Game Design - Story from a Player's POV
[ Two of the new Runners coming to join your cause in Cyber Knights Elite RPG ]
Having "a story" is something that Trese Brothers sees a lot as a request for our games in comments on the forum, or a 5 star comment "awesome story." The disparity between the comments ("needs a story!" and "awesome story!") got me thinking about, from a player's point of view, how can you break down what is seen as a story?
To take it back to creative writing classes, a meaningful plot can be grossly boiled down to something changing in a significant way (we turned the heat up high and dumped in a lot of oil, and this is what was left... something changes).
Ok, that's a novel. But in a game or RPG, I think there is a twist. The player wants to cause a significant change to something or other. See the world change on its own is fun and can be extremely engaging, but without the ability to make your own changes, I think you could argue that a story is lacking.
But... change what? Changing your equipment or getting a new cybernetic implant may be very significant for your character, but that isn't the type of change that a story is concerned with (usually, unless it involves special or unique items). The player wants to cause a change to the external world, not just to his own internal character or group.
I can sign on to that. But, having played some competitive games on the Android market, sometimes I feel like the changes I am able to make are dictated, like my character has been bolted to a railroad car and is just cruising down the track. I don't want my changes scripted! Therefore, I believe the player wants freedom to cause many changes to the external world, and to make a myriad of choices about how to approach, interact with, or manipulate his or her world.
Finally, I want my RPG to feel real--like a story or a novel. I want to choose my path, but as I do, for reality's sake, I want other paths to close to me as I do so. Therefore, as a serious gamer, I want freedom to cause many changes to the external world which open and close other paths to change within the world. This raises replay-ability, increases my immersion in the game world, and lets me know that my choices are individual and special.
I've tried to dissect my approach to gaming, to understand what I think a "story" is in an RPG, and to try to figure out when I think a story is "good" in an RPG. Does your thinking follow mine? Do you want other characteristics in your gaming experiences?