I have seen the light
Nov 20, 2007 16:43:30

Hallelujah! I have seen the light! Morhaime, Pardo and Kaplan be praised! I have been shown the error of my ways.

Like Saul on the road to Damascus, I am Julie on the road to right thinking. When I wrote in an earlier article entitled "Endgame and Real People" that end game is about people I was wrong - incredibly, horribly, and undeniably wrong!

Recently, in an article on www.mmognation.com, Scott Hartsman, Senior Producer for Everquest 2, said the following:
"...the advent of World of Warcraft was a quality-bar raiser for the entire industry...I am thrilled because it is now the case where there is no arguing anymore. Everyone understands at all levels of the business what quality is, and what quality needs to be in order to survive." -Scott Hartsman

All I can say in reply is this: Dear God let's hope not.

AT least not where the structure of endgame is concern - Blizzard's endgame structure is more rigid and unforgiving than a platoon full of drill sergeants. At least Blizzard gives you two more options than those same drill sergeants - the sergeants would tell you do it their way or get out (been there, heard that). Blizzard tells us we can run raid progression the way they tell us to - or craft, or pvp. If we don't like that THEN we can get out. And why SHOULD they care? Even if the ENTIRE population of Switzerland where WoW subscribers - and if they all got up and left at once, en masse - Blizzard would still have 1,791,300 subscribers. Those are some staggering numbers. Are there other games with larger subscriber numbers? Sort of - those are games with micro transactions paying for them. Those are games were 20 million accounts does not equal 20 million paying accounts.

Still, I ask myself, does the "golden rule" apply here? I don't mean the golden rule you learned in grade school. I mean the golden rule you may have learned in business, like I did. Namely, the person with the most gold makes the rules.

And just where is that Blizzard "quality bar" set when it comes to end game?

Just what is that carrot that Blizzard dangles in front of us to keep us playing? What is that "industry standard"?

Richard Garriott would have us believe that most of what Blizzard offers us in end game is about inventory management - I am beginning to believe he is correct. In WoW there are nearly endless ways to gain "reputation" with nearly endless NPC factions. Now that you can run instances/dungeons on heroic (very difficult) level with a lot less trouble they have made it easier to get into the faction grind. In the end that too is about the gear. There is always crafting and daily quests. But the main emphasis in Blizzard's end game is two fold - pvp and raiding. When it comes to pvp I applaud the recent efforts that Blizzard has made to change PVP. But when it comes to raid content in The Burning Crusade (TBC) I feel it falls far short of the mark.

So why does it fall short? Or does it? Ask yourself how many times, in WoW (or any other for that matter) you have had to spam "looking for healer, looking for tank". Ask yourself why it sometimes seems to hard to get into an end game raid? Even Blizzard has noticed that TBC has stratified guilds to a great extent. When I recently brought this up with one guild master (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) here is what he had to say:
"Examine those who are wanting for a raid and you'll understand. They are the social misfits, the isolationists, the cynics, the malcontents who feel that the major problem with a multiplayer game is that there are other people playing it."

(cue sarcasm)

Considering that even Blizzard admits that a very narrow margin of people actually get to experience much of the end game raiding content there are one whole heck of a lot of misfits out there.

Next time I will discuss what Blizzard is doing about it, and what developers outside Blizzard are doing about it.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Nov 20, 2007 16:43:30 CST (comments: 1)


'Sadly...' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-11-20 19:44:29 CST
The bar has been set by WoW, both good and bad.. unfortnately as I've been given the chance to participate in many upcoming MMO's for 2007 and 2008 I've found that after a decade of playing MMO's I'll likely not play another seriously until they adopt key features pioneered by WoW.

To put it this way, I refuse to play a MMO at all if it's lacking a significant key feature that WoW established as a standard such as a completely open explorable non-instanced world, including flight when applicable to the game. I just can't compromise on several elements and it effectively means I have no interest in many upcoming MMO's because of the limitations of their lower budgets or game design.

This also worries me alot as I feel it'll affect a lot of upcoming MMO's as players expectations have fundamentally been changed. Players are willing to look aside the lack of certain features, but they're going to expect something in exchange and I'm not sure how many new MMORPG's will be providing that.

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