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  #351  
Old 09-17-2020, 05:52 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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What I'm about to post isn't the first post openly asking if Blizzard if Blizzard just hates the Night Elves, although I think it may be one of the last - not because I expect Blizzard to make things better but because there's very little reason to hope that they will ever make it up to us. There are a lot of responses of course, but I wanted to update this thread to highlight just three of them. I feel that they deserve your attention, and your consideration:

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wo...lves/645272/96

Quote:
I mean, I feel like they set us up during the pre-launch to think that since Teldrassil was important enough to destroy, the kaldorei would be a crucial part of the main story. And we weren’t, not really. Questing with Shandris was fun, and she’s awesome, and I could watch John J. Keeshan fangirl her all day, but it wasn’t really the fist-pump moment they claimed we would eventually get. And it broke my heart when that gnome died, and then the Sentinels when we go to fight that vampire whatever, just, ouch. :frowning:

They set us up during the pre-launch quests to feel awful, sending us out into the burning zone (my favorite zone in the game) to try to rescue as many trapped and terrified people as we could, and giving us a timer and a counter showing how many we failed to save, and then not letting us go back and save more. I did them on multiple alts partly because I just wanted to keep saving people and it was a punch to the chest every time. They meant for us to feel it and they succeeded. And Elegy is a whole other story, the kaldorei getting out-stealthed in their own forests, poisoned, tricked, and that heartbreaking ending.

So, as a player, you kind of expect that you’ll get something in return. Something to balance how awful that all felt. Now, idk about everyone, but I know a lot of us never got that. The warfront felt good the first few times, but even in the warfront the last bosses are our own heroes turned against us. And then it reverts to Horde control. Back and forth, back and forth. Somewhere there exists a scene with Tyrande telling us we won, but I’ve never seen it in game, only on YouTube.

Blizzard is really good at making us feel awful but they haven’t figured out how to make us feel good again. Or they haven’t bothered, idk which.

Anyway, the point is I’d so much rather they ignored us altogether than kill us off first and then ignore us. I haven’t unsubbed because I have a sentimental attachment to my main and because I still plan to try Shadowlands, but I’ve only logged in once since June, and that was to shutter my guild. And it isn’t entirely because I’m so disappointed and wearied by the story and by the way they’ve just…defanged my favorite race and ground them into ashes (literally) with no sign of building us back up, but I’d be pants-on-fire lying if I said that wasn’t a lot of it. I played for a long, long time just kind of working around canon to feel okay about maining kaldorei, but.

Eventually I guess I just felt ground into ashes too. They slaughtered thousands and then didn’t know what to do with us so…they…just… didn’t.

Yeah, idk. Hate us and kill us and ignore us, or love us and kill us and ignore us, it still nets out to feeling like my favorite race is just there to die so someone else can go fight for Lordaeron or something.
https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wo...lves/645272/98

Quote:
Although I can’t go into depth right now; I do hope me being concise is enough.

Throughout Battle for Azeroth i’ve found that there were less and less roleplayers utilizing Night Elves. Felt like they were vanishing off the streets.

I think a lot of roleplay right now for Night Elves are pigeonholed into unsatisfactory conclusions that seem forced. There’s no bright light at the end of the tunnel either, personally.
https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wo...ves/645272/108

Quote:
As a night elf roleplayer, you’re given three options.

A) Be sad.
B) Be mad.
C) Be a sociopath who doesn’t care about the mass death of their own race and continues as normal.

I axed my nelf DK and nelf mage by race-changing them so I could RP something other than ball of rage or a sad-sack.
For me, this is just the latest sample of this problem. I'm part of this problem. Many of my old friends from WoW are part of this problem. I keep in touch with people who are part of this problem, who if they haven't rerolled have left the game entirely for greener pastures (I see far more of the latter than the former).

Shadowlands thus far doesn't appear to be doing anything to correct that. It seems instead to be a firm statement that nothing will be done, nothing satisfying anyway. (No, Tyrande's actions in the Maw do not count. They don't address the issue, and they don't try to.)

I have nothing further to say in conclusion. I guess you really can kill hope.
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  #352  
Old 11-06-2020, 09:12 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Watching the Horde-player commentary of Battle for Azeroth has differed from engaging with it during Cataclysm in that this time around, much of the Horde-side objections have to do with being typecast as evil. On the surface, this is a valid complaint and I support those elevating it. However, in discussing the question about whether Horde players should feel bad about their content, I do feel that I've been too deferential to this complaint, and am writing this in hopes of correcting that.

So that I am not confused here, no, I don't think you're a bad person just because you prefer the other faction. You're not a bad person for wanting to PVP or engage in the faction rivalry. You're not a bad person for wanting to watch your side win.

However, with that out of the way, there continues to be a strain of people who want more than that. These are the people who fold their arms and deny resolution for any playerbase but their own. These are the people who think that the only problem with Teldrassil was that they were made to feel bad about it, or that Sylvanas committed a warcrime that made them look bad. They were absolutely fine with "winning" the faction war in this manner - that is, having the developers hand them a victory so crushing that the other side didn't want to play anymore, and expecting that it's right for them to be able to gloat with this unearned "win" on the court until the heat death of the universe, while people who liked what they didn't like hung their heads dejectedly and left the gymnasium. To clarify, this has nothing to do with burning fictional elves - it has everything to do with acting as though another playerbase only exists to lose to you, and that their enjoyment of the game doesn't matter. The selfishness to the extent that a person will seek another person's suffering (not back and forth competition) for their enjoyment - a low-grade evil.

Put another way - I'm referring to the strain of people who either wanted the other side to suffer, or who didn't care about that suffering so long as they got what they wanted - which is what the War of the Thorns was, but for that pesky detail of them being called bad people for it. They now rage at their would-be victims every time they bring up their grievances, or propagate Fregoli-delusion-fueled conspiracy theories to minimize the impact of the people that they wish they could have wronged. To be clear, if you're reading this thinking "I didn't think of it like that, I just wanted to win", I'm not talking about you - I'm talking about the people who either wanted to cause that pain, or didn't care that they were causing it so long as they benefited.

In Warcraft 3, Blizzard created the narrative of the Horde that they can't stop repeating. The Orcs used to be a demon spawned army, and Grom still harbored the bloodlust that he cultivated during his time in it. When he faced Cenarius, he protested that the Orcs were free, and Cenarius rebuked him, stating that they were as bloodthirsty as the demons ever were. What gave this campaign its meaning and metaphorical punch was the way in which that same theme gets dredged up in the final cinematic. Grom's sacrifice didn't just free the Orcs from demon blood, it was a rebuke of that bloodthirst, and this is because his second wind was produced by Mannoroth taunting him by parroting Cenarius with this line:

"But you know that in your heart, we are the same."

BFA did not end with such a clean resolution, and while I generally reject Blizzard ham-handedly forcing morals down upon its playerbase, I do detect that they were actively out to shame the playerbase in this manner - to say that they can have their big bombastic win, but that it comes at the cost of their soul. For most Horde players, I stridently object to what Blizzard did here, but if there is any group of players that deserves this messaging? If there's any group that it was intended for? It's the group that I'm talking about.

Because you are the same.
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  #353  
Old 11-08-2020, 02:22 PM
Wreave Wreave is offline

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I think I've got three or four half finished comments that I've been meaning to post here, but they keep getting too long and I keep getting tied up with other projects.

I'll try to keep it short. ☺

Kyalin posted a thread on the official forums several years ago that explained WoW's horrendous writing decisions as down to one thing: they like the bad boy, the criminal. Metal rock. Going out and robbing banks and portraying it as bad ass (K posted a link to a Judas Priest video about robbing a bank).

In fantasy, we all tend to think of a story about the good guys winning, beating the big bad etc. Tolkien. Paladins. Maybe flawed, but still basically about peaceful people reluctantly going to war to protect their peaceful way of life.

But there are plenty of people who hate that. They like the bad guys. They want to beat other people, take advantage of them, rob them etc. Even if they themselves are physically weak, they still fantasize about being big muscular bad guys who can casually beat other people into submission. Or the more intellectual variant, outsmart them, trick them, con them. Wreck their lives without them really even having a clue as to how they're being played.

And some of these assholes are talented writers, artists, etc.

Now, such creators could create a world of thug beats thug, a world where different factions are all different variants of dark, dark grey. Sounds to me like warhammer is such a world, but I haven't played it, so I might not have it quite right. (And it's not that such worlds can't be interesting and even fun (as long as you're not actually living in them!)).

But the truth is that most potential players aren't assholes and don't want to be the thug.

So what's an asshole creator to do?

Write a world of roughly good vs evil, but then keep excusing the bad guys in one way or another. And keep poisoning the good guys story. Make the good guys chumps, stupid, excessively merciful, cowards, zealots, etc. And in this creation you may have to eventually sacrifice your bad guy heroes, but you only do so begrudgingly, and only after having them out muscle, out think multitudes of the good guys, before they're finally brought down.

So if you're a good guy player, you go into this world, which looks like a good vs bad guy world. And your character and nation struggles against assaults and you do win a lot. But when it comes down to fighting the bad guy, whatever win you get in the end is weak... poisoned. The heroes on your side are idiots, chumps, weak. Maybe you finally took down the bad guy, but without getting chumped every step of the way and maybe getting lectured to by some NPC about how what you did was wrong.

There are two ideas of hero: 1) the good guy who protects and saves people, and 2) the powerful guy who can outfight and out think everyone else. Think of the latter as a "competence hero". WoW is about the latter.

The hero of MoP is Garrosh. And the hero of BfA (and likely of Shadowlands as well) is Sylvanas. Who was the one person who knew what was going on in BfA? Who had a plan all along? Who dealt with surprises and obstacles and still got her way? Who comes off as completely bad ass? Sylvanas.

Yes the Night Elves are being screwed. Because they're good guys. Which in Blizzard's world just makes them punching bags.

Now... Step back from the story and look at the company. Some companies foster a dog eat dog culture. Pit employee against employee, then kick out the "low performers". Blizzard seems to be such a company. It seems that there has long been a group of senior staff and managers who treat lower staff as expendable trash. And while some of those "trash" may rise and join the senior staff, most will finally get fed up and leave, only to be replaced with new fresh expendables.

Why did that work? Because senior management thinks the same way. Exploit workers then discard them. And because blizzard division kept making a lot of money.

You would think that continually pissing off at least half of their player base (people who wanted to play good guys and not feel like chumps) would be bad business. But 1) Blizzard did a lot of that in more subtle excusable ways, so its not totally obvious to the good guy players. Rather they just get to the end and feel somehow cheated, let down, but ignore that because the game is so enjoyable and fun in many other ways. Also, 2) the writers enjoy doing it, and it fits company culture. They're just exploiting the rubes, and the rubes are too stupid to notice. (And this applies to both the players and the gullible new hires.)

