Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nobody Does It Better

It was the