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Dev Discussion #49 - Lore Characters
Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.
Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!
Dev Discussion - Lore Characters
What do you want to see out of important characters in the lore? How do you like interacting with them and where do you want to see yourself in the story?
Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion
Mysterious quests are also awesome. Perhaps interacting with main characters off the beaten path. I would love older history to be mysterious and to reveal these mysteries across the levels.
I would hope important characters acknowledge each other, chat about each other and gave opinions on each other. I love intertwined stories and quests related to multiple main characters at a time.
I think we should always be somebody that passes by and might want to get involved in a situation. Not that the scenario needed us there for events to keep unfolding.
I would also like to see AOC being different from most mmos today when it comes to the tone and setting of the characters inhibiting the world.
Most mmos are heavy in tongue-in-cheek, happy-go-lucky, smart and careless characters, whose dialogues are full of comedy.
Such characters seem to be out of place in worlds of adventure and danger. Examples to avoid are ESO and FF14.
The Witcher world setting and its characters are more immersive. There is humor however, due to the war ravaged, monster infested world, the characters are more grounded, suspicious and believable.
As far as lore characters go there need to be plenty of them well fleshed out, with different purposes. Some on our side, some not. Some that fight with us, some that give us quests, some that fight against us, etc.
It's one thing to have "random general A" give a quest, and "Important named recurring character" there when we first exist the gates and who we interact with as we rebuild Verra frequently.
Being addressed as "Champion, Scion, Hero." As an example and having our previous deeds even referenced by lore characters and even just general npcs would be amazing.
Lore might be a nice thing when it comes to cinematics, voice acting and explanation for future content (look at GW2) but in 9 out of 10 games its completely non-existent in player's perception because noone wants to read walls of text (and todays teenagers have even shorter attention spans). Just ask your colleagues at the office, what was the FFXIV story about? Most don't know, most don't care, for most people its irrelevant to their experience.
Please employ 2 economy and 2 combat designers for each lore designer You might seek, that's what will make Your game, especially if You are going for wow-ish all-text quests that nobody reads but we all pretend they're relevant
The game needs to sufficiently explain who our characters are and why they are doing what they are doing. Important Lore characters can help with that.
The most important thing is that we as players understand their position in the world and the story without having to read 15 other sources outside of the game.
Not for every characters we need to flashback-quests that exposition dumb their whole live story on us. This should only be done for characters that will follow us for a significant time over likely several months or years.
The more named characters that are not just one dimensional the better.
Examples: NOT Impressive looking general with fancy armour that gives us our first quest! Better: Impressive looking general with fancy armour that led us through the gate in an intense cutscene before starting the game saving all of our lives.
Important sidenote: Do not make the unique important main player character mistake in an mmorpg. The general didn't reach out to pull our character individually through the gate just saving the life of our one player character.
He/She saved our lifes and hundreds of others by keeping the gate open or fending off monsters so we could escape.
General made it through the gate alive but wounded. So He/She can't organize help with setting up a camp. We need to find NPC XY that is his/her second in command to tell the NPC that the general needs assistance.
NOT Big Red Dragon in a cave that is very evil so we must kill it. Better: Big Red Dragon in a cave with a background story. The Dragon guards access to an important resource but can only temporarily be killed. Until the mcguffin device progresses the story for the server the task of our heros is it to kill the dragon over and over so we can get access to the important resource.
Lore and Gameplay can go hand in hand which if done properly elevates the experience extremely. And as much as possible needs to happen INGAME.
This, I feel, allows for the optimal progressions in terms of lore while not putting anyone's RP in weird spaces.
Have the Lore characters pop in and out with things they are handling, they tell you about, you can show up, etc. If the big dragon is in the cave, it's because the great Lore Hero chased them there and they just ask you to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too strong.
This is the only type of Lore Character I usually enjoy or have any interest in. Ashes seems like it would double down on that. There are so many 'Lore Spots' that could easily be filled by players, particularly if Intrepid actually does anything to help 'consolidate story'.
