Sunday, May 15, 2005

WoW-ie Zowie

Ruminations on some new content in World of Warcraft (applicable to MMORPGs in general)

1. Thinking about the game Fable (and discounting how big of a disappointment it was for me), the way it created a player-nemesis was pretty cool. A rival hero crossed your path from time to time and just so happened to be on the opposite path of whatever you championed.

I can see an implementation of this in an MMORPG. From time to time you'll receive a piece of mail that beckons you to an inn you frequent. At a table will be a lush that directs you to a spot in the woods. Once there, your nemesis appears, warning you to give up your current path or be destroyed. You fight, both of you wearing down, until your nemesis begs for mercy. Kill him, and gain a significant item and a clue leading you to a greater threat. Let him go, and face him another day, in another land, with even higher stakes.

2. In WoW I keep running across the Son of Arugal, a level 24 Elite monster. Problem is, I'm playing a level 16 Warrior, so my only option is to run like hell.

What if, after three encounters with Son of Arugal, the nearby village suddenly has a new quest for me - to kill that dread beast. "But how?" I ask. "He is far too powerful for me to succeed against." The villagers tell you that they've laid a trap that will make him vulnerable . . . you just have to lead him into it.

The next time I run into that bastard, I run for the trap. He stops following, so I have to run back and lure him again. Closer and closer, careful not to take too much damage. Finally, he's in the trap - and I have done the impossible!

The point of this: Give players opportunities every now and then to do something that is typically impossible in the game system.

3. Several other MMORPGs have ways of tracking player accomplishments. A list of finished quests isn't necessary in WoW - but maybe, after a series of quests are finished, players would get a 'summation' in a journal, detailing the salient facts.

Maybe a character would get a bonus for finding every discover-able area in a zone. And then, after discovering every zone on the entire map, gain a Master Explorer title. From that point, any character grouped with a Master Explorer gains bonus experience when entering a new zone.

It's almost inexcusable that WoW has no character biography page. Almost.

4. Add critical successes to crafting, giving an item a slight bonus. A minor extra.

5. On Local Defense: I go to Crossroads a lot. It's very central to a ton of early Horde quests, all the way up to the late 20s. And it gets raided all the fucking time. When it does, my character is pretty much stuck watching level 60s slaughter every NPC in sight.

The proposal: There is an armory in certain towns. When a certain number of PvP-flagged, opposed players enter town boundaries, the armory activates. It calculates the average level of the attackers.

Defenders can go into the armory and pick up a special weapon that will allow them to fight at the average attacker level. Note that they gain none of the higher-level skills or defenses, only their attack, and only the average, not the highest level attacker. But at the very least wielders can expect to get in a few hits on an attacker before they are crushed. Dedicated defenders might even make the attackers think twice before attacking that town again.

Leave the town boundaries and the weapon de-spawns. If all attackers leave the boundaries the weapon de-spawns. If your PvP-flag runs out, the weapon de-spawns.

Hell, make the weapons melee-only.

The point of this: Give all players a chance to participate in Local Defense. It's not ridiculous to think that people defending their homes would have a distinct advantage against aggressors. Also, a good way to get people involved in PvP early on - a way to 'get their feet wet'.


Anonymous said...

The idea fits well with the Warcraft III mythos (see the Militiamen), but it eliminates all incentive for gaining levels for PvP. This is good in theory, but the WoW devs will never implement it.

Deacon said...

I can see some of your point, I think. But I hardly think the idea "eliminates all incentives for gaining levels for PvP." Considering that there doesn't seem to be any real point to raiding towns except to kill NPCs and screw single-player questers, and that there are huge expanses of open land where you can safely PvP, plus the PvP-oriented spaces of Battlegrounds (which wouldn't give the local defense bonuses, obviously) . . . and I think there are still plenty of reasons to continue leveling (not to mention high-level raid content, exploration, sheer mindless achievement). I just think it's stupid for Crossroads, where I spent lvls 10-25, at least, to be such a soft target -- even now the level my main is at (30s) I spend almost no time near Crossroads, and you can bet that when I'm 60 I won't give a shit if it's under attack. Disloyal? Sure. But honest, and probably how most people feel (I think I've seen ONE decent attempt at defending it, and it was still a slaughter, considering the at least 2 to 1 Alliance-Horde ratio). And yeah, their goal is precisely to have people rally Local Defense and call in friends to duke it out - but most people, like me, probably turn off the Local Defense channel, and the battles offer very little incentive (now that the honor system is harder to exploit). I guess we can maybe hope that all the high-levels will be off in Battlegrounds, but for the Horde, at least, that makes a strict disadvantage. Now all those lvl-60 Alliance waiting for their turn in a Battleground can pop off for a quick Crossroads raid - meanwhile all the lvl-60 Horde are IN Battlegrounds. Hah.

I know it would probably be a bear to implement anyway. Just an idea. Oh, and I wasn't even suggesting that the defenders get XP. Only a chance to actually do some defending.

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