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Lore - What differentiates the good games from the great

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Doctor Tyche
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Lore - What differentiates the good games from the great

Once again, I have run into someone who dismisses the need for lore of any sort for a role-playing game. "Players will ignore it" is a phrase I have heard so often, I tune it out. So, I've collected my thoughts on the subject, and feel the need to explain why it is that MWM has pushed to produce a rich backstory and history for our world.

In its simplest state, Lore shapes the world. Did you know the backstory behind the original Donkey Kong? Most people do not. However, it is what shaped the game into what it was. Mario mistreated his pet gorilla, Donkey Kong, who then kidnapped his girlfriend. A simple story. But that story is what then gave the game's designers the flavor for making a coherent product. Games which fail to keep a coherent vision fail to work, mechanically. And the best way to maintain a vision is through the oldest tool mankind has - the story.

It should surprise noone then that the largest games in history are role-playing games, games built around the story. While some can argue for simulations, they simply do not have the staying power of the story driven titles. How many hours have been spent lost in Clouds pursuit of Sepiroth in Final Fantasy VII? How many people have been entranced by the view as they exited that first cave in Skyrim? Who has not had their hearts brought to pounding crescendo as they defeated that first asylum demon in Dark Souls?

Are there Madden NFL conventions? How about Microsoft Flight Simulator or Sim City? But there are conventions and gatherings and more for a variety of RPG's, around the world, every year. People become emotionally engaged, and seek out those who have shared that experience. This is the core of the MMO, the heart of our entire genre, the story, the lore, shared and enjoyed by all.

Our ambitions, hopes, and dreams, are huge, I will admit that. As I get frustrated over weird AI, compile problems, code so fragile at times it feels like even a moved parameter could cause the entire thing to fail, I go to our internal wiki, and just read what has been written and it helps push past those problems. We all have a story to tell, and our goal is to give you the world in which to tell yours. We are not making the City of Titans story, only setting the stage.

Ultimately, this is your story.

Technical Director

Read enough Facebook and you have to make Sanity Checks. I guess FB is the Great Old One of the interent these days... - Beamrider

Huckleberry
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Thank you.

Thank you.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Empyrean
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As you well know--or else
Huckleberry wrote:

Thank you.

This. Emphatically.

As you well know, Doc--or else City of Titans would not have made it this far--an important part of being a leader is really listening to criticism, and then carefully choosing which to heed and which to ignore.

Everything you've outlined above is cogent, obviously heartfelt, and very true of human culture and of the human heart.

It must be a story based game for all the reasons you state above. It must be. And the key to us telling our own story is a lore and a world that is rich and alive enough that there is space for us to build upon and grow.

Obviously that does not mean that it isn't just as important for it to play well--I'll use The Secret World as an example. Brilliant story, but an execution that keeps it from being the truly great game that it could be.

And some--maybe half?--will totally or partially ignore the lore. Hell, I ran into plenty of people in City of Heroes that ignored that it was a Superhero game at all. Baffling to me, but I was glad they were there and some were really nice.

Let them play. I'm tempted to say "their loss", but, if they're behaving, having fun and supporting the game, they'll be welcome.

But, even aside from all of that, in the end, how could it possibly be a spiritual successor of City of Heroes--a game created from the love of both a deeply archetypal story-based genre and a PnP RPG that was based on it--without a truly great story?

Even if that story is "behind the scenes" for some players as it was in Donky Kong :D.

FIGHT EVIL! (or go cause trouble so the Heroes have something to do.)

Radiac
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I agree. I would also point

I agree. I would also point out, to those people who claim "nobody plays the game to read the NPC dialog text" or "nobody reads the flavor text on Magic cards" or other such assertions, that Magic: the Gathering actually made a push a few years ago to become MORE story-oriented in the sense that they knew they were a competitive game played largely by people who want to win for winning's sake, BUT they were also a fantasy intellectual property, and as such they needed give the players and the general public recognizable characters that keep recurring in order to help gain better recognizably and grow their brand. Now, everyone can make "wizards", but WotC owns the rights to "planeswalkers" like "Jace Belleren" and "Gideon Jura" etc. When you see those characters, you immediately know where they're from.

Now, you might say "Rad, you're conflating the need for recognizable characters with the need for story. They're different." and I would reply with "What the F%%^&k are the characters actually DOING that makes me want to read/hear about them or captivates my imagination? Knitting?" Just like you can't have colorful images in a lightless dark room or sound in a vacuum with no atmosphere, you can't have characters without a story for them to participate in. They're not characters if they're not in a story. They may as well just be cardboard advertising standees or even just corporate logos at that point. Nobody wants to play a game based on the popularity of the Pep Boys, Joe Camel, and the Michelin Man, especially not so long as those figures maintain their total lack of plot, character development, and story and just remain static ad logos.

