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Thread: Does Scott Hartsman care about lore?

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    RIFT Fan Site Operator EntreNous's Avatar
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    Default Does Scott Hartsman care about lore?

    I was going through some older vids double checking some lore snippits and wanted to share this with you guys..


    *Michelle Hummel interviews Scott Hartsman at E3, 2010.

    Where does this story come from ... who comes up with this stuff?

    The entire story is built around this idea of this world Telara being under attack from these six different planes as well as suffering from a civil war between the Guardians and Defiants. This comes from the incredibly creative minds of our lore designers and our game designers. We've got a team of about forty different designers right now, who all collaborate together and put together these over-arching stories as well as the stories that kind of weave together to form this rich world that we have. We're in this for the long haul and to us story is so critical to keep gamers interested. I'm a gamer and if I don't have a story to look forward to in a world, than I really don't want to play the game. I mean I want to know ... why it's there ... I want to know that there's people behind it that care and at TRION we're really out to prove that we care and that we're good at this.

    What are some of the key elements of the story and some of the key players?

    We're going to be getting into a couple of more story reveals a little bit later on. This E3 is really about the Defiant faction. Asha is their badass general. Their leader is a gentleman named Orphiel. We've got a new movie that shows a little bit about the faction that he's built up, in the Defiants. One of unique awesome things about our game is we've got this class system that's based around the fact that as you role up into our game are actually an ascended soul. Now what that means is in your life on Telara it kinda ended badly. Maybe you were betrayed, maybe you died in the war. But either way, you're one of the special ones and you come back.

    I'm not living anymore?

    You're not until the time you start the game. By the time you start the game, it's your journey. We actually take you through your interactive journey on your way back from death to Telara. You start as a soul and the soul is the class you chose. Our class system is really designed to let gamers customize their experience and design the character they want to be.

    What kind of cool weaponry will we see in this game?

    We've got hundreds of different weapons and dozens of different sets of armor even some that animate and come from the planes themselves. We're making sure the storyline is there, that it's solid. And that it's reinforced by both the systems that we're making as well as the art that we make.


    In closing, if you want to know just how creative this team is ... "Think of a rift as the smallest toenail to a monster that is on the other side of that thing"! - Scott Hartsman
    RiftRares ... A work in progress.
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    Champion of Telara Shagroth's Avatar
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    In my experience playing MMOs and the changes that have been made because of petty chilish consumers:

    No one who Develops MMORPGs gives a crap about the lore. They do have dedicated Lore teams usually - who do care - but the bottom line is that if you have to make the choice between the Lore Team getting what they want vs. the Design Team getting what they want - you should know who's going to lose.

    In the end MMOs boil down to trying to meet the standards of the majority. I can break down Majority:


    Originally the Majority was the Lore Hunter. Those that wanted to play in a graphical world for the story and Role Play element.

    Soon the Hardcore Player Versus Player groups weighed in to that RPG Lore and started creating sides.

    Then the PVE Majority came with their Raids and needs to conquer challenge.

    The shift came in where more and more players wanted a game where the challenges were bit sized and easy to accomplish.

    Now - The majority is still the casual bit sized player. More kids and teenagers have come to be a part of the MMO community as well as more and more Moms. This has created a market where MMO developers sacrifice vision for profit.

    The Lore that once really drove these Devs now is only background music for the main event - which is creating a world that people will pay money to stay in. That's it, the money drives...


    Lore is great, in books, but in MMORPGs where the RPG is meaningless nowadays, its going to be hard to find anyone working at a Developer that really "cares" about their lore. They just want to sell to people and the best way to sell is to say:

    You can Kill REALLY BIG THINGS!! and get LOADS OF PRIZES!!

    instead of saying, "Regulos and his Bloodstorm need to be destroyed - do you have what it takes to conquer them?"


    EDIT - To more cement the idea: The Commercial for Rift has nothing to do with it's lore but still has the tag line: "We're not in Azeroth anymore!" That should really give you a hint at what they're priorities are.
    Last edited by Shagroth; 01-14-2011 at 12:54 PM.
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    Rift Chaser Arieltalia's Avatar
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    While I fully understand where you're coming from, Shagroth, I don't understand why it can't be both.

    Give the consumers what they want *and* work it into the lore. And I don't mean Blizzard "lorelol".
    I am willing to suspend my disbelief, but please don't ask me to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Champion of Telara Shagroth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arieltalia View Post
    While I fully understand where you're coming from, Shagroth, I don't understand why it can't be both.

