Random Future Thoughts

As I’ve already mentioned before, I’ve recently felt an ever growing feeling that Blizzard is pretty indifferent (not to mention sometimes outright ignorant) of their own lore. The recent claim from a Q&A that you’re better off considering the sourcebooks entirely non-canon only seems to strengthen that conclusion because I can’t see it as anything else but them covering their bases in case they want to outright contradict what they said then with what they want to say now. World of Warcraft if anything seems to serve as proof that Blizzard are simply not equipped to maintain a long-going narrative, and they’re pretty clearly not keeping track of it all between in-game narrative, tie-in novels, tie-in comics, RPG sourcebooks, random developer statements and everything.

This isn’t entirely about that, though – it’s about Beyond the Tree, so bear with me.

I’ve barely been playing World of Warcraft much at all this year; the initial exporation of Cataclysm was interesting enough, but with my being rather busy at the start and deciding that most gear rewards from both Heroic Dungeons and Raids looked at best bland and at worst horrendous… I felt very disinclined to put in the extra effort asked for compared to the Lich King just for the priveledge of some of the worst-looking set gear they’ve made yet. This combined with the after six years ever growing realization that Blizzard will never touch upon the parts of the Warcraft setting that I actually care about except for trampling all over it – often by means of Richard A. Knaak – plus the now outright measurable overall World of Warcraft fatigue going around has started to finally put it in serious question how much longer I might actually stick to the game.

The fact that I’ve been looking towards The Old Republic with increasing interest (BioWare at least tends to care about the stories they tell and the setting they tell them in) and a friend of mine have been trying to nudge me into revisiting City of Heroes for the odd roleplaying when it goes Free to Play doesn’t paint a very bright picture of how much further I might maintain an interest in World of Warcraft.

Which brings us to Beyond the Tree, which – by being based on the Warcraft setting and using World of Warcraft art resources – resultantly ends up in a somewhat precarious situation. Now, I’m not saying I’m liable to stop any next week or any such – I’ve told myself I intend to finish Arc One, and I’m definitely set on doing that as long as I am able, even if I’d have to reduce the schedule for whatever reason to get there. I’ve built the story this far – I’d at least want to see that much through.

The question comes up with Arc Two though; at this point, Arc One has lasted over three years and is bound to take a fair bit of time to reach its eventual conclusion; even if Arc Two ended up only half as long, that’s still a lot of time to dedicate, and I don’t want to start it unless I can feel somewhat reassured I’ll actually finish it.

There’s a fair amount of things I’d love to touch on with it – there’s that fifth main cast member I’ve long since mentioned having in mind, there’s aspects of the story that I rather like, and I’ve even been scheming ways I could put Tiny’s own personal story arc into conclusion there, much like Hani’s personal arc largely takes place throughout Arc One. Closing after Arc One would leave things unfinished, which’d be a pity – but like said, I don’t want to start a second major arc unless I feel I could actually finish it: stopping the story mid-narrative never quite works well.

I never intended for Beyond the Tree to last forever – it’s by large a character journey, and character journeys stop being as interesting when the characters have learned what they needed to learn, overcome what they needed to overcome and are finally equipped to deal with the troubles ahead. To continue after that you either need to present them with even greater troubles, or cling to a status quo where the hero continuously overcomes but never learns. With Beyond the Tree I wanted characters who learn – if not always the right thing – from their experience and grow with it, but at the same time I don’t want to escalate it into the realm of SO EPIC that it grows outright silly. So it’ll end somewhere; the question is where.


22 Responses to “Random Future Thoughts”

  1. June 26, 2011 at 21:24

    When I heard that they said that the Warcraft-RPG data was non-cannon (unless stated), I got pretty upset. I had spent a lot of time researching through it for my own lore story and characters… it just seemed like such a waste to toss all that reference material out the window.

    Of course it especially hurts me, since (as a high elf fan) most of my *material* comes from the rpg. The population numbers that were discussed on a page in Stormwind for example, is now NON-Canon… so yeah. Stormwind has a grand high elf population of 2… and half-elves? Pshh.. they dont exist. (except for Arator, and a Dragon aspect disguised as one…) Half-Orcs? ROFLCOPTER.

    Oy vey.. it just makes my head hurt…

  2. 2 LolDrood
    June 27, 2011 at 00:16

    Sad face!

    I’m with you on the burn-out/disillusion with WoW. 4 yearfer, meself, got most of my 80s to 85, but between tier gear being atrocious (seen the upcoming druid set? yeah.) coupled with my soul being crushed with the thought of a return to zero on the gear race, raids just being uninspiring (Kara? Brilliant, gorgeous, fun as hell. Most raids since Wraith? “Here are some bosses; kill they ass.”) and 5mans being infested with assholes, there’s really nothing to do anymore.