I remember a story my brother told me when he was in art school. He had a class in sequential art taught by a former comicbook artist. The guy was telling a story about how corporate execs know all about numbers, statistics, and "what sells" but don't understand why people actually buy their products on the most basic level. The story goes, the guy was in a meeting with some exec dude and a comicbook creative team (at Marvel) and the exec goes "All of our mutant/X-Men books sell really well, so why don't we just make all of the characters X-Men?" and that guy got laughed at. Then he fired the guy that laughed at his (obviously idiotic) suggestion of "make everyone X-Men and thus sell more comics". Comics tell stories. People read them to read those stories. You don't just open up a book and read "X-Men X-Men X-Men..." and say "This is BRILLIANT!!! I wanna buy 10 more of this exact book right now!" just because it screams it's name at you.

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

Lin Chiao Feng
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In hindsight, one of the

In hindsight, one of the biggest problems with Tabula Rasa was its lore. It's not just that it didn't really go anywhere. It's that it made it really hard for anyone to figure out where to go when expanding the game.

"Aliens came and destroyed all of Earth. You're a Special and we're sending you to an alien world so you can get much better and come back and save Earth someday," is just loaded with monkey wrenches. Aliens crossed the gulf between the stars and they're going to be stopped by you throwing magic based on an ancient alien alphabet? Hell, I want to know where our food and ammo is coming from right now and why it's not at risk. If our gear is so powerful, why didn't we use it to defend Earth in the first place, and what is to stop them from just dropping nukes on our beachhead?

To say nothing of the intro video showing atmospheric craft (yeah, I know, assets they had on hand, yadda yadda) among others flying through space toward Earth.

They would have done much better to set up like Stargate SG-1 where you're just a secret force off-world, fighting there so the aliens don't get here, and gradually raised the stakes over time. It's much less constricting, and it has a clear vision of where to expand. They could also have looked at Babylon 5 for how to handle "ancient lost race of superbeings".

That said, the players to whom story does not matter are the players who will hit the level cap in a week and either complain or leave or both, no matter how long the game takes to develop. Let them complain and let them go. This is not a good home for them, and there are many Asian grindfests they'll love.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

Cobalt Azurean
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Agreed.

Agreed.

My wife doesn't particularly play for content, and the same could be said for a lot of my friends. They just don't view video games as the medium for it. They enjoy this book series and that book series but really only play video games for the funsies. I, on the other hand, love me some engaging and thoughtful story-driven content. If I truly enjoy a game, I have a hard time finishing it. I'll drag my feet and grind out some more levels or some pointless side quest before knuckling down and fighting that last fight. Because I know that when I'm done, it'll be over. And no one wants a good story to ever really end.

Thank you for actually putting in the effort and not just phoning it in like so many other games do these day. Gear =/= content.

Keep up the good work.

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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

you can't have characters without a story for them to participate in. They're not characters if they're not in a story. They may as well just be cardboard advertising standees or even just corporate logos at that point. Nobody wants to play a game based on the popularity of the Pep Boys, Joe Camel, and the Michelin Man, especially not so long as those figures maintain their total lack of plot, character development, and story and just remain static ad logos.

This is an interesting point.

When I first started playing City of Heroes, That's all the iconic characters were to me. They were just cardboard cutouts. They were just names and costumes that I was supposed to admire, respect or be in awe of. But they were just NPCs to me.

It wasn't until I started doing some of the higher level missions and task forces that I started seeing members of the Freedom Phalanx in stories and getting real identities.

If I could give MWM loremeisters just one item of feedback, it would be to involve player characters in the stories of the iconic characters earlier in the game.

example: I think a low level mission where we get caught up in a time loop in which some villain wants to kill one of the iconic heroes of the game right when that iconic hero is starting out as a low level too. So we fight alongside this no-name iconic character who then chooses his or her identity at the end of the mission and then we bounce back to our own time and are greeted by the same iconic character now, who knows who we are and thanks us. That, to me, would be a great story that instantly invests me in the lore of the world, all while just having fun playing the game.

P.S. I thought City of Villains did a much better job of introducing us to the heads of Arachnos. Each of them had a different personality and style and it carried all the way through the game.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
Lin Chiao Feng
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On the other hand,

On the other hand, familiarity breeds contempt. When playing Tera, the plot that the different quest arcs followed seemed to be chasing the Title Hero Angst Boy and cleaning up his messes. It felt like riding on a rail, getting dragged along by the actions of a highly skilled yet impulsive, erratic, and foolish NPC.

