Another thing about Tannhäuser and MOBAs

Lately I have been playing a lot of Dota 2 and also discussing MOBAs in general. Even though I love Dota 2 with its colorful heroes and fun gameplay I do find it lacking in some aspects. Which I think many MOBAs are lacking in, which is “world building/lore consistency”.

To be honest, I do not think MOBAs need a strong “world”, what they need is characters that are easy to understand and fun to play. But the reason that I have been thinking about this is because I and some friends are intrested in how to present narrative and worlds. Which you can do through the characters. In Dota 2, which is the MOBA I am most familiar with, the world created through the characters lore is nonsensical and a patch work. Almost every hero’s lore is only about themselvs and a completely new place which we have never heard of, which is never mentioned again later. The quality and amount of lore is also very uneven with some being very good and interseting while some is just bad.

So the world is very dodgy and we do not get a sense of what might exist outside of the “arena”. But what they do well is fleshing out the heros personality. Though some of them are very one dimensional, they are still very easy to recognize and most are a little humorous. What is also interesting is how some of the characters have special responses when they face certain heroes or have them as allies. This creates a conection between some characters and hints that there might exist something outside the “arena” it helps with creating a world and also makes the characters more interesting.

In Tannhäuser, which has at least a few similarities with MOBAs, the world building is top notch, in my opinion. So why is it good, well to begin with, we get a sense of what the world is like just be the premise of the game. WW1 never ended, it is still going. Each major faction has turned to alternative sources for power to finaly shift the balance in their favor and win the war. Just by the premise we know that the world is our world, earth. In almost every characters lore you get information about the world, the characters relationship with other characters. We even get information about characters that you cannot play which are only part of the lore. The lore is consistent. Dota 2 have lore that creates relationships, for example Bristelback’s lore, it says he has a beff with the character Tusk. But it has one problem, it does not actually state it is Tusk he has a beef with. And in Tusk’s lore, even though a similiar event is mentioned as the one in Bristelback’s, Tusk’s lore does not mention or even hint about Bristelback. So in theory, their lore could be disconected.

What Tannhäuser also does well is that the characters feel cohesive. The factions in the game differ a bit, but within each faction the characters feel like the steem from the same place, and no faction is so widly different from the other that they feel alien when compared. In Dota 2, though it is some kind of fantasy world, there are characters that feel like oddballs. Venomancer, a man turned into a super poison thingy-majingy from exposur to extremly deadly poison. To me, that sounds like a comic book villain, not something that belongs in a battle between “good” and “evil”. Most characters does not even have a reason to be in the fight, just by reading the lore.

As I said in the beginning. MOBAs do not need lore, world building or fleshed out characters, since MOBAs are not about that. But if it wants to have it, it needs to be built with that in thought from the beginning and be cohesive and consequent.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Riley said,

    I believe if the company wants to expand on the game that lore is also important coming from LoL I can tell you that they have a potential to take the MOBA into a different style of game with the extensive lore built up. Games like HotS already have the lore and are ahead in some aspects but IMO Moba gameplay is popular due to the purity of pvp and is a counter to pay to win style games.


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