Lore helps us remember what we're fighting for (and some druid related lore stuff)

So, on the plane ride back from my California trip, I had a chance to read the Arthas book, which contains a story of the life of Arthas who became the Lich King. The book covers things from his childhood, recounts the culling of Stratholme events (that you should remember if you did the caverns of time instance), a lot of events from Warcraft III, ending in the destruction of Dalaran (before the bubble-hearth), and does a good job of summarizing some of the events that happened during World of Warcraft’s history. What the book felt like was a summary. However, it put together pieces of the lore puzzle that I hadn’t grasped, since I never played Warcraft III (I didn’t get into Blizzard games until WoW, since WoW came out the summer after I graduated from Undergrad and had more than 10 minutes a day of “free time”).

Anyway, what reading the book reminded me is that lore is really important for making the game fun. If all you do is kill a boss over and over again and have no reason what the significance of killing them is (or why some of them won’t just stay dead!). While you can just read lore summaries on WoWWiki, having the lore in book format really helps tie all the threads together. I mean, why are we in Northrend? Why d0 we need to slay all the bosses in all the raid dungeons? If your battles feel like they have a greater purpose, and you really feel how evil the bosses are, then clearing an instance has much more meaning. Lore is a tool to help with emersing yourself in the game world.

The only strange feeling I got reading the book was related to the events (like the instance for culling of strat) where I feel like I’ve been able to help shape some of the history through the game, and I’m reading about in-game events that I’ve seen with my own eyes. For people that played all of Warcraft III, my guess is that the Arthas book was dissapointing, since you’ve seen most of the events. However, for someone like me (who likes the lore but didn’t play the earlier games), it’s really interesting to be able to read about the lore and feel like I have a somewhat better understanding than I did before, and when I get to help kick Arthas’ rear-end somewhere down the line, I’m going to find that the kill will be much more meaningful.

On a Somewhat related note: So, I found it completely ironic that after thinking about the importance of lore during my plane ride home, I logged onto my computer, and saw a druid related Lore article on Wowinsider (wow.com). The article is mostly speculative about what the NPC conversation means, but it’s interesting to think about how druids might play a role in the fight against Arthas, in more ways than just being player characters in a raid instance. After my newly refreshed interest in the lore surrounding the game, I am really interested in seeing how this plays out.

One interesting thing that the wow.com article also talks about how the NPC conversation also leaves open the possibility of getting more druid spells that have to do with sunlight instead of the mostly “moon” themed spells. Another flavor of spells would be neat for balance druids to have. We could have a sunburst spell or solar flare spell, or things that might spice up the moonkin spell arsenal a bit and have at least some justification for it (The Solar & Lunar eclipse talent also helps give the wacky idea some ground to stand on). It’s just speculative on the part of the players guessing things that could come, and probably isn’t worth keeping your fingers crossed or anything. It could just be a conversation between two NPCs that isn’t entirely that meaninful on it’s own… Then again, fire-ish spells overlap a lot with shaman spells, so maybe it would just be sun-themed arcane & nature spells instead of having actual fire spells… At any rate, in the next expansion, the moonkin need new single-target spells to add to their rotations, as switching back and forth between starfire & wrath (while keeping up DOTs) isn’t going to last in whatever the next expansion is – because in the end, it’s really not that fun to have such a limited range of spells.

edit: and excuse any typos. I’m exhausted from traveling all day… but I wanted to get a post out because I feel like I neglected my blog all weekend.

8 Comments

  1. Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    wowwiki sucks me in for hours. I’ll read an article about some particular figure in WoW lore, and it will mention someone else that sounds interesting, so I’ll go read up on them, and so on, and so on…

  2. Fleethoof
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Welcome back :)

  3. Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the book. How is the quality of the writing?

    I’m an amateur fantasy writer myself (meaning that I haven’t been published . . . yet).

    I find the Warcraft lore daunting in a bad way. Every piece of material I’ve ever seen on wowwiki and the website reads like the back of one of those bad fantasy books with 70′s era cover art. It’s all much to dense! This event and that event, this personality and that personality, in a cosmos that really doesn’t make too much sense. I wish Blizzard had put more thought and care into the creation of their world.

    If you compare two of my favorite games, Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic, to the Warcraft games I think you’ll see a huge discrepancy in how they treat story. In Warcraft the events are much “larger” and “grander,” but they lack in verisimilitude and human feeling. For example, Neverwinter Nights is about a plague. It centers on a single event, and the opening chapter borrows heavily from Boccaccio to really evoke that event with everything your character does and every place she can go. Everyone you talk to participates in that human tragedy. There’s also a plague in WoW, and we play through it in CoT Stratholme. However, there’s never much focus on the human side. It’s an isolated event–a past memory–and all we get is an NPC conversation and one slaughter of an innocent plague-ridden group before we start killing monsters as we always do.

    Even Morrowind, which was dauntingly large, had some surprisingly well-written “books” included in game. I spent some two-hour gaming sessions just reading them in the in-game bookstores. I have yet to see anything like that in WoW. Most of the text seems written for sheer density. It’s like 100 Years of Solitude in a bad way–every sentence contains years of events, but it’s not done with much skill or even attention paid. I wish Blizzard would hire me to edit their “lore” tidbits, both in and out of game!

    Despite my love of fantasy books (and pre-WoW I spent most of my free time reading them, whereas now it’s about half my free time), I’ve never gotten into the lore of WoW.

  4. Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Sydera, the book quality isn’t terribly great (it should have been longer so they could add in more details to things), however I think that it does add at least some of the human feeling back to things.

    For example: In the book, you get to feel Jaina Proudmoore and Uther’s hearts break as Arthas says that script of text infront of Strat as they leave and refuse to follow – because you understand the significance of the event better. The book made me feel bad about all the times I killed “innocent people” in CoS now… Jaina goes back to Strat after all the people had been killed, and the book talks about things like the smell and the loss of life.

    The book also fleshes out some of the Arthas-related quests that you do in places like Dragonblight (ie. at the forgotten shore, where he actually burned his own ships to make his soldiers stay). So, I think reading it helped me understand all the events better.

  5. Moohtree
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I played all the Warcraft games, and spent a lot of time on Warcraft III and it’s expansion. When i read the book i was hoping to get more details about everything.

    What I would really recommend instead of reading this book is to actually play the campaigns of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne. You will really LOVE all the campaigns and stories as they will perfectly fit into what you’ve seen in WoW. From the story of Arthas, battle of Mount Hyjal, corruption of the Orcs, Illidan and the Blood Elves to the foundation of Durotar etc …

  6. Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Yeah, but Moohtree – it took less time to just read the book (which I agree was written for people who didn’t play Warcraft III).

  7. Fleethoof
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I love wow lore, and have been meaning to play through WC3 in order to better understand it, I just have a hard time spending so much time doing THAT when I could be leveling an alt, raiding, or pvping…

  8. Moohtree
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    yeah i know it takes time to go through the warcraft III campaigns … probably about 10-12 hours playtime for Reign of Chaos and 5-7 hours for the expansion. But it’s really worth for such a great game ! Lots of fun guaranteed !