Monday, April 18, 2011

Discordant Lore

Something in Tipa's writeup of the Rift world event issues stuck me as odd and potentially concerning for the game in the long term.  No, it wasn't the 8-hour queues that caused players to miss the 30 minute one-time-only event, though these were predictable given the design and perhaps not the most prudent choice to showcase Trion's heavily hyped dynamic world technology.  The passage from Tipa's post that made me scratch my head reads:
"They respawned again, and then one last time, now with the leader of the Defiant faction there as well. They chatted for awhile, Alsbeth had some threats, the Guardian leader had the Vigil in the form of divine angels save the Defiant leader from Alsbeth’s attack. They moved on her; Alsbeth fled into the River of Souls, and the event was done."

This detail seems odd given how much effort Trion has put into depicting these two factions as diametrically opposed.  

Divergent Paths
I don't know whether other games have taken this approach, but Trion opted to have two separate lore leads for the game's two factions.  (The guys at Rift Watchers interviewed the two of them a while back if you're curious.) 

The good news is that each side has a very distinct identity, with a person whose job it is to pull for them and make sure that their story is as cool as the other guys'.  The bad news is that the lore sometimes feels disjointed, even more so than you would expect of what two warring factions would think of each other.  From the earliest levels, Defiant content portrays Guardians as vicious short-sighted zealots, while Guardian lore depicts Defiants as reckless amoral maniacs.  Even the game's opening cinematic shows a Guardian who is apparently willing to risk letting the Plane of Life have a foothold of Telara if it helps him beat a pair of Defiants. 

All of which is well and good I suppose (assuming that people don't get too mean on Twitter, as Pete observed) until the minor issue arises that these two divergent stories are nominally occurring in the same world.  There isn't really enough dev time out there to make separate raid content for both factions.  However, if this and future content is going to emphasize the common threat of Regulos, Trion risks blending the factions, much as Blizzard has done with the Alliance and Horde (who also continue to coincidentally fight and kill the exact same foes, despite a cosmetic effort to reinvigorate the faction conflict in Cataclysm).

If this is indeed the trend, I wonder whether Trion will regret their approach to building faction identity. 


Anjin said...

Keen mentioned the this in a post a couple weeks back. The quote he was responding to was “The two factions aren’t necessarily battling each other, but are trying to show which way is the best to save the world.“

He argued that it is really Horde v Alliance, but the developer don't really see it that way. Both sides are trying to save the world, but each thinks the other is going about it in a dangerous and/or reckless way that will do more damage than good.

I don't think this is a failure of the lore. Instead, it's a failure of the game to explain and support the lore properly.

Aracos said...

I would add something else. If Alsbeth kills Asha and is able to capture her soul in the River of Souls, it would create yet another powerful enemy for Telara to face. We know that Regulos already tried to corrupt Asha once. So the case of the Guardian leader and the Vigil coming to Asha's aid here could simply be seen as a case of "enlightened self-interest."

Sente said...

I think they have a good approach here; it should not be black and white but rather different shades depending on point of view.

I think it is a greater risk for blurring factions together if there is only one lead for the lore. It should not fit together perfectly IMHO, each side should have a view or present the situation in what is the best interest from their side. It will be up to the player to decide what she/he prefers to follow and accept.

At the same time it should of course not be completely inconsistent with each other, but the approach they have taken seem to be a reasonable approach to deal with this.

Pewter said...

Having watched over my partner's shoulder, Aracos' assessment is correct. The vigil helps to save Asha, but it certainly wasn't an altruistic move. 'The vigil saves asha' doesn't include everything else that was said and done at the event. I think it was done very well, they just need to find a way to show the lore to those who weren't present.

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

Personally, I'm tired of the "red vs. blue" setups in games. I tolerated DAoC's setup, but I thought the whole setup in WoW was dumb. Of course, WoW ignored the conflict when it was convenient to do so, like during most of TBC.

Playing the RIFT beta had me thinking like Anjin: seems the two sides aren't totally at each other's throat, but rather just strongly disagreeing with how to save the world. Seems like one of those situations where if they'd just sit down and talk for a bit about it all, perhaps they could find more common ground. Doesn't work in the offline world, though, I guess. :P

Tipa said...

Here's the text I captured; it's not complete. On my server, Asha only spawned fairly late in the encounter. I also didn't capture what she said to piss Alsbeth off.

Cyril Kalmar: We're not too late. Alsbeth has yet to establish a foothold upon Shadebane. Prepare yourselves. I sense her dark power approaching.

Alsbeth: Your feeble gods are not enough to withstand the growing power of Regulos. He feeds on the Soulstream and every foe you slay only adds to his army.

Cyril Kalmar: Regulos defiles the heavenly stream? The gods will have justice!

Alsbeth: How unexpected... Your victory has done nothing but displease my master. All merciful offers are now revoked!

Cyril Kalmar: Be gone, Alsbeth! Spare us your ramblings {of} false mercy. Words have but one meaning {in} the mouth of Death.

Alsbeth: When the Destroyer returns, he will devour every soul in this world. None shall escape his hunger!

Asha Catari: .... (something I didn't capture)

Alsbeth: Impudent wench! Perhaps I'll bring him a trophy... Regulos could do wondrous things with your soul!

(Alsbeth attacks Asha, Cyril summons the Vigil to save her)

Cyril Kalmar: Regulos will have no more souls this day! Gods of the Vigil, I call upon you! Release your wrath!

Alsbeth: Regulos shall have this world in time! Your bodies will weaken, your machines will rust and your faith will be lost. The River of Souls belongs to the Endless. Your souls have but one destiny!

Asha Catari: You saved my life. I wouldn't have expected a virtuous follower of the Vigil to call on his gods to save a Defiant. But you weren't chosen for your virtue, now were you, Cyril?

Cyril Kalmar: And you were not chosen at all, Asha. I'd have been pleased to be rid of you, but your soul would be too great a weapon in the grasp of Regulos.

Asha Catari: Very well, Cyril. Now that I'm not about to be plucked by the Destroyer, should I watch for a knife in my back?

Cyril Kalmar: I'll honor a truce for today alone, in recognition of the shared sacrifice this day. Collect your dead and leave this place.

Asha Catari: This fight is not yours alone, Cyril. I'm sending a scouting party through the portal to gauge the threat.

Cyril Kalmar: Spare me further blasphemy, Asha! I will not allow you free access to the heavenly Soulstream.

Asha Catari: I never said I was asking.

Cyril Kalmar: Guardians! After her! We cannot allow the Defiant to learn the holy secrets of the River of Souls!

Tipa said...

Ah, I found someone who'd gotten the full script:

Stabs said...

I don't think most players care.

The whole issue of battlegrounds (warfronts) where you can fight the other side irrespective of lore developments encourages players to simply not care.

If you were RPing correctly then Alliance should have stopped fighting Blood Elves at the start of Sunwell when they were, by lore, redeemed. But they didn't close down Warsong Gulch :)