Will this ever change? No. It's not just a few writers at Blizzard. It's absolutely core company culture. New writers won't get promoted to positions of influence over the story unless they have that same sort of thinking. And senior management wont get rid of it, because senior management thinks the same way.

So, yes, "good" characters will continue to be screwed. Paladin heroes will become zealots (Yrel, Turalyon). Those seeking to seek vengeance for unending murderous deeds of the Horde will become insane with vengeance (Tyrdande, who of course, only can only possibly be saved by giving up on on vengeance entirely). (And it's not all on the alliance side, Blained will continue to an ineffectual wimp, who doesn't even have the confidence of his own people.)

So yes, Night Elves will continue to be screwed, along with the rest of the good guys.

As will any other "good" character. (E.g. Blaine.)

PS: Okay, not short, and pretty scattershot, with almost no editing, but otherwise, I would never have had the time to post it!
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  #354  
Old 11-08-2020, 09:43 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Thanks for the post, Wreave. I hope my reply gives it justice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wreave View Post
I think I've got three or four half finished comments that I've been meaning to post here, but they keep getting too long and I keep getting tied up with other projects.

I'll try to keep it short. ☺

Kyalin posted a thread on the official forums several years ago that explained WoW's horrendous writing decisions as down to one thing: they like the bad boy, the criminal. Metal rock. Going out and robbing banks and portraying it as bad ass (K posted a link to a Judas Priest video about robbing a bank).
It's funny, but I actually got really into Judas Priest afterwards, because Judas Priest also gave me The Sentinel.

Anyway, I do have to correct this somewhat. One of the key elements of Breaking the Law has some serious punk vibes to it, which change the tenor of the song in relation to how it's being applied. Priest's lyrics tend to be pretty vivid, and in this case the act of breaking the law is bracketed around economic hardship, and bitterness over the system. For example:

So much for the golden future. I can't even start.
I've had every promise broken and there's anger in my heart!
You don't know what it's like. You don't have a clue.
If you did you'd find yourself doing the same thing too!


So, it's not just the matter of doing bad things for the sake of it, it's doing morally questionable things out of a sense of desperation. It applied back then because Garrosh's reasoning for war was explicitly that they needed resources to not starve, and to some there's something heroic about that. There's a reason that Robin Hood gets presented as a hero, after all.

BFA wasn't that though. It was, at best: racial paranoia about a war that MIGHT happen in the future being used as justification for explicitly racial wars that don't care about military/civilian distinctions. I've seen some posters attempt to compare this to the Atomic Bombings, but this is much closer to Hitler's motivation to the holocaust. This isn't Breaking the Law, this is Tomorrow Belongs to Me.

Quote:
In fantasy, we all tend to think of a story about the good guys winning, beating the big bad etc. Tolkien. Paladins. Maybe flawed, but still basically about peaceful people reluctantly going to war to protect their peaceful way of life.

But there are plenty of people who hate that. They like the bad guys. They want to beat other people, take advantage of them, rob them etc. Even if they themselves are physically weak, they still fantasize about being big muscular bad guys who can casually beat other people into submission. Or the more intellectual variant, outsmart them, trick them, con them. Wreck their lives without them really even having a clue as to how they're being played.
I also don't want to get confused here between someone who wants to play the bad guy, and someone who is an unrestrained narcissist who thinks that the game should cater only to them, especially in an MMORPG.

In an MMORPG, you should be able to choose who you want your character to be, whether that's a heroic paladin, or a despicable soul-eating warlock. The game should give you choices in expression, and give you ways of living out that expression. If you want to do that in a manner that effects other players, that's fine so long as it's bound by fair game rules and subject to counterplay - with PVP being a good example overall, if someone flawed in its execution (i.e. the inability to make sustainable World PVP that isn't just ganking lower levels or smashing low level towns and sitting on your flying mount when someone on your level comes to stop you).

So where does that get too far? I would say that happens when the developer offers other players as targets for abuse - such as what they did with Teldrassil and similar content that advantages the people who want to beat up on Night Elves outside of the common ruleset.

Quote:
And some of these assholes are talented writers, artists, etc.

Now, such creators could create a world of thug beats thug, a world where different factions are all different variants of dark, dark grey. Sounds to me like warhammer is such a world, but I haven't played it, so I might not have it quite right. (And it's not that such worlds can't be interesting and even fun (as long as you're not actually living in them!)).

But the truth is that most potential players aren't assholes and don't want to be the thug.

So what's an asshole creator to do?
I think we need to better define our terms here - because again, there's a difference between liking darker themes or grimdark settings and being an asshole. The former can create compelling and fantastic work that people might want to play. The latter is a toxic employee that you should keep away from your workplace and especially your customers.

One thing that I'll add for the former kind of creator though is that in addition to what I mentioned about MMO dynamics, you do need to be honest with your playerbase. If you intended for the Horde to be evil for example, then you shouldn't have brought people in with the noble savage narrative, and shouldn't be whipsawing between what you presented as their new direction circa Warcraft 3, and what you created in Warcraft 2.

That again is not a matter of a darker, grittier setting, that's a question of being honest enough with your playerbase that they understand what they're being sold. What's going on with the Horde is a narrative bait and switch. It's not the only one going on in the franchise however, of course. Night Elf players were lied to about the perception of competence of what they wanted to represent in WoW. That's where this anger is coming from - not just the creative direction, it's that we can't trust Blizzard to create satisfying content for us, or to make good on their promises.

Quote:
Write a world of roughly good vs evil, but then keep excusing the bad guys in one way or another. And keep poisoning the good guys story. Make the good guys chumps, stupid, excessively merciful, cowards, zealots, etc. And in this creation you may have to eventually sacrifice your bad guy heroes, but you only do so begrudgingly, and only after having them out muscle, out think multitudes of the good guys, before they're finally brought down.

So if you're a good guy player, you go into this world, which looks like a good vs bad guy world. And your character and nation struggles against assaults and you do win a lot. But when it comes down to fighting the bad guy, whatever win you get in the end is weak... poisoned. The heroes on your side are idiots, chumps, weak. Maybe you finally took down the bad guy, but without getting chumped every step of the way and maybe getting lectured to by some NPC about how what you did was wrong.

There are two ideas of hero: 1) the good guy who protects and saves people, and 2) the powerful guy who can outfight and out think everyone else. Think of the latter as a "competence hero". WoW is about the latter.

The hero of MoP is Garrosh. And the hero of BfA (and likely of Shadowlands as well) is Sylvanas. Who was the one person who knew what was going on in BfA? Who had a plan all along? Who dealt with surprises and obstacles and still got her way? Who comes off as completely bad ass? Sylvanas.

Yes the Night Elves are being screwed. Because they're good guys. Which in Blizzard's world just makes them punching bags.
What you're describing is the problem with trying to ramrod an RTS story into an MMORPG.

An RTS can tell a story about a good versus evil conflict, and Warcraft 3 did that pretty effectively. You're a nameless, faceless battlefield commander in such an instance, and your gameplay involves finding the most efficient way to claim victory. You're on the winning side of every part of that story, and while there might be parts of it that you don't like playing, you can still follow that good versus evil story without getting bent out of shape. It doesn't threaten your idea that you're good enough that you can make decisions and have those decisions matter.

RPGs are about character progression and character identification, be it active or passive. There was a conversation in the discord about this, and I feel that when I bring this up that people expect that I'm talking about RPers who pour hours into character bios and campaigns. I'm really talking about the unconscious experience of identification with the character that naturally takes place in an interactive role playing game - or the Mimesis Effect. It's notable that this effect takes place whether you choose the role or not (although it's slightly stronger if you DO choose it), which is why I'm confident in roping in, at least a little bit, the people who pick races not out of preference, but out of mechanical need. Does this mean that I think that everyone is naturally going to turn into a "verily forsooth" hardcore RPer that's attached to a particular race? No, but I do confidently state that an identification factor persists regardless.

So can you do a good versus evil story in an RPG? Sure - and the side of that you're on depends on what the writers will write and what appeals to you as a player to go out and buy.

But can you do it in an MMORPG? For the entire world in the style of an ubernarrative? I'm going to say, that's much harder. The MMORPG introduces the layer of customization - that is, identification becoming personal to you. It's tied to your choices, and so it's a more difficult thing for the game to attack and still be satisfying. The MMORPG also doesn't just have one story, because it has multiple protagonists, and multiple stories depending on what parts of the world the player ends up interacting with. These stories are not explicitly written, they are emergent - and the rivalry further complicates this with the feeling of competence being tied into how well you're doing against your foes. It's a similar problem as the one presented by competitive multiplayer games in general, which I think this linked
at least partially describes.

Blizzard's decision to write an all encompassing, character focused ubernarrative ignores the needs of their medium, and leaves people who are casually discarded by it feeling pretty cold. That, in my view, is why BFA's narrative failed - over and above the things that didn't make logical sense, the idiot ball holding, or all of the rest of it. It was the attack on players, their identity, their competence, and their ability to make meaningful choices both about who they are and what role they have in the world - that dragged it to where it is.

Quote:
Now... Step back from the story and look at the company. Some companies foster a dog eat dog culture. Pit employee against employee, then kick out the "low performers". Blizzard seems to be such a company. It seems that there has long been a group of senior staff and managers who treat lower staff as expendable trash. And while some of those "trash" may rise and join the senior staff, most will finally get fed up and leave, only to be replaced with new fresh expendables.

Why did that work? Because senior management thinks the same way. Exploit workers then discard them. And because blizzard division kept making a lot of money.

You would think that continually pissing off at least half of their player base (people who wanted to play good guys and not feel like chumps) would be bad business. But 1) Blizzard did a lot of that in more subtle excusable ways, so its not totally obvious to the good guy players. Rather they just get to the end and feel somehow cheated, let down, but ignore that because the game is so enjoyable and fun in many other ways. Also, 2) the writers enjoy doing it, and it fits company culture. They're just exploiting the rubes, and the rubes are too stupid to notice. (And this applies to both the players and the gullible new hires.)

Will this ever change? No. It's not just a few writers at Blizzard. It's absolutely core company culture. New writers won't get promoted to positions of influence over the story unless they have that same sort of thinking. And senior management wont get rid of it, because senior management thinks the same way.

So, yes, "good" characters will continue to be screwed. Paladin heroes will become zealots (Yrel, Turalyon). Those seeking to seek vengeance for unending murderous deeds of the Horde will become insane with vengeance (Tyrdande, who of course, only can only possibly be saved by giving up on on vengeance entirely). (And it's not all on the alliance side, Blained will continue to an ineffectual wimp, who doesn't even have the confidence of his own people.)

So yes, Night Elves will continue to be screwed, along with the rest of the good guys.

As will any other "good" character. (E.g. Blaine.)

