Game Development Reference
to share story ideas and identify conflicts. For example, during the planning and
implementation of expansions for EverQuest II , the designers would meet regularly
to discuss the various storylines that the expansions would reveal. They had to be
consistent with each other as well as with lore previously released. As the team's
designers all wrote their own quests, it was an important facet that everyone else
knew where the stories intersected.
EverQuest II 's Echoes of Faydwer expansion brought the primary lore writers to-
gether to discuss details of the War of the Fay, an event that took place hundreds of
years before the current game's setting. We actually placed a map of the area on a
tabletop and marched armies (of office supplies, as we were short of D&D figurines)
across it like World War II generals, to see which units would be where, how they'd
get there, and when. It's that level of designer immersion that allowed us to pre-
pare intersecting viewpoints that are revealed to the players via dozens of seemingly
unrelated quests scattered throughout the game world.
While some stories eventually receded into the background as others become
more important, having those discussions allowed the team glimpses of the stories to
be told and quest lines to be written. As the details are revealed, they give players a
sense of world order and history, which again allows them to feel part of the bigger
picture, regardless of their own level of role-playing within the game.
Without documentation and communication, an MMO is likely to feel like a
misshapen collection of random ideas instead of a cohesive whole. The time invested
early on pays countless dividends down the road, because your team won't have to
waste resources creating content that is rejected because it doesn't fit with the estab-
lished fiction of the game world.
1.8 Got All That? Now Go Forth and Write!
Games are largely a visual medium, yet writers still have a vital role to play. Writ-
ing for MMOs takes many forms and is integral to the process of designing com-
plex game worlds. Whether conveying storiesthroughwords,throughvisualsinthe
game, or somewhere in between, great stories enhance great gameplay. Forge solid
connections between both, and your players will be the ones who benefit.