Many good games lately have been doing this sort of presentation well, in my opinion, and a few from long ago also did it well enough. Little things that help you remember that these important characters are important for a reason, whether it be power, legend, knowledge, or notoriety, and they retain their 'force for change in the world' offscreen while you get to interact, and view yourself as either their follower or their equal, but not 'the great heroes coming in to save everything at the behest of Lore Character Tiberius The Wise'.
Better yet, with Nodes rising and falling, you can have these appear or not according to that, without it being a big requirement for story flow, and it won't feel 'silly' that they are hanging around. Bonus if they sometimes disappear for a while and 'come back with news of a new threat they might actually need help with'.
I wanna know the names of all the goddesses. There religious point of view. Some WarHeroes backgrounds and convictions. Rulers and Kings of the past. How they escaped Vera and why they left behind a hole race. What life was back then. Some Life-Stories of individuals how for example someone who invented and designed a special ship. War Stories. Peace negotiations...
How do you like interacting?
I don't wanna interact with them. I like to learn about those things by exploring ruins, statues, dungeons, old diares, storyteller in cities, priestess prayers, at the end of jumping puzzles, ...
Where do you want to see yourself in the story?
Well, the lore already tells that I´m one of 9000 people who recently traveled back to Vera. As George_Black mentioned i`d like to see myself as a worker who wanna take on jobs in order to make a living in Vera. I would like to take place at events who pops up randomly because the requierd number of people in the area was reached, etc.. . Not because they waited especally for my person.
I would like to build my own story with/through clans, clan battles, node progressions, fighting world bosses, peace negotigotiations with other guilds, etc...
There is some nuance to this question in regards to important lore characters, as there are several degrees of importance that is related to their power, power that gives them agency in the world. Power that comes in many forms, knowledge, money, political and so on. From my experience I would like to see important lore characters have always agency, and their actions should be reflected in the world in minor to bigger things. If they don't have this agency, this power to pull the strings of fate of the world or regions, then what makes them important lore characters?
The more the player progresses in the story he might come in contact with these lore characters, though the more the player interacts with them the less agency one might give these important characters and that is dangerous as it strips them from their agency if they require us to do every little thing for them.
I believe that while these important lore characters are needed, interesting and do much for the world by being there what is more important for the player are the characters he runs across again and again, those that might be with him for dozens of levels or maybe even the entire journey. The interactions between him and those more recurring characters that have watched him grow and maybe even grown themselves are more important and I believe that they would give more freedom for the writers to experiment.
D&D as the DM and to bring my NPC's to life. I make them each of them should have a motive and a fear.
I play to that so if dragonborn is in a small village that last season got took out by a dragon then he/she should be feared/unwelcome by town folk.
I feel like player decisions should matter in regards to main story line. Like if a king\guild sent you to slay a world boss or something in X amount of days, and you don't then its now laying waste to local towns and you should lose some rep with the faction more so over time.
As for the interaction between players and hero NPC's, I would like to see your player backgrounds matter in this regard if your a Lawful good toon then the paladin Hero NPC should take a kin to you, unlike the trickster but if you were in the thief's guild and have a rep for being so then vice versa.
Hope that makes sense, Thanks for reading my two cents
To feed the scope creep, I suggest allowing players to add entries to adventure books, similar to how Bilbo Baggins wrote about each of his journeys. Instead of letting players type the text themselves, they could add entries for things like how the journey started, quests completed for various reasons (whether lore-based or personal), monsters killed, items looted, players killed, wars fought, arenas won, religions entered, and more.
These entries wouldn't be added automatically - players would need to right-click on event logs or achievements and choose to add an entry. Once finished, players could add their book to a public library for others to read. Additionally, players could set their book's visibility to public, allowing anyone who sees them in-game to click on their character sheet and read the book in the books tab.
The book could also serve as a means for "lore characters" to evaluate your alignment with their views, religions, or war banners, among others. This evaluation could open up quests, cosmetics, NPCs, and anything else in the game.
