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Posts with tag game-mechanics

The war between narrative and game mechanics

I've long had a complicated relationship with the story of Warcraft. Once, I was enamored by the world they've created -- I was one of the earlier contributors to Know Your Lore, eager to share my love of the franchise's narrative. I'm no longer so enamored. I don't hate it, but neither do I love it. I'm not angry, I'm disappointed. Yes, I often disagree with the narrative choices Blizzard has made with their story, but moreso I come to realize World of Warcraft is burdened by itself in respect to its narrative. Story and game mechanics are in constant conflict, and when you're looking at a game like WoW and a company like Blizzard (with their focus on tight gameplay), story will lose that battle every time. Blizzard has mentioned more than once that orcs versus humans is the core element of Warcraft. Whenever the narrative tries to move back to the roots of the franchise, that's where it goes. And that's the problem.

The war between the Alliance and the Horde can never end. Worse, it can never progress -- and the characters involved in that war story cannot progress unless removed from it. Mists of Pandaria made this more obvious than it has ever been before.

Boneheaded heroes

For the sake of parity, let's look at both Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall. These two characters have had a history together since Warcraft III. Not a romantic history as some like to claim, but a history. They were allies. Both of them held out hope for peace between the Horde and the Alliance for years. Both of them made sacrifices in the hopes of accomplishing it, Jaina moreso than any other, allowing the Horde to kill her orc-slaying father. They were both powerful, influential people in their respective factions. The events of Warcraft III made us believe they might achieve that peace. World of Warcraft showed us otherwise.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

No talent overhaul likely

Mage talents
If you're interested in WoW design and discussion, but don't yet follow twitter, you might want to reconsider. A lot of the developers are regularly active there. For example, yesterday our own Adam Holisky had a nice little chat with Ghostcrawler, Bashiok, and some other folks about WoW's talent design, and wondering if there was another big overhaul being considered for the next major expansion. The answer, bluntly, is no. Blizzard seems content with the current system.

Player Mihaly Ducz replied that three choices every fifteen levels feels kind of thin, but I have to admit that I kind of agree with Bashiok's response on that one: there are already plenty of spells and abilities in the game; I am perfectly content to have fewer of them, or at least more passive options so I don't have to agonize over how to redo my bars again. How about you? Are you content with the current talent system? What might you like to see changed or modified in the future?

Filed under: Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

Guest Post: Into the future with user-created content

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

One wonders how long World of Warcraft will remain viable. It is quite possible that my warlock will still be going strong decades down the line. Of one thing, however, I am certain: I will be playing some sort of MMORPG for as long as I'm able to tweak my spec. But will that game be WoW?

My friends and I muse about what it would take to switch to another game. That game would have to build upon WoW's legacy and offer something new and amazing to boot. Speaking of boots, I'd wager my Prelate's Snowshoes that the new game will be some incarnation of WoW itself, as Blizzard has proven so willing and able to adapt and grow with its fan base.

What makes WoW so popular and enduring? For starters, the game is so accommodating, with plenty to offer noobs and leets alike. Players can feel a sense of accomplishment from merely questing, while others can savor the challenge of working through multiple levels of high-end raid content. I can feel the delight of one-shotting a low-health rogue sneaking around the lumber mill or experience the soul-destroying chaos of getting quickly roasted in arena. And those of us with creaking, overworked CPUs are able to take part in the fun.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: What do you want from your next MMO?

The world of MMOs would be a very different place without the monumental presence of World of Warcraft. At this point, WoW has shaped an entire world full of gamers, setting expectations, conventions and precedents that other games will be struggling to meet (or dodge, or surpass) for years to come. What is WoW's legacy to you? Once you've logged out for the last time and are eagerly preparing to dive into the next big thing, what will you be looking for?

WoW.com is accepting article submissions on what you crave from your next big MMO experience. From playstyle to game features, community and social features to casual/hardcore balance, what do you want out of the next MMO you'll play? What has WoW whetted your appetite for that you'd like more of? What would you like to explore in areas WoW never ventured? Your article will clearly relate how Blizzard and World of Warcraft's legacy has shaped your ideas on what you'd like to play in the years to come.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Missing Professions?


WoW lets you do a lot of things from cook great feasts for your raid-mates to spend a lazy evening in some peaceful part of Grizzly Hills catching some fish for dinner. You can make bandages, sew cloth into handy bags, skin beasts to make armour or even make your own mount from a rather expensive pile of tubes and springs or a few dozen bolts of highly prized cloth. I just mine and mine and mine. Then I mine some more and maybe do a little fishing in Dalaran fountain.

All in all the game is pretty well serviced in the realm of professions, both primary and secondary. However I can't help thinking there needs to be a bit more variety. People seem to pick the easy professions or the ones which make the most cash very quickly. Should there be tertiary professions, like lockpicking, and should they be made available to all? At the same time, do you think Blizzard were smart when they only provided two profession slots? Do you think people should be able to learn all of them, even if they could only take one or two to Grand Master level? Do you think, aside from first aid, cooking and fishing, there's a missing profession? If you could add one to the game, what would it be?

Filed under: Fishing, Mining, Skinning, Cooking, Engineering, Tailoring, First Aid, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Making money

Breakfast Topic: Different states of rest

While I was reading Adam's piece on the patches of yesteryear, I discovered something I didn't know. You need to understand that I missed the beta phase and didn't even know WoW existed, so I never really looked into how the game has changed for the better. So, I was fascinated to learn that during the beta it wasn't just normal or rested XP but fatigued and exhausted as well.

