Picking up what the Panda-man is selling

First let me explain to anyone who did not play Warcraft 3, or has simply forgotten, where exactly the Pandarian character made an appearance: in bonus/side/secret missions. Missions that were not part of the lore for that game. The space marine also has a model in WC3, is he part of WC lore? (Answer: Not yet!) At the time, the character was an inside joke brought to life by Blizzard. That they now claim that the Kung Fu Pandas are ‘serious’ is PR spin. That or the interns working on WoW today were too young to remember/play WC3.

Next, the Warcraft lore was the Warhammer IP. Feel free to Google up that whole tale, but its fact not opinion. Consider what WoW is today and you will see just how true to the lore Blizzard has been over the years.

Blizzard games have always included bits of humor. Everyone knows this. It’s why /dance in 2004 was as silly as it is today. But much like the Panda in WC3, /dance in 2004 was not really part of the game’s lore. It was a known side joke. Again, something that Blizzard has always done. Diablo has pretty serious lore, yet also contains such jokes. Would the Panda fit into Diablo 3? (answer: Not yet!)

All of that said, lore has never been a strength of WoW, in part because even in 2004 they had already strayed too far away from the source material. And really MoP is not about what jokes the Pandas will say or just how silly their /dance will be. We all know, today, without actually seeing it, that it will all be over-the-top childish and cute. We can all see the audience Blizzard is, and has been, shifting WoW to. That’s been covered. The panda is just the salesman pitching the gameplay, and the gameplay he is selling is not the same gameplay you bought in 2004, no matter how ‘serious’ you intend to play.

MoP clearly has gameplay aimed at children, and if child-like games are your thing, you should be excited for the expansion. If you were hoping for content and gameplay closer to what WoW once was, be that time period vanilla, BC, WotLK, or (god help you) Cata, you are not the audience Blizzard is looking for with WoW now.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Picking up what the Panda-man is selling

  1. The Man says:

    So, I did google it, and it seems that “the Warcraft lore was the Warhammer IP” is a false statement. Blizzard and Workshop talked about a Warhammer IP RTS, the deal fell through, Blizzard decided to make its own IP. A similar IP with nigh-identical themes and races, but Warcraft has not and never will equal Warhammer.

    Warcraft has always taken serious and then flavored it with humor and meta-references. The amount of this humor and meta-reference has slowly increased, starting from WC I and growing all the way until we have MoP. It’s okay if you wanted WC to stay a Warhammer derivative. I’m glad it didn’t.

    • SynCaine says:

      They made their own IP, which looked/felt exactly like the Warhammer IP because they could not make the money work to officially call it Warhammer RTS, and so called it Warcraft RTS.

      Sorry if I was not as clear as I needed to be. The point was not that they officially were the same IP and then split. The point was that the IP started off being as close-as-legally-possible to Warhammer, and look at where it is now.

      (Which brings up an interesting point: if the money HAD worked out, would WC, and perhaps ultimately WoW, been a more serious and solid game from a lore perspective…?)

  2. Wait, I have the space marine murloc in WoW, so I am pretty sure space marines are now officially part of the Azeroth lore… and murlocs likewise part of SC.

    • SynCaine says:

      So Pandas ARE in Diablo 3, since I have a mini-Diablo pet in WoW (or had, I’m sure the account has been hacked dozens of times by now). I thought I saw a cute fuzzy white bear in the background of that D3 teaser from Blizzcon.

    • Nils says:

      Pandas have always been part of Diablo!
      In fact the original designer at first wanted to make Diablo himself a Panda. The idea was scrapped by the management back then. But Blizzard always thought that making Diablo a Panda would be super cool!

  3. MMOCrunch says:

    I can’t wait for the D3 expansion to be announced, I heard there was going include a new Cow race added

  4. MMOCrunch says:

    eh, i can’t type

  5. Carson says:

    I’m getting a whiff of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy from this post. Pandaren are silly. Anything that was silly in 2004 was “not really part of the game’s lore”, it was “a known side joke”. Were gnomes and goblins just a side joke in 2004? The racetrack in Thousand Needles? The Princess on Jaguero Isle? All the digging through dung quests?

    How exactly is a kung fu panda different from a female gnome with pink pigtails wielding Ashkandi, Greatsword of the Brotherhood?

    • SynCaine says:

      Gnomes are 100% a side joke, yes. Early goblins acted like goblins should act, blowing stuff up and whatnot.

      As others have said though, it’s not about one specific example vs another, it’s the overall feel. Or the total amount I guess. In 2004 the silly to ‘serious’ ratio was, lets say 30/70, where in MoP it sounds like its going to be 90/10. D3 I’m guessing will be something like 5/95. Maybe Titan will be 95/5, who knows.

      It’s not an inside joke when 90% of the stuff around you is the joke though, and that’s what MoP (and to an extend Cata/WotLK/BC) has done.

      • Alcazar says:

        Truth be told, Gnomes aren’t any sillier than e.g. walking Iron Maiden mascotts, Ox-people (Minotaurs don’t pick flowers, Tauren have a racial bonus in it), Dwarves-as-drunks or Trolls so racial- stereotypical ‘Jamaican’ it’s surprising they have managed to get away with it.

        And the less said about all the rediclously over-sized gear, from weapons to shoulder-armor that make Rob Liefeld’s ‘pads seem subdued, the better.

        WoW has always been a very silly and cartoonish game, the term you are looking for is ‘childish’.

        Kung Fu Panda is to you childish, and having a whole expansion about them pegs WoW a children’s game to your mind (a rather expensive one to boot btw).

        That is a fair stance to take – just avoid the term ‘silly’, as that isn’t going to win your point.

      • Carson says:

        I didn’t get the impression that MoP was going to be 90/10 silly to serious. Certainly 90% of what they talked about was not silly. Have a read for example of the zone previews on the MoP site: the zones may have pandas in them, but the descriptions are not silly at all, e.g.:

        “Separated from the rest of Pandaria by the Great Wall, the rampaging mantid people of the Townlong Wastes devour everything in their path in order to build their own crystalline empire of ruthless warriors and scheming feudal lords. The pandaren are left reeling when the mantid’s thousand-year cycle of aggression kicks off a hundred years too early and their greatest warriors burst through the great wall. The beleaguered pandaren must now face the worst swarm in recorded history while trying to isolate the cause of the mantid’s erratic behavior.”

        Obviously there’s no way of knowing for sure based on a few previews at Blizzcon. But I honestly don’t get the impression that the content in MoP is intended to be significantly sillier than the original WoW or the previous three expansions.

  6. Rebecca says:

    What disappoints me on the lore front is that – as much as it is derivative (and let’s be honest, how much fantasy isn’t these days?) – there was some fun meat there in that universe. I remember eagerly eating up anything that had to do with the silithids. Loving the old gods stuff with the Twilight’s Hammer. All the political intrigue of the dragons. The elemental wars. That’s all good until you start considering that you keep killing the same bosses over and over again. That the same people around you are doing the exact same quests. Then it kind of falls apart.

    As much as I enjoyed those days, I will never regret moving onto worlds where the players are the story. The players *make* the lore. Just like the gameplay in those sandboxes, it’s always fresh, always new, always innovated because you have however many thousand people working to make it fresh, new, and innovative. I no longer give a flying fuck what Alexstrasza is doing to deal with Onyxia (really she’s not dead yet?). I just want to know wtf the goons are up to, and laugh at the failcascade of the northern coalition. Those are stories that I haven’t seen before. And that I can have a real effect on, with my effect being tangible to everyone else in the universe.

    That’s my kind of lore.

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