Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Thoughts on World of Warcraft hype
I was in the World of Warcraft stress test. This was the beginning of my infatuation with this game. The game is changing too much to pin down specific things that are good and bad. It is worth mentioning, though, that the developers design philosophies have been very encouraging.
A lot of MMOG/MUD veterans know that MMOGs are a treadmill. This is a term coined to describe the repetitive nature of so many things you do in MMOGs, whether that is killing, improving your skills, or improving your reputation with different game factions. Warcraft has a level treadmill, yes. It's not a god mode type game. A recent post by Blizzard developer Eno illustrated this as follows:
There is a saying "the sweet is not as sweet without the sour". Game rules are neccessary for the long-term success of the game. If everything is easy and loot drops like candy while everyone is in god mode, then the game itself loses meaning. We, of course, realize that players would love instant travel, god weapons and a free money making tool, but ultimately this would lead to a less satisfying experience over time.
This really shows what Blizzard is fighting to balance. Yes, they have to balance the abilities of one class over another, and one faction over another, and risk vs. reward and so forth, but that's not their main focus. Their main focus is making the game fun at any given moment. If they succeed, they will certainly be the first.
There's more about their fascinating philosophies in this developer diary (an excellent read). From the second paragraph (emphasis mine):
We knew from the beginning that players had an expectation going into World of Warcraft for a good raid game. Early on in development, we planned out everything that we felt would make for good raid content. We really tried to go top-heavy with it, to make these raid encounters truly spectacular, because we knew we weren't going to put in a steep leveling curve. We aren't going to bog people down in the normal leveling process, so we expect that there will be a lot of people at maximum level and they'll be anticipating some truly epic challenges.
So, here I am again, falling for the hype. I am so excited about this game it's not funny. Please don't let me down, Blizzard!