« Gaming in Russia | Main | Lost Culture »

Mar 19, 2004



The only thing I want to say about the WoW beta so far that I find interesting, is not that is it a highly anticipated beta from a well regarded company, but more so right now just how open they are about the game at this time.

Going to the Blizzard website, already you can check out most of the 'manual' for the game, access to the beta forums, no NDA in sight, Screenshots galore, and with all that good, pleanty of crying and screaming about this and that already.

It's not everyday you hear about a company just going out trial by fire I think. Usually don't they have a long NDA period where they try to get out the most serious bugs then open things up when it's stable, cleaned up and more presentable? Or did Blizzard do such a good job during it's closed beta that it bypassed all that?

Pretty nice so far, although I have to admit, It does sound a lot more of the same in terms of a MMOG. Then again, Blizzard is known for takeing pre-existing ideas and just makeing them attractive to a much larger audience then in the past.

Maybe they can do it again here? Hard to say.



Whizbang and Pedi Dustyboots of Graffe.com have a very detail review of the alpha. The review is very revealing:

1. "But like all Blizzard games, it is more of a triumph of an evolutionary game process – everything you like about previous MMORPGs, without the added suck – rather than a revolutionary process."

2. Nice touches like flower, toy squirrels, wrapping paper, etc.

Here's the link: http://www.graffe.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15526



NDA or not I generally find there's a lot that looks good in beta that doesn't fly quite as well once opened up to long term live gameplay.

We'll see how the Blizzard boys do.






Haven't actually played it (but devouring the forums), It looks to me like a company that knows
how to make good games is making an honest attempt to fix some of what is wrong the MMOs.

Still, some of the things I think are obviously required are still missing, such as permadeath.

So it's not perfect. But it looks like a damn good job. I'll be playin' it when it comes out.


MM>>"Still, some of the things I think are obviously required are still missing, such as permadeath"

You'll have to wait a while for that - the gamer majority isn't ready for such an environment.

I think before we see any games that include PD as a regular feture someone will have to experiment with it on one of their games "alternate rules" server and see what kind of player acceptance they get.


There are already lots of text muds/MMORPGs with permadeath. None of them have managed to even come close to the same popularity as text muds/MMORPGs without it. I don't think we're ever going to see a game with true permadeath (ie you really lose everything you've done, not just change into your character's son, inheriting all your previous wealth, etc) gain significant popularity until/unless the achievement model loses favor with gamers. That seems improbable, to me at least.



Or unless avoiding permadeath becomes an achievement method :)

But seriously, WoW design does not need permadeath. They are looking at the endgame still, so some concentual permadeath endgame could be possible.

WoW, however, does seems to have the economic achievement balance right.

"The game is set up to suck your cash out of your pocket every two levels, with spells and new abilities. Most players will be about level 20 before they make their first gold that they don't immediately spend on needed upgrades. I'd consider it about the same as 100 plat in EQ." - Whizbang Dustyboots on gaffe.com forum.



IMO, WoW will do one of two things:

It'll go SWG-esque with a big launch followed by degradation and loss of player base not too shortly thereafter (say 6-9 mo. maybe).

It'll learn from SWG - start with a boom and then *retain* a lot of the starting population with good content, good gameplay and a generally good game.

I'm hoping for the latter but any way you slice it, WoW is going to explode during its first few months. (Explode as in build a sizeable player base, not as in firey ball o' red-hot death.)


World Of Warcraft can quickly become one of the most popular MMOGs around. So far Blizzard hasn't released a singled game that wouldn't become a HIT - and they only do 3 titles! Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft - that's it.

I think their next move would be making Diablo III Online and then doing expansion packs that would allow players from WoW and WoD (World Of Diablo?) to play in one realm.

OF course - players will be delighted to have the opportunity to send Night Elves against Demons from Diablo, and Blizzard would keep the product still alive and just count the $$$. :)


This review is fantastic (as a review). It also makes the game look like a sure-fire 100K list member (but we all knew that would be the case).



Greg, thanks for posting a link to that review. I'm only about a third of the way through it but I'm getting more and more psyched every paragraph. (Not to Self: Cancel SWG account before WoW.)


It is a great review. I'm not sure whether to be happy or scared -- I think this captures it:

The first time you hear the snow crunch under your feet in Khaz Modan as your breath steams in the air, or the first time you ride a wyvern across the Barrens of Kalimdor or the first time an NPC shouts out your name, celebrating you saving the day at the end of a long quest, you'll feel that magic. WoW is not perfect, but man, it's really, really close. It's loyalty to friends that kept me still playing EQ, but many alpha players dropped EQ, DAoC or Final Fantasy like a bad habit and never looked back. Expect sleepless nights, calling in sick from work and lost weekends all over again.

If this is right, Blizzard has a great brand and an established base of Warcraft players. This looks like the next SWG.


Also go to the www.gaffe.com forum to hear Whizbang Dustyboots (author) and Pedi Dustryboots answer questions and give additional details. I have posted the link above, but here is it again:


It's 22+ pages and counting :) The first few pages have better info and answers, the rest needs skimming through.


Thanks, Frank -- my bad. I should read the thread more carefully next time. I spotted the link on Slashdot Games -- but maybe Simon got it from you? :-) Hmm... No, looks like he got it from larsoncc.


WoW will be a phenomenon, either in success or failure. I'd estimate that over 50% of the players on my server in DAoC plan to move over, there's even talk of moving not just guilds but alliances wholesale. The interest/buzz in my multi-game guild is probably 10X or more than, say, SWG was. Blizzard's reputation with gamers is just too untouchable.

As a current member of Lineage II closed beta I'm rather amused that the percentage of the conversations there that are basically "this is ok, but I wish I were in WoW". Of course that's just U.S.


I know this is a little off topic, but back on the perma death bit...

I've got to say that this is simply a matter of implementation. If I may point back to my all-time favorite MUD, Dragonrealms... there is a workable implementation of permadeath that should satisfy anyone. It is a simple quest-based system that in effect earns you extra lives. The quests are not difficult, but you must complete them from time to time to avoid running out of lives.

The net effect is that people don't REALLY have to worry about losing their characters permanently if they aren't lazy. And it has the second effect of keeping player behavior in line because if you piss someone off bad enough, they CAN kill you off permanently (it's quite difficult to do, but it is possible). Between that and in-game policy enforcement, you have a gaming landscape that is an order of magnitude more enjoyable anything any graphical game has produced. But there's no reason a graphical game couldn't do this! (especially a game like WoW, already filled with quests)

And as for the popularity, we need to keep in mind that the market is ruled by excellent graphics. And in that market, this game has between 800 and 1200 players on at peak times (all of which can interact together). So it's not that players won't tolerate permadeath, it's that the only permadeath you read about on message boards are bad examples, and it scares people off.


MM>>"we need to keep in mind that the market is ruled by excellent graphics."

I don't agree... UO has still graphics that were sub-par when the game was released and it's still extremly popular. Horizons, while not a blockbuster, has done respectably and it's graphics aren't that great. Graphics rule some genre's but not MMO's.

They are a factor it's true, but MMO players look for content and gameplay quality over graphics. Even with that, however, community (or rather the games ability to generate one) is what truly rules the MMO market.

The comments to this entry are closed.