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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:03 pm 
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The key, I think, to storylines now and in the (hypothetical Cyan-based) future is that they should be passive (meaning that they lack an immediate consequence for not doing something). I think that's where the Bahro story disappointed some, because the Bahro were only there for a short time and we didn't see much of them "fighting".

Now, I don't think the Bahro and the magic stuff should simply be gotten rid of. There are a few places where I think the bahro and Yeesha magic are required for a believable game (panic linking for one major one). If anyone can think up a solution to panic linking, then yeah, the Bahro can go. :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:19 pm 
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I think one of Uru's great flaws was actually a lack of storyline - something happening to me, the player, something I cause, something I effect. All we ever got were chunks of backstory, things happened in the past and/or to someone else, scattered out by NPCs that could've been scripted for all of their reactions to the crowd. The Ages were guided tours of the past with a souvenir at the end. The community projects didn't give any sense of goal or accomplishment apart from which one could find by himself.

Many other games thrive on making people feel they have unlocked a piece of story, or advanced the storyline somewhat, even if it is the same story for everyone. I think Uru missed the boat when they decided to take the ultra-realistic stance to storytelling, aka "if you weren't there you'll have to find a reliable newspaper, because I'm sure not going to tell you again".
In a game, I don't want to go to a forum to read a chatlog of what Sharper said in Ae'gura: I want to go to an Age, solve puzzles, save Sharper and hear it from himself. Otherwise I can go read a novel.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:22 pm 
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Although you can't place the blame for the demise of MOUL on just one thing, for me the biggest dissappointment was the episodes. Everything in life has a 'story' and that is what makes it real. The episodes left me with kind of a detachment from the story and rendered MOUL to 'just a game'. The beauty of the entire MYST series was the sense of realness as told through the story. The puzzles in the MYST series although part of the story were secondary to the story. I felt I was really in the D'ini universe and not outside looking in. URU continued this from Prologue up till Until URU. Even though there was no new story in UU, there was still the current story and plenty to discover/research. When MOUL/GameTap started something was lost. It just wasn't the same. The episodes were the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. In my opinion, the episodes took us out of the story and made it seem artificial. I lost that sense of realness I had come to know from MYST. We need to get this realness back. What will do this? I think the Guilds are a good start. Through the guilds we can have a 'real' impact in game. Another thing that is needed is more involvement from Yeesha. this is something that was greatly missing from MOUL. Something that has always bothered me is our Reltos. Yes we had several pages to customize them but they still all looked the same. More could have been done to allow us to change things such as a diffetent Hut or different colors. This could have even carried over to our avatars giving us more freedom for customization there too. And finally the success of MORE will take a lot of input, and eventually support in the way of content and furthering the storyline, from Cyan. For me it all comes down to feeling that this is real and not just another 'game'. That is the Mystery of MYST/URU.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:56 pm 
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I too am of the mind (I may be a blonde, but there IS a brain under the mascara somewhere :P ) that the whole point of Myst was the exploration of something new which you had no previous knowledge about - it was a mixture of the mystery of the place, and the solitude of it all, together with the sheer beauty (esp Riven) of the place. Myst and Riven conveyed these feelings perfectly, with no storyline (aka script) to follow.

Exile was fine, a bit more storyfied, and the puzzles were more technical - more self-contained (is that what I mean?). There was still the mystery of the two previous.

Revelations was OK, much storyfied - but I kind of lost interest in it - despite the mystery and beauty - one day I might get around to finishing it.

I liked EOA - it was in a similar vein to the previous, and I like URU as well for pretty much same reasons as above.

OK along comes MOUL, and the mystery kind of began to fade, and that certain sense of aloneness (solitude) was shot because of all the crowds - but I think I managed to adjust to it, and I joined in group puzzles like Whatsit and Thingummyjig (sorry, names escape me :D ) - and I did start to enjoy it, but in a different way to how I did in the single player games.

