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  #351  
Old 09-17-2020, 06:52 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, 10:12 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, 03:22 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, 10:43 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, 11:58 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 11-12-2020, 12:09 AM
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, 10:12 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, 11:55 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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