Necroxis

Blizzard on Factional Favoritism

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One of our earliest design goals with World of Warcraft was to ensure a healthy rivalry between the Alliance and the Horde. Cross-faction communication was banned outright, even where it made little or no sense in the lore. Entire realms are dedicated to PvP. Battlegrounds and quest hubs feature prominent Alliance and Horde iconography. We want to foster a sense of factional pride, a real identity with your brothers and sisters in arms.

We want players to be proud of their faction, even at the expense of personal dignity. One time I was driving my wife home from dinner. She leaned out of the car window, threw the horns, and screamed “FOR THE HORDE!” at some dude who was standing outside the restaurant in his Horde hockey jersey. Poor guy probably forgot he was wearing it. We peeled off in a thick cloud of blue tire smoke, and I think we made him pee.

That’s what I’m talking about.

So when it comes to the game’s ongoing story developments, it’s no surprise that Alliance and Horde fans are “keeping score.” Maps and charts of territory gained and lost started showing up around the time the Cataclysm shook the world to its foundations. Southshore plagued? Taurajo burned? Oh no they didn’t!

Implicit amidst most of the grumbling from either side is the assumption that Blizzard should be fairly treating both factions. Then there’s the more explicit assumption: if one faction is losing ground, then Blizzard must be biased.

Are we?

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Of Warcraft.

Maybe we are. A quick survey of Azeroth’s history reveals that we’ve been punishing the Alliance for generations. Stormwind was razed by orcs back in Warcraft I. Then Lordaeron fell to the plague in Warcraft III, its inhabitants turned into a mindless mob of undead. High-elven allies were besieged by the scourge and had their city sacked and their source of power corrupted. (The survivors of both these atrocities found solace in the Horde.) The gnomish capital was irradiated. The dwarven kingdoms were shattered by a terrible civil war. I’m surprised there’s an Alliance left at all.

On the other hand, those humans got off easy -- at least they still have a planet. The orc homeworld was overrun with demons and obliterated. Almost the entire race was poisoned by demonic blood. By the end of Warcraft II, what little remained of the orc race was stranded on an alien world, defeated, sullen, weak, and locked away in human-controlled internment camps.

I’m sure glad we didn’t have orc forums back then! Imagine the outrage.

In truth, a historical account of the Warcraft universe reads like a war crimes trial. Empires topple, leaders are corrupted, populations are massacred, entire civilizations fall to ruin (often at their peak of power)… Warcraft is a dark place. Just ask the Draenei: We trashed their homeworld and tortured its last uncorrupted children for tens of thousands of years. We’re downright cruel. I’ve never met a more sadistic team of story folk.

Suffering is the gasoline that drives our story engine. Why is that?

The Hero Factory

Here at Blizzard, we often talk about what we’re trying to build with the fiction of the Warcraft universe. The phrase “Hero Factory” frequently comes up across all of our franchises. We want the players to feel like heroes.

The primordial soup that creates heroes never tastes of rainbows -- it’s a lumpy gumbo of suffering and evil. Heroes are born from darkness, because we desperately need someone to light the way.

It’s an unfair world that cries out for heroes. To bring order out of chaos and justice to the downtrodden is the hero’s call. Is it any wonder that Azeroth is an unfair place? It’s monstrously unfair. And it’s going to stay that way.

Of Story Arcs and Storied Orcs

We can guarantee an unfair and inequitable treatment of both factions for now and in the foreseeable future. This allows us to have richer long-term story arcs, another idea that we’ve been experimenting with since the build-up to Cataclysm. To see the factions ebb and flow as their leaders get embroiled in all manner of heroism or skullduggery is like a reward for long-time players.

Speaking of faction leaders, that’s one area where I think we can do better: Giving everyone a chance to interact with their heroes throughout the story. In creating this universe, I’ll admit that we at Blizzard often fall into a trap of thinking of our main characters as “world” characters and not individual faction characters.

