Friday, May 20, 2016

10 Things WoW Could Adapt From Runescape

While the World of Warcraft and Old School Runescape communities may be more united nowadays thanks to incidents such as the Nostalrius takedown, there have also been times of rivalry and differences. I remember before I played WoW, many years ago, I stumbled across an abrasively toned video comparing the two games and essentially calling Runescape a terrible game. I eventually moved on from Runescape (not due to that video), and after jokingly talking trash said game that I used to enjoy, I began to think about what made the game so enjoyable.

I've actually been meaning to write an article for quite a while reviewing Runescape in some way but I never quite found a good time to draft such a piece, mostly because it was nearly a decade ago when I had last played the game when I initially had the idea. The temptation was renewed when I got back into Old School Runescape many months ago, though the problem then was I had two MMORPGs competing for my attention despite being rather different in gameplay and style. I've since quit OSRS - not so much because I think the game is objectively bad (in some ways it is and in some ways it's not), but due to personal reasons - yet I still praise numerous aspects of the game and wish they could be brought into WoW somehow in a big way.

Some of what I learned when playing OSRS was incorporated into some more recent suggestions and analysis, often with me crediting the game in some way, but given a certain post on Reddit directly asking for a feature from OSRS in WoW, I think it's finally time to publish what I've been wanting to on Runescape for so long. In this article, as the title states, I will list 10 things WoW could adapt in a significant manner from Runescape since some of the listed things arguably exist in WoW already in some form, albeit a relatively minor one. This listing will serve as an iteration of the aforementioned Runescape review I thought about publishing before.

Since the suggestion I linked above specifically talks about adding clue scrolls to the game, it seems like a good place to start the list. This is one I've also thought of for quite a while since the content is flexible enough in its objectives both in terms of amount and types of activities one has to do that it could feel somewhat fresh whether one does it one or a hundred times. It also helps that clue scrolls are a relatively rare drop from numerous mobs and the loot has great potential to be highly rewarding with megarare items such as Third Age pieces possibly being some of the most expensive items in the game.

However, due to the nature of Runescape's gameplay, there would need to be some slight changes were such a feature to be transitioned to WoW especially since a lot of Runescape's gear in general is unbound while a lot of WoW's gear at least binds when equipped. In addition, WoW's leveling and gear systems are different from Runescape's to the point that there would need to be some form of scaling to make clue scroll equivalents worthwhile to do in WoW. With these points in mind, this is what I came up with when it comes to the adapting clues and their rewards:
  • Uncommon clue: Very few steps, easy clue that can award uncommon gear along with mundane items such as food and vendor trash. Dropped by most mobs in the world.
    • Note: All gear awarded from clues can be BoE and BoP. If they are BoP, they are optimal equipment for the class to use (agility mail gear for Hunters, etc.)
    • The number of "steps" a clue has is identical to Runescape's clue scroll system. Each step lists one objective the player must do and upon completion, they get another step or the reward. Since WoW is capable of updating objectives in real time as shown in Warlords questing, the experience could be made more seamless compared to Runescape.
    • Clue difficulty is determined by difficulty of the objectives themselves. Objectives may have various requirements (like Artisan Riding) or make a player do something of the appropriate challenge level (like solo a difficult elite mob).
  • Rare clue: Some steps, intermediate difficulty clue that can award rare gear in addition to uncommon clue rewards. Rarely dropped by world mobs and sometimes dropped by elites, rare spawns, and instance/LFR/quest bosses.
  • Epic clue: Many steps, hard difficulty clue that can award epic gear and certain valuable items such as heirloom upgrade tokens in addition to anything from the previous two clue tiers. Very rarely dropped by anything that can drop a previous tier clue and sometimes dropped by normal or higher raid bosses.
  • Legendary clue: Massive number of steps, extremely high difficulty clue that can award items that progress legendary quests the player (maybe Artifact Power in Legion?) is currently on along with other valuable items such as mounts, pets, toys, transmog gear, and heirlooms in addition to anything from the other clue tiers. Extremely rare drop from other clue sources and sometimes dropped by heroic or higher raid bosses or some sort of equivalent.
  • Clue level: All clues in addition to quality would have a level based on the enemy that dropped it (for example, killing a level 98-100 enemy would drop a scroll around level 99 with some margin for error). This would determine the type of gear and other rewards that completing the clue awards and also prevents players from farming very low level mobs for clues that drop gear based on their character level.
    • This is where the difference largely lies in this adaptation since Runescape's clue scroll reward tiers are uniform mostly because enemies who drop the clues are of a specific level range to begin with.
  • Clue limits: Like with Runescape, players can only hold one clue of each quality at a time until they are either fully solved or discarded. This applies even if clue levels are different.
  • Clue buying: It may not be a bad idea to allow people to buy clues for very high Valor, Honor, and Conquest prices since it gives players a way to dump those currencies when they are no longer useful to them. It is preferable to refrain from allowing purchases of legendary clues in particular though.
As for objectives that clues can make a player do in WoW, starting with the type of clues Runescape has is a good starting point. Objectives such as visiting specific locations based on hints, talking to certain NPCs, solving puzzles, killing special mobs, digging up objects using Archaeology(!), and even stuff like "emote clues" are viable options that can brought to a WoW version of clue scrolls.

