You should definitely check it out. It's up on IGN right now.
Posts with tag story
If you were wondering how they came up with the idea to do the Lords of War series, Blizzard has a pretty awesome video for you to watch, up on IGN now. This behind the scenes look into the development process of the Lords of War series is interesting for what you find out you didn't get as much as for what you did. I also loved finding out that Maraad is voiced by Crispin Freeman, aka Red Arrow from Young Justice. It's very cool to get to see him explaining what he's up to in the story, and in general I liked getting to see what went into the making of this video series.
You should definitely check it out. It's up on IGN right now.
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.
A new expansion is certainly about delivering new content, but it's also a vehicle for story progression -- and the end of Mists of Pandaria left behind plenty of questions waiting to be answered. Unfortunately, any questions having to do with Pandaria or Azeroth will have to wait, as we have other, more pressing matters to think about. In Warlords of Draenor, the Iron Horde looms just over the horizon, a threat eerily reminiscent of the old Horde that began the First War so many years ago. Except the Iron Horde is stronger, more organized, and bolstered by the knowledge of just what's on the other side of that Dark Portal they are constructing, thanks to Garrosh Hellscream.
That story, the story of Warlords of Draenor, is taking us in a different kind of direction, the likes of which we haven't seen before. While Mists may have pushed the button on innovation as far as max-level content was concerned, its seemingly never-ending cycle of daily quests upon daily quests quickly grew from entertainment to frustration as players quickly grew tired of the cycle of daily gated content and rewards. Warlords has none of that -- but it does have a whole host of new ways to make the story feel important, without overpowering how the player approaches the game.
Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains small spoilers for Warlords of Draenor.
It's no secret that I'm into World of Warcraft for the lore. I play the game for the story, to a great extent. And that's what makes end of expansion lulls the hardest for me - I know that there will be no new story. This time around, Mists of Pandaria has just absolutely ground me into the dust. I simply can't make myself be interested in playing when I know the story this well. I've leveled Horde to get a new look at things, run the Dominance Offensive, done the Isle of Thunder, even run Siege LFR on him. I've seen it. Alliance and Horde, I've seen it.
I know that a great many players, perhaps the majority of the game's players, do not care about this. I accept this as fact. I don't expect you to put lore and narrative ahead of gameplay. I know Blizzard designs the game with gameplay firmly ahead of the lore. But it's still a huge issue for me, and there are other players like me - not only does it affect how they're playing now, but it controls whether or not they'll play it in the future.
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?
Since the expansion is now locked in its final patch, with no future storylines to come to change the status quo until Warlords of Draenor, we're free to look over the past year and a half and say Did that actually happen to some of the stranger moments in the story. Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of the story in this expansion, I think it had some really good twists and some nice back and forth between various NPC's (for instance, I love the Jaina/Vereesa team, I think Jaina's interaction with Lor'themar is fantastically catty, and the Baine/Vol'jin bromance is a lot more relatable than previous Horde leaders) but that doesn't mean it doesn't have some head-scratchingly weird moments in it.
These moments often take the form of unexplored consequences or loose ends to the plot. Let's look at a few of them now.
The Mogu Woman conspiracy
This one got really strange because the in-game lore for the presence of mogu women got really convoluted. The way I have it worked out, there used to be mogu women, but at some point after Lei Shen became emperor, something happened. We know there was at least one mogu queen, who died by Lei Shen's hand. It seems that after Lei Shen used the power and knowledge he stole from Ra-Den to 'reverse engineer' the Curse of Flesh, he seemingly eliminated women from his society since his people wouldn't need to reproduce any longer in the conventional sense. The only two women left were in fact the Twin Consorts, and they were literally just constructs carved into the shape of women, possibly as a last dig at Monara. This leaves a whole host of questions about Monara and her relationship to Lei Shen - were they related in some way? Was she his last queen, or perhaps even his mother, or just a rival he killed to cement his power over the mogu?
I found this aspect of mogu culture - their rejection of an entire gender as part and parcel of their rejection of being flesh, being alive at all, to be one of the strangest aspects of their culture. It's got some real world resonance, as well. The mogu end up not being just cruel and callous, they're also really creepy in ways we don't see often.
Since I complained (some have said whined) about the Horde yesterday, turnabout's fair play and I should focus my complaining on the Alliance for a bit. Because if we're fair, the Alliance needs some changes in its story, too. And I think it's fair to say that what the Alliance needs isn't necessarily a victory - especially in terms of Horde/Alliance conflict, it doesn't actually drive the story forward necessarily to have one side win, and the end of Siege of Orgrimmar could in fact be seen as the Alliance winning. No, it's not really victory that's lacking.
