The Day I Scrapped Everything

Published by Brunold on Di, 02/16/2016 - 15:36 in
An absolutely beautiful, energetic screenshot of my engineer working in Stormshield

Okay, so I had plans, detailed, indepths plans for talking about guilds today, because they're important, more important than you might expect. But then, somewhere between midnight and now I chose to delay those plans, hence the title. Instead I'll be talking atmosphere (most likely again, if you ever talked to me).

When people started to complain about Stormshield (and whatever that Horde military base is called) being empty and dead, I made a decision. Since I'm busy doing the auction house this expansion, I would do most of the professioning in Stormshield. As an engineer or blacksmith I therefore try to go to the respective work stations to create stuff, even if I don't need to do that. Both of them are fairly central to the base, so people can and will see and hear me working. I don't actually know that someone ever noticed me doing this, especially not unconsciously, which is more important than you might think. What I do know and did remember is people telling me how that had been something that drew them back to WoW, when they had tried out other MMOs: Seeing people being busy. A blacksmith in or around a forge makes a place more vivid and more immersive. I think, that's a simple thing we can do to make the game better and people happy. And that is - since people seem to be obsessed with that argument - my counter to the accusation, that I was wasting my time doing so.

Then there is a healthy debate about cookie cutter builds and toxic player (raider) behaviour in our community, supported by World of Warcraft's devs. The problem is multi-facetted but in my opinion one of the core issues is how we conceive "the best", which is especially relevant in the wake of a reshaping of eSports to make it attractive for a wider audience. Currently, it's strongly about perfectly executing a preset path of actions, but it doesn't have to be.

Esports and gaming in general can be about many kinds of "ability", not only the fastest way to end a dungeon, but for example and in the least ambitious way the fastest way to completely clear a dungeon. The broad supply with Minecraft-streamers shows an interested not only in raw competition, but also in creativity and creative ways to play games. Speed-runs after all started out as just one of these creative ways. I know that, I did speed runs way before we needed to glue hundreds of people to their screens before we could motivate ourselves to do them. There was a time we did this simply because it was a way to play the game. There's a lot our community can do and one direction to go is immersiveness. Immersion can ignite the spark of creativity, it can make people want to explore the world of Warcraft again. One way to make this game a more immersive place I layed out above. Immersion is one option to break away from the current set of rules, it is an opportunity to raise questions like "Why do we need to collect so much gear before entering a dungeon in the first place?"

To be absolutely honest, most of this is our responsibility, only the community can do most of the task. But there are some ways for Blizzard to encourage us. First, they can offer a wider variety of competitions. Speed-runs for druid-only raids, for example. There should also be a possibility to reward creative solutions in their contests. It's not easy to evaluate creativeness, but we do so in art contests anyway. If they acutally want to go down the esports route, that is. Generally, they could put more effort into drawing us into their worlds, and yes, they could make WoW more coherent. My go-to example for this still are pet battles, who are presented as a Pandarian sort of sports, leisure activity, but NOT IN THE GAME. They feel like an isolated game, which coincidentally uses the same Azeroth as some sort of interface. NPCs should more freely refer to them in dialogue, for starters. Which means: Put in some sort of (more?) idle dialogue.And you could make the game less repetitive by updating AIs. Mobs who can think make for wonderful situations in which you need to be creative and stealthy. Do whatever you can do to make the world a living and breathing space.