Storylines and Dev Teams

The storyline interests of the development team and the live team can differ. This creates odd dissonance for the players.

At launch, the Asheron’s Call backstory was all about the Olthoi. Olthoi are giant bugs that essentially ate the world, driving out the inhabitants. The eponymous call was Asheron’s summoning humans to Dereth to help fight back the Olthoi. There were only a few hints of Olthoi in the early game, instead leaving them as the devouring monsters of the late game. And then the game basically forgot about them for the first year, instead pursuing other monsters, characters, and bits of the storyline that interested the people making monthly updates. They were still pretty fierce from launch, but the endgame moved away from them. It was not until the Dark Majesty expansion that the Olthoi got their due as major villains in the setting.

At launch, the City of Heroes backstory was all about the Rikti. The Rikti were alien invaders that nearly conquered the world. The eponymous city was zoned off with containment walls, all the major NPCs fought in the Rikti War, and the Rikti War was still vaguely ongoing. And then the game basically forgot about them for the first three years, instead pursuing other monsters, characters, and bits of the storyline that interested the people making monthly updates. Like everything else in the game came to be, the entire Rikti invasion was a Nemesis plot. They were still a harsh group to fight, prevalent in hazard zones, but the endgame moved away from them. It was not until Issue 10 and the revamped Rikti War Zone that the Rikti got their due as major villains in the setting.

At launch, the Guild Wars 2 backstory was all about the elder dragons. The dragons are massively powerful primordial beings that shattered the world since the first game. (There is no eponymous guild war going on. Oh well, pattern broken.) The personal story is mostly about Trahearne and the quest against Zhaitan, while other elder dragons have their representatives as world bosses. And then the game basically forgot about them for the first year, instead pursuing the Scarlet storyline that interested the people making monthly updates. The dragon world bosses are still there, and one was even revamped into a fight that almost no one does anymore, but the endgame and Living World moved away from the elder dragon storyline. At some point, they may get their due as major villains in the setting.

(Trigger warning: TV Tropes links ahead.) Sometimes, the old storyline gets retconned into the new one. Sometimes, there was always a hidden foe, for whom the initial storyline was just a feint. (Book recommendation: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.) Sometimes, the writers change and things just go in an entirely new (sometimes better, sometimes not) direction because the writers do not care much for/about what the previous writers were doing.

And in the best of times, someone who really cares gets the storyline later and ties it all together beautifully. Or servers shut down, that happens too.

: Zubon

8 thoughts on “Storylines and Dev Teams

  1. Stormwaltz

    In the case of AC1, believe it or not, you’ve got it backwards. The first story arc about the Shadows was based on work the pre-summer ’99 design team had made, but never had time to make content based on. Though the specifics of implementation were left to us, the grand arc of the the Shadows, Ilservian, and his generals was based on a big old doc written by Toby Ragaini months or years before I got there.

    1. Zubon Post author

      Thanks for the input. Given lead time, initial updates will always need to be based on work done before the game goes live. But someone did need to decide that the first big arc was the Shadows rather than the Olthoi, the Virindi, ursuin mating season, etc., yes? It could have been done the opposite way, with the first expansion pack being The Shadow Invasion.

  2. Darkeye

    @Zubon
    Spoilers alert!
    I was fairly ambivalent about her arc until that moment. Just dropping her into the story and making her the saboteur has really annoyed me.

    No hint at why she might destroy the reactor. She is there presumably to gather information, seeing what happens when things go boom is one piece of information she desires?

    The timelines are vague when did the reactor blow up, and how long has Scarlet being active in the world. Is she a time-traveller (hopefully not), or actually present at that time? Seeing as they are parachuting the character into the lore it is hard to tell. A dialogue with Kudu during the story fractal would have helped. No mention of a mysterious saboteur after the event is understandable, the Inquest would want to keep that a secret.

    Destroying the Inquest operations and then working with them in the future via the Aetherblades seems an obvious contradiction without a plausible explanation.

    It would make more sense to me that she was acting in the same manner as the player, entering the mists and being an observer of past events. Haven’t done explorable mode of that fractal but dropping her dialogue from there would indicate she has been and gone and got the information she wanted.

  3. Curuniel

    +1 for LOCKE LAMORA YUSSSS I cannot tell all you readers how badly you need to read those books ;)

    ArenaNet have said before that they’d like to using the living story as a vehicle for what would in other situations be expansions – including Elder Dragons. I would dearly love to see Pact moves toward one dragon or other and monthly steps for all of us in the world to follow in slowly pressing into new maps and finding a viable way to fight the next dragon on the Pact’s to do list. Really, I think that would be wonderful. I also think that if they don’t do that soon, I am going to get disgruntled. They need to at least acknowledge that moves are being made! I’m holding out for 2014.

    Come to think of it, this is a theme in my recent comments: “if you’re not going to do it now, at least acknowledge that it’s a thing in-world and signal your intention to do it in time!”

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