Most mmos are extremely linear, having a single storyline made up of a sequence of increasingly difficult quests to follow.
Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom
Unless you choose (like many players) to mindlessly grind yourself to top level so you can gank newcomers with impunity, there's not much to do except play that linear quest sequence.
Sometimes there might be several parallel sequences, but you're still not really a part of the environment.
A truely dynamic world would have player actions shape that world, cause things to happen and evolve in some way.
Very few mmos (or rpgs in general) have that.
Morrowind is one single player rpg that does it, Fallout 3 also (to some extent). In mmos, Ryzom is the one with probably the most actual interaction between players and environment (and environmental impact on players, with resources and wildlife being affected by weather, time of day, season, as well as interaction with them).
Ryzom also features some player influence on the development of the lore, with events being dynamic in that the outcome isn't fixed and can have influence on future events (I've not yet seen events where the outcome changed the world, though events tend to build up over days with event spawns starting to appear in places for people to discover even before the event is announced).
So we agree, then. The only place we seem to disagree is whether or not the world is truly shaped by the actions of your character and your peers. Yes, you're right that no matter what you do in Everquest, the same bland story is always gonna remain the same... however, that story is not the world, the people are the world... and people's actions affect the world through affecting other people. On top of it, people's actions and preferences tend to shape the world through how the developers choose to update and patch the game.
Originally Posted by jwenting
If you all want to look into an MMO that tried to do basically what is being suggested, look up Shadowbane. I followed this game for years through its development and had huge expectations... unfortunately by the time it finally came out, it ended up bombing through long delays and false promises. It was, however, intended to be a fully manipulatable world.
I liked Fallout (1&2, didn't play 3). You couldn't actually play the bad guy, but you could decide for yourself what kind of guy (or gal) you'd like to be. You needed to save your people but you could pick any character, from a fast-talking stripper to a brawny but dumb kick ass close combat specialist. And the world reacted to it. You were free to chose how to solve a quest and most of the time you could even decide which side you wanted to be on.
Example 1: Mafia Boss hires you to get rid of the Sheriff. You could decide to take that assignment and just go to the sherrif and blast him. You could talk to him and try to set up the mafia boss. Or you could plant false evidence to disgrace him.
Example 2: The mayors daughter went missing. She has been kidnapped by bandits. So far, that's probably the most stereotype mission ever. You could talk the bandits into selling her to you as a slave, you could challenge the bandit to a boxing duel or you could flirt with him to release her. OR you could just grab your combat suit and full auto shotgun and gun him down in front of his band. Which would end in a huge firefight that would be a failure from an economical point of view, the ammo costing more than the reward, but a lot more fun.
So the quest would not change, but there was no need to be the nice White Knight (tm) with good table manners. You could be an .............. with an attitude. Or a sneaky git. Or an eco-save-the-wales-good-girl. Or whatever you wanted to be.
I wasn't talking about Everquest but about mmos in general.
Originally Posted by SlyMaelstrom
And not counting the ganking, rpgs in general.
The main thing I liked about Fallout 3 was that the world did change (at least in small ways) based on your actions.
It's by design still somewhat linear, but there is branching at several stages that causes different storylines to open up depending on your choices.
In an mmo such is of course harder to automate, would require human interaction by devs and gms as the number of possible interactions is larger, more random in time and space, and would have implications on other customers that might drive those customers away, but it can be done.
In Ryzom we saw that last year when the same event sequence was run on all 3 shards. On 2 shards it ran as designed, on the 3rd players did things different and the event masters had to scramble to change the story line (even inventing new lore I think) to catch up.
Those differences have had some influence on events ever since, they're still trying to patch things up and get the event sequences at least back in line to reduce the workload on script authors :)
And negative consequences can also happen. Some years ago there was a massive invasion of high level mobs into low level areas. Planned as a short term event, it took players and event team far longer than expected to curtail the invasion and drive it back, making gameplay for low level player effectively impossible for several weeks.
This caused more than a few account terminations, customers were lost and the community never really recovered fully the size it had before (though bankruptcy of the original owners around that time and mismanagement by the people buying the game after are also to blame for that, the current owners and community are still recovering from things that happened 5 years ago).