R.A. Salvatore claimed that he wrote something like ten thousand years of backstory for Kingdoms of Amalamadooda. This number should not impress you; that sort of work can be done over a weekend. Instead of weeping for the loss ten thousand years of history which took considerably less than ten thousand years to write, instead reflect on just how disposable and insignificant that lore is. Notice too that the PR release is supposed to impress you with its volume—“ten thousand years”—without actually giving a reason why reading that history might be interesting or relevant or what it even has to do with the game itself.
What Kingdoms of Amalamdingdong and other modern content farms seem intent on is creating on purpose what The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars did organically. In publisher fantasy dreamland, IP is king, so spending millions to creating an amorphous blob of character designs and history and monsters that looks nearly indistinguishable from any random paperback fantasy novel at Barnes and Noble seems like a solid investment in an universe that will continue to reap bounteous fruit far into the future, as if nerds can’t stop themselves from caring about something as long as elves are in it.
Kingdoms of Llamalor and its contemporaries are imitating the salient features of successful IPs—their reams of history and lore, their thousands of fantasy species and continents and locations—because that’s what successful world IPs like Star Wars look like, but in practice that’s the opposite of how Star Wars was actually created. The original films had none of this history. Star Wars explained its lore organically as the story progressed, gave viewers characters to make the conflict and history relevant and relatable at a human level, and hinted at far more than it ever actually cares to go out and say.
Star Wars now has an encyclopedic backstory and I’m sure you can watch the moves frame by frame with a library of books on your shelf to explain the history and culture of every funny looking monster that comes on the screen, but when that movie came out it was just some dude in a bug mask, and he was there to make you feel like this was a lawless wild west world where aliens were normal. A backstory for Greedo’s species history has nothing at all to do with his function in the story and is totally unnecessary for it; the crew on Star Wars didn’t need a R.A. Salvatore in a closet somewhere writing ten thousand years of history to make Star Wars.
Star Wars isn’t a “compelling IP” because it has ten thousand years of history, it is a “compelling IP” because it inspired millions of nerds to want to write and read ten thousand years of history about it. The history came from the fascination with the universe, not the other way around. Kingdoms of MORE LIKE YAWN-alur instead assumes that any ten thousand years of backstory about anything is something that nerds will fall all over themselves to read, just because it is there, while it actually robs them of the chance to actively participate in that universe, which Star War’s minimalist backstory encouraged.
This post is tagged #terrifyingmachineangle to distinguish it from posts that concern human beings. This post is valueless because it’s essentially about why a certain cynical marketing decision is also non-functional instead of just manipulative. A #humanangle post would examine instead what actually makes a fictional universe meaningful or valuable to humans. I’m doing this to teach myself to write about humans more.