Thursday, May 27, 2010

SW: TOR - How I would approach it if I were Bioware

There has been some talk on different blogs about the upcoming Star Wars MMO.  The overall concern is that Bioware has been on record as describing the upcoming game as a "storyline" RPG similar to what they have done in the single-player versions.

The thought here is that a "story" is only temporary and doesn't work well in an MMO.  After all, what does a player do when the story ends?

Valid concern.

As I wrote on Syncaine's blog today, I think if I were Bioware, my focus as a developer would be on setting up some methodology that would allow me to quickly and easily build out lots of content.

Specifically, some sort of story "toolkit" that content managers could use to create new content.  Notice that I didn't say content developers but content managers.

In my mind, that's the key.  This "toolkit" needs to be easy to use and not require a lot of hardcoding development on the part of the content manager.  They simply write the questlines, provide the NPC interaction dialog, work with voice actors, and then choose the locations, monsters, items and such that the player will deal with in their "adventure".

In a way, this isn't any different than the "Map Editor" toolkit we saw for Warcraft 3 or other similar types of things.  Heck, I even recall a Dungeon Contstuction Kit on my old Apple II (or maybe it was on the Commodore 64?).

The point being is that the only way that I see "story" driven content working in an MMO is if there are LOTS and LOTS of stories.

And the only way to do that is to make it easy to CREATE the stories themselves.  And that means giving the people who will be creating this content simple, easy-to-use tools in order to create it.

Now, this might make for some "cookie-cutter" adventures and might not be the MMO that I want to play, but I think there is a market for it.  As I wrote on Syncaine's blog, just think of all the people that mindlessly complete the same Daily Quests day-after-day.


tim said...

I thought SW:TOR was going to have player-created content in the form of holograms. I can't seem to find the article where I originally read about it, so I may be wrong.

Assuming I'm right, wouldn't it solve the concern?

sid67 said...

Player created is certainly a good way to keep people involved. The problem is that you can't rely on it too heavily because most player created content is crap.

The Map Editor in WC3 is a great example. Some really excellent map mods (like DOA) were shared but MOST of them were badly done.

That said, as an addon author myself, I'm firmly in the player created content is good camp.

Klepsacovic said...

Rather than player-created, how about AI-created based on player actions over the server? If the Sith seem to be tearing through their leveling or end-game (if they add on) or whatever, Jedi-aligned NPCs would add more quests to fight the Sith, and the reverse. Neutral NPCs might shift focus to trade more with one faction or another, leading to faction NPCs adding quests to bully/convince them to switch back.

Most of this wouldn't be an overarching story, but it would be directly relevant to what is happening in the world an could even be tuned to give an advantage to a losing faction to even things out.