For example, the events of the cataclysm put in motion some major story developments for Thrall, who’d been sitting relatively idle in Orgrimmar since the events of Warcraft III. He was forced to choose between his role as warchief and as a shaman who could potentially save the world. He set aside the warchief’s mantle and, with your help, he’ll play an instrumental role in bringing an end to Deathwing.

But there’s a price to pay. Thrall sacrificed something.

The Horde has gone through a story arc of its own, since the days when the ragged refugee orcs first stumbled onto the beaches of Kalimdor and decided to found a new capital. The Horde races have united and consolidated. The Forsaken, no longer tormented by the Lich King, have secured their borders. The tauren have settled a homeland. The Darkspear trolls, once on the brink of extinction thanks to murlocs (murlocs!), have rallied together and founded a capital. The blood elves have survived the destruction of their home, moved beyond the defection of their leader, and reclaimed the Sunwell. The Horde is absolutely ascendant.

And in this moment, as one of the most powerful groups of mortals on Azeroth seeks to define itself, Thrall is out of the picture. The Horde’s mission is being defined by Garrosh Hellscream. Thrall’s decision to leave him in charge is coming back to haunt him.

If you’re a die-hard Alliance player, I can understand if you feel left out of Thrall’s story arc. Thrall feels like “their guy,” and Thrall’s journey over the last couple of years may not feel like “your” story, even if his mistakes are about to send the whole world into a potential death spiral. Fair enough. Stick with Thrall as he fulfills his destiny at the end of Cataclysm, and I promise we’ll catch up with other characters -- from both factions -- as we pick up the pieces in the aftermath.

Garrosh Hellscream has a vision for the Horde, a vision of a united Kalimdor that can only be realized over the ashes of the Alliance. He’s craftier than any of his foes realize, and his grim determination to win at all costs -- even at the expense of his own people -- is plunging the world into chaos.

In the midst of this crisis, the Alliance is going to need to pull together like never before. At the BlizzCon lore panel we promised that key Alliance characters are going to get more time in the spotlight throughout Mists and the subsequent patches, and I wanted to reiterate that here. They’re going to come out of this stronger than ever, but the road ahead won’t be easy.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse. But that’s a good thing. It means we’re going to need a lot more heroes to bring justice to an unjust world. We’re going to need you to step up and reshape the world.

Just don’t expect a Happily Ever After. We just don’t do those here.

Dave “Fargo” Kosak is the lead quest designer for World of Warcraft. His job is to maintain the integrity of the Warcraft world and storyline through gameplay, while simultaneously chucking bear cubs onto trampolines. It’s a fine line, but he walks it with the unwavering deftness of a quarterback on one of those old vibrating Electric Football games.

'>Source

Anybody else get basically a long "LolAlliance still is our whipping boy" feel from this response? So basically Alliance will get their day in the sun sometime , but they'll get wtfpwned up and down before it happens. Granted, I don't care that much, and I haven't, but I am now being slightly annoyed at the route they're taking. I can appreciate a good storytelling, but, for example, just compare Twilight Highland's non-neutral storylines between each faction. I just finally played it through Hordeside, and it is so much better than Alliance's.

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It’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse.

That bothers me. With Theramore burning, the Kaldorei getting their forest(s) turned into a Garrosh-land theme park, and Gilneas falling what else is there? The Dwarves are in a mess with the council and the Gnomes are probably not going to get spotlight. Same sadly for the Draenei as well.

Azeroth might be an unfair place. That's fine too. Blizzard's the one telling the story. But there comes a certain point of how long you can whip the other faction into being beaten into the tar before the player base simply gets tired of it and says 'fuck this'. Because quest designs are vital to telling the story. You design quests all kicking ass for one faction for a long period of time and neglect the other, people are going to be upset. People are upset now even. It's natural for them to tally up 'Horde took X, while Alliance only got X'.

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Thrall’s decision to leave him in charge is coming back to haunt him.

