Of Foot Soldiers and Heroes

Copra has a great point on Warhammer:

the characters are soldiers fighting for their faction. And this is where it becomes a different bowl of porridge. The players assume their role as warriors for a cause, and are not in fact expecting to be the heroes or the protagonists of the great storyline.

I criticized The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume 1: Shadows of Angmar™ for this. I stand by that, but I like what Warhammer is doing. Warhammer does not create the expectation that you are The Hero of The Realm. You are one of many. You do not solve problems; you beat back the enemy for a while. There is not an epic story going on, one that logically has a beginning, middle, and end. There is endless war, and you are taking part in it. It does not declare itself the most epic fantasy ever and then force you to watch instead of being the protagonist.

Would you rather come over for soda and board games, or be told that I am having the greatest party ever so could you please come over afterwards and help clean up?

Of course, the eternal, meaningless war with no victory leads to its own problems of “this does not matter.” But I notice that I keep saving the city and the problem never goes away.

: Zubon

3 thoughts on “Of Foot Soldiers and Heroes”

  1. Mmm. There seem to be constant battles in every MMO I look at, and everytime I kill something, the darn thing comes back in the next ten seconds. Universal problem.

    I think WAR’s meaning will be player-driven. You’ll get out what you put in. If no one bothers to do anything, nothing will happen, and everyone will get bored. (See quieter servers for examples.)

    In bigger servers with lots of guilds and rivalries and alliances, there’s more potential for interesting personal narrative. “Tonight we steamrolled over these battle objectives and everyone, taking this keep as well, and then this huge opposition zerg rolled us at the other keep, etc.”

    And I suppose it helps that they’ve tied in desirable loot to these things they want us to do. Greed makes people do funny things. Including form groups.

  2. The design of Warhammer allows you to be heroic, but it does not paint you as “the hero”. Really, that’s probably the best way to design an MMO. Leave “the hero” stuff to the single player narratives.

  3. I love Tolkien but I could never find myself immersed in LOTRO for the exact factors you mention. It already has a great story, with fantastic characters and I felt like a completely unnecessary peon running around the lands of Middle-Earth like a tourist (worse, one of many tourists).

    It felt completely wrong to me. By all accounts that license should have propelled to the top if it was just about popularity of the subject matter alone. But for me, I’d rather read Lord of the Rings than play it.

    Warhammer on the other hand, the immersion is not great either, for entirely different reasons, but I don’t feel like a tourist either. I’m getting in on the real action.

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