I think this is one of the better features to consider for WoW since it'll almost always be relevant content if implemented well. It is especially good since it gives players something to do between incentivizing clue farming through various (mostly PvE) activities and sending players on a treasure hunt with minimal time constraints to boot. The idea is especially viable to implement since it's essentially a fusion of Archaeology and questing, taking many strengths of both (objectives and dialogue from questing along with variance and treasure hunting from Archaeology) and potentially creating content with staggering longevity. That said, implementing this feature would be a big undertaking that would likely need to be brought up to date with each expansion, if not each major patch, to retain some of its relevance.

2. More worthwhile basic enemy drops

Since we're talking about Runescape and clue scrolls, it also makes sense to address the massive variance and value of drops between the numerous mobs around Runescape. Technically, WoW has this to to a point, but the drops from most basic (non-rare, non-boss) enemies tend to draw drops from several loot tables (world epic drops, for example) and some enemy-specific vendor trash. Compared to Runescape where even a simple, weak enemy like a Men/Women can drop valuable herbs, WoW's increasingly homogenized drop tables are rather pitiful by comparison. In a way, this problem reminds me of Diablo 3 where pretty much all the good and special loot is typically dropped by elites, champions, chests, and bosses while normal enemies and destructibles rarely drop anything at all.

This sort of design decision is understandable since the loot is intended to be scaled for difficulty. In addition, were clue scrolls to be implemented, all enemies would be a bit more worthwhile to kill and perhaps that may be enough. However, ignoring the fact I'm in support of increasing most mob difficulty to better suit a good difficulty curve for the game, I still think adding some more variance and value to what mobs drop beyond trash loot since beyond fleshing out mobs, it provides more incentive for players to farm some mobs if they so desired. The drops need not be unique in terms of source (actually it's probably better this way), but should at least be significant enough to make drop the mob a considered farming target. For example, a high-demand buff food that can normally be obtained from cooking could be obtained from a couple specific basic mobs. It is also imperative that many enemies with drops of this type are added if this feature is pursued to prevent would-be farmers from crowding specific areas.

To conclude, updating many drop tables may be demanding to do, especially since new mobs with new drop tables may need more time to create, but doing so can add a decent amount of immersion to the game in addition to providing some farmable content for players that can be done anytime. In addition, the feature could be phased in over time since updating a single drop table is probably not that time-consuming relative to all the other work the devs do. Blizzard has done this to some degree in the recent past in the form of Mists of Pandaria rares, which had the potential to be an excellent source of reagents. In addition, the Garrison Barn is a non-lethal method of accessing lucrative (perhaps too lucrative) drop tables. These points gives me an optimistic outlook when it comes to Blizzard adopting the concept, possibly in a broader form.

