Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Current Ideals (for WoW)

There's no denying that World of Warcraft has a special place in my heart. A huge chunk of this blog is dedicated to analysis and (hopefully) constructive criticism of the game and prior to that, it was one passion project after another taking the form of Wowhead threads. While the passion has somewhat dampened down, I would like to think it has become more refined in a way as time has passed. With this refinement comes some ideals that I'm likely to utilize when publishing analysis or constructive criticism related to World of Warcraft. Here are the current ideals that largely help to drive my analysis and criticism - I want to:
Improve the social state of WoW from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective.
As I mentioned in this recent article, which is a large part of why I'm writing this article at all, I put great value into the social experience in World of Warcraft because players are effectively content in this type of experience (hence the term, MMO). In terms of quality, I'm generally referring to improving social interactions between players healthier by promoting positive interaction as reasonably as possible. Suggestions that involve increasing the size of the playerbase and providing more incentive for players to socially interact are some examples of improving the social state of World of Warcraft in terms of quantity.
Utilize less drastic changes that preferably do not defy thematic when relevant. A preferred method for doing so is to use existing in-game concepts in some way.
The reasoning for this is explained somewhat in my article on making (more) reasonable suggestions, but the general idea of this philosophy is to attempt to make suggestions that hopefully won't require a lot of work to implement (following the path of least resistance as best as possible so to speak). By utilizing existing concepts, like I attempted in my suggestions for the Hunter class a while ago, it's a matter of copying and pasting at least some amount of existing code, which helps to cut down on the workload. Also, it may help to make suggestions more specific since a given concept will generally be of limited use, which in itself is helpful since players are more likely to make more general (and possibly drastic) suggestions (such as splitting PvP and PvE).

As for the remark on thematic, contradicting thematic or creating a nonsensical one (or perhaps even a reasonable one for nonsensical reasons) may contribute to a reduction in immersion, which can contribute to a lesser game experience (for example, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for Hunters to summon demons).
Err on the side of consumer friendliness when it's relevant (within reason).
This should rarely come up when discussing game mechanics, but occasionally I'll criticize a consumer-unfriendly practice by Blizzard, generally focusing on World of Warcraft-related ones. This is because the practice is likely to be harmful in the long term due to reasons such as players being driven off by excessive pricing of goods and services or otherwise doing what one may perceive as a "cash grab." I would like to think that being consumer-friendly, especially in the gaming industry where there's numerous questionable practices that people may be becoming more wary of as time goes on, would be of great benefit to Blizzard both in terms of finances and public relations.
Respect the competition. Design concepts from other games and such could be of benefit.*
With great power comes great responsibility, and World of Warcraft's dominance in the MMORPG market is a form of great power per se. It can be argued that aside from this dominance, Blizzard themselves benefit from a sizeable, loyal following that effectively empowers them, providing far more leeway in terms of decisions both in and out of game that would be prone to driving away players in an unbiased circumstance, which I am inherently against.

Aside from these undertones of pushing consumer-friendliness and the like, drawing innovation from other titles that could realistically see use in World of Warcraft, such as transmogrification, could be of great benefit and also falls under the above philosophy of using existing concepts. In this case, however, the concepts come from another game.

To put all of this another way, while World of Warcraft is a special game in many ways, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be subject to the standards of game design, marketing, and so on, particularly in the MMORPG context.
Touch upon as many issues as possible (especially smaller ones) that may or may not relate to the above. Having as few issues reasonably possible is important to the health of the game.
World of Warcraft is a huge game that probably has numerous tiny bugs, oversights, and other issues that are left ignored. It is understandable to do this since larger issues take higher priority due to their higher levels of gamebreaking potential. Furthermore, based on the contents of the numerous hotfixes that occur, it's clear that there's some people at Blizzard hard at work on resolving more subtle issues. With that said, I try to point out smaller issues when I see them to help the process along. This philosophy also ensures that I try to vary what I analyze and criticize.
Be as clear and detailed as possible.
While it's understandable that being too detailed may lead to some confusion, I like to think it helps to alleviate it more. Also, it matches my tendency to be wordy.
Focus on addressing what I consider "core issues" with World of Warcraft. (Warning: May cause repetition in articles and other statements from myself.)
Including the aforementioned points that already cover core issues to some degree, these are currently what I consider core issues with the game:
  • Poor business practices that harm the game state, company image, etc.
    • Some of these issues technically have only an indirect effect on the game itself, but I consider this a core issue because if the company goes under, the game follows.
  • A disturbing lack of healthy social interaction and community for a MMORPG.
  • Poor player retention due to a variety of reasons including but not necessarily associated with the above, such as:
    • A lack of focus on independent/solo "persistent" content, or content that has nearly endless replayability potential that could keep players engaged throughout the week.
    • Lengthy intervals between major content additions.
    • Numerous flaws that detract from the game being able to hook newer players in from a gameplay standpoint.
    • And possibly more...
Final Statements

Hopefully this article provides a look into my perspective. I am aware that I have my biases despite attempts to be objective, so much like how I've refined my passion, these ideals will be refined by changing over time as needed. This means short of a dramatic overhaul of perspective, some edits to this article may be made periodically.

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