    I’m 100% behind any decision to stop doing something that isn’t fun for you, anymore. You can always do a “what became of them now?” like in Animal House. Like, “Rei went on to become a millionaire in the Polymorphed Sheep Cheese industry, and was last seen driving her go-cart off the cliff in an attempt to jump Thandol Span.”
    BtT does have the advantage of being set in Vanilla, though. Aside from landscape shenanigans, most of the lore changes (tauren pallies, I’m looking at you.) can be ignored for your purposes.

    I’m still pretty uninterested in SW:ToR. The gameplay itself just looks so pedestrian, and the aesthetics so bland and prequelly (but I repeat myself). There had better be some -insane- story telling going on.

    Aion may hold some interest for you. Just started playing it myself, and while it doesn’t have nearly the lore scope of established IPs, one could pretty easily come up with a good charater-story for it. Plus that game has good animations and wicked pretty armor design. Serious, my mage at one point was running around in what was basically heels, boy shorts, and a strapless corset, but it looked so good that I was fine with it.
    No idea what the RP community is like in it, though.

    Or you can ditch MMOs altogether, learn to animate in Flash, and start up Beyond Equestia, starring Grumpy Hooves and her stalwart companion Cheesy Bell. πŸ˜€

  3. June 27, 2011 at 00:25

    I myself quit on WoW about 7 months ago. I never really was RPing much, but I did know a fair bit of lore (compared to the average WoWer) and noticed enough annoying flaws.
    Besides that, the game just seemed to become more boring every day. They keep tuning down the difficulty on everything, and in the end there’s nothing left but a grind-fest for gear.

    MMO developers nowadays don’t put love in their creations. It happens everywhere and it’s just not fun. So for now, I’m just playing ps3 games. I’m sort of waiting for MMOs to become fun again. I hope that that happens when the most anticipated MMOs are released, which’d include Old Republic (even though I’m not really a Star Wars fan). I myself will be playing Guild Wars 2, which seems to have a lot of fun story things too.

    Either way, I hope you get to end this comic in a way that suits you, because I’ve enjoyed every page so far and I’d really like to see it have a proper ending (ofc I’d rather not have it end, but nothing lasts forever, eh?).

  4. 4 Meglivorn
    June 27, 2011 at 10:30

    Strange that a lot of people I know (even from web – I hope its not self-assertion) burned out of wow these days. I play for 6 years now, and let my account go frozen around april. My friends who gave me my original client as present and get me into the game left also around that time.
    I can understand why the lore-orineted people annoyed with the way Blizzard (and Metzen) handles things. I never played any warcraft game, only wow, and knew nothing about it when I started playing. But get to learn and after a short time I started to love the story and events behind the game. So even now when I don’t play, check the news, the stories and want to know what will happen with Azeroth πŸ™‚

    About the other games. Aion I don’t know how fine would be. I play that game (not that much as wow, sometimes paying a month or two then leave, my main char is only hit 50 a week ago). It beautiful, the animations are great, the world design amazing. Visually its a dream, really. The customaisation options (weapon and armor skin change) makes it even greater, the character can really be looking like I want and not the crappy set some half-blind designer thrown together.
    But lore-wise its very-very weak. The NPCs are even more bland, and class balance is almost non-existent. It has some strong point (the customization, the zone design -except abyss-, the instances) and there are some really good stories, overall its a typical asian mmo with great graphics and mediocre at best game-experience and basicly relies on grind quests (kill 15 of this).

    I’m really hyped now on SWTOR myself since it’s reveal. The origina KotOR game introduced me to Bioware and that developer become my favorite since then. I rarely became a fanboy of any single thing (publisher, actor, writer, director, etc.) more of franchises (Star Trek, Doctor Who, Babylon 5) but I willingly admit that in the last few years I became a Bioware fanboy. And as I follow the game news and forums closely, it seems to me that this trust will be streghtened again. The devs says things I think myself about the iportant part in a game, they approach many aspect the way I would. Of course, not all of them, I have some disappointments, or fears about it too, but overall it seems to be the right game for me.
    I hope, when the game finally released, I’ll see some “rendom thoughts” about it here. πŸ™‚

  5. June 27, 2011 at 22:17

    You’ve been a window of dreams.

  6. 6 Noriam
    June 28, 2011 at 02:26

    What else is there to it, really? I mean, roleplayers’ relationships with Blizzard’s attitude have been quirky at best, it was never particularly designed for us. But they at least helped originally, they gave us a lot of basic information to recline back and dwell on and stuck to the sourcebooks.

