Blog Azeroth – Shared Topic for the week of February 7th, 2011
Shared Topic Idea: Dream Game
Pretend for a moment that WoW hasn’t yet been released. Or perhaps it is, but you’ve never heard of the whole SWG NGE debacle, and thus have no fear about dramatically changing how everything works post-release.
You have the original (or BC, or Wrath, or Current, your pick) design docs to start from, but you’re free to change absolutely everything if you so choose.
With all this power, what would you change? What would make WoW the dream game for you?
January has passed away for the year and I am determined to have my unintentional vacation from writing pass away with it. And what better way to get back into the thick of it than by taking all of World of Warcraft and starting over from the ground floor.
Since I did not start playing until the very last breath of 2008, I don’t know what Classic and Burning Crusade were like. Wrath of the Lich King was my first playground, but even there I do not feel as though I my understanding of MMO’s was very strong. I was still new to the concept.
However, I feel that I entered into Cataclysm as more of an MMO-adult. I knew the rules, I knew the conventions, etc. etc. And with my knowledge of what was and is, I had a grasp of what I would like to see. So, I am going to take Cataclysm and make modifications to polish what already exists, add some new bits, and chuck out what doesn’t work.
Interface: Hear Me!
As has been discussed before, the voice chat features of Warcraft are pretty terrible. I also realize that most people who want to speak with others inside the game do so through third-party programs such as Vent or Mumble. What I would like to see from Blizzard is a reworking of their voice software such that it stands as a reasonable alternative for those that do not wish to either pay or set up their own server for chatting.
Regarding the interface itself, I would have an icon next to each player’s name showing whether or not they have a microphone that is ready to use. Parties, raids, and battlegrounds would automatically be hooked into group chat servers so that individuals could easily communicate with one another. Players could also start chat conversations with disparate groups of friends by starting a whisper conversation with all of them and converting it to a voice/text chat. In order to give people some protections, there would be toggle options in the interface menu to automatically decline all voice chats and mute anyone using the feature. (If a party or raid member wanted to listen without speaking, they could still get the sound from others, but mute their own input.)
In Game Life: Guild Halls
Yes, yes, everybody and their mother’s brother has talked up and down about guild halls. I know it would be a burden for Blizz to get all the server space allocated and all that, but guilds must leave the game in order to have a place to call their own. Guild halls could offer players a place to have a home in the world, more than just a stay at an inn.
To help fill out the idea, a new profession (or two) could be added that centers around crafting wooden and stone furniture and various accoutrements for the houses. The profession could also (at last) craft some bows for hunters, and maybe even some wooden or stone shields, armor, or whatnot.
As guilds level up, they could unlock more areas in their guild houses, possibly including recreation areas (some in-game games could be added, similar to the arcade game added into Starcraft 2), sleeping chambers (that give players better rested xp bonuses or stat bonuses for logging out there), work areas for professions that give slight bonuses to crafting (enhanced chance to discover new recipes, etc.). Blizzard has discussed the reasoning behind leaving player housing out of the game, and I agree that in-game community is important, but so is offering in-game community for established guilds.
Factions: Speaking My Language
A long while back I was reading about the coding that causes players on one faction to see speech from the opposite faction as gibberish that resembles a language. The authors and commenters on that site brought up the notion of learning the enemy’s languages and that thought has stuck with me to this day. I don’t see why my character, who has traveled to another planet, fought demons and dragons, and learned to craft the most intricate of items is unable to sit down and learn a language.
Such a feature would have to be controlled, obviously, but a long and arduous profession that requires a significant expenditure of time and resources that allows a player to learn another language in game would be really neat (in my opinion). Furthermore, this feature would not grant characters the ability to whisper them, enter their chat channels, or anything like that. But in situations where you are approached in close proximity with an enemy faction player, you could /say with them and, zone-wide, /yell. Those without the profession would still see the gibberish, but those with the language proficiencies would read the original text.
Professionalism: Renaissance Man
The last thing I will jump on for the moment is unlearning professions. Blizzard has made the decision to allow an individual player to only have access to two main professions at a time. However, knowing that people don’t always choose wisely and that circumstances can change, they allow you to drop an existing profession and pick up a new one.
The real bugger comes in when you realize that the first profession was actually the right decision. At that point, you get to start over from scratch. A modification to this system that would allow players a little more flexibility (and a touch more realism) would be the following: when a player drops a profession, the maximum skill they earned for that profession is stored. If they choose to come back to it, they start out at half of their maximum previous skill. They then get accelerated skill ups for a short period as they ‘remember’ how to do things. If they should get their skill higher than before and drop it again, the new high skill is recorded for the future. Also, any recipes learned are available upon taking the profession up again (possibly with some hurdles to jump for the more complicated patterns).
Alright, so those things would go a long way toward making the game better for me personally. What would you do to make Warcraft into your dream game?