Starym

Chris Metzen Interview on Fan Toxicity, Dissatisfaction and More

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The Instance's Scott Johnson is back with another interview with now retired Blizzard story guru and chief world and story builder Chris Metzen. Their first interview was truly great and covered the circumstances surrounding Chrises departure, the pressure of working on Titan and eventual panic attacks and anxiety that caused.

This time around the focus is on negative fan reactions to various media, starting with the extreme nature of fan backlash against the Last Jedi. As you'd expect that leads into the criticism and laying of blame surrounding the very recent Sylvanas short/Teldrassil burning and how people targeted Christie Golden and the story team in general.

Unsurprisingly he isn't too happy about how the reactions played out and the manner in which fans reacted to the story, without having known how it all actually comes together, as well as the way in which they targeted the story team. Also he's totally team Saurfang and wants to see Sylvanas go down, but doesn't have any inside info on how the entire story plays out.

It's another really great interview and well worth a full listen for this veteran/legend's perspective on fan backlash to stories he didn't have anything to do with, so make sure you dedicate some time to it!

And here's the statue Blizzard made for him after he retired, just to remind us of what an amazing contribution the man had both in Blizzard and our own lives as well.

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While I agree that harrasing writers is clearly not ok, it' also unfair to lump genuine critics with toxic assholes. And let's face it, for every troll you at least get 10 people writing genuine criticism.

And as for the Last Jedi, the movie was absolute trash on every point. You can't ruin well established characters or bring up never before seen nonsense and expect people to take it. Calling actual fans who want the universe and its characters respected as nothing but trolls is just dishonest.

On a final note, while I dislike some parts of the BfA storyline, I'm hyped for other parts of it. As for the whole "toxic fandom", it's become an excuse that talentless hacks use for bad writing or plot, in most cases it is. 

cough*Marvel comics* cough

 

Edited by Dejo93
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46 minutes ago, Dejo93 said:

While I agree that harrasing writers is clearly not ok, it' also unfair to lump genuine critics with toxic assholes. And let's face it, for every troll you at least get 10 people writing genuine criticism.

And as for the Last Jedi, the movie was absolute trash on every point. You can't ruin well established characters or bring up never before seen nonsense and expect people to take it. Calling actual fans who want the universe and its characters respected as nothing but trolls is just dishonest.

On a final note, while I dislike some parts of the BfA storyline, I'm hyped for other parts of it. As for the whole "toxic fandom", it's become an excuse that talentless hacks use for bad writing or plot, in most cases it is. 

cough*Marvel comics* cough

 

While I agree that the media uses toxicity to dismiss valid criticism and takes the slightest opportunity to grab onto anything remotely impolite to completely ignore all points of an argument, there are genuine assholes that basically ruin it for the rest of us. Personally I'm quite outspoken in my criticism but I don't take it to extremes or god forbid go yell at the actual authors, but the instant you say something even mildly negative about someone's favorite thing the discussion basically ends. So if you want to discuss and criticize something you have to use kitten mittens(TM) so as not to rile up overly sensitive idiots and actually have a conversation.

To me fan toxicity goes both ways, it's the genuine trolls and hateful people that yell at authors with no constructive criticism or goal in mind other than to say "I didn't like this, like, A LOT, now listen to me whine", BUT it's also fanboys who refuse to listen to genuine criticism and dismiss everything that doesn't fit into their little echo chamber as whining or haters. Basically it's become very difficult for normal people to discuss any product/piece of media that stirs up passion on people, because it simply devolves into a screaming match. And both sides fuel each other, the more people defend something other people hate and ignore criticism, the more aggressive the criticism will get, as it's frustrating to just hear "lalala I liked it lalala", and then the criticism gets out of hand and there's legitimate and well-earned backlash to the criticism/whining, which jut pisses the critics off more and round and round we go.

Now watch me dismantle the (imo) relatively calm and leveled arguments made above: Blizzard's writing team sucks and no amount of backtracking or ancillary novels and comics can redeem the hack writing of Sylvanas in the pre-expansion events.