A boss gauntlet that players can farm solo or in a group for points isn't something that Blizzard has quite explored yet. To be fair, there are features in WoW that have some aspects of the Nightmare Zone that are somewhat comparable, such as the gauntlet of enemies players have to fight in Endless Proving Grounds. I have suggested something similar to the Nightmare Zone in the past but even that doesn't completely compare to the feature in Runescape, which WoW is quite capable of recreating accurately. A WoW equivalent of the Nightmare Zone would probably end up like the following:
  • Choosing an arena layout is easy as Blizzard has numerous options to choose from such as the Proving Grounds themselves. The layouts also have the advantage of looking more aesthetically pleasing than the Runescape equivalent.
  • There's also a large pool of bosses to choose from in general. Raid bosses, dungeon bosses, quest bosses, and so on are all excellent options.
    • There may be too many bosses in truth, meaning the boss gauntlet should allow for various selections (such as choosing quest bosses by expansion and zone, bosses by raid and dungeon, etc).
  • Much like the Nightmare Zone, difficulty options are a fairly good idea, though even with the scaling mechanics WoW has, implementing higher difficulties that scale various bosses up a lot may be time-consuming to do.
    • This also applies to scaling based on the number of players running the gauntlet in a group.
  • There could be power-ups that spawn from time to time like in Rumble mode. There are already a few in WoW Battlegrounds that could be repurposed for this.
  • Boss kills would award points based on difficulty. Normally this would be used as a currency so it may make sense to use an existing PvE-oriented currency like Valor as the reward in WoW's case.
    • Regardless of the currency used, it should be usable for purchasing various worthwhile rewards ranging from various reagents like with the Nightmare Zone to cosmetic items to consumables usable exclusively in the minigame and others that are usable anywhere.
  • The feature can make for a decent gold sink by charging a price (50-100 gold?) for each attempt like with the Nightmare Zone. It can also open opportunities for the addition of ways to get around the price such as loot in the form of vouchers that allow one attempt for free, providing players with more of an incentive to use both this feature and to go out in the world.
This feature would have an advantage over existing similar content such as the Brawler's Guild and Proving Grounds due to the highly beneficial replay value that it would have. It retains the advantage of the aforementioned in the sense of allowing players to quit anytime, albeit at the cost of some in-game gold. Much like the other two features, optimal play is rewarded with a greater reward, but in this case unskilled play will yield some rewards while on the quest to improving their skills. Ultimately, this content more than adequately meets my desire for more content that can be done anytime for however long one wants. Much like a Treasure Trails equivalent, this content would also be persistent to the point of being relevant regardless of the content patch number, though it would need to be maintained.

4. Hopping cooldown

While I cited character service cooldowns (or rather, a lacking one) as an issue regarding my previous article's topic, this is not the only kind of hopping that I think needs a cooldown. Realm hopping through the Premade Group Finder needs some sort of restriction to prevent players from constantly joining and leaving groups to essentially commit rare spawn genocide among other activities that realm hopping can benefit from. The activity may not seem that bad but let's consider a few points:
  • When someone coalesces to another realm, there is a noticeable delay for that player which is most likely due to how the server infrastructure works (or something like that). This delay likely indicates some form of stress is being placed on the servers that is amplified if numerous players hop with near impunity, especially with the aid of addons. I wouldn't be surprised if this is partially contributing to the increased delay on the "Retrieving Realm List" screen issue that's happening right now (though I'm sure there's more significant reasons for that).
    • To put this shortly, having no cooldown can cause server instability.
  • While most realms may have no players interested in farming specific rare spawns, that isn't always the case, meaning a realm hopper is denying a kill to players in the local group. It's a mild annoyance at best, I guess.
  • It is disruptive to groups doing an activity. I've seen numerous groups that threaten to kick hoppers and force legitimate players who want to group to jump through extra hoops just to join as a result of the disruption. While in most cases a realm hop consists of a few seconds of interaction with the hopper, sometimes they end up taking longer to leave the group, taking up a spot a legitimate player could be using. Thus, I can't blame the rise of anti-hopping culture.
As one can see, hopping can cause some issues (especially that first one). It's fair to say there's benefits to the activity, much like with Runescape and hopping worlds for similar reasons (in search of availability of something), but a brief cooldown after excessive hops will help to reduce the activity spam and alleviate all three of the aforementioned problems. It's a relatively small price to pay for the massive amount of convenience that hopping can provide.

