Friday, August 7, 2015

Blaugust Day 7: Game Lore

Good morning (or afternoon) good readers. I have no planned posts today, nothing ready that is. There’s some I’m making for later like an art trade and a Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 thought post, but alas they’re not ready. So today I plan on pulling a subject from where the sun don’t shine and talk about that.

And the subject is… MMO Lore; Come on down!

We love you Bob.jpg

If you’re not up-to-speed on my blog, I’d point out that game mechanics are my thing. Lore of a game doesn’t usually fall into that, but it’s very important nonetheless. However, I have a confession to make, I’m not very good at following it. What I mean is that I love EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Guild Wars 2 and even Champions Online (please don’t kill me), but I couldn’t really tell you the lore off the top of my head.

EverQuest is something about gods made the planet and we are fighting them? I think?

EverQuest 2 is… um… about 500 years after EverQuest… or maybe an alternate universe? The gods are gone and now it’s dragons that attack the citizens in the most recent story.

Guild Wars 2 is about the races of Tyria protecting their way of life from dragons that rebalance the magic of the world. Ok, I know more about GW2, but that’s because I actually wiki’d some of it to know what’s going on.

Champions online is about looking cool and coming up with another character concept. Well, that’s what I use it for anyways, and to find if people made stories in their info window (which bugs out and comes up blank sometimes >:( grr).

That all said, I’m actually very curious and wanting to know the lore, problem is that most games don’t really convey it well to the player during play. The NPC’s can try and tell it to you, but it’s usually hidden within a block of text where you’re only interested in finding the quest.

But what’s the point in showing a problem if I offer no solutions?

The most fun way to learn about lore, for me, is have it included in the quest itself and don’t just give me one objective, give me a couple to choose from so I’m more engaged. If I have to decide what to do, I’ll take in what it is I’m doing, instead of mindlessly following quest objects. Kill 5 wolves, will do. Now it wants me to kill 10? Fine, whatever, I’ll just do it. If it says Kill 5 wolves, or teach the farmers how to fight, then that tells me, hey, I’m helping farmers defend their homes from wolves. GW2 does this with their heart quests.

So lore, I’m talking to you now. I’ll spend more time taking you in and understanding what it is you’re telling me. Maybe even help convey you to others in a more fun way.


  1. I think the open world structure and 'game'-y focus of an MMO just generally conflicts with the more linear storytelling of lore.

    Lore is a tale that has beginning, middle, end. It has atmosphere. It has history and sense of moving through time. It's got to be told in a linear fashion somehow.

    And most times in an MMO, all they can find the place for it is in quest text. Which then trains generations of players to both skip reading it, and ignore anything else in the world.

    For example, GW2 lore is best appreciated with a background in Guild Wars 1 - who did a fantastic job storytelling with linear storytelling - cinematic cutscenes in between game missions, but was more of a lobby game than an open-world MMO.

    GW2's lore is mostly buried in a visual sense, in locations that harken back to places and people in the older game. Old Lion's Arch, the sunken ruins of Droknar's Forge, Orr, Gwen's tomb, etc.

    The books/volumes of Ebonhawke's founding are also nice. Sorta like how Elder Scrolls games place their lore, in tomes and volumes to be (optionally) read. Not sure if TESO follows suit, but they ought to.

    I think the more recent MMOs have found some success sticking in linear cinematic cutscenes / storytelling in between quest chapters / story missions, like FF14, TSW and GW2's Living Story, etc.

    1. I agree that inserting lore in quest text is just asking to be skipped. But I don't think it has to be told in a linear fashion. Story can do well being told out of order, look at movies like Pulp Fiction.

      A story for my character to live through I'd appreciate all the cinematics and linear telling. As for the story of the world, I'd enjoy it through visual queues, rumors, books and legends.

  2. I prefer my lore to be in the background and to ooze out from the scenery. I don't want to read it, but I do want to feel it. If a dev manages that right, then I will seek it out.

    1. Same here. I'd rather experience the lore as I'm playing it, not be given large text blocks.

  3. You're partially right on the EQ2 lore. It is the same world, but in the future from the original game, and the gods HAD left. They came back during the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. From there, it gets muddy as I kind of stopped paying attention to the lore.

    1. Cool. I know you could worship them from Echoes. I suppose I expect when the gods come back you could actually see them in game. I know you can visit some of the planes, but no gods yet that I know of.