On Arc Two: That Faction Conflict Thing

Trying to construct anything useful and workable out of the wild, chaotic maelstrom that is my plans for the might-possibly-happen-but-no-promises second story arc of Beyond the Tree has always come across to me like something of an uphill battle. While there are many aspects to Arc Two that makes it inherently more complicated to construct than Arc One, one of the largest source of complications stem from a single, simple fact: It takes Beyond the Tree into contact with the Horde.

The Horde is one of those story elements I – as a narrator – felt I’ve always had to tiptoe around because there is a lot of animosity built up that is just waiting to explode in nearly any situation that could remotely be interpreted as Horde versus Alliance. Much of this is really just by Blizzards own design – not only is World of Warcraft designed largely around a constant “mine is bigger than yours” oneupmanship, but Blizzard also tends to put a quite a bit of effort into ensuring that it is particularly mired into the Horde versus Alliance conflict. From the overall game narrative to the player-versus-player aspect to matches on who can shout their faction the loudest at Blizzcons, there’s a significant effort being put in to ensure the two factions remain at each others throats.

It’s not all a bad thing, of course – some of the more interesting aspects of the World of Warcraft narrative comes from moments when one side is only told half the story and you can tell it’s not quite as clear-cut as the NPCs make out, and it’s up to you to try and work out the missing gaps. Of course, the continuing conflict also tends to breed some of the biggest issues with the Warcraft narrative overall due to the standing conflict between the PvP and the PvE narrative – especially when it comes to neutral factions guiding both the Horde and the Alliance towards a common threat; doubly when said neutral faction have members with clear ties to either the Horde or the Alliance.

This puts me in a situation where it feels like if I don’t treat the introduction and presence of the Horde within Beyond the Tree with delicate care and kid gloves, a whole lot of people are going to accuse me of rampant bias and feel that I’ve personally slighted them; contrasted with how it also feels that if I don’t come down brutally enough on the Horde, a whole lot of other people are equally going to accuse me of bias and call me a traitor. And it feels to me like these two very potential responses are likely get in the way of my wanting to tell an interesting and hopefully honest story.

It gets even more problematic due to the fact that I’ve been playing World of Warcraft extensively myself in the past – I’ve been part of the environment that breeds that kind of animosity and I’ve definitely had my issues with portions of the Horde and some of its player base in the past, meaning that I keep having to second guess myself and whether I design segments the way I do for the right reasons because my motivation will no doubt be questioned repeatedly provided I actually decide to go through with Arc Two.

One of the more prominent motivations I’ve had for Arc Two since basically the first story draft for it was always that I wanted to take the vanilla to Burning Crusade Horde (which was where we were at back when I started laying out the story for Arc Two) and make an attempt to find the Horde that I had used to like from back in Warcraft III but felt had gone missing since World of Warcraft. The problem with this prospect, of course, is that not everyone agrees that the Horde from Warcraft III did go missing, and the Horde that I thus want to explore and write about may not entirely agree with where Blizzard eventually took them, nor what some might want to see out of them.


5 Responses to “On Arc Two: That Faction Conflict Thing”

  1. 1 foggy
    January 9, 2012 at 21:25

    In my opinion, let the story itself decide how the Horde characters will act. Each personality for itself.
    Surely there will be a lot people complaining about this or that.
    So what?
    If an artist would try to do as people like there wouldn’t be so much great art in the world.
    Art should move me and this has not always to do with my likings.
    And you are a story-telling artist to me. So do as you think, feel and your characters are.

  2. 2 BBR
    January 9, 2012 at 22:53

    Half of the outer construction of the newly redesigned Orgrimmar might be part of the “mine’s bigger than yours”.

    And we certainly don’t really agree with a number of things.
    Tauren are hippies.
    Blood elves were a strange choice.
    Goblins kind of long overdue.
    And it’s still baffling why we don’t have any ogres.
    Pandaren being added later, to BOTH factions at that…. just… words fail me.

  3. 3 Arafor
    January 10, 2012 at 14:42

    Simply try not to be a racist (lol) and you’ll do fine.

    Whatever those belonging to the Horde or those belonging to the Alliance does, there should be a reason. A reason somewhat more deep then “ARG! BLOOOOOOOOD!!!!! MUST KILLLL!!!”.

    And I do believe you’re good at that. No matter how humble of a background character, you try to give them just a little bit of story and I believe that’s the way to go.

  4. 4 Kuronan
    February 3, 2012 at 21:44

    I fully trust your ability to write out an excellent story, personally I have been reading since the early pages of Defiance, the only disappointment for me was Edwin Vancleef, whom has been killed perhaps hundreds of times in other comics, Just remember two basic principles in character writing:

    Remember a race’s culture will usually help you write down the BASIC characters, Orcs respect Honor and Strength, even Night Elves could gain their respect if they proved they are allies of the Horde, or Neutral, but they would have to go through a hell of a lot more to prove it then say, a Goblin or Ogre.

    if you have any problems, be sure to contact us (me) with any questions, we (I) would be more then happy to assist.

  5. 5 Tall
    February 22, 2012 at 01:37

    Since you’re writing a graphic piece, rather than prose, I wouldn’t be too worried about it – some of the characters may be racist against the horde, others not (I’d imagine that Areen, with her naive approach would have been taught that they are evil scum who bathe in the blood of alliance heroes, whereas Te’len, having probably encountered a Tauren or two through her druidic studies would have a milder approach), regardless, it’d be the characters that had the bias, not the author.

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