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Posts with tag emergent

The World as Story: Emergent storytelling in World of Warcraft

How does storytelling function in World of Warcraft? What are its limits? Does it have to unfold solely via quest text, or can it be told via other means? I ask this in part due to a developing discussion on the scale and scope of how the world we interact with as we play reveals the story elements. Back when I first started playing WoW, game story was almost exclusively revealed via quest text. When it wasn't, it was often revealed via in-game books. I remembered being floored with the pre-fight scene between Majordomo Executus and Ragnaros because it was a bit of story happening entirely in front of my eyes via dialogue and scene.

Over the years World of Warcraft has added a host of tools to its story delivery options - cutscenes, scenarios, events like Battle for Undercity, open-ended exploration, and quest integration with each of these kinds of vectors for story. It's not all just text anymore - we have in-game cinematics, cut-scenes rendered and played through using totally in game scenes, dialogue (the end of the Isle of Thunder, when Jaina and Lor'themar confronted one another was entirely realized through in-game dialogue), scenarios like A Little Patience and Dagger in the Dark, and even more complex combinations of all of them. The Dominance Offensive/Operation Shieldwall story in particular was unveiled through all of these techniques, using every arrow in the quiver to drive the story points home.

I'm bringing this up because of the recent revelation that not all secondary objectives in Warlords of Draenor will have quest text. The discussion led to a series of tweets from Dave Kosak that I think definitely are worth discussing. How do we get story in an MMO? Can the world we encounter be the story itself? As we move through it, how can it be best presented to us?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Goon Squad downs Tirion Fordring


Perennial pariahs Goon Squad, Horde-side on Mal'Ganis-US, have really carved out a niche for themselves in the World of Warcraft. Well, two niches. The first is a rock-solid reputation of being the foremost trolls and griefers in the MMO market, period -- a reputation perpetuated by a community that operates mostly on word-of-mouth and lovingly crafted by the guild itself. The second is providing some of the best and most hilarious WoW videos on the internet. This one is no exception -- they managed to score a victory for the Lich King by defeating the dread paladin Fordring.

It's a rare ability, possessed by Goon Squad and a few other community figures, to be able to take the building blocks of the game experience provided by Blizzard -- strictly compartmentalized and defined by sets of incontrovertible rules -- and then cobble together something wholly new and, frankly, ridiculous out of them. You're not supposed to be able to bring together two often-'shipped faction leaders for an impromptu date. You're not supposed to be able to blow the Wintergrasp fortress wall to smithereens in a minute's time. You're certainly not supposed to be able to kill the head of the Argent Crusade who, by the way, should learn to cast Consecrate.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor

Breakfast Topic: The crazy things we do

I've been having fun with sheep recently. Admittedly, I am Welsh, but I'm talking WoW -- and odd behaviour. While skilling up in Engineering I made several mechanical sheep; I tried making them attack nearby Horde players, who were thankfully laughing too much to retaliate. There's nothing like an angry sheep in the morning to get your blood boiling.

I also wasted valuable minutes of my life repeatedly polymorphing a sheep, just to see what would happen. No prizes for guessing the result! So, what are some of the weirdest things you've found yourself doing in WoW -- with or without farm animals?

Filed under: Engineering, WoW Social Conventions, Breakfast Topics

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