Monday, July 2, 2012

It Was the End of the World As We Know It, Part 2

This is Not Our Story

It's his story.
Here on Summer Holidays, I've been able to catch up with a few titles on my XBox, in addition to WoW-- particularly the new content for Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim.

These two titles and so much WoW makes me think a lot about how games do a story. There's a lot of questions that come up in regards to the story the developers give us and how much of that story belongs to the players.

That last one is a doozy. Many game writers would hear me ask that question, sit up straight, aim their nose at the ceiling and tell me to go to hell. The whole controversy revolving around the ending of Mass Effect 3 has put writers in a corner trying to take control of their artistic license and come up with polite responses like the one suggested above. "We should be able to tell the kinds of stories we want to tell and make the games we want to make." There is some approach being taken here to suggest that the story in a game is inviolate as the printed words of a book.

I want to be sympathetic to that. And I don't suggest story-building by committee is the way to go, but these writers are forgetting the first lesson I learned in media classes a freshman in college: each medium for presenting a story or set of information has its own set of rules, its own strengths and weaknesses. The media are all different and you mustn't come to a new medium with the expectations of the old.

It Was the End of the World As We Know It, Part 1

A Familiar, Yet Broken World

The Talondeep Pass: Proof that there was more than one cataclysm to hit Azeroth.
The Midsummer Fire Festival started this week and I took the time to take a couple of characters on a tour of the world. Desecrating some fires while praising some others is a relaxing way to gain some cash, but more importantly, these sorts of world events are a chance for me to look over my history in WoW and put things in perspective.

It's been a while in coming and it's time for the Cataclysm Post-mortem. The Cataclysm is over and getting to stack a few things up in my mind helps to formulate things that need to be said.

Personally, there has been a great deal to take me away from WoW: a really big move, new social pressures, new job, and graduate school all made it so that a lot of my social structure in WoW vanished from beneath me, and I never got to raid properly in this expansion. Those two things are the most important parts of WoW to me and I half expected my interest in the game to wan this past year, but yet that hasn't happened. Nevertheless, it has colored the way I look at most of what went on with the Cataclysm. I have tried not to let this unduly affect my perceptions of the state of the game.

But make no mistakes: Cataclysm was a bummer.