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Regional FlagWhy Charr Have the Best Story *1-30 Spoilers*Source
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Grakor.3450
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#1 -

I don’t want to be that guy that claims he can do so much better than the writing team Anet already has, so I won’t. That’s essentially the point of this long ramble I’m about to go on. It’s not that I think I can do better, but I think that they can do better, by showing that they already have! One thing that I’ve come to the conclusion on when playing the game during the BWEs and post-release is that the Charr simply have the best personal story. In order to illustrate this, I will be comparing their stories to the Norn stories for convenience, since Norn are the other race that I’m most familiar with. Most of what I say will apply to the other races as well, however.

It goes without saying that this will include spoilers for the 1-30 personal story steps. Without further ado, a list, in no particular order, of reasons why the Charr storylines are simply better:

1. Cohesiveness. One of the first things that you are greeted with once you’re out of the tutorial is a greeting by your warband member. Talking to him/her will get mention of Howl and his amulet, and you may wonder what this has to do with anything. Then, lo and behold, that point is suddenly brought back up again in your third story arc. That’s not really the only point, either. The truth is that the Charr storyline just feels much more cohesive than the others. Things that you do in the first arc have an impact on the following, due to the warband members that you recruit staying with you in the second and third arcs.

Compare this to the Norn storyline, which has three arcs that feel incredibly disjointed. The only unifying theme here is the growing friendship with Eir, which…has its own problems that I’ll get to shortly.

2. Meaning. Right from the get-go, the Charr personal story has things that actually impact the character and shape how he grows as a person. The first arc has you learning about your legion and building up a stable of friends that will be with you for the rest of your racial story arcs. In the second arc, you have your warband dealing with your character’s father in some way. In my opinion, these arcs have some of the best writing present in the personal story. Even if they don’t really go too in-depth, these stories end up covering some interesting and deep themes, like the meaning of family and what one would do for that family. When you chose to side with your father in “Sins of the Father” (Sorcerous Shaman) and believe that, despite once being a Flame Legion shaman, he’s truly repented and wants correct his past mistakes, there’s something powerful and personal there. When you choose to trust your father despite his deception against his own warband in “Thicker than Water” (Honorless Gladium) you have a character weighing in on the importance of family versus the importance of his duty. (Also, I don’t normally care one way or the other about voice acting in video games, but props to the guy who was voicing the male Charr PCs. He was definitely channeling something during the end of “Thicker than Water.”) That can be some pretty powerful stuff. Then the third arc comes and you have to deal with the risen corpse of your former leader. That’s definitely personal.

Compare this to the Norn storyline. The first arc introduces us to the Sons of Svanir, so I suppose it does the job the first arcs usually do in introducing us to the racial enemy, but that’s about it. The first Norn arc has no real meaning as to who the Norn is as a person. All it is is some crisis that the Norn PC comes in to save the say with. That’s fine and all, but at that point it’s not really a personal story, and just becomes an event with cutscenes. The second arc is selectively okay. The “Blacked Out” storyline has some witty writing, but ended on a fairly lackluster conclusion that really didn’t have the comedy that carried the first parts of the arc, nor introduce any sort of meaning for this arc for the character in question. The “Lost a Fight” storyline is basically just the Norn PC going through some fights so he can win a grudge match, and the attempt at making it hold a deeper meaning comes off as fake (did the Norn PC really learn about when fights should be fought, just from fighting in a tournament? Really?) The best arc was probably the “Lost an Heirloom” arc since it provides some nice meaning in the ruminations of what it means to honor a legacy. Then the third arc comes in, which is just to stop some dredge for reasons that never seemed adequately explained to me.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#9 -

I don’t want to be that guy that claims he can do so much better than the writing team Anet already has, so I won’t. That’s essentially the point of this long ramble I’m about to go on. It’s not that I think I can do better, but I think that they can do better, by showing that they already have!

The writing team as an entity didn’t write or design the personal story content. The personal story team, which was made up of many designers (including a lore and continuity designer and one writer from my team) were responsible for generating that. My one embedded writer helped write or revise dialogue in many of the story arcs, but there were a lot of people on that team who contributed voiced and unvoiced text.

The writing team mostly serviced the personal story team in an editorial capacity up through launch. We’d copy edit scripts as they came over, and were involved with voice-over recording sessions (fielding questions from the voice director, providing context, etc.), but we/I didn’t create the characters or plan out the arcs. Thanks for the kind words, but I want to make sure the personal story team gets credit for that. I like to think that the writing team helped polish up the dialogue where we could, but our involvement was mostly supportive.

The writing team was mostly responsible for writing ambient scenes and dynamic event dialogue, and copy editing or revising everything else in the game that came from the other teams generating content (personal story, dungeon, WvW, etc.).