5. Lengthy character progression

Leveling in World of Warcraft isn't exactly the most time-consuming affair as the game by design has opted for a heavier focus on endgame content even back in the Vanilla iteration. This is especially so when compared to Runescape because while there are level requirements to do some content in that game, it's not hampering enough to dampen versatility in a player's skill builds too much. For example, one could technically do all the God Wars Dungeon bosses by having level 70 in only four of the 23 skills in the game (one of which isn't a combat skill). To be fair, if only were to do this they would almost certainly get destroyed hence why there's recommended skill levels, but the point stands that in general, Runescape's hard skill requirements don't even come close to matching the level cap of WoW. This fact along with the high number of skills in Runescape also makes the concept of pures a lot more advantageous than the WoW equivalent of twinks in terms of gameplay options. On top of all these points, getting to level 99 in (most) skills in Runescape is a very time-consuming effort due to the sheer amount of experience required compared to experience gain rates.

While it's unreasonable for WoW to be transformed to the point that it plays in a manner similar to Runescape, it's possible to capture the concept of lengthy character progression that leveling to cap followed by gearing up isn't able to match. One such example is my suggestion of a WoW equivalent of Diablo's Paragon system (or really just the Paragon system in general), though it's only one way to provide players with something to do that feels like they're making gains once they've exhausted themselves on activities they wanted to do that are likely time-gated such as raiding. Regardless of what Blizzard were to do, it likely wouldn't happen overnight since such a feature would need serious brainstorming to implement well into WoW. On the plus side, if a feature intended to lengthen character progression without compromising basic game design concepts were to come into existence, even the most hardcore players couldn't finish consuming the content overnight either.

Blizzard has tried a few things to increase world PvP activity recently from Bloody Coin farming on the Timeless Isle to the Gladiator's Sanctum providing incentives to PvP in Draenor. While I can't speak completely for PvP servers, there's only been a slight increase in world PvP but not enough to match the borderline wars outside of Orgrimmar's gates or the like in the past (which happened even on a relatively unknown PvE server like mine). Unfortunately, the upcoming Honor system implies that world PvP may be buried further into obscurity as an activity due to a greater focus on structured PvP like Battlegrounds. This is where a system like Bounty Hunter from Runescape could come in, greatly increasing PvP activity on all servers.

The Bounty Hunter system for Runescape was originally Jagex's answer to a lack of PvP due to the reduced incentive to PvP in the Wilderness. The concept essentially promoted PvP by assigning players with a target along with a general indicator of their location which at the time happened to be in a confined zone. In the current Old School Runescape iteration of Bounty Hunter, this takes place in the Wilderness and defeating a target successfully allows them to upgrade their Mysterious Emblem  (obtained from PvP on that world) and eventually sell it for points to buy items from a specific shop.

WoW has plenty of features that make Bounty Hunter as a concept compatible, such as PvP zones and objectives (even on PvE worlds) and existing currencies that can be used as a reward for defeating a target (Honor and Conquest). WoW's equivalent of Bounty Hunter could work like this:
  • Like with Runescape, target assignments are based on player level (no benefits from lowbie ganking allowed) and players will automatically get each other as targets. Targets can have some variance in level but can never have such a wide level range so as to not give an honorable kill.
  • Target tracking will show the player's zone and their general location in that zone to expedite PvPing. Players can also learn the ability to track targets in a manner similar to Hunter tracking, causing them to show up on the minimap (when unstealthed).
  • When a player successfully defeats their target, they gain a reward such as Honor, Conquest, or something like a strongbox containing either currency, consumables, etc (but not gear).
    • The rewards could increase greatly if the player maintains a kill streak, meaning the rewards could start with Honor then progress to Conquest and strongboxes of goods (but again, not gear).
    • As a bonus, dishonorable kills could be reintroduced in a way by having the kill streak diminish if the player kills a player of far lower level or NPCs too frequently.
  • When a target logs out or gains the Resurrection Sickness debuff, the other player will receive a new target.
  • To provide some additional incentive for players to try out this feature in particular, add purchasable rewards related to Bounty Hunter such as items that can only be purchased if a player has sufficient target kills (it probably shouldn't be non-transmog gear).
  • To prevent players from calling in raids to kill a single target, rewards should be diminished if a target is PvPed by multiple players within a short time frame. In addition, the delay between being assigned new targets is increased slightly in a cumulative fashion for each target slain this way by the same player.
This should work relatively fine on PvP servers in particular since there's plenty of open areas to gank each other in and world PvP is intended to happen pretty much anytime, anywhere. However, even with the PvP-oriented areas on PvE servers, Bounty Hunter as a feature would be very limited especially since a lot of the areas are old zones or essentially Battlegrounds (like Ashran). How could Bounty Hunter exist on such servers and see some liveliness?