PS: Okay, not short, and pretty scattershot, with almost no editing, but otherwise, I would never have had the time to post it!
I do have to disagree with this. I don't think we're seeing a "bleedout" of a ruthless company culture in the sense that bitter, assholish behavior is mirroring itself in the game. I think instead we're seeing book authors being brought in to "elevate" WoW along the lines of David Kosak's "Hero Factory" theory, when as I described previously, that theory was based on a model of storytelling that is wholly incompatible with an MMO - same with the perspective that a book author brings to the table.

Video games differ from other media by way of the element of choice, and in few places is choice and the importance to the player of that choice more pervasive than in an MMORPG. WoW since at least Cataclysm however, has devalued, diminished, and even spat on those choices if they don't serve, or are being abused by the ubernarrative. So I would say that this isn't a problem of bad people, it's a problem of a bad game design philosophy.
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  #355  
Old 11-11-2020, 10:58 PM
Wreave Wreave is offline

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Default Summary of My Thoughts

This post isn't a response to you, it's a summary of my thoughts on the issue. See following post for — what will actually be mostly a reaction more than a response.
  • My claim:
    • Blizzard (head writers) wants to write "Thugs win. Thugs are bad ass. Good guys lose."
    • But blizzard (probably for commercial reasons) hides, and pretends to write a "fair faction war".
    • Result is a dishonest story for good-aligned players: Something that pretends to be one thing, but inevitably betrays that promise, with weak characters, weak results.
    • Good-aligned players feel let-down, heartbroken, betrayed
  • Thugs win, good guys lose:
    • Evidence: Because its' a core, consistent trope...
    • An extremely long littany story points that make the good guys look weak and the bad guys look strong.
    • "Good guys" are usually alliance and "Bad guys" are usualy Horde. But not always, e.g.
      • In BfA, Sylvannas is the bad ass champion. And she punks the Horde.
      • Malfurion is part of NE race, but he's bad ass. He's the champion of Legion.
        • Note that in Legion, Malfurion and Velen's relationship boils down to: Malfurion (bad guy) Strong, Velen (good guy) weak. I.e. it's Malfurion who teachs Velen, not the other way around.
    • E.g. NE's in BfA, very quickly turn to making peace. Tyrand is the exception, but she's portrayed as lost to out of control vengeance. (Vs. e.g. Garrosh in MoP, who despite working corrupting sha, never lost control of himself, never lost to the sha.)
    • E.g. Turalyon turning zealog; Jaina going peace mode (AGAIN!) despite such a promising start in legion.
  • Dishonesty:
    • Evidence: The repeated bait and switch, where good guys start out relatively strong, only to turn out weak in the end. Whileas the bad guys never suffer similar weakening.
    • In particular, for the good guys, things tend to look best at the beginning of the expansion, only to turn weak at the end.
      • E.g. MoP where Alliances most bad-ass moment is the beginning.
      • E.g. Jaina, Tyrande, etc.
    • Further evidence: Subtle poisoning throughout the story. E.g. Tyrande being impulsive, reckless, emotional, despite having been a leader of her people for 10,000 years. E.g. her weakness when she's searching for Malfurion in Legion. E.g. Jaina failing to call Taran Zu on his absurd "give peace a chance" speech in MoP.
  • Counterargument: It doesn't make sense for them to sabotate their own player base (and thus revenue stream) in this way.
    • Response to that...
    • They're arrogant. They think they can get away with it.
      • And they did get away with it for a long time because the other fine qualities of the game compensate for it.
    • It's hidden. They hide it and are somewhat subtle about it.
      • None of the examples here would be a problem in themselves, they would all be excusable. It's unending repetion of the trope that makes it inexcusable.
    • Addressing possible objection: Maybe (Many/Most) Players want this bad guys win trope?
      • There may be some truth to this, but the very fact that they hide the trope and use bait and switch clearly indicates that they're afraid of being open and blatant about it. Presumably because it would cost them money.
    • Writers don't necessarily care about commercial success. I've seen game after game sabotaged by writers scratching their own itch despite obvious likely negative commercial impact of that.
    • Corporate Culture: Both Activision and Blizzard seem to have particularly strong "screw the rank and file workers" cultures. I.e. their very culture is essentially a thug culture. So it's not surprising that the game story matches that same culture.
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Old 11-11-2020, 11:09 PM
Wreave Wreave is offline

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So this is my reaction/thoughts to your post. And it ended up being more of a "reaction" or "thoughts inspired" rather than a "response". In a few places it agrees, but a lot goes off in different directions. So... maybe useful, maybe not!
  • Character Motivations:
    • Does the writer create the character, give them motivations, and let their actions flow from that?
    • Or does the writer decide what they want to do, and then make up cover motivations to (sort of) justify those actions?
    • Generally, you can't determine this from one story by the writer, but have to look at many to see if there's a consistent pattern.
    • However, you can also look for: 1) are the justifications too weak to justify the action; 2) is the characters reasoning consistent? I.e. are they given a trait or motivation to explain a malevolent act, only to have that trait/motivation discarded when it doesn't serve that purpose?
    • With Blizzard both of these happen repeatedly.
      • E.g. repeatedly telling us that orcs never surrender, only then to chastise alliance commanders shooting them because "they might be about to surrender".
      • E.g. Jaina and Taran Zu: A scene which completely ignore Jaina's repeatedly giving peace "one more chance".
      • E.g. Blood elves turning against the entire alliance, because of one bad commander.
      • E.g. Blood elves continuing to support a leader who is attacking them racially (Garrosh).
      • E.g. Thalysrra disdaining Night Elves because they "live in trees" only to join a faction led by orcs (who live in stone huts) and Undead (who are... undead... and live in a graveyard/sewer).
    • Blizzard simply doesn't care about character motivations. They're just a token cover.
    • Consequently, Garrosh's purported motivations are irrelevant.
    • I know that discarding character motivations as irrelevant seems extreme... But it's the proper response when the writers just don't care about character motivations.
  • What Does it Mean to "Play the Bad Guy"
    • That's question worth clarifying. There are a lot of different ways...
      1. Gameplay: Going around a busting stuff up because its fun to bust stuff up.
      2. Story: Where the PC is malevolent, or an MMO where all playable factions are malevolent.
      3. Story: An MMO with both malevolent and benevolent factions and joining the malevolent faction.
      4. Story: Where the entire storyline favors malevolent characters over non-malevolent characters.
      5. Playing a villain within a culture, robbing and/or killing peaceful NPCs.
        • This might be RP, or it might be gameplay if the game supports such activities (e.g. Elder Scrolls).
        • Notably in WoW, this is only available by RP.
      6. Screwing other players through abusing group loot system etc.
      7. Screwing other players through unfair advantage in PvP (twinking etc.).
        • Game developers sometimes intentionally support this, either because they enjoy doing it themselves, or because it makes money (pay to win in PvP).
        • Almost certainly unwise, because it will gradually destroy your playerbase.
    • Hmm... I think the relevant question is whether the game is honest to players, and whether PvP is fair.
    • The fundamental issue here is: 1) WoW ends up having a "good guys suck" theme, and 2) but is dishonest and hides that. (I'll forgo the "fair PvP" question since that is not my interest here.)
  • RTS vs MMO
    • I've barely played any RTS , so I can't really comment.
    • It's my understanding that in RTS you (usually? always?) are not invested in any character or even faction. I.e. you can play one faction in one session, and then turn around and play a different/opposing faction in the next session w/o losing any gameplay time investment you made in playing the other faction. (Vs. MMOs where you are innately invested in specific characters (and maybe in factions too, given friendships, faction specific guilds, etc.)
    • Or the RTS may have you switching factions as you play through the storyline.
    • Also, the RTS games are specifically built on the premise of fighting the other factions, and beating them in order to win the game.
    • Hence, yes the storyline restrictions are quite different from an MMO.
    • And... You're much less likely to become emotionally invested in a particular faction... It's more like a chessboard with an attached short story.
  • Faction Story in a Faction Conflict Storyline
    • There are of course, major difficulties in writing faction stories for an MMO which wants: 1) factions to fight each other; but also 2) to join forces to fight the big bad.
    • The number one restriction: Is that the threat from the other faction must be massively smaller than the thread from the big bad.
      • If the faction conflict ever becomes comparable to the big bad conflict, then 1) there can be no co-operation. But more than that, 2) if the big bad is so bad that it must be destroyed, and the threat from the opposing faction is of the same magnitude, then opposing faction must also be destroyed.
      • While this is a substantial restriction, it's certainly easily doable for the writers.
      • Yet, Blizzard keeps violating it. There's no "narrative difficulty" excuse for this. It's not that hard to do it right.
Now, having gone through all that, again, I feel it ended up more of a "reaction" than a "response". I would say, we're both reacting to what we see as the failings of the WoW story. I would think that we largely agree on what those failings are. (I.e. "This happened in the story of my character/race, and it sucks. And this sort of thing keeps happening.) However, I would say:
  • I think that your approach is primarily to analyze it from approach of theoretics of story telling and what would make a good satisfying story.
  • However, my approach is that the fundamental analysis here is the motivations of the writers. Advanced theoretical analsys doesn't help — if they author just doesn't care, and is perfectly willing to screw over part or all of the audience base in order to scratch their personal motivational itch.

And since I seem to recall that you do accounting work, It's like giving a client a detailed analysis of how his accounting system is flawed and how certain accounting approach would be better (with detailed charts, analyses, etc.) and the client responds, "But my goal is to steal the company blind. That's why I fucked up our accounting system in the first place."

Obviously such an analogy hinges on whether Blizzard writers did indeed intend to "fuck up the accounting system in the first place", but I think that at this point, there's ample evidence that they did — its simply the same tropes, the same behavior over and over.
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  #357  
Old 11-13-2020, 09:12 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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I mean, if you want to make an accounting analogy, then perhaps I should default to my usual when dealing with clients. Even though I struggle with it, simple, plain language is better. So let me make an attempt at that.

While I certainly think these people have no compunction against screwing over certain playerbases - like mine - I disagree with your idea that they are doing this to push a "bad guys win, good guys lose" moral. The bad guys lose in the end - they always do in Warcraft.

I think instead they were trying to simplify the story into a good versus evil narrative, one with a rising action - a real kick in the gut to let you know why the bad guys need to be fought, before you move through complication and resolution. Simple, easy, doesn't cost a lot of money - kids love it. As I've stated however, I don't think you can put this framing in a two-faction game and retain that easy good versus evil dynamic.

That's it. That's our disagreement.
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  #358  
Old 11-13-2020, 10:55 PM
Wreave Wreave is offline

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Bad Guys Lose?
  • First, question is, does Blizzard actually want the bad guys to lose? Or are they only do that because of market considerations?
    • They only lose by being ganked (granted thats pretty much the nature of a raiding game).
    • But they don't lose by incompetence. Or by losing control.
    • They only lose by getting overwhelmed.
  • And second point: Bad guys don't always lose:
    • Garrosh MoP: Isn't even killed at the end of MoP, but instead chumps more people, escapes, chumps time-walking dragon and is basically responsible for the whole of Draenor storyline.
    • Grommash WoD: Not only is he not killed despite his massive levels of slaughter, he is treated as a hero at the end.
    • Sylvannas: Wins big time in BfA. Basically outplans, outsmarts everyone. Yes her plan A is sometimes stopped, but she always has a Plan B, then a Plan C etc.