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ArenaNet Poster
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#16 -

This is going to sound extremely rude to the efforts of your personal story team, but maybe the personal story should be handed over to your general writing team. Because the dialogue for the ambient scenes and dynamic event dialogue was far and away the best dialogue in the game.

We’re in the process of analyzing the final version of the personal story, and looking at ways to improve the writing, voice acting, and overall presentation going forward. My team and/or I will likely be more involved in that regard.

Thanks for the compliments on the ambient and event dialogue. We worked hard on it.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#17 -

If the writing team handled the editorial duties, does that include making sure that all of the branches a player could choose tied in logically? Only reason I ask is because on the sylvari side, sometimes it seemed like a choice I made in the previous story step or a few story steps back didn’t actually happen from the perspective of the world/dialogue.

Meeting a character a few quests back, then being reintroduced to that character as if we never met….credit for what my character did being given over to another character, etc.

No. The story team was responsible for its continuity. The writing team merely copy edited cinematic conversations, story dialogue, and other elements of text. If we noticed a logic gap we’d let them know, but it’s sometimes hard to connect the dots when you’re editing stuff in bulk and not seeing it in the context of the game.

The story team did frequent playthroughs, though. I imagine that they fixed almost all of the continuity issues before launch.

Is there any chance of these issues being reviewed and taken care of later on, or is this a case of “we’re fine with how it is” and then you’ll surreptitiously do better in an expansion?

If a character is saying something out of context, we may be able to fix the issue by editing or cutting that bit of VO, or hooking up the right audio file if we have it in the depot. We have a small backlog of text and VO bugs on the writing team’s plate, some of which involve the personal story. (The writing team generally handles text and VO bugs, regardless of whether we originated the content.) We’ll fix what we can, and we appreciate everyone’s patience.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#19 -

As someone who has only played through with humans, I’m interested on trying charr’s due to the TC’s points. I felt human’s story was a bit bland and unpredictable, it was basically white-and-black politics, which made it quite dry. If you’re going to give political tones to your narrative, you need shades of grey and some kind of humanistic drama and thought-provoking issues, to be any interesting, imo.

I also felt human’s story archs were disjointed from each other, and the characters weren’t given proper time to stick with you and develop. If this is any different for charr’s story, I’ll want to try it out.

Yeah, a little subtlety never hurts.

Try the charr story. You may enjoy your time with your selected warband character, who generally has more screen time and dialogue than most of the human “best friend” characters.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#22 -

If Mr Stein is still keeping an eye on this thread I’d like to ask:
Was the writing in this game mainly done with a pre-teen/young teen demography in mind? I bet you have some really good writers on your team as well as being one yourself, and I understand the necessity of writing on the same level as the target demography but… please tell me you guys wrote this with crowd pleasing marketing in mind

I prefer a more mature tone where appropriate, which is why the dynamic event and ambient scene dialogue (hopefully) sound that way. My team didn’t set the tone for the personal story, which is why you may notice a difference in voice.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#26 -

I don’t normally care one way or the other about voice acting in video games, but props to the guy who was voicing the male Charr PCs. He was definitely channeling something during the end of “Thicker than Water.”

That was Ron Yuan. He did a great job.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#29 -

There’s one team that wrote the main story arc, and there’s another team (the official writing team) that went in to do editing/etc. for the story. I’m oversimplifying it, but you could look at the flow as:
1 Story writers determine what the high level concept of the story step is
2 Content designers (like me) go in and create the story step in game, and write placeholder text for everything
3 The writing team comes in to edit the text

Frankly, we had mixed results with this approach, which is why your feedback is important to us.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#79 -

Thanks for all the constructive feedback.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#88 -

Lack of continuity is a big issue as it currently stands. We need some characters to be with us from 1-80, and others can come and go in the storyline. Characters shouldn’t just disappear without explanation.

The Charr warband is a nice start, but we need those elements used across the entirety of the personal storyline. Otherwise, how will we care about them if most of them are only around for 2-3 events? Longevity on NPCs allows us to interact with them, build relationships with them, care about them . . . and through that, care much more strongly about the storylines that involves them as well.

100% agree.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#100 -

2) There are too many disposable NPCs.

Agreed. This is something that was discussed during development. I know that the personal story team tried to address this during the polish phase leading up to launch. I was in a few meetings where we added additional lines and talked about where the characters should reappear. The iconics got new voiced dialogue, and many of the side characters were reused in different places throughout the game.

I think the main issue is that many characters come and go every 10 levels, so it’s hard for people to really care about them in the long run. That’s something we intend to focus on more in the future.


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ArenaNet Poster
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#107 -

Overall, the Charr story does a better job of making you feel proud of your race and understanding of why you go off to join an Order than the human one does.

If I recall, the charr story was the third one to be implemented. Human and norn were first and second.