@Lore Team @Kitae: Thresh's Lore is Telling, Not Showing

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Sandrockcstm

Member

01-22-2013

Back when Soraka and Warwick's stories were changed, I had a bit of a contention with Runaan about the creative direction that LoL was going. I felt that the changes to WW and Soraka weakened them as characters, and made them less compelling and engaging. Runaan was nice enough to reply to me, and she essentially just disagreed with me outright. Creative differences and all that good stuff. Can't do much to change or argue with that.

This is different. Thresh has a serious problem. In creative writing, there is a tried and true concept that you whenever possible, you show, not tell. Thresh's story is weak, because the entire story is told, not shown.

Thresh's lore is nothing but an information dump. Which is a darn shame, because I think that as a concept, and as a visual design, he's absolutely fascinating. A "chain warden," who goes around collecting souls from the fields of justice. You know, the place where you supposedly can't really die. Thresh is an aberration of that long-established principle. He collects the souls of those who fall in battle regardless of whether or not they will revive later. That is a terrifying concept. It's a game changer. There should be a strong, compelling story that communicates that to the reader, that makes the reader feel as terrified as a competitor on the fields of justice would.

Instead what we have is a dry, boring, disengaging piece. It honestly feels more like a character proposal, or a psychological profile. Lots of telling us about how terrifying he is, or how people are scared of him. But this does nothing to draw me into the story. I do not feel engaged with this character at all. This is a sure sign of poor writing.

When Riot announced that they were taking lore more seriously, and that they had hired a bunch of new people to work on sprucing up the lore and making it better, I was expecting to see some real, tangible changes. A quality bump in the writing. This is not a quality bump, this is a downgrade. This is less than good writing.

Personally, I think Thresh's entire lore should scrapped and re-written. I'm sure we're far too late in his development cycle for that to happen now, but it's what the character deserves, and frankly, it's what we deserve too. Runaan and team, I really hope that you aren't ignoring the constructive criticism that the community is giving you, because this is the second major blunder in our minds that has happened in the past year (the first being the WW/Soraka lore remakes). I won't speak for all of the community, but personally I am quickly losing trust in the lore team at Riot. Story is an important part of game development, and I expect the same level of quality from the Lore team that I do from the Live, Sound, and Art team.

Get it together guys.

Edit: I originally said that I had a discussion with Kitae about it; I was wrong, it was with Riot Runaan. Edited to reflect this fact.


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Leoric Wuju

Senior Member

01-22-2013

I like this human. S/he understands!


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

I think the problem they faced with Thresh is that he doesn't actually have a place in the world.

Thresh exists ... that's about it. He doesn't have any interaction of note with any other members of the League, nor is he in any way connected to any part of the world beyond being from the Shadow Isles - the place which exists solely to house ineffable beings. We can't empathise with him, sympathise with his goals or understand him in any real way because he's little more than a cruel spirit that wants to harvest souls for some undisclosed nefarious purpose. Regardless of how his in-game representation is presented, his lore says little more beyond "This is who Thresh is". We don't know how he hopes to achieve his goals, what his end-game is or even what caused him to become what he is now.

Why should I care about Thresh and what reason do I have to take an interest in him while the lore, as a whole, remains stagnant?


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Sandrockcstm

Member

01-22-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melancholy Exile View Post
I think the problem they faced with Thresh is that he doesn't actually have a place in the world.

Thresh exists ... that's about it. He doesn't have any interaction of note with any other members of the League, nor is he in any way connected to any part of the world beyond being from the Shadow Isles - the place which exists solely to house ineffable beings. We can't empathise with him, sympathise with his goals or understand him in any real way because he's little more than a cruel spirit that wants to harvest souls for some undisclosed nefarious purpose. Regardless of how his in-game representation is presented, his lore says little more beyond "This is who Thresh is". We don't know how he hopes to achieve his goals, what his end-game is or even what caused him to become what he is now.

Why should I care about Thresh and what reason do I have to take an interest in him while the lore, as a whole, remains stagnant?
Exactly. If the character was not relate-able, then they should have taken him back to the drawing board and come up with a point of engagement. I think a better approach would be to take on the relate-able emotion of fear. We have all experienced fear in some way or another, so why not leverage that emotion? Tie him strongly to it. Make the reader understand why he is an interesting character.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

I think one thing they could've done is actually dwell upon the man Thresh once was and sell him on how twisted he was to sell his soul for this second chance. He's a very inhuman character, being driven by little more than cruelty and a quota, and we don't even understand how he hopes to actually take the souls of his victims. Elise was released with a great deal of flourish and elements intended to sell her as a threat, even if I felt Riven was somewhat miscast, and Thresh badly needs something like that. We need some actually tangible element of who he is, or just much of a threat he poses to the champions and summoners of the League, to even sell him as anything more than a slightly different Mordekaiser.

