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Warcraft's Narrative Evolution: Ion Hazzikostas Discusses Future Storytelling and Tackling Complexity in WoW

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When a new player comes across two Anduins in Stormwind, it can be quite puzzling. Let's see what Ion Hazzikostas has to say about the evolving Warcraft narrative.

Warcraft's storyline is intricate, spanning nine expansions with some details tucked away in books and secondary sources. This can make the plot seem confusing for beginners just starting their journey in the game.

Game Director Ion Hazzikostas recently admitted that he and Chris Metzen have been discussing the Warcraft storyline. As reported by PC Gamer, Hazzikostas is open to the possibility of evolving how World of Warcraft narrates its tales in the future. He said, "I can completely acknowledge that is a weakness... Chris Metzen and I chatted about it a bunch recently."

Ion also mentioned that he's unsure if gameplay is always the most effective way to convey the story. He expressed concerns about the complexity of catching up with several expansions' worth of backstory, noting that it could be overwhelming.

Take, for instance, Anduin, a key character in the upcoming 'War Within' expansion. His story might be somewhat perplexing for newcomers. Questions like "What is Anduin's backstory?" and "What has he lost?" could arise, indicating the issues new players face in grasping the full context of the Warcraft universe.

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I mean, it would help if the storyline was consistent and didn't have so many super-glaring plotholes.     It was claimed by Blizzard at one point that they had lore guys who checked to make sure every story worked with existing plot...that has been proven definitively false.

 

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5 minutes ago, Migol said:

I mean, it would help if the storyline was consistent and didn't have so many super-glaring plotholes.     It was claimed by Blizzard at one point that they had lore guys who checked to make sure every story worked with existing plot...that has been proven definitively false.

 

What aspects of the storyline do you think need the most attention for better consistency?

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I'm torn. I think it should all be in game but I also think that FF has it all in game and it's too much. WoW's player base would quit if it had to do the equivalent of MSQ.

Vanilla did it right imo. Stories and side stories were all in game but they weren't so overarching as to bog the game down.

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Just now, Staff said:

What aspects of the storyline do you think need the most attention for better consistency?

I mean you can find problems literally everywhere.    There is an obvious disconnect between the in game told story, the books, the cinematics, etc.     We see a cinematic of Sylvannas deciding on the spot to burn the tree because she got mad at a dying night elf  (seconds earlier she commanded someone to be ready to secure the tree).   That is then walked back by Blizzard because she obviously planned to do it all along as part of her "master plan".     We have Christy Golden accidentally admit that she's writing stories about lore-essential characters but isn't given any guidance on what the plan is for those characters.   We are told that the Jailor, who is imprisoned in a realm noone can escape from ever, is also somehow behind all the plot that has ever occurred basically.     We are told that a lot of Night Elfs who died at the hands of Sylvannas accepted Undeath and joined Sylvannas...because they were so angry at Tyrande and Elune not saving them from Sylvasnnas.     And that's all just from Shadowlands.

You have a plotline from Legion that has us in light-mechs, or zooming around in a high powered Draneii spaceship shooting giant lasers and dodging a swipe from space-satan as we return.    Space Satan stabs the planet as he gets sucked away with a Giant Sword.    Then the new expansion comes and in the opening cinematic...the alliance is using wooden siege technology assaulting a horde side that's still in mud-huts and whose technology height is a stone castle metal spikes.     The Sword is used in opening quests and we're told that while sacrificing our weapons stopped the worst of the poison it's still slow-killing Azeroth.    Also there's a faction War brewing.

We proceed to completely ignore the sword and mostly ignore the faction war as we head to new islands to fight an old god (fake), blood trolls, pirates, a real old god, some mechagnomes and some naga.     And end up forgetting the sword exists.

To wrap it up, the biggest problems I have with the story is

1) A lack of consistency between expansions.     It's jarring how Khadgar, Thrall, and entire races seem to suddenly no longer exist expansion to expansion.   

2) Absolute nonsense happening in-game story/quests.     Too many examples of this to count

3) Noone seems to have a good plan for creating new characters, we have a revolving set that sometimes turn good or evil on a dime.

