COMMUNITY - FORUMS - TRIBES
Monolithic tribe concern
+9

Since I first learned about CoE my primary concern has been the scale of the world. On each server we're looking at, ideally, 100,000 players spread over something in the neighbourhood of 18,000km^2. To me, this means that each player will be spending a significant portion of their time interacting primarily with NPCs, which is fine. I've spent literally thousands of hours of my life playing single-player games.

However, the issue is that the write-ups on the tribes are written in such a way to me that is suggests the world will not have the richness required to maintain the experience that CoE is trying to develop. As the title of this thread suggests, the tribes lack deviation. I cannot stress enough how fundamental it is to good worldbuilding that deviation within communities exists. And yet, it is almost entirely missing from the descriptions of the tribes that we were given.

We can use the Elder Scrolls as an example of good world-building in a roleplaying game, particularly in the Dunmer and Orsimer religions. The Orcs largely worship the Daedra Malacath, believing that he is their cursed and deformed ancestor diety, Trinimac. There is also, however, a sect within Orc society that believes Malacath is not Trinimac, and worships Trinimac directly. This sect is treated as heretics by Orcs outside of Orsinium. The Dunmer, on the other hand don't have these heresies, but have three different religions that existed side by side until recently. There is ancestor worship (which people engage in alongside another religion), Daedra worship, and the Tribunal until it was destroyed.

To draw an example of poor worldbuilding, also from the Elder Scrolls games, there's Cyrodil from Oblivion. Cyrodil is a monolith. Where Morrowind had the xenophobic Daedra worshipers of the Ashlands and House Dres, the Imperial sycophants of House Hlalu, and the resentfully subjugated House Indoril of the Tribunal (each with their own styles of architecture and clothing as well), Cyrodil has only Imperials who worship the same, dress the same, and live in the same settlements. The Nibenese and Colovians don't look, act, worship, or live any differently from one another. Each of the nine-divine should have had their own cults which are more or less present in different areas, but there are no cults. Temples have equal representation for each of the divine, and priests don't play favourites. Moth priests, Daedric cults, and the Dark Brotherhood all exist on the fringes of society, but rarely commented on at all, let alone given a dissenting opinion.

Like Oblivion, the Elyrian tribe write-ups divisions within tribes. There are no organizations within tribes that exist parallel to the mayor/count/duke/king structure, and the write-ups never mention different religions or interpretations of a religion existing within a tribe. Every Kingdom has at least two different religions present, but we have no idea if or how they interact with one another.

Waerd seem less likely to accept foreign influence than other tribes, but they were likely incorporated into their Kingdom by conquest. But, unless all members of the tribe are equally zealous, when their conquerors came in, some number of Waerd must have converted. So, what is life like for a Virtori Waerd? What reasons might a Waerd have for converting to the Qindred? Do the less zealous settlements view the more zealous? What did their conquerors leave behind in terms of infrastructure and cultural influences?

On the other side, there are unanswered questions about what life is like for a typical member of a tribe who exists outside of their usual environment. What motivations might a Hrothi have for moving into a different society? Would the Hrothi form their own communities inside foreign settlements, or would they make their own settlements? Would they rather integrate? What is life like for a follower of the Virtori who lives away from other Virtori?

These kinds of internal conflicts signal that the system is both organic and dynamic. They should be at the very forefront of tribe design because the primary reason for every component of a game should be to create interesting and meaningful choices for the player. And, I'm not seeing anything interesting or meaningful in tribes that might provide that.

Instead, we've got what kinds of containers the To'resk use for storage, which is window dressing. We've got that the Waerd practice assassinations religiously, which is unlikely to have any effect on the lives of most Waerd players or players interacting with the Waerd. We've got which resources and professions the Neran prefer, which has more to do with where they are than who they are. And, we've got what the responsibilities of each rank of Brudvir society is responsible for, which are striated pretty much the exact same across all tribes.

Now that we have maps of Kingdoms, and soon will even know which tribe leads each Kingdom, there's really no reason for us to be left so completely in the dark about NPC cultures which will likely comprise almost half of the average player's time in game. Furthermore, it's fundamental that players get a chance to know their character and the context around before they start playing, particularly for players pledged at or below gentry who are more directly affected by the behaviours and attitudes of the world in which they live.

I recognize that SBS is doing what they can to get domain and land selection ready as soon as possible, and that it's not realistic to expect more useful, fleshed-out tribe write-ups before I have to lock my counties in and choose my tribe. But, I have several friends in the gentry and below who have all told me that they have no idea which tribe they prefer because "they're all kinda the same."

tl;dr: I believe we need updated tribe write-ups sometime after domain selection that go into how, why, and which groups and individuals deviate from their societal norms.


