While writing for my MMORPG I started thinking about the differences between writing for a MMOas opposed to a single player RPG. Since the stories are such an important part of any RPG I gave it lots of thought and decided to write some of what I came up with here. I'll be focusing on the MMO elements mostly because that's what I was primarily dealing with. I appreciate all input as many opinions are better than one.
The greatest benefit of writing for a mmo is the diversity of the plots. There's something for everyone. You can write small side chains or long plots that span zones. You can write sad stories, humorous stories or pretty much anything, allowing your players to choose what sections they like and want to play through. In a single player game I'm sure that you have at least a bit of this freedom too, but you have to adhere to the style more, and they normally have only one huge plot
down the middle.
The biggest issue with the MMOis the fact that lots of people are playing. While good in every other sense, you do get the feeling nothing you do is too important, since 5 000 people have done it before you anyway. Well, this was the feeling I got when I played them. This means, for realism's sake, that all “chosen one” quests are out of the question. Or else we are all “chosen ones”. This is a pity, because people like to feel important in the game they are playing, and achieving that feeling without being fake is quite a task. It can be done easily enough with instancing, but you lose the actual MMOpart if you do that too much.
Another element you have to overcome is the lack of back story the player has. This rules out: restore your memories quests, save your lost lover quests and the like. Having a NPC tell you his fiancée is missing isn't nearly as dramatic, or involving. Building up relations with NPC's is also tricky since, all to soon, the player will be moving to the next zone.
I'm still working on a way to overcome these issues efficiently but I might be exaggerating the severity a bit. Do players think that much about a story while they are playing or am I overthinking this? Hmm, I