Really, I think Thresh needs the Nocturne treatment:

Rather than simply being introduced through a few paragraphs of dull text, he bursts onto the scene flaying summoners' souls and making a mess of the Institute as he casually introduces himself to the high summoner and expresses his interest in a place in the League. Thresh is exactly the sort of character we've seen the Institute seal away in the past, yet his bio suggests no such thing took place and that he's simply there by choice.

He just ... exists. There's no sense of him actually being part of this world in the present day.


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The Frim

Senior Member

01-22-2013

A big problem is that the Shadow Isles champions are almost completely defined by just that:

the Shadow Isles!

DUN DUN DUN!

/ominous


... which has barely any substance at all. Riot needs to give out some information on the Isles in order to give champions like Mordekaiser, Hecarim, Thresh, etc. some purpose other than "spooky mystery guy".


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KuzAnn

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Call me crazy, but I think I would be more interested in Thresh if he was the League's jailor rather than yet another baddie from the Shadow Isles.

We've seen in the past that the League isn't shy of using necromancy behind the scenes, and Noxus has been using it for the past several hundred years. Boram Darkwill kept himself alive far longer than any normal human lifespan using necromancy, Urgot was reanimated via a hybridization of hextech and necromancy, and Sion was brought back from the dead using necromancy after he died. Nocturne was also captured using necromancy, and we haven't seen who keeps the League's most dangerous champions imprisoned. If Thresh's lore had come out and it had said: "Thresh is the League jailor, he once acted as warden to Noxus's most dangerous magical criminals and joined the League upon its formation in order to guard the organization's most powerful prisoners." I would say: "Oh cool this guy works for the League? So he's the reason Noct and Renekton and all can't get away! ...And part of the reason no champion would ever want to tick the League off." It would be a potential interesting new story and new info on the League wrapped into one package.

Think of the interactions we could see between the Shadow Isles undead and those who are unaffiliated with them. Should the Shadow Isles try to convince them to join? Do they see non-allied undead as a threat? It would be an opportunity to portray an undead that isn't the generic "kill everything and steal their souls" gig that everyone expects, as well. We could look at motivations other than "doing it because bigger bad told me to" or "because I like to see you squirm". What if it was a sense of pride in regards to his skill and duty that kept Thresh going?

We could also take a look at how Thresh's magic actually works. Is it a different style type? Something he invented entirely on his own to deal with the tasks at his work? It could be that he unlocked the secrets of how magic is connected to the soul that uses it, allowing him to bind his prisoners on a much deeper level and keep them securely under lock and key. That is an incredibly important advancement in magical containment, it could easily make him the best in his field of work by far. But you might say, "But Kuz that doesn't mesh with his soul collecting in-game." Well, let's say those things he collects are not souls per say, but imprints or non-vital fragments that Thresh can use to connect himself to the champion and leech off their power as long as they're in play on the Fields. Their temporary death weakens the soul enough for Thresh to collect a fragment, which makes him more powerful as well as giving him better insight into the abilities of his enemy. The insight alone would be useful to someone in his position, since it could ensure that he is constantly learning new things about the champions he currently imprisons or may have to imprison in the future through exposure on the Fields of Justice.

Why would he join the League just now? Perhaps he feels that he has grown complacent, and his charges have grown more restless than usual lately. Keeping them in cages is one thing, but Thresh needs to learn how they function in a combat environment as well so he can stop them if they ever try to break free. Enter Thresh the Chain Warden, keeper of the League's most deadly prisoners. Someone in Thresh's position would command a great amount of respect from other employees of the League, especially if they see his abilities as a threat.

The position of League warden would also open up all sorts of interactions with the imprisoned champions of the League, those who hail from the Shadow Isles, and even those who toe the line a few too many times and are at risk of being imprisoned by Thresh. That means potential in-game interactions with Nocturne, Cho'Gath, Brand, Renekton; the alters in Twisted Treeline could say lines trying to convince Thresh to join their cause, like "this is where you belong" and "give in to your nature"; Thresh could caution rival pairs like Kassadin and Malzahar not to pull any stunts again unless they want to stay in his jail. And what I would really like to see is a sort of rivalry between Thresh and Cho'Gath, who is theorized to be a walking prison and warden in one.

But yeah, lots of idle rambling on my part, don't mind me. Just fantasizing on what Thresh could have been and how we could bring the League closer in the lore, rather than pushing it away like they've taken to doing. I just feel he would be more interesting and help flesh out the League more if they went that route...


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Sandrockcstm

Member

01-22-2013

KuzAnn, my upvotes. Take all of my upvotes.


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Melancholy Exile

Senior Member

01-22-2013

Yup, that's a really nicely thought out idea there.

I've honestly never been terribly excited by Thresh, beyond the initial hype over his design, but I think I'd be far more interested in what could've been done if they'd taken the concept in that sort of direction.


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KuzAnn

Senior Member

01-22-2013

I'm so glad you guys like the idea. Guess I'm not crazy after all then. =]

I think the position of League warden would also fit his support role better, as well as the fact that he uses his lantern to save and protect allies rather than doing something nasty to his enemies with it.


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