11/19/2018 2:58:01 AM #1
+5

Summary

  1. Players will be dispersed forcing them to interact with NPCs.
  2. NPCs will not have a rich and meaningful depth to them.
  3. The tribes are largely monolithic (lack variation) with entire tribes holding the same beliefs and no off shoots.
  4. Request for an updated tribe write up that expands upon them, their beliefs, their motivations, and inter-tribe differences.
Response.
  1. I do not think players will be as dispersed as you think. This is something we will be able to math out better once D&SS comes and goes, but Everyone starts in a town, benefits staying in said town, and is "expected" to live in a small 30m radius their entire lives. 100,000 divided by the number of towns should not leave one per town, and player interaction should still exist.

  2. This part I can't really argue too much. The way the game is set up NPCs are going to have to be interesting and we simply can't judge their depth and complexity until they exist and we get into testing phases, but it does seem a tall order.

  3. I agree, the tribes need variation. This is a huge world and entire tribes should not be exactly the same. What differences are there between cave dwelling Hrothi and surface dwelling Hrothi? (Beards maybe? :P) I don't know if SbS has plans for this or not, or maybe they intend for us to be the driving force for change. Give us our box of legos, and we do what we want with the pieces, idk.

  4. An updated tribes write up would be nice. Actually a lot of updated writeups would be nice as things are constantly changing, and having something new to refer to would help new people learn the ropes without having to find out what used to be true And what has changed.

Ending Thoughts
Maybe these things all exist and the point is to dive into the game and figure them out. I have never played a game before where I read up on every little nuance and knew the entire game before jumping in. Usually, especially with RPGs it is only to the extent of, "This is an Elf. It is good with a bow, and bad at taking a hit." and you say, cool I like archery and figure the rest out later.


11/19/2018 3:35:57 AM #2
+2

Fundamentally Elyria is an extremely young world where very little in the way of development of any kind has taken place.

It simply is not reasonable to compare the world building of Elyria so far with something like the Elder Scrolls. The Elder Scrolls is a world which is specifically stated to have existed and been in development for thousands of years. Even the youngest cultures in the Elder Scrolls are centuries old and have had many storied and complex interactions internally and with each other.

Elyria isn't like that because Elyria is a young world. Frankly, I'm more concerned with how much world building SBS has been willing to do than I am with how little they've done.

The cultures and tribes of Elyria are low in development. They are not developed culturally, legally, administratively, militarily, or religiously. These are peoples who have barely passed the stage of developing sustainable agriculture and achieved the point of developing the first proto nation-states.

There's no description of the life of a Vitori Waerd because they simply don't exist. The Waerd themselves haven't been around long enough or in great enough numbers to diverge internally to any significant or really tangible degree.

For the most part the intention of the devs is to create a foundation from which all of the development you are describing can take place, and if they did it for us, first of all it wouldn't last because we would all immediately do something else, and secondly it would rob us of the experience and fun of doing it ourselves.

^^^ This is the response I would like to give you but the fact is the lore development for Elyria has been sloppy, incongruent, and inconsistent. The devs have just frankly not maintained a stable and clear vision for the state of the world at launch in terms of lore. The lore drops they give us (mostly) raise so many more questions than they answer, and the explanations for why things are the way they are leave basically everything to be desired. I only offer this interpretation, "It's a young world that we will build" as an imperfect solution to a problem which unfortunately isn't really solvable at this point, at least not without ret-conning.

There was a time when Caspian talked about the studio's need to hire a Story Director. SBS never hired a Story Director, it shows.

After everything else I should say, I do not mean to be too harsh to SBS here for one very important reason. That is, there are four servers which effectively means four completely different worlds. They would have been better served by keeping the overall lore slate as clean as possible for the benefit of all four, but in the end I can't say with certainty that was ever really feasible. And, it's just not realistic to build four different fully fleshed out worlds with divergent lore all at the same time.


11/19/2018 3:56:10 AM #3
+5

Tribal writeups are a starting point. I look upon them as prototypical, in the sense that the tribes only ever resembled their writeups in a very loose and approximate form. An analogy I like is that each of the proto-tribes described in the current lore are like the proto-Indo-European language, which is the hypothetical root from which all Indo-European languages originated but probably never existed as an actual language.

We have been told that inter-tribal mixing, both genetic and cultural, will have been going on for generations before players start to muck with things in KoE. KoE will be the first opportunity for players to attempt to sculpt the world and the tribes on their specific servers in the way they wish. It has a lot to do, because it has to simulate ages of evolution in a rather shorter human-conceivable period of time.


11/19/2018 9:43:57 AM #4
+1

What the OP says might have an interest if it was rooted in any form of reality, unfortunately it is only rooted in a lack of research and interest.

1) Scattered population, population of player will be seeded all around the continent, but only to the extent of what people have made available during exposition and the will of new players.

World building is not for nothing, you want to concentrate player spawning in an area, develop the area to that purpose and give a reason for new players to select spawning characters gathered all around a few areas instead of spread all around.