(Though I'll say that not all bad guys fit this mold. Plenty are more classic token bad guys - blustery and strong, but basically loot pinatas. )

I.e. The fact that the bad guy dies at the end is simply necessary for market reasons. But if the competence of the lead bad guy is vastly greater than his/her opponents, that tells you who the writers favor.

If a hero goes off and fights a thousand opponents and they finally take the hero down — the message is that the hero was badass.

Which characters do the head writers most admire?
I think this is a core question to ask, and then judge based on the writing in the game.
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  #359  
Old 12-07-2020, 09:14 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Thoughts on Ardenweald

I'm fortunate to be able to say that in my life, I've had several chances to travel. I've seen Rome, I've partied in Paris, Dublin was okay, and Vienna was sort of fascinating.

Vienna is covered in Franz Joseph Statues and it kind of seems like in some of the architecture, he was trying to LARP as Napoleon Bonaparte, who himself was trying to LARP as Caesar. Franz Joseph lived in Schönbrunn Palace, and if you go there... let me just say - I knew that the Hapsburgs liked to LARP as Romans, but I didn't know they did it quite this hard. Walking around the palace gardens you get the impression that someone said "yeah, I'll take all of your Roman looking statues. Just put them everywhere. Fetch me a toga while you're at it." I have to admit that I was quite entertained at the lengths these discount Germans were willing to go to do this - especially when I remember that it used to be way, way worse.

We have that palace because some time ago the "Holy Roman Emperor" bought the land for it. We have the Holy Roman Empire because some Franks, some Germans, and some Lombards, etc. thought it would be fun to LARP as the Roman Empire - which is kind of funny because there already was a Roman Empire at the time. Several hundred years before, the real Roman Empire split itself into the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, with the former based out of Rome and the latter out of Constantinople (not Istanbul). The West fell, but the East kept going for another thousand years. They called themselves Romans, other people, including their enemies called them Romans, and they kept up a fair number of Roman Traditions - like what had become a theme at the time of the Western Empire's Fall: Christianity.

And because they had the Vatican, the "Latin" church could from time to time claim to be the center of Christianity. Now, if you're a Roman at the time, you might be thinking "who do these LARPing Barbarians think they are? Weren't these the guys who SACKED Rome?", but the LARPing Barbarians did eventually pretty much swipe Christianity as a theme. Sure, Orthodoxy lumbers on, but these days they do it largely from Russia, and let's be honest here. They don't have the Vatican or its vast repository of statues of naked people.

Now, if you're a "Byzantine" (that's the name the LARPing Barbarians would later give to the Eastern Roman Empire, to avoid confusion with the Holy Roman Empire) refugee in 1453 - sure, you can stamp your feet about how your people started this whole Christianity thing, and curse out the LARPing Barbarians for sitting by and munching popcorn as they watched Constantinople get swiped by some Turk (who, by the way, also is now LARPing as the "Caesar of the Roman Empire"), but all of that won't change the fact that Christianity isn't "your thing" anymore. It hasn't been "your thing" for a while, actually. If it's anyone's thing, it's the LARPing Barbarians' thing.

That's sort of how I feel about Night Elves and druidism. It's Night Elf in appearance more often than not, but Blizzard is usually careful to throw up a wall between the playable faction and the druidic content. I would regard content as being "someone's" content if they derived a benefit from it - a continuing thing that can be incorporated into their society. It's hard to argue that such is happening when Cenarius and the druids have pretty much washed their hands of the Night Elves in their time of greatest need (twice now). Yeah, we got Malfurion back for five minutes, and some druidic elements have returned, that's nice. But Night Elf druidism doesn't seem, for the most part, to be a thing that matters for the playable Night Elf faction - it matters, frankly, for the LARPing Barbarians.

The possible exception here might be Ysera, who claims that she would have fought for the Night Elves if she was alive. Oh, neat. So where was she in Cataclysm? In Hyjal? Okay, how about Mists? Chilling with Cenarius, got it. In BFA, I guess being dead is a pretty good excuse, so what about her brood? Because I missed the part where green dragons cared enough to intervene in the War of the Thorns or do anything in the wake of it. I'm going to have to call BS here. This kind of looks like Blizzard thinking that if they say something, it's just as good as if it was actual content, which, ha ha - no.

So, yeah, I am feeling just a bit bitter about Ardenweald and its continuation of this neutral druidic content trend. I certainly don't feel like this content is "for me", and I'm a bit resentful of the idea that if the opposite faction guts me and wears my intestines as a hat, that I should be grateful because we're experiencing "my content"(s) which they don't even like anyway and are angry about having to wear.

Speaking of....

Of what we can firmly call Night Elf content - that which matters to the playable faction - we have Shandris, Tyrande, and the rescue of Night Elf souls from the Maw. That's good I guess, even if I hate this expansion's whole premise, it's better than nothing. I watched the questline and as much as Tyrande annoys me, and as much as I hate the word "Minn'do" now - it's still a good thing that all of those people that the Horde killed won't eternally suffer.

What I don't like is that it's possible for a Sylvanas loyalist - who during BFA wouldn't shut up about how the Night Elves deserved it, how Sylvanas did nothing wrong, how much they hate Night Elf fans (or the secret mastermind who they think is REALLY behind it all), and how they shouldn't get what they gave because they pay fifteen dollars a month - to now play-act as the savior of the Night Elf souls that they put there as they sicc Shandris on Night Elf players in Warmode. I think that's actually pretty disgusting.

In fact I think it's disgusting that the Horde even has the option to help out here. I am aware that many legitimately did not ask for this, but I didn't either, and the faction and unfortunately the character involved here largely didn't stop taking Sylvanas's orders or doing Sylvanas's bidding until they worked out that it was no longer in their interests to do so. Sylvanas didn't change the Horde's culture or sell them on something different - she tricked them into committing, and staying committed to a war on the basis of a pre-existing ideology, and pre-existing interests. Reacting to her saying "the Horde is nothing" by telling her to pound sand is not redemption in my mind.

For those Horde players who didn't want this, I'm sorry, but what I just described above needs to have at least some consequences. That means I don't think that Tyrande should stomach working with you. I don't think even you should get to play-act as the savior of the Night Elves. If you want to do that, roll a human.

Those are pretty much my thoughts. I get a steady drip-feed of spoilers, but admittedly, I didn't do the kind of diligence to get myself up to speed as I did with Legion or BFA - I can't be asked to with this snoozer of an expansion concept. I'm mostly looking for things that would appeal to me as a longtime Night Elf fan who would love to come back if they gave me compelling reasons to do so. I'm not finding them here. In fact I think this zone manages to make things worse for Night Elf fans in general for the reasons I described.

So, Ardenweald? Thanks, I hate it.
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  #360  
Old 12-10-2020, 07:42 AM
Nazja Nazja is offline

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Just a few days ago I saw some Sylvanas loyalist players complain about the Night Fae campaign for spelling out the Horde’s crimes. As someone who is playing through it on a night elf character, I would say that the Night Fae and Ysera did not go far enough. That the blame for Azeroth’s current state and multitude of faction wars was split too evenly between the Horde and Alliance.

When these same people said that it should all be more focused on trolls and portray the Horde in a better light since trolls have a greater connection to nature and the Wild Gods, I just noped out of there. The sad thing is, they aren’t really wrong. Not about the last part.

The Ancients used to be night elf exclusive. Now it’s the trolls who have the greatest ties to them, who actually get to interact with the Loa in every expansion that features the tiniest of troll content. Don’t get me wrong, I love trolls and their Loa. De Other Side is my favorite SL dungeon. But when night elves lose the spot of nature’s defenders in the minds of the players, that’s a sad reflection of how Blizzard has been treating the race and druidism.
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  #361  
Old 12-11-2020, 03:53 AM
C9H20 C9H20 is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyalin V. Raintree View Post
Thoughts on Ardenweald

I'm fortunate to be able to say that in my life, I've had several chances to travel. I've seen Rome, I've partied in Paris, Dublin was okay, and Vienna was sort of fascinating.

Vienna is covered in Franz Joseph Statues and it kind of seems like in some of the architecture, he was trying to LARP as Napoleon Bonaparte, who himself was trying to LARP as Caesar. Franz Joseph lived in Schönbrunn Palace, and if you go there... let me just say - I knew that the Hapsburgs liked to LARP as Romans, but I didn't know they did it quite this hard. Walking around the palace gardens you get the impression that someone said "yeah, I'll take all of your Roman looking statues. Just put them everywhere. Fetch me a toga while you're at it." I have to admit that I was quite entertained at the lengths these discount Germans were willing to go to do this - especially when I remember that it used to be way, way worse.

We have that palace because some time ago the "Holy Roman Emperor" bought the land for it. We have the Holy Roman Empire because some Franks, some Germans, and some Lombards, etc. thought it would be fun to LARP as the Roman Empire - which is kind of funny because there already was a Roman Empire at the time. Several hundred years before, the real Roman Empire split itself into the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, with the former based out of Rome and the latter out of Constantinople (not Istanbul). The West fell, but the East kept going for another thousand years. They called themselves Romans, other people, including their enemies called them Romans, and they kept up a fair number of Roman Traditions - like what had become a theme at the time of the Western Empire's Fall: Christianity.

And because they had the Vatican, the "Latin" church could from time to time claim to be the center of Christianity. Now, if you're a Roman at the time, you might be thinking "who do these LARPing Barbarians think they are? Weren't these the guys who SACKED Rome?", but the LARPing Barbarians did eventually pretty much swipe Christianity as a theme. Sure, Orthodoxy lumbers on, but these days they do it largely from Russia, and let's be honest here. They don't have the Vatican or its vast repository of statues of naked people.

Now, if you're a "Byzantine" (that's the name the LARPing Barbarians would later give to the Eastern Roman Empire, to avoid confusion with the Holy Roman Empire) refugee in 1453 - sure, you can stamp your feet about how your people started this whole Christianity thing, and curse out the LARPing Barbarians for sitting by and munching popcorn as they watched Constantinople get swiped by some Turk (who, by the way, also is now LARPing as the "Caesar of the Roman Empire"), but all of that won't change the fact that Christianity isn't "your thing" anymore. It hasn't been "your thing" for a while, actually. If it's anyone's thing, it's the LARPing Barbarians' thing.

That's sort of how I feel about Night Elves and druidism. It's Night Elf in appearance more often than not, but Blizzard is usually careful to throw up a wall between the playable faction and the druidic content. I would regard content as being "someone's" content if they derived a benefit from it - a continuing thing that can be incorporated into their society. It's hard to argue that such is happening when Cenarius and the druids have pretty much washed their hands of the Night Elves in their time of greatest need (twice now). Yeah, we got Malfurion back for five minutes, and some druidic elements have returned, that's nice. But Night Elf druidism doesn't seem, for the most part, to be a thing that matters for the playable Night Elf faction - it matters, frankly, for the LARPing Barbarians.

