I recently spent over an hour chatting with Brian “Psychochild” Green about his latest project, Storybricks. I had to be honest with him and explained that I just did not give Storybricks the time it deserved. I took a glance at it, didn’t “get” it, and moved on. Therefore, I wanted to give him a chance to help me understand just what exactly are they trying to do. I feel their biggest problem is that people are trying to relate it to anything else currently out there and falling short. It is easy to explain something by saying “It’s sort of like this.” but there is nothing sort of like this. Truth be told, they really have something new and interesting on their hands and it would be a terrible shame if this project failed due to nothing more than people not understanding it.
Let me take you way back, let’s call it 10 years, to the days of my very first MMO, Asheron’s Call. At first I thought it was some stupid game my brother played until he dragged me online kicking and screaming. Shortly after that, I was blown away. Just imagine and the things that can happen. Worlds change, big bad dragons are slain and disappear. Entire cities are destroyed and left in ruin. I couldn’t wait to see what the future held. Jump forward to World of Warcraft. Static world, static story, individuals have very little impact on the world. That said, huge success. Some tried to innovate and failed, which only leads investors to point at WoW and say we need more of that, just put it in a different setting. To that I say BORING!
Here we have a group of folks daring to do something different. Creating a storytelling system to allow everyone to tell a story. Allow everyone to live your story. Create your own NPCs and breathe life into them. Or death. It’s up to you. Don’t feel like creating? Just play! Permanent changes are possible. Individual players CAN have an impact on the game. Storybricks is the first thing to come along since I began dreaming of what could be possible in the MMO industry that matches up with my expectations. The problem was simply that I didn’t get it. I had grown so used to having story be the part of the game that you skipped over because you just wanted to find out the quest objective, reward, and how quickly you can finish it and move on.
When I look back on my MMO gaming history, certain events stick out in my memory. They all were situations where the players decided they needed something more to happen in the game. Where players took it upon themselves to become the Evil Wizard that the new guild applicant needed to convince to give away his staff in order to become a full fledged member of the guild in Asheron’s Call. Or where two players role-played racing spaceship thieves that bragged about their heist in general chat only to have other players become involved in the ship recovery in Eve Online. Or where over 50 players banded together to help a lost child find their mother in Anarchy Online. All events role-played by real people. All events that I’ve never forgotten about.
Imagine what you could do if you could create your own NPCs to fill those roles. Imagine what you could do with a group of people and an entire city filled with your own custom designed NPCs that react in various ways depending on how the players interact with them. Some players might get rewarded. Some might get tossed in jail. It’s really up to you. The only limit is your imagination.
So now I am asking you to do what I’ve done. Give Storybricks a little more time. Dig in, let it sink in. Try to understand just what might be possible. Create and share a story, win prizes. The truth is, every time something “different” like this fails, it just leads to more of the same. It would be a damned shame if we looked back in 5 years and wondered what if. Keep Storybricks alive. The game industry needs things like this to succeed.