Author Topic: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay  (Read 1155 times)

The Vintroth

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A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« on: February 05, 2018, 06:55:08 PM »
I would for a moment to no one’s great surprise, raise a discussion, concerning Might & Fealty. As the title says, it is a discussion primarily focused on lore and the effect it has on the gameplay of Might & Fealty. Though, as any who know me to any extent will know, it will touch on other matters as well.
 
Let us first try and define a few terms, at least for the part of my own discussion and post. You might very well believe that I misuse terms or disagree on the definitions that I intend to use. However, the definitions of these terms are hardly the important part of this discussion. Instead, it is the skin on the meat as it were.
 
  • Game Lore – It is what I would define as the official lore of the game. It is what we find written on the game’s fiction page. http://mightandfealty.com/en/fiction This is canon.
  • Clique Lore – The lore that exists, written or unwritten, in a single or a number of players’ hands. The exact form of this lore may vary, but it does not exist as a written part of the game and ways to explore it remain limited to, either, OOC interaction or *acceptance into the fold IC* (which might very well contain OOC parts as well. A mix of both IC and OOC factors would not be overly surprising, if to varying degrees.).
  • Wiki Lore – That which exists on the wiki. While some more general lore is to be found here, both things related to game lore, clique lore and other lore; it is often outdated or irrelevant. The other part of wiki lore is the gathered personal stories, which despite possibly important to the game, is irrelevant to a large extent to the game lore and setting but holds some importance to other written lore.
  • Other (Written) lore – This is the lore you find gathered throughout the game if you are looking. Realm pages, character pages, and within both living and dead realm conversations. This is the source of the wiki lore, for it stems from gameplay and the ideas of players of the area of the world they inhabit. This might very well (at times) be the source of the clique lore.
  • Setting – The gathered, specific, context of the world of Might & Fealty. It does not only include the game lore, but also the other types of lore to various degrees, plus the various cultures, realms and history that existed within the game, recorded by game or player.

Let me begin by saying that I view Might & Fealty as a roleplaying sandbox game, where it is the actions of characters, and relations between them that matter above all else. To view it in any other way will, in the end, drive it to become little more than a wargame in the guise of something greater. It is also worthwhile to say that Might & Fealty is a terrible platform for wargaming anyways. The battle system does not reward skill in battle mechanics, but rather, activity, time already spent in the game, and the ability to acquire better estates. This is however, somewhat besides the point of this discussion.
 
So, what influence do these types of lore have upon gameplay? Game lore has one obvious influence on those who play by it (which they might not), it binds their characters, and their actions to a specific context. It gives some manner of background to where they place their characters and some idea of the setting in which they play. The fiction that exists for Might & Fealty is however, very limited both in length and depth. Due to this very limited nature, it has a very small effect on gameplay.
 
In comparison, clique lore, which is hidden (to varying degrees), seems to influence gameplay to a much larger degree. This type of lore is not inherently bad, but it sets a precedent of people on the inside, and those on the outside. In some cases, it might not even be something that is actively organised, but an unwritten understanding of a realm’s lore and code of conduct.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for a new player to explore and make use of this lore. Not only does it then leave new players as lost sheep, unless someone is able to explain things to them in a good, and concise manner (like Roran did to any of my questions back in the day). But, as another problem, if the holders of this lore leave, it is simply lost. I have on numerous occasions argued that established realms and cultures are more important that what a new player might wish to create, as a fresh thing. To be introduced into a realm in an efficient manner, given context (like I was given) will surely be a more efficient system of introduction that the void of information that this game often can seem to be. However, to return to the main point, it seems to be that this ‘hidden agreement of IC culture’ is what really binds a character in most places.
 
The wiki, and the lore within it can lessen the problem of depth somewhat. It is a good source of information concerning various things if it is updated by players. Yet, it is not a good method of introduction, nor does it contain the broad context that the game would generally. It is simply a place to find more in-depth knowledge once already introduced; a place for further context and player-made lore. Does this influence gameplay? To a large extent I’d say no, but it can influence play even so. If what has been is recorded well, it can drive players to take it into account in a manner they might not otherwise do.
 
To summarise, game lore has a very small effect, even though it should be the very setting and context of the game. It should bind characters to the world in a more effective way than any other. Yet, it seems to me that if any type is really responsible when it comes to binding characters; it is the clique lore and to some extent the other lore. Lastly, wiki lore by itself might not bind characters to a specific setting, but it can influence the way people play the game and how they view it.
 