    I had not heard that they were dismissing sourcebooks. This poses a bit of an issue for me since a lot of data on the most basic aspects of the races, visa vi average weights, heights and ages is best found there. And although I have no intention to throw my characters or the lore they rely on away, it diminishes my view of Blizzard. I’m not going to go into the category of people who blame some corporate exec. (not naming names, cough) for it, but I am thoroughly convinced that they really just don’t care about the lore as you say. It’s a sad state of affairs, one of Warcraft’s lures was a pretty nice balance between what was iron-stated canon and what could be “worked around”.

    With it all thrown up in the air, almost literally? Well, I don’t want to have to try and explain things in-character than I can scarcely explain out of it, let’s say that much. As for Beyond the Tree, I would concur that for your own sake even if not for ours, finish Arc One. When it comes to whether you do #2, I would simply gauge it on whether you’re still playing WoW, because if you’re not there’s obviously not going to be enough interest for you get the same appreciation for the character progression.

    I feel Bioware if /anyone/ can be relied upon to mix up a damned good story in that pudding bowl of a brainstorm they seem to have, so hopefully it’ll be an immersive environment that caters to the roleplayer as well as the normal mummorpuguh player. I played Galaxies back in its Hayday, I still miss it since the opportunities were near enough endless and I’m pretty sour that I hadn’t discovered creative storytelling in quite the same way I have now.

  7. 7 Gordrake Thunderhoof
    June 28, 2011 at 15:41

    Well…it appears there’s a lot of WoW-dropping of late. Sadly, it seems to stem from the bollock-drop that is their story bible – I wonder if they even have one in existence or just made it all up as they went along? – and it’s a shame to see it go downhill the way it has. All the same, I can see both sides of the argument: On Blizzard’s side, they made the game first, then the story, and having focused more on the game aspect they did not spare the resources (to cut costs, perhaps, or just in lack of foresight) to develop too deeply into the lore they created beyond their initial three releases. On our side, the game is a window to the story, and opens up our own adventures in the major game itself. While the game is in fact a game in it’s own right, we apply our game and extend it to be something more, something more believeable, more realistic to how we perceive the world.

    Sadly, the let-down from Blizzard is costing them dearly, both from lore and from gaming aspects. I spoke with an old friend of mine lately about the game and even he said (as a NON-RPER now, he doesn’t even know what RPing is or what the RP servers exist for) that the game is slowly losing interest for him and that a lot of people have simply been dropping out of WoW (and which is why they’ve released the latest two patches so early on). I had my account frozen back in April due to financial constraints, but even I’m wondering now if it’s worth going back to if everyone is just leaving anyway. I might consider jumping back in for a month to try things out again (might use my other WoW account to send my original one a “Come Back” plea) but if it really hasn’t improved or a lot of the roleplay I’m familiar with has just disintegrated, I doubt I’d be renewing further.

    Which would also put my ideas for my own comic on permanent hiatus.

    Still, I offer some hope. A fool’s hope perhaps, but here it is: I’ve been considering working on my own fantasy world, different entirely to WoW in both mechanics and lore, and getting my ideas around the place and everything that tags along with it. If you’ve heard me mention Livarencia before, that’s pretty much what I am working to create. While grinding through the best I can for this game designer course, I’ve been developing it’s story bible from start to end, taking detail into the history and the timeline of the world itself. Hopefully, with a roleplayer at the heart of it’s creation, it might be more meaningful towards the roleplayers out there (who I hope they would take to the story and lore with some happiness).

    As for your comic, I understand the feeling you have about the comic. I’d probably get the first of them completed also, just to give yourself a sense of completion to it all, but Arc Two is completely up to you. Nobody would blame you if you don’t go ahead with it (and nobody can force you to either) and if sticking with WoW is as bad as I assume it is (most of which I already know about personally) then you shouldn’t force yourself into another arc where you are further compelled to continue playing simply for screenshots, backdrops and the like that you use for the storyline. If that is all the game becomes, I got plenty of better ways to spend Β£9 a month. Heck, I can buy 360 games for Β£6 now (used, but so’s WoW?) so yeah.

    And if you’re really curious about continuing the comic, why not combine talent with a comic artist?

  8. June 29, 2011 at 12:48

    I had a moment of yelling “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!” in my head when I read said Q&A, and I am sorely disappointed, and like seemingly many others have also felt that there’s little else left to be had in WoW.