This is where the Wilderness from Runescape comes in... Sort of. WoW has had a few iterations of the Wilderness not in terms of size or scope, but rather in the form of PvP zones such as Wintergrasp which somewhat embody the similar high risk, high reward concept that the Wilderness embodies. Wintergrasp was a relatively resource-rich zone with many high value gathering nodes and mobs worth farming for their reagents, meaning players who aren't necessarily interested in PvP are drawn to the zone to farm. Having such a zone like this be the hotspot for a Bounty Hunter-like feature could lead to a lot of solo-oriented PvP and PvE activity, especially when more recent concepts such as rare and treasure hunting are on the table in terms of exploration vectors. It would also help if the zone was somehow relevant for more than an expansion but given the limited nature of reagent farming and PvE, a zone for Bounty Hunter may need to be made each expansion.

What this section boils down to is that PvP servers could see a lot more activity if they implemented something like Bounty Hunter alone, which wouldn't need a lot of work relative to some of the other entries on this list. However, if everyone were to get a decent level of access to this feature, the amount of work needed would be far more demanding. To be fair though, Blizzard has had a history of adding world PvP-like content, so they could just bundle the Bounty Hunter feature with that for PvE servers whenever such content rolls around.

7. Lockout-less encounters

When I think of a lockout-less encounter, I think of something a player can do constantly without waiting too long for a respawn or reset. This means that the Mists of Pandaria rare spawns that I have a tendency to praise do not quite meet this vision. These would be the ultimate farmable and Runescape has many of these varying from the underwhelming to the economy damaging. To me, a lockout-less encounter would be the following:
  • To match with the concept of #2 on this list on worthwhile basic enemy drops, bosses also have a tendency to have worthwhile drops. In Runescape this is usually the rare, unique items that sell for a lot of money, but as Zulrah has shown, decent consistency in terms of wealth generated per kill is a boon all its own. 
    • In WoW terms what this means is that a farmable boss shouldn't be killed for gear or currency drops but instead should be killed for a modest chance at something beneficial such as consumable items, reagents, and so on. However, the drop rate and quantity should be rather low to make boss farming more of a secondary method of acquiring these items much like with the concept of #2 of this list (we don't need a Zulrah equivalent in WoW).
    • While on the topic of loot, adding some extremely rare vanity drops (such as pets based on the boss like in Runescape) can add a modicum of appeal to doing the boss.
  • Most lockout-less encounters can be found somewhere in the world and is a free-for-all tag in Runescape (with hampering loot rules). This matches the behavior of world bosses and rare spawns in WoW today, so it's a matter of reworking some world bosses to fall more in line with the above plus a shortened spawn time along with making them somewhat soloable.
    • There are also usually instanced versions of some bosses in Runescape which usually has a gold sink attached. Thus, having instanced lockout-less bosses in some form in WoW (even if they're instance only) with a cost to enter attached may not be a bad idea. These bosses could even be made intentionally more rewarding, creating a gold sink in exchange for reagents and other items.
Ultimately what this comes down to is that WoW is perfectly capable of having lockout-less encounters but instead chooses to emphasized timed content such as weekly raid lockouts to artificially extend the duration of content. I may criticize this point in further detail at a later date but to summarize why I'm against having such an emphasis on timed content is it shows that perhaps the content isn't sufficiently "hardcore-proof," meaning that it gets unbelievably stale if repeated due to issues such as lack of incentive (e.g. "I have all the gear from this boss/raid." or "I finished this rep why should I do these daily quests?"). A lockout-less encounter with well-balanced rewards would circumvent this issue much like suggestions resulting from other entries on this list.