"We had the element of surprise, but then you yelled your attack."

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

Deathwatch101
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I think having encounters

I think having encounters with the main heros/villains would be interesting but you have to do it carefully, rather remember at low level in most games your pretty much a slightly stronger pleb.

Your far more likely to come across them either saving your hide or the ones ordering people from the shadows that your interacting with at that level.

Radiac
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On the OTHER other hand, the

On the OTHER other hand, the impulsiveness and foolishness of the NPCs was the draw for some CoX missions (I'm looking at you, Faultline and Fusionette.... and Dr. Aeon... and pretty much all of the Alignment System Players Theater Troupe, except Dillo, he had mad skillz, *hoorb*).

I myself didn't read the NPC dialog as much as one probably should in CoX. It doesn't help that I read slow and the party is always wanting to click powers and defeat mobs. That said, I still think the story line is totally necessary. I just would prefer they don't kill of off main characters and then have them still standing there handing out missions.

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

Cinnder
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Well said, Doc! Have you

Well said, Doc! Have you considered publishing this somewhere outside this forum?

I definitely appreciate story. In CoX I read the text every time I did a mission with every new character over my 7 years of playing. In other games, I find I get bored really quickly when there is no story or a really weak one. Good story and characters will even push me to finish a single-player game where I have significant problems with the game mechanics.

In order to add even more value to the stories in CoT, I have 2 suggestions:

1) For 'big team' content (the taskforce-like stuff) please give us a way to read the story text afterwards. That kind of content tends to move too quickly for reading. Hmmm...as Radiac mentions, this can even happen with regular missions, so maybe this would be a good thing to have for all content. Especially if we'll be given choices in missions -- it would be great to be able to read the path you picked afterwards.

2) Avoid Quest Hub design. This is something I never realised till Darth Fez mentioned it, but the way contacts in CoX were acquired in a chain and handed out their missions one at a time -- combined with the fact that CoX kept the number of simultaneous missions to a minimum -- meant that each story arc had significance to your character. In Quest Hub games -- even ones that are well written -- I find I lose track of the stories when I grab 12 of them at once in a hub. At that point, they change from important tasks to just symbols on a map I need to find and click.

Spurn all ye kindle.

Planet10
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Cinnder wrote:
Cinnder wrote:

2) Avoid Quest Hub design. This is something I never realised till Darth Fez mentioned it, but the way contacts in CoX were acquired in a chain and handed out their missions one at a time -- combined with the fact that CoX kept the number of simultaneous missions to a minimum -- meant that each story arc had significance to your character. In Quest Hub games -- even ones that are well written -- I find I lose track of the stories when I grab 12 of them at once in a hub. At that point, they change from important tasks to just symbols on a map I need to find and click.

I agree with this for the most part, but there can be a situation where this could serve the narrative. When there is an urgent need to stall/repel an attack, a NPC could do something like:

Concurrent Quest #1 -> Repel the assault at point A
CQ#2 -> Save or protect as many of your fellow heroes (NPC heroes too) as possible at Point A
CQ#3 -> Evacuate the civilians at Point A
CQ#4 -> Launch a counter assault at the enemy from Point A

If all of those concurrent quests are on a timer, you can accomplish parts of each of those goals or focus on just one or two. Now if the rewards system grades you on how well you completed those goals it could be remembered as a glorious moment (ignoring the other aspects that you were not involved in) or a moment of anguish where nothing ended particularly well. I am not advocating punishing the player, but allowing the player to craft their backstory as they play.

Planet10
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Cinnder wrote:
Cinnder wrote:

1) For 'big team' content (the taskforce-like stuff) please give us a way to read the story text afterwards. That kind of content tends to move too quickly for reading. Hmmm...as Radiac mentions, this can even happen with regular missions, so maybe this would be a good thing to have for all content. Especially if we'll be given choices in missions -- it would be great to be able to read the path you picked afterwards.

Being able to review lore content after you complete it is an interesting idea. It could be an after action report, a news story, a first hand account from hero Y, a Professor X reading a henchmen's mind, etc. Essentially each form of the story after the event happens is a semi-flawed or biased account of the events that occurred. If you want the unvarnished truth, you go back to the contact and read the text or trigger the cut scene, etc.