The problem the Alliance has is as simple as the statement at BlizzCon that the Alliance is the 'Captain America' faction, the faction that has a more standard heroism about it. The problem with that is, in many ways heroism is depicted as being reactionary. You respond to a threat, you react to a crisis, whether it be Deathwing or Garrosh. Villains act, and heroes react - it's one of the reasons that actors often state that the bad guy is more fun to play. For better or for worse, the Alliance presence in Pandaria was a reaction to the crash-landing of Anduin's ship after it was chased by a Horde fleet, and everything that followed was reactionary. The Alliance stayed in Pandaria purely because the Horde was there, they weren't there to explore or even conquer. The entire struggle over the Divine Bell was a struggle to keep the Horde from getting it because they knew the Horde would use it (as they did) and so far, despite her having every reason to feel that the Horde cannot be trusted Jaina Proudmoore is being painted as villainous for maintaining this position.
Frankly, as a solidly Alliance player right now, I find patch 5.3 satisfying. I get why some players don't, but frankly I don't mind spending some time exploring the Horde from an Alliance perspective, without having to faction switch or roll a new character. In fact, I hope it's something they hold onto for future content - I'd love to see a storyline where a group of Horde had to infiltrate Ironforge and work alongside some Dark Irons, or even a story that pit blood elf agents against their forsaken allies by using the worgen as catspaws. My point is, getting to directly interact with Vol'jin was pretty fun, getting to bring the war to the Horde itself while setting up the Darkspear to do the heavy lifting made sense to me, and in general I enjoyed all of the scenarios and quests I've done this patch.
But just because I like something it doesn't follow that you all feel the same way. This patch's story is unfolding in interesting new ways - there's no reputation faction to unlock via daily quests, there are scenarios but no dungeons, and quests that don't repeat. It's quite possible to see much, if not all, of the storyline in one day. It's definitely a departure from what we've seen in previous Mists of Pandaria patches.
Okay, so let's assume for the moment you're interested in the advancing storyline for the Mists of Pandaria expansion as we head into patch 5.3, but are wondering if you missed anything or have just started leveling to 90 and want to make sure you get caught up with what's happening. Why is the Horde in such a tizzy? What's the Alliance planning to do? Who are the major players, and why are they doing what they're doing? Don't worry. We here at WoW Insider have been covering this all expansion, and we can help you get up to speed.
Blizzard's focus is, as they've repeatedly professed, "to create the most epic gaming experiences ever." But for all the world-ending threats we've encountered in the last few WoW expansions, Azeroth just isn't that big. The entire Eastern Kingdoms are about the size of the island of Manhattan. We're made to believe that hundreds of thousands to millions of people of various races inhabit the planet, but examining the amount of residential space in each zone shows us room for far, far fewer.
Now, yes, the Azeroth we see could simply be an abstraction of some other, larger, "real" Azeroth that doesn't tangibly exist. But this one is the one we get, and it seems sillier and sillier each time when you ponder things like where exactly King Wrynn managed to find a hundred thousand troops to send to Northrend, or where night elves have lived for the past ten thousand years. The same goes for Azeroth's endless supply of doomsday villains and the cultists they inevitably find to do their bidding. They had to come from somewhere. And they definitely don't live in Stormwind.
But the problem isn't even really where they live. It's how they live. It's where they come from. Outland presented a unique opportunity to show us the how and why of the many strange alien races on an entirely new planet, but we learned more about how they died than how they lived -- the fate of most non-player races in World of Warcraft. Their homelands were a theme park, a casino, and we run through pulling levers, grabbing drinks, buying t-shirts. Nobody lived there.
Pandaria, though? People live there. The continent feels more like a brand new planet than even Outland ever did.
As a result, my first time through the game, I barely paid attention to what I was doing, who I was fighting or why. It wasn't until I got to Molten Core that I started really thinking about what was going on. How did Thaurissan summon Ragnaros when he clearly had not intended to, and what was the Firelord up to? At the time, Ragnaros seemed astonishing to me, an entity of pure fire older than the whole world. The war between his Dark Iron servants and the dragons and orcs atop the Blackrock Spire became a central part of my game as I moved on to Blackwing Lair. I started paying a lot more attention to the dungeons and quests I was running.
Once we hit Outland and I got to Shadowmoon Valley, I ran the Cipher of Damnation quest line (a quest that is all I could hope for in a long quest chain, frankly), and the end of that quest line raised so many questions that I often point to it as the beginning of my lore nerd status.
