I’m a lore junky. For those who knew me back in my EQ days, they would attest to that. I used to run trivia contests using my intimate knowledge of the game’s lore to entertain. I even had devs of the game ask me lore-based questions, which, for me, was a highlight of playing that game. However, as EQ progressed, the lore changed. Now, when a game lasts as long as EQ has, you have to have growth to the lore, and no one would look askew at you if you occasionally revamped some lore based on, perhaps, some “old hidden scrolls that have just recently come to light” or something. That’s good storytelling. Because that was one of the reasons EQ had such immersion – it told a fantastic story. Around about the third time Kerra Island’s back-story was completely written, I came to understand that the story had been left on the cutting room floor. One of the most interesting complaints I see from WoW lore junkies is the way a major element of the lore is being completely re-written for Wrath of the Lich King.
Dalaran, a city sealed off and clearly visible in the original WoW as the place under the pink bubble, is going to be a central city in the next expansion. The lore of WoW, which I’m only passingly familiar by choice, I admit freely, states that this city was destroyed and then locked behind this bubble while it rebuilt. It seems somewhat unreasonable to have it both locked under the bubble and floating around a frozen continent, but this is the same game that brought us giant, peaceful (mostly), light-wielding aliens.
I read an interview on F13.net where the infamous Lum talks about narrative, which is a fancy word for telling stories. To quote, he says…
I like to think there’s a reason things are happening. If I’m being told to kill ten wolves, I want there to be a reason to kill those ten wolves, I don’t want it to be just because I have to fill the quest journal to get quest number 32 out of my journal and get five more XP. I want it to be because there’s some reason the wolves are attacking the town.
I very much agree. I do disagree with his assertion that WoW tells a good story. Some quests do, but a great deal of them are humor related, which is something I personally enjoy but does not tell a lore-related story. Especially original WoW has a lot of self-centric quests that only affect themselves. This is besides the obvious parts, such as that skyguard prisoner you released will be captured 30 seconds from now and re-released, for example. Take the Netherwing series, the faction one. After you complete it, Illidan shows up to congratulate you, realizes you’re a fake, and then you make your get away on a double agent goblin. Yet you can head back over and they still think you’re a high-ranking orc. While it’s profitable to continue doing the Netherwing quests (most of them are the biggest payoffs for the least amount of work via dailies around), it seems like I should be back to hostile with them, or at least no longer clothed in illusion.
Maybe it’s because world changing stuff is Hard Work. EQ tried it with the Sleeper. Don’t wake the Sleeper! Oh, but we tried. Eventually, someone did. The worldwide scripts completely failed the first time, and the second time it worked in some zones and not others. Vox and Naggy emoted that they were getting ready to do the nasty. Skyshrine groaned. A few other zones had people shouting about various things. But nothing really happened…it didn’t work. So they scrapped it, and it never ran for the other 20+ times Kerafyrm was awoken. And the idea was never tried again. There was a change to the dungeon though- the loot table changed (and I don’t mean on the revamp that happened a few years later). This caused much drama on many a server, perhaps another reason it’s never been tried again. But for those 50 or so people, they did something to actually change their world that would not reset, would not respawn in 20 minutes, would not be done again. As far as their gaming resumes are concerned, they were pioneers. Trailblazers. And are in a very small group of people who actually had an impact on a persistent game world’s lore.
Which begs the question for EQ players…are we in Their World Now?