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Quote:
Quote:

Lore shapes the world

The first couple characters I created in CoH were semi throw away characters. I wanted to learn how to play the game, but at the same time I paid attention to the quest storylines and the background lore. Understanding the general framework of the world lore allowed me to create new characters that "lived" in that world. I could use my own character's narrative to sorta fill in the blanks and at the same time not develop incongruities.

The thing that World of Warcraft had was an existing world of characters to base a story upon. They had books to expand lore. They had stand alone games that basically operated in the same world space. there was a bit of a framework for people walking into the game and at the same time the quest text reinforced the lore (and explained parts to new players). I think it will be important for MWM to create a good framework for the world lore and make it accessible to the public. Establish what was going on in the world (or country or state) in the months leading up to the time where a character first appears in the game. Write a series of short stories about the major NPC characters, major conflicts or battles, a formative moment for a NPC hero. These short stories can take several forms, some more accurate (and brutally honest) than others. It could be a newspaper report about a showdown in the streets. It could be a memoir. It could be a dossier and an after action report. It could be a Hollywood movie.

Mixed media could go a long ways towards establishing backstory. Hearing someone talk to you in a video can have a different effect than just reading text on a page. I read Lord of the Rings before the movies were released. I absorbed the story. My mind painted the picture of the scenes described in the book. However, after I saw the movies, each time I read the books I would hear the actor's voices when the characters spoke. That made the experience richer. When I played SWTOR at release, I would wait to listen to the voice overs for everything. It made the experience richer by setting the tone. I would like to see some sort of voice overs for NPC heroes so when they expound somewhere I can 'read' it in their voice. I'd love CoT even more if they integrated voice overs into the game.

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While there are certainly

While there are certainly people who will play and ignore the backstory and such, there are more who will be interested to some degree or other and at least have it in mind, if not take it into account with their characters' histories.

I do hope that perhaps the main NPC characters will be something more than a stationary quest contact. While the COH main characters were involved in some missions, they also just stood there doing nothing during alien invasions and the like. That could have been remedied to an extent by having them inside a HQ building or something like that, instead of standing 20' from other heroes being killed and not moving an inch. That would help to an extent with making things more real, imo.

(insert pithy comment here)

Lin Chiao Feng
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Planet10 wrote:
Planet10 wrote:

Concurrent Quest #1 -> Repel the assault at point A
CQ#2 -> Save or protect as many of your fellow heroes (NPC heroes too) as possible at Point A
CQ#3 -> Evacuate the civilians at Point A
CQ#4 -> Launch a counter assault at the enemy from Point A

That's not really what is meant by "quest hub" design, though. What you've described is practically one big quest with multiple simultaneous subtasks. Whether it's implemented as that or as separate quests is a difference in bookkeeping.

A quest hub is a single small area with numerous quests, all or almost all of which are independent of each other save for starting location. The motivation to just grab them all and then work out the most efficient route for all of them is to minimize travel time, since traveling in most of these games is not fun. So you get to Rabbitville for the first time, look for everyone with a ? over their head, wind up with quests to kill 50 kobolds, steal Farmer Johnson's backhoe, harvest 20 carrots from a field full of tarantulas and unexploded mortars that look a lot like carrots, make some vegetarian chimichangas, and find someone's lost cow. And off you go to be some lagomorph's Uber.

CoX avoided a lot of that "unfun" with travel powers, of course, but most importantly, the contacts were dispersed and weren't necessarily near whatever they needed done.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

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I liked how CoX did it in the

I liked how CoX did it in the early going. If you wanted to do a given TF, you went and hung around near that TF's NPC mission-giver. PUGs formed. Fun was had. GW2 has this for the dungeons. Each dungeon has a front door in the outside world and a NPC to talk to about forming a team and going in. Also, the Fractals, which are similar, are all given by an NPC named Dessa in the Fractal lobby.

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

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Lin Chiao Feng wrote:
Lin Chiao Feng wrote:

On the other hand, familiarity breeds contempt. When playing Tera, the plot that the different quest arcs followed seemed to be chasing the Title Hero Angst Boy and cleaning up his messes. It felt like riding on a rail, getting dragged along by the actions of a highly skilled yet impulsive, erratic, and foolish NPC.
"We had the element of surprise, but then you yelled your attack."

... Tera had a plot? I didn't notice, honestly. I did enjoy the story in Rift, though.

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One thing I hated that CoX

One thing I hated that CoX did were those kill quota missions where you had to go to Steel Canyon and defeat 20 Tsoo or whatever. Then you get there and there are hardly any Tsoo on the whole map, while Talos and IP were crawling with them. You'd be like "Why can't I just go someplace where I KNOW there are Tsoo and defeat them there?"

