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A running theme in the story forums, and apparently the lore-curious community at large if sites like Massively are picking it up, is how the factions are viewed internally at Blizzard. At this point I don't think it's crude bias for the Horde as the Horde is also unhappy with how their story is developing. But although the Horde players might not have liked suddenly becoming Doomhammer's Horde under Hellscream, the presentation and depth of their stories continue to be engaging. Many Alliance diehards think that the writers just find the Horde a more interesting topic to develop and so unwittingly put forth their best efforts there. It's not that they dislike the Alliance or its themes so much as they're a different team mostly than the ones that worked on the Warcraft RTS games and 2004-2006 state of WoW.
Personally, I believe that the division of the players into factions is an obstacle to Blizzard's writers following through on their commitment to revitalizing the Alliance in a form that speaks to players who are looking at the Alliance as an assortment of symbols and meanings from the RTS games to today. It started with the partially aborted High King plot point. Blizzard looked at how the Horde players cheered "For the Horde" like a sports team slogan and tended to put their identity as Horde before their characters' races (a lot of most vehemently pro-Horde players I've seen are Forsaken, who properly shouldn't give a toss about the Horde beyond what it can do for their Lordaeron) . Meanwhile the Alliance, being a confederacy of interdependent dominions instead of military autocracy, had players more preoccupied with seeing X race have its story advanced. The solution they came up with was to create what functioned as a blue warchief and demonstrate in game the Alliance becoming more tightly knit. I speculate that they wanted to cohesion and front of unity to give Alliance players a Horde-like feeling of being a badass military juggernaut. The trouble is, misfits uniting into a sovereign whole is appeal of the Horde; the Alliance is about independent cultures sharing certain common values sharing resources out of trust.
The other trouble is that the Horde's appeal naturally lends itself to more engaging storytelling in a combat-oriented MMORPG with PvP in it. Meanwhile, the intrigue and nuances that make the Alliance compelling plays out better in text... i.e. books, which is what we were getting. Now in 5.3, we're helping the Darkspear tribe to lead a rebellion against Garrosh Hellscream's Horde as a prelude to the invasion of Orgrimmar in patch (5.4). Many Alliance players are grousing that we're assisting the Horde instead of pursuing our own plans. The response to this, from inventing a novel and bellicose player title for the Alliance to making Vol'jin squirm in place, is an earnest effort from the developers to make us feel included. They can't go back now and make a separate Alliance story but they can try to make us feel as important in it as they can. Ah, but that offends not to few Horde players, who hate needing the Alliance (when they don't need Thrall) to keep them from imploding.
The very fact that we're petitioning for the factions to do their own thing is a big reason why the story is so unsatisfying. The developers aren't writing a story for the Horde and a story for the Alliance. Many of us think they're writing the Horde story and tacking the Alliance on, but I don't believe that's how they see it. Instead, I think that the writers see themselves as simply writing the story of WoW. They're not making two different stories for the factions because they're making one for everybody, so they think. This combined with an apparent lack of gelling with the themes and appeal of the Alliance with the game being designed is disappointing people. As long as there are two competing factions in this game and neither can win decisively for gameplay reasons, one size won't fit all.
This post is well-written. I agree that the Alliance's themes are more difficult to represent what with the political intrigue in Ironforge, Stormwind and Dalaran for example, and it's disappointing that the Horde have been the primary faction advancing the story, but we do have action-oriented leaders who should be fighting the good fight.
Alliance inaction was easier to explain in Classic. Mekkatorque and the Gnomes were packed into a train station and lost a significant portion of their population to radiation.
Magni was despondent because his daughter and brothers were missing, presumed dead, and when his daughter is finally located in Shadowforge she is revealed to be the recently widowed wife of his nations' greatest enemy.
Onyxia is busy running Stormwind into the ground. Varian is trapped in a prison and Bolvar is a useless puppet regent-lord.
Malfurion is trapped in the Emerald Dream and Fandral spars constantly with Tyrande. The power struggle effectively paralyzes the Night Elves.
Now that the Alliance is actually in a decent position, they still fail to perform when the situation calls for it, because Blizzard would rather write the story from the Horde perspective first and foremost, thinking that reducing the Alliance to the equivalent of Horde understudies is good enough for the purposes of advancing the story of Warcraft.
I think your post had alot of good points. I think that Blizzard can write a good Alliance story in the MMO context. Having played both side of Wrath I personally feel that the Alliance story in that expac left the Horde's story in the dust. It was far far better. Ironicly it was almost the opposite of the situation you have know with the focus heavily on the horde though not to the same extreme.
I think alot of these issues could be solved by considering the players perspective better. For example the premise, though not exactly awesome, that exists in 5.3 could have been made to work if the quests had done a better job of making the Alliance interests invested into what was going on. Two SI:7 agents, a couple of stealth quests and a letter from Vairan didnt really cut it. It should have been made clear from an noteworthy allaince character why the players were there, what they were after and why this whole situation was using the rebellion to their advantage.
To be realistic they needed content that could be shared or far less content would have been on the table. However the same setting could have told very different stories with much greater relivance.
I also think in the effort to keep the Alliance the shining paragon faction Blizz throws away very good potential plot hooks. Take the worgen curse for example. I was shocked that they basicly cured it in the space of the opening zone. That could have been a fantastic worgen plot with the worgen as a race struggling to find balance between the beast and the human parts of themselves. Instead they pretty much became hairy humans.
Likewise, the house of nobles, in the wake of the events of the Onyxia chain in vanilla, were primed to be a potental source of corruption and internal problems with the Alliance. It had promise for something that could have developed over time. Not demon worshipers of cultists. Just greedy, selfish nobles wanting more power for themselves and serving their own interests.
In some ways I think they play it too safe with the alliance and it waters down the potential for allaince stories.
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