8. The Construction skill's gold sink concept

Digressing from my not-so-veiled criticism of one of the main aspects of most of WoW's content, the game could always use more gold sinks (especially at the moment). Unlike a certain poorly thought out gold sink, which I will be criticizing even though it was reverted, various aspects of the Construction skill exemplify optional, convenient luxuries which are thankfully not all prohibitively expensive. While adding a more versatile form of player-owned housing that provides portals everywhere and other amenities (i.e. not the Garrison) may not be a realistic expectation to have anytime soon, the Garrison did seem to get the idea right somewhat until it began to yield notable gold income due to sources like missions. It also didn't help that the Garrison lacked customization options.

The Construction skill isn't just limited to a player-owned house despite making its origin there, however. Apparent plans to expand on the skill also include the addition of using the skill to gain benefits around the world, specifically in the form of emote clue hidey-holes based on a Runescape dev blog. World of Warcraft has also explored this to a point, though it has opted to use quest chains to do so in a big way when it comes to the more recent outposts. Outpost benefits also tend to provide benefits too major to have more than one of at a given time; were such a benefit the result of a gold sink, its effectiveness would be limited for various reasons.

Since player-owned housing similar to that of Runescape probably won't exist in a big way in WoW any time soon, the aforementioned interpretation of the Construction skill and its potential to sink gold through minor benefits throughout the game world seems far more reasonable for now. Optional, convenient luxuries that could be the equivalent of emote clue hidey-holes include but are not limited to the following ideas:
  • Players can make a deal with Spirit Healers to enhance graveyard utility that allows timed resurrection at the graveyard as an alternative to taking Resurrection Sickness or running/flying to the corpse. This benefit can be disabled at the Spirit Healer (in case of graveyard campers).
  • They can purchase the ability to fast travel to other graveyards while dead in the same zone, continent, etc. This can intentionally have a lower gold price that purchases charges of the benefit instead to make this a relatively optional upkeep-based gold sink. Also, it adds a (costly) incentive to die, which could be an interesting piece of contradictory design.
  • One can contribute to adding improvements to existing settlements or possibly building new ones. The difference in this case is additions would more be in the form of direct, minor benefits from NPCs and structures within the settlement instead of something more significant.
    • Example benefit: Improve a settlement by adding an optional flight master location at or nearby the settlement. It's worth noting that this shouldn't replace flight master locations, which would cause inconvenience due to a lack of flight master density. These optional flight masters should be a relatively short distance from other flight masters as a result.
  • Allow players to finance various construction projects around the world that provide some minor benefit such a bridge over a chasm.
These ideas should help to serve as a starting point for what are largely one-time costs that can be used to improve a player's experience through increased convenience as they travel around the game world. These gold sinks also have a benefit of adding a little extra immersion by making it seem like the player has some control over how the world is shaped by using wealth that the player likely worked for instead of quests. As great as the concept sounds, it can be dangerous if done wrong. Specifically, this idea could backfire if a gold sink of this style, much like any gold sink, feels too compulsory to have, much like I warned in the aforementioned article on gold sinks.

When one thinks of the concept of Ironman in World of Warcraft, they're likely to think of the challenge that is largely self-enforced. Implementing the challenge fully much like hardcore characters in Diablo is an intriguing idea worth exploring, but that could easily be condensed into a brief post asking Blizzard to do so. Instead, this section will be dedicated to the addition of a similar game mode that's fully implemented into Runescape that even uses a similar name: Ironman Mode.

