Posted by: innerfire | April 10, 2007

Proposal

This is an old article I’ve had in Drafts for a while, and I still rather like it.

I would like to propose something that might seem controversial, especially on a World of Warcraft blog. But I feel it should be said, nonetheless, to give another viewpoint to the swarming masses.

World of Warcraft is not a great game. It is a genius piece of marketing and social psychology, but as a game it is mediocre. Now, just work with me here, and take yourself back to when you first played the game. The key is in the learning curve and time committment. We all understand there’s a certain learning curve, which in Warcraft is introduced through starter zones and progressively added new and more complicated abilities to your arsenal. You learn a few things at level 1, and you don’t even worry about talents until 10th level. No one can really gank you, even on a PvP server, until you’re around level 20 and comfortable in your abilities. Everything is clearly explained.

The beginning is easy, with good quests and good development. We all have a dozen level 10-30 characters, because the quests still feel involving and fresh, with ties to the world that make you feel like you’re making a difference. Case in point is the entire line of Defias quests, from getting rid of bandits to clearing the Deadmines, to a dropped letter and finally “saving the kingdom” at level 25-30ish. The dungeons are interesting but not too long, there are good quests with some neat details, and you haven’t become burned out on the billion “kill X of this” quests.

You’ve begun to invest time in that character, seeing as most of us aren’t suparpowerlevelers, but people learning the class and sort of enjoying it as we go. Then you get to the part that is nearly universally hated by players, that grind from 35 or so to 60. 60 is your goal, 60 is where you can do all the “best” dungeons, get cool epics, go raiding, etc. 60 is where all your friends are, and you’ve already invested all that time in getting to 35, you may as well keep going. It’s a horrible, depressing grind sometimes, but you do it, because you have a clearly defined, obtainable goal.

You invest yet more time in that character, playing after school or work, getting gear and levels for that blob of code and pixels. And when you finally reach 60, hurrah! You accomplished a goal! But unlike many games, it isn’t that big a deal, and you’ll get a few “Congrats!” from friends, but there’s no giant celebration or fireworks that goes off, etc. And now you need a new goal. That usually takes the form of doing “end game” raids and instances, but can also be PvP rewards. Gear becomes the next goal, and by now, you’ve invested so much time getting your level 60 (and that was hard, boring work!) you don’t just want to do it again, you want to invest more time in the same character.

This is why there is a good business to be made from leveling characters not only to 60 (and now 70), but getting them geared. People aren’t paying for the character so much as they’re paying for the time it took to get all the levels and gear.

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Responses

  1. Its funny you should mention that WOW isn’t a great game as I just tried to lure one of my console playing friends over to it and his reply was “dude you’ve played this for how many hours?”

    He really enjoys playing RPG’s, but when he saw the quests/storyline-or lack there of- in WOW, he became bored at level 8.

  2. I too have a level 70 gnome warlock on eonar server. He enjoyed leveling to mount age (40) but was caught up in the guild politics and boring grind to 60 then 70 in The Burning Crusade expansion. I find that the biggest thing in the game now is end-game raiding for “uber gear”. To get a 5 man going is almost impossible anymore. Players are doing the ‘join, stay for a week, leave’ guild thing now. And you are correct in your assessment of story content….it gets boring for alts and is generally very painful to level one. I still play though…it is after all, one of the best designed alternate worlds I have seen in computer land so far but it is still early in cyber land. Better things are on the horizon.

  3. It’s very true what you say. But what makes a game good? The amount of time you put in it or how fun you have doing it? Since you cannot exactly measure funnyness, time is a good way.

    As for the boring 30-70 grind, it helps making the game balanced. Similar to all the faction reputation grinds.
    You don’t want a 10 year old first day player with you in a level 70 raid I guess? You need to invest some time in the game to get further, learn and feel a little unique and rewarded. However, it could be a lot less. But Blizzard wants to make some money, and they know how to do it. :)

    (My advice: play from 30 to 70 with a friend and use a voice chat program and talk about things not about WoW.)


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