I’d be rich of course. But that is not what this is about. World of Warcraft is a pretty good game as games go and Blizzard were more successfull with their concept for the “masses” than they themselves ever thought they could be. The K.I.S.S principle (keep it simple, stupid) permeates the game. That is what draws people in. You start playing and it takes all of five minutes to get a grasp on the game and get hooked.
So what’s that with the title of the article? It is supposed to suggest I would have done a few things different or would be doing something different now. Currently many players I know, myself included, are getting bored with the game. So we are thinking how WoW (or any other MMORPG, but WoW is the one I know insideout so that’s what I write about) could be a better game, how it could keep people occupied and interested.
Currently Blizzard tries to keep people playing by producing new content ([farm-]quests, [raid-]instances, [farm-]events) and giving little buffs to everyone (class reviews, equipment upgrades). Mostly this works by producing a little content and then stretching it like bubble gum as far as possible, only one day that bubble will make a pretty big mess in their face. The class reviews are done and over. Raidguilds are straining to complete all the raid content and serving it to their ever hungry members, trying to please all without choking on the clogged event calendar and breaking up. And all those sad “casuals” among the players are farming themselves into boredom because after a few weeks on lvl 60 that’s mostly what is left: farm farm farm …. buy a few cows, plant some corn, settle down and buy a house. Oops there is no housing. Forget the house, just keep farming.
Oh there’s PvP. But that’s farming, too. Farming the honor system that is. “This week I cannot do more PvP I’ve reached my allocated maximum honor points and I am adhering to the codex that says, this week it’s not my turn to reach more than that.” Oh yes I guess on most realms there are some kind of such agreements among players to better exploit the honor system and get players through it more easily. Because the system is so stupid people will do stuff like that.
Then there is the auction house always on the brink of collapsing among the weight of chinese farming. The inflation is pretty low for a game like WoW. But there is inflation … you just never know wether professsional farmers are the cause of it or greedy players. Did that guy just cheat himself to that mithril deposit? How did that one come buy so many of the same item? Of course there are some known farmers and ninjas. I wonder if the LFG Strat/Scholo/UBRS crowd has finally ostracized them all. Is there a secret blacklist somewhere?
Don’t mistake my list of failings here to mean it’s not a good game. It is. But there are so many things that could be improved.
When does a game become boring? When there is nothing new and exciting to do. So Blizzard tries to produce more content. Because of that tiny word “new” they try to produce new content and then … people don’t like it. Who likes farming Silithus for hours on end just to get this stupid little ring? I don’t.
How about exciting? Most of the farming content isn’t exciting. It’s not new either it just has a new name, new items and a new location to farm. Just like the raiding guilds struggle to do all the raid content the casual player has to decide which of the farm content he must neglect?
Truly exciting and therefore replayable is dynamic everchanging content (on the other hand think about why Mario Kart is exciting and why you want to play again *g* but skill is not my topic here but that is also something that factors little in WoW and makes it a worse game). WoW is the most undynamic multiplayer world in existance I dare say. Nothing ever changes. That is because Blizzard wanted to give every player the same experience. But that can never be true. If you start later or with different goals you just will not have the same experience as the player who was on a realm the first day and every day after that to be the first to put a nail in Ragnaros coffin on a given realm.
But there are a few easy ways to keep players occupied with dynamics. You just have to design the tools that allow for dynamic development. Players are the top content producers in all successfull dynamic games. Now the question is how can players produce content. They do it even now only they are being crippled by Blizzard!
I have found three areas changes are necessary in my opinion. I’ve listed them in no particular order:
- The economy is very important in any such game and there will always be some players who totally focus on becoming rich. The auction houses are a good thing and so are many other things in the Blizzard economy. It’s pretty stable, as well. But the crafting just well lacks … the certain something. The spark …
- PvP. Players can always keep players occupied. And they love to do so. It’s called ganking and camping. But for the victim that is merely annoying and I cannot believe it is truly satisfying for the ganker. PvP today consists of farming off battlegrounds with your “clan”, no chance on winning if a PUG group comes up against one of the regular pvp groups. You farm yourself to the top through your group. No skill necessary just absurd amounts of time. Once they reached rank 14 most vow to never ever go into a battleground again. Open PvP outside the battlegrounds is even worse. It’s ganking and zerging and camping and little else. People mostly do it only to annoy and be a bother. The new open pvp objectives coming with 1.12? Don’t get me started on what I think about that. It’s all soft-core …. I am playing on a pvp server what did you think I thought that was for? There aren’t even any more complaints on the realm forum. People just endure and think “what a jerk”. I don’t even have a KoS (kill on sight) list anymore. It’s just not worth it.
- Social networking. Guilds are part of this as are the private channels and alliances and forums and all the communication that takes part around the social dynamics of the game. Why on earth did they have to implement such shallow social tools in such a great game? The communication options in and around World of Warcraft (to think that they only implemented realm forums after about half a year of nagging by the community) just plain suck.
So there are three areas which I have identified could be improved by (sometimes simple!) design changes to generate more dynamics in the game that will keep players occupied with other players instead of forcing Blizzard to generate new skins for the same farming event every 2 months.
I myself have a few ideas what could be done and I guess I’ll make a second post of that sometime because this one is way too long now.