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Fiction and Immersion

Discussion in 'UHall' started by GalenKnighthawke, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. GalenKnighthawke

    GalenKnighthawke Grand Poobah
    Stratics Veteran

    May 12, 2008
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    Based on others' posts, the level of immersion that UO offers is one of its most attractive features for many. The ability to be walking around the game environment and have the feeling that the characters are walking around in and exploring a living, breathing world.

    There are many factors contributing to that feel. One of the most important and yet under-rated contributors is the fictional backdrop. Whether you care about the fictional backdrop or not is a lot less relevant than the fact that it remain a factor in the world, and that it remain consistent. Fiction provides internal continuity to the world, provides the glue for the world, prevents things from becoming silly.

    In fantasy, immersion-breaking "silliness" is always hanging just around the corner. It's just a fact. If a fantasy world is consistent with itself, however, silliness can be held off indefinitely. The spell is a lot less likely to break when things are internally consistent.

    If you don't care about the game fiction, fine, you don't have to.

    But you have excellent reasons for hoping that others do care, even if you don't.

    Because odds are, judging by others' posts, that fiction, and its ability to remain internally consistent, is an important ingredient in aspects of the game you care about.

    -Galen's player
  2. Cal_Mythic

    Cal_Mythic Guest

    Personally, I find my leaning toward games with story more than anything else.
    What is great about the Ultima Series and franchise IS exactly that.

    As far as I know there were very few titles (from back in the day as they say) that allowed themselves to create a story wrapped with game trappings ... not game with story dolloped (sp?) on for good measure.

    As far as UO is concerned, I can say it's more and more difficult to develop fiction adapting for every cycle of live event and still staying within the Ultima lore ... not simple the Ultima Online scope of that lore.

    I read the history now and then, and I have cheated in the past and asked players offline to send me threads ... or read blogs about things of the past.

    There are many ways to trip up ... it's almost like hearing a record skip when "feeling", purpose, and history don't sync up.

    Then again there are those who just wanna show up and kill stuff. Well you can do that ... but you will rarely find me playing a "twitch" game ...
  3. Trebr Drab

    Trebr Drab Guest

    Cal, just a comment, but UO doesn't have to have just events based on UO lore. It's a world, and it stands to reason that someone might try to do things (evil or not) that's new to the world and not related to the history directly. So, what I'm saying is that I think a good mix of things to make this world alive and kickin' would be good. I can certainly understand how hard it is to keep true to the lore, it's so deep and full of very much interpretation. That's good, in my mind. I mean, the mysteries of the past in real life are full of interpretations, and sometimes you have to think that maybe none of them are fully correct. It adds to the whole thing.

    Overall on topic, the life of UO is why I have always come back after quitting. It's what keeps me interested. I love the lore, the mystery, the bickering over it, all of it. I think the start up movie is a work of art, even if it is dated. The whole thing is fantastic, and you just can't find it in any other game quite the same way as UO.

    I think that's why the problems of UO get at me so much. Too many decisions based on "game" rather than "world", and while some of the gamey decisions are good, some have hurt the worldly aspects of trade and PvP.
    But it's still the best game out, as far as I'm concerned.
  4. Aurelius

    Aurelius Babbling Loonie
    Stratics Veteran Stratics Legend

    Feb 26, 2004
    Likes Received:
    The 'lore' of UO has is a bit variable, since it draws from all sorts of things in the standalone games, as well as the 'storylines' from event cycles and the in-game books, as well as a ton of other stuff.

    There is certainly an option to expand it in new directions (for better or worse, the novels that went with the intended Technocrat War version of 'history' spring to mind). As long as it tries staying faithful to the majority of extant lore, I'd not mind some fairly hefty new material working it's way into the 'canon' of the world history, although there will always be a balance to be struck between the existing material and what you might want for a game-driving storyline.

    The trick is the balance between good game material and good fiction though, way too many pen and paper modules and settings fell apart as games when the authors got too hung up on their 'storytelling', and what you got was a fairly sterile hybrid that wasn't satisfying as either, or tried to make a good story idea into a game when it was really way more suited to be being told as a story alone.
  5. Fiction and history is only relevant to those that were there, know and remember.

    That is, players joining a year from now could careless about the fiction. But they might care about a current event and some back-drop info. Details of the past, IMO, are less important then a sound fun event.

    That being said, fiction is fine. My issue is trying to make the fiction, in this case, historically fit to the past Ultima. Sure keep it in the theme of UO but let it be well... fictious. Create the fiction for the event, it is the key to future history.

    Geez. In theory, UO MMP is creating the lore for future UO. We can all be part of that in a sense.

    20 years from now when UO is 3D virtual gear and we are swinging swords in our basements... Some will say the New Mag was created out of greed and gluttony, a plague fell upon Britannia... Now we must fight these once banished creatures that have resurfaced.
  6. Cal_Mythic

    Cal_Mythic Guest

    Hey Trebr,

    that's a salient point ... HAVE to subscribe to lore ... or I guess canon would be a better term (as mentioned above).

    Taking a story or legacy and making it your own is a fine line you walk when dealing with any community.

    There are some who thought the new Fallout was a sacrilege. That adapting a classic and not being TRULY faithful (what does that mean anyway? Isn't it all perception?) to the originals was something the new Fallout team missed the mark on?

