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Dev Discussion #49 - Lore Characters



  • To add to my comment, what makes lore interesting in an mmo? It's not the very game itself, but content outside of the game:

    Why do people care about WoW's lore?

    It's not because it's so exciting to read walls of text, it's because some of us played the amazing Warcraft 3 for years where story was relevant, voice acted and with amazing cutscenes which Blizzard was known for.

    If it is not for Warcraft 3, we are aware of certain characters thanks to trailers and custscenes:
    "Who's that cool Orc that shouts 'for the horde?', lets find him in the game"

    If both of the above might not be true, there are those who like reading books, comics etc. (google "red shirt guy", both guys are legends) and then see how it's depicted in game, after getting that external stimulus. Those people are also those who like reading those walls of text in game, but they are the 1%.

    Why do people care about ESO lore?

    Because they played the ES games and they already have some knowledge of the lore, seeking to see how its depicted or extended in this game.

    Any other MMO's where you know the lore? Well FFXIV might be one, but it also has a history of other games and content of which the MMO is an extension of.

    As long as You don't invest in cinematics, voice acting and outside-the-game content, it's irrelevant who is that npc that spawns that wall of text or quest window after I click it in game. There are people on the forums (which is a pure-text medium, note that ;) ) that are vocal about how they like to go deep into lore which want to treat MMO's like another RPG, which MMO's are not. There are also some twitch streamers that make content out of reading those quest texts etc but all those create a cognition bias because other players just ignore threads like this.

    Guild Wars 2 already shown how it can and how it should be done, even if people haven't played GW1, they are engaged because of the full audio-visual experience with addition of voice-acted protagonist as opposed to those annoying cutscenes in FFXIV with text rolling-in.
  • Arya_YesheArya_Yeshe Member
    edited March 8
    What if lore characters visit patron guilds' halls, other locations and events, which game has wandering lore characters running stuff where they go? Let's say a lore character has a passion for certain events, he could spawn there when the event is about to begin and people would get rattled up.
  • MybroViajeroMybroViajero Member
    edited March 8
    PLEASE please , please , please I don't want to be forced to be the hero that saves 1000000 people from a dire future while I get all the things I want, I'm sick of it.

    I can be good, bad or neutral but I would like to have the opportunity to choose it and not have it imposed on me.

    I would find it too interesting and out of the box thinking if my character had his own development where he with his actions and decisions would strengthen his future the way I want him to and not something the game imposes on me.
    I imagine the development of my character with successes or failures but a development where I have the decision to choose the course of my character.
    Something similar to FABLE but that could be improved or have much more versatility since we are talking about a massive open world.
  • AlizenBRAlizenBR Member
    edited March 9
    I really like game characters (NPC) that have depth of intentions. Not necessarily traitors (and not all of them), but those who have secrets or details that we need to seek greater intimacy or trust from them so that they are revealed to us (a reputation system?). A few bunch of NPC could go along some of our quests in a way we like them and feel part of a initial group. This is good for learnings and initial immersions, but I don't like the ideia of them going all the way with us, like we see in FFXIV. Te liberty to "run free" is very attractive and advised.

    Another positive point is when characters have more than one archetype. Example: the kind and charismatic healer of the temple is also the daughter of an important chief who did something terrible in the past and she is forced to steal something during the night and tries to find someone who will allow her to prove that her father is a good man giving us problems enough to solve and having different outcomes (not all quests or NPC could go this way, but it's nice to have a few like this). In the example, one outcome could be her father being killed at the end or she sacrificing herself to save him or we deciding to not help them and leaving the matter to a local military man or whatever (we aren't the biggest hero and don't need to be anyways).

    Another thing is the progression of these NPC intentions. One of them might have an immediate problem and he returns at a future point in the story with something completely new and striking, however, related to his initial problem. A few NPCs that "comes and goes" in our quests are really interesting as well (for good or for bad).

