I was not prepared

4 Comments

As I awaited the announcement of the new expansion, there was some undeniable excitement but also a bit of nervousness for me. This would be the expansion, I thought, that decided whether I’d stick with Warcraft or end my journey. And it would all boil down to whether Legion offered me what I was looking for in a game.

This is not a Legion hype post by the way – I’ve since gotten off that train. This is just me being blunt and sizing up the announcement and interviews with my gaming interests in mind, no frills. The good news is that it hit a few things on my expansion wishlist. And the bad news….well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Continue Reading »

Expansion Wishlist

Leave a comment

I have been fairly vocal and blunt in my criticism of Warlords of Draenor, and Blizzard’s general decisions in this expansion. Decisions that caused me to leave the game for a while.

With a new expansion on the horizon, time for a change from all that doom and gloom. So without further ado, here’s my expansion wishlist – what would bring me back to Azeroth:

– Lore as the driving reason for game decisions. Story is important and rather than fight it, work with it. It really does make for a better world. I don’t particularly care if we fly or don’t fly at the end of the day – but I want a good lore reason whichever way it goes.

– A solid story. No more dodgy time-traveling, no more gaping plot holes that need to be hastily filled. All I want for Christmas is a well-told, engaging story.

No more orcs. I’m really tired of orcs – there’s a plethora of stuff going on but the spotlight seems to be on orcish politics and Thrall’s life. And I just don’t care about it anymore. How about a Gnomish coup to oust Mekkatorque – we clearly need a better leader to retake Gnomeregan. What about the night elves? The goblins? The Tauren?

– A retaken and cleaned up Gnomeregan city for gnomes. I thought we’d be getting this in Cataclysm honestly so this one’s overdue for me. No, that cess infested irradiated patch of land we got does not count.

A female leader…lead. I’d like to see any of them in action – especially Tyrande. She holds a special spot for my druid since I first started playing and I’d love to see play a major role in the upcoming story.

– More class options for Gnomes. Gnomes have the lowest number of playable classes for our race. We could really use hunters or shamans or even paladins (since we’re already priests). Any of those would do – more options are good.

Lots of dungeons. One of my favourite parts in Wrath was seeing dungeons tied to storylines in each zone and having so many of them to do.

Interesting Professions. Not trivialising gathering professions would be a start. But in general the stale formula of “craft this cd for x number of days and you have a shiny” didn’t make the professions feel terribly unique. They just didn’t grab me this time around.

Class quests. I really miss them. First time I rolled a shaman I loved having to talk to the elementals and learn about each of the four elements before getting my totems. It was all about the journey, all about exploring a new class.

The RNG nature of Stats on gear. Playing with luck is fun but too much of something is bad. It wasn’t fun to roll for stats – it was annoying and frustrating.

Featuring a gnome in a cinematic. One of the reasons I love FFXIV is that they take my favourite race and treat it equally with all the other races. It appears in trailers, there are important lore figures representing it, and said lore figures are actually doing important things in the game. It’s time to take a page.

I’m looking forward to the 6th to see if anything on this list makes it to the announcement. I’m not quite sure what to expect but for the love of the Light, I hope it doesn’t involve any more orcs.

The Importance of Time

1 Comment

It is said that the simplest stories are often the best ones. All it takes is a character, a world that draws you in and a journey. And the journey, the ups and downs, and the events and people in it keep us coming back to it. The journey is usually the highlight of story in a game world like Warcraft’s, and the journey is inextricably tied to what happened before and what happens next.

Somewhere along the line, Warcraft seems to have forgotten this mantra along the way. In the tug of war between game-play and story, I imagine story has usually come in second place. The results are glaring cracks in the game world, and a distinct lack of a compelling journey. The importance of story is not in question here – it affects the entire game world and gives players a reason to want to be in it. Today’s post is more about how Warcraft arrived at this point.

There are two points in Warcraft where I feel like the game world took a huge hit from decisions, and both these decisions took a single thing for granted: the importance of a timeline.

The importance of having a beginning to a journey, and knowing exactly how things follow after is huge. And we lose that continuity if time is this flexible thing we can manipulate at the drop of a whim. The story isn’t a journey anymore then – it becomes more about figuring out what the hell’s going on.

Continue Reading »

Interesting Piece on Story

1 Comment

Matthew Rossi over at BlizzardWatch wrote an eloquent and timely piece on the importance of story, specifically to Warcraft in the WoD context. The importance of story as an issue has quietly been simmering in my head for the last month or so, as some of my philosophical tweets show:

story1

story2

story3In his piece, Rossi literally reads my mind and makes a compelling case for why story matters even to the most anti-lore hardcore raiding quest-text skipping type of gamers. Well worth a read – head on over and see for yourself!

PS: The issue is still simmering for me – lots of stuff I want to say – blog post on it incoming soon ™!

 

Warcraft and I

Leave a comment

I don’t know quite how to put my thoughts together on this, but there is something that needs to be said. So, here goes.

Over this past weekend, news emerged that patch 6.2 is the final major content patch for the expansion. This makes Warlords perhaps the shortest expansion yet and it would be first among all expansions to end this early. This was unexpected to say the least. It’s still good news to me though – as my tweet sums up nicely:

wod-tweet

I imagine two scenarios for why Blizzard would choose to end Warlords of Draenor this early – one is a good one, the other not so great:

Cutting their losses and moving on.

The story in Warlords is a badly told story at level cap. We’re already in an alternate timeline which put it on thin ice from the very start. Then there’s the orc-centric component which is somewhat tired, and to top it all off, there isn’t a solid ending to this arc. We don’t get to the fight the big bad villain of this expansion. There was also no Karabor as a city (I was so disappointed with that), and in general, I just didn’t want to be in this world after a point.