I imagine we'll be just as fucked in the coming days over on Red team. They're definitely setting up Garrosh for something even bigger than killing Cairne in a duel.

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Yeah, that whole factional pride thing doesn't work with me. I play a belf, and I'd still rather be a high elf Alliance-side (no, night elven mages don't count).

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It's not like a fanatical devotion to the Alliance or anything, it's just that you get tired of seeing your team lose far more often than the other team, especially when, when you DO get a few victories, and the other team acts like that equals the playing ground.

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Metzen said in the Blizzard lore panel that he wants to give Varian a huge and epic allaince-only questchain loosely based on the labors of Hercules, with your character serving as his squire. Basically you and Varian would do certain tasks only Varian is capable of dealing with for each of the Allaince races. This would all lead up to Varian becoming a respected and very capable king.

Chris Metzen revealed this after he was asked by someone in the audience "so when does alliance get to kick ass?"

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just compare Twilight Highland's non-neutral storylines between each faction. I just finally played it through Hordeside, and it is so much better than Alliance's.

I wouldn't say that. I mean, yeah the entrance the HOrde pulls off is sorta spectacular... till you lose over half the armada and shit hits the fan. I for one love the overall meat of the Alliance quests in Twilight Highlands. Wildhammer Dwarves are badass.

Overall, what I got from this message was "Everyone is standing in the line to get screwed in the buttocks."

And really, whenever I look at the Horde I giggle. They're falling apart, and all we've really lost was a town in a zone that no one ever -really- quested in because you had to go through an even higher level zone to get there. Sure the NIght Elves lost some shit, and I'm not saying their tragedy isn't important, but it seems like it's at least got them off their 'woe is me, I'm not immortal anymore' asses, and maybe now they'll actually fight back in the next expac.

So yeah, I guess I understand Alliance has some problems right now, and this might just be me seeing through rose-tinted glasses, but when I compare the factions, Alliance still comes out ahead in my books.

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Except that clearly isn't how Blizzard is seeing it:

The Horde has gone through a story arc of its own, since the days when the ragged refugee orcs first stumbled onto the beaches of Kalimdor and decided to found a new capital. The Horde races have united and consolidated. The Forsaken, no longer tormented by the Lich King, have secured their borders. The tauren have settled a homeland. The Darkspear trolls, once on the brink of extinction thanks to murlocs (murlocs!), have rallied together and founded a capital. The blood elves have survived the destruction of their home, moved beyond the defection of their leader, and reclaimed the Sunwell. The Horde is absolutely ascendant.

If that isn't foreshadowing how much Blizzard is just going to go, "Oh well, we all got over our hatred of Garrosh and now we're amazing again," I'm not sure what else will.

Alliance quests in Twilight Highlands are just a bunch of jokes about how stupid the Wildhammer Dwarves are. Sure, they're funny for the first one or two times, but after that, it makes you realize how much of a joke they wrote that area for the Alliance is.

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The Horde has gone through a story arc of its own, since the days when the ragged refugee orcs first stumbled onto the beaches of Kalimdor and decided to found a new capital. The Horde races have united and consolidated. The Forsaken, no longer tormented by the Lich King, have secured their borders. The tauren have settled a homeland. The Darkspear trolls, once on the brink of extinction thanks to murlocs (murlocs!), have rallied together and founded a capital. The blood elves have survived the destruction of their home, moved beyond the defection of their leader, and reclaimed the Sunwell. The Horde is absolutely ascendant.

And in this moment, as one of the most powerful groups of mortals on Azeroth seeks to define itself, Thrall is out of the picture. The Horde’s mission is being defined by Garrosh Hellscream. Thrall’s decision to leave him in charge is coming back to haunt him.

Actually, the way I read this, all of those nice things happened after the Lich King's death, but before Garrosh took over and Thrall stepped down.