    As touching BtT, I think Noriam said it so well with that y’should finish Arc One for your own sake, and not ours – our love for the comic notwithstanding, ’cause let’s face it, BtT’s brilliant. πŸ˜‰

    I would insert some proverb about not doing anything half-way only, but it eludes me, but y’know that already, so now I’m actually just rambling…er…

    Whatever the case, you rawk. /sagenod

  9. 9 WormRunner
    June 30, 2011 at 04:29

    I am still playing wow, partly because I have not found anything that reached my story sense like it did, but they have truly jumped the shark. The only way back would be to recognize that they made a mistake, but consider the odds. That said, Beyond the Tree is a truly fine story and I will follow it as long as you are still telling it.

  10. 10 Frostsaben
    June 30, 2011 at 21:51

    I actually have a similar problem except the comic part.
    Everything Blizzard has brought in the last half of year has been mostly bad. I was delighted about Cataclysm first time I heard about it, and the rewamped zones for the Alliance were great in Kalimdor, I truly loved them. Of course going to Eastern Kingdoms afterwards (before moving onto Cataclysm new zones like Uldum) I found myself flooded with movie refferences? I mean no offense, I like movies as well, but I don’t care about having full zones dedicated to them, I’m playing a game, I want lore dedicated to that game, not some cheap reference to a movie only with humans and orcs in main roles. Afterwards I also got to Uldum, and as much as I like Indiana Jones… I want to play a game, not watch a movie, and the amount of cutscenes was horrendous.
    I won’t talk about Horde side, I feel like I’m in some Steven Segal movie, everyone is invincible.

    Anyway, I had to take a break from the game because of university, and I have. Now I would love to see Firelands (not because I care about the raids, I won’t detail why) because of the night elven lore and was really hyped about it then they brought that Q&A and I sunk again. Sure, I can admit mistakes, I can admit some lore retcons that are made for a purpose (I liked the draenei one, gave a tragic story to the draenei and an even more evil face to the Burning Legion) but to trample on some parts just because you don’t have what to do… that’s sad.

    What Blizzard seems to have forgat is that they’re not there at the top with WoW because they’re some gods, they’re there because we support them and their game. And we support them because we like something. When they start to change stuff randomly(lore, PvE or PvP wise, doesn’t matter) the thing that attracted us to the game in first place is lost and as such we get bored of it. And unfortunately, as much as I love the Warcraft Series, having been with them since Warcraft 2… Cataclysm is starting to fail badly in many aspects.

    Anyway, enough for ranting, I wanted to say that if you decide to stop making the comic I’d be sorry since it is one of the best comics around but in the end you’re free to do whatever you like. If you’re having doubts about starting Arc 2 at all, then don’t. Just make a break, if you’ll ever wish to come back you can always do what at anytime. If not… well then… you will take your place amongst the legends of the past. Many people will still enjoy the first arc and cherish it though, even after you had stopped doing this.

  11. 11 Malkazar
    July 4, 2011 at 18:18

    While I don’t share your disillusionment with the game, it’s still disheartening to hear that the comic may be coming to a close. Here’s hoping things workout favorably for you in your future endeavors, whatever they may be .

  12. 12 Moltrazahn
    July 7, 2011 at 02:40

    Every good thing comes to an end… Id for one only love to see how many adventures our party could go on. But i also respect that you make the call that fits -YOU- best, Nhani, your awesome at this, you portral the lore how you think it fits best, and well… being a fan, i adore you’r wow lore over blizzards/knaaks, so go only asfar as you want, and we will ride the way to the end ^^ be it tomorrow or in ten years.

  13. 13 Xel
    July 22, 2011 at 02:37

    I’m with you, Nhani, “to whatever end..” (or whenever end, but that doesn’t fit the quote; damn)

  14. 14 Meng
    July 25, 2011 at 06:55

    I have been watching this series, by coincidence, from the very beginning. I am pretty sure you do not need me to tell you to understand how great a thing you have done with these series. I can not find proper words for my feelings, but hereby i want to thank you for everything you have done so far, whatever your choices for future be, thank you very much for creating something so beautiful, thank you for opening our minds to different horizons of imagination (and vast! man, that was a hell of a dead mines run :), thank you very much for your spare time given even when you were sick, sleepless, departing from flat to flat, and so on.. Thanks for the oppurtunity!

    -Mengucekli, Burning Legion_EU

  15. 15 Liyint
    August 1, 2011 at 20:42

    My reactions to Cata have been mixed. Lately, I’ve taken a bit of a break from the game and have been reflecting on what I like and dislike.

    Zone phasing has made for some interesting and great quest experiences. However, with it has come a very linear questing experience as well. Each zone I’ve gone through in Cata has sent me from one quest hub to the next. While this was done to some degree back in Vanilla, by in large the quests back then were often random and a visit to Orgrimmar could set you out to the Undercity, Azshara, or the Un’goro Crater. Naturally it would take time to do all of them, but the experience felt more like I was at a fork in the road and I needed to make a choice. And, with that came exploration of a vast world.

