Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Lessons have been learnt...

Who'd be a game designer, eh? A month or so into Cataclysm, people are already complaining.

It goes like this:

BC players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too hard - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"

Blizzard: "OK - we've listened to your feedback and made gearing up much easier in Wrath via fast-playing heroics and Dungeon-Finder."

Wrath players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too easy - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"

Blizzard: "OK - we've listened to your feedback and made heroics much harder in Cataclysm, so you need a guilded group to complete them and they take several hours."

Cataclysm players: "Waaaaahhhhh! Heroics and raids are too hard - WOW sucks and we're going to leave!"

Meanwhile, the subscriber numbers have climbed steadily and then plateaued at around 12 million, vastly in excess of any other MMO out there.

So what's going on? Is the player base just a bunch of spoiled brats who will complain no matter what Blizzard do?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Nerfbat incoming?

MMO Champion are reporting that Paragon have completed the world first Heroic Kill of Nefarian. What I find interesting about this screenshot is the number of dancing bears at the back. Eleven druids out of a party of 25. Now I love druids, they're a wonderful flexible class that can tank, melee DPS, ranged DPS or heal depending on spec, but 11/25? That suggests a slight imbalance.

I'd suggest all you druids out there get into kitty form and stealth-up quick, before Ghostcrawler finds you.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The holy hand-grenade of Antioch

One of the things I'm enjoying in Cataclysm at the moment is just wandering around and visiting strange areas of the map that were previously unreachable.  One of the odder parts that I've found recently is just north of Thunder Bluff, at the top of the path labelled Stonetalon Pass.

There you can find an area full of very strange critters indeed.

Killer rabbits:

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Fire phasers!

Phasing is a potentially significant advance for storytelling in MMOs, because it allows the world to evolve around you without breaking it for others, so Blizzard are to be congratulated for exploring the idea in WOW. It's been used to good effect in the post-Cataclysm Silverpine Forest, where the Forsaken are locked in an evolving war against the Worgen. From an individual's perspective, it looks much like a single-player RPG. And that's the problem...

Fundamentally, MMOs are not single-player games. They aren't ever going to do as good a job on that front as the genuine article, because they have so many other constraints on them. Turning an MMO into a pseudo-single-player game means that not everybody is in the same reality at once, which starts to gnaw away at that feeling of being in a virtual world. That's already been eroded to quite an extent through the use of instances and dungeon finder and this is one step further.

Let me give you a concrete example. Yesterday, I needed to level herbalism on one of my alts, so I went to Silverpine, which was the appropriate level zone. I was pleasantly surprised by how few other people were there and managed to gather many herbs quickly. Why was the zone so empty, when it's such good fun? Well, it wasn't of course. There were many people there, each occupying different phases of the zone, so they never interacted. If you've never done the Silverpine quests, you can quite happily wander around in this alternate reality picking herbs to your heart's content. It's easy, but it's hardly challenging and it's barely an MMO at all.

At their core, MMOs are about interacting with other people and we tamper with that at our peril. It might make for some nicely plotted solo quests, but I'm not sure it's worth the price.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


There isn't much that can be done to stop the plague of LOLers on RP servers, as the Blizzard staff don't do anything. Which leaves us with petty revenge, which is the sweetest kind...