November 07, 2013
Storytelling in Massively Multiplayer Games
Want to talk about game design? As you know there are 13 Lords of Chaos. If you have played everything thus far, you have defeated 11 of them. That that is correct... only the Twins and one other remain! The last one is a closely guarded secret. (And yes, we have been hearing the rumors spreading that you are guessing it will be Cysero, or Artix, or Gravelyn, or some other important character. I can neither confirm nor deny this, but the world shattering event will make AQWorlds Zombies look like a walk in the park.) But first, it is time to take care of a little unfinished business.... the Twins.
If you are not familiar with the story of the Twins, they are actually the 2nd Chaos Lord. They first appeared in a cutscene nearly 4 years ago. Players have never been allowed to fight them. The Twins are different from most of the characters in our game. First, they do not actually "exist" in any map. You cannot directly walk up to them and talk to them. They only appear in cutscenes and one-time only events. This was an interesting story/game design concept that we were trying in the early days. Back then we had the rule: "A character could never be in more than one place in the game." I mean, the concept of having the same character in different places, at the same time, saying different things... is really wierd! In the real world at least. Of course, we ended up breaking that rule later on and no one seemed to mind. For example, the character Artix exists in a few different places in the game at the same time. That being said, the Twins were designed to avoid this problem. By only existing in live & special events we could change them in meaningful ways. Honestly, I expected to use them a lot more than we did. They are Drakath's right and left hand ma...erm.. ladies?
In an MMO, we have the following types of NPCs (Non-player characters)
- Static NPC - They stay in one place, give quests and never change
- Updatable NPC - They typically stay in one or more places, but can change (Like how Oishii goes from crying to being happy based on your actions during the Thankstaking event)
- Dynamic NPC - This is a character who cannot be found normally in game, and only exists in the story cutscenes and events. This includes the Twins and Drakath. Makes them perfect for storytelling.
In terms of originality, the Twins are very unusual villains. They are not big, strong, nor do they have magical attacks. Their concept was derived from TV skits where someone was trying to make a decision and an angel would show up on one shoulder, and a devil on the other. Except, in AQWorlds someone swapped the good angel with her Mirror Realm counter part. Of course, in the mirror realm, everything is backwards... were the good angel was actually the evil one. The result? Both of them are actually evil... and then Drakath further infused with a little bit of the purple crazy. Their role in our story was to change the world usingly only words. Facing them in battle should prove interesting.