Thursday, October 25, 2012

Space is ACE!

A great big fat wodge of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

With the announcement that 5.1 is sticking minipets into Vanilla content I find myself thinking that previously off-limit opportunities for 'expansion' may be finally on the cards. We're going to see updated models for Wyvern and Gryphons, for instance, something that has been a long time coming. I can't help but think, knowing the scantest of 5.1 spoilers, that suddenly we have a much larger canvas on which the expansion is playing out, not simply limited to the 'areas' that have been added in September. Previously unknown content will magically will open up under Stormwind and Orgrimmar for the Brawlers League, for instance. Outland content will become integral to a Scenario, with consequences across all previous expansions. These are exciting times.

So what has all of this got to do with the large expanse of green space I discovered between Moonglade and Winterspring, I hear you ask? The significant area with absolutely nothing on it that doesn't register on the map?

Literally NO expense was spared in the production of this graphic ^^

There are a significant number of these areas that exist in game currently. They won't show up on your map and (in the most part) I assume they were added when Azeroth was re-terraformed for flying mounts back in Cataclysm. I know of large areas of deserted land near the airport in Ironforge and the Arathi Highlands, the kind of places I come across when doing Archaeology or (as has been the case in the last week) hunting for Wild Battle pets. In many cases there's not even a texture in place as there is in the Moonglade picture, it's just blank colour surrounded by hills. I'm pretty sure that if I had the ability to ask a Blizzard Dev what these were, they'd tell me they were there for redundancy purposes. That is: when you build a massive world like this, there needs to be room for expansion, so you don't have to keep bolting on different extra bits to your map every time you want to increase your content. Blizzard have solved this problem to a greater extent with the use of the instance portal: cross that and you move into a duplicate of the same area which can be tailored to any number of different situations (with phasing bolted on for levels of dificulty or stages of development). However, as is becoming increasingly apparent, people like to be doing stuff in the living, breathing world. Is it possible therefore that we might yet this expansion see new content moved to areas other than Pandaria?

There's one huge spanner in the works when it comes to implementing such a plan, and why the instance/expansion portalling is such a simple solution: making sure people only get what they pay for. If you wanted to go to Outland, you had to pay for the expansion and the content remained firmly inaccessible if you didn't. However all that has changed with Pandaria, where the restriction to content is level only. Pandaria the continent isn't behind a loading screen, it's a boat trip. You don't need Pandaria to play a monk. I wonder if this means that we may finally see Blizzard exploiting these unused areas of existing land in Azeroth, and perhaps in Northrend and Outland too. I'm also quietly clinging onto the hope that we will eventually see the portal between Eastern Plaguelands and Ghostlands vanish and you'll be able to fly unhindered from one part of Azeroth to another. Then I think I'll be properly convinced that there's a single vision for Azeroth's future that doesn't rely on the Battle Chest price's being dropped every time so that you can have all the bits of the puzzle required to play Warcraft.

It's big, it's white, there's not a dwarf in siiiiight...

I'm keeping a mental note of every vast area I find (and screenies wherever possible) and my fingers firmly crossed that at some point in the war between Alliance and Horde that we're going to no just see major changes in Pandaria, but there might be some action far closer to 'home'...

1 comment:

Tailswish said...

Actually, those without MoP can be Pandaren, but not monks. Also not sure about the Alliance, but AFAIK, you have to at least start the Pandaria intro quest to get there.