So I got into work this morning, and found a notice that a coworker had placed “Banana Bars” on the free-for-all table. I’d never heard of such things… but man, I do like bananas, so I went over to check them out and find out what they are.
For the record? What banana bars are? Is supremely delicious.
Anyway, on to serious stuff. I’d like to take a few moments to talk about World of Warcraft.
(Ok, not so serious.)
I’m sure many people have heard of WoW. World-reknowned best-selling Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, blah blah blah.
But what I’d like to talk about it isn’t what most conversations generally revolve around. Rather, I’d like to talk about the story.
I like playing WoW. Like many, I probably play it a bit more than I should. And I enjoy the aspect of the game that involves taking on the most challenging encounters, and walking around in the shiniest loot. Not due to the elitism of it all, but due to the sense of accomplishment.
But that isn’t what got me into the game. What got me into the game was the story. The lore. I had played Warcraft 2 in my youth, and enjoyed it as a game – but when I played Warcraft 3, it transcended into something beyond that.
And so, despite my oath to avoid the dangers of MMORPGs at all cost… I delved into WoW.
Now, for all that “RPG” comes in the title, many people avoid the roleplaying aspect. It is a game of numbers, of strategy, and immersing themselves in the fantasy has no place in that.
But the fantasy remains there regardless, and even if all my in-game banter is completely OOC, I still value the background behind it all – from a personal standpoint, if nothing else. I have a sneaking suspicion many others are the same – they enjoy visualizing their character as a triumphant hero, even if they enjoy spending most of the time just sitting around chatting with their friends.
Recently Blizzard has been releasing information on the upcoming expansion to the game – and with it, of course, more story. More lore.
Some of it is good. Some of it is interesting. And some of it is sadly flawed.
The long and short of it is as follows: When writing the background for a new race being introduced into the game (a race of demon-descended paladins, which is certainly a fun concept to start from), a number of mistakes were made.
Mistake number 1 was an emphasis on technology that scared those attached to the full fantasy elements, and this mistake was more a measure of the terminology used. The game already has a measure of steampunk tech, and the new technology being introduced could easily fit alongside it all – but the language could have been worded better than to say: “Their dimensional ship crash-landed on the planet.”
Just a bit too forceful.
I don’t think we’ll have guys running around with laser pistols and space ships. I think the reality will be far, far different.
But presentation counts for a lot, and tossing out such a quick little gimmick threw a lot of people into a state of concern.
In any case, the other mistake is one of the big ones, the one that really had everyone up in arms. The writing team at Blizzard simply fucked up. They took the lore, and made a completely amateur mistake, and screwed up the continuity.
This new race, who were one known as the Eredar, were peaceful and wise until visited by Sargeras, lord of the Burning Legion, a fallen Titan who now seeks to bring destruction across all the universe. He tempted many of them into demonic magics, and made them into a race of evil.
The backstory for Sargeras himself is that he was once a goodly Titan charged with keeping the worlds free of bad guys. Upon encountering the demonic Eredar, he slowly grew disillusioned with his cause…
So, basic paradox mistake. Blizzard forgot to check their backstory, and left a gaping plot hole that needs fixing.
The writers are ashamed. The fans are up in arms.
Myself? In a way, I am almost perversely pleased by it all.
See, it is a mistake, sure – but one within their capabilities to correct. The head writer, after apologizing for screwing up, has said he intends to leave the new lore, but also to find ways to integrate it with the old. I can see plenty of ways myself. Fans have given out any number of suggestions, many of which would make for even more engaging history.
No lasting harm done, I suspect. What pleases me, though, is the response to such a thing as this.
Because it is easy to think of the game a collection of numbers. Of the players as powergamers out for loot and nothing more.
So seeing so much support thrown behind the lore, the story, the background… it is refreshing. Seeing that to so many playing the game, whether they delve deep into the roleplaying or not, they believe in the setting, in the tale being told. Seeing the writers accept that concern, and showing a genuine willingness to address it.
At the core of it all, I play the game for the same reason I read books and comics, watch movies and anime, and play most of the other games I play – for the story.
And sometimes, amidst all the worries over class balance, styles of play, guild drama and the like – it’s nice to know that others feel the same.