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10-11-2011 @ 5:31AM
"To us [writing] is not about the best [story] hooks in the world, or the most clever hooks," he said. "…It’s not about being the most unique in the world, or the best-written dialog in the world. To us it's about heart, it's about the engagement."This part of the article straight away seems representative of what I think the strengths and weaknesses of Blizzard's writing are.Engaging stories full of heart are what define Warcraft's better years. Warcraft 3, the story of Grom Hellscream, the fall of Arthas, the Third War in general... not the most original or cleverly crafted stories ever, but they had a lot of punch and they got to you emotionally.But somehow, overlooking the craftwork of writing in favour of hearty stories just isn't working anymore. Not to me, at least, as someone who has been making every analytical effort to defend Blizzard's characterization until patch 4.2. The heart and punch of characters like Grom and Arthas is absent... and efforts at trying to recapture that emotional engagement have been shallow and cheesy. What we're getting is these increasingly silly superhero stories with characters who are each more over the top than the next, to the point that finding a thread that mentions Med'an, Varian, or Thrall on the official story forums that isn't overwhelmed by mocking them for their DBZishness is becoming really rare. The villains we see have become such cheesy caricatures that they are impossible to take seriously... Deathwing has been a gigantic derp this whole expansion and was personified as the most unoriginal bond villain ever in Twilight of the Aspects, and the Twilight Cult doesn't have a lick more substance than Team Rocket.The heart is gone, and solid literary craftwork is the only way to save it. If Super Thrall would follow consistent personal themes rather than shifting gears to be Totally Super Awesome all the time, he'd be less plastic and more hearty (seriously, what is going on with Thrall this expansion? it is like Metzen's projecting a midlife crisis onto his author avatar). If Blizzard would write their stories based on on a consistent vision of where the franchise is headed rather than using the Rule of Cool gameshow wheel, we might get more stories about the Lothars and Orgrims of the world and less Captain Planet edutainment. And boy would it be great if they started writing as though their fans were adults."You're always going to get clobbered on ideas, but what you won’t get clobbered on is expressing your personal ideas and experiences -- your personal truth."Maybe this is why the recent story seems so much like a edutaining episode of Captain Planet to me. The problem is that this personal truth that Blizzard puts into their stories is old, dull, familiar to the point that it isn't fun to fool around with anymore, and just plain not as deep as they might think it is. For the sake of the story, we need more grit and controversy and less of a morality cartoon about Neutral Faction Heroes who Rise Above It All! (tm) to give the kids at home positive role models."[For] writers at Blizzard, more often than not, writing isn’t their primary role on the team."Maybe this is why 4.2 seems like an awkward teenage romance fanfic. Maybe its why the questing experience is so riddled with wacky joke characters at the expense of actual lore. Maybe its why the body of lore is so riddled with contradictions, with night elves growing up in Dolanaar and all. Maybe that's why every installment of the franchise is increasingly bloated with references and steps closer to blatant, audacious plagiarism.
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