Yep, I am ready for a different story. One without orcs at the center for once, and preferably in a nice normal timeline. Gnome expansion if you ask me – hey, a girl can dream.

Lil-mercurial1

STOP! More gnome lore needed!!

Hopefully, this announcement is just Blizzard accepting that hey, this hasn’t gone the way they expected. Their design decisions and vision was clearly off the mark and perhaps it’s just time to stop trying to salvage the story and move on to something better instead. And in this case, sooner is better than later.

Faster-than-a-goblin-rocket expansions.

FOR PROFITS!

FOR PROFITS!

This is the one that worries me. Blizzard has time and again mentioned how their goal is to reduce the amount of time between expansions. Ending WoD early however, is possibly the first step with this goal in mind – churning out expansions every year rather than every two years.

I dearly hope this is not the driving reason behind the decision because it prioritises  a quick schedule over quality. And to top it off, faster releases is not at the top of my list of issues.

wod-tweet2I would rather have a good story, and an engaging, immersive world any day over a quicker expansion. Whether I play one expansion per year or one every two makes no difference whatsoever.

All I care about is if I am having fun and enjoying my time in the game – and that is governed solely by the quality of content and not its frequency. 

Final Thoughts

I decided to take a break from WoW because I didn’t enjoy playing in the world any longer. When 6.2 failed to draw me back in, I figured that perhaps 6.3 would do the trick and I’d be back for it. I thought I’d merely be sitting out a patch or two – and now with this news, it appears that I will be sitting out the entire remainder of the expansion.

Where does this leave Warcraft and me? I don’t really know. If Blizzard does choose to go down the path of bad storytelling and lackluster narratives, I don’t foresee myself returning to it. On the other hand, if they’ve got something up their sleeve and want to tell a compelling story with a well-articulated vision in mind, then yes, count me in. Until then, I will wait and keep an eye on how things develop.

 

Switching it up for a bit…

Leave a comment

I’m switching up my games this summer and will be spending my time in Final Fantasy XIV: ARR. I’m still dealing with my hand healing from tendinitis but I can play FF with one hand ( very slowly but still, yay!). So far I’m having a blast with the story and the slower gameplay seems to be a boon for me. It’s a nice change of pace and scenery all around – and I’m kind of excited about the upcoming expansion too!

I’ll be blogging about my journey at lenalilei.wordpress.com. Feel free to stop by if you’d like to keep up with my lalafell’s adventures! :)

To Fly or Not to Fly

Leave a comment

As someone who has been neutral on the highly divisive issue of flying, reading Blizzard’s latest announcement made me take a second look at how it affected my gameplay and enjoyment of WoW. And the key thing that stands out to me as I look at Draenor and its problems is that it’s not just about flying. 

There are two things that really make games interesting for me: 1) Having a stuff to do and 2) Having a compelling reason to want to do them.

So it’s not just enough to fill the game with something and say “look there’s stuff to do, you’re just not doing it” – things have to be interesting enough to entice players to them. And make no mistake, that is the game’s job not mine. Flying comes into this because it affects both of these key aspects.

Limiting my “stuff-to-list”:

I recently had to quit raiding (even though it was very casual) because tendinitis reared its ugly head (my right hand can’t hold a mouse). Even while raiding, I had noticed a trend in my own guild and server where people mostly hung around garrisons for short amounts of time, and logged on for raids….and that was it. Once I had no raiding to do, I found myself trying to fill the gap. In the past when I wouldn’t raid, I did things like Archaeology, herbing on my druid, and flying around taking screenshots series for the blog (like the one I did for Mists of Pandaria). And a big plus was that I could do all of these with just one hand and still enjoy the game.

It didn’t quite hit me until the announcement, but sure enough not being able to fly severely limited my enjoyment of these things. I did try doing all of those without the ability to just up and fly off to my next destination and sure enough, the experience sucked. The reward just wasn’t worth constantly figuring out how to get to which spot all for a couple of fragments. And then there were mobs which dealing with one hand doesn’t always work out that great for me. And I hardly took any screenies this time around. These are things that used to be fun through past expansions that are no longer fun for me in the current one, and from the looks of it – possibly not in the future.

I could go back to Pandaria or Azeroth and do them… but I want to be in Draenor! That’s why I bought the expansion afterall.

Lack of a compelling reason:

The decision on flying rests on their vision of Draenor which thus far has been a murky mystery chock full of contradictions.

Flight-quoteRather than expanding on what their vision is, we’re left to wonder what kind of vision that puts Garrisons and Raids at the forefront could possibly be at odds with making exploration and other activities more enjoyable. I am honestly just simply confused. They want us to be in Garrisons the entire time? Or is about constantly fighting mobs on the ground and feeling “savage”? (It doesn’t make me feel very savage but there you go) Or is it about wanting everyone to raid all the time? And how did they reach their flying decision from there? I don’t understand it one bit.

This doesn’t just reflect on flying, but it makes one wonder about the guiding philosophy behind decisions in general. The WHY behind the decisions are just as important as the decisions themselves. Added to that, the manner in which this decision came out reflects poorly on Blizzard but I’ll leave it to that since there’s not much else to be said for it.

About a week ago, it had dawned on me that Warcraft simply didn’t fit my needs anymore. It didn’t inspire me to keep playing and with my limitation of pure keyboard playing at the moment, it couldn’t offer me very much. So I naturally took my game time elsewhere to a game that DID accommodate my needs. The recent no flying announcement, while by itself didn’t make or break anything for me, gave me a signal that what I thought a week ago is still true for the foreseeable future.

The issue of flying is a small one if it’s just a lone issue. But its cumulative weight coupled with other issues combined seems to be a greater than the sum of its parts. If I were designing the game, I’d want to perk up, pay attention and maybe work on a good definition of the vision for World of Warcraft.