(See my intro here for the first part of this series!)
Story is any narrative in a game, whether overt or hinted at.
What do I enjoy experiencing in a game world’s story?
- Small scale stories
- Every creature, NPC, being, or place should have a story. What is their purpose? What drives them? What is his/her/its history? What are their goals? There doesn’t have to be miles of backstory, but purpose is important because it adds realism. What can the players do to affect the world on the small scale?
- Large scale stories
- What is happening in the world? Who are the major players? What is happening geographically? Think: factions, wars/peace, famine/plenty, disease/harmony. What can the players do to affect the world on the larger scale?
- Think ruins, ancient civilizations, dungeons with puzzles, riddles, tricks and traps. A sense of wonder and curiosity is key for me to really get into a game, or a setting. I want to always be asking questions and searching for the answers.
- No god-complex/hero-complex
- I don’t enjoy games that shove my character into the role of being THE hero. Not A hero, because heroism can come in many forms, but THE sole hero of the world/universe. I hate this more than anything, because it ruins the realism of the world. I don’t ever expect to be the savior. I’d like to help bring about real, permanent changes, but I seriously dislike cut-scene, railroad-story games that make my character out to be the greatest hero the world has ever seen.
- Choices matter (at least on an individual level)
- This sort of ties in a few notes from the above sections. I want my choices in the game to matter, at the very least to my individual character. If I choose to help a farmer with a wolf problem, it would be awesome if he sold me goods at a discounted rate. If I choose to support Faction A, I expect that opposing Faction B is now distrustful of, or outright hunting me. When I finish helping, or destroying, an area, I want that choice, that “work” to mean something in a lasting way. I want the area to be changed because of my actions.
- Quests are more than experience points
- I understand that the “kill 10 rats” quest has a purpose in gaming. But I hate it. I want quests to be more than dialogue you click through without reading, and empty tasks that you complete just to level up. I think Guild Wars 2 was on the right track when they replaced traditional questing with the “heart” system. Each area had issues that were plaguing it, or people who needed tasks done. There was some text you could read if the task wasn’t immediately intuitive, and there was usually an NPC that would reward you with some new gear, or items to help you during your leveling when you completed the task. I want to take this base system and go even further with it. I want the quests that you do for the farmers and villagers to actually have a lasting presence in the game. Even if this means that it takes hundreds of players weeks or months of working together to make a difference, I want to see it. I want to feel like what I did as a player actually mattered.
Want to keep reading on this topic? Click the links below to navigate to the different sections of this series: