Home > MMO Games > I don’t care about the loot

I don’t care about the loot

July 15, 2009

Recently I had a look at a SciFi MMO that just started its open beta. Not a big-name game, but I was curious about the setting and played around with it a little bit. It was fairly ok from the first view, although not spectacular.

But what really made me a bit sad was reading about the game on the web site. There was really no info on backstory, why people were in this setting in the first place and what perhaps could be the motivations. The only information was around, game mechanics – the kind of units you can play, type of weapons, different skills and different areas. There was no mentioning why certain areas were there.

For the mobs there were descriptions of normal, elite and boss mobs and that there were better loot and reards from bosses etc. Perhaps not all info was listed, but certainly a substantial amount.

This pretty much killed my interest. If the creators of the game just describes the game in the form of mechanics and items, why should I bother? There is not really and story or background that fills a prominent spot here. With a lot of the info in place already directly on the web site there is perhaps not much to find out and discover on your own. I can of course just ignore the info on the web site, but if this is the type of info that developers want a new player to find and look at, it is probably not a game for me.

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Categories: MMO Games
  1. July 15, 2009 at 12:41

    Unfortunately, most players don’t care about the lore and those of us that care about such things get called “fanboys” or “purists”.

    When LotRO launched with a “magic” class, I threw a fit. Everyone called me a “Tolkien fanboy”. My point was, magic is not part of every day Lord of the Rings and should be treated as such in a game based on LotR.

    The whole reasoning I got from Turbine is that they didn’t want to have a game that was “unfamiliar” to the casual LotR fans and supposedly casual LotR fans expect to be great wizards on day one 😦

    Good Lore and reasoning, IMHO, can make for great game mechanics. We just don’t see it because its harder to develop and a potential risk.

  2. Tesh
    July 15, 2009 at 16:44

    The shallow focus on mechanics (the “game”) over lore (the “world”) is one of the big problems with the MMO industry at the moment. It’s also a curious thing to focus on, since very few people are bringing anything new to the table in terms of mechanics. Most are just aping WoW or EQ, banking on setting to distract people from the fact that they are just doing “more of the same” but without Blizzard’s level of polish.

    Bleh.

  3. Bhagpuss
    July 15, 2009 at 19:18

    Until someone works out how to use the MMO format for narrative purposes with something approaching the accessibility and effectiveness of a comic book, let alone a novel or a movie, “lore” and storyline are going to be very much relegated to backdrop status.

    It’s quite possible to embed enough story/lore/narrative in the warp and weft of a virtual world to allow active, motivated, interested, literate players to discover it organically. On the other hand, almost every other entertainment medium does those things faster, more smoothly and more familiarly.

    And if you produce software called “games” you will attract “gamers”, not viewers, or readers.

    Which isn’t to say it can’t, or won’t, be done. Bioware seem to think they can do it. But it’s a lot easier to do the mechanics than tell a story that will hold the interest of the audience that can readily be induced to play through an MMO to experience it.

    • Tesh
      July 15, 2009 at 22:06

      That’s because the MMO mainstream design mindset is antithetical to narrative. It’s excellent at creating lore and settings, but stories, well… MMOs are ostensibly about telling stories in fantastic worlds, not playing through scripts that are put to shame by single player RPGs.

      Bioware *can* tell great stories, but the MMO genre isn’t the best palette for them. It’s like trying to read a great Choose Your Own Adventure story (never fine literature) with hundreds of your best friends telling you which way to go. There is no dynamic content that can make playing with other people meaningful, it’s just your own path through some variables.

  4. July 15, 2009 at 20:47

    I would not expect every MMO game to have an extensive and well thought out backstory and setting and that there are extensive stories running through the whole game.

    I would however expect MMOs to provide some element of defining a setting or backstory and that the environments have been designed consistent with that in mind. And at least provide something around that for players to absorb or ignore.

    Not everyone will care that much or dive deep into it; not everyone will jump head first into some kind of roleplay or fantasy play. Not everyone is the same. But provide something more than just material for playing the numbers.

  5. July 16, 2009 at 03:51

    I kind of agree with you Sente, although if I was buying a new game atm, I’d want to know what made it different from the all rest. I wouldn’t want to buy another clone. A back story is great to help you get into the game, but not to help you choose it. Some people expect certain things to be in a game, and if they don’t see it up front, they won’t buy in.

  6. July 16, 2009 at 04:59

    You are right and I do not mean that other information should be excluded; there has to be a balance. Just setting/story information without anything else would not be good either.

    If I want to go and see a movie I would like to know what it is all about, what kind of movie it is as well as have some idea of which actors, director and producer has been involved. But I do not need a list of all the staff involved, what they are wearing during the movie, what they got paid and parts of the manuscript.

    I do think that setting and backstory information do has its place among other pieces of information – without telling the whole story.

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