With huge MMO’s such as Star Wars, The Old Republic and most recently Elder Scrolls Online falling to the wayside in popularity, I question just how much of an impact the “fully voiced scripts” really have on the games. It also brought me to another thought while playing Carbine’s Wildstar: I can’t help but wonder how many people are missing out on the depth of story that the game provides because it’s not fully voice scripted like previous MMO’s that they surely played.
When Bioware first announced that SWTOR was fully voice scripted (Including your characters responses), the buzz around the gaming world was ecstatic. This was literally game changing to the already worn formula of long text conversations with NPC’s taking up your quest logs // journal. Most MMO goers that I knew by the second expansion of Blizzard’s Warcraft admitted to just accepting quests without ever reading them. For a developer to take a risk and make story important it would have a different kind of impact on the player as they took their journey from 1 to max level. Every NPC that you came across had emotion within their conversation of why you needed to do what you needed to do out in the world. In fact, going out to kill fifteen creatures now had some substance to it and completing tasks brought a sense of reward in itself for helping out that poor NPC. Playing out your own, personal story in a Star Wars universe was pretty amazing as well.
Unfortunately, the fully voiced questing only lasted for two journey’s to 50 in the world of SWTOR for the average player: One Republic , One Empire. Sure the class stories for both light and dark conversation choices were different, but the world npc choices always ended the same way. (with very few exceptions) The class stories were the only “fresh” thing to see when playing a new character and all of the world quests were “space barred” to skip the dialogue. I was one of those people that stuck with Bioware until recently and had one of every advanced class on both sides of the fence… The class stories were the only thing I remember about the game after hanging up my light sabers.
Having a fully voice scripted game also leads to other problems: What happens when the voice actor decides to not return for an expansion (and wasn’t contractually obligated to)? What happens if, knock on wood, a voice actor passes away before recording his lines for the next stages of the game? What happens if the voice actor you’ve chosen for a character is hated by the community? (Think JarJar quality for 50 levels… I would uninstall before getting off the tutorial planet)
But most importantly: How do you play a MMO after being so used to hearing your NPC’s talk for 2 years or more? Secondly, do you lose interest in the world you’re playing in and are you just grinding to max level for the end game with no care for the story behind the end game?
Wildstar is a brand new MMO that is very popular right now and players love the mix of the “old warcraft” feeling (Arguably the best times of Warcraft were Vanilla and Burning Crusade) with new systems and faster combat. But what about the story? While talking to a guild mate (who hit 50 within a few days of the early access)I had mentioned how hilarious some of the journals were. He had no clue what I was talking about. All throughout the game there are random items to click on and read and some of them are just downright hysterical. (For example: I came across a series of steamy love novels scattered throughout a forest with little snip-its of the journal to read and a quest to bring them back to the owner. When you bring them back to the female NPC she immediately warns you to never, EVER speak to anyone about them.) It was sad to me that my guildmate had missed out on some pretty great work that a writer put the time and effort into creating.
Some of Wildstar is voiced (superbly might I add) and also includes cut scenes that attempt to draw the player more into the world that surrounds them, but I can’t help but crave actual voiced NPC’s that you’re able to fully converse with. I feel detached from the character that I play in this game more than I ever did in my 8 year tenure Warcraft. Why? Because between WOW and Wildstar, I played SWTOR. I played a game that my character had voice, reason and a purpose all the way to max level. With Wildstar, I don’t feel nearly as invested in the character on the screen that I portray but I do feel intrigued to read about the lore of the lands I’m traveling and the often funny journals keep me thoroughly amused.
I’m curious to see how others feel about this. I’m curious to hear if those that are playing Wildstar (or still playing Warcraft which still doesn’t have fully voiced quests) feel the way I do and feel less invested in the characters they are portraying in the world. (and if they’re skipping out on the richness of story buried in the game because they’d have to read it)