Monday, August 3, 2009

NextGen, or "Working As Intended"

I started thinking the other day that when Blizzard comes out with their next generation MMO, some 10 or 20 years from now, I'll try and keep my WoW account as long as possible but still pick up a subscription to the next game.

Everyone of my acquaintance agrees it will be better than WoW simply because Blizzard has learned a lot from WoW. This made me wonder: what lessons has Blizzard learned that they might improve upon? So I came up with my own little list.

Fly Anywhere
We can't fly in old world Azeroth simply because it wasn't built to be flown over. In a new game, they can start from the ground up with this in mind.

Player Housing
Again, they can start from the ground up. WoW was promised player housing early on in life, but this time they'll have the chance to brainstorm it into the fabric of the game.

Graphics
WoW is pretty old and graphics have made leaps and bounds beyond it. Just look at the vrykul and NPC Northrend skins vs the traditional character skins. There's a huge difference in detail.

User Interface
I'd also like to see more streamlining in the UI. The old-fashioned fantasy feel is nice for the game, but when it comes to your control panel, let's get with this century, hm? The current WoW panels remind me of a Cadillac -- big, boxy, and old.

Perhaps players could choose from assorted UI skins and have more controls for how things are set up (positioning, color, size). There's really no downside to better UI customization -- for anyone.

PVP vs PVE
This is my big wishlist item. If they do nothing else, I want this.

Many players who hate PVP are stuck on PVP servers because their friends won't play anywhere else. I'd love for Blizz's next MMO to make this issue moot through a choice-based (not server-based) PVP system, like maybe choosing your PVP flag status in the creation screen -- and PVP flaggers have special PVP perks, or something, while PVEers have world PVP restrictions (up to and perhaps including a complete inability to PVP outside a PVP zone or even heal someone involved in active PVP). This would make PVP flags a permanent status and satisfy the PVP crowd while protecting the PVE crowd.

The thing I hate about world PVP is simply that... I hate it. I don't want to do it, I don't want to be forced to do it, I don't even log on horde for anything but PVE anymore because I hate it -- the only other thing I'd log on for would be dailies which, on a PVP server, might as well be scheduled gankings. But I am, currently, stuck. My friends refuse, even when the next MMO comes out, to roll PVE.

And I fear getting hassled so much that I just won't go out in the world on a PVP server unless I have to -- which means I don't play those characters to their full potential. And I can usually live with that, work around it. But every now and then, that stress, and the limitations it puts on my play, is so frustrating I want to cry and break something. I've enjoyed Birdfall lately because she doesn't carry that stress, and it makes me even more loathe to choose a PVP server a second time around. Best case scenario is if I don't have to choose between my friends and my game satisfaction because Blizzard can find a solution.

Help me, Blizzard-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope.

Choose Your Faction
I'd like to see this, if they do the faction thing again, perhaps even with more than one faction (instead of just alliance and horde). My biggest complaint about my character Birdfall is that I can't play her with my friends and refuse to faction-transfer her because I play her for her race and design and personality. I like her as a Night Elf. As is. (See how this wouldn't be as big a problem if my friends played on a PVE server? Yep. So do I.)

More [Fill In The Blank]
Races. Classes. Pets. Mounts. Pretty dresses. Fuzzy animal forms. PINK. I think Blizzard knows how important these things are to us (well, all but pink -- I think they're being slow and male and "the majority of our players are guys" about pink -- but I hold out hope), and I think they've learned enough from WoW to plan accordingly.

We like novelty stuff. Give it to us. *creepy stare*

Achievements
How do you think achievements will be tweaked if they're available from the start? Just more of the average First Player to X? Or will they decide to get really creative? Will they want or need to tweak the system at all?

Social Tools
I hope they implement more varied controls for friends and ignores. Organization options and levels for Friends, for example. I dislike seeing a message for "That guy who did that pug with me once a year ago" every time he logs on, but I wouldn't mind grouping him into a "Good PUG" low-priority friend section. Also, I'd like to see notes for Ignores (yay notes for friends, btw), even with just a 10 character max. It's enough for "Mean PUG" or "Begger" or "Ganker." We really don't need much.

Another thing people have been asking for is some sort of a player reputation system, where you can rate someone on their awesomeitude. An alternative could be a reputation or popularity number based on how many friend and ignore lists you're on. Say, 3 rep points for a high priority friend, 2 for medium, 1 for low, and -1 for an ignore. Maybe even have the option to add a tenth of a point to someone you don't want on your friends list but still think is a good player (and no option to decrease their rep aside from Ignore, because that would be abused).