The possible exception here might be Ysera, who claims that she would have fought for the Night Elves if she was alive. Oh, neat. So where was she in Cataclysm? In Hyjal? Okay, how about Mists? Chilling with Cenarius, got it. In BFA, I guess being dead is a pretty good excuse, so what about her brood? Because I missed the part where green dragons cared enough to intervene in the War of the Thorns or do anything in the wake of it. I'm going to have to call BS here. This kind of looks like Blizzard thinking that if they say something, it's just as good as if it was actual content, which, ha ha - no.

So, yeah, I am feeling just a bit bitter about Ardenweald and its continuation of this neutral druidic content trend. I certainly don't feel like this content is "for me", and I'm a bit resentful of the idea that if the opposite faction guts me and wears my intestines as a hat, that I should be grateful because we're experiencing "my content"(s) which they don't even like anyway and are angry about having to wear.

Speaking of....

Of what we can firmly call Night Elf content - that which matters to the playable faction - we have Shandris, Tyrande, and the rescue of Night Elf souls from the Maw. That's good I guess, even if I hate this expansion's whole premise, it's better than nothing. I watched the questline and as much as Tyrande annoys me, and as much as I hate the word "Minn'do" now - it's still a good thing that all of those people that the Horde killed won't eternally suffer.

What I don't like is that it's possible for a Sylvanas loyalist - who during BFA wouldn't shut up about how the Night Elves deserved it, how Sylvanas did nothing wrong, how much they hate Night Elf fans (or the secret mastermind who they think is REALLY behind it all), and how they shouldn't get what they gave because they pay fifteen dollars a month - to now play-act as the savior of the Night Elf souls that they put there as they sicc Shandris on Night Elf players in Warmode. I think that's actually pretty disgusting.

In fact I think it's disgusting that the Horde even has the option to help out here. I am aware that many legitimately did not ask for this, but I didn't either, and the faction and unfortunately the character involved here largely didn't stop taking Sylvanas's orders or doing Sylvanas's bidding until they worked out that it was no longer in their interests to do so. Sylvanas didn't change the Horde's culture or sell them on something different - she tricked them into committing, and staying committed to a war on the basis of a pre-existing ideology, and pre-existing interests. Reacting to her saying "the Horde is nothing" by telling her to pound sand is not redemption in my mind.

For those Horde players who didn't want this, I'm sorry, but what I just described above needs to have at least some consequences. That means I don't think that Tyrande should stomach working with you. I don't think even you should get to play-act as the savior of the Night Elves. If you want to do that, roll a human.

Those are pretty much my thoughts. I get a steady drip-feed of spoilers, but admittedly, I didn't do the kind of diligence to get myself up to speed as I did with Legion or BFA - I can't be asked to with this snoozer of an expansion concept. I'm mostly looking for things that would appeal to me as a longtime Night Elf fan who would love to come back if they gave me compelling reasons to do so. I'm not finding them here. In fact I think this zone manages to make things worse for Night Elf fans in general for the reasons I described.

So, Ardenweald? Thanks, I hate it.
Hahaha, as one of those Orthodox grognards I wish I could give you a like for that bit about the Roman LARPers. It was some entertaining musings.

As for the actual Warcraft stuff, I can't say I really care about it enough to have much of an opinion. The Ur mistake there is probably not having some "Nagrand in the sky" afterlife for orcs, tauren, etc. That way both sides could have more authentic content without needing to bend over (too much) to fit the other side. I really dislike that there is not such a zone, it was a big mistake.


Also lol @Nazja, seems even in the afterlife trolls can't catch a break and must be raided
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  #362  
Old 12-17-2020, 10:48 AM
Icefrost Icefrost is offline

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Sometimes I really hate myself for having this habit of taking something tremendously negative that I feel the creator(s) of a given creative work have really borked up and then trying to mentally compute however many steps away they were from having it be good or at least passable. Kinda becomes second nature to do that if you've ever had to apply the method to something you yourself made.

Combine that with how incredibly hard blizzard had messed up this time, from the perspective of a (former?) night elf fan like myself, and you might just be able to see how I was placing an incredibly unlikely bet on Shadowlands stuff being used as a way of going 'full-Endgame' on their night elf f*ck-up from BFA. As in: forget getting them a better afterlife, how about just plain old life. Full, no-strings-attached resurrection, exclusively for night elves, possibly courtesy of Elune or something, conveniently providing them the logistical excuse for an overwhelming retaliation against their enemies back on Azeroth in a future patch or possibly expansion.

But alas. As usual, instead of getting what I had dared envision, we instead got more or less exactly what I feared we would, by the sounds of it: a twist of the knife regarding a culture that was already dead anyway according to the story thus far.


God damn habit of mine being more trouble than it's worth on this one.
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  #363  
Old 12-22-2020, 08:14 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Combine that with how incredibly hard blizzard had messed up this time, from the perspective of a (former?) night elf fan like myself, and you might just be able to see how I was placing an incredibly unlikely bet on Shadowlands stuff being used as a way of going 'full-Endgame' on their night elf f*ck-up from BFA. As in: forget getting them a better afterlife, how about just plain old life. Full, no-strings-attached resurrection, exclusively for night elves, possibly courtesy of Elune or something, conveniently providing them the logistical excuse for an overwhelming retaliation against their enemies back on Azeroth in a future patch or possibly expansion.

But alas. As usual, instead of getting what I had dared envision, we instead got more or less exactly what I feared we would, by the sounds of it: a twist of the knife regarding a culture that was already dead anyway according to the story thus far.

God damn habit of mine being more trouble than it's worth on this one.
I mean, they don't need to pull off this resurrection to make that retaliation work. The War of the Thorns largely spared the army (what was left for the defense was skeletal, and the army largely didn't land according to the books). Regarding the civilian population, Elegy establishes that the refugees packed the city, and then when there was no more room left, spilled out of it, with their encampments reaching halfway to Goldshire. I estimated in an earlier post in this thread that they could have evacuated between 208,600 and 268,800 if they only used one portal. That's a population that London wouldn't achieve until 1600. Paris wouldn't get there until 1300. It took Prague until 1900 to get that kind of population. That is with ONE portal. Elegy establishes that there were many portals.

(Link to said estimate: https://forums.scrollsoflore.com/sho...&postcount=146)

So, it's not as though Blizzard doesn't have wiggle room. They could very easily say that Teldrassil, while tragic, was not the race-ending event that they made it out to be. Is the audience going to completely believe it? No, but that kind of thing didn't stop Blizzard from pulling every contrivance in the book to make this work anyway - and at this point I am tired of feeling like I have to satisfy standards that my critics don't have to meet to get what they want.

The problem here is a lot more difficult. The problem isn't that it's not possible for the Night Elves to retaliate - the problem is that Blizzard doesn't want them to.
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Old 12-24-2020, 11:05 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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So, I've been following a thread on the Story Forum.

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wo...re/761649/1087

Most of it isn't worth your time - a reliable sect of Horde-side fanatics are well, being fanatics - but the discussion I'm linking to is the conclusion of the following exchange:

"PVP Battlegrounds are there for a REASON." (Post 1065)

"To distract from yet another failed attempt to cash in on the E-sports craze and bolster a toxic player base in a game mode that's never mattered in the long term health of the game compared to PVE content.

Blizzard's futile attempts to make PVP center stage or even relevant never ceases to amuse me." (Post 1073)

This is not my first rodeo with PVE exclusionism. I remember this sentiment sitting behind calls to make PVE gear more powerful than PVP gear in PVP. I am quite familiar with this resentment, but this particular instance of it got me to think about the claim that the story was being influenced for the benefit of PVP.

Frankly, I do not see how shoving faction war content into PVE mechanics, and creating a "warfront" feature where you don't even see players of the opposing faction as the story does its level best to demoralize the respective sides is doing that - but that raises the question of - what would be?

Well, to kick off a discussion on this question, let's get this out of the way - competitive storytelling is hard, as this EC video discusses.

Fairness is a critical component here. If the results of a prior multiplayer match were to carry to the next one - it would necessarily leave one team in a better position, disrupting the fine balance that makes the competition work. Over the past decade, I have extended that consideration to include narrative fairness, and the idea for that is pretty simple. I can't just resolve my grievances in a battleground because I know that it won't stop Blizzard from making my team look pathetic, nor will it do a thing to reverse that perception. I could turn myself into a monster in a battleground (and I feel that I did) - but my victories would always be poisoned by an inferiority complex imposed by what the story had established my team to be: pathetic.

For as long as I've been familiar with Warcraft, I've been aware of an overall tilt towards the Horde as far as PVP is concerned. I got used to battleground wins being rare, and reframing what constituted a victory to me as "doing the absolute best I can while not taking deaths". The best answer I can find for this imbalance is that the Alliance lacks serious players. I'm sure some of that has to do with racials, some of that has to do with the PVE imbalance. But I also think that some of that has to do with casting one faction as badass metal-album cover conquerors, and the other as the Mega Blocks medieval kingdom collection that occasionally gets to kind-of-sort-of avenge the pretty elf people who get their faces kicked in on a regular basis. If you want to ask why this serious PVP player isn't putting on an Alliance jersey anymore? It's that last one, and I know that I'm not alone.

If Blizzard cared about PVP - and were centering the game around it, they would pay close attention to the rivalry feeling imbalanced. Instead they've pursued things like mercenary mode to address population imbalances without addressing the root cause. They elevated Arenas in what I can only interpret as an eSports bid, and those battlegrounds feel separated from the lore. I also don't think that going out of your way to demoralize people who are supposed to participate in the rivalry constitutes an attempt to promote PVP.

A PVP-centered story in my mind would be something that directly incorporates battlegrounds in the way that a questline might lead to a raid. I'm specifically thinking of the human questing experience, where they set up and promote the Defias as villains over three zones before they set up the final confrontation with their leader in the Deadmines. A PVP-based storyline I figure would do something similar, only instead of promoting a raid (the Deadmines), it would promote a Battleground. I could see Arenas being reframed as skirmishes in this vein as well (otherwise, frankly, the "lore" around gladiatorial death matches seems out of place to me).

I think that such a story would also emphasize that both sides are equally threatening, and would be extremely careful about how it chooses to dole out wins and losses - so as not to disrupt the delicate balance that makes competitive play functional. This all but precludes events like the War of the Thorns for reasons that by now I hope are clear.

