Paul Sage, eponymously named Lead Designer for Ultima Online, posted some comments today about storytelling in MMORPGs.
As I\’e2\’80\’99ve grown to know MMOG community, I\’e2\’80\’99ve found endless fascination in the ability of players to create their own stories, sometimes because of what tools we have given them, and sometimes in spite of the tools we have not given to the community. I want to devote time to exploring this, both because I feel it is important, and because I believe we (the dev team and the community) can do more.
What is “more”? He’ll tell you:
I would like to get back to the kind of event where everyone can benefit, but I would also like to have more ongoing content with items such as glacial staves, gargoyle\’e2\’80\’99s pickaxes, etc. New items, monsters, etc. introduced in context has a better chance to reach the majority of our players. The impact of the new slayer weapons appearing in the world reached a vast majority of our players, and gave them something new to do. As we put new additions in a better context format with more story, the interest in the game grows. This is an area in which I believe we can show quick improvement over the course of the next few months.
In order to do so, we will be making some changes to our in-house events team. Our current event staff will be trained in the scripting language and given the power to see that new items and creatures going into the game have meaning and are part of a larger plan, rather than being separate and unrelated to the overall story. Jonathan \’e2\’80\’9cCalandryll\’e2\’80\’9d Hanna will be heading up the \’e2\’80\’9cevent\’e2\’80\’9d team, with Tom \’e2\’80\’9cAugur\’e2\’80\’9d Ivey and Dave \’e2\’80\’9cGromm\’e2\’80\’9d Saleh rounding out the team. We understand this will be a very different way of bringing story into UO than what we do currently, but we think the majority of our players will benefit. What we will be able to do over time will grow as we learn to stretch UO\’e2\’80\’99s limits.
Be interesting to see how Calandryll handles this new job. His prior proven competence as OCR lead — out of the “big three” teams, OSI’s Internet Relations team under Cal’s leadership has been the only one that can be considered a company asset – Turbine’s community involvement has been pretty much limited to CoD posts and, well, we won’t talk about Verant — combined with his role in the Divided Lands campaign as a player should prove to be an interesting combination.
And if that doesn’t work out, I hear UGO is hiring.