The setting of the game, mainly based on game lore should bind both new and old characters. Yet, in my experience, it rarely seems to do so. Why is this? Why does clique lore take the upper hand? – I believe there is a very simple answer to this. To generate a setting to bind the character fully, one needs lore of some complexity. It does not need to be super complex or extensive, but it cannot be *simple* or irrelevant to gameplay to have an actual effect. If you read relevant lore, that carry some complexity, you will make a character *from* that and already there, you bind it to the setting and lore. If you do not, it will have consequences IC if the lore and setting is activity used. Perhaps such an approach limits the infinite freedom sandbox, but I, personally have nothing against it for I’d rather play within the confines of the sandbox with actual characters bound in lore with some complexity. The problem that is so easy to face in the infinite sandbox is that the character is made, then either not bound at all, or bound much later and much more loosely that it would otherwise be.
 
I believe an example can be made of such a system. Myself, and others that I know, have in the past or in the present played on Warband Roleplay servers. These servers, are always bound in some manner of complex lore to be found on the forum in these cases for the game does not allow to show it. – But once read and character made, it is bound in that lore and acting outside of it will not do you any favours, either IC or OOC.
 
In the main, the purpose of this discussion is to raise points and bring thoughts to those who read it. Even so, some suggestion to solve the problems I raised are probably expected for raising problems without suggested fixes is generally, and sometimes rightly, frowned upon.
 
So, what can be done to improve the binding of characters in the setting and the lore? Firstly, I believe the main and most important step is to make more game lore. Make things ‘official’. Make things specific and let the lore be complex and relevant. Not just about the First Ones you play, but the factions and nations you’ll encounter. If that lessens the infinite sandbox, so be it.
 
My second point, would be a new Knight Offer system. Where leaders of realms (large and small? Only large?) may open the capital for new knights to spawn, even if no traditional knight offer is open. However, the difference would lie in when you choose where to spawn. I would have it done first, where the player is presented with a list of realms, paired with introductions and descriptions of said realm. That would allow the player to form an idea and bind the character in the specific setting that he only after choosing realm, creates.
 
I shall leave it at that and I hope that, if nothing else, it did at least make you think.

Andrew

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 08:32:49 PM »
I'm not against creating more game lore, but there'd have to be a good reason to add something that would constrain, possibly even overwrite, the creative activities of players. I've toyed with putting some game history into the game's fiction, so there's an understood "hey, this happened" that can't be argued, but that means it can't be argued, and there's less opportunity for contention on the subject.

One might suggest that we limit the setting of Might & Fealty to a specific era in our history, to which I'd respond that M&F is not a medieval simulator, is not set on earth, and does not humans (unless this is actually a sci-fi title, which it might be). Even then, which time era would we set it to? From which area of the world? Based off which group of people there?

A better question would be, what exactly does the game lore already establish, as fact?

And a follow-up would be, what do we need to expand on from there, so that people can better enjoy the game?

To switch gears to your discussion of Knight Offers, a rework of the new character arrival system is on the TODO list, for a later update. Before I tackle it though, I need a few things, some of which I'm already experimenting with in 1.1. The main things are a I need a way for characters to be part of a realm, without holding land, titles, or vassalage in it, and a place for those new characters to arrive to that actually improves on the new player experience rather than just dropping them in a sea of information. For the previous, it will require some effort. As for the latter though, the first part of that will come in 1.1, with Places. Ideally, the bulk of it will happen in 1.2 or 1.3 when I roll out Complexes.

That said, I'm not saying I won't change things in a smaller update somewhere rather than waiting for a major update, but I'd like to make it so rather than arriving as a knight, you arrive as a person. Rather than just being a knight, your first choice is becoming a knight of someone, or not. A new player should, before placing a character down, be able to get an idea of what a realm is like, what opporunities there are there, and know a little about where they are going. When they arrive, they should have an opportunity to learn more about a realm, talk to people in it, and decide if they want to stay or go someplace else. They shouldn't have to kill their character to go someplace else.

Oh, and what realms you're a part of should be more obvious. This silliness that you inherit the realms of your liege will be ending when I get around to figuring out the alternative to how it'll work instead.
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The Vintroth

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2018, 09:42:07 PM »
I'm not against creating more game lore, but there'd have to be a good reason to add something that would constrain, possibly even overwrite, the creative activities of players.