In a future post, I'd like to lay out some details as to how such a story could be applied to the current lore - but to conclude this post: no, I don't think Blizzard's decision to write the faction war in the way that they did was something that hypes up or benefits PVP. I think it actively hurts it.
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Old 12-25-2020, 12:16 PM
Icefrost Icefrost is offline

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The problem here is a lot more difficult. The problem isn't that it's not possible for the Night Elves to retaliate - the problem is that Blizzard doesn't want them to.
You're probably right. But then again, I never meant for any of it to be about the numbers as such.
Because the thing is, you're also right about how the audience would have a hard time believing it. And not just some horde fanatics who think they've got it all figured out (biasedly in their favour, naturally) and would thus get on the proverbial barricades about it. Guess I figured it more self-evident that I'm the last person to give a single flying hippogryph about whether they'd buy it at this point.

I was talking from a standpoint of what it would take at this point to make ME believe the writers actually trying to do the elves a solid for once. That they mean to actually give them their future back.

You know, instead of doing this thing where they narratively bottle up all the meaningful rage and action that should be there in the same urn containing their ashes so they can conveniently pour it all out in an alternate realm where, like one of those underground nuclear weapon tests, it's specifically set up to not have any effect on what goes on in the daylight (aka. Azeroth) after the dust settles on Shadowlands and we no doubt get that predicted timeskip upon PCs returning to Azeroth, conveniently robbing the elves of the opportunity to take back what's theirs before the writers eventually commit to writing them as the Dalish nomads and city elves of warcraft for good. Or some other kinda miserable weeping remnant of a fictional people (because despite the numbers you pointed out, the excuses to ignore those go both ways and always have) now offially labeled with the "not significant enough to matter for X" -stamp, as if that needed to be any more obvious.
All the while they can point any critics in the direction of all the noise - even if it is nothing more than that, literally and otherwise - that the elves got to make back in Shadowlands.
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Old 12-25-2020, 02:38 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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You know, instead of doing this thing where they narratively bottle up all the meaningful rage and action that should be there in the same urn containing their ashes so they can conveniently pour it all out in an alternate realm where, like one of those underground nuclear weapon tests, it's specifically set up to not have any effect on what goes on in the daylight after the dust settles on Shadowlands and we no doubt get that predicted timeskip upon PCs returning to Azeroth, conveniently robbing the elves of the opportunity to take back what's theirs before the writers eventually commit to writing them as the Dalish nomads and city elves of warcraft for good. Or some other kinda miserable weeping remnant of a fictional people (because despite the numbers you pointed out, the excuses to ignore those go both ways and always have) now offially labeled with the "not significant enough to matter for X" -stamp, as if that needed to be any more obvious.
All the while they can point any critics in the direction of all the noise - even if it is nothing more than that, literally and otherwise - that the elves got to make back in Shadowlands.
In recent days I have seen a possible "out" to this situation that would contour to where they have gone narratively and thematically (i.e. It wouldn't represent a complete u-turn), but I'm also not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (in this post anyway). That this is so transparent demonstrates exactly why this method will fail for those of us who have or had investment in the Night Elves as a playable race (even though, yes, it will disingenuously held up by the worst of the worst as they claim that we're upset for no reason). Again though, I'm pretty sure that Blizzard doesn't care if we'll accept it. They don't want our business.

That's why, even though I have fun in criticizing their repeated missteps, I won't buy or recommend any of their products for any reason. If and when they change their tune, then my attitude will change, but not before.
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Old 12-25-2020, 11:57 PM
Krainz Krainz is offline

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I could see Arenas being reframed as skirmishes in this vein as well (otherwise, frankly, the "lore" around gladiatorial death matches seems out of place to me).
Are ethics even a thing in the universe of Warcraft though
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Old 12-26-2020, 08:06 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Are ethics even a thing in the universe of Warcraft though
Allegedly, yes, and that aside I'm a) having trouble understanding how a person would willingly sign up for a death match (especially people who have money, which our adventurers do), and b) I'm still a tad annoyed that this was all there was for a while if you wanted a shot at BIS PVP gear.

The closest thing I can think of that took place in the real world would have been a European duel, which to my understanding was about defending one's reputation and honor. Other examples tend to work off of the idea that the overwhelming number of participants were slaves.

Now, I've heard people try to bend this idea to their RPs by saying things like "oh, it's not to the death" or "oh, that's not in character". For a variant: "come on, that's not really a death arena, that's a game mechanic". But all of those answers require taking yourself out of the experience or conjuring up explanations that disagree with what the mechanical language of the game is trying to say.

That said, you might say "but I want deathmatch arenas" - and I won't be the one to stop you, but I do want to see some questing and lore explaining this. Is your character enslaved like underground arena participants were in the comics? Do you lose privileges if you choose this game mode? Are there reasons for why a person participates willingly? Who is running these things? Can I fight them? How do major governments feel about them? Does Orgimmar still have one right in its downtown? Do underground tournaments get raided by the authorities? Tie-in quests should answer those questions - although again, I think this is an easier game mode to work with under a skirmish model. That way, you don't need the extra content.

What we have instead however feels pretty tacked-on. We have had free-for-all sections since vanilla - the Gurubash arena and its nature was actually I feel pretty well explained (the jungle implies that law and order doesn't exist - some guy regularly puts a chest out and encourages people to kill anyone who gets between them and it, and that happens) - but arenas as a game mode sort of barged into the game and didn't act like they had to explain themselves within it. Varian (referencing the comic books) was thrown into Arenas? So it's a Horde thing? Are Alliance characters invited to participate then? Or do all of our characters have a history of enslavement if they have the best PVP gear?

Maybe I'm making too much of this, but I don't feel that a game mode should be this slapped on.
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Old 12-28-2020, 10:43 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Writing a PVP-Narrative, Post Shadowlands

I am continuing to react here to a claim that BFA's story was the way it was in order to promote PVP. I'm on record already in stating that I think BFA largely took a PVP theme and shoved it into PVE content without actually creating a PVP-based narrative, but I haven't answered what I think a PVP-based story would look like. I want to try to do that now, building off of where we are so far in the Shadowlands expansion.

Here's what I'm trying for: rivalries work when both sides feel good about, and feel confident in taking their rivalry to the field, where their abilities and those of their team dictate their prowess. BFA has not left us in anything resembling that state, especially with the insistence to hand major faction victories out by fiat simply because that serves a larger narrative. The result has led to a number of serious issues, including:

- Humans being stuck as the generic "good guys" in a bad vs. evil narrative
- Forsaken having to sacrifice their core identity to that narrative
- The great honorable Orc bait and switch/groundhog day
- Night Elf incompetence, and general inability to be taken seriously

This is not an exhaustive list, and no solution will completely solve all of these problems. Those expecting anything but a messy, imperfect solution should find a door. Our solution however, will have to at least attempt to address all of these problems, at once, that's going to require at least a partial world revamp.

Our solution must also address the disconnected nature of battlegrounds. For what I mean by this: Consider the leadup for Deadmines. Now consider the leadup for Warsong Gulch. They're wildly different because the latter existed to support a tacked-on game mode, whereas the former was more integrated. Future and existing PVP content shouldn't feel like something that only exists in an instance - there should be a point, and I would argue, a story to it.

With that out of the way - let's dive in.

Stormwind: Seat of a Fractured Alliance

Starting here for worldbuilding purposes. I'm assuming that Shadowlands ends in a predictable way. The evil is defeated, Anduin returns to Stormwind. He finds that his peace treaty from BFA has in no way healed the scars from the previous war, and that the peace itself is slowly breaking apart. The Forsaken in the north are beginning to reassert themselves, and attempts to rally a front against them reveal that Anduin has lost legitimacy as the de-facto ruler of the Alliance. These problems aren't limited to things like struggling to keep the Kaldorei in the Alliance - but emergent human nationalism along the lines of old, sometimes dead human kingdoms, and an emboldened nobility that continues to remind the young king that they have power too. As it enters its industrial revolution, Stormwind finds itself stretched to manage a dozen localized and often disconnected problems. Due to its lack of clout, it just can't project power the way it used to.

This is a problem for them in the south, where the Zandalari have taken over the Gurubashi empire. I'll get into this later, but the Zandalari are not keen on this peace idea, and begin to use that empire to prevent the Alliance from accessing Stranglethorn Vale and the critical resources that Stormwind needs to power its new factories, and settle its debts from the last war. The Bilgewater Cartel, being aware of this, is giving the Zandalari a lot of help. For Human players, this translates to a Stranglethorn military expedition, with the goal of capturing the critical Silvershard mine - and setting up that battleground.

Forsaken: The Defiance Campaign

No matter what happens in Shadowlands, the Forsaken do not accept the Alliance's presence in their territory. Despite the best efforts of people like Calia, the Forsaken quickly backslide into the people that Sylvanas forged them into. They go from following Sylvanas as a leader to worshipping her as a God - and they quickly seek to slaughter anyone trying to take their territory away from them, reinvigorating the Royal Apothecary Society, and enlisting necromancers where necessary. The Alliance in this region find that help is largely not forthcoming. The Horde council can't agree on a resolution, and the Sin'dorei, who are themselves uncomfortable with the Alliance being this close, are actively helping the Forsaken.

With Stromgarde emerging as the Alliance's most powerful city in the north, the Forsaken return to challenge their power, and render useless their surrounding territories. We should be attempting to build a Forsaken character here - someone who the player follows through Tirisfal - where in addition to dealing with local problems, they encounter advance Alliance squads doing things like attacking Forsaken refugees, setting fire to their corpses afterwards. We should see that the Forsaken use blight and necromancy strictly because they are looking for any edge that they can get, and we should see quests that deal with the lingering Alliance presence more and more as the quests proceed towards Arathi Basin, ending with a battle to take and fortify Thoradin's wall. The Defilers move their base of operations here - and the quests dovetail into their efforts for a while, presenting Arathi Basin as the way to continue their efforts.

As for the Undercity: rebuild it. Establish that the explosion actually tore a hole in the ruins of Capitol City, from which now rise new structures in the Forsaken style of architecture.

Ironforge: Holding down the center

With Stormwind's paralysis and the growing situation in the North, Ironforge finds itself as the only power able to do anything significant to rescue the situation in Arathi. The clans by this point are, thankfully, on the same page. The gnomes have retaken Gnomeregan and are able to churn out weapons and devices. However, they don't have a free hand. The shattered remains of the Frostmane have reformed into a smarter, more active resistance force with Zandalari backing. The Reliquary has been repurposed to find titanic artifacts for use against the Dwarves, and the Forsaken have sent saboteurs and infiltrators to persistently hobble the Dwarves to prevent them from helping in Arathi. Dwarven content usually consists of identifying some new threat - such as a Trogg uprising or a sudden elemental disturbance, usually to find that there's a Horde directed agent behind it. The dwarves gradually unify before they defeat what turns into a concentrated attack on the Thandol Span. The Horde means to blow it up, the Alliance stops them, and manages to roll Dwarven Siege engines across the span and into the Arathi Highlands. What happens next mirrors the Forsaken experience, and is used to set up Arathi Basin.