    Give the consumers what they want *and* work it into the lore. And I don't mean Blizzard "lorelol".
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I prefer story to meaningless quest hub grinding. I read everything and I love the fact that, for the most part, it all flows into a wonderful tale about each zone I'm in.

    I wish I could have my cake and eat it too but in truth MMORPGs have been slowly leaning towards dumbed down game play, lore, and ideology to make it easier to attract the consumer who didn't have any clue what an MMO was 6 to 10 years ago.

    With respect to those at Trion who are responsible for the Lore being as intriguing as it is, I believe that the majority of both players and developers could care less.

    Every time I say, "I love this game for its lush story and interesting characters!" The responses I find are: "That's stupid, I just like killing stuff!" And those are the same individuals who carrying on saying, "I hate how the quests are all the same and I don't get why we're killing stuff!!" I always tell them to read the quest and enjoy the little scenes within the world but again I get: "That's dumb no one cares!"

    Ironically the average MMO consumer isn't very smart, caring of the lore, or understands that they aren't the only ones playing. The minority is the hardcore Role Player, the explorer, the Lore Hunter, and those, in my opinion, make the very best part of any MMOs community in game and out. Just a shame no one really caters to us anymore.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arieltalia View Post
    While I fully understand where you're coming from, Shagroth, I don't understand why it can't be both.

    Give the consumers what they want *and* work it into the lore. And I don't mean Blizzard "lorelol".
    You mean like when Blizzard resurrects dead characters like Muradin (who died when Arthas retrieved Frostmourne) Even though in Warcraft III A knight walks up to Muradin at the location that Frostmourne was found at and asks where Muradin is.. Arthas replies.. Muradin is dead (and his corpse is nowhere to be found as the corpse of dead units in Warcraft III dissappear) and there was no possible way to walk off like Blizzard claims he did because its a one way path into the area..

    And yes I know im nitpicking..

    I'm equally displeased at SOE for resurrecting Kerafyrm after we killed him and pretending he never died..
    "Power is neccessary because conflict will never dissappear"

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    Champion of Telara Shagroth's Avatar
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    Default Update I thought looked interesting

    Hey here is a Beta 5 update that I thought fit this topic extremely well:

    Story and notable character development: Itís all well and good to have a bunch of great lore written down here on the team, but it doesnít count at all unless itís presented in a way that it makes it across. Iíve mentioned this in one forum post, but story polish is to designers the same way that optimization is to engineers. Itís an ongoing process, and one that weíre going to be making constant improvements on from now until launch. Some will be subtle tweaks where areas just feel more memorable, others will be a bit more drastic.

    More to come I'm guessing but it definitely feels like they hear you fears and are trying their damnedest to make it happen!
    Shagroth, GM of Myth

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    Rift Chaser Arieltalia's Avatar
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    You beat me to posting that quote.

    I've been thinking about this some more based on my latest experiences in Gloamwood, and I have to say, maybe it's just psychological. Bear with me here.

    When you get to Gloamwood (and I admit that the same thing happens in Silverwood), you are basically just given a crapload of errands to do for NPCs. Then, all of a sudden you get a quest that is all pretty and says STORY on it. That is an "AHA!" moment when suddenly you understand that all the errands you have been doing have been leading up to something.

    So perhaps we just need more quest boxes that are all pretty and say STORY on them? That's what I mean when I say maybe it's psychological. Like the quests labeled "BOOK" in LotRO. You know they are important so you stay interested in them.

    Probably this is just part of the problem, though. I'm not sure.
    I am willing to suspend my disbelief, but please don't ask me to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Just my opinion but the days of Lore being meaningful are when people craved storyline, world dynamics and immersion rather than quick leveling to end game raid grinds <shrug> Not bad or good, its just the way today's market is playing out. I'd love to see games where the story is the journey and adventure, not how many kills I can get and how many pieces of uber set3 I have. Not necessarily looking at this myself but I was happy to read that the new Star Wars game is VERY much story driven, that all NPC's in the world have voices, and that the game is based along a journey through a story and that each classes story can be different. <shrug> Imagine that... a story based in a world that you can explore and the NPC characters talk to you and not everything is handed to you etc etc well I digress but it does give me hope that Lore and Story will be the keystones in a game again.

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    Rift Disciple Yumboyack619's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arieltalia View Post
    You beat me to posting that quote.

    I've been thinking about this some more based on my latest experiences in Gloamwood, and I have to say, maybe it's just psychological. Bear with me here.

    When you get to Gloamwood (and I admit that the same thing happens in Silverwood), you are basically just given a crapload of errands to do for NPCs. Then, all of a sudden you get a quest that is all pretty and says STORY on it. That is an "AHA!" moment when suddenly you understand that all the errands you have been doing have been leading up to something.

