Region Lore

So I am about to start developing the lore for my region and was wondering how you guys come up with lore for your regions. Do you use themes from other cultures, movies, books or is it all your own doing?

Also, how in depth do you go when creating region lore? Do you just explain the legendaries (if there are any in your region) or do you go as far back as to how the region itself was formed?


Insert internet reference here
This is a really interesting topic for me as the lore is one of the aspects of the Pokémon series that hasn't lost its magic for me. I really love how a region is developed throughout the game wether involved or not directly in the main story, becoming, in a way, a character on its own.
Now, when coming up with the region and story I usually go for theme first: what do I want to say? Maybe this is just a part of me but I put everything in service of the overall themes, questions and messages of the game and story. Getting them cleared out from the get go makes the lore and region creating processes a lot smoother. Also, basing them on a specific part of the world tends to help find a story, a theme, a region design and respective lore.
In terms of depth, I tend to create the lore depending on the type of Pokémon experience I want the game to be. In a mature, lore and story heavy game, I'd create the region from its inception to present, even though some parts might not be explicit to the player, just having everything in mind in a Tolkienian way. In a standard, similar to the main series game, a simple legendary myth would be enough to not make the lore overshadow the rest of the game's story. That said, either way, the lore is in favor of what I want to say with the game.


Math nerd
With respect to how I come up with lore, it usually comes to me in my dreams. At least the initial design does, but sometimes it can be quite extensive. I will usually borrow some small ideas from TV shows I have watched. As for how in depth it should be, that depends on what kind of game you want to create. For example, my game focuses much more on the characters (their personalities, lives, growth, etc.) than it does on the region itself. To that end, I want to create an interesting, diverse region, but I only need it so much as to allow for my characters to live in it and for the story to unfold. Therefore I do not need to build it too intensely, but rather as much that it feels alive and concrete, that my game is only one part of the region's overall history.
I find it best to first get a gist of the story you want, then create the region. Define its boundaries, its laws, at least a simple history, and so on. Keep these in mind when you actually write out the story. I think going as far back as the formation of the region itself is a little over the top. Granted, depending on your story, you may need exactly that.
I'd like to add that legendary-centric stories feel lackluster and overdone to me. That doesn't mean I find it bad for them to appear in the story; in fact my own game involves them quite extensively. They just are not the overall focus of the story.


Have they found the One Piece yet
Had to think about this one for a bit. I dunno if this is correct but for the purposes of this post "lore" is the hand-wavey "not individual characters but also not main plot" component of game writing.

To start with, I like game lore, but usually don't appreciate it as much as normal people because I tend to zone out while reading it more than I do with stuff that's directly related to plot. For this reason, I tend to think that lore is important to a game the same way chili pepper is important to a food: it's awesome to have, but the game should be edible on its own without it. Aalso to me, a small emphasis on an okay plot is way, way better than a large emphasis on a terrible plot, but that's a story for another day.

In the last Pokémon project I worked on that had its own story, the lore sort of grew on its own as the other elements of game were developed. The central point was "hurricane Armageddon" and then Team Aqua showed up and did some stuff, which led to some questions about the background such as "where are the Gym leaders," "what happened to Delaware," "is there a significance to this lighthouse? (there was supposed to be but we kinda gassed out before getting there)" and so on.

Everything in the next paragraph is subject to change because I'm genetically unable to commit to doing things.

In the current not-Pokémon thing I'm working on, lore is basically evolving in much the same way, although the guy I'm working on this with wants to put a greater focus on it this time around. This is supposed to be a much bigger game—also about Armageddon, sort of—but some of the current things we've though about are along the lines of "what happens to animals during catastrophe," "what are the consequences of (x) god doing (y)," "how do we justify these magical powers existing" . . . as well as some less serious things such as "what would a dophin do if it found a rocket launcher." There's a Google doc somewhere dedicated to brain-dumping plot stuff, and the lore is more or less the little details that spontaneously biogenesis out of nowhere and yet manage to make the world feel like it's consistent with itself.

Also, this is kinda-sorta-tangentially related I guess?

I'd like to add that legendary-centric stories feel lackluster and overdone to me. That doesn't mean I find it bad for them to appear in the story; in fact my own game involves them quite extensively. They just are not the overall focus of the story.
At first I was like "nah" but then when I stopped to think about it, I kind of agree. It's not that they're inherently bad, it's just that we've now seen so many of them—even in the actual games—that they don't pack the same wallop as they would have, eh, five years ago.
My game takes place in a region mentioned in the Pokémon franchise (but not explored in the main series games), so much of the lore would come from official released material. However, I’ve had an interest in the theme of exploring abandoned communities or facilities (inspired from playing games from the Half-Life/Portal and BioShock franchises), especially mysterious remote locations with treasures at the end (inspired from the earlier LEGO Bionicle online games), so I’m looking for ways to incorporate that kind of history into my region too.

I plan to explain the history of the region at least as early as to explain the abandoned locations mentioned above, but I don’t plan to go as far back as how the region was formed. I already have some ideas of which legendary Pokémon to put into my game, but I’m trying to think of ways I could incorporate them into the lore.


Developer of Pokemon: Secrets of the Ages
I wouldn't say explaining the creation of the region is necessary, unless that somehow ties into the main story. Lore is at its best when it is meaningful, when it adds to the model of the world that the player has in their head. A well-planned story should make it easy to create bits of lore that add to the story and the setting while being useful or interesting bits of information. Lore is a great way to explain the world, the politics, the history and the current state of the world without verbosely telling the character everything up front.

For example, in RSE, the creation of the region played heavily into the ambitions of Team Aqua/Magma and the respective legendaries. Or Lacunosa town in Black/White, where the people of the town lived their lives by a traditional curfew and talk about legends of the dragon etc. and then, when you come to explore that area, you already know much and more about Kyurem. They could have expanded upon it even further.

Lore for the sake of lore, though, is painfully obvious and takes away from the experience.

For my game, I try to strike a balance. Lore in a similar style to the Gen V games, with NPCs explaining tidbits of the world history, with elements strewn in throughout the story. Most of the lore is to set up the story.