I've been having a discussion with a friend, about the way certain recent lore events have taken place in wow, and in contrast to how it would work in the old days like in wc3.
Back in WC3, in the old RTS format, the lore character was the player. You played the game from the perspective of the lore character. You played Arthas as he became a deathknight and slaughtered people across the land. You played as Thrall fighting humans to free his people. You played Grom as he killed night elves, and the story developed along with these lore characters. There was no mysterious 'other character with stupid name' fighting alongside Thrall or Grom or Jaina, it was just them. Just like when we played console games like lara croft or chris from res evil, we are that character as we play along there story.
Now comes wow. No longer are we seeing the story from a lore characters perspective. We're seeing it from the perspective of a made up avatar we created in an intro screen, and he/she, a character who has no ties to the story or having done anything in the lore, suddenly becomes the guy or girl who does everything, and yet remains just another random nobody.
For example. The recent 5.2 patch and dom offensive quest chains. We the player get given a letter by chen storystout to come and see to Vol'jin, who after we help cure him, vol'jin entrusts us, the random character with the stupid name, to find Thrall and tell him whats happened. Thrall travels to the echo isles with us, where you expect to see him deal with kor'kohn, and yet its the random guy whos not even meant to be part of the story doing the killing?
And after we take down the mini boss there, Thrall, like vol'jin, regards our character as a friend, and we just go back to whatever we're meant to be doing.
how does this in any way make for convincing and progressive story? The character we play as isn't a hero like Thrall, Vol'jin or Varian. He isn't something the lore writers created as part of the story. He's an avatar of the player playing him. He doesn't have a voice.
And this is the bigger problem. The player wants to feel like the main hero and that the story can't progress without them, so much so they get frustrated with a genuine lore character does anything in the story. Thrall fighting deathwing, Tirion fighting the lich king, escorting lore characters around on a quest. To the player, they are the lore characters, just like when playing any other game, like playing gods of war or tomb raider or final fantasy, they are the hero in that, so they feel the same way about there made up avatar in wow.
Yet that can't work right in terms of functionality. We are not lore characters, we're just observing the story.
so what blizzard attempts to do is strike a middle ground. they need to involve the lore characters (the actual lore characters), yet make the player feel like there part of there story. And sometimes blizzard gets it right on, while many other times, they go way off base. Examples like fighting alongside sylvanas or Jaina against the lich king, this seems spot on, because either character is doing something important while we deal with the lich kings minions.
but then examples like 'watch this event happen mortal while something incredible happens', doesn't fill the player with purpose, and something like the 'horde is family' quest, of the divine bell quest, we are either involved to little, or so much that the lore character is almost disregarded.
What blizzard needs to focus on, is making the lore flow in every eventuality, so the lore characters are doing something important, and the player gets to feel like there doing something important to. nobody wants to feel like robin instead of batman, but if they involve lore characters, if the player does to much, they get cocky and think the story is about them.