I think episodes were a mistake. I have to make a stand here: to those who wanted episodes so that they "wouldn't miss anything"

1. In this life, and it should be no different in a D'niverse, you will miss 99.9% (approx :P ) of all events, and most of those you don't, you get in the news (Oo, Oo, perhaps we need a Uru Times or Bahro Trumpeter newspaper... :shock: )

2. Even so, you probably wouldn't get to experience the events in any meaningful way since the events usually turned into the Dn' equivalent of the african wildebeest migration happening at rush hour in Kings Cross while there's a carnival on (Ok, Ok, but the implication is valid :) ) - well, you can see where all the solitude goes

Ok, I didn't like eipisodes - you got that.

Other factors that began to put me off of MOUL included, in no particular order

1. How rude some people were - like standing in your space or walking trhough you (pity no collision detection)
2. People using up valuable 'slots' by logging in and staying AFK all the time.
3. The lag obviously
4. The big stampedes as detailed above.
5. The unchangingness of it all (wasn't it supposed to be growing)
6. Storyline - never really impacted me - remember my preferences were for the mystery and solitude
7. Regardling forums, the occurrence of personal/insulting posts made by the completly negative naysayers, and by the blind faith yaysayers as they each attacked the other - it did happen - too often

Regarding point 5. - OK big Ages ARE nice :D , but I do understand that this possible only with greater resources than Cyan had. Having said that episodic content IMnotsoHO was not the correct way to go - instead, we'd should have had Ages, maybe the same ones, maybe at greater intervals, and in between have the odd room or corridor in the city being opened (like the flats (?) in the hoods), maybe a wrecked area being fixed a bit if not completely (like the Pub) or perhaps the sunken ferry being salvaged and refloated (perhaps enough to go on board), or tunnels being opened leading in the general dirrection of the Great Shaft, or new, small ares of existing Ages being opened up/discovered, etc, etc - and they did not have to include new puzzles, they did not have to include new linking in/or points, necessarily, they did not have to be announced all over the city, necessarily.

So in other words, and to close (yay! :D ), MOUL should have simply and smoothly evolved, rather than lurching around from one major discovery to another storyline crisis. War between the Bahro - what has that to do with Myst :roll: ?

My beliefs and opinions are correct to the best of my knowlege. Knock yourselves out disagreeing with them if you wish :D

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:45 pm 
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Wow, a lot of posts since last night!

Well, firstly, I do believe that there has to be storyline, otherwise yes we just have a 3D engine demo. I'm not an advocate of anything else or anything less. My problem is with implementation.

Buddy said,

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The real problem of an online adventure game is how do you create a good story that is as fresh and new to the person who has been playing the game for 5 years and is just as interesting to a player that joins the game 5 years into it. There have been many forum threads on this subject. In my mind, only a customized, semi-private, episodic release of the game and its story will work for an adventure game. Yes, there needs to be a common area (the D'ni cavern city) where players from all levels of experience and meet and play and get hints on what to do next from more experienced higher level players. However, in order for the newbie to get the entire MYSTery experience, the same as the long time player has received, the newbie (and maybe other newbies of the same joining month) must start at the beginning of the story and proceed up the episodes or levels at their own pace.


I had this in mind when I wrote the post. In Myst, we were collecting evidence of events already passed. In Riven, more real time events were worked in, such as trapping Gehn. So, if we have a lot of real time action in Uru, how can casual players or new players for that matter have a good experience of the game? Doesn't that break continuity up for a community? How can you tell people to witness say, a kidnapping, that keeps recurring for each individual?