2) Monolithic tribes. That's just not true at all. The write up are quite old and their primary purpose was at the time to present the tribe to the players, not to be an encyclopedia article about them.

Lots of things about the tribe are voluntarily left undescribed to let players discover things in game, others are not described because they are subject to change.....

First when tribes were introduced, they were going to live in tribe coherent kingdoms, enforcing more uniformity among them-self. From there the continent organization evolved, tribes are now mixed in kingdoms, so it is only natural to expect that splinter of tribes evolving in different environment would develop differently, with cultural cross influence and population mixing.

But even beyond those logical thinking, we have Dev statement and info about non uniformity of tribes. One such example Snipe hunter comment #26 And that is but one example, lots of lore bits are scatered in DJs and lore Events and Dev's interventions in threads.

Information is out there readily available to those that closely follow or that put a little effort in their search, for the others, either ask question first or patiently wait for extended DJs and lore articles.


11/19/2018 1:53:36 PM #5
+0

I didn't think we had enough of the eventual tribal lore to be able to say they are monolithic one way or another.


Pacyen is a Virtue.

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11/19/2018 2:28:30 PM #6
+2

A really useful point to know prior to domain selection would, however, be whether or not players can change the local religion to break up the monotheism of tribes.

Can a player, perhaps by placing a religious structure such as a Virtori Cathedral, change the local religion away from the norm, such that there might be e.g. Virtori Waerd, or Altifali Hrothi?


Link to my story

11/19/2018 3:03:27 PM #7
+3

Great topic. :)

The biggest challenge in having religion and tribal cultures so thoroughly defined is that this game is ultimately intended to be a sandbox world run by - and shaped by - players. In that sense, every bit of tribal lore they add creates a new constraint on players. Frankly, some players (like me) aren't fond of that idea.

My preference is for us - in particular the nobles who are seeding the world - to define these things, and I think it's a rather foolish investment of crowdfunded money for the studio to be spending time and energy on lore that's likely to have an early expiration date. Monarchs in particular have invested a small fortune to be kings of their own virtual worlds, so I can only imagine their frustration in being handed something that boxes them in and that they have little or no interest in playing.

But to further complicate the situation are the existence of NPCs who allegedly will have their own motivations. The absence of any pre-programmed cultural framework would make NPCs flavorless in their interactions with PCs. And so there's a bit of a paradox here. Create no lore and make ineffective NPCs. Create too much lore and imprison players in a cage full of your ideas, not theirs.

While a world rich in lore adds to the player experience, how we arrive there is the fundamental question in a sandbox MMO. It's much less complicated for a single player game.


11/19/2018 3:17:06 PM #8
+1

Any and all lore SBS releases before launch UNLESS otherwise stated serves only as a starting point for four nearly identical worlds. Once Launch arrives those four worlds will become drastically different. It is up to us to take the torch from SBS and do what we do best, cause chaos, cause change etc etc Elyria will not be on level with Elder Scrolls for a few years post launch, but when it is, it will have been US who got it there because thats what SBS wants.

11/19/2018 5:56:37 PM #9
+0

Posted By Barleyman at 8:35 PM - Sun Nov 18 2018

Elyria isn't like that because Elyria is a young world. Frankly, I'm more concerned with how much world building SBS has been willing to do than I am with how little they've done.

The cultures and tribes of Elyria are low in development. They are not developed culturally, legally, administratively, militarily, or religiously. These are peoples who have barely passed the stage of developing sustainable agriculture and achieved the point of developing the first proto nation-states.

This isn't correct. The world is well into the Iron age. They have large multiethnic kingdoms that couldn't have developed without complex political and logistical systems. The Dras have existed as a society for enough generations for their physical traits to adapt to their new environment. Before that they were part of Janoan society which already had complex social structures that included religious belief and a caste system.

So, these societies have already existed for centuries at least. And, if they're now forming kingdoms like we've seen, then we know these cultures have had to interact with one another.

It doesn't have to be as complex as the Elder Scrolls. But, the write-ups they've given us are making Speculative Fiction 101 mistakes. They pour on meaningless fluff, and skip over anything that has to do with the average player's experience.

And to address another point that I'm seeing from people, I understand that players aren't going to be evenly distributed across the world. But 100,000 is an optimistic estimate for each server's population and less than half of them will be active at any given time. There's really no way around the fact that players are going to be incredibly sparse.


11/19/2018 6:13:21 PM #10
+0

Posted By Ebermensch at 09:56 AM - Mon Nov 19 2018

And to address another point that I'm seeing from people, I understand that players aren't going to be evenly distributed across the world. But 100,000 is an optimistic estimate for each server's population and less than half of them will be active at any given time. There's really no way around the fact that players are going to be incredibly sparse.

This is my one complaint about your arguments. It is speculation.