And now "Thrall’s decision to leave him in charge is coming back to haunt him." I mean, half those things happened before even Wotlk, the other half happened during or right after. The Tauren have been settled for all three expacs haven't they? The blood elves did all their shit in BC right? When we were helping the Gnomes and the Darkspear on both continents, Thrall was still in charge... and Thrall was still in charge when we ended the Lich King and the Forsaken's torment was over.

But yeah, I can see how you might interpret it the other way. If that is indeed how it goes, I will be saddened... not exactly angry though, i gave up trying to figure out what Blizzard would do next in their lore ages ago. They could make a goddamn show about it... "Blizzard developers do the darndest things"

As for the Wildhammer quests, I didn't really get a stupid feel... I got a maybe brawns over brains feel, and when I did the Dragonmaw quests, they weren't any smarter.

All the kickass parts, where the one dwarf is constantly getting himself ambushed just because he loves combat, or fanny actually beats up ogres before you even show up to save her, or even when you end up blowing up that faceless at their wedding, I found them amusing, but not because of any stupidity on the Dwarves' part.

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Having played both sides from 1-85, I'd say I like the way the game is going. The Horde seems to be winning every combat, but it's making the Alliance closer, isn't it?

The Horde leaders are at one anothers throats all of the time, it seems few actually like Garrosh, I wouldn't mind a little civil war goin' on. Also, don't the Draenei control Outlands now? In Wolfheart, Andiun asked Velen "Aren't you going back to Outlands with your people?" So maybe the Alliance has lost Azeroth, but it seems they have won Outlands.

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Eh, all lore(and common sense.) I've seen show that Outlands is falling apart... all of the different factions on there are making a show of coming back home. You get a report in Netherstorm that says eventually it's going to blow and take the rest of the zones with it.

I mean, I guess blizzard could come in and change the lore like they always do, I'd love to see how they make a floating piece of crumbling rock that's constantly being subjected to the Twisting Nether itself habitable.

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Maybe the Naaru could use some kind of diamensional device in outland in conjunction with a newly discovered Titan device on Azeroth in order to merge Outland with Azeroth, or perhaps in a future expansion the Naaru have stabilized Outland and from Shattrath send adventurers to other worlds in preparation for the final battle with Sargaras and the Burning Legion.

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Not really, most of what I know of Outlands hasn't changed much. Burning crusade didn't strike me much as a faction on faction setting since the primary threat was the demons and the defected Blood Elves. The only warzones the horde and alliance contested over was Hellfire, the Bone wastes, Halaa, and I believe the starting quest hubs for each faction in shadowmoon valley threw a couple of slugs at each other and thats it.

I do know the Draenei after the Burning Crusade campaign mostly resigned back to Outlands to rebuild while some stayed behind to assist their new alliance with the alliance. But the only thing the Draeneis actually owned was a few outpost temples, Telredor one of their main settlements in Zangar and of course Shattrath. We don't actually know for sure who actually owns Halaa, Hellfire, and the Bone Wastes, and since the Mag'har are not really angry at the Draenei in current quests I can only assume they didn't get roflstomped in Nagrand. Like Thrall would ever let that happen-

Which was a BC thing horde got but alliance didn't Thrall meets his grandma and you get to watch...we get to save a hopeless broken kid over and over again...

Anyways! To me the Draenei seem in the same predicament the night elves are with the Guardians of Hyjal. Most of the race is split between being neutrals and helping out with a greater cause then fighting the fight. I say that cause there is probably a lot a draenei that fell back to Shattrath to help the rebuilding process there and fortifying for future assaults from the Burning Legion. So basically they have homes there but don't actually dominate Outland.

This whole thing is a bit surprising to me actually, I knew we have always fought over who got what when Cata came out but its just escalated a lot lately. I really had to look up why really and it seems a lot had to do with Blizzcon to where a lot of Alliance players felt like it was more like Hordecon. I don't want to go in to details people can look that stuff up and make their own opinions but I just feel like Blizz needs to step up their PR with Alliance. No jokes, no bullshit, just give us something, and I don't feel like making our leaders badass will help. Cause honestly shafting us at the end of the worgen questline while goblins got Azshara had nothing to do with leaders and I wants larger compensation!

