EverQuest Next: How Players Experience Lore

The EverQuest Next Round Table response video for the lore poll was posted today, and I want to follow up with some of my feedback.  But first, let’s watch.

Overall, I like that nothing is ‘forced’ on me. I think that’s a great way of saying there won’t be these annoying quests forcing me to live through a contrived story simply because the game follows that path.

I am slightly concerned about the delivery, though. I do think it sounds like the lore is going to be delivered in the form of something close to Public Quests from Warhammer Online or Dynamic Events from Guild Wars 2. For example, being able to follow orcs back to their home base or stop them from attacking the town to steal stuff, and the line about players being able to drive the interaction between AI and the world sounds a lot like a PQ. Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Moorgard, I know you lurk here a lot and probably can’t say anything more on the subject, but will the majority of lore be delivered via the emergent AI?

I’m curious to hear feedback from other players who experienced games like the original EverQuest. We had very, very little story or lore being fed to us. Yet somehow we knew that the Humans didn’t like the Dark Elves, and we knew the deities were running amok from the planes. There wasn’t lore to be experienced, the lore was simply in the essence of the world. Whether it was intentional or simply a result of what developers had at their disposal back then, the subtle infusion of feeling and almost inference-like quality to what was going on — heck, the lack of knowing in many cases — made the world all the more mysterious and worth figuring out.

You guys have your work cut out for you, but if you can pull off an active version of the original EQ’s passive delivery of lore/story, I’m behind you guys all the way.

  • Most of the reactions I’ve seen have been positive, though there were concerns that I was implying we were doing away with the ability to talk to NPCs and stuff like that.

    What I was trying to get across is that we aren’t going to be limited by any single form of story delivery. Rather, we’ll use whatever best fits the situation. If you charge into a village being burned by orcs, you probably don’t need a wall of text to know what’s happening. But if you see a woman weeping by a well, you need her to explain a bit about what’s going on and what you can do to help.

    It’s about giving the appropriate amount of context and using the best tools to do so. You should neither be hit over the head by story you don’t need, nor should you have to play a guessing game as to what’s happening and who’s involved. Good stories well told–that’s what we’re after.

    Your closing comment comparing it to EQ’s method of conveying story is definitely on the right track. The worry of being too close to PQs and their like is less on the money. You’re correct that I can’t really elaborate on that at this point, but when I can, I will.

  • That’s good to hear! Now’days I hear devs talk about players interacting with the story and I immediately jump to the experiences I’ve had with past games.

    I think it’s easy to look at a game that stuffs people into cutscenes and forces a story onto the players as an obvious extreme, but the other side can be just as bad. GW2 forced me to do dynamic events in order to feel like I was connected to what was happening in a zone

    In EverQuest I didn’t have to participate in any event to know that the orcs were constantly a threat to Kelethin. The fact that they had camps nearby and were pouring out of Crushbone was obvious without someone having to tell me. Quest NPCs offering rewards for orc regalia gave people a reason to sell and trade them. Someone who never sees an orc would know the orcs were present by all of the players trading their shoulder pads and belts. The atmosphere pierced the minds of the players without them realizing it.

    Forcing players to seek out the lore/story/world is just as bad as forcing them to read/watch it. I’m a fan of the passive ‘experience’ of a world because I feel like it blends both worlds. I know you are too, and that’s why I’m excited to see what you guys come up with.

    I should also mention, if it isn’t obvious, that I blend story, lore, and ‘world’ together. Separating them is perhaps one of the leading causes of my disdain.

  • Best ways I have seen lore presented.

    A: GW2 just watching NPCs talk before during and after quests/ events. You can stay and listen or just go.
    (not the personal story, god that was boring)

    B: Shadowbane, having differing historical and conflicting documents on history and lore but no solid 100% answer.
    C: Ultimate Online books at the library.

    It would be nice if they could do stuff like have priest giving sermons. Maybe some professors in a university talking to each other. Documents laying around. Quest/ Event NPCs giving comments here and there about things.

    They really should not give the player of a book of lore and instead just sprinkle it through the world.

  • Keen, Do you feel Events and the passive experience cannot go together?

    Because I feel a mix of those two would be fantastic. Even though events can be repetitiousness thats not unlike reality. Hell most conflicts in the world have been going back and forth for decades. Events written into those kind of context could easily be part of a living world.

  • Backstory in general is difficult to fit into anything–books, movies, games–without dragging down the action. I’d rather a game give me just enough to know what I have to do next and why, then let the rest sit on a wiki somewhere.

  • @Wufiavelli: Depends on the type of events. I have never experienced an event that wasn’t designed to be scripted and reset on a timer.

  • Omeed te Brand Manager scares the crap out of me. One of the best MMO’s I’ve played (Asheron’s Call) was all about the LORE. Why, because the lore changed your world every month. Yes you could decide not to participate in the continuing story arch that was taking place, but if you did you missed out on content and unique items, so pretty much NOBODY missed out.

    Lore doesn’t hold people back, even when you want to read a wall of text. What lore does is show you the difference between people who want to play an actual MMO and live in their world and people who’s only goal is to attain max level so they can start WoW raiding.

  • I still feel that ingame books are a great way to expand the universe, npc atmospheric chatter, books, and maybe lore spots you can examine for no reward but knowledge.

    No need to attach xp, achivments or rewards to it, the people who like lore will hunt it out and love doing it, and the people who don’t like lore wont feel like they are forced into it

  • I am playing GW2 and seeing how the living world lore is not working, because the media used is not the best for tell a story. At the end, players are just hating Scarlet same way they hate Trahearne.

    When the living story started, no one had idea who was the main villain. Now everyone knwo the main villain is Scarlet (she was behind the reactor meltdown, we just saw it now), but people just say meh. IMHO, maybe the real problem is not that the story is not good, but that public quests/instanced cutscenes/NPC dialogues (everyone that is being used for tell the living story) is making impossible to really tell the story.

    [Scarlet is the main villain, she aparently want to control the “dragon” energy (from the pieces of info I joined0, the fractal event happening now show she caused the Thaumanova Reactor blow up, she is the main villain controling Molten Alliance and Sky Pirates and Toxic Alliance (last one was no surprise…she is behind all crazy alliances between evil factions), she just created a sylvari/krayt hybrid abomination, only the gods know what she is planning for next time… she is too a mary sue villain… that is the resume of all living story from january 2013 to now]

    Keen, if you want understood how the lore will work (and too not work) at EQNext, just look at GW2. Both games have too much similarieties, you know it (no holy trinity, public quests, horizontal advancement). The only small diference is that GW2 is a themepark and EQN will be a sandbox, but IMHO we will see that will be a very small diference. Let hope SOE see the problems Anet is having for tell the story and learn with Anet mistakes…

  • Those would be the kinds of events I am talking about. I do not mind those and find them far more desirable than quests. I like how they color the world a little.