    I also like the idea that we (our characters) are just part of the world and not the "great heroes" of all that exists. I'm leaving FFXIV for a reason... '-'
    In this way, some places in the world could have secrets that nobody knows (literally, nobody) and we just stump our foot in them by deviating from a road in a specific time of the year and weather. I think not all content need to be attached to a NPC quest in specific, but the balance in this must be advised to not overdo it (and we lose the notion of meaning). I like the notion of "team work" to open places like this, also.

    and PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE!!! Don't make us passive and muted while talking to a NPC! It would be GREAT if we can choose options in dialogues instead of that boring *nod* to everyone!! Each dialogue option could lead to different outcomes or results (instead of always the same). Again, not all quests could go this way, but it would be awesome if a lot of options could be possible in some of them like we see in the old school RPG Dragon Age.

    These outcomes could affect the way a node sees us (reputation system?) and the "lifespan" and availability of some NPC as well.
    Keep in mind that we don't need to always be the "good boy" in these situations. Some people here said that as well. We could be "vilains" to some important NPCs if we like (and if our reputation with them is in a negative number). As we get someone negativity and hostility, other NPC can approach us (one of his enemies) to "use us" against the initial NPC (or the other way if we have a nice reputation).

    I LOVE this type of narrative, lore and stuff.

    For the "true lore" events, I wish we never become the central pillar of the narrative. I think our "big moment" could affect only some locations, some rulers, some moments, but not all the world's destiny (this is really boring already).

    (I did not played any alpha yet, so do not consider this if we already have options in dialogues with npcs and with different outcomes in game). I just really miss the old and good RPG feeling in MMOs where decisions matter and NPCs have a reason to exist beside just interacting directly with us.
  • SpifSpif Member
    Keep the lore-based cutscenes short. Maybe even put a countdown timer on them so I know if it's going to be a long one so I can ESC out of it (heresy, I know). An option to view it later in game would be nice though.

    Nothing is worse than being lauded as a hero when you've just derped your way through something easy while watching TV and playing.

    IMO some of the best lore based activities are flashback quests or dungeons. You're working towards a specific outcome that has already happened (or that you have to change), and the story of that can be told through your actions that are based on the story. This approach probably has to be instanced, so I don't know how well it will fit in AoC

    ESO did a great job of sprinkling lore throughout the game with just texts relevant to the area/quest. Having a skill line dedicated to finding texts was a good side activity to bring lore to the power-gamer. I kinda remember GW2 lore as being good, but it was so long ago.
  • BergundBergund Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited March 11
    The Dünir dwarves of Dünhold gather in The Grand Hall once again, to discuss matters most urgent from that gloriously intrepid studio...

    What do you want to see out of important characters in the lore?

    - important characters refer to us as the "tags" from our chosen Character Creator selections: age, color of hair, skin color, race, accessories, and "tags" for location on the map (for roaming characters), so that the important characters can have dynamically written adlib conversations with players. (possibly using a ChatGPT script writer?)

    - important characters have more purpose or "felt experience" within the server, it feels bad dwarf to have "useless" characters in games that simply stand in one place, statically

    - important characters within the lore represent each of the gods (Archbishops or something), that guide players to become important leading representatives of said gods

    - ALL races are represented as important characters in the lore (less "all elves" and more "more dwarves", for instance)

    - important characters in the lore have a seemingly realistic life, outside of being simple "quest givers" that disappear: where do they live? where do they go when they aren't asking us to hunt "holy animal pelts"?

    - important characters found in a larger node (Town and above) are narratively displaced if the node is sieged (possible graveyard or a neighboring node's citizens tell stories and ask about them)

    How do you like interacting with them and where do you want to see yourself in the story?

    - conversational decisions players make with important characters are remembered and acted upon- even passively experienced in the world

    - a player's achievements within the server are recognized by important characters in the lore, and even citizen NPCs acknowledge players for their feats

    - Titles players achieve for becoming legendary at their crafts or marshal acts (that the players can put in their nameplates) unlock interactions with important characters in the lore, and with citizen NPCs that may have been affected by the acts of the player - positively and/or negatively

    - players have the ability to choose what they will be recognized for- not everyone wants to be seen as a Hero

    - important characters are able to betray long'uns, but only a few dwarves.

