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Reader Comments (32)

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:22PM (Unverified) said

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I realize that this is an opinion-piece but it just adds fuel to the fire that Massively has a bias in reporting -- especially when talking about WoW. I expect the author will soon be flamed for furthering his own -- or his employer's -- agenda.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:27PM Abriael said

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lol @ more blizzard hype.

There's nothing that makes wow unique, simply because there's been absolutely no innovation in wow since when it was invented to now. It's simply an exercise of ripping off features from other games and implementing them in wow.
The only difference is that everything in wow is so absolutely easy and so much focus is put into instant gratification and the zero need of social interaction that everyone, from the pre-teen to the dedicated griefer can be succesful.

The most funny part of this article is the mention of "an effort in storytelling unseen in MMOs to date". Maybe you should have played Final Fantasy XI (that was released quite a lot before wow), before making comparisons. Since the mission lines in FFXI, with their involving scripting, their plot twysts and the awesome direction of their cutscenes, simply blow any storytelling there's in wow out of the sky (this without even mentioning that the backstory beind WoW is extremely weak, and this makes the whole storytelling a tad pathetic, expecially if compared with the questlines of other games that have much more solid lores as a foundation).

The only real plot twyst in the death knight's introductory questline is the fact that the player is forced to betray arthas and join the horde or the alliance. Because of course, you can't be evil in pre-teen world of warcraft.
And this would be an "unseen" effort in storytelling? pwease...

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 5:14PM (Unverified) said

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See here's the problem, you talk about Wrath having no innovation as if you've played it...and you haven't. You have no idea what you're talking about and therefore shouldn't be able to form an opinion on the subject. It's not your cup of tea? Cool, I played WAR from beta up until a few days ago and it wasn't mine. Now what I'm NOT going to do is flame about the reasons I didn't like the game everytime something good about it comes up.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 8:08PM (Unverified) said

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Abriael, seeing your comments on every single WoW post is getting really, really old. You don't like the game, yet for some reason, feel the need to share your hate every chance you get. Do you sit at home in your mom's basement and constantly refresh massively.com in order to spam your drivel? Your the worst kind of fanboy, the type that just can't move on and play the game they like.

Here's my prediction: you're back playing WoW in 1 month, if you haven't resubbed already.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:34PM Boruk said

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As far aas being unique...the only thing that made it this was an improved graphics look and a easier time to level in.

I say this now and for a long time. If you take the oringinal Everquest and make it easier to level and just as "pretty" as Warcraft. you would have tons of people jumping ship to go play that game.

What I don't understand is why Blizzard isn't going to new route and doing things that no other MMO is doing and making Warcraft that much better. Tons of people I have talked to today and yesterday say they thought Wrath was goingto make the game better, instead of making the Go kill 10 rats quests prettier.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:51PM Abriael said

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It's not surprising. Blizzard has never been a developer aiming to innovate the gaming market. During their whole career they simply gave a good look to what was available from other game developers, took one game as a basic model, possibly dumbed it down to make it more accessible, then picked cherries from other games and added them to the basic cake. basically all of their games follow this trend, or are sequels (read: copies with very little addition) of such games.

They didn't do it just with gameplay mechanics, but also with backstories (the warcraft story is a ripoff from warhammer, the starcraft story a ripoff from warhammer 40000). In the end they are the fast fashion of videogames (fast fashioon = rip off big fashion brands making the products cheaper and lower quality, but more accessible).

It's a good money making model of course (just as fast fashion), and that's why they'll never change it. Simply put.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:49PM (Unverified) said

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The problem is that changing the questing dynamic on that kind of a level fundamentally changes the game. There is are actually quite a few things that I've noticed already that are better, but when you're dealing with something of this caliber you have to make changes gradual. Blizzard can't just turn this game into something totally different over night, there would be a massive outcry from the player base.

And if you look at it right now, what game is played by a sizable group of people that is 100% different? The only thing I can think of is EVE. LotRO, WAR and CoH/CoV (which I think are probably the biggest games to compare to state-side), they all have the obligatory "kill x amount of x" quests. WAR even goes a step further by adding the public quest system that makes you do that on a grander scale (not that I'm complaining, I love PQ's when there's people to do them).

It's easy to point an accusatory finger, saying that they should change more BECAUSE they're as big and have been around for a few years, but that idea isn't really logical, nice maybe, but definitly not logical. I would site the infamous SWG fiasco for a reason why you can't change your game drastically overnight. And so far, the only people I see complaining are people that already don't play the game, people that do play seem to be very happy with the direction.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:58PM Abriael said

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It's not nearly a matter of being 100% different. No game (expecially MMOs) will EVER be 100% different and developers will always learn and improve ovewr what's done before them.

There's a difference, though, between games that aren't 100% different (but whose developers strive to introduce at least a degree of innovation, like the ones you mentioned, warhammer, lotro, eve, AoC, coX..), and the ones that are 100% the same, like wow, whose developer doesn't make ANY effort to innovate.

The biggest problem is that WoW goes on by inertia, with tyons of people playing it just because their friend/family/girlfriend play it. So they settle for playing a lower quality always-the-same product instead of stepping outside of their little cocoon.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 12:55PM J Brad Hicks said

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Yeah, I gotta say, you can't impress me with the "storytelling innovation" of World of Warcraft and all of its imitators. There are definitely other MMOs that have done it better.

But I think you're spot on about the other two things you cite as major advantages Blizzard has. First and foremost, in the entire history of the computer gaming industry, no company in the world has ever been better than Blizzard was, is, and probably always will be at optimizing graphics to look amazing for no more hardware than they require. For crying out loud, you could run Diablo II or Starcraft on a cell phone these days, and has any MMO yet, all these years later, built better looking game worlds or better combat animations? Whenever I try to pitch an alternative to WoW (which I actively loathe) to my friends, the final deal breaker always comes down to that $200 graphics card every 2 years, and the effort to crack the case and install it.

