Welcome to Meoni’s lore column, each week we’ll be talking about events or opinions on general Lore elements and how they are told within the World of Warcraft videogame franchise! This week in Lore, Warcraft & You! I take a look at what lore actually is, and why it’s important to the games we play, ensuring a continued value for money experience in a growing world of ‘competition’.
As a child, books were never things I would actively seek out, nor did I find much interest in written media at all until much later in life, but the one thing that stays in my mind are stories such as the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, or any of the Terry Pratchett works. Like most children, I had stories read aloud to me by either my parents before bed or at school, and honestly I preferred it that way, and have continued to be this way to this day, with many audio books adorning my media player library in preference to the books on my shelves. I feel this relaxing, almost meditation like state allowed my mind to race away with conjured up images of what a Hobbit even looked like, or what I believed Smaug the dragon would sound like in his bellowing narrative.
Such grand, epic stories, so colourful and rich, written so beautifully the narrative medium they were delivered upon was always clear and painted the scene perfectly. That in my opinion is then the definition of a good story, one that can be told without too much guidance to the reader, and one that doesn’t require time to understand what is happening on the pages during action sequences or heavy interactions between multiple characters. Translation between media allows for a much purer experience, but only if delivered properly, which is why making content based on pre-designed lore, such as a film or game, is the most important thing there is.
Now if you look at the Warcraft franchise, it’s clear to see that development in all aspects of the medium has resulted in more and more time to focus on enriching story elements to the point of equality, or in some cases even better than what could possibly be explained in pages in a book.
Lore in itself is not the story, but the context of that story, and a slight error can mean the difference between a fluid experience and one of pure misery when trying to piece a world together, especially as vast and intricate as Azeroth. A good example of this was during the Cataclysm expansions premiere at Blizzcon 2010. A fellow gamer and now well known lore enthusiast Ian Bates, better known as ‘Red Shirt Guy’ by both the panel and the wow community, asked a question based on one of these discrepancies he had discovered.
The question referred to a recent book in the Warcraft universe, The shattering, which told of the events leading up to the Cataclysm expansions present timeline. He pointed out that a character that Blizzard had forgotten about, ‘Falstad Wildhammer’, presumed dead by the lore panel team, was actually in fact actively playing a role within the vanilla WoW game all the way up to the end of the ‘Wrath Of The Lich king’ expansion, yet completely missing from the ‘Council of Three Hammers’, an organised group of leaders within the Dwarf race.
Chris Metzen and the lore panel then checked this and declared the ‘red shirt’ guy correct, changed the game to include the missing character in the next expansion in his rightful place, and even included the gentleman asking the question as the ‘Lore Checker’ NPC in the game, stood next to the ‘Council Of Three Hammers’ themselves.
Mistakes are easily made, and the previous example shows the dedication and following behind the Warcraft games and the respected lore behind each and every storyline. As a result of this community interaction, the game has enforced standards to be both met and addressed with each and every game design decision, which in turn has helped create World of Warcraft into the rich, story driven game it is today.
It can be said that the game has never been as story driven as it has been in recent Expansions, with many new methods of telling those stories introduced into Mists of Pandaria. Lorewalker Cho for example, voiced by the fantastically enthusiastic Jim Cummings, a veteran in lending his vocal talents to the video game world is key to this discussion.
The Thunder King official trailer that Blizzard released prior to the raids release to the public, featured rhyming couplets and a poetic projection of the events involving the resurrection and history behind the end boss of that raid.
This by far has to be one of the most impressive works of art the Blizzard team has put together in my opinion, with an extremely high quality presentation level and frankly spine tingling delivery.
As Cummings’ character tells the story of the Pandaren people, raised as slaves under the ancient Mogu empire, ruled by the powerful Thunder King, you get a sense this is more than just the amalgamation of ideas on paper, but a whole intricate thought out part of why the Pandaren even accept the outsiders eventually and try to trust the player throughout their adventures in Pandaria.
To get such a talented vocal inspiration working on a project like this is no easy feat. Consider the distance the game has had to travel before not just the money, but the renowned respect the company was there for this to be possible. For it’s progression in dedication to both customer service and delivery of a worthwhile, value for money product for consumption, is obviously the key concern of the whole development team. This is just one of many other reasons we could talk about in a future post of why WoW still reigns as the number one subscription based MMORPG around.
The community behind a project like this, is what makes World Of Warcraft what it is, without our ‘Red Shirt Guy’s’, and our passionate interaction with the entire franchise, a game would just not be as rich, or even half as interesting to play, regardless of end game playable content, which I feel is where the games ‘competitors’ go wrong.
A player is given the chance to experience the in-game content at their pace, which is expected of a premium pay to play model in today’s society, with anything less than that a sure-fire way of not making even a dent in competition.
Thank you for reading this article, if you would like to continue the discussion, please do. What are your most favoured Warcraft moments? What would you like to see added to the game to further enrich the experience? Let us know, Cheers!