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Posts with tag interactivity

Guest Post: The death of in-game interaction


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

WoW's evolution has changed the course of both MMO game design and the landscape of the MMO player base in dramatic ways. By exploring the road most traveled, WoW has led the way from the roots of tabletop pen-and-paper RPGs and early MMO tabletop simulations into MMOs as virtual RPG themeparks.

Despite WoW's fantastic success on many fronts, in its evolution toward catering to the most common, casual style of play, it's removed much of the human interaction that made early MMO experiences special. Today's WoW is slick, seamless and streamlined. There is nothing one player can achieve that another player cannot also relatively easily achieve. Yet while players in today's WoW maintain that this thinly clad, egalitarian experience is "best," in reality, what we see is a continuous striving for distinction free from the confines of the game design itself. The ever-present GearScore sniff test has streamlined the need for player interaction to the point that interaction is barely needed at all.

In fact, it might be this very streamlining that has caused this MMO behemoth to slide away from the real magic of the early MMOs, to become a sanitized gaming experience that only barely acknowledges its need for virtual face-to-face gameplay. I miss the real interaction with my fellow players that speaks to the oldest traditions of what spawned MMOs: tabletop RPGs. I want player interactions to drive the game experience, from raiding to crafting to questing. The biggest villains and heroes of an MMO should be players, not pre-scripted heroes and playerless cut scenes. The next big MMO, I hope, can make this happen.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

The console interactivity I wish WoW could have

As a teenager, I loved console games. I grew up with Nintendo game images, tactics and ideas rolling through my mind. For various reasons, however, I've never really had a chance to pick up any console system since then, and I have often wondered how many changes have taken place in those sorts of games over the years.

So recently one of my friends treated me to a few evenings where he just showed me a few of his console games, so that I could get a sense of what they're like these days. The experience made me wish that it were possible for World of Warcraft to incorporate a few of the features I saw in those games.

The biggest one was a sense of interacting more with the in-game environment that your character lives in. Especially in this game God of War, I loved how the main character was able to do special moves in special situations, such as jump on top of a monster and rip its head off, or pin it to the ground, or even climb inside its giant mouth. He can also sometimes climb walls or use special items to solve interesting environmental puzzles. Many other games have this sort of experience where there seems to be less of a barrier between your character and the other entities in the game's world.

WoW just doesn't have that interactive feeling. Whenever you swing your sword, you swing it in pretty much the same way, even if your target is so huge that you're actually just swinging at the empty space between its massive legs. Whenever you run along up hills or mountains, you do just fine until you come to that magical angle at which your character cannot climb, cannot crawl -- only runs in place against an invisible barrier, even though visually it seems like he should be able to just use his hands.

I have no idea how Blizzard would manage it, but I really wish my WoW character could climb up walls (or at least ladders!), flip enemies around, or climb up on top of giants' shoulders and stab them in the head. Even if all these things are an impossibility, I still hope there's something significant they could do to help foster a more cohesive and interactive feel between our characters and everything else in Azeroth.

Do you ever wish for some console game features in WoW? Or are they totally apples vs. oranges for you?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

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