Sarabonny summed this up well for me:

Quote:
I think episodes were a mistake. I have to make a stand here: to those who wanted episodes so that they "wouldn't miss anything"

1. In this life, and it should be no different in a D'niverse, you will miss 99.9% (approx ) of all events, and most of those you don't, you get in the news (Oo, Oo, perhaps we need a Uru Times or Bahro Trumpeter newspaper... )

2. Even so, you probably wouldn't get to experience the events in any meaningful way since the events usually turned into the Dn' equivalent of the african wildebeest migration happening at rush hour in Kings Cross while there's a carnival on (Ok, Ok, but the implication is valid ) - well, you can see where all the solitude goes


I feel I enjoy the more "detective work" of putting together the puzzle of events just passed. It keeps me in suspense and everyone can follow the breadcrumb trail without breaking continuity. I'm not saying there should be no surprises. I think neat little surprises that only a couple people see will make people more excited and give them the feeling of intimacy and personal pride of having witnessed the 'event'.

Along those same lines, another bingo by Ian Atrus:

Quote:
Many other games thrive on making people feel they have unlocked a piece of story, or advanced the storyline somewhat, even if it is the same story for everyone. I think Uru missed the boat when they decided to take the ultra-realistic stance to storytelling, aka "if you weren't there you'll have to find a reliable newspaper, because I'm sure not going to tell you again".


So the question is, then, how do we explain individuals each experiencing such events? Do we assume that each player is in their own story instance and we come together to discuss? Or are we all in this together? Are areas just "respawning" like in Guild Wars? If events aren't already passed and we aren't examining evidence at our leisure, how do we tie things together?

Mattthornb said,

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But there is much to be said for the story being implicit in the world itself. That's part of what made Myst so effective.

In Myst we SAW what Sirrus and Achenar had been doing; their rooms told us more about who they were than anything they said.


Clearly Matt has a more concise way of saying what I was feeling. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:09 pm 
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I agree with Ian Atrus. My issue with Uru was that "story" was almost completely divorced from gameplay. The episodes had story, but what you did in the game did not reveal the story. If you were lucky (one of the few) you could get to a place where the play was going on around you, for the very few. Personally, I like the Uru where gameplay (example - solving puzzles) reveals the story. Ideally, this shouldn't just be reading something in a book, though that's OK for some things. Games are multimedia - when I progress via gameplay, I expect to see and hear something.

I'm so glad those episode days are over, and I hope they never come back. I never followed those episodes. I play an MMO for what is in front of me, not for what I read in a forum. The way Uru did it - it was not respectful to the player, in my opinion.

The good news - as far as I can tell, those days are gone.

We aren't going to get any more story from Cyan at this time - no changes, no new ages. That's OK for now. In the future, if we get "story", it should be part of gameplay, and set up so that every player experiences it. If things happen when I'm not there, that's OK, but find a way for me to experience it. If I make progress in the game, I engage in gameplay, I do something, that's when the story, the mystery, the wonder, should unfold for me.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:25 pm 
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I agree,that was a sad thing.No story in journeys.No new journals (beside minkata),no new yeesha speeches...if they ever get back to developing MOUL,story additions (yeesha speeches,journals...),new places (outside the pod,new place when you finish a journey...),making the current small places bigger (eder delin,eder tsogal,jalak dador...),changes to some technical things (stop fireworks after 5 minutes,they make relto look like a parade,and being able to reset them somehow,music in k'veer stop after it plays once,it was too annoying...),and some new objects in the ages (bahro stone in minkata,imager massege by DRC at jalak dador...) would be VERY important.

And I think we could all use a refresh with those blue bahro caves...maybe instead of a glimmering blue light we could have (in the other journeys,not prime) other colors...red,white...some changes.

And get rid of those bahro wedges! theres no point to them,and they make relto look weird...I would recommend that instead,they could give us actually a new area as a prize,and "the completing objective" AKA "what you get for arriving at the bahro cave" would be a glowing journey symbol or something,and when you finish the journey it will fall apart,and you will get a new "yeesha's gift" shirt with the journey's symbol.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Just a brief reiteration of my earlier post - changes in Uru (MOUL) should not have been limited to big changes like new Ages - I think that had something much smaller but much more frequent been happening, then that would have smoothed things out a bit.

