Metzen on lore
The following is a copy of the "Metzen on Lore" post from the original WoW forums:
I wanted to drop you guys a line and explain what’s up with some of the recent changes you’ve all been seeing in the lore – and specifically address your concerns about the draenei and their revised backstory. Bear with me here, I tend to get a bit wordy as I build up steam. :-)
Anyway, here we go:
Hit #1: Lore Train-Wreck
Right… To be totally up-front with you guys, it’s my bad, straight up. The obvious lore contradiction with Sargeras and his encounter with the eredar was clearly documented in the Warcraft III manual. I wrote those bits about four years ago, and to be totally honest, I simply forgot. Genius, right? With my excitement to get the draenei up to speed and root them more firmly in the setting, I forgot to do my homework and go back over my earlier writing. I can assure you, no one’s more crushed about this mistake than I am. I’ve spent the last few days kicking my own ass over this one. Sucks to fail. It may not always be evident, but we take this story stuff really seriously at Blizzard. It’s been one of my personal missions at this company to maintain a high level of integrity throughout the Warcraft game setting (all of them, actually) and I think we’ve done a pretty decent job of upholding the continuity over the years.
I think it’s important to note that world building is far bigger than just “storytelling,” and it requires (in my humble opinion) a certain amount of flexibility. Sometimes you need to expand certain ideas or retcon whole sections of continuity to broaden the scope and accessibility of your setting. There are a good number of these types of situations already (like totally revising our timeline, suggesting trolls were the progenitors of all elven subspecies, etc. – there’s a hundred other examples). To make an omelet, ya need to break a few eggs, and WoW’s one big omelet.
The trouble is, this has become a pretty big setting. There are literally thousands of characters, hundreds of locations, and all sorts of creatures, items, and plot themes that all define this world. As you can imagine, it’s a lot to police. Sometimes things do fall through the cracks – mistakes get made and we’re forced to scramble to come up with clever solutions to continuity errors. (Hakkar, anyone? :-)). You not only have me jamming ideas, but a ninja team of quest designers, an army of freelance RPG writers, and a commando squad of red-hot novelists who are all involved in flushing out the lore and making it more than just wallpaper on a game.
I’m explaining all this not to excuse this particular mistake, but to give you some understanding of how the mistake was made. I’ve read a fair amount of posts over the past few days and I know there’s a lot of confusion and frustration surrounding the whole eredar/draenei train wreck. Believe me – I know exactly how you feel. At the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of geeky fanboys and fangirls, and we all get pretty fired up when people start screwing with the worlds we love. If anything, all of the venting and creative suggestions I’ve seen over the past few days have reinforced for me the fact that you guys really do care about this world and its troubled denizens.
While I can’t promise that these types of mistakes will never happen again, I do want to state clearly that we take the responsibility of crafting and maintaining this lore very seriously. You all pay good money to adventure through this world month by month, and you deserve the best we can give.
Don’t lose faith – we’ll do ya’ proud!
Hit #2: So What’s the Story, Blizzard?
Ok, so what’s the real scoop behind the eredar/draenei story then? At this point, even though the NEW lore directly counters the Warcraft III manual, we’re still going to run with it. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is that I think it’s far stronger than what I crafted back in the day. The eredar were not necessarily all evil. Sargeras did come to them and tempt them with power. They did NOT make Sargeras crazy. This gives the eredar more dimensionality and roots the draenei to a key moment in Burning Legion history.
We’ve also woven all of this new lore into an upcoming novel by Christie Golden (author of Lord of the Clans) that depicts the draenei’s escape from Argus and the “RISE OF THE HORDE” on Draenor. The book DOMINATES, and you’re going to really dig it. Durotan, Ner’zhul, Gul’dan, Doomhammer, Hellscream, Kil’jaeden, Velen – this story is the one you’ve been waiting for. I’m getting geeked up just thinking about it...
However, this new lore does leave a large hole – how did Sargeras go nuts? What drove him to fall and begin his Burning Crusade? I don’t know yet. It will be his encounter with some evil race (who dares me to use Old Gods???), but it won’t be the eredar.
I’ll chew on this. Maybe we’ll solve this by the end of the expansion. See – this is that flexibility stuff I was talking about earlier... :-)
Hit #3: World of Spacecrafts
Another concern I’ve been hearing about is the inclusion of certain sci-fi elements into the setting. I appreciate that this stuff is pretty far out, but that’s the whole point: Outland – and the greater universe out there in the void – ARE far out. Change is always difficult – I remember people getting really upset about dwarves with guns, steam-tech, Gnomeregan as a hi-tech city – many people had a hard time rolling with those technologies in a fantasy setting. But I ask you all – can you imagine WoW without those elements now?
We’re definitely throwing some new concepts at you all, but I’m very confident that when you’re able to see these elements in context, over the course of the gameplay – you’ll understand why we’ve been so excited to include them.
To be clear, we’re not talking about having the Millennium Falcon cruising around the Twisting Nether (I’m certain there would be some legal issues there, to say the least). The draenei ‘nether-ship’ you’ve been hearing about is far more than it seems. It’s part of a larger dimension-traveling fortress called Tempest Keep that essentially teleports through alternate realities. It doesn’t bank and roll or shoot proton torpedoes (not yet, anyway).
While we will be introducing a number of naaru technologies (like this ship, for instance), we’re not planning on going hog-wild. Conceptual balance is everything. For those of you who are fearful of seeing jet-packs and laser pistols filling up the AH, never fear. If you did see them, they’d likely be goblin engineered and get your character killed anyway.
Hit #4: Blood Elves Sure Get Around
I also saw some strangeness about the apparent contradiction of how the blood elves could have sabotaged the draenei ‘nether-ship’ since they’re all holed up in Quel’Thalas. Remember, there are twisted blood elves in Outland who have been there since TFT campaign. It’s those creepy elves who sabotaged the draenei’s “flight” to Azeroth.
I’d love to elaborate on this further, but I’m afraid I’d spoil your appetites for dessert.
In conclusion, I just want to reiterate that we do take these continuity errors very seriously. It’s very important to me that you all feel you can trust us as developers and know that we’re out to build a world that’s worthy of your time and your passion.
Thanks for bearing with me here. See y’all on the other side of the Portal!