Yes the cultures should be richer than the simple Tribe write ups elaborate on, but several people have given thoughts on the idea and the result of this discussion is up in the air, but...

Player density is impossible to calculate at this time.

Who am I to say that it won't be an issue, and who are you to say it will. We don't have the data needed, and likely won't until launch.

There are too many unknown factors. Players that are waiting to join until launch, number of settlements, peak hours of play time for the various servers, so many things we don't know.


11/19/2018 6:13:33 PM #11
+0

Posted By Ebermensch at 10:56 AM - Mon Nov 19 2018

Posted By Barleyman at 8:35 PM - Sun Nov 18 2018

Elyria isn't like that because Elyria is a young world. Frankly, I'm more concerned with how much world building SBS has been willing to do than I am with how little they've done.

The cultures and tribes of Elyria are low in development. They are not developed culturally, legally, administratively, militarily, or religiously. These are peoples who have barely passed the stage of developing sustainable agriculture and achieved the point of developing the first proto nation-states.

This isn't correct. The world is well into the Iron age. They have large multiethnic kingdoms that couldn't have developed without complex political and logistical systems. The Dras have existed as a society for enough generations for their physical traits to adapt to their new environment. Before that they were part of Janoan society which already had complex social structures that included religious belief and a caste system.

So, these societies have already existed for centuries at least. And, if they're now forming kingdoms like we've seen, then we know these cultures have had to interact with one another.

It doesn't have to be as complex as the Elder Scrolls. But, the write-ups they've given us are making Speculative Fiction 101 mistakes. They pour on meaningless fluff, and skip over anything that has to do with the average player's experience.

And to address another point that I'm seeing from people, I understand that players aren't going to be evenly distributed across the world. But 100,000 is an optimistic estimate for each server's population and less than half of them will be active at any given time. There's really no way around the fact that players are going to be incredibly sparse.

Did... did you read everything I said or just the first part? Cause, you know, seems like you only read the first part.


11/19/2018 7:13:07 PM #12
+34

I'd like to think a review of the last year's worth of lore highlights a change in our approach, fwiw. For example, the last lore story we dropped included a Waerd who expresses her own doubts and portrays the unavoidable individuality in the Waerd despite their ideals, alongside a pair of Dras, followers of the same religion nominally, who approach their calling entirely differently from the Waerd. The Queen's Gaze story from the previous year topically covered wards of the state and the sense of otherness and isolation they suffered in the insular community in the story. The Stowaway included a Kypiq that fished, whose own father disapproved of him and moves from there into a story of first contact between two very different cultures. The first Sedicim story covers some of the early movement away from monolithic tribal cultures to multicultural and diverse kingdoms. Even the Searing Plague lore, which takes place relatively early in the current age of history, includes examples of cultural clashes and resulting changes to culture as they pulled through the time of the plague.

None of these, of course, are cultural reports or tribal write ups, but that's not unintentional either. What we're doing now is presenting the social and cultural dynamics that existed in the past -- or at least those dynamics as they have been commonly understood in the present -- through the stories that have stood the test of time in this world.

For us this serves two purposes. First, it allows us to offer you all glimpses into what it's like to actually live in Elyria, not as psuedo-academic descriptions from someone outside looking in, but from the perspective of the world's citizens themselves. Second, it allows us to present these cultures in functional terms that let us explore some of the game's mechanics and expose them to you through narrative. No, you'll never hear "And the Waerd clicked on family chat and then spoke to her family," but you've seen examples of mechanics all the same, from the ward system in the Marsh Mother story, to the impact of language in the Stowaway, and on into other systems such as the applications of poisons and medicine in the latest story.

There will probably be time for more detailed descriptions in the form of new tribal write ups in the future, but our focus right now is on production. Using our pre-scheduled lore stories that tie into the outreach calendar the way we are allows us to maximize the value of the time we've carved out so that that time can serve two purposes. We both provide much needed insight into the world and, simultaneously, set the theme and tone for the month's event. We couldn't really do that with the current schedule if our aim was to rewrite the tribal write-ups. That would require extra time, and we're keen to use any such "extra" time to ensure our features are working in the upcoming alpha.

But, irrespective of our time crunch, i wanted to thank you for the feedback. We definitely do understand the problem you're calling out and a large piece of what I've been doing since I joined the team is steering us towards addressing it.

I hope that helps! :)


  • Snipehunter
11/24/2018 4:18:49 PM #13
+0

The players themselves will alter the way the tribes behave over the coarse of the game. we won't adhere to all that the tribes currently believe and I believe the NPC's will adapt accordingly for their own benefit. Also as we add in cross breeding They will adapt to add beliefs from both tribes.

We could in reality create a brand new tribe from cross breeding which will include NPC's because we won't have control over all our children. And they will adapt and create their own customs and beliefs.


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