My examples included things simple like just opening one of the apartments in a hood at some time - didn't need to be linkable and fanfared, just something to keep the discovery level and expectation thereof up (ie. the chance that if a player felt that something, anything, could be found by exploring, then he'd get off his tushie and do so. Do it frequently enough (but randomly) and these little events build up into a kind of overall event - does that make any kind of sense?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:51 pm 
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I agree with a lot (not all) of what has been said in this thread. There are so many wonderful things that could have been done with MO:UL! I tried very hard to be accepting and go along with whatever came, because I was so glad to be a participant this time, so grateful to even be there at all. But time after time my expectations were disappointed and scaled back. And I feel enormous opportunities were lost. Maybe there is time and room for a more considered approach this time, an approach that plays up the kind of indirect storytelling that made the Myst games and the original Uru journey so appealing.

- The stone rings in Relto: I expected Significance. There wasn't any. There could have been. There should have been.

- The sparky pinnacle: With all that symbolism, and deep reference to hints and clues seen elsewhere, and such a long, long wait, I expected a lot more than a firework display. There could have been some thing much more meaningful, something that opened up the story, the "game," if you will, to whole new horizons. It could have been the gateway to a new Journey. It could have cranked things to a new level for long term players.

- Minkata. When I saw this world for the first time I was both repelled by its raw desolation and attracted by its drama and mystery. What happened here? Of what were these the remains? Later I came to see Minkata as beautiful in its way, and I was struck with awe by what happened in Minkata at night when I touched what I found there. It was beyond cosmology; it was like a dream. I was curious. I explored every box, every scrap in every kiva, looking for clues. I examined the stone for a Sign. There could have been clues. There could have been Signs. Even if they could not be understood for a long time.

- The scraps of paper in the alternate Kadish vault. What was the meaning of that pattern of squares? It should have had a meaning. It should have been important, even if it took years for us to piece it together.

I know that big dramatic scenes don't happen in front of everybody in the world; I don't insist that I be there for them. (In fact, in real life I would probably rather not be there, thank you.) If they happen in Uru, and I miss them, I may regret it sharply, but that's the breaks.

What I really want is intricacy, depth, details that suddenly reveal a hidden piece of knowledge I've been searching for - or details that take on meaning over time when put together with other details. I don't just want exploration; I want discovery. And re-discovery.

I want to come back to places I've been and known for years and see :shock: that something has changed: A scrap of paper has been dropped. A journal has been hidden or uncovered. A glyph has been scrawled on a rock. A light has changed color or gone out. A door can be opened that never opened before. An elevator goes to a level never seen before. I want something that makes my hair stand on end when I walk alone through Eder Gira because THAT THING WAS NOT THERE BEFORE.

Those things would be MY story. They would be story enough for me.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:54 pm 
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magaio wrote:
So the question is, then, how do we explain individuals each experiencing such events?


Either 1) you do like some other games and don't explain it at all (artistic license), or 2) you can use a bit of Yeesha magic and say that these stories you're experiencing are like "ghosts" of your reality from another instance (say, after you take the 30 GZ markers you see Laxman turn it on in a ghost instance), or 3) you make the 'quest' end in a location where a scripted NPC character narrates you the story. That way, you can get the story in game (no need to check 50 fan sites) and have the sense of accomplishment for having worked for it too.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:38 pm 
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Thank you Kerryth,

You put words to it.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 8:38 pm 
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Magaio wrote:
So, if we have a lot of real time action in Uru, how can casual players or new players for that matter have a good experience of the game? Doesn't that break continuity up for a community? How can you tell people to witness say, a kidnapping, that keeps recurring for each individual?

I wish I had a conclusive answer, I don't - so just to think out loud for a bit....

