Lore is another MMO topic I am passionate about. Â I’m picky because I’ve seen lore handled in so many different ways, and I know what I like and dislike very much.
The most important part of conveying lore, or a sense of story, in an MMO is the world. Â I strongly believe the simple act of traveling through the world should tell a story. Â Everything from visual cues to sounds, dangers, and NPC involvement should act like a perfectly synchronized orchestra sending lore waves straight to my brain — in a way, almost passive in nature.
I want the majority of the lore in an MMO to be apparent and something I can digest almost through osmosis. Â Forcing me to read tons of Â text or watch cutscenes is too obvious. Â Even having to go to a website or read books in-game requires too much input from the player. Â I think books and additional lore pieces are fantastic, but don’t make them a requirement for me to understand what’s supposed to be going on in your world.
Something MMO devs do too often these days is focus on the individual for the source of the story. Â I hate that! Â I don’t want to be the focal point of everything going on in the world. Â One of the reasons I play MMOs is to feel like just another adventurer. Â I think EverQuest handled this perfectly. Â I never, ever, felt like I was advancing a story of any kind, yet when the continents of Kunark and Velious were uncovered I did feel like Norrath as a whole had uncovered something special to go explore.
Quests are the cheapest and crudest form of delivering lore and a story in modern MMOs. Â I simply don’t like them anymore. Â Quests should be reserved for nothing short of something right out of an epic poem. Â They should be enormous stories with outrageous adventures, and maybe have nothing to do with lore at all.
In a way, there’s something to be said for letting a player create their own story — especially in a sandbox. Â If the lore of a game gets in the way because it is too rigidly defined, that’s a problem.