    But I definitely see the point of "Story and World" v. Game. That's a great input. *scribbles a note*

    I believe that even in adapting a strategy for war or your life ... or in these terms based on the mythos of a game/product, it's important to know and respect its roots.
  7. Kiminality

    Kiminality Guest

    Kind of like KR/EC - "It's not UO".
    That's not to say that the new clients weren't pretty bad, on quite a few levels (no offence).

    What I'd like to see, in addition any stepping up of the ongoing fiction, is more "flavour".
    A strong example would be Ter Mur. There's a whole lot of new creatures that are just there, without any explanation for what they are, what they represent, or why they even exist. Aside from the appearance and statistics, there's nothing apparent to them - What's a Skree? Why are there raptors and no other dinosaurs? Stuff like that.
    Without more flavour, the creatures are just PvM targets.
  8. Evlar

    Evlar Guest

    Interesting comparison there.

    I'm a great fan of the originals - Fallout & Fallout 2 - but I also really enjoyed Fallout 3. My perception was simply that the story was still there, the world was still there, the characters encountered were along the same lines, it was just a new graphical angle from which that story, world and characters were viewed from. Basically, a better and more modern graphical representation. In many respects, they did a very good job of also retaining the core game play elements. I do understand when people call sacrilege though, but for a better interpretation, refer to the "modern" version of the movie "The Ladykillers", versus the "original". ;)

    I enjoy games that have a story or a plot to follow. They do indeed add immersion, when part or all of your "participation" is within that story. Even better if your decisions have a fundamental impact on how the story unfolds, which is why I've enjoyed the Mass Effect games.

    I would imagine though, that within a MMO "world", the hardest balance is getting everyone to feel involved in the future of what happens in that world, certainly with regards to the core story and plot. Granted, we can all make our own stories within the game, but when it comes to the main story and lore, it's perhaps harder for an individual to feel they've played an important (or important enough) part in shaping the outcome. This can give the appearance that whatever they do, the story is taking a linear path, irrespective of what a player does or doesn't do.

    The hardest part for UO when it comes to the community of players feeling like they've played an important part of shaping the story, is that there's so many different shards. That doesn't negate the importance of a good story though, just a technical hurdle that's very difficult to manage in all reality.

    One idea though, which may help players feel their participation is perhaps noticeably more important though, would be more regular reports on player "actions" within a story arc. That could be done more via small "easter eggs" within the shards themselves, via Stratics in more detail, or via the official website.
  9. Stupid Miner

    Stupid Miner Guest

    What are the roots?
    The Ultima games? To an extent.
    What about the UO canon? It's too often that UO lore is formed and subsequently forgotten with the next new expansion.

    Really hasn't been any plot that dealt with Malas since AoS came out (and even then it was meager)

    Tokuno's Empress is an enigma.

    Juka, and the followers of Exodus have just kinda been hanging out doing nothing.

    Savages? Not since Orc/Savage wars.
    Lizardmen? Nope.
    Ratmen? Nope.
    Orcs... not well, they don't seem to have any established tribes or leaders.
    Not really sure if Terathans are actually sentient.
    Ophidians, but how much real plot have we gotten from them? There's currently no governmental hierarchy to speak of. They're just being attacked... just cause.
    Meer are looking hopeful with the recent fiction, maybe they'll start having a government? Why not give them a functional town?
    Titans and Cyclopses in Ilshenar are numerous enough, but no governmental systems or leaders for them.
    Mistas has just kinda been hanging out being that odd Gargoyle city in Ilshenar.
    10 billion zoogi fungus later the Solen still haven't developed a cohesive fiction.
    Sanctuary Dungeon is just begging to be the Fortress of an interspecies Repond Alliance.

    Tons of fiction that's been laid out, ready to be used, but none of it ever seems to get developed past the expansion.
    The races need leaders.
  10. DevilsOwn

    DevilsOwn Stratics Legend
    Governor Stratics Veteran Alumni Stratics Legend

    Oct 27, 2003
    Likes Received:

    first they need that water contraption fixed!
  11. Evlar

    Evlar Guest

    I've the sneaking suspicion the solen use that fungus for other things, hence this being the world as they see it...


  12. Cal_Mythic

    Cal_Mythic Guest

    We tried actually incorporating this with fan fiction ... let's just say it did not go well. While I know there do exist some great writers in the UO community, we did not always get the best entries.

    HOWEVER ... saying this I can tell you the EM applications and writing therein, that I have seen are amazingly good.

    This is something to consider, though.
  13. Uvtha

    Uvtha Grand Poobah
    Stratics Veteran

    May 24, 2008
    Likes Received:
    It would be neat if there was an expansion that just added fiction to the myriad of fiction-less peoples, places, and things in game, which would include new quests, monsters, items, systems etc. Revamping old dungeons would go along with this as well.

    To add to the list, I was always curious about where artifacts came from, who made them, why the bosses have them etc.

    It sure would be cool if you could align yourself with the different monster races like you sort of could with the ophids in the current event. But just more involved. Ratmen and orcs would be easy targets, since they both have many large camps, and each camp could have quests and shops etc. Maybe even a special housing spot or something.
  14. Evlar

    Evlar Guest

    I used to "live" in the orc fort in the Lost Lands, not far from Delucia.

    Unfortunately the orcish property market crashed and all the damn savages moved in.

    It'll never be upmarket again... :(