    Which brings me to my next point. While I enjoy flying mounts, they’ve made the game feel very small. Zones have been designed specifically around the use of flying mounts, where some places are inaccessible without them. I don’t know that there’s a clear solution to this other than just using my ground mount when plausible. Anything else would require yet another edit to the entire game’s world to make it physically larger.

    A final point would be that the game feels more streamlined. I began feeling this way in LK, but Cata has solidified it. I recall professions back in vanilla and BC could sometimes have defacto quests of their own. An alchemical stone might require the heart of an elemental from the Un’goro volcano. The enchanted golden blood robes first required that you make an arcanoweave robe, the pattern of which only dropped from twilight cultists in Dark Shore. Shadow power elixirs required ghost mushrooms, which were most prolific in Skull Rock cave. I guess Blizz employees found that sort of reagent hunting a bore and decided to streamline everything into instance running and raiding. I personally enjoyed searching the world for materials over rolling dice for chaos orbs.

    The careless handling of lore has been a bother to me, but the numbing of wander-lust is what has really made this game feel stale.

  16. 16 ewiryh
    August 4, 2011 at 01:48

    Hey! I know this isn’t related to this thread, and I’m sincerely sorry, but I didn’t know where else to ask for this, but;

    Could you please make it so that it would be easier to view your thoughts for food threads?

    I’d really like to read them from the start, without having to go back, scroll down, and procceed doing the exact same thing a thousand times. 😦

    • 17 Nhani
      August 4, 2011 at 12:55

      Unfortunately, there’s no real convenient way of doing this to my knowledge; WordPress.com does have a sort of archive page template you can implement… except it isn’t available for the theme I use, so the only way to do any kind of history back is to either manually link to the last page and continuously remember to update it whenever a new post is made, or do like I do in Beyond the Tree and manually hardlink to every single post between eachother.

      Either way is quite a bit of work, so it’s not really something I’ve put in mind to do – especially since I don’t think it’s that big a problem if people read the blog backwards – as in start with the newer post and work their way back to the older ones.

      • 18 Nhani
        August 4, 2011 at 13:19

        Okay, so apparently I was somewhat mistaken as they’ve added an archive shorthand we can now use in both posts and pages to quickly insert a dynamically built archive. So I’ve added a page that does just that up top under the header image. It doesn’t do more than provide a long list of page titles to scroll through, but it’s the easiest thing I can provide that I know of.

  17. August 4, 2011 at 23:19

    I also feel less inclined to play on WoW a lot less than I use to do about 3yrs ago. It also got to a point where I barely logged into the game for at least 3mnths I did have a spurt of it again levelled up some alts and had a look at the new content and then well just stopped! I get the way in which Blizzard sometimes tramples over it’s own lore is annoying trust me it annoyed me at times they said one thing and then did something else to completely and utterly contradict the first thing.

    I’ve not logged in for about 3 weeks now not because I don’t like the game but the motivation to play is just not there for me to sit down and play. I also think this in part to me getting new computer at the end of the year for my gaming that has made me take stock and think well if I really want to get back into WoW I want to do it on a machine which can really make me feel immersed in the world and not concerned about what is going on outside for a little while. And yes before anyone asks the machine I am getting is liquid cooled monster costing me about
    Β£5,484 or there about and I have saved hard so to me it’s a real deal breaker that if I am going to play again I have to be moved up to my next computer to motivate me to lose myself in WoW again.

    I think it is a shame that Blizzard panders too much to it’s player base and will not at times say “Look this is the way it is you either like it or shut up” Still can’t say much more….just my two pence

  18. 21 George
    September 12, 2011 at 00:47

    I think Blizzard has overextended themselves with their out-of-game lore and made some bad decisions trying to get it back under control. WoW’s lore used to be all internally generated: we saw the Scarab Wall go down, broke the Sunwell’s gates ourselves, etc. Tie-ins, while useful for expanding the story without burying details in quests, have become their main vehicle for lore expansion and thus unaccountable to Blizzard, and Blizzard seems to be pushing back (look at the death of Knaack’s favorite dragon- that’s a pretty big thing to do to spite an author).

    That being said, I think they’ll stop that soon, maybe even retcon Knaack out and publish at least a partial canonical story guide. Cata involved a big timeskip and resolved or delayed a lot of hanging plot threads, Blizzard tried using novels to patch all of the story holes from that and failed. Hopefully they recognized that fact.

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