I've also always wanted a status message and/or blurb about the player. Limited character count, of course.

Naming
Last names, pet names, mount names. Fun for the whole server!!

(Husband says: "Yeah, with half the population naming their mount 'Your Mom.' This is why we can't have nice things!")

Improved Banking/Auctioning
Remove the need for bank alts.

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Those are just some ideas. What do you think?

17 comments:

  1. As much as I think it would be stealing I hope that Blizzard do a 'Hall of Monuments' style place similar to Guild Wars. You log all your achievements, certain favourite armour pieces etc into your own personal instanced Hall of Monuments. Then, when the next game is released you merge your old account with your new game account and it registers all your old achievements. This then confers you cosmetic items, titles, heirloom items.

    So whilst your old character doesn't carry on, you can carry cosmetic items around with you to say 'Hey, I was an original WoW player!' and as a reminder of your old characters :)

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  2. No, I don't think amazing would entirely cover it.

    If Blizz did that and had, like, TCG loot and feats of strength rewards follow us (at the very least), I wouldn't regret leaving WoW or all the time and energy (and money) I put into my characters.

    I would fall at Blizzard's feet and bake them cookies (though not at the same time -- cookies shouldn't have foot odor).

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  3. I will say this:

    Guild Wars did the right thing concerning achievements and PvP.

    I never never never have to do PvP if I don't want to. Hell, I don't even have to talk to *anyone* if I don't want to.

    Granted, Henchmen are about as smart as Golden Retrievers (stupid dogs, but very lovable), and Heroes are about as good as your Multitasking allows.

    *shrugs* Who knows, they might take some pointers from Play NC. It's be nice if they did.

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  4. I still think having NCSofts' Clan Hall feature from Lineage II would be amazing for housing. Their whole clan concept was much more satisfying than WoW's guilds imo.

    As much as PVP can suck for a lot of people I enjoy it. I wish they could come out with a karma system (again, Lineage II). That system needed to be tweaked a lot but it was really fun.

    I am pretty excited to see if their new MMO will be an IP or Galaxy of Starcraft. I just hope it's not WoW 2. lol. Also, if Square-Enix makes an MMO MUCH better than FFXI I will probably play that.

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  5. I think the next game will not be a WoW game. It will probably be something along th elines of facebook. Whatever that means. They are probably smart enough to not canibalize wow for their new game.


    > Fly Anywhere

    Flying is cool but one of the biggest mistakes. It is one of the steps which turned the WORLD of warcraft into a GAME of warcraft. Traveling, as boring as it was, was a huge and important part of it. It maid you fell the world. If you ever flew from Dalaran to Tanaris you knew what I mean.

    It wasn't like doing a circle every day to pick up some daily. It was a decision where you go.

    That improved the feal of the world because it fealt big.


    > Graphics

    Actually, the graphics is as good as it could be. Blessing of King mentioned that. A MMORPG should run on your second computer at home. Otherwise you cannto play with your spouse together. That limits the graphics but makes up with the fact that you can play together.


    > User Interface

    100% aggree. :-)


    > PVP vs PVE

    This is a hard one. I doubt I will try a new game if it contains any kind of PvP. WoW just went to far ond forced me to do to much of something I don't like. If I ever replace WoW, it needs to be something better. And for me, that means no PvP.

    That won't happen because Blizzard is unchallenged in the PvE domain, all other games are PvP games so they have to specially care about the PvP oruented people.


    > Choose Your Faction

    No faction at all. :-)

    That would make it so much easier to find dungeon groups.

    And while were at it. No realms! You can play on different server but the server should be a login choice not a creation choice. They can take down servers as often as they like for maintenance as long as others are up. And you can play together with every single player of the game.

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  6. I can agree that graphics shouldn't be too much for non-state-of-the-art computers, but I also run Sims 3 with much better graphics and very little trouble. I think even if Blizz *just* upgraded the art on their skins, it would be a huge graphical difference (old druid forms vs new, for example), but I also think there are other ways to improve graphics without making them cumbersome.

    About Starcraft: I kind of hope it's not another continuation of one of their game series. I like Warcraft because it has a feeling of earthiness -- I would feel a bit alienated by aliens (I like Draenei, but I don't like Outlands that much). I'd like to see Blizz do something really original with their next MMO.

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  7. What I meant is: Of course, WoW could have a better graphic on the primary computer of the average customer.

    But what about the second computer, which normally is a few years older?

    WoW should run on both so 2 people can play together.

