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Posts with tag innovation

Breakfast Topic: What post-launch game features do you most appreciate?

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

World of Warcraft has been up and running for six years now, and to anyone who played in the early days, the game is barely recognizable. I'm not talking about the Shattering; I'm talking about the meat of the game, the interface and UI and mechanics that allow us to interact with Azeroth. Blizzard is a great innovator, and over the years we've gained such features as battlegrounds, linked auction houses, meeting stones, heroic dungeons, arenas, the dungeon finder, heirlooms, and the in-game calendar. None of these were present at launch, but they all affect our playstyles today.

These are all great, but that doesn't mean I stop daydreaming about what else Blizzard could do. I love the armory calendar view, but I'd be thrilled if the Blizzard calendar integrated with my Google calendar so I could see raids and guild events alongside my real-life schedule. I also yearn for variable speed scrolling quest text. Instant text encourages me to skip to the end, but the scrolling option is vastly slower than my reading speed, and I just can't handle it.

Which feature added after launch do you think was the biggest game-changer and why? What new innovations would you like to see? Which new Cataclysm features do you think will have the greatest impact on the way we play?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

The next level of questing

Elnia at the Pink Pigtail Inn has some excellent and interesting advice for Blizzard's quest designers (or whoever they hire for the current position). As big a component as quests are in the game, they haven't been innovated on much since the game's release. Blizzard has played around a little bit with allowing us to repeat certain quests, and they've streamlined the group questing mechanic, but other than that, quests are pretty much the same: pick up a task, do it, and bring it back for a reward.

So how can it be done differently? Elnia has some great ideas: she asks for quests that span a little farther, that push players through a storyline that might even follow them all the way up to 80 (of course, there are quests like that, though they're few and far between -- and not all players have the patience to finish them). Rewards could be mixed up, too -- instead of the old gold and XP, how about some profession skill, or a tradeoff of badges based on certain quests done. Finally, Elnia suggests that every quest in the game become repeatable. Questing is paced to keep us interested in from 1-60, but we all know how the game works now -- why not let us do some of our favorite quests over more than once?

I'd suggest we go even farther -- Warhammer Online offers Public Quests that are an interesting twist on the usual "go kill boars" mechanic. I'd like to see branching quests with more than one outcome -- maybe a moral choice to make that affects the storyline of the quest you're doing. And talking real pie-in-the-sky here, I'd like to see questgivers treat you different based on the way you look or maybe what title you've got equipped. If you've got "Jenkins," they might not expect you to do much, but with "Champion of Ulduar" over your head, they should probably be groveling at your feet.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Quests, Leveling

BusinessWeek thinks corporate execs can learn from WoW


In the midst of recruiters being told not to send WoW players to job interviews, BusinessWeek wrote an interesting piece about how World of Warcraft promotes innovation. The articles examines how Blizzard had designed a game that could probably be mimicked by any corporation looking to innovate. It's an interesting analysis of the game, with BusinessWeek saying that its players are motivated to achieve and solve tasks.

Although some readers counter that the achievement-oriented environment is normal for MMOs, one key insight is how WoW reduces barriers to entry and early advancement. More than most MMOs, World of Warcraft is easy to access -- it's easy to level and there are no harsh penalties for dying (unlike some MMOs where death results in a sharp XP loss, sometimes to the point of losing levels). In fact, some might even say that WoW is a little too casual-friendly. Even then, there's a lot in the game that drives people to perform.

The article recommends that corporate leaders take a look at the game and see how it creates a motivational environment. It even goes so far as to laud the gamer disposition, something that players have or develop. It's certainly a refreshing counterpoint to the idea that gamers (or WoW players, in particular) "cannot give 100%" to their jobs. So even though some companies might think that WoW is bad for their employees, BusinessWeek says it just might be good for the bosses.

Thanks, Cahu!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

Does the industry need to give WoW competition?

Right now WoW stands as the big boy on the online gaming scene. It will take quite a bit to close the gap between it and the other -- some could argue the inferior -- titles. Mark Ward at BBC News wrote an article on the subject of competition to World of Warcraft last week, and it raises some interesting issues.

Mark interviewed Funcom game director Gaute Godoger, the man responsible for the upcoming Age of Conan MMO. Gaute believes that competition is needed for WoW because it has such a stranglehold on the market right now. Normally, I would have to agree with him, since competition breeds innovation. But in the case of Blizzard, they are competing with themselves for innovation, which is why WoW constantly comes up with new and fresh concepts and content that other games strive to copy. From where I sit, the company appears to be driven by the internal desire to put forth the best game possible, and so I see little in the market today that would have the potential to actually compete with their ethic.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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