Is adding depth and the binding of characters not a good enough reason? It is not as if players can't work from within the constraints of what is game lore. They'll work within it as in any other game/setting/etc.

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I've toyed with putting some game history into the game's fiction, so there's an understood "hey, this happened" that can't be argued, but that means it can't be argued, and there's less opportunity for contention on the subject.
There is a large difference between something happening and why it happens. Plus, if the 'game history' says xyz, there is no reason someone could explain it further from another viewpoint in terms of story. Another perspective does not break lore, rather adds to it (or well, depending on how it is done, but you get my point). Plus, people can lie, right? If done in an IC way, people can do a lot of things within the constraints of set lore.

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One might suggest that we limit the setting of Might & Fealty to a specific era in our history, to which I'd respond that M&F is not a medieval simulator, is not set on earth, and does not humans (unless this is actually a sci-fi title, which it might be). Even then, which time era would we set it to? From which area of the world? Based off which group of people there?

Let us break this one down.
1. Not a Medieval simulator.
2. Not set on earth
3. Not humans /unless sci-fi/.
4. What era?
5. Based on what culture?

To the first point; there is plenty to suggest otherwise. The weaponry in the game is very medieval, as are the terms Knights, Lord, et cetera. - The fealty system - Of course, one can easily argue that many of the terms used are used outside of a medieval context as well. That is a fair point, but there is very little to suggest that we are not in some type of medieval world. "A simulation of a medieval / low-fantasy world" is also written on the about page by the way. So in the end, it does seem that we are in fact playing in a medieval low fantasy world, which also happens to be the way most people I know view the game. But moving on.

2. I don't think that matters much. A lot of fantasy settings, low or high, are not set on earth.

3. Why can't we have humans, even without sci-fi? Plenty of both high and low fantasy settings have humans without it being a sci-fi setting.

4. Medieval based on what I said before.

5. Western European in general. There is nothing to suggest that the game is not based on European things. The art of the game, such as the buildings, images of plate armour, halberds and crossbows looks very much European to me. Most realms established also seem to be based on European nations to some degree.


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A better question would be, what exactly does the game lore already establish, as fact?
Very little. It gives some background to the world and setting. It does establish the nature of First Ones and slumber, that gods exist and a few other things.

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And a follow-up would be, what do we need to expand on from there, so that people can better enjoy the game?
Now that, is a great question. I can think of a few things, but there are probably more ideas out there. A prolonged conversation concerning these things can probably spawn much more that I can think of right now. Religions, cultures, established nations, a general history. Anything that adds context and makes it easier to bind the character into the lore and setting.

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To switch gears to your discussion of Knight Offers, a rework of the new character arrival system is on the TODO list, for a later update. Before I tackle it though, I need a few things, some of which I'm already experimenting with in 1.1. The main things are a I need a way for characters to be part of a realm, without holding land, titles, or vassalage in it, and a place for those new characters to arrive to that actually improves on the new player experience rather than just dropping them in a sea of information. For the previous, it will require some effort. As for the latter though, the first part of that will come in 1.1, with Places. Ideally, the bulk of it will happen in 1.2 or 1.3 when I roll out Complexes.

That said, I'm not saying I won't change things in a smaller update somewhere rather than waiting for a major update, but I'd like to make it so rather than arriving as a knight, you arrive as a person. Rather than just being a knight, your first choice is becoming a knight of someone, or not. A new player should, before placing a character down, be able to get an idea of what a realm is like, what opporunities there are there, and know a little about where they are going. When they arrive, they should have an opportunity to learn more about a realm, talk to people in it, and decide if they want to stay or go someplace else. They shouldn't have to kill their character to go someplace else.
Sure. Though I still think that they should have to read about realms *before* they spawn in anywhere and preferably before they even make the character. If they knew of the major cultures of the game, they could make an Ascalonian and spawn somewhere else but still have an idea of what an Ascalonian should perhaps be like to some extent.

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Oh, and what realms you're a part of should be more obvious. This silliness that you inherit the realms of your liege will be ending when I get around to figuring out the alternative to how it'll work instead.
Sure, why not. Seems like a sensible thing. Perhaps the liege can choose what his knights will be a part of?