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

One thing I hated that CoX did were those kill quota missions where you had to go to Steel Canyon and defeat 20 Tsoo or whatever. Then you get there and there are hardly any Tsoo on the whole map, while Talos and IP were crawling with them. You'd be like "Why can't I just go someplace where I KNOW there are Tsoo and defeat them there?"

Because it helps you find the costume shop!

(insert pithy comment here)

Lin Chiao Feng
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Dark Ether wrote:
Dark Ether wrote:

Because it helps you find the costume shop!

This.

I have no idea why.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

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Going back to the "no mission

Going back to the "no mission hub" concept, which I agree with, let's not forget that his is a world where:
1. people have cell phones and other communication devices
2. players can be expected to have travel powers and.or other ways to get around town (train, bus, etc)

That being the case, there's no need for grouping all the NPC mission givers in one small hamlet like fantasy games do.

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

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Cinnder wrote:
Cinnder wrote:

2) Avoid Quest Hub design. This is something I never realised till Darth Fez mentioned it, but the way contacts in CoX were acquired in a chain and handed out their missions one at a time -- combined with the fact that CoX kept the number of simultaneous missions to a minimum -- meant that each story arc had significance to your character. In Quest Hub games -- even ones that are well written -- I find I lose track of the stories when I grab 12 of them at once in a hub. At that point, they change from important tasks to just symbols on a map I need to find and click.

I agree with this completely. The more missions you load up on, the less compelling or important each individual one is to you. Best to keep it to a minimum like CoX did.

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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

Going back to the "no mission hub" concept, which I agree with, let's not forget that his is a world where:
1. people have cell phones and other communication devices
That being the case, there's no need for grouping all the NPC mission givers in one small hamlet like fantasy games do.

This was something that I really enjoyed about CoX. Sure, sometimes it sucked having to wait to get that trust from someone before they gave up their cell, but the knowledge that I would no longer have to run across the zone (or zones) to talk to them was glorious.

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Besides character level, it

Besides character level, it will be interesting to see how alignment, reputation and whether we call ourselves heroes, villians or rogues will play a role in which missions we are offered.


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Thank you for stating this,

Thank you for stating this, Doc. This is precisely why I have the most confidence in this game of all of the successor project right now. I play a game to be a part of a story, a part of a world, a part of the lives of its characters. City of Heroes was so compelling because the world it created was STEEPED in lore, and meaning, and life, and heart. Every square inch, it seemed, of Paragon City had a piece of lore to it. Not only that, but Paragon City bore the scars of superheroes' MISTAKES, and of the damage that villains could do, in the form of Faultline, The Hollows, Boomtown, etc. Exploration badges (something I hope will be in CoT in some form or another) were a great way of exploring your home, and understanding more about it, and becoming more invested.

These are the things that make you fall in love with a game, make it MORE than just a game. But they are also the more subtle elements of the game; the things you fall in love with without knowing it, the things that you miss most when that beloved world is gone. It's why I'm content to log into Paragon Chat, which is a shell of what City of Heroes was, devoid of combat and enemy NPCs, rather than go into one of the other same ol same ol MMOs that are out on the market. Just the memory of the world, and of the story and its characters, is enough for me.

The only other game since CoH that has captured me has been The Secret World and that is, surprise surprise, thanks to its story, and itscharacters.

To know how much you've put into this game already, even what we can't see yet, it fills me with determination and hope. These kinds of threads remind me why I chose to kickstart this effort, and why I am so excited about it.

Cheering for you all.

Name: Safehouse
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Just to go back to the

Just to go back to the working story characters into the main plot early. I'd like to offer my suggestion on that. In my two of my stories I have experienced characters tagging along with low level or new characters in a semi exemplar capacity. In one story a high level character plays the role of mentor and helps a new hero learn how to fight. This rolls over into a situation where the new character is thrust into a fight where he is massively outmatched and his mentor has to come save him.

I think you could do something very similar where a random World Story Arc Character drops into a early (sub level 10?) mission as a sponsor/evaluator/trainer. Maybe as a final mission before earning a "hero card/license." They take you on a street patrol and things go fine until the ambush of the WSAC and suddenly you are fighting alongside this major character. A fight that illustrates just how BA WSACs can be compared to newbie heroes. To bookend that another mission, at max level, where the WSAC calls you in for an operation as an equal recognizing your achievements. It could be really engaging and give life to the "cardboard cutouts" Of course this mission could vary depending on which character a player gets. It works equally well for redside. A new recruit with lots of promise is brought before the Don for review and during their interview the CPD starts a raid. Maybe the PC is caught and is broken out of jail by some of the WSACs on the red side with lines like "The Don thinks you were worth the effort, I hope he's right" And then you get to see them in action at full potential. Of course you could always optout if your personal story line doesn't quite work for those two cases.