    Feeling quite pleased with themselves, the dwarves trot off to entertain their musings with steins of ale...
    Honorable Thane Bergund Ironguard
    Dünhold Discord
    Dünhold Website
  • Important lore characters should have a presence in the world, just as the world changes depending on the actions of the players, so should the NPC be able to adjust and offer quests or storylines depending on where in the servers history we are. NPC need not be static, but should be able to move around, go about their lives just as players do, of course certain 'vital' or central lore characters should be 'confined' to a parameter, but need not be in the tower in the same place, maybe some NPC only appear at night or players must complete certain pre-requisite quests before being able to unlock. To me an immersive players driven world should also be that, some quests are shaped and defined be how players shape the server and some are static that all servers have access too. i'd ike to see quests that are 'found' and explored rather than given by npc's. Playres should still play a central role as protagonists in the world, but NPC can also have an impact.
  • MitchzMitchz Member
    As a lot of other people seem to also feel...I don't want to be the Hero of the story, I should be just another nobody going about my business. Npc's should interact with me as if I am on their level and one of their own.

    MMO's lose all sense of immersion when you're mid cut scene at the end of a raid with a guy jibbering on about how "you are the chosen one, only YOU could save the world" yet there's 20 other players stood next to you....

    Voice acted npc's would be lovely, just as you pass town workers a "Mornin' great day for fishing aint it? Huh huh" would make players absolutely cream themselves. Or guards walking around telling you about how "something is prowling round ere'"

    So to sum it up:

    - Make NPC's more/equally as important to the story as players
    - voice acted NPC's that interact you with as you pass by
    - don't make everyone the hero, You should only be infamous because of your actual deeds as a player, not story.
  • Happymeal2415Happymeal2415 Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I do not want to be hero or champion.
  • AcarithAcarith Member
    edited March 14
    I know it’s a tall order, but I want my characters to be alive... I’m tired of talking to mannequins who don’t move, have a life, or feel the passage of time. In ESO there’s this traveling researcher named Lady Laurent that can be found set up simultaneously in several locations scattered across the continent. Rather than move between different spots or pack up, they’re there talking to me in each spot as if I just did something when really I completed it for them 7 years ago. Nathan Doan is a comedian who does a good job humorizing the concept.

    Although reminders and reminiscing is nice, like the guards in ESO's Cyrodiil talk about the players exploits all the time.

    It’d be cool if some NPC’s had grand pathing, like a merchant or warband moving across Verra. They would have conditional quests available only when they're in certain locations. Also adding racial and civil dynamics that affect the node and region would be cool. For example say players in an area favor a war loving orc as their quest giver. If he continues to populate the most player interaction in the node, it and or a rival node becomes a Pvp zone with little to no corruption penalty. If they favor an honor loving knight who wants to crack down on crime and bandits, the node becomes a safe haven who’s corruption penalties increase. If they favor a hunter, it lowers game animal population in the node, but increases it in the surrounding area. If they quest for a crafter, the caves and under realms become deeper and the nodes forges gain craft bonuses. Quests for merchants would unlock rarer drops and better drop chances. Their dialogue would adapt to the state and progression of their trade line and current node. If there’s too many hunters there’s a famine that everyone's talking about and they’re seeking out the temple. If the economy is booming there, whispering trade secrets and partying. Maybe even hinting to the player where to send a caravan for a secret bonus. A relationship meter would also be nice so that as players stay in the same node working with the same NPC I get better deals and quests, even unlocking hidden quest lines.

    Personally I want to RP as a warlord and a bandit. Lead my guild to war and grow my node around it. Dealing with the quests that make me rich, give me power, or hurt my enemies.
    A guy who came from ESO.
  • I like the Vanilla WoW lore experience. Feeling that I am just an adventurer is best.