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2018, 10:07:19 PM »
When I say the game isn't a medieval simulator, what I'm saying is that it's not simulating medieval life on earth. If it was, you'd be looking at a map of Europe, rather than whatever it is we call the continent. If we make it a medieval simulator, we lose a LOT of the liberties on how things operate or work, and I'll probably stop developing it because I don't have the time to research how much food a medieval baker can produce.

The mortals in game aren't human. At least not so much as we are. The game doesn't even explicitly state that the mortals, or first ones, even look like exactly like humans, just that they are "not unlike". The closest you get is these:

"So the gods went about creating a new creature much more similar to themselves then all the others ones. The First Ones. A race not unlike man, but stronger, smarter and not subject to aging."

"First Ones look much like mortal men at first glance, but you can spot very fast that they are not the same. No disease or illness can touch them, save one. As such, they never need healers or herbs, and they can recover from wounds that would strike every mortal down for sure. Their teeth and skin are perfect, their hair is fair and their eyes are awake and shining, deep as a clear lake on a summer day."

Personally, I'd love to go a little less low-fantasy and add other races into the game. People seem to be against this idea, for some reason though. You could, for what it's worth, argue that we're all playing Tolkien-esque elves, and that this is where the Elves from early BattleMaster originally came from. :P

And yeah, most of the art and images do reflect European standards, though I think that's more so we have something to look at that's standardized more than anything. A few people are aware of the debates I've had about weapon effectiveness and how it could be altered. I'd love to break away from this purely European thing though, and am toying with the concept of making culture packs more than just name lists, but there are many things that don't have similar conventions across geographic areas.

My goal is to make M&F a good game, one that's interesting, not necessarily historically accurate. If there's an area that can be fixed or improved upon in such a way that makes sense and adds to the gameplay, I'm more than willing to try it, but I try to avoid major changes without serious consideration as to what the consequences might be.

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Sure. Though I still think that they should have to read about realms *before* they spawn in anywhere and preferably before they even make the character. If they knew of the major cultures of the game, they could make an Ascalonian and spawn somewhere else but still have an idea of what an Ascalonian should perhaps be like to some extent.

"A new player should, before placing a character down, be able to get an idea of what a realm is like, what opporunities there are there, and know a little about where they are going." --Me, my previous post.

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Sure, why not. Seems like a sensible thing. Perhaps the liege can choose what his knights will be a part of?

Ideally, it'll be part of the revamped knight offer system.
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The Vintroth

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2018, 10:22:24 PM »
When I say the game isn't a medieval simulator, what I'm saying is that it's not simulating medieval life on earth. If it was, you'd be looking at a map of Europe, rather than whatever it is we call the continent. If we make it a medieval simulator, we lose a LOT of the liberties on how things operate or work, and I'll probably stop developing it because I don't have the time to research how much food a medieval baker can produce.
Fair enough, but then we mean two different things entirely.

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The mortals in game aren't human. At least not so much as we are. The game doesn't even explicitly state that the mortals, or first ones, even look like exactly like humans, just that they are "not unlike". The closest you get is these:

"So the gods went about creating a new creature much more similar to themselves then all the others ones. The First Ones. A race not unlike man, but stronger, smarter and not subject to aging."

"First Ones look much like mortal men at first glance, but you can spot very fast that they are not the same. No disease or illness can touch them, save one. As such, they never need healers or herbs, and they can recover from wounds that would strike every mortal down for sure. Their teeth and skin are perfect, their hair is fair and their eyes are awake and shining, deep as a clear lake on a summer day."

Personally, I'd love to go a little less low-fantasy and add other races into the game. People seem to be against this idea, for some reason though. You could, for what it's worth, argue that we're all playing Tolkien-esque elves, and that this is where the Elves from early BattleMaster originally came from. :P
Right. You can argue that but really, unless stated otherwise; most will just assume human. So if we now decide that all First Ones are little green men, we should probably state it clearly :P

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And yeah, most of the art and images do reflect European standards, though I think that's more so we have something to look at that's standardized more than anything. A few people are aware of the debates I've had about weapon effectiveness and how it could be altered. I'd love to break away from this purely European thing though, and am toying with the concept of making culture packs more than just name lists, but there are many things that don't have similar conventions across geographic areas.
What is wrong with being purely European? - It is a very small piece of land we live on in M&F anyways. Should technology and culture really vary so much?