Taking a few of the thoughts expressed here, and combining them with what we know from our MO:UL experience:
- People want storyline
- That storyline should not be expressed only through static in-game elements, but through in-game events as well
- Such in-game events did not work when handled episodically; that approach excluded a majority of players from experiencing storyline first-hand. It also did not work because thronging players interfered with the actual storyline, obscured latecomers' views, and caused significant lag for all.
- Nevertheless, players want to experience storyline events WITH other players, with their friends, with others in their own geographical time zone
- People want storyline to be integrated with the age construction. This makes sense to me: for instance, I'm glad the DRC never made their presence felt in any of the Eders, largely keeping themselves to Ae'gura and the 'hoods.

So: we want to view in-game storyline events, we want to share the experience with at least some of our peers but we cannot do so in huge groups, we want these experiences to connect with and be appropriate to the environments in which they occur.

I can't recall which recent thread carried a lengthy discussion about "instancing" of ages and temporal issues between ages, but I believe there was a consensus that ages were written in their own time, that when one linked it was not necessarily within the same linear time frame (think alternate Kadish vaults - but also the same feat that Kadish tried to claim he was capable of).

Given all the above, would it be feasible to have major storyline events occur in ages custom-written for the purpose, ages to which only X number of players would be admitted at any given time? Maybe technically possible, but this would mean that the "actors" would have to play out many more "performances" of the same role, around the clock, ad infinitum until almost all players had experienced their action. Alternatively, would it be feasible to have NPCs do some or all of these repeated actions? Esher worked very well in EOA, but I'm unsure whether the MO:UL engine supports such NPCs (example: don't know whether the Bahro flocks were all sprites or a few were full NPC renders).

Regarding designing custom ages for such storyline: even though it could risk introducing a staged quality, certain ages could be designed to permit great player visibility and even the feeling of interaction with "actors"/NPCs while minimizing direct contact with them, utilizing separation devices such as height differences (putting action on a different, inaccessible level), glassed-in rooms, etc.

No solution is going to be perfect, and certainly no solution is going to suit every one of us. But it does help to hash through these things, and now is the perfect time to do so!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:18 pm 
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Ian Atrus and mszv, I couldn't agree with you guys more!

MYSTery players love a good story! In fact, I think it is a common thread through all adventure gamers. Yes, I love the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, or talking to the right people to gather information and, thereby, moving the game forward, but give me a good compelling story and you've got me for life. :D
(Note to all you puzzle designers out there... there is a fine line between creating a satisfying puzzle (i.e. one that can be solved in a reasonable period of time by the majority of people) and one that requires the luck of the Irish or a PhD in rocket science to solve it.)

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:30 pm 
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... and one that requires the luck of the Irish or a PhD in rocket science to solve it


... in my ages you will be needing both. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:26 pm 
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I'm just blupming into this thread, and I did'nt read all comments to the letter, so maybe I'll make a stupid remarks on this, but it comes to my sense that when Uru begon, I'd really had to catch up on my English to respond to fellow explorers and the digging into D'ni.
It really takes effotr; (that I'm willing to make, because I'm a loner, not a socializer, so I had to dig into the English fora to understand D'ni, and to study English again to comprehend all the history and background.)
Before Uru I could comprehend all stories because of the powerful images (well, I'd like to think that, beacause I've managed the puzzles without have to translate the books and texts).
In a natural way with the explorers I've met (and thanks to the Dutch community that already was settled when I joined Uru Live-Prologue) I've managed, but I still feel I don't have access to all stories, and I also forget a lot when I'm with/in communities (Dutch & English ones) because they are now more on the community thing than the stories/background.
I still feel I'm a noob on the D'ni thing, and I still haven't found away to comprehend it all.
So, in a way, for me Uru is still full of Mysteries but they have to do with language (and not so much on the images, unfortunately), and that's so much different than the other Myst sequels: they were more focused on the image and the power of that.
I'm not sure if that's a good thing, I'm still puzzled (well... that's a good thing, lol, to be puzzled, ha?!)

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