    So perhaps we just need more quest boxes that are all pretty and say STORY on them? That's what I mean when I say maybe it's psychological. Like the quests labeled "BOOK" in LotRO. You know they are important so you stay interested in them.

    Probably this is just part of the problem, though. I'm not sure.
    Great ideas and I am hoping its true, but I think its wishing more than anything IMHO, having every single character go down the same path doing the same crapload of errands is,..... well it isn't lore or story driven unfortunately.

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    Champion of Telara Shagroth's Avatar
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    LOTRO and the Book Saga ideas definitely got it right when it came to questing. I believe however that in order to properly immense this current gen of gamers, we need to see fully voice acted cut scenes, open questing where Heroic characters are there to explain and expand on the situation, and the Lore Team needs to be paid more attention too.

    That quote was definitely a nice push in the right direction as far as, "Do they even care?" goes. I think that Trion will actually do quite well with their lore as long as they deliver it in a way that leads to exciting integration in terms of questing and boss fights/zone events.

    The idea in Gloamwood of learning about the Hag and slowly confronting her only to have a giant zone event where she strikes back - that was incredible as far as lore/quest went. I'd like to see that done but with a higher production value and perhaps deeper questing types?

    I just hope they don't fold because many people cry that the story is meaningless - it is one of the major reasons I was drawn to Rift!
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    Rift Chaser Arieltalia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yumboyack619 View Post
    Just my opinion but the days of Lore being meaningful are when people craved storyline, world dynamics and immersion rather than quick leveling to end game raid grinds <shrug> Not bad or good, its just the way today's market is playing out. I'd love to see games where the story is the journey and adventure, not how many kills I can get and how many pieces of uber set3 I have. Not necessarily looking at this myself but I was happy to read that the new Star Wars game is VERY much story driven, that all NPC's in the world have voices, and that the game is based along a journey through a story and that each classes story can be different. <shrug> Imagine that... a story based in a world that you can explore and the NPC characters talk to you and not everything is handed to you etc etc well I digress but it does give me hope that Lore and Story will be the keystones in a game again.
    Honestly, at this point I'm not even interested in anything EA is going to put out, even if it has the BioWare name on it. MassEffect 2 was a huge let down as far as story/immersion went, in my opinion, and Dragon Age 2 is heading in the same direction.

    I'd like to see Trion pick up the ball that EA is so set on dropping.
    I am willing to suspend my disbelief, but please don't ask me to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Rift Disciple Garmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shagroth View Post

    No one who Develops MMORPGs gives a crap about the lore. They do have dedicated Lore teams usually - who do care - but the bottom line is that if you have to make the choice between the Lore Team getting what they want vs. the Design Team getting what they want - you should know who's going to lose.
    The way Copernicus is being developed I think its a safe bet to say that the team there would strongly disagree heh.

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    Rift Disciple Yumboyack619's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shagroth View Post

    The idea in Gloamwood of learning about the Hag and slowly confronting her only to have a giant zone event where she strikes back - that was incredible as far as lore/quest went. I'd like to see that done but with a higher production value and perhaps deeper questing types?
    I absolutely agree! Unfortunately (in my case and I am sure many, many others) I got into the rut of "why bother reading the quests" because I get my helping hand yellow circles, by the time I realized that this was a "big deal" I was already on the road to looking for additional quests. Yep, my fault but that is the dynamic in the game The days of reading and understanding a quest and no circles on the map to find the creature you need are apparently gone?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yumboyack619 View Post
    The days of reading and understanding a quest and no circles on the map to find the creature you need are apparently gone?
    If games started to offer meaningful quests again, then players would start reading quest text again... but can't really blame anyone for not wanting to read "Collect the X of Y Z and deliver them to A in B" 5000 times.

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    Champion of Telara Shagroth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garmr View Post
    The way Copernicus is being developed I think its a safe bet to say that the team there would strongly disagree heh.
    I wish that game well but I know the market is going to suck it up and destroy it.

    I commend anyone for trying to use heavy lore and story but the majority of MMO players care about loot, end game raiding, and trinkets. the secondary care about PVP, quest loot, and how big the game world is. The last group will buy into the lore for as long as they aren't bored.

    I'm a huge fan of lore but I am almost 100% sure they're more interested in how to make people stick around for end game than how well their story will be received by the masses.

    LOTRO was in the same area as 38 Studios MMO is right now - it will be a huge seller because of its lore - and we saw how that ended up. While successful LOTRO had to drastically change its business model.
    Last edited by Shagroth; 01-17-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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