I had a friend who bought all the COH comics so I knew a lot of the characters from there but rarely recognized them in game till much later on. I think COT can follow a similar path. And maybe they already are with Hijinx. I'm not too worried with them turning into cardboard cutouts. I absolutely agree that this isn't just an MMOG it's an MMORPG. While the story isn't a requirement it does provide a lot of binding glue. If it were just a PNP game you could work out with the other players some world elements and work with those without the guiding background but here where you have hundreds of players the story is important for cohesiveness among all those people.

/ramble

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Grimfox wrote:
Grimfox wrote:

I think you could do something very similar where a random World Story Arc Character drops into a early (sub level 10?) mission as a sponsor/evaluator/trainer. Maybe as a final mission before earning a "hero card/license." They take you on a street patrol and things go fine until the ambush of the WSAC and suddenly you are fighting alongside this major character. A fight that illustrates just how BA WSACs can be compared to newbie heroes. To bookend that another mission, at max level, where the WSAC calls you in for an operation as an equal recognizing your achievements.

Right.
And the dialogue could go a long way towards making the character feel powerful, like they've come a long way and have earned it.

Mission dialogue, or dialogue during a boss fight by the Iconic character like "Good one, you didn't hit like that the last time I saw you fight!" or "Nice Heals. Thanks, you really saved my butt there."


I like to take your ideas and supersize them. This isn't criticism, it is flattery. I come with nothing but good will and a spirit of team-building. If you take what I write any other way, that is probably just because I wasn't very clear.
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Safehouse wrote:
Safehouse wrote:

The only other game since CoH that has captured me has been The Secret World and that is, surprise surprise, thanks to its story, and itscharacters.

FYSA: http://massivelyop.com/2017/02/27/the-secret-world-is-being-relaunched-in-2017/

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Cobalt Azurean wrote:
Cobalt Azurean wrote:

Safehouse wrote:
The only other game since CoH that has captured me has been The Secret World and that is, surprise surprise, thanks to its story, and itscharacters.
FYSA: http://massivelyop.com/2017/02/27/the-secret-world-is-being-relaunched-in-2017/

Well... My situational awareness certainly was not tuned for that. What an unexpected development.

I'm choosing to be hopeful about it, even as some of that sounds like investor language for "F2P is on its way." I hope that that feeling is wrong though.

I'll be watching this news closely going forward, given i've come to be quite attached to TSW. Thanks for the heads up!

Name: Safehouse
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While I agree that lore is

While I agree that lore is important I offer this criticism.

The lore of City of Titans is not engaging or unique enough. The Titans, as unique as they can someday be, seem to have a 'placeholder' quality about them. This seems to be a purposeful artistic choice as if the team is saying "Anything can happen in this lore so we'll keep it bland". But story is driven by conflict, and so far I'm seeing lots of tropes that lack actual character.

Titan City is supposed to feel alive and yet I keep feeling like I'm tasting unaltered oatmeal. For example, even Metropolis has character within it. Its metropolitan yes, but it is more than that. There's industry, politics, and plenty of heroic action. Gotham city evokes character and is often seen as the best supporting character for many of the Batman themed storylines. In Marvel being a mutant has very real character defining political ramifications.

So far from the City of Titans IP and lore I just don't find the lore very defining. To me this is a weakness, and I know some disagree. In summary I love the Lore updates, but they've fallen short of making Titan City feel like a unique experience worthy of unique roleplaying

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Well, so far, I think they're

Well, so far, I think they're keeping the 'good stuff' under wraps, but, if you really want more exciting Lore about the City, why not Write some and send it in?

Be Well!
Fireheart

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Fireheart wrote:
Fireheart wrote:

Well, so far, I think they're keeping the 'good stuff' under wraps...

I kind of assumed this was the case. Also, I think it's been stated several times that they want us to mostly discover the lore ingame. That's how it was in CoH, we didn't get it all up front, we discovered it. Then maybe later someone put it all together on ParagonWiki or something.

FIGHT EVIL! (or go cause trouble so the Heroes have something to do.)

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Jay has hit upon one of the

Jay has hit upon one of the problems found in DCUO, namely that no matter what, the player's own story is forever overshadowed by the developers. We want to avoid this.