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13 minutes ago, Starym said:

While I agree that the media uses toxicity to dismiss valid criticism and takes the slightest opportunity to grab onto anything remotely impolite to completely ignore all points of an argument, there are genuine assholes that basically ruin it for the rest of us. Personally I'm quite outspoken in my criticism but I don't take it to extremes or god forbid go yell at the actual authors, but the instant you say something even mildly negative about someone's favorite thing the discussion basically ends. So if you want to discuss and criticize something you have to use kitten mittens(TM) so as not to rile up overly sensitive idiots and actually have a conversation.

To me fan toxicity goes both ways, it's the genuine trolls and hateful people that yell at authors with no constructive criticism or goal in mind other than to say "I didn't like this, like, A LOT, now listen to me whine", BUT it's also fanboys who refuse to listen to genuine criticism and dismiss everything that doesn't fit into their little echo chamber as whining or haters. Basically it's become very difficult for normal people to discuss any product/piece of media that stirs up passion on people, because it simply devolves into a screaming match. And both sides fuel each other, the more people defend something other people hate and ignore criticism, the more aggressive the criticism will get, as it's frustrating to just hear "lalala I liked it lalala", and then the criticism gets out of hand and there's legitimate and well-earned backlash to the criticism/whining, which jut pisses the critics off more and round and round we go.

Now watch me dismantle the (imo) relatively calm and leveled arguments made above: Blizzard's writing team sucks and no amount of backtracking or ancillary novels and comics can redeem the hack writing of Sylvanas in the pre-expansion events.

Image result for well said goodsir

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Anyway, the big problem with the BFA stuff is the attempt to spread across several forms of media, and the fact that those different forms contradict each other to some degree. For instance, in game, Saurfang just walks off and disappears with Sylvanas after burning the tree. No "They'll come for us!!!!" line. In fact Sylvanas herself gives a little speech about the Alliance retaliating. But then you go and watch "Old Soldier" and Sylvanas is silent while Saurfang chews her out.

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I agree with both of you, @Dejo93 and @Starym, so much! I tried sharing my constructive criticism of BfA's story with arguments etc. and the first response was someone calling me a fool and three people liking his post. This attitude can really dishearten someone from voicing their opinion on the Internet, a supposedly free and open space. And all of this is because of toxic haters or toxic fans, as Starym said, both ends are equally toxic.

Let's face it: WoW's story (the MMO-RPG btw, not talking about the RTS games) has never been its strong suit. People have been complaining about it ever since TBC launched (perhaps earlier too, I wasn't playing). It's a convoluted mess with a lot of retcons, similarities to other Blizzard titles, stuff that don't make sense and a ton of what we call "game logic". It's also not very helpful that they spread the story in many different media, ie. the game, books, comics, manga, novellas, novels, cinematics. To reiterate something I said before: in the age of quick, "shock-value" entertainment, perhaps fans are expecting something Game-of-Thronesque (overrated series imo that butchered the books, but that's another conversation) out of WoW and from what I have seen from WoW's writers, I don't think it is in their capabilities or even in their interest tbh.

As much as I (and most other fans) like Chris Metzen's personality and I recognise his iconic role in Blizzard, he has also received quite a bit of criticism for the story direction of both WoW and Diablo 3. The fact that he's always been an Alliance supporter and now "team Saurfang" kinda worries me, but its "his" game - I can't do anything else than watch how it unfolds.

Still, I like WoW and I treat it as it is: it's not Dostoyevsky nor Tolkien, not G.R.R. Martin, it's not even *insert any "Top 10 Games with the Best Storylines*. It's just a freaking video game and people should chill out and lower their expectations about it or at least be more tolerant of other people's feedback.

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1 hour ago, Zadina said:

As much as I (and most other fans) like Chris Metzen's personality and I recognise his iconic role in Blizzard, he has also received quite a bit of criticism for the story direction of both WoW and Diablo 3. The fact that he's always been an Alliance supporter and now "team Saurfang" kinda worries me, but its "his" game - I can't do anything else than watch how it unfolds.