For instance, if there's a famous NPCs in the game, the books could serve as proof of your connection to them, as the entries in the books relate to certain lore or personal reasons. For example, if you kill a big monster in honor of one of the gods, you have proof of it in your book. If you want to honor another god by killing the same monster again, you would need to replay that quest or dungeon.
This also opens up new possibilities for the future, such as creating the guild book and generating slideshows based on the entries in the book.
EDIT: yes, no company will develop this, but I said it anyway just as proof that gameplay and lore can come together somehow, the idea is mine
So I would say lore characters see us as unimportant at first and through the course of our achievements they start giving us the respect and dialog of what we accomplished.
*For instance we slay a mighty dragon and suddenly we are known in future dialog as dragon slayers and so on
I hate that in most MMOs you are always the Hero, the chosen one, and I'm not alone in this sentiment I've discussed this with others.
I would just love an MMO where I was just a random adventurer that took part in the world, something that actually made sense because it's an MMO, there can't be 50k Heroes on the server, the real Heroes should be the NPCs and player characters should just be part of the world, go around, help with quests, be part of the narratives and events that unfold and not the center of it and the reason everything happens
It's just so much more realistic and would feel so much better to be involved in the world as a random adventurer than the main character of the story - and this would also bring value to the NPCs and to Verra.
I also really like having lore in the way of in-game factions you can align with that don't impact the gameplay. Like being part of a race with a certain ideology/history, factions, options to progress with options such as do you want to be an assassin that teams up with x character to sneak in and kill y character or do you want to just slaughter y's camp with z character.
This, OR at the very least slowly working your way from scrublord up to a higher renown position over 5 DLC's.
Side note Important NPC characters Specifically like those who give you quests to unlock mounts require the gold standard in the journal, mini map, map & in game. If you cant find them & have to refer to wiki the devs have failed up. Imagine being a Kickstarter, told you'd have a mount & a flying mount, then now it glides & you go into Alpha 1 & no mount or reference to how to get one that you were promised - Many can from experience.
As for NPCs honestly I'd prefer them to be the same as us? a bunch of people trying to settle in this world. Let the players create their legends of their server, I don't want to worship some hero npc so I can pray he deus ex machina's in the story. I'd rather had events that recognize that hundreds of people contributed to them, both adventurers and not. I'd love a recognizable face in my local town/node and know that X certain guy always has the hardest or coolest quests, but I don't want to grovel at the feet of some NPCs for being the Heroes/saviors of Vera, that feels just as lazy as me personally being the chosen one.
TL:DR don't make the "Chosen one/hero of vera" trope, recognize the efforts of communities and if you want to attribute a feat to a character or player in lore actually attribute to the player or person that accomplished it first, or make it a unique thing, but it feels better when "an army of adventurers" took down a dragon, cause I can attribute that to me and the npcs while still being vague enough to make sense.
ESO is a mix bag. I just recently started playing it and reading / listening to every thing. Taking my sweet sweet fucking time with it. Honestly lore/story wise is great. Sure there is some cheeky sidequests npcs with those type of dialog or very basic story, but others that involves delve diving are thought out.
I think the questing/lore in ESO is great. (Ignoring the fact most of them is still - fetch this item/person, kill X,Y,Z). But I am also bias to Elder Scrolls lore in general. Soo much I stolen from them and used in my D&D campaigns and recently been copying some story/dialogs for my current campaign!
Other games, say EQ, WoW - I'm in no rush. EQ - if you wanted to quest, you were forced to read and learn context clues, cause you had no quest logs. And to interact with the NPC, you had to say certain phrases.
New World - I skipped everything, ESO - only the main stories. Side quests not so much and dungeons never (cause people wont let you, everyone is rushing). Ragnarok Online - skip since there no depth.
Honestly, if your game design and vision is to get players to INVEST into the lore/story of AoC you only have 1 route to make players like me read.
Treat it like Everquest. Remove Quest Log or have the Quest Log give context clues.
To accept quests and turn quests in - they need to Talk to the NPC and literally type certain phrases.
If you dont say those specific phrases, the NPC wont react. You are gonna need to actually read the quest and figure out what you need to say to continue the conversation. THEN and ONLY THEN will players read (albeit to most, begrudgingly however I WILL LOVE YOU AOC for it).
