Sunday, May 2, 2010

Random Shots: Working Within The Story

  • I don't always put a lot of thought into the characters I play in most video games. Most games are so linear that there does not seem to be much point in creating a story that's going to be contradicted within five minutes. But I'm glad there are other people who still bother.

  • One excellent example is Blue Kae's recent biography of his Champions Online superhero, Silver Hunter. Between the bio and the story of how his character evolved of City of Heroes to Champions, he demonstrates the right way to weave your character into a game's story.

  • The wrong way? I remember listening to an episode of The Instance where Randy Jordan was complaining about the Death Knight starter zone. That zone is widely hailed as one of the best stories in any MMO available. Randy's complain was that, because his character's story was that he was rebelling against the Lich King, he refused to do anything for him. Since he would not even talk to him, he literally could not do anything. His role-playing choice broke his enjoyment of the game. What makes this sad is that the death knight storyline is even better than the story he was trying to force. If he had just played along, he would have ended up it the same place but with greater depth for his character.

  • It's the same thing I wrote about when I was playing Dragon Age: Origins. You can easily sabotage the game if you aren't willing to work along with the story you are offered. The game can only bend so much. We, as human beings, have much more capacity for flexibility. But even in the most constraining game, our flexibility can allow to find a story we want to tell.

  • So be like Blue Kae. Find your story and build on that. Don't try to hammer one where it doesn't belong.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. With rpg's like Dragon Age, Fallout and Neverwinter my characters origin or background begins at character creation. I then try to fit that within the story of the game. So as I progress through the game the decisions and actions that I take are based on the background that I thought up earlier.

  2. It's ironic that you happened to pick Dragon Age as the second example. One of the reasons I stopped playing and haven't gone back was that I wasn't happy with how the story was going. I bought into the hype too much about how open and flexible the game was. When I went through as a human noble and an elf mage, I kept running into decision points where all three options were basically the same. Just killed my interest, although I do intend to go back and finish at least one play through.

    Appreciate the kind words though, all the feedback I've gotten has motivated me to work on the Blue Ram's backstory.

  3. @ Jayedub - I'm right there with you. Half the fun of RPGs is making decisions as the character and discovering more about them through the decisions they (I) make.

    @ Blue Kae - Yeah, I have plenty of complaints about DA:O. There is a reason I haven't bought the expansion.

    I'm looking forward to more character tales from you.

  4. I very much enjoyed Blue Kae's write up for his character too!

    Personally, I can go both ways. I have a tendency to make up stories for my MMO characters too, but at the same time, I adored Dragon Age and didn't have a problem at all with letting the game's story take me wherever it wanted to go.

    Oh man, you have a great blog, btw. I think I've seen your comments on Blue's posts but I don't know why I've never checked out Bullet Points before now. Keep it up.

  5. @ mmogamerchick - Thank you for the gracious words.

    Like many things, I think having the right frame of mind for a game goes a long way. There have been plenty of things I didn't enjoy because I was not in the right mental place to do so.