He mained an Alliance character in game but has always been accused of overly supporting the Horde.

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2 hours ago, dartbodman said:

Anyway, the big problem with the BFA stuff is the attempt to spread across several forms of media, and the fact that those different forms contradict each other to some degree. For instance, in game, Saurfang just walks off and disappears with Sylvanas after burning the tree. No "They'll come for us!!!!" line. In fact Sylvanas herself gives a little speech about the Alliance retaliating. But then you go and watch "Old Soldier" and Sylvanas is silent while Saurfang chews her out.

Indeed, it's now rather common problem and not the first time. WoD's story was messy due to time travel, alternate reality and cut content from game itself but for it to even make sense, people had to read War Crimes novel. Otherwise, there was just sudden invasion in Blasted Lands and players didn't know why.

Edited by Arcling
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2 hours ago, Zadina said:

As much as I (and most other fans) like Chris Metzen's personality and I recognise his iconic role in Blizzard, he has also received quite a bit of criticism for the story direction of both WoW and Diablo 3.

Presentation of story certainly has gotten better in WoW, as initially we barely had any voiced dialogues, cut scenes and longer storylines, usually mostly disjointed quests. To be fair, Metzen wasn't the only storywriter for Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, so not all bad decisions were his, but people usually blame the one they know the most or just a "face" of a company. With WoW his last major involvement was Catalycsm (and just as before, he wasn't the only one writing), much of MoP already had different writers, including Christie Golden. Of course, plenty of his decisions were questionable, like Thrall's storyline in Cata.

Edited by Arcling
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The story to me in WoW was always secondary when I played. 

There are two levels of extreme on Blizzard boards, for all of their games, the apologists that say Blizzard can do no wrong and get horribly defensive and abusive when confronted with facts.  Then the people that say they can’t do anything right and complain endlessly sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

Frankly the story for WoW didn’t need to be deep for me, I just cared enough about what a guy giving out quests wanted.  Everything beyond that was “Oh bad guy, kill him, get loot.”  I almost never cared about the why of raids.

To this day I don’t know where Sha came from or what they wanted beyond “everything”.

I don’t know why Ragnaros is a boss, why Kael’Thas is a bad guy or why Uludar is an Old God main boss.  Why?  Don’t care.

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6 minutes ago, Misuteri said:

To this day I don’t know where Sha came from or what they wanted beyond “everything”.

This one was actually explained in game, so you probably just click through quests and aren't paying attention to what is happening. For those who came from Warcraft 3, story is/was important, though I guess it's different for those who started with WoW, when they were continuing on many things from there (plus novels).

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40 minutes ago, Misuteri said:

Frankly the story for WoW didn’t need to be deep for me, I just cared enough about what a guy giving out quests wanted.  Everything beyond that was “Oh bad guy, kill him, get loot.”  I almost never cared about the why of raids.

i alwas was the same. But Blizzard is learning in this regard and features storytelling in more ways than just questtext. There is more and more popup npc-text and npcs that follow you on the quests you do. It's way more active, like they did with diablo3 (being able to continue playing, while npcs speak). And especially the quality of ingame cinematics. They get better with each expansion, and by now i dont want to miss any little bit of story they want to present me (in those ways). And that's how i came to enjoy Legion most, of all the expansions. (I am still totally ignoring Questtext though ...)

Edited by Lawrenz

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1 hour ago, Misuteri said:

I don’t know why Ragnaros is a boss, why Kael’Thas is a bad guy or why Uludar is an Old God main boss.  Why?  Don’t care.

These posts always make me giggle. You care so little about a huge portion of the game across its entirety, yet post on a forum in a topic about a somewhat specific thing you dont care about, really only to tell how little you care.

1 hour ago, Arcling said:

Of course, plenty of his decisions were questionable, like Thrall's storyline in Cata.

