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Project Titan - game Universe speculation

Continuing the saga (one, two), here's a bit of healthy speculation about Titan's lore.

We might not know much (or even little) about what Blizzard's new MMO will call a universe, but an empirical law says that you can find out a lot about a subject if you check its roots. In Titan's case...

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Thanks to a certain blue poster called Zarhym, we know that the Titan World is being developed from scratch. What's the point of committing to such a huge effort (just imagine for a second how much lore and art has to be written / drawn)? You're certainly not doing it to create something you already have... that would be silly. You're doing it to fill a gap that you think really needs to be filled.

This leads us to a quick recap of Blizzard's most successful franchises: World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft.

From the start, we can split them into two big categories: medieval-style fantasy (WoW and Diablo) and science fiction (Starcraft). Obviously the first one has a 2 to 1 advantage and this is already our first clue. If you build something fresh, do you stuff it in an almost full category, with two humongous universes that can barely contain themselves from overlapping or do you choose one that still has a breeze going through it and is also much, much bigger? Simple answer.

Now let's take a closer look at the two games from the fantasy section. Even if they share it, at least at the core they are very different. World of Warcraft is pretty much the highest order fantasy you can think of... I'd say that sky is the limit in WoW but that's obviously not true. Even nothing is something (you have a high chance of running into a pretty dangerous dude called Sargeras if you walk around the nether for too long). You have aliens, Gods among men, crazy technology and an absurd amount of "WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet Science" aka if you can imagine it, you can probably create it.

Diablo on the other hand, while still staying true to its fantasy tag, is more down to earth (and even under it). It's a world that, if we take some of the ancient religious writings word for word, it actually exists. Sure, it might be intentionally exaggerated, but it is certainly somewhat familiar.

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We can call WoW a high fantasy and Diablo a low fantasy for easier reference.

Comparing these new notions with the science fiction section, it's pretty clear that Starcraft is more closely related to WoW than Diablo. It might not be as far fetched since it is indeed science fiction and not complete fantasy, but the signs are there: we have aliens, we have space / time and anything you want travel, we have many things that right now, on the real planet Earth, are not even remotely imaginable. We have science fiction of the highest order. Another point worth making is that Starcraft is also a heavily militarized SF so I think it's safe to exclude this sub-genre from the list below.

So, there seems to be something missing: a "low" science fiction universe. What does this mean? If we again look at Diablo, I'd say it means a SF that is familiar and in a certain degree imaginable starting from today's reality. The science fiction genre is absolutely steaming with sub-genres that fit this description:
  • Cyberpunk - near-future, somewhat gloomy, corporations control everything, science advances have made more bad than good, populated with anti-heroes. Kinda like Deus Ex.
  • Alternate History - some major event had a completely different outcome and this makes the present and future completely different. Imagine Germany winning WW2 or the Cold War ending very very bad.
  • (Post)Apocalyptic - pretty obvious, think Fallout.
To this entire reasoning, we can add two Blizzard quotes that confirm and even expand it:

So is Blizzard's new MMO going to be sci-fi, near-future, post-apocalyptic or historical? "All of those combined!" he said, laughing. Source

shifting tectonic plates, raising Atlantis, and reviving Teotihuacan. Damn I love my job. Source

The first one is pretty much dead on with our theory, while the second, to which I referred in a recent article, takes it to absolutely scary dimensions! I said then that we should take Cameron Dayton's tweet with a grain of salt and while the caution still stands, you can't help but think that it fits just a bit too well in all this.

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My personal conclusion from all this is that we might be dealing with an Alternate History type of SF (one in which Atlantis didn't sink, and the ancient "city" of Teotihuacan is still thriving) combined with a post-apocalyptic setting. I mean, who knows to what horrible ending all this crazy history changing lead to? In other words, Titan's universe could be an Earth in terrible shape, brought to its knees by who knows what catastrophic event(s) and populated with familiar yet "wtf, you shouldn't be here!" historical figures / notions. Awesome!

Other mentions:
  • Titan will probably not have a multi-planet Universe. When you choose a subject like the one described above, your focus is usually inside the planet and not outside.
  • The battle between factions / guilds / corporations will be much harsher than what we have in WoW. Post-apocalyptic settings have the talent of bringing everyone's survival instinct all the way to the surface and this can only lead to pure brutal conflict.
  • This type of SF is in my opinion the best medium for glorious PvP. It's also not very friendly to boss type encounters... you usually fight with others for water, territory and currency and not with dragons holed up in some dungeon. Of course, from story to gameplay there's a huge road so we can't really know what we'll end up getting.