Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lore: The Gnomes' Wasted Opportunities

After witnessing so much story and political turmoil being added into the majority of the Horde races in the Cataclysm expansion, I take a look at the wasted opportunities that the Alliance races could've been developed by Blizzard.

"This was hard. Hard returning to his study. His nook. This was the place he'd pictured whenever he'd heard the word home, even after so many years away. Years living under the charity and forbearance of allies who, for all their noble sentiment, still looked upon him with pity.

The pity—ah, that was the hardest part. For a race of ambitious folk whose lives were validated by a masterful command of the scientific laws of the universe, to be pitied was unbearable. To be pitied was to be insulted. Gelbin chafed under the sympathy, and he knew that his people did too: as a leader, he had learned that it was wise to spare some thought for his own emotions since they often reflected what the rest of the Gnomes felt, to some degree."

- excerpt from Gelbin Mekkatorque: Cut Short by Cameron Dayton

"Gnomes are so incredibly underused" is a statement that will go around in the Alliance.
And despite actually seeing them more and more used for questing and as general NPCs that walk around or act as vendors, that statement still holds true.
Now don't get me wrong - Blizzard has been doing a fantastic job with representing all the members of the Alliance in Pandaria.
They're all there helping out and there's a good number of each race very equally spread around and it's been great to see the Alliance acting like an alliance.

And yet...
And yet you get the feeling that the Gnomes, despite being the comic relief characters of the Alliance, are just... there...
They're stuck in the mud and not moving much and they're without the prospect of moving further anytime soon.
Yes, they've had Operation: Gnomeregan to finally give them a new starting zone and a bit more lore to boost up and refresh their current situation and existence in-game.
But that was it.
Nothing since.

And it's a shame because there were many possibilities to expand the Gnomes and get them on the path of actually advancing and evolving along with the World of Warcraft.

Currently their situation as a race is: they're still trying to reclaim Gnomeregan.
You know that storyline isn't going to advance because Blizzard isn't going to reboot the Gnomes' starting experience yet again for quite some time.

Outside of that situation, the other Gnomes are merely sent to join the Dwarves and then join the Alliance in whatever cause they might be helpful to further their support.

Short and sweet - like a Gnome dipped in chocolate
Compare them with the Horde counterpart : the Goblins.
They have flavor and a good angle to give some body to their existence - they're in it for the profit.
Every venture they take part in for the Horde, it's to make money.
It makes them take on a more active role in almost all situations.
They've learned that nothing happens if they don't make things happen by themselves.
They're out in the world, exploring and pocketing every thing they can get their hands on that could be of value.

In contrast, the Gnomes are kooky and have these crazy experiments, and overall they're not forgotten and that's cool.
However, they're falling into the lab scientist category - mousy, anti-social, locked in their own heads, and just usually keep to themselves.
Except for the few times when they ask you to test out their experiments and gadgets, they don't really have a motive for existing.
They're insular characters that just make gadgets and they're nuttier than squirrel poo, but that's all they do.

But, but, but...
They've learned SO MUCH about themselves in Northrend, you'd expect some of them doing research on that.
You'd expect them to be fascinated by what the encounter with Mechazod has taught them about their origins.
He left a book behind - shouldn't you have scholars arguing about the meaning of the revelations that are inside that book?
You'd imagine them maybe getting more and more Gnomes into the Explorer's League, suddenly getting as invested as their Dwarven cousins in digging up as many artifacts as possible.
What if Blizzard decides to revamp Uldaman and some previously locked doors reveal more things about the Titans, Dwarves and Gnomes?

You'd expect them to consult with Mimiron (who's suspected of being the "father" of them).
You'd expect them to bring back a few mechagnomes from Storm Peaks to watch them walk around and study them.
You'd expect them to capture and study the heck out of some databanks. (And they would make cool pets!)
You'd expect them trying to figure out - and they're the most qualified race to do this - what are the technical or magical aspects of the Curse of Flesh.
They should be studying it, figuring out how it works, what different aspects it could take.
Hey some of them had it purged from them!
They could also probably build more Gnomes out in Northrend and replicate the Curse of Flesh onto them, and build themselves an army of Gnomes!
With an army, they could easily retake Gnomeregan AND provide much more help on the various fronts that the Alliance is engaged.

And if they could do that, maybe there's the possibility that they could reverse the spell that Magni Bronzebeard put upon himself!
Or, at least, the promise of a cure could be the main reason to get the Dwarves to respect the Gnomes much more than they currently do and you'd have the Dwarves supply the Gnomes with everything they could want, including access to special digsites and expeditions.
And then suddenly the Gnomes are advancing their own story and are getting a bit more relevancy in the Alliance by having an actual stake that they can be actively evolve around.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is just working from story lines that were already in the game, and not the other stories that the Blizzard team could've come up and tie into the development of tensions rising in the Alliance.

You could have all this good stuff about the Gnomes trying to help the Dwarves, but those efforts could be constantly halted by the heated politics of the Council of Three Hammers.

Blizzard has a handle on the original kit of the Gnomes and they're using that kit well.
However it seems like they can't find a way to look beyond that kit or to find ways to expand it in order to give the Gnomes a little bit more of relevancy in the game, give that race some weight and the possibility that they could be useful allies beyond their crazy gadgets.
They could be active members of the Alliance that help make it stronger.
But the way they are currently, it seems they're stuck being what they were designed to be: just a joke that's getting old.

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