See!  I missed last half of cata-almost all of MOP.  I have an idea what he did but I missed so much of his story I dont even know what took place with him.  Aggra... elements... Deathwing... thats about all ive gleaned.
 

5 hours ago, Starym said:

Blizzard's writing team sucks and no amount of backtracking or ancillary novels and comics can redeem the hack writing of Sylvanas in the pre-expansion events.

Unless there is some ridiculous retconning like she knew something so heinous, so insidious in that tree that the world would end if she didnt bbq some nelf kids, I cant find any reconcilliation other than maybe NOT being so bad.  I cant really ever LIKE her again.  

Same way with Illidan.  He was horrible.  But in the end he was a means to an end and after retconning his whole agenda as being anti-legion, it worked out so he wasnt so bad.  Still didnt LIKE him.  But at least there was a reason.

ETA: and most importantly the story worked.  I liked it.  
 

Edited by PatrickHenry
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WoW to me (I am no longer an active player.) was always about the hamster wheel and grinding/leveling alts or rotating characters in and out of PVP FOTM and twinking.  Secondary making enough gold to be able to splurge on trading card mounts on the AH or BMAH and mount collecting.

I only did enough raiding to make farming mats easy or to keep my “main” on track to be BIS from normal raiding, never heroic or mythic.

Since I was not a huge PVE progression player, never cared about server firsts but instead wanted 2200 ratings my focus was not on the story.

There are hundreds of types of way to play WoW “right” and it always depends on the player.  I knew a player that hit level cap then did nothing but get alts gold capped by dominating jewel crafting and never left Org.  They cared nothing about anything else in the game.  

My interest in story and raiding “Why are we fighting?” Questions is probably just as unimportant as the majority of players in high level RBG’s.

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3 hours ago, Arcling said:

Indeed, it's now rather common problem and not the first time. WoD's story was messy due to time travel, alternate reality and cut content from game itself but for it to even make sense, people had to read War Crimes novel. Otherwise, there was just sudden invasion in Blasted Lands and players didn't know why.

Ahhh, but that may be the very reason why.  It's an established franchise with a wide player-base and an even larger fan-base.  Spreading content around provides additional revinue streams.  Maybe they are making it confusing on purpose, to promote a boost in sales.  😄 (Being satirical)

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1 hour ago, PatrickHenry said:

Unless there is some ridiculous retconning like she knew something so heinous, so insidious in that tree that the world would end if she didnt bbq some nelf kids, I cant find any reconcilliation other than maybe NOT being so bad.  I cant really ever LIKE her again.  

Same way with Illidan.  He was horrible.  But in the end he was a means to an end and after retconning his whole agenda as being anti-legion, it worked out so he wasnt so bad.  Still didnt LIKE him.  But at least there was a reason.

That's the same thought I have with Sylvanas. There must be longer term goal then to just make her Warchief and "Garrosh" her later on. We still don't know the whole story of BfA yet, so I guess we are just in the dark until more information is presented.

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1 hour ago, Ancalagon said:

Ahhh, but that may be the very reason why.  It's an established franchise with a wide player-base and an even larger fan-base.  Spreading content around provides additional revinue streams.  Maybe they are making it confusing on purpose, to promote a boost in sales.  😄 (Being satirical)

I mean you're being satirical but I'm not sure that's wrong. Ofc a more competent team would just tease the stories from the novels in-game and share the basic infro from them, but I think it's naive to think that novel/comic etc sales aren't at least a small factor in the decision making there. Audience retention has now become WAY more than just "keep them playing", it's more of "keep them involved i the game at all times, even when they can't play", hence the digital comics etc, you should always be thinking about the game even if actually PLAYING it isn't as fun as it was (because it can't be by definition, all things wane).

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Completely agree with Mr. Metzen, "fans" are fucking horrible creatures, everything that happens in a story/universe that goes against what they want for the characters gets such a rough and unreasonable treatment that it is mindboggling.

