Story. That’s one of the big things in game design these days: getting more “story” in games. Now it seems that “story” is edging into MMOGs.

As we saw in The Old Republic First Details, Bioware is attempting to integrate story into their under-development (hopefully not “underdeveloped”) Star Wars MMOG. Now, there’s another.

No, not Star Wars. Ten Ton Hammer has an interview up with Tim Cain, Carbine Studios Design Director. Tim may not be familiar to you; he worked on the original Fallout, as well as Troika’s Arcanum. His current project, however, is a MMOG. What caught my eye was this part:

One of my goals with my game is tell a great story, with a different story for each player faction. And some of the side plots have choice points where the player can decide whether to proceed in different ways (and these choice points will be clearly marked, since there are no save games in MMO’s).

What I wonder is: do MMOGs need a lot of story? After all, in single-player games, we want to see changes in the world based on our actions. That’s not possible in an online game, where thousands are playing at once.

There’s also the matter of how long any story can go on, before it becomes too much. And what happens when the story is over (presuming there’s a conclusion of some sort)?

Of course, it’s refreshing to see some designers looking beyond the usual “kill critters, level up, get better gear, go kill more critters” routine. But is story the way to go? Is it possible to put in enough content to keep thousands playing for more than just a few months? I have some doubts about that. What about you?

Tom Cain Interview on Ten Ton hammer