Whilst i was reading on Everquest Next's lore and seeing an "age pattern" (a map of eras in Eq Lore)and some stories with it, i couldn't help myself but think about general understanding and evolution of so called "lore" and what it brings, how it should be (imo) and what it rips from growing playerbase in terms of imagination and taste and most importantly how we can change it.
Myself, as an example, always been fond of games like Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate and that kind of brilliancy where story mattered.It was like a book that you played with choices, like our childrenhood books which told us "go to page x if your answer is y".Those games have been finished multiple times and the hunger began for others out there if any.Some satisfaction i've got from couple adventure games like Longest Journey or Monkey Island, which you've been brought to the end not knowing how many hours spent while playing the "Story".
Those days, story mattered for me man.I was maybe 12 or 13? but they mattered.Then i knew i liked video games but never asked myself why.Story was the answer.So called "Lore".
Then, as we all know, technology and sociocultural functions(in terms of gaming playerbase and evolution) entered to our lives as we grew up and as we grow up more and more action and skill based games entered to our lives.As time gone by, we always sought for a better sanctuary to create our imaginary embraced characters and told us "Im this one now".At the end we all forgot about the story (again imo) and driven by the magical aesthetics and hunger for graphic beauty, we all compelled and obeyed for several gaming milestones which lacked lore or story with it.
By "lacking" , dont get me wrong, i dont mean like lacking a story or dialogues or vivid npc presence.
I mean the lack of feeling "special".
Taking World of Warcraft for an example here, i must say that , the game itself a lorebook for a decade now.It all started with Warcraft RTS and followed by the beautiful Warcraft 3 game and evolved into World of Warcraft.Many many books have been published now and i never wanted to open and read one as i was playing itself because i never wanted it.I never wanted it because as a matter of fact i wanted to be special in the game i was playing.And not any lore made me special as my understanding of lore got corrupt, twisted and turned into an industrial hunger.Never wanted any story.Never needed it.Just wanted to be "perfect" and "special".Just wanted moar gear and moar graphics.Back then, never knew my perception to story or lore to a video game was breaking down.
Altough this was after Ultima Online.
2- Importance of Ultima Online in terms of Gaming Lore.
Some of us been there, some of us were not.Ultima Online was one of its kind and it was a groundbreaking gaming experience in many many terms.It was (for me) the gaming should've been right now and gaming NEVER evolved that way again.But my friends as i look back and think UO i notice a very very small detail aswell as very crucial one.
The permanence of items dropped.You drop an item and its permanent, I lock my things in a drawer and it stays there.
Now lets talk about the dynamic chains between lore and permanent items.
Ultima Online has a lore that you can call "bullcrap" and its true.But as the items lived in that world, i always got the sense i have an impact on the world and i suddenly thought about childish possibilities of discovery might be possible.The world grew and grew in front of my eyes and i started to search for some clues or other stuff players dropped in some chests or whatsoever.At that moment, while traveling the barren streets of Britannia, i found some note in a cabinet that someone wrote and dropped.It was a short story about a thief got caught and his daughter might be anywhere in Britannia and how he misses her.
Now this was altough a bullcrap, sloppy-done short story, i felt the world...was alive.I felt the world was people's to take and i felt "special" as i read that note.I wanted more of that stuff.I wanted to read other people's lore and how they live and what they were doing, i wondered if anyone can make a game and hide a treasure somewhere, a rich one perhaps, i wondered the possibilites and then again first and last time in an MMO i felt the story.An actual "Living world" that today's devs try to create as their asses been torn apart as they yell "Living world", "Breathing, Living world".Just with a small trick UO made it like no other gaming experience have made it.Even single player games.
3- The Lore Meta and the way it should be evolved
The story or the lore is boring as hell and no one looks or reads if not a small percent.I respect that small percent but as an author and musician i can never understand what that respectful small percent sees in those simple, untalentedly written lore.The Lore has been repeating itself for quite some time now as they mention "Dragons", a small and predictible race be it "Gnomes" be it "Asura" etc.A predictible, simplistic and cheap storyline, an Era map that've been repeated for thousand times and the word "HERO".Theres always been a hero, there will always be a hero and there will not be one of that hero, there will be 7k hero's who pay 10x dollars permonth...
This is bad and wrong.The Lore must be treated as a dynamic of game.Not as a background music or npc quest story.If you want an impact, bring the impact by allowing people to create thier lore and change the gaming features by adding diffrent options to that created lore.Like said above, permanent items.Evolve this and you will have a magical breathing world where everyone can ACTUALLY feel special.
As time passes by and as we play our games (by WE i mean obeying consumerist braindead gamers who cannot or would not say anything but keep playing the crappy game that we've served for tens of dollars, keep believing the lies we've told and repetitively believing again to the same lies, lies like "Living world", lies like "Lore" lies like "GUILDfull NEXTgen WARbased LIVINGgames" ) gaming evolves but it evolves in the wrong way, the way people evolves today, stupid and rich ones win, intelligent and poor ones lose.
P.S In my paranthesis' i did not want to offend any of us but gave my words an humorous value.Please forgive me