What is the Cipher of Damnation? If it's the spell Kil'jaeden taught to Gul'dan that he used to raise the Hand of Gul'dan and sever the connection between the orcs and the elements, it's clearly not all it can do. Since using it summons Cyrukh the Firelord and since Oronok Torn-heart says it has been used "in the history of our worlds," I am now convinced that the Cipher is the spell that Thaurissan used to summon Ragnaros. But where did he learn it? It was also the spell Kael'thas used to try and summon Kil'jaeden through the Sunwell, which continued past Kael's death in Magister's Terrace.
WoW Insider: I guess I'm just gonna start off with some basic stuff.
Dave Kosak: Basic stuff is good!
Let's start with your overall philosophy for Mists of Pandaria.
Well, we're constantly experimenting with quests, and in Cataclysm, we created some pretty linear zones, as I'm sure you might've noticed. Some really big story arcs and big finishes. Certainly like in Mount Hyjal, we phased a huge amount of the zone, which worked because it was a pretty linear zone. A couple drawbacks, though: It was a shame that on your second or third time through, you had to play it exactly the same way. You know, you kinda lose some of that open-world feeling, you lose a little bit of that exploration when it's linear like that. But we loved the storytelling, so what we wanted to do with Mists was keep that kind of storytelling but make sure that you have the opportunity to go out and explore and experience the expansion differently, so ... let's see.
On a recent BT about gender in WoW, two commenters got my attention. Dez and Nagaina, thanks for replying! The parts that caught my eye from their comments were as follows:
Dez wrote: I know some players consider their toons to be extensions of themselves (1st-person narrative), but personally I see them more as other people whose adventures I am following (3rd-person narrative).
Nagaina wrote: I'm principally a roleplayer. When I create a character, I'm usually doing so for storyline related reasons not representing myself in game related ones.
I personally consider my characters to be extensions of myself. When I refer to them, mentally I'm thinking, "I'm over here," "I'm getting my face chewed off by a murloc," or "I'm going to get myself a kickass new cloak." When I'm talking in game, I do much the same.
The idea of the character as a third person fascinates me. I suppose it might be reflected in games like The Sims where you control the life of a character in a different way or maybe in FPS games where you're controlling a character with a predefined story. Or perhaps it's something that is a big part of roleplaying, creating a story for a character that is (maybe by definition) not your own story. I freely admit to knowing barely anything about roleplaying, so of course there is the strong possibility that all that might be utter nonsense!
What do you think? Are your characters extensions of yourself? Are you representing yourself in game? Or, like Dez and Nagaina, are you following a third person? And why?
Filed under: Breakfast Topics
Eurogamer.net recently sat down with Blizzard Senior Vice President of Creative Development Chris Metzen. They talked about the story for all three of Blizzard's big franchises and the ins and outs of creating stories and heroes for each one.
On Warcraft, Metzen waxed philosophical on creating a meaningful story for 11 million fans who are each carving out their own individual stories on their own characters, and on translating that story culturally as well linguistically between all the different cultures of the people who play WoW. As Metzen observed, a story that goes over well in North America may fall flat in China. He also talked about making lore decisions and balancing the needs and wants of the players and the writers. Sometimes the players want you to go right when you want to go left, and it is a challenge, he says, to decide which way to go.
Personally, I think this is one of the strongest leader short stories, delving into answerable questions and giving us real, solid lore to fill in the holes in the story. Seeing Sylvanas' grief and lack of focus after Arthas' death was something I had hoped would be addressed, as well as the Val'kyr, both of which were discussed and explained. Check out the story, written by non other than Dave "Fargo" Kosak, and marvel at a new chapter in the Dark Lady's story.
Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Look at what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!
Baine Bloodhoof: As Our Fathers Before Us by Stevie Nix (not Stevie Nicks) begins with Durotar in dire straights. The goblins, now fully members of the Horde, have gummed up the Southfury river and made the water undrinkable. Garrosh has come to Mulgore to work with the tauren to begin water shipments to Durotar of fresh, clean water. Attacks on these water caravans, now frequent, pose a huge threat to the survivability of Orgrimmar. Hamuul Runetotem does not let his emotions get in the way as he confides in Baine that his love for Garrosh is lax. Baine insists that despite Garrosh's foolishness, the tauren are to remain as members of the Horde, just as his father had wanted.
Check out the full story, Baine Bloodhoof: As Our Fathers Before Us, for some intriguing and action-packed new lore about our favorite tauren's son and his rise to chieftain.