Zandalar: Vengeance for Rastakhan

Talanji gets fed up quickly with the Horde council, and moves to show the world why one doesn't mess with the Zandalari. Step 1 is to act as a sort of "CIA of Azeroth" - dispatching agents and advisors to prop up troll tribes everywhere they can be found. If they need weapons, the Zandalari find them. If they need training, the Zandalari teach them. They form a good relationship with the Bilgewater Cartel, which is happy to trade access to resources for weapons.

This wouldn't involve changes to the just-put-together BFA questing. BFA is important prologue here, but it should translate into some extra and bonus questlines - including a campaign to control Stranglethorn vale that culminates in and sets up Silvershard Mines for the Horde. I think a naval rebuilding campaign leading to a more navy-focused battleground would also be in order, consisting of three to five sets of ships in the middle of boarding actions. This could be an AB-type of setup, or the enemy ship could sink after a certain period of time where its boarding action favors the enemy, with the BG winner being the first team that sinks the majority of ships.

Kul'Tiras: Shield of the Seas

Kul'Tiras finds itself under pressure from two separate groups. To their East, the Forsaken are growing more militant, and are enjoying support from the Sin'dorei and the Shal'dorei. On land, Kul'Tiras finds its interests in supporting Gilnean efforts to retake their homeland, therefore denying the Horde a vital series of ports that could otherwise be used to challenge them. This allows them to turn their attention west, and to the Zandalari who emerge as their greatest threat. Their participation is a mirror image of the Zandalari naval rebuilding campaign which pushes them into the battleground discussed previously.

The Horde: Warlords of Durotar

Following Sylvanas's departure, Thrall and the Frostwolf clan find themselves in control of Orgrimmar, and of little else. The Orcs are beginning to backslide into their old clan affiliations, establishing themselves in different parts of the Barrens and Durotar, sometimes reconstructing traditions of long-dead clans, and forming allegiances with various Troll and Tauren tribes. Mag'har Blackrock Orcs for example find allies in the Grimtotem Tribe of Stonetalon, finding it an excellent spot to create their foundries. The Shadow Moon Clan, reverting to their old shamanistic ways, tend to occupy the Southern Barrens, working with the Tauren to rebuild the region. Orcs that choose to see themselves as successors to the Bleeding Hollow Clan work closely with the Darkspear trolls in Southern Durotar, while the Warsong Clan - the most powerful of the clans, maintains a strong, if failing grip on the Northern Barrens.

Orcish questing would start by introducing these clans. The Bleeding Hollow adherents have essentially been co-opted by the Darkspear Trolls, who themselves now act in concert with their Zandalari kin. They believe that the Horde should focus on wiping the humans from the seas, and appear to focus on sending supplies to Zandalar. The Frostwolves see the view from Orgrimmar - believing that the Horde cannot survive without striking a real peace deal with the Alliance, but being unable to convince anyone else of this. The Warsong and the Blackrocks believe that peace is impossible, evidenced by the now constant Night Elf raids that are often intentionally launched on unsuspecting and unarmed targets - with the sites of successful attacks being intentionally defaced to instill horror. The Warsong in particular view themselves as the Horde's protectors - their questing concludes with them holding off a massive assault hurled at the Mor'shan Rampart, which is used to set up Warsong Gulch for the Horde.

The Shadow Moon clan and the Tauren are more or less removed from the conflicts taking place to the north, and are far more focused on reconstruction, and a desire to explore and settle the lands to the south and east of them.

Darnassus: Tyrande Wick

Before I get started - this section came about because of a video by Savage Books entitled "John Wick: Writing a Terrifying Protagonist". I mention this because the narrative elements that make this sort of thing possible exist with Tyrande, and may even have been what the writers were going for. Kill Bill works off of similar building blocks. That makes our setup here pretty easy.

Night Elf content begins in a semi-regrown Teldrassil. There's an opportunity here to make the zone a lot more vertical, reflecting areas of the tree that the fire hollowed out, and the zone itself should adopt a rather seething tone when it comes to the Horde. Darkshore is similar, except that it informs us that Velen's leadership is waning and that the Draenei that would replace him do not believe that the Horde has changed from their Path of Glory days, having witnessed the War of the Thorns. The conflict indeed attracts everyone with a bone to pick with the Orcs, and Ashenvale questing becomes the roaring rampage of revenge that I feel by now has been more than set up. This is necessary to establish this part of the Alliance as threatening, and to motivate people to participate in Warsong Gulch, which again, is set up as the final part of this push.

Closing Thoughts

This was obviously broad, but there just wasn't time to go in detail into every part of what I feel would make up a faction war situation that actually would serve PVP instead of wearing it like a coat of paint (each of those sections could be discussions all their own), and no, it doesn't resolve everyone's issues to their complete satisfaction, but I feel that it does attack the four problems that I listed before, and leaves the rivalry in a more balanced state.

Another note that I will make on PVE content - there should always be a PVE alternative to the content that I listed out. If your playable race is in a far more martial position, it may not be with your playable race, but you should have the option to say, help the humans deal with issues in Westfall if you don't feel like joining the faction war on the side of the Night Elves. PVE content should have a separate story, with separate threats that people can address if that's their preferred mode of gameplay. You should be able to check out from the faction war if it doesn't appeal to you. I feel that the same should be true in the other direction. These should be options, not mandates.

As for the Battlegrounds themselves, it's difficult to weave a story into what has to be a balanced arena for competitive play, but I could envision a sort of progression where you work for and follow a local commander and their rivalry with their counterpart. I always liked the dynamic that Taylor and Nazgrim had, and I could see those same elements being brought out in battlegrounds that were mentioned, and some that weren't. The mechanics of this will require further discussion.

For now though, I think that's all I have. I look forward to any meaningful feedback and further discussion.
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Old 12-28-2020, 10:24 PM
Krainz Krainz is offline

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Another note that I will make on PVE content - there should always be a PVE alternative to the content that I listed out. If your playable race is in a far more martial position, it may not be with your playable race, but you should have the option to say, help the humans deal with issues in Westfall if you don't feel like joining the faction war on the side of the Night Elves. PVE content should have a separate story, with separate threats that people can address if that's their preferred mode of gameplay. You should be able to check out from the faction war if it doesn't appeal to you. I feel that the same should be true in the other direction. These should be options, not mandates.

As for the Battlegrounds themselves, it's difficult to weave a story into what has to be a balanced arena for competitive play, but I could envision a sort of progression where you work for and follow a local commander and their rivalry with their counterpart. I always liked the dynamic that Taylor and Nazgrim had, and I could see those same elements being brought out in battlegrounds that were mentioned, and some that weren't. The mechanics of this will require further discussion.
Would the people who enjoy faction war but absolutely hate pvp have a story to enjoy there?
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Old 12-29-2020, 08:22 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Would the people who enjoy faction war but absolutely hate pvp have a story to enjoy there?
They could do the quest chains that I discussed without doing the BGs, just as I could say, do the quests leading up to Deadmines but skip the dungeon.

Edit: Otherwise, no, just as PVP players who loathe PVE miss content locked away in dungeons and raids, PVE players who loathe PVP would not have access to any story content that took place within BGs themselves. Expecting otherwise is setting up a double standard in my mind.
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Old 01-01-2021, 08:06 PM
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They could do the quest chains that I discussed without doing the BGs, just as I could say, do the quests leading up to Deadmines but skip the dungeon.

Edit: Otherwise, no, just as PVP players who loathe PVE miss content locked away in dungeons and raids, PVE players who loathe PVP would not have access to any story content that took place within BGs themselves. Expecting otherwise is setting up a double standard in my mind.
Agreed on all fronts. I believe this "double standard" problem is being more commonly approached as a "cursed" problem. I linked this GDC talk in your Discord, but I'll do it again in here in case somebody else wants to watch it as well:


That GDC talk made me realize WoW is full of those and...

Combining it with this other talk


Makes me see that they're willingly making the choice of one specific public niche over the other because this is becoming the standard for good games instead of trying to please everyone (like the Southwest Airline x Continental Lite case comparison)
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Old 01-03-2021, 06:46 PM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Hello Krainz, and sorry for not being able to address your posts sooner.

Regarding cursed problems - I'm familiar with that video already, and it's on that basis of thinking that I regard competitive, rivalry-based multiplayer in an MMO trying to work with a grand, good-versus-evil single-player-like storyline as an incompatible situation. It's a cursed problem in that many of the narrative elements required to make a compelling storyline clash hard with the balance needs of a competitive PVP experience. The solution that I proposed has these problems in mind, and due to that - it's more limited. It's designed to set up the battleground, to set up the battleground to take place after the conclusion of the local arc, having been set up by it.

That is of course, not how Blizzard chose to approach this cursed problem. They chose to approach it by discarding the needs of the rivalry, even as they hype it up, which leads me to the second point that you're making - that of specialization.

The first thing I will say about the choice of the niche that they're going for - Blizzard already had a niche - and had already done a good job in laying out what a modern MMORPG is. The problem as I see it has been with them straying from that niche - instead of constructing a story that fleshed out the world, something that was done effectively with loose quest content, lead-ups to raids, good raid design, and a cold-war-esque rivalry buttressed by a PVP-endgame option that didn't terribly favor either side. Then in Cataclysm they decided that they wanted to weave an epic narrative as well in line with their RTS games - and that's when things began to fall apart.

I'm content to say here that we can see that they aren't simply trying to switch competencies because they continue to try to support and elaborate on these old elements. There are several reasons for why this isn't working. I would argue that the first has to do with a general desire to employ mechanics to keep people playing - not because it's fun, but because of the promise that at some point, it might be. But from a narrative perspective, I would put the problem on their insistence not to trim a superfluous element, but to keep one whose inclusion creates a cursed problems for a medium that's all about player choice in their identity: the grand, all encompassing, game-of-thrones-esque epic narrative that they seem to want so badly. I'm sure that's something that their writers and their marketing teams like, but if you're going to ask me if that's something geared to the target customer of an MMORPG? Not really - it's a play for a more casual market that wants to play more cinematic games.

I do want to mention something about the Continental example though. Continental was a complete basket case in just about every arena before Gordon Bethune took the helm of the company in November 1994. Continental's "Worst to First" tale is absolutely legendary, and involved the company going from $2 to $50 per share. During that time, Continental operated and maintained Continental Express, which first flew in 1997, and continued until the company's merger with United.

So, Continental Lite might not be the best example. The entire company was on fire for reasons that had more to do with generally bad management and an overall inability to provide a basic level of service on any of their planes, rather than on a given segment.
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Old 01-04-2021, 11:32 PM
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Hello Krainz, and sorry for not being able to address your posts sooner.

Regarding cursed problems - I'm familiar with that video already, and it's on that basis of thinking that I regard competitive, rivalry-based multiplayer in an MMO trying to work with a grand, good-versus-evil single-player-like storyline as an incompatible situation. It's a cursed problem in that many of the narrative elements required to make a compelling storyline clash hard with the balance needs of a competitive PVP experience. The solution that I proposed has these problems in mind, and due to that - it's more limited. It's designed to set up the battleground, to set up the battleground to take place after the conclusion of the local arc, having been set up by it.

