How much popular culture is too much for an MMO?

Happy Easter for those readers on holiday at present!

World of Warcraft has always had real life, popular culture references, in the quest text and NPCs names in game. Take for instance the NPCs Haris Pilton or Jhordy Lapforge. I can live with familiar NPC names or ‘in-jokes’ well enough if they’re not overdone. I do think the steampunk edge to the game has been taken too far a few times, I get so fed up with bunny-hopping bikes riding around the major cities, it’s just too modern in its styling (whereas the engineer gyrocopters are actually much better).



One thing that does irk for me, which was a major turn off when I was trying to get into Aion, is ultra-modern clothing and hair-styles in a supposed fantasy setting. I realise that “fantasy” does not have to equal pseudo-medieval aesthetics.

Super modern hover bikes, really?

I just cannot begin to wonder why super hi-tech hover bikes fit in a fantasy game with swords and magic. Perhaps I know nothing of Aion lore and this is perfectly acceptable. Modern day clothes or hairstyles are a problem for me as well, both of which Aion has in game.

Tera has even more problems with “modern day dress up”, is this laziness on the part of developers or do players actually drive the creation of this kind of costume in game?

Really? So my tailor character has access to nylon now?

I guess I’m just an old RP snob when it comes to characters actually fitting in with the lore of the world. To so visibly break with the world lore like this just ruins immersion all round.

Words cannot describe the wrongness…

Yes this is Tera, so it’s hardly surprising there’d be a summer event to encourage revealing dress, but why did they have to copy the styles out of a swimwear catalogue?

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6 Responses to How much popular culture is too much for an MMO?

  1. yanniesaurus says:

    I play all of these games – and I feel that fantasy does not necessarily mean- medieval. I like the way tera does costuming. And I like the more modern takes on steakpunkesque themes that the games take on.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    Tyria is an advanced technological society that also happens to have magic. It’s about as medieval as our own world, in that we can go to towns and castles that were built more than a Millennia ago but apart from the buildings we find most of what’s there to be contemporary. I don’t see the swimsuits on the beaches of Lion’s Arch or the Afro hairdos as any more out-of-keeping with the milieu than I would if I saw a Harley parked outside the gates of a Norman castle in England.

    Nearly all the “fantasy” MMOs are actually science-fantasy/steampunk, I’d say. As soon as you add gnomes or a gnome analog race you invite technology into the setting. There’s certainly room for some more rigorous Medieaval settings and I’d welcome that, but that’s not really where the genre’s been for… well, ever.

    • Telwyn says:

      I much prefer the magitech of Tyria to steampunk/magic fusion personally. Magitech reminds me of Eberron my favourite D&D setting. For me these real world references are simple design laziness from the developers – they’re introducing real world fashions or devices because they don’t have the time/budget/imagination to create something unique and relevant to the world’s lore…

  3. Neosapience says:

    The problem you’re trying to describe is called ‘technological consistency’. Imagine a game where everyone is dressed in medieval era clothes and using medieval era transportation, but soldiers are shooting at each other with laser pistols. You just couldn’t take a game like that seriously.

    These kinds of problems usually crop up when a game (or genre) isn’t growing as expected and developers get desperate.

  4. rjxkcd says:

    I’m not sure if you play TERA, or not, but the clothing in TERA is entirely consistent with the lore and its technology. The important thing to remember about TERA is that it is not set in the past, and it is not set in our universe. As you progress through the game you learn that some races are more advanced than others, some do so by choice (the popori prefer simplicity, while the elves and Castanics use science to blend magic and machinery). Even the current nemises in the world of TERA is a mixture of machinery, synthesis, and possibly magic. So, TERA is much more fantasy AND sci-fi than anything else.

    • Telwyn says:

      It’s a very personal thing of course. I’m at level 40 now on my priest so I certainly have no idea about the later zones. I’d classify Tera as a ‘renaissance’ game style-wise. Lots more ‘fashion’ than a true gritty medieval game for sure, but still the modern day references like swimsuits and 1970s hairstyles that I see either in game or in the upcoming patch are jarring for me personally. It’s only my opinion of course, but it smacks of the devs catering for a certain subset of the playerbase, and given the game’s need for cash shop sales I can’t really fault that completely.

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