    The Sims does only have to run on the primary computer because you play it while your husband watches TV and the better PC is free.

    (That might not be true for YOUR home but I'm quite sure it is for a lot of customers)

    And for your other comment. This is my favorite quest in WoW, just because of its name:

    http://www.wowhead.com/?quest=10236

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  8. Btw, I poked around Massively and the sort of graphics I'm hoping for are like Aion. It's so pretty!! Not just the wings but the clothes. *swoon clothes*

    http://na.aiononline.com/en/media/screenshots/

    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.massively.com/media/2009/07/aion-2009-07-16-16-31-27-54.jpg

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  9. Blizz went with the sort of "cartoony" look for WoW because it was the theme they'd had going since Warcraft Orcs & Humans, but the more artistic, I almost wanna say streamlined, look (like Aion) is a hallmark of a lot of MMO's from Asia (Lineage, Final Fantasy XI, and now Aion, there have been a lot, they all have recurring themes of appearance, which includes highly detailed clothing and armor).

    Flying: I see good and bad with this, as an above poster pointed out, you miss out on a lot of stuff if you just fly over everything...but given how much the taxi system was used in Vanilla I don't think it'll have a profound impact. Maybe I'm weird but if I see something interesting below me while flying I often stop to look...also has opened me up to more exploration.

    Player Housing: Discourses have been written on how to do it, I just hope it's better than the FFXI Mog House (like, small neighborhoods or something).

    Graphics: See above.

    UI: WoW is nicer to it's UI than most games, because of the huge range of mods available. If you don't like the UI there are a -ton- of alternatives out there, but yes some require some technical know-how to get running which can be a turn-off (since it's much more fun to just flip a switch in a menu :D)

    PvE & PvP: A slippery slope...I think the Champion's Online guys had it right when they said "If you're gonna have PvP in a game, it's gotta be in from the start" WoW did not -really- have this...you could flag and attack each other, but formalized PvP was not in WoW for several patches. PvP should be a fun, engaging activity, and I like Birdfall's suggestion about choosing your flag status early on. My concerns are of course exploitation and such, but I figure with the right mechanics it could work...then there's a the days I wish that using /chicken (or any "rude" emote) would auto-flag you to the person you targeted it at :P for me, by and large PvE-server was the way to go.

    Factions: Any game with large-scale PvP will need factions, but you can do PvE with them reasonably well. FFXI had 3 factions, but they weren't at war...the PvP system there was (not balanced first off) largely "war games" like Capture the flag. All the factions really did were give you some unique looking tabards and such....and you could switch for a small in-game gold fee.

    More: Please!

    Social: Please!

    Names: Champion's Online had the right idea with this too (hate to sound like a spokesman for them), since your character's actual "name" is name@youraccount, you can use any name you want, it will never be taken...except by you. So the name displayed when you're out in the world is whatever one you thought up when you made the character. That's how I think new MMOs should be.

    Banking: Yes please!

    Lastly, I recall a press-release some time ago where Blizz said that their newest project is a completely new IP (and MMO), so I would imagine we're gonna see something completely different.

    Also, on Aion: If you like the screens, check out the character generator...it would make Oblivion blush and it's for an MMO O.o

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  10. "check out the character generator"

    >_>

    <_<

    Where is this generator you speak of, that I might download it and delve into the cuteness?

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  11. Aion definately FTW :> Aion is my half-way house between WoW and Guild Wars 2.

    Agreeing with Sean Pez also - Guild/Clan Hall would be absolutely fantastic.

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  12. Okay, so I'm sure no one will see this comment, but I compiled all these ideas into a summarized letter and am mailing it:

    Jeff Kaplan & NextGen MMO Team
    c/o Blizzard Entertainment
    PO Box 18979
    Irvine, CA 92623

    Worst case scenario, it doesn't get to them or they laugh at it.

    Best case scenario, they take it seriously as from one section of their player base. (I did say I was a novelty-centric and girly WoW blogger.)

    Though husband said "No, the best case scenario is actually 'Oh, here's another letter for the novelty-centric girly blog pile.'"

    XD

    I focused on the practical aspects of the ideas and didn't elaborate on anything with extensive suggestions in the WoW forums. Items such as "You should make characters like Aion!" did not go in. Items like "We enjoy extensive character customization" did.

    Cross your fingers that they get it. And care at all.

    /optimist

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  13. If you think no one will see this comment, your not /optimistic enough.

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  14. Update: The letter I sent came back as undeliverable. Sad day.

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