Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Figuring out MMOs Part 2... WoW

This week’s series of posts was supposed to be just one, but it grew too long. Please bear with me as I am trying to be as fair and rationale as possible with analyzing what I liked about a few specific MMOs that I played for 3 or more months. Today I’m delving into the powerhouse that is World of Warcraft, by far the most influential MMO of all time and arguably most influential game of all time.

I didn’t play WoW at launch; I actually played EverQuest 2 at that time. Two months after they both launched though I was mobilized to Iraq. Upon returning all of my friends were playing WoW so I decided to give it a try that was January of 2007 so it was only a few months before Burning Crusade came out.

In so many ways when I first started playing World of Warcraft it just felt like a continuation of what EverQuest was trying to do. They game was designed in a way that the moment you logged on you knew what you had to do. It was very straight forward which was refreshing.

As I leveled up I discovered a few things that I loved about WoW. The skill tree’s that WoW used was a lot like those found in Diablo 2. You could really feel all of Blizzard’s other games influence on WoW. The different skill tree’s offered a way to play the game in various ways with one character. My hope was that this would give me 3 play styles to fulfill essentially the same role, being a priest I wanted to heal. It offered variety and I could change my priest so he was a little different than all the others.

World of Warcraft took the dungeons I had loved in EverQuest and turned them into something amazing. I am still a huge fan of EQ’s open dungeon system but WoW made each dungeon feel like a real adventure. It was just your group in the zone so the dungeon became personal. You got to experience all the content the dungeon had to offer without worrying about being killed by other places uncontrolled mobs or fighting over rare mobs. WoW also designed the dungeons in a way to utilizie various class builds and group make ups. The holy trinity was there but the DPS roles could be varied more often than in EQ.

World of Warcraft would do one more thing that amazed me, and it wasn’t even their idea. Blizzard took an idea I believe Lord of the Rings invented with “Phasing”. With phasing the player could experience a change in the world without altering the world for everyone. A certain area of the map would alter or change based on what quests you had completed and the other players would still see the old area.

The one thing Blizzard is notoriously good at is polishing. They can take anyone’s idea and make it better. That’s not to say Blizzard hasn’t come up with their own good ideas, they have. It just seems to me that the best ideas Blizzard has implemented were taken from other games, not just other MMOs, and improved upon.

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