As I discussed in a previous post, game lore and game mechanics are connected hand-in-hand, so to discuss one while entirely ignoring the other would be a fallacy.
With that in mind, when discussing game lore, one can reach a point where the lore has been pushed so far that the game mechanics can no longer be able to support it. This is what I call a “lore wall”.
Note that this “wall” is not a road block, but merely a boundary that should be acknowledged when it is crossed. One can go beyond the wall, but an entirely new game must be created at that point to support the lore.
A good example of this would be the factions of World of Warcraft.
It’s already well accepted among WoW lore fans that the Forsaken will eventually split from the Horde (and likely take the Blood Elves with them). This event however would have to take place in either Warcraft 4 or World of Warcraft 2, as splitting either the Horde or Alliance within WoW itself would be all but game breaking. It’s awesome lore, but on a game-mechanics side it would require splitting guilds and not allowing long time friends to party together anymore.
While some hard-core lore fanatics might cry, “So what! Do it!!” we need to remember that WoW is ultimately a game and everything else must curtail to that. It’s goal is to be fun.
That being said, I have to admit the sheer brutality and gall of such a move is intriguing, but I think the novelty would wear off fairly quick once the inconvenience set in.
With the concept of the “lore wall” now established, lets look at a piece of future lore we’ve discussed, the Night Elves.
Where does the lore wall rest in Night Elves’ future? How far could you push their lore before needing to move it into an entirely new game?
I think everything almost up to the civil war itself could be accomplished in WoW.
Let’s look at the game mechanics.
Somewhere along the timeline, “The Emerald Dream” expansion is released. We defeat the Nightmare.
In a later expansion, with the Emerald Dream now safe. Malfurion returns. Game mechanics wise, this could be similar to Garrosh going to Northrend.
With Malfurion now in Moonglade, Tyrande joins him. The priesthood follows.
The two night elf factions galvanize as the Darnassians must now choose between Teldrassil, and following their priests.
Time passes, and with Darnassus finally now populated by only Fandral and his most dedicated followers (which could be many), war finally breaks out amongst the Nightelves as Malfurion and Moonglade can no longer allow the abomination Teldrassil has grown into to exist.
So where is the wall? I’d say Tyrande moving to Moonglade to be with Malfurion is as far as you could push it. From a game mechanics standpoint all this would involve is Alliance priests no longer being able to train in Darnassus, but Moonglade instead. This in turn in the lore could signify the priesthood following Tyrande.
Once you start forcing the Night Elves to choose sides you’ve crossed the wall.
The galvanization itself would likely take place between games, with Warcraft 4 or WoW 2 beginning with the playable Night Elves now being the faction in Moonglade.
Why Moonglade and not Darnassus? Well… lets face it. The majority of people who play Night Elves are going to want to play on the same side as Malfurion and Tyrande.
With the concept of the lore wall in place, it allows us to keep the reigns on whether we’re discussing something in a current game, or something that could be done in a future title.