- Volition not bothering to provide lore / worldbuilding information is not necessarily a bad thing
- FS was successful without it
- FS is enjoyable and immersive without it
- WCS and FS are both great games in their own right
- WCS went above and beyond by providing background info they didn't have to provide
- I am not arguing in favor of including an encyclopedia with every game/campaign/mod
- I am not arguing in favor of Sync-style expository missions
- I am not arguing in favor of Derelict-style expository mission briefings
: Even novels occasionally have expository segments, but expository segments are difficult to pull off in mission-based games like FreeSpace with constant action. As we know, attempts to place exposition within missions are sometimes controversial, such as when Sync had missions made entirely of dialogue. Many people don't like it when a game stops itself to show a 5 minute cutscene (see Metal Gear series).
The community has done other things in user made campaigns that subvert this problem. Pilots are given names and personalities. Areas are made familiar through repetitive visitation. The universe and its people feels comfortable, familiar, known -- making it all the more poignant when Shivans come and blow it to pieces, or when your entire beloved squad gets killed/zombified and you're the only one left.
Where the game cannot provide without breaking its own fun, campaigns include external lore segments (Blue Planet does this). However, they are not required to do so, and the game can usually stand on its own with the assumption that the people did not read those external lore segments.
There are two ways to give people a large amount of lore - stretch small tidbits over a long expanse of many battles and provide it subtly, or go the brute force route and provide it in huge doses in novel form to get it all out as quickly as possible.
I personally prefer the former option, as mentioned by @The_E
how WCS managed to get most of its stuff out over the expanse of 4 games.
The question is, how much lore is necessary? For a space game like FreeSpace, not much -- especially for the storyline that we were handed. I realize I was not clear with my point before.
It's not the fact we're fighting Vasudans and Shivans that is why there is a lack of detailed universe background information - it's the type of game we're playing.
You can't spend your day scanning things all the time like in Metroid Prime (which pauses that game, by the way). You have bombs heading towards your carrier and you'd better go intercept them. This is a mission based game. As Battuta said, you only need as much lore as is necessary to immerse.