Ironman Mode's similarities largely stem from a player's inability to engage in group activities much like the challenge. However, the hard restrictions on the mode are just lenient enough and boil down to "Ironman Mode characters cannot interact with other players from a gameplay standpoint." Were such a feature implemented into WoW, the restrictions would pretty much involve some restrictions found on the Starter Edition and then some, such as:
  • No trading, Auction House, or mailbox usage allowed.
    • I still stand by a previous statement that Starter Edition/Veteran Edition accounts should be able to receive mail though. It's just that Ironman Mode characters shouldn't be able to so.
    • In the rare event an Ironman Mode character receives system mail, they can open it (this is something that should be the norm as well).
    • Ironman Mode characters are allowed to use the Black Market Auction House since items are sold by NPCs.
  • No grouping with other players in any way. In the case of an Ironman Mode, players can't even accept invites or use group matchmaking systems such as the Dungeon Finder.
    • However, they can go solo dungeons, raids, and other group content if they want.
  • Access to account-bound collections is restricted. Players can still peruse their collections on an Ironman Mode character, but the actually use specific items (heirlooms, mounts), the player has to unlock it on the character.
    • Ironman Mode characters can Pet Battle with all available pets on the account, but gain no personal benefits from completing any objectives related to pet battling (character experience, money, etc).
  • Ironman Mode characters can join guilds but cannot benefit from any guild features sort of like the Ironman challenge. Ironman Mode should not cause total social isolation from other players.
  • Other potential loopholes such as restricting interaction with objects created by other players should be covered (due to items like Moneybrau, for example).
  • Much like with the Runescape version, Ironman status has a visual indicator in chat and can be disabled at any time but can only be enabled on character creation.
    • Also, since there's no other place to put this in this section, it makes no sense to add an equivalent of Ultimate Ironman Mode. Bank space (and inventory space in general) isn't as big of a deal in WoW as it is in Runescape. 
Much like the Ironman challenge, I don't see this mode being utilized much, but it can provide some additional replayability to WoW in a big way by causing players to think differently about how they play. For example, Ironman Mode would cause a huge shift in that player's focus on solo content to the point of testing limitations of soloing group content to a greater degree than it has in the past. It may also provide enough of a curiosity for Blizzard to explore the idea of modifying the gameplay experience right from the character creation screen by implementing other challenges of sorts beyond Ironman Mode (and the aforementioned hardcore mode that is essentially the Ironman challenge). Such modifications would further improve the replayability of the game beyond traditional alt creation and progression at the expense of a little time to make relatively simple tweaks to existing restrictions.

10. A more generous F2P experience

Speaking of restrictions, it wouldn't hurt to beat the drum once more when it comes to my ongoing criticism of the Starter Edition and its restrictions. After all, part of the inspiration for expanding upon the existing F2P, or at least subscription-less, experience in WoW was due to how Runescape handles their F2P/P2P split. Runescape specifically does this by providing a fraction of the game for free, but the free experience is substantial enough to encompass months and months of play due not only to the lengthy progression but also other content such as quests and a relatively large game world (especially when accounting for the Wilderness). What sweetens the F2P deal nowadays that I used in my Premium Edition suggestion is the inclusion of Bonds that allow a F2P player, over time, to become a member without spending any of their own money.

Since I've thoroughly canvassed the topic in previous articles, I'll make this somewhat brief: Blizzard should absolutely consider looking at expanding their appeal by providing more content to players not interested in committing to a subscription immediately, even in the face of an oncoming movie promotion that gives players a lot of the game for free. Actually, Blizzard should consider the expansion especially because of the promotion since while a month of WoW might be a great hook for some new players, more players could be hooked in by allowing them to experience "dead" content however long they wish.

Furthermore, while I was met with skepticism in the past for making such radical suggestions, popular opinion is beginning to change to the point of also saying "expand the F2P experience." Perhaps all it took was a major active subscription decline and a couple more expansions to recognize the strength of providing a decent hook for newer players in addition to focusing on player retention, both things that WoW could stand to do better at.

Final Statements

Runescape may not be the best game out there to draw concepts from when it comes to improving WoW. In fact, ignoring the major design restrictions the game suffers from due to an old game engine, I find there's quite a few major issues that hamper Old School Runescape. However, at the same time these design restrictions, much like Gbay said when he reviewed the game, served as something of a boon since there was a strong need to creatively design around said restrictions. The list above that is essentially 10 different suggestions, some of which I've already made in some form in the past, demonstrates this strength to some degree and I don't think it's one that Runescape exclusively benefits from. Hopefully this article has sufficiently demonstrated that point.

On a side note, this article consumed far more time than I expected, so apologies for the late publish. There's likely to be many revisions in the near future since, as always, points I make aren't always as clear as I think they are.

No comments:

Post a Comment