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Having played both sides from 1-85, I'd say I like the way the game is going. The Horde seems to be winning every combat, but it's making the Alliance closer, isn't it?

The Horde leaders are at one anothers throats all of the time, it seems few actually like Garrosh, I wouldn't mind a little civil war goin' on. Also, don't the Draenei control Outlands now? In Wolfheart, Andiun asked Velen "Aren't you going back to Outlands with your people?" So maybe the Alliance has lost Azeroth, but it seems they have won Outlands.

Anduin says that probably because Draenor was basically the official homeworld of the Draenei (Source) since fleeing Argas for a thousand years before Mannoroth and Kil'Jaeden made the Orcs go batshit insane. Sure they hopped planets, but they stayed on Draenor for definitely the longest, so much so that the Orcs adopted the name for themselves too.

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Rereading this for like the 7th time, I find it ironic that Blizzard's intention was to say that they're not biased, but then the post is like:

Alliance

Horde

Horde

Horde

Horde

Horde

Alliance

Thrall

Horde

Horde

Horde

sprinkled with some condescension about Alliance players not giving a crap about Thrall. Sorry, I don't have a problem with Thrall, but he's not "my" guy. He's Horde. He'll always be Horde, and Metzen even confirms he'll be leading the Horde again. The story is interesting, if not a bit Mary Sueish, but it feels anything but neutral. It feels as if Blizzard is trying to force it to seem neutral, and while it technically is (Since he doesn't kill me in the 2 places you actually see him in Cataclysm), it doesn't feel like it at all.

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This must be why Alliance never wins Battlegrounds. I have it all figured out now, and me and my sleeping bag are going to go occupy blizz HQ in protest of this injustice.

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Eh, across all my characters my win ratio is still around 50%. On my paladin, it's like 60% or so, but that's cuz he's boss and can carry most BG groups.

EDIT: Ontopic though, I find it rather funny. I look around and see a buncha Alliance complaining, how they won't stand for Blizz's favortism and all that jazz. This might just be my faction pride speaking, but I haven't really felt like we were losing at all this expac. I mean, look on the bright side. We may have lost the park, but we also got rid of those damn elves! Sent em back to their own tree city thing.

But no, in all seriousness, whenever I'm feeling like Alliance got shafted, I just remember Garrosh is the Horde warchief. Then I laugh. The guy looks like a giant tic, I swear.

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Garrosh looks retarded. Of course, Varian gives him a run for his money as far as most egotistical leader in Azeroth. STATUE OF ME! RAWR!

Actually, I remember reading that statue was commissioned and built by the city council or something - not Varian.

They’re going to come out of this stronger than ever, but the road ahead won’t be easy.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse. But that’s a good thing. It means we’re going to need a lot more heroes to bring justice to an unjust world. We’re going to need you to step up and reshape the world.

Just don’t expect a Happily Ever After. We just don’t do those here.

The way I read this, they're telling the Alliance that they should step up when it all comes down, but they're still not going to get anything.

Our territories are being lolslash'n'burned, our leaders are all but window-dressing unless it's Malfurion as a "world" character talking up how awesome Thrall is, and honestly I'm wondering when Blizz will announce the Horde has wiped out the Night Elves and turned Teldrassil into a giant toothpick. Blizzard better have some epic payoff planned for the Alliance - we've proven we're tougher and more cohesive than the Horde a thousand times over, but without Blizzard giving us involvement in our own story, all that means precisely dick.

Strange as this sounds - if we're gonna lose a battle like Andorhal or the Abyssal Breach, I'd like to feel like it was through my own errors or shortcomings, and not because "it's Flee O'Clock, time to lose!"

At least then I feel like my actions had SOME sort of effect on the outcome.

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