Lore, Dungeons & Loot: That’s All I Need

DDO: Tons of dungeons, good amount of loot, but light on the lore.

Amatera isn’t the only one going through an identity crisis. I, too, have become disenfranchised with World of Warcraft recently, a love of mine for almost seven straight years. I share his concerns with the direction of the title, especially the lore, which I’ve written about previously. The main reason I’ve taken a break is a mental block. You see, Kieron, the ferret I recently lost, will always be linked to WoW for me. The rugrat joined my life when WoW did, and she was a constant companion when I played. She even became known in my guild for her excited messages – running across the keyboard – and hitting my ‘2’ key, aka Ferret DPS. Since her death, I’ve been unable to login for more than a few moments.

Readers are aware that I’ve been dabbling in Rift, a title that’s largely the same. Its sameness has lead me to rethink why I play MMORPGs. What’s the hook, the features I require to remain loyal to a digital world? What is it about them that makes them a blackhole for my time? Why do I keep returning, sequestering myself in just a handful of worlds for dozens of hours a month when there’s an infinite amount of content outside these walls?

It came down to three simple, interconnected features (ranked in order of most to least important). Aspects of MMOG titles far and wide that together make for truly memorable experiences.

Lore: I love stories. I love telling them, I love reading them, I love interacting with them and I love hearing how they were crafted. I’m not much of a creative storyteller myself (more of a bard that recites what he’s heard or experienced) so I have a voracious appetite (respect) for stories (those that are). In gaming, I want to be a part of the lore. Being told the tale isn’t enough. I want to interact, to move it a long in some way. I want to be the cause of character progression.

Dungeons: Small-scale dungeons tend to offer the perfect combination of story, impact and content. They’re relatively quick, they test a player’s skill in a stressful setting and the player has always ventured into their depths with a lore-linked purpose. We may be simply cleaning out the sewer or we may be decimating an ancient foe, whatever the reason, there is a purpose, and it’s not bogged down by player logistics. Naturally, new dungeons, aka content, is needed on a regular basis.

Loot: What can I say? I love new shinies as much as the next guy. Collecting character-enhancing items is what keeps dungeons exciting after the lore has run its course and it has been reduced to memorization.

Global Agenda: Decent amount of dungeons (slow on additions), not enough loot and hardly any lore.

That’s it designers. That’s the three most important aspects of the medium for me. Pick any MMOG on my timeline that I abandoned and you can probably write them off for failing to stand with one of those pillars.

You’ll notice that I left out any sort of social aspect. No mention of guilds, long-term friendships or achievements. That’s because I don’t care about them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the friendships I’ve made. The rub is that it is not the game that fosters them. The game simply made the connection. Friendships are easily transportable, Steam, AIM, (heaven forbid) Facebook, yada yada. I don’t need Battle.net, Rift or Global Agenda chat to keep the connections alive. The shared experiences from the properties won’t be forgotten, but they can and will be duplicated in other media.

Have you ever thought hard to figure out what draws you and why? Have they changed over time?


  1. Very Good post.

    I flashed back to Black Rock Depths after I read this and Stratholm to a lesser extent. Two of my FAVE lore filled instances in the game. They had the plus and minues of being the place where dozens of quested ended, were a part of or kept sending you back. While it was frustrating on loremaster to have to go right back in so often (why didnt you tell me to kill all of them in one shot?) I loved how one relitivly small part of the game world was soo lore heavy and so far reaching and interconnected in the world out side of it story. Hell, even the work that was put into these places original design screams for more quests to be added. They were that detailed and full of potential. Then add the loot? HA! It was great to find stuff that was so unique and designed in such a way that I was wishing I could drop my ubiquitous ICC Heroic gear and put some of that stuff on.

    I would LOVE IT, just friggin LOVE it, If they just kept adding quests to some of these places. Just have the difficulty scale up to suit that particular questline. Or hell keep em low level for hoots, just dont abandon them to old world things. I was really wishing some quests in Northrend would have required me to go back to Strat for something. Maybe to see some scene, maybe to try and purify the place. But just to give it a nod saying, because of this place, timeline, event in general this expansion is here today. And i know thats what the Culling of Strat was for but I mean, bring some 80’s players back for a taste of the original, and for something else besides the mount.

    The same can be said for lots of instances and zones in general. Poor AQ, poor poor Deadwind Pass.

  2. Sorry to hear about your ferret Koopa. I have some outside links to WoW myself and almost lost touch with it when one of the few people I cared about at work passed away a few years ago. Not to sound trite, but time DOES heal all wounds and while Keiron may never grace your keyboard with leet dps, he/she will always be remembered.

    On topic, I’m a lore nut myself. I’ve been dabbling in Forsaken World the past 2-3 weeks and while it’s a visually great game, the lore behind it is just horrific. WoW has so much of it it’s astounding. I think that’s why I’m going to stick with it rather than branch out myself. I’m getting the feeling a.k.a. ‘hunch’ that Cataclysm is going to tell a much deeper story than we’re all thinking it will. At least that’s my hope at any rate.

    As far as the direction the game is going in…that’s a toughie. You HAVE to make a game “causual friendly” as possible while providing enough incentive for the “hardcores”. Sadly, more and more people are falling prey to the “I want what they have” mentality without understanding that to acheive ANYTHING ingame and out, you must be willing to sacrifice. Again, hopefully, this will be the expansion that Blizzard strikes that razor’s edge of accomplishment just right and we’ll be ushered into a ‘Golden Age” of WoW. One can hope at anyrate.

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