    The whole "hero" experience is a big turn off. Why:
    1. Its a MMO, so it turns out everyone is a hero. This breaks immersion. You cant have everyone being a hero. That makes the whole title ingenuine. The Hero title should be saved for lore npcs. We should see them in big storyline events fighting alongside us. They should have abilities that are obviously much greater than ours (worthy of hero title) and make an impact in the gameplay worthy of the hero title.
    2. Makes it feel very anime asian type of experience. BDO is a prime example of how bad this is. your every attack looks like an ultimate from animes.
    3. We should be able to choose to grind rep with lore characters. These choices should impact the world much like grinding nodes impacts rhe world. So like when enough of the node players do missions for a orc beast master lore hero maybe he becomes like a patreon for our node and gives the ability to summon rhino stampedes during defense/offensive sieges. However to summon these stampedes in sieges players need to do dailys to tame rhinos and when all pens are filled the leader of the node receives the ability to summon a stampede. Just a random example that came to mind.
  • A game I think has a very good approach to "lore characters" is Genshin Impact. Let me explain.
    Every important character is not only appearing in a quest and having some lines, they are a part of the world design. You'll find notes/books mentioning them, people talking about them, they'll appear as background/supporting characters in quests that are not about them, they'll be involved in all sorts of events/organizations, and most importantly they don't just appear during important story beats like some plot device, they're here for the trivial things as well, because they're part of this world. They are an integral component of the story and world building, they have an impact, a place they live in, friends and foes, it is very easy to grow attached to them, and to be invested in them, since you can witness their evolution/progression as the stories/events unfold.

    When it comes to the integration of the player in all of that. I prefer when we're all a random nobody, or at least equally special, and the world will keep spinning even without us. It breaks the immersion, a lot, when there are millions of "The Chosen One" running around. I'd prefer a story based around the world and the events that we take part in, rather than "about" how special the player is.
  • VaknarVaknar Moderator, Member, Staff
    Reixeira wrote: »
    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.

    What kind of agency are you hoping to see of important NPCs and lore characters?
  • VaknarVaknar Moderator, Member, Staff
    mrBok wrote: »
    Voice Acting. Please :) at least just Important NPCs. Im fine with story you've told. Just a little guy trying to become somebody important in the world.

    Besides voice acting, how do you hope to interact with major lore characters while in-game?
  • FantmxFantmx Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    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?

    This is a good question. I would like to see the big most important characters using very sparingly. Make them only visible in big plot points. Otherwise we read and hear about them long before we see them.

    I would also like for there to be characters that we are unaware of who they actually are in the lore. They remain hidden until the wish to be seen or we have gained the skill to see them.

    I don't want those main characters to care to know who I am until it actually makes sense. I am not born a hero destined to do great things.

    I want to mostly have the local and regional NPCs know who I am, gradually building up my reputation. Most of my quests and deeds. Over time I meet more and more important individuals.
  • VissoxVissox Member
    I like to hunt for lore. I want to see lore characters the progress as you do, perhaps as a node changes a hunter will move his camp, ect. Talking to an NPC to hear some dialogue, then coming back and getting fresh new dialogue that you need to piece together with things you've heard in the past. You should be able to figure out what an NPC is doing before they even do it, but ONLY if your paying attention. Abercrombie in Duskwood (WoW) is a classic example, you can sort of figure out he's evil before he makes an abomination, but every quest is framed as if your helping an old hermit. That's what it's all about, little details that make up a big picture. It's infinitely more immersive than getting all the details right away.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    My hope is that there is not a focus on blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aelar as the primary lore heroes.
    As was the case for EQ and WoW.

    Since we have Religions as a key aspect of the game, I hope Bishops and Popes have opportunities to interact with their patron gods. Players should be able to please the gods as well as anger the gods.

    And, of course, we should have interactions with the Ancients.