That is of course, not how Blizzard chose to approach this cursed problem. They chose to approach it by discarding the needs of the rivalry, even as they hype it up, which leads me to the second point that you're making - that of specialization.

The first thing I will say about the choice of the niche that they're going for - Blizzard already had a niche - and had already done a good job in laying out what a modern MMORPG is. The problem as I see it has been with them straying from that niche - instead of constructing a story that fleshed out the world, something that was done effectively with loose quest content, lead-ups to raids, good raid design, and a cold-war-esque rivalry buttressed by a PVP-endgame option that didn't terribly favor either side. Then in Cataclysm they decided that they wanted to weave an epic narrative as well in line with their RTS games - and that's when things began to fall apart.

Something interesting to note is that you can make quite a timeframe of "niche changes" in the history of WoW

Vanilla - Wrath: phase 1 storytelling style
Cataclysm - WoD: phase 2 storytelling style
Legion - Shadowlands+: phase 3 storytelling style

Vanilla - Wrath: focus on exploration, quests are epic and hard
Cataclysm - WoD: a lot of features made easier and epic quests simplified
Legion - Shadowlands+: focus on heroic/mythic raiding, endgame dungeons, content that requires dedicated group performance

See this excerpt from the old WoW Magazine, back from Cata period:


This clearly depicts their focus around that time on simplifying challenges and game mechanics.

But.. What if we also look at who was the Game Director during those periods?

Vanilla - Wrath: Jeff Kaplan, J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton
Cataclysm - WoD: Tom Chilton
Legion - Shadowlands+: Ion Hazzikostas

Interesting, no?

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Originally Posted by Kyalin V. Raintree View Post
I'm content to say here that we can see that they aren't simply trying to switch competencies because they continue to try to support and elaborate on these old elements. There are several reasons for why this isn't working. I would argue that the first has to do with a general desire to employ mechanics to keep people playing - not because it's fun, but because of the promise that at some point, it might be. But from a narrative perspective, I would put the problem on their insistence not to trim a superfluous element, but to keep one whose inclusion creates a cursed problems for a medium that's all about player choice in their identity: the grand, all encompassing, game-of-thrones-esque epic narrative that they seem to want so badly. I'm sure that's something that their writers and their marketing teams like, but if you're going to ask me if that's something geared to the target customer of an MMORPG? Not really - it's a play for a more casual market that wants to play more cinematic games.
Agreed. However, the MMORPG landscape is changing... The biggest competitor, Final Fantasy XIV, also goes for a grand, encompassing, cinematic story and it does it even better than WoW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyalin V. Raintree View Post
I do want to mention something about the Continental example though. Continental was a complete basket case in just about every arena before Gordon Bethune took the helm of the company in November 1994. Continental's "Worst to First" tale is absolutely legendary, and involved the company going from $2 to $50 per share. During that time, Continental operated and maintained Continental Express, which first flew in 1997, and continued until the company's merger with United.

So, Continental Lite might not be the best example. The entire company was on fire for reasons that had more to do with generally bad management and an overall inability to provide a basic level of service on any of their planes, rather than on a given segment.
Interesting.
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:40 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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I think that Warcraft 3 was the foundational DNA for Warcraft as a franchise. Before it, one could tie it to the inspiration that Warhammer left behind. But after it, it was a unique entry in fantasy. It still trades on derivative ideas, don’t get me wrong, but it mashed several of them in interesting ways that got us to look at the genre differently. And yes, I’m obviously talking about Orcs.

Warcraft 3 set up the Orcs in World of Warcraft as misunderstood monsters. They had a past, that past wasn’t their fault, but the humans weren’t about to let it go. The Orcs fled an internment system, famously including a man who profited off putting the Orcs’ new leader in arena contests for personal profit. Daelin Proudmoore, later, being cast in the vein of a European Age-of-Sail admiral was presented as a colonizing figure in opposition to them, and there was racial coding assigned to the Trolls (Mesoamerican, West Indies, African), and the Tauren (First Nations). It wasn’t therefore hard to cast the nascent conflict between the Alliance and the Horde, at least where humans were concerned, into a colonial/anticolonial struggle, especially with lingering, hostile human and dwarven presences in Durotar, the Barrens, and Mulgore.

I will dig into categories, so I feel I ought to pause to explain them. I believe that there are fundamentally, three kinds of racism.
Exploitative Racism: That is, racism used in the service of cynical, personal gain. (e.g. Colonial slavery)
Envious Racism: Assertions that a particular race has institutional power, which establishes them as a valid target for hatred (e.g. Hutu hatred for the Tutsi “elite” – a significant contributing factor in the Rwandan Genocide)
Phobic Racism: Racism rooted in the belief that a given race is a threat, requiring action, or a “solution”. (e.g. White Power movements, Germany during the second world war)
In short, I believe that racism is the product of power politics and may best be explained by the conflict theory of sociology. Paradoxically, it can also be perpetuated by ideologies that are fixated on collective power, such as nationalism, socialism, and fascism.

The claim that the Alliance is racist in the exploitative or phobic sense is a take that I’ve heard since Vanilla was released, and one that persists to this day. Warcraft 3 had that effect, and that by itself isn’t a bad thing as it adds a dimension to the Alliance/Horde conflict. However, it took a darker turn in later installments, and may be regarded as a critique of anticolonialism as an ideology.

Let me examine a real-world example before I get into why.

During the scramble for Africa, Germany formed an alliance with Rwanda’s king and sought to rule the country through the monarchy. German colonists favored the Tutsi minority and believed them to be racially superior to the Hutu majority. In 1935, well after Belgian forces had taken over the colony, they strictly divided the country into Hutus, Tutsis, and Twa. Before they issued identity cards to make this known, particularly wealthy Hutus could be viewed as Tutsis – now that door was closed.

Rwanda became independent in 1962, and around this time, we begin to see the dark side of anticolonialism. Starting in 1957 with the Bahutu Manifesto, the Hutus labeled themselves and the Tutsi as separate races, and demanded the transfer of power from the Tutsi to the Hutu. Hutu purges of Tutsi, and Tutsi reprisals followed, culminating in the Rwandan Genocide itself – which, while predicated on the claim that Tutsis had killed President Habyarimana (whose death in 2010 was declared by the Rwandan government to be the fault of Hutu extremists in the Rwandan army), was well prepared for in advance.

Now, there is one thing I want to make clear before I continue. Colonialism was brutal, and horrifically broad in scope. Colonialism brought us African slavery and its global legacy. It brought exploitation and mass death to the populations subjected to it. It was so far reaching that it was a leading contributor to Japan’s involvement in World War II, and China’s antagonism towards the West today. We owe much of modern life to colonialism, yes, but we also could have come about such advances through far more equitable means. This post is not a defense of colonialism, and the Rwandan Genocide itself is a product of colonialism. However, it is also a demonstration of the extremes of anticolonialist thinking: the belief that a given ethnic group benefited from the colonial system, had undeserved power, and was deserving of extermination on that basis.

In WoW, such a thing exists in the Horde’s ideology circa Cataclysm, with a twist in the incorporation of the philosophical mind problem of whether a person should steal in order to feed one’s family. This reveals itself to be a matter of envious racism however, in the Horde’s decision to kill civilian populations in conquered portions of Ashenvale, and Garrosh’s later stance in Mists of Pandaria and War Crimes that translated into a desire for complete extermination on this basis. The conflict itself began with a redistributionist tone that translated into racial hatred. There are parallels in history other than Hutu hatred for the Tutsi, of course – such is used as an example – but Garrosh’s war is a demonstration of envious racism borne from the dark side of the anticolonialism.

The recent rash of anti-Asian violence in America leads me to my next point – the sort of Thucydides trap kind of situation that leads to phobic-racism. Much of it can be attributed to the fear of China’s rise. Before that, it was Japan, and the observation that 26% of anti-Asian violence is nonwhite (compared to 1% of anti-Black violence) helps to demonstrate the intersection of perceived privilege in this. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/art...ou_do_about_it). Envy and Phobia can cross paths, and I believe that they do so here. Again, we see that in WoW with what I have seen described as a repetition of the fourteen words, or, Sylvanas’s stated justification to Saurfang, for why war is necessary with the Alliance, and why the Kaldorei should be ended as a people – and I do want to pause here to note what this is. From the outset, Saurfang assisted in planning an attack whose intent - by subjugation, occupation, and the infliction of a “wound that would never heal” - was to end the Kaldorei as a people. This by the UN definition is genocide, and it is the result of racism by phobia, partially motivated by anticolonialist assertions that the targeted racial group is a) possessing of privilege, and b) is a threat to the survival of the perpetrators.

I bring this up ultimately because of the reactions that I saw to this tweet (
), including assertions that the Alliance’s idea of “peace” was the Horde’s idea of slavery – presented in defense of an image where an unarmed mother and her child are hiding from orcs who clearly mean to kill the both of them for the crime of not being Orcs. There are others like it, including “For the Horde”, “I prefer my Nightelf ears broiled with autumn vegetables, best served with a porter or dark ale”, and “Just give me a bow, I can kill the remaining hiders with a well angled shot #ForTheHorde”. Some of these are just the product of despicable people. The first one, however, was what stuck out to me months after first reading this thread - the emergence of the ideology (and the response thread continues in this vein) - that elsewhere is just expressed as generalized hate. Yes, we're talking about pixels, but the frothing-at-the-mouth acceptance of the abstract concept has parallels to real world history that we shouldn't ignore.

There has been a common narrative about this event and the Horde itself – that it isn’t what people signed up for when they joined the Horde as set out by Warcraft 3 – an explicitly anticolonialist entity. The Horde cannot backslide into its Warcraft II incarnation, and I would argue that it hasn’t. Instead: the Horde's evil turn is a product of the the very anticolonialist narrative that WoW presented back in Warcraft 3. It IS what people signed up for - the dark revenge plot against people perceived as having privilege - just with the narrative consequences of such a desire built in - and make no mistake: people were asking for this, people were hyped for this. Saurfang's plan for genocide was viewed as fine - things only turned when it became a moral event horizon moment for Sylvanas that the rest of the Horde supported for most of the expansion. But even that itself was the logical result of envious, and later phobic racism, which was built into the “new” Horde from day one and is logically expressed here. The crowd crowing that they didn't ask for this are frequently the very group that this narrative existed to critique: those who wished to elevate supposed advantage as an excuse for violence.

To close – I recognize that some may claim that I am disrespecting the memories of the real victims of genocide in making this observation. I disagree. Media has long commented on the realities and injustices of our world, and I reject the narrative that claims that video games are an “immature” part of that conversation, or an arena where we should avoid difficult topics. Media often turns a mirror on ourselves so that we can ask ourselves who we are and whether we're comfortable with what we're becoming. It's past time that we take a hard look in that mirror.
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