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My goal is to make M&F a good game, one that's interesting, not necessarily historically accurate. If there's an area that can be fixed or improved upon in such a way that makes sense and adds to the gameplay, I'm more than willing to try it, but I try to avoid major changes without serious consideration as to what the consequences might be.
A sentiment that I generally agree with, but again, what is really wrong with specific context and setting to bind characters? Of course, it would be a big step and one that should be considered carefully, but being strict with lore is not necessarily a bad thing (not that you said it were).

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"A new player should, before placing a character down, be able to get an idea of what a realm is like, what opporunities there are there, and know a little about where they are going." --Me, my previous post.
Whoops.


De-Legro

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2018, 03:24:28 AM »
As for settings, we have purchasable culture packs that are not European. I should note that Tom always mentioned that culture packs were going to be more then names, but never really nailed down what that "more" was. Personally I would like custom culture packs, so I can create my own naming system for my mortal slaves.

The images are because there was only ever a small budget for graphics that was never going to stretch to multiple versions for different "cultures". Plus there was a lot of talk at the start of the game about how exactly the game would handle multiple graphic packs that was never completely resolved because we got side tracked about adding "custom" weapons and troop types.

As for Lore, one thing I would love to see established is the original inhabitants of this small part of the world. As I recall EI and Rathgar were supposed to be "native". The ruling family of the Fading Isles was, but most of the actual realms within it were made up of immigrants. Hawks for example were originally shipwrecked. Personally it irks me to see yet another "native and long term" realm spring up in the same region that has already had a procession of "native" realms. It was a stretch to have three native cultures given the size of the map to start with.
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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2018, 10:15:28 AM »
As for settings, we have purchasable culture packs that are not European. I should note that Tom always mentioned that culture packs were going to be more then names, but never really nailed down what that "more" was. Personally I would like custom culture packs, so I can create my own naming system for my mortal slaves.
The culture packs never made much sense in my eyes. Since they actually do list things as European or other things. For not being on Earth it is a bit of a strange thing to do. I'm not in favour of 'custom' ones as I am in favour of 'established cultures'. I don't see why we need every fool and their dog having a custom pack, y'know.

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The images are because there was only ever a small budget for graphics that was never going to stretch to multiple versions for different "cultures". Plus there was a lot of talk at the start of the game about how exactly the game would handle multiple graphic packs that was never completely resolved because we got side tracked about adding "custom" weapons and troop types.
All the same, the standard is European. That is what we have and that is what people will perceive the game as generally speaking.

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As for Lore, one thing I would love to see established is the original inhabitants of this small part of the world. As I recall EI and Rathgar were supposed to be "native". The ruling family of the Fading Isles was, but most of the actual realms within it were made up of immigrants. Hawks for example were originally shipwrecked. Personally it irks me to see yet another "native and long term" realm spring up in the same region that has already had a procession of "native" realms. It was a stretch to have three native cultures given the size of the map to start with.
The lacking lore is the very cause of almost everyone being an immigrant, and the disregard of historic realms and culture.

De-Legro

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2018, 10:55:25 AM »
They are strange, just as people's insurance on the weapons being European is strange. They are a familiar point of reference. We could have used the exact same images and had a background that was very different to Europe, much like many D&D settings do for example.

The reason for custom culture packs is simple, it is a sandbox, and a sand box that the only shows part of the world. The fact that "every fool and their dog" is creating their own lores and background should suggest to you that people are enjoying the creative freedom they currently have to do so. I am all for some simple guidelines to help rationalise and keep things sort of consistent. I am not so keen on hard rules, I recall the disaster in BM when it was decided to try and enforce European cultural concepts there and the number of players lost.
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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2018, 02:41:51 PM »
So why not let people create their own culture packs? I am really not thrilled to see real world cultures in a fantasy game.

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Re: A discussion – the importance of lore upon gameplay
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2018, 10:15:52 PM »
So why not let people create their own culture packs? I am really not thrilled to see real world cultures in a fantasy game.


I feel the same, I get they could be a point of reference, but since all they do is provide names at this time a point of reference is not that useful. Besides you might want to use a certain naming system but not be tied to the cultural references. That is why I suggested custom cultural packs.


Really it all comes down to a single decision, is this a sandbox that is as open ended as possible, or is it a curated sandbox.
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