    While, I'm not a fan of Fippy Darkpaw always respawning the exact same way in the exact same location, I would also like to be able to interact with Goblin lore characters - possibly see some of them advance as the story progresses. And, you know, we shouldn't always have to resolve conflicts with the lesser races by killing their lore characters.
  • I can tell what I don't like, I don't like that in all MMOs the lore characters are just there for years, doing nothing, just like animals at the zoo to be visited
  • what about beeing just an regular passing traveler/mercenary? Where NPC not really observe and just interact with you, if you speak with them and offer some help?
    But how ashes wants to be, there should be something like an NPC that leades to general Directions for Stuff that is demanded in the local Marketplace.
    So the Mainincome of players should be the local Marketplace and other NPC are just there for the story or some events. Sandbox style like Albion but without an sudden end of your quest line.

    Maybe they could reward some kind of repurtation so the NPC in general reakt diffrend to the Player and offer (depending on the NPC reputation) diffrend kind of missions.
  • As far as my place in the story, I would prefer to be an explorer / adventurer who lore characters may get to know after multiple encounters, but I don't want to be "the hero". When people have fantasies of fame or glory, they often look very different and rise to those positions by different means. No handful of questlines or story text can properly convey any of those unique fantasies. In contrast, anyone can be a humble adventurer, crafter, bard, wizard, etc.

    As far as how the story is told in general, I think having a single overarching story can be a bit risky. I think the stories of the game should be like a collection of mini-series. Maybe some are connected to others, maybe some are a little larger or smaller in scale than others, but there's never a definitively "main" storyline to follow. You get to choose what social organizations to interact with, what sort of missions and adventures to go on. This opens the door for different themes, sets of characters, and locations within each of these storylines to take on their own flavor that cater to different people's storytelling preferences. You can't please everyone with one main storyline, it just doesn't work.

    When WoW tries to do a main storyline for example, they end up with a very small minority who really care about the story and lore, and a bunch of people who play the slot machine raid once a week and log out. Their leveling experiences are memorable and fun for most people, because each zone has its own overarching storyline. With roughly half a dozen to experience each expansion, there's bound to be at least one that's really entertaining and memorable for every player. I think the same concept should be applied to Ashes during the leveling process, at end-game, and in post-release content updates.
  • I can tell what I don't like, I don't like that in all MMOs the lore characters are just there for years, doing nothing, just like animals at the zoo to be visited

    Same, gives me wax museum vibes
  • Frost01Frost01 Member
    What do you want to see out of important characters in the lore?
    I want to see these important characters again and again, depending on who I interact with. Am I buddying up with the future master crafter, who will share secrets with me in order to secure more hard to reach plants due to my reputation for finding them, or am I building relationships with the street urchins (either leading them to make life changing decisions or turning them into my own personal spy network). If I am not interacting with one or the other, I should be missing content and not baby walked into it.

    How do you like interacting with them and where do you want to see yourself in the story?
    I am a commoner with no known reputation.... I would like to be treated as such. I would prefer to build up my own reputation (for good or for bad, depending on the group) and unlock content depending on how the NPCs feel about me. (If my crafter friend would like to join me for a fun adventure, sure! That same crafter would not join a stranger....) Also, make the reading of the lore important. My mom was the one who got me into gaming (and we would all play it together) and she would rush us through everything as quickly as possible... skipping all reading. Quests should not be easily accomplished if the reading has been skipped! Treasure hints, hidden quests and objectives, and tricks that will make the task that much easier should be included, and there should be options to misinterpret the quest - turning in a technically completed quest while at the same time lowering the NPC's reputation of you while they look at you weird and accept your technically correctly done task.
  • Frost01Frost01 Member
    Arya_Yeshe wrote: »
    it would be nice to be able to be a villain

    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!

    Would not the system be overrun with people choosing to be bad? In RL there are many social systems in place where this is prevented (and society collapses when those social rules are not followed, to the misery of everyone involved). Therefore, social rules must be imposed upon the system, that way we don't accidently turn all the players into evil choice making machines because 'it is just a game' and this is what we are training everyone to choose. (Much time is spent on games making choices, choices which translate to RL in one way or another. We do not want to desensitize ourselves to making choices which negatively impact others. That would be VERY bad for society. I know this is 'just a game' but really, why would you make choices opposite to your character in RL, even if it is 'just a game?' That is damaging!
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