Part of the reason why we've not tightened it up is because we are 21 months from being nailed down. Tight designs leave little wiggle room at the period where you need it most, near the end. If you do it early, overshadowing becomes a default, a necessity, due to the lack of player space to work around. Playtesting by those outside of CoT is needed in order to shape that space, and allow us to then tighten up the lore around it. Otherwise, it's going to be guesswork, and unless we're incredibly lucky it is more likely we'd guess wrong.

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The city of heroes comic had

The city of heroes comic had two (early) stories that were contributed by players that always stayed with me.
One was about a young hero coming to Paragon City after surviving one of the implied battles of the Rikti invasion, losing many of her friends and comrades in the battle. For all of its simplicity (the combat was only alluded to, never shown), it was a poignant reminder of the cost of heroism, that the game itself rarely touched upon.

The other was a story of the Arachnos invasion of Paragon city, told from the point of view of a handful of heroes who were staging a last ditch effort to defend one of the hospitals as their powers were shut off.

I am hoping that City of Titans will allow that level of depth to its stories, and not just in its fanfic but in its in game stories as well.
As recent games have shown games can be used to provide deeper and more meaningful stories than 'only you can save the world'. Spec Ops: the line made players live through PTSD. The Last of Us or Life is Strange made you make meaningful decisions that haunt you after you shut off the game.
And a game about (super)heroes hopefully can do more than making the players feel powerful. Telling stories about grief, loss and facing impossible odds could be part of the experience as well, as they are equally part of what it means being a hero.

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Just as a compare and

Just as a compare and contrast sort of thing, in CoX we had many many missions from many many NPC contacts that we could solo or were able to fold into our own toon's story as a path from level 1 to the cap and beyond. In GW2, there is only ONE "personal story" arc to do in the whole game. They keep adding to it, it has choices you make along the way, it can be done differently by different toons, but it's literally like they took the tutorial and extended it up the levels all the way to the cap, then every time there was an expansion, there was a new chapter of that ONE ongoing "your story" arc. It get's to the point where you WILL attain the rank of commander in a dragon-fighting coalition called The Pact and various NPCs WILL then refer to you verbally and in text as "Commander".

The CoX approach allows us to carve out our own place in the world, and I think leaves room for me the player to save the world, etc. The GW2 approach pretty much forces that one story on everyone whether they wanted it or not and doesn't leave any room for other choices. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: I don't wanna be a Pact Commander! At least not on ALL of my characters. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

R.S.O. of Phoenix Rising

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I don't know about everyone

I don't know about everyone else, but i read comics for the characters as much as the struggle. If not more. I love finding a character i can relate to, and clinging on. Lore in comics is huge and the best games always have the best lore. Take for instance WoW. At first, it was super basic stuff, but as the decades pass the lore has become SO vital to the overall game world, it's become interwoven into the quests and in-game events incredibly deeply.

My favorite "universe" of lore is Warhammer 40k. There's literally hundreds of books and web pages filled with story that is incredibly engaging and highly entertaining. Hell the Horus Hersey, which is an event from 10,000 years ago (in time line) and they have published dozens of books on the subject. Filling in backstory and giving these legendary characters even more "humanity" makes the story incredibly deep and engaging.

If we can craft interesting stories around our characters it will keep me engaged for a very long time. One of my favorite comics as of late is/was (:() Sunstone. It's really about relationships and how challenging interpersonal relationships can be. YES, there's a lot of BDSM and the like, but i was so incredibly engaged with Ally and Lisa, and where their complicated friendship/relationship goes and the twists and turns it takes. Now i don't expect that deep story telling, but lore... a deep and personal story go a LONG way.

I'd love something that allows my character to be the center of the story (for me) and not someone just being told what to do and follow some "bigger" hero around.

basically, story is vital and extremely important.. to me at least.

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I like a rich background, but

I like a rich background, but the Lore I'm most concerned with is My Character in My story. For many of my characters, their story is location-agnostic, independent of the setting. However, others take some tidbit of the background lore, like Council/5th Column War Wolves, and imagines a story out of it, like what if one of them stayed 'sane'.

But the point of this is, for my own enjoyment, the 'Background Lore' in a game should not overwhelm the story of my character. It shouldn't force my character to do something that's not in their nature. Something that's not in MY nature.

So, give me Lore! But let me use it to add color to my own story.

Be Well!
Fireheart

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It's an interesting dichotomy

It's an interesting dichotomy, Lore as environment and Lore as storyline. A storyline can assume much about our own protagonist, and sure, we don't want to go too far.

