Theme and WAR

The first real blog post I am going to write is about an oft overlooked part of MMO’s: theme, some times referred to “feel”. For example, WAR aims to get you the “feel” like you are in a WAR, or to “feel” angry at Destruction for burning your town. Note, this is less immersion, but more the emotion that is conveyed by the game. Now I don’t want to get too artsy, but this element is something that just makes games for me, because it gets me into the game more than realism of mechanics or interactions.

There are three main elements that give theme to MMO’s. The first element is set design. This is how the area looks, and thus how it feels. The second is monster design, which is how the monsters look and act. The final element is the writing, which is probably the most important of all.

These three elements come across in all of the T1 areas very strongly. They all convey different types of war: siege warfare in the mountains, sea invasions, and a huge horde attacking from the land. This direct theme really didn’t hit home for me though, because I was already expecting that theme. Where the theme of WAR really hit me was the Marshes of Madness for dwarfs and Ostland/Troll Country for Chaos. Both have very striking themes. The Marshes of Madness, which have thick, sight-blocking scenery and heavy concentrations of mobs, screamed guerrilla warfare from the first chapter, and the writing kept the theme going.

The story of the dwarfs, who hate the jungle, having to fight against an opponent who seems to be unstoppable by nature of their knowledge of the area and their vast numbers brought mental images of Vietnam to my mind. At first, I was frustrated by the Marshes, but eventually I realized the zones genius; I felt just like the dwarfs! I was tired of the Marshes and the endless ambushes by the mobs spawning around every corner, just like the dwarfs must have been.

This element of theme has really let me enjoy the game much more, and really appreciate some of the zones that I have loathed before. I’m not sure a lot of people will get the emotion that WAR conveys, because so many people don’t read their quest log, but I love that they put this much effort in for us that do!

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