While no longer in the game, I think it's a really interesting idea. Indeed it's something which would make WoW a lot more interesting and also make sure people didn't play for 12 hours straight. Perhaps when you first log on, you'd be rested and fresh from your nap in an inn. After a couple of scuffles you'd be normal (as in the game now) but as you did battle with critters and mobs this would change. Perhaps if you did too many battles you'd become fatigued as your armor degraded and then, if you died too much, exhausted and forced to nip to town for a stiff drink and repairs.

While normal and rested XP have always been the boon and bane of the leveling toon, do you think a system like this would work? Would it make WoW a little more challenging, even for folks at the level cap (sans experience gain of course)? Did you play WoW when Patch 0.6 was released, what did you think of the differing levels of XP? Do you think something like this should be returned to the game?

Filed under: Patches, Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: If you could add game mechanic to WoW what would it be


Last night I was flying down to Un'Goro to do the Hard Boiled Noblegarden achievement. Long flights get me thinking, at least they did until I installed the Bejeweled addon. World of Warcraft has changed so much since I started playing and 3.1 has brought some of the most interesting changes: dual specs, the hearthstone timer nerf.

Now as I was flying, my guild whispered me asking for my aid in Naxx 10. Fortunately they could summon me but it reminded me of one of the biggest problems with flying in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, you can't get off a bird. Yes I know you can log out and then log back in to be deposited at the next flight point but it's hardly ideal if you need to get off right now.

Since I first started playing, I've wondered why Blizzard don't implement a handy eject button that you could use when on long flights. You could be thrown from the back of your gryphon or wind rider and gently parachute to the ground. Alternatively they could just allow you to hearthstone while flying. But I digress. Readers, I want to know if you could add one mechanic to the game what would it be?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: The simplification of the game

One of the key reasons behind WoW's runaway success when it launched was it made MMORPG's accessible. Quests were tracked, instances were on rails and progression was clear. Other games on the market at the time were deeply complex affairs that required players to spend more time outside the game researching it than actually in it playing.

As time went on WoW became more complex in an effort to continually challenge its players. New game mechanics were introduced and corresponding stats showed up on items to deal with them. Classes took on new roles and new game mechanics were introduced to cater to it. Multiple sets of gear became necessary to deal with the many different encounters available in Azeroth and the Outlands.

But now, with Wrath, Blizzard is simplifying the game to a great extent. Item stats are being merged or removed (hello, +Spellpower.) Different classes are approaching encounters the same way (all tanks are getting better at AE abilities). Raid boss mechanics, which only a small percentage of the player population has seen, are being reused in more accessible encouters.

So the questions is: Do we want a more simplified WoW so we can spend more time playing and less time analyzing dps charts or is the complexity of the current game part of the appeal?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Wrath of the Lich King

Scattered Shots: Got mana?


Scattered Shots is temporarily subtitled "Scattered Thoughts" this week, as David goes off on a speculative tangent. Perhaps all this expansion leakage is causing a leak in his brain too, but hey, a little bit of intellectual pondering never hurt anyone, right? This column is for hunters, by the way -- but, yeah... you knew that.

After writing last week's article about hunter problems and predictions, I got to thinking about how hunters use mana, and reflecting on the question of whether hunters should be using mana or not. Hunters have many things in common with classes like rogues and warriors, such as doing physical damage, and yet they have much in common with mages and warlocks as well, such as being vulnerable to mana-draining abilities. This issue is vague enough that my observations here can only be considered personal opinions, and they won't be of interest if all you want from this column is a list of the greatest gear and talent builds. But for the speculative among us, there's lots to discuss here.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Humor, Wrath of the Lich King, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Breakfast Topic: Collectibles

As I was perusing the very first review of Grand Theft Auto 4 yesterday, I noted that the "collectibles" in that game are going to be pretty intriguing. While a lot of collectible items in games (say, all the packages in the previous GTA games, or the flags in Assassin's Creed) are fairly superfluous, I find that some (like the orbs in Crackdown and the billboards and jumps in Burnout Paradise) actually make the game more fun -- while traveling through the game world, you can keep an eye out for extra stuff to do and see.

World of Warcraft has never really jumped in on that idea, however. Obviously, there are plenty of collecting quests, but usually they're for killing mobs. And there are plenty of things to collect in the game -- noncombat pets, tabards, and mounts, and so on -- but none of them really give you a reward when you find a certain number of them, or give you bonuses based on how many you've picked up.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? For me, hiding some fun, optional collectibles (and giving small rewards based on just finding them) in a world as lush as Azeroth would make exploring an already great environment better. But I'm sure some would see it as a cheap tactic to make people hunt for widgets. What do you think?

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Playing virtual games in the workplace

We've heard before about how different activities in World of Warcraft can actually help you be better at your job, but now the BBC has posted an article examining how game mechanics from games like WoW can actually help your company help you work better. According to the ESRB, the average gamer isn't a teen after school any more-- he's 33 and has been gaming for 10 years. And because so many more professionals nowadays know the basics of gaming, employers are starting to apply those rules to the workplace to make everyone more productive.

One mechanic used is a form of "virtual currency" in terms of emails and meeting time-- send an email or hold a 15 minute meeting, and it costs you a token, while tokens can be earned in all kinds of ways. Not only does it keep employees on task, but it adds an extra layer of strategy and thought to the normal workday. Another game mechanic used by employers, says the BBC, is the idea of guilds and leveling rewards. "Guilds" in the workplace are tracked along a point system, and the best guilds get the best projects and rewards.

Very interesting stuff. While it sounds like good news for employers, I'm not sure how successful ideas like this would actually be among non-gamer employees-- at some point, how good you are at your job would be determined not by your industry ability, but by your game-playing ability, and that doesn't seem like a good outcome. But if employers find employees are willing to use these mechanics to make themselves more productive, everyone could benefit.

Thanks, Lienn!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Leveling, Making money

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