I find it most important to have Lore as environment work right. Villains I feel need to be vanquished. Heroes I can get along with, without too much suspension of disbelief. My main hero was always non-violent, using the less violent force field and mind control powers and frequently suspending disbelief. He'd team with The Punisher if the villain really needed to be stopped. I wanted Lore, the environment, to be consistent with that. Actually, I didn't care that the game never fully accommodated that I was non-violent.

Lore for me was simply internal consistency. I could predict the plot, make good decisions, based on what I knew about the world. But it would draw me in so much more when it was well written. When I got emotionally attached to defeating a foe. This was partly the story in my head, knowing my hero, knowing what he fought for (and against). Lastly, Bad writing pulled me out faster than anything else.

I wasn't enamoured of Arachnos as a character concept, it was not my story. But I liked using the Widow archetype as a reformed hero - then she simply came from a "bad place". This bad place flavoured her stories more as time went on, it connected her with the world sometimes. Ultimately, it was as much part of her story as it wasn't. I was engaged.

Write well, write creatively, be surprising, consistent, and engage me, like any great book. I like to think I'll be very flexible but I might avoid some parts that others truly love. But even when I do, I'll know there's so many more people able to love the world because you cater to all. Be demanding of quality and always improving, as I know you will. Then I can't actually imagine this not being anything other than where I want to be.

"The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths." - Pushkin
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Melanieshaman wrote:
Melanieshaman wrote:

One of my favorite comics as of late is/was (:() Sunstone. It's really about relationships and how challenging interpersonal relationships can be. YES, there's a lot of BDSM and the like, but i was so incredibly engaged with Ally and Lisa, and where their complicated friendship/relationship goes and the twists and turns it takes.


Verbogeny is one of many pleasurettes afforded a creatific thinkerizer.
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Melanieshaman wrote:
Melanieshaman wrote:

My favorite "universe" of lore is Warhammer 40k. There's literally hundreds of books and web pages filled with story that is incredibly engaging and highly entertaining. Hell the Horus Hersey, which is an event from 10,000 years ago (in time line) and they have published dozens of books on the subject. Filling in backstory and giving these legendary characters even more "humanity" makes the story incredibly deep and engaging.

I think the Horus Heresy is up to 41 books currently? And Dan Abnett is a great author, especially his Eisenhorn and Gaunt's Ghosts series. #NecronsFTW

One of the things about CoH that I enjoyed most is the Lore. Sure, some zones didn't have that flavor which grabs your attention and holds it, but man, some zones I would repeatedly play the content through across many, many characters. The Hollows and Croatoa being ones that leap immediately to mind with the CoH content, not including the later content zones. I think they learned that lesson later on, not to expand out too much with the sheer number of zones when they released Praetoria with Going Rogue. I always enjoyed exploring new zones and seeing the hidden nuggets and details that were their own rewards for those of us that took the time to everything that the devs put into it.

That's not to say that I didn't put Lore into my own characters. I had an anthology of canon Cobalts that every Character Bio told a new part or different chapter to the character's evolution. So not only was I playing the same character that made me enjoy the game from the very beginning, but I was simultaneously playing a new one too. They're all listed over on City Info Tracker.

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Late to the game on this one,

Late to the game on this one, but I think a decent analogy for how lore should work in an MMO is like the recent Rogue One movie. The game's world should have an involving cast of characters you can interact with and care about (e.g., Skywalkers and Solos), but allow for new characters to have their own story that can matter, like Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor.

I know for me, I was involved with the NPCs and their lore in CoX, but I was also invested in my characters. Yeah, the Circle of Thorns got up to shenanigans in other ways, but they were a group I especially liked to beat up on, because of my main hero's background with them. His fights with them were just as epic to me as any other task forces involving them. Hmm, I guess there is a plug to eventually make your own mission designer as well, even if there were some issues with that in CoX. :)

Planet 10 mentioned the difference hearing the actual voice of characters, which I particularly like about SWTOR. I know that voice talent can be a bit of an albatross, but even if they didn't say all of their dialogue, little bits here and there make a difference, like the NPCs in Torchlight 2 that just say "Hello," etc., when you interact with them. I suppose this is only tangentially related to lore, but having random citizens walking around the city that can say things to you (even with just speech bubbles) like CoX did would be great. It was great fun having a citizen of Paragon City stroll by a hero talking to a contact and have him shout "We love you, Swedish Fury!" :p

Grey Pilgrim, Fire/Fire Tanker, Victory Server
With the Old Timer's Guild over on SWTOR (not as Freem! as CoH, but it has its moments)