When I read posts from "fans" chewing out the writers for hacknied writing or poor stories, they always come off as rambling lunatics who has no idea of what a good story or character development is, they just want the story to play out exactly like the dream it and anything else gets slaughtered.

I think the BfA story is ok so far, unfortunately there are some inconsistencies between the medias which gives the toxic trolls something to harp on about (and, for once, to be right about).

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2 hours ago, PatrickHenry said:

Same way with Illidan.  He was horrible.  But in the end he was a means to an end and after retconning his whole agenda as being anti-legion, it worked out so he wasnt so bad.  Still didnt LIKE him.  But at least there was a reason.


ETA: and most importantly the story worked.  I liked it.  
 

The thing with Illidan, IMO, is that you new his motivations from the beginning (or very early on) and could identify with it. You either agreed with his methods or not, but his goals were clear and correct. With Sylvanas it's just NOT like that, her vague talk of "war will eventually come, whether it's tomorrow or in 5 billion years" is just dumb (for me anyway), as she basically created the problem she's so afraid of herself. Anduin is probably the most peace-minded king ever so this was EXACTLY the time to try for a lasting peace, except that would mean having to share Azerite. Mutually assured destruction and all that. But no, she's a bad morally grey lady you see, ergo WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR. Bleh.

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What, didn't approve the comment where I refuted a talking point Scott Johnson pushed in the interview? It was a perfectly reasonable response, no personal attacks, no swearing...

 

If you don't want comments about that kind of topic, don't bring it up in the interviews.

Edited by dartbodman

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if they cant take criticism then they r in the wrong line of work verbal attacks or not grow up and take it or go move back with mommy and daddy ( pointed at ion , Christine and Chris ) bunch of thin skinned pansty 

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I walked out of The Last Jedi hating it. Saw it with my father, and the whole car ride back he had to listen to me complain about how awful it was.

What bothers me more is how Rotten/Fresh works, and how that percentage is used to manipulate audience goers.  It does not reflect the actual score a film has received. You have to look at a review in Desktop Mode to see the actual rating.

We're just getting peddled thumbs up/thumbs down content we don't enjoy. I'm convinced it's why the majority of Netflix users watch 'The Office' reruns. The thought of wading through content and wasting time sucks in comparison to watching a show we know we love, but I digress.

Edited by Abom

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13 hours ago, Starym said:

her vague talk of "war will eventually come, whether it's tomorrow or in 5 billion years" is just dumb (for me anyway), as she basically created the problem she's so afraid of herself. Anduin is probably the most peace-minded king ever so this was EXACTLY the time to try for a lasting peace,

war wasn't the problem sylvanas was afraid of it was the alliance would start secretly making azerite weapons to gain more power and putting the horde at a real disadvantage for when the war comes so the best course would be to start the war now and have the advantage cause peace with anduin will be only temporary but by starting a war and winning she can dismantle the alliance and guarantee lasting peace for the horde. basically only anduin is really the one who wants peace everyone goes along cause of respect for his father but there is to much hatred in the citizens and nobles of the alliance and for the factions of the horde, unless in time of anduins life both sides learn to love each other once hes gone war will defiantly come

Edited by verthus
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Thanks for linking this interview with Chris Metzen; doubt I would have been aware of it otherwise.  The guy is awesome and so are the worlds he helped create!  PS:  I liked "Last Jedi".  😜

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On 8/11/2018 at 1:56 AM, verthus said:

the best course would be to start the war now and have the advantage cause peace with anduin will be only temporary but by starting a war and winning she can dismantle the alliance and guarantee lasting peace for the horde.

This quote is pretty accurate, but logically comical.

"all alliances fall apart" was a line from the book (more or less), so even peace with The Alliance would fail.  OK, well then might as well go on to say that eventually the Horde itself would fail.  I mean they ALL fail, so that would include their own.

Might as well kill off the least helpful or most resistant races to her agenda now, or at the very latest after they own the alliance, because they'll be the first to turn on her.  Logically.

The only end game for it then is to kill everyone.  

Edited by PatrickHenry

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