I'm writing this article because I have thought a lot about the way WoW has evolved over the years. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and will always have a special place in my world of gaming. With the end of Cataclysm in sight, I feel it is an opportune time to get these thoughts "on paper" so to speak. This article is a work in progress and I will not consider it complete until I'm satisfied that it clearly expresses;
- How I feel about the decisions game creators have made
- How I feel about the stated goals that motivated these decisions
- How I feel about the intended and unintended effects of these goals and decisions
Thank you for your consideration and paticence.
My past experience shapes my current perspective
I began playing toward the end of vanilla and remember that by the time I had leveled my first character to 60 that Burning Crusade was only a few months away. I remember trying to find a MC raid that I could join through the Small Guild Alliance on my server. Unfortunately, most raiding on my server ground to a halt with BC on the way, most people were not interested in working towards gear that would be replaced with Outlands greens. So finding a raid group in Vanilla did not end up working out for me which left me feeling a bit cheated. I had worked hard to level up, acquire keys, attunements and gear that would allow me to raid. Fighting raid bosses, epic loot and exclusive dungeons was all I wanted to do.
A look at MMOs in general
(The 3/8/13 update to this work in progress) It has been a while since I've worked on this article, and some relevant thoughts have come to my mind which brought me back here. This is going to be more of an idea dump than anything, because I don't necessarily have the time at this moment to organize it beyond that. I'm not sure if/when I will come back and clean this up and finish my work, but if I ever do I think I will be glad to have this information.
Massively Multiplayer Games as Products
-Games made today are forced to look at past/presently successful games and incorporate what are perceived as their best qualities. This is because:
- Games cost a lot of money, and this cost is increasing all the time as game studios participate in an "arms race" of sorts, spending more and more on their game to gain an edge on their competition
- This means that games require investors or big studio conglomerates (like EA, Activision/Blizzard) in order to be produced
- This means that game developers' hands are often tied when creating games to make sure that their games appear economically viable based on where other similar titles have found success in the market in order to secure funding
-This results in some negative unintended consequences
- Games cater to the perceived majority; all game content is either immediately or near-immediately accessible to all players. Path of least resistance to gear and/or currency is generally repeatable quests, sometimes associated with factions. Gear is not diverse, classes nearly all wear same gear, nothing feels unique.
- Basically, games lack depth, choices and means to compete. Companies and investors want developers and studios to play it safe and create games as entertainment rather than games of competition]
-I do not want to come off as saying all games must have aspects of hard core competition to them to be good. My point is that games are no longer diverse, competitive multiplayer games are hard to come by and games that claim to have aspects of gameplay that are highly competitive, really don't. -Its going to take a few game studios finding some independent funding or convincing their investors to go out on a limb to get some truly innovative options out here.
- Path of Exile is a great example of a group of developers that have held to their ideals and put out a great game. It really stands out when you consider how Diablo 3 ended up and that Path of Exile is a Free to Play game, with no play to win, and very deep gameplay. I would also say Dota 2 and LoL do a good job as well. While these examples more or less fall outside of the Massively multiplayer genera, they are still good guides for things that MMO designers could look at and learn from.
I think I got a bit off track here, and my not totally have stated everything entirely correctly, but I'll leave it up as something to consider for future work on this article.