The other big selling point that WoW has is the exact reason I hate it: IT'S STUPID. The character classes are tremendously dumbed down. If you eliminate duplicate powers that are just the same power with better stats, there really aren't all that many powers. The gameplay is horribly repetitive: basically identical bags of hitpoints with basically identical chains of attacks that will always be repeated the exact same way. Which means that any idiot can do it. There's no skill involved other than the organizational skill to recruit and maintain a 40 person or 70 person guild, powerlevel them all, and grind enough random loot drops to equip them all. Then throw them at the same bag of hit points five nights a week for the next six months, because that's how long it takes Blizzard to design a new bag of hit points.

I could draw parallels in popular fiction, but there is a clear divide between those of us who love fiction, and games, where if you don't pay attention and if you aren't willing to learn from what you see and if you don't spend time between new episodes enthusiastically discussing your possible insights with other people and learning theirs, you just can't figure out what's going on (remember the Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5?), and those who want their entertainment, whether it's TV or games, to be the same every week except for the chrome and the one-liners, so they can pick it up at random any time and still know what's going on. And yeah, comparing the ratings from any random episodic law enforcement thriller to Babylon 5 or Stargate, or for that matter comparing the ratings from Star Trek: The Next Generation to Star Trek: Deep Space 9, it's pretty clear where the money is: there's a lot more money in simple if dumb than there is in rich in detail and implications but complex.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:51PM (Unverified) said

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Would you call it "success", then?
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:52PM (Unverified) said

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Bah, I was replying the comment below this one!
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:09PM gemski said

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Those who say Blizz hasn't done anything innovative are just too blinded by hate for whatever is popular.

Blizzard has always been good at taking niche/geeky genre and making it "mainstream." They continue to refine WoW and if you are bored...well there is only so much they can do outside of a whole new game after 4 years.

I play WoW...I would like to find something new. I really tried to switch to WAR but it still felt like a beta. I like it but like WoW more.

LotRO and Star Wars Old Republic the only other MMOs I really want to give a good try.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:26PM Abriael said

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Copying other games and dumbing them down to make them accessible to every pre-teen that gets gifted an used PC for christmas doesn't really count as "innovation", I'm afraid.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:29PM gemski said

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Oh wow I never knew you felt that way. You're so full of venom over WoW it just makes me laugh. You're probably one of those people who tells rockband players to learn a real guitar.

"People are enjoying a game I hate...RAWR!!"
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:51PM Abriael said

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Seeing things as they are instead of trough rose-colored shades doesn't really classify as being "full of venom" i'm afraid
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 2:52PM (Unverified) said

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Would you call it "success", then?
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 3:39PM (Unverified) said

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Insisting that there is absolutely nothing good and innovative in WoW, and that it's success is entirely due to it being "dumbed down" and having low system requirements, does not count as "seeing things as they are".

Sure you could make a successful game along those lines. But we're not talking about a merely successful game, we're talking about one with more than 10x the subscriber base any comparable game has ever achieved. At some point you have to confess that yes, maybe there is something there, and you're just hating on it because it makes you feel cool to hate something that huge numbers of people like.
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Posted: Nov 14th 2008 3:07PM Syme said

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It amuses me reading the comments here to remember the comments that followed every Warhammer article leading up to that games release. Those comments accused Massively of having an anti-Blizzard bias and of being in Mythics pocket. While the names may change, it seems human nature never does.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 3:17PM Rihahn said

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Unfortunately, if you're cynical enough, there has been no "innovation" for the last thousand years. Everything is derivative of something else.

But we can look a the things Blizzard has "improved" easy enough: questing, user interface, combat, etc, etc.

The biggest thing *I* think that has made Blizz the 800 pound gorilla in the space is simple direction... By direction I mean in the "movie director" sense.

Every race has a unique look and feel, right down to the idle animations, architecture, and color schemes used. If you start an Orc, you get an immediate feeling of what life is like as an Orc through the red/brown pallet used in the starting area and the wood and bone buildings. The same holds true for the Night Elves and the blues and greens and ancient ruins and giant trees they start off in.

People can immediately connect with what is being shown to them at a basic, almost sub-conscious level.

Warhammer *almost* does this, but no other MMO really does.

Additionally there's the oft-criticized "cartoony" look of WoW which is a big reason for it's success; people really do make a better connection with the obviously unreal characters in WoW doing unreal things than the nearly realistic characters in something like EQ2 attempting to do the same... Insert diatribe about Uncanny Valley here.

Then there's the writing... yes, WoW is almost a direct rip-off of Warhammer's story arc, but it has had many, many years of translation into a video-game setting and is just presented so much better than Warhammer. EQ2's back story on the other hand was so thin you could see through it, and it just didn't 'hook' anyone.

Then there's WoW's tongue-in-cheek humor, which always serves to remind players that they are just that - players in a game - and that this isn't "serious business".

It's the sum-total of these parts that make WoW so successful. Even though you can point to everything in WoW and say "they stole that from 'X'", you can't deny that it's not the ingredients, but the chef, that makes the meal.

Posted: Nov 14th 2008 4:07PM Abriael said

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Actually the unique look and feel of each race is MUCH better implemented in Warhammer than in WoW. in which many races are plainly badly designed, like the orcs, that are nothing else than comedy relief.
Moreover the common classes contribute to thwarting any kind of unique feel the races may have.

Simply put, there's nothing in WoW that other games didn't do better. WoW is simply easier and more accessible. Exactly like reality shows on TV, and no one right in his mind would define reality shows as quality TV. Yet, the mass drools on them like on a cream cake. That tells a lot.
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