Many years have passed since the Ruthless Seven first reared their ugly heads and declared war on the lands of Tibia. Yet, the archdemon cabal following orders directly from Zathroth the Destroyer himself seems to fear making the first move. Yes, the occasional Orshabaal arises and must be dealt with on the surface. But where, we ask you, is the terror and destruction that we were promised? Tibians anticipated at least some breaches to the surface as new lands were uncovered and new dangers sprung to life. Is Uman Zathroth not one of the original gods of Tibia? We fail to believe that the presence of seven extremely powerful demons lurking in the depths does not cause greater chaos through their very existence. However, the game has long lacked an overarching plot to tie together the scattershot of plot lines that is heaved at us at least twice a year.
A drawing of Ghazbaran by Holy Mijeman.
Teamwork and Roleplaying
As a Tibian, I wish only to feel that I am working towards a common goal with my comrades. Yes, every year or so I get the chance to spend a day with friends taking down a big bad boss with oodles of minions. But rarely do I feel that that evil has made a concentrated effort worldwide to threaten my homelands. Not since the server was hacked in September of 2003 have I seen a demon in Thais. Not since the Shadow Nexus have I believed that the Ruthless Seven might threaten to rise up. Raids are rare enough to come by, and even when they do there is never any real threat. It is a feeling of significance that the content seems to lack. Tibia, regardless of our actions, always coasts along with never any desperate need for help from its brave heroes.
True, my argument that the Ruthless Seven is widely acknowledged as the main antagonist in Tibia's plot does lend credence to the very idea that they are in fact formidable. However, the key here is that what Tibia needs is a plot. So often the content team gets buried under the weight of vocation balancing and the competition side of the game that, inevitably, the players guide the content team through the structuring of the world rather than the other way around.
New themes are great, and can certainly be refreshing. However, Yalahar and its veritable smorgasbord of different species is a prime example of the scattershot that I mentioned earlier. Yes, every new area has a plot of its own. But that's just it! It's almost always a separate plot with very little tying it to other areas. There is no web of quests and plot lines laid over the world we traverse. Nothing to allow CipSoft, for example, to willfully guide new adventurers through Rookgaard and intrigue them with promises of minotaur-guarded riches and untold mysteries. That aspect of the game is unique to Tibia, and yet very poorly advertised and rarely supported by in-game features. There is an ability inherent in the game to create mystery that must be uncovered by hard work and sacrifice from players. Yes, a spoiler does make things rather trivial, but just imagine the first player or group to complete a quest. Guidance, no matter how subtle, is what questing players are always seeking. Whether it be connections between NPCs, areas, or events, rarely is there a connection sited by those tackling the unsolved mysteries of the world that is not a desperate grasp for logic.
Consider this: You've ruled your city and the surrounding area for years, and suddenly a number of islands become of great interest just off of your coast. Adventurers are constantly traveling there, and learning of the connection between this "new" city and your own. As the queen, would you not send at least a small platoon of soldiers to this city? Given the dangers being uncovered in the mines beneath it, would you not set up your own guard post as a courtesy in order to protect your own interests? I'm speaking of course about Carlin and Svargrond, and the lack of plot connection between these two areas. This is a prime example of the plot cohesion that Tibia simply not does have and would require very little effort to implement. Set up a platoon of Carlin guards in Svargrond with the leader giving out daily tasks to gather supplies and armaments. Give the Bonecrushers around Carlin a few extra lines about how annoyed they are that their sisters are in a foreign city and not at home where they belong. Have Queen Eloise give a few eloquent lines about her interests in this new land, and her desire to secure a larger kingdom... or queendom, whatever.
This is one minor example of the kind of content that would bind areas together in a realistic manner and give adventurers a path through the world. As it stands today, we are aimless adventurers that are required to go to spoiler websites in order to figure out the exact wording needed to find the next quest. Plot synergies are a major contributor to the gaming experience in almost every major RPG game today. You can plant as many new trees as you want, and eventually you'll have a veritable forest on your hands. But if you do not plow a path through the forest that guides your clients in a logical manner, you'll end up with people getting lost and confused.
Don't think that you're lost? List off the names of some major Tibian personalities that have made an effort over the years to see justice (or evil) done. Sure, there's big players such as King Tibianus and Queen Eloise. But when have you seen them heading up a major investigation or quest? I would rather see the same old faces dishing out quests than some no-name I will never remember. An NPC that is developed and given life will always outstrip the random guy you go see once for a quest and then never visit again. That is dead value that does not help the gaming experience in the slightest.
Tibia as a whole needs a general direction. My desire going forward is for a true antagonist to rise up and give Tibians a unifying event. The resources put into the current world expansions and plot lines need only be derived from a greater plot that ties Tibia together. Will there be additional efforts needed to intertwine the plots scattered through the world? Of course. But any roleplaying game of this nature requires such efforts in order to derive even greater value from its content. Plot synergies are ripe for the picking if only the content team will reach out and grab them. In order to connect the players to the world they log in to for hours every day the story needs to enmesh them. It is my belief that with a coherent storyline the game will be much more enjoyable for roleplayers and non-roleplayers alike by giving the option to live the story. All of the materials are in place, CipSoft needs only grab a saw and hammer to put everything together.