If not, most people unfortunately arent gonna care. This game doesnt appear to be focus on PvE/Raid vs being more pvp centric game. So lore kinda goes to the wayside.
I would like to discover who characters are through the world with the environment, objects, notes and whispers they leave behind.
The new characters I meet need to make sense and I particularly like what @SP4GH3TT1 has written in regards to NPC's feeling emotions.
For example Lauria Lamont, we can learn about her just like how the characters in the Xtralife stream do. Lauria is an interesting character without her crashing through a ceiling doing a fancy jump then giving a badguy speech cinematic.
In this way, even if Tower of Carphin isn't fully unlocked, we begin to understand her character without even encountering her.
It's important to interact with characters directly and indirectly so that players feel they're really part of the world. And even on the real world, we come out with the saying 'the world is a small place indeed' and when it comes to storytelling and character interactions, that should be true as well in game, players will bond a lot more with characters that keep showing up.
Players should be able to see themselves in a constant improvement state of importance in the story. Maybe you start out by being recognized for helping a local business owner, then the village master, then in a battlefield, then a general, then a noble, then an emperor and join some kind of mercenary 'guild' groups that are approved by him or something. There's many ways to keep giving a player importance in a narrative and a bigger place in the world. Even if that place isn't recognized by most common people, it doesn't necessarily need to make you famous.
I think lore is a story about decisions. I would love to have a small moral system that includes crime, threats, kindness, murder, etc. And what the world is reacting to.
I think it would be nice not to be bound only to help the poor farmer who has to defend his farm. I want to have the opportunity to stand on the other side and help the bandits.
There should also be evil lore characters that I can meet and help.
To help doesn't seem too villainous lol.
You are absolutely correct!
However, Intrepid seems to be fixated on the concept of good versus evil, and players are only set to be good. The primary flaw is the Corruption system, which was established solely to penalize PKing. I would prefer to retain the Corruption system but make it more versatile, with a variety of possible outcomes, including punishment.
That is the reason behind my creation of the "Trash talk the Corruption system" thread, because I want the Corruption system to be saved from being bad and today I believe that Intrepid is the biggest enemy the Corruption system is facing!
This sounds amazing, it gives me butterflies and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside!
One idea to enhance gameplay could be if lore characters had the ability to borrow their unique visible items or mounts to players. These items would have a 100% drop rate and be unique to the server. When players talk to the lore character, they would announce who is currently holding their gifted item. The player would have the item for 7 days, and if they were killed and the item was not looted, it would return to the lore character.
This could create a fun and engaging gameplay element as players would be hunted down for holding a prized possession, ultimately adding to the game's content.
Who knows, the lore character could even borrow you a special ship or a dragon.
You could make this system and decide not to really do much with it, or you could attach anything from new dialog options, rewards, areas, etc. Really whatever you think would make use of a system like this, but overall the idea of it is to build you character from a nobody to someone that is recognized by the Npc's. By using this system it could just be simple flavor text, by making a simple code that would check the fame/respect meter and having pre-assigned numbers that correlate to some kind of title that the Npc would refer to you as. Or you could have designated titles like dragon slayer that has pre-designated numbers on the fame/respect, this way you gain titles as you gain achievements, makes it a little more personal. There a many possibilities one could take with this type of system and these were just a few simple ideas, that could be fleshed out or just taken a completely different direction.
In the end this system could be as complicated or as simplistic as you the Devs would want to make it, but I feel it could be a much appreciated system that would give just a bit more immersion to the game no matter how complicated or simplistic you go with it. I realize this does not pertain to lore as much as implementing a whole new system, but I just wanted to share this idea I've had for a while. Thanks for reading and I look forward to alpha 2,
I think our characters (the players characters) should interact with the npcs as someone who is looking for some work..
I think we should always be somebody that passes by and might want to get involved in a situation. Not that the scenario needed us there for events to unfold
^These statement from other commentators
Refer to us as explorers, citizens, travelers, people of(insert node name)