 

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40 minutes ago, Prophet001 said:

I'm torn. I think it should all be in game but I also think that FF has it all in game and it's too much. WoW's player base would quit if it had to do the equivalent of MSQ.

Vanilla did it right imo. Stories and side stories were all in game but they weren't so overarching as to bog the game down.

fo me its quite simple. 

im not a big reader i am not goinge to frok out money for books just to get story for a game i already pay monthly for. so in my eyes nothing that happens in the books is valid canon so if they say you need to read the books to completly understand the story there story is completly broken cause they dont want to tell me parts of it.

blizzard is not a book company its a game company. if they want to make books for people that like to read or for people that arent that into games but like the story thats fine but they need to tell me the whole story in the game or it does not exist

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1 hour ago, Migol said:

I mean, it would help if the storyline was consistent and didn't have so many super-glaring plotholes.

Right? Every expansion a new writing team comes in with new plans and new ideas, and retcons everything in their wake. At this point the lore completely falls to pieces if you so much as glance at it sideways, but we're supposed to just ignore that.

Not to mention a large amount of the story and lore isn't even in game at all. A huge number of major plot points and character arcs are hidden away in novels that most people will never read.

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3 hours ago, Migol said:

I mean, it would help if the storyline was consistent and didn't have so many super-glaring plotholes.     It was claimed by Blizzard at one point that they had lore guys who checked to make sure every story worked with existing plot...that has been proven definitively false.

Their lore-checking guys are doing a poor job. A lot of it stems from too many writers and reliance on additional materials, some stories do not make any sense without books, they just appear out of nowhere for those who never read them. Other issues likely come from changing story to fit the gameplay. Also, when you look at older lore, it's obvious that Sargeras and Burning Legion were supposed to be the final threat, but when they changed it, other enemies had to be made up. Probably Burning Legion was meant to be a recurring threat, but this is no longer the case. Another thing, one of the writers (I think it was Danuser) was apparently a fan of writing from The Game of Thrones tv show, so it's possible they are changing the story to surprise their audience (when people could possibly figure something out). There is a lot of disconnection, like introducing new races and factions just for the sake of introducing new races and factions, which we aren't going to see after we are done with their continent. This makes lore feel even more disconnected. 

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I gave up on the retail "story line" a long time ago. Things get so disconnected and it all feels like it's being made up on the fly. I enjoy the game for the fun of playing these days, but it really sucks because the RPG aspect is really gone from WoW and it's all about getting gear instead of immersing yourself in a cool story.

I'm happy to have Hardcore because, despite already knowing all the story, it feels a lot like it once did since the old world is so alive on hardcore servers. It would be nice to feel some level of connection to the story again but I don't see the state of retail at a place where they can actually fix this.

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Retail should reflect the current state of the game (up to the most recent plot events). They should remove the old npcs that triggered events three expansions ago and update those quests or maybe fill in the story through npcs. That was the whole point of the Chromie Time thing for leveling. That these stories, quests and npcs have not gone away, they just exist elsewhere and you can still experience that part of the game if you want to. 

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The lore, yes. But what about the quest and story presentation? A dull textbox most of the time. At least have some tts-tech, or ai voices. I recently went 300 hrs into BG3 and it was/is a blast, with voiceacting and mocap.

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7 hours ago, Ken007 said:

Retail should reflect the current state of the game (up to the most recent plot events). They should remove the old npcs that triggered events three expansions ago and update those quests or maybe fill in the story through npcs. That was the whole point of the Chromie Time thing for leveling. That these stories, quests and npcs have not gone away, they just exist elsewhere and you can still experience that part of the game if you want to. 

I agree. Chromie was supposed to make it all cleaned up. I am leveling another ALT now and just still trying to figure out where to go is miserable. Unless its one of the xpacs that is on a different land or planet you are just going to see quest everywhere from different content. 

 

For lore I just wish there was a story so far option. I dont catch every ending to an expansion or raid and not knowing some of this stuff has just made me not bother in retail. 

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