How many people these days actually end up reading the story lines that cross their screens when they play. I do know of a few, they write about their adventures in depth so that the reader feels almost a part of the adventure, and it’s a great thing to be a part of. They make their games seem exciting – not only because of the player content (ie: pvp, instances, dungeons) but because of the actual base story behind the game.
When we play these games we all like feeling as though our characters are some how making a difference. That we’re affecting (and perhaps changing) the world. That we’re heroes. For myself it depends on who I’m playing with and what game I’m playing. Obviously if I’m by myself (which happens quite a bit, I’ll admit now I like my alone time) I have a lot more time to read the text, to enjoy the story and appreciate what work the developers must have put into it. If I’m in a group, I don’t exactly have the time – though I do try to go back later and read what I’ve missed if possible, or go through my logs to read it. I don’t enjoy being dragged through a game because even though the quests may not differ from one I’ve already played – the story typically does. It’s so easy to just clicklclickclick your way through the speech bubbles or text windows or whatever and get to the end of the game realizing that you know NOTHING about the world you’re playing in.
There are an incredible amount of books that players can read in EQ2 as house items. Over 300 actually, I believe the last count was some where over or just under 400. Each one has a story, that someone took the time to write. Some are of course better then others, that can’t really be helped.
So what was the point of that long ramble? I’ve been doing diplomacy in Vanguard off and on, trying to reach level 10 in the last sphere so that Kasul and I can head to greener pastures (and perhaps meet up with Tipa for some adventures). Each quest is filled with a story line that I actually feel a part of. That the actions I take through the quests actually mean something to the little village. Of course, I realize the story doesn’t really change and that every player out there is experiencing the exact same story – but it’s still very involving for me and I love it.
I love the diplomacy game in Vanguard. Sure, it could have been implimented better, but I think this sphere is often over looked because at times it can be quite a grind. If you’re working on presence you some times need to parle with a particular faction for hours on end just to raise it. Their stories don’t change, so it becomes a random clicking of cards, you already know what you need to play to win, just like the time before that and the time before that.
When you’re working on the quest lines however and progressing down them, the stories are always changing, your interaction with the npc is changing, the rewards are changing. You see progress, not only in the story being revealed to you but in your experience, gear, and little trinkets to sell along the way.
I love these ideas, the little bits of ‘busy work’ that players are offered in between whatever their ‘main’ goal for a game is. I think they’re also important. Very few people want to do ONE thing ALL of the time that they game. Especially if they’re serious about that game and invest a lot of hours into it. I don’t want to quest ALL the time, I don’t want to pvp ALL the time, I don’t want to craft ALL the time. So enabling your players to have alternative means of progressing their characters – even if it’s just through a story line card game – is really nice to have and something that I think is at times not given enough credit. Not that I want to have to progress my character in 50 ways just to be considered ‘end game’ or consider the game ‘compelted’ for me, but one or two alternative things to do is great.