing multiplayer FPS fragfest type games.
  
>> Yeah, that's probably the biggest non-storied crowed, along with
>> sports games.
 
> That's a great analogy.  There's a "story" in the playing of
> football - several ministories each week and a season-long plot
> that climaxes with the Superbowl.  The mechanics of the game,
> alone, create that story.

I think that's a valuable analogy to consider.  One big thing it's
missing is being re-tellable.  A strong story can be re-told to
someone who wasn't there to experience it, but reviewing the
football season isn't too exciting for most people.  But still I
think this is something to think about.


>>> All the people playing AC, UO, EQ, Lineage, AO, etc.
  
>> Except that the people who made AC, UO, EQ, etc., will all tell
>> you their game *does* have story in it. :)

> The ones they make themselves - the ones created by the mechanics
> of the system itself.  The XFL-type developer-creafted story that
> tries to get thrown in as an added bonus is the story the players
> don't care about - the one I (and Dave Rickey, I'd guess) are
> saying is A Bad Thing.

The developer-crafted stories in EQ and AC (at least) pretty well
suck.  They have little impact on the states or goals in the
players' heads.  They affect their actual play little if at all.

At the same time, the players' "stories" really don't qualify
either.  Ever had your eyes glaze over when some enthusiastic D&D
player just had to tell you about how his dark elf solved the puzzle
and saved the town by killing the dragon after figuring out its
weakness for swamp moss and firing the magic arrow of... well, you
get the idea: a series of events is not a story, and recounting
those events can be terminally boring.  A series of events about
someone you care about is also not a story, even if that person has
otherwise "heroic" attributes.  These things (like the NFL season,
say) can be engaging while you're experiencing them, but lifeless
afterward.

The point about having story in MMPs is not just to say, "there, we
did it!"  The point (for me anyway) is to leverage forms of
communication that have been shown to be powerful for thousands of
years (i.e., various forms of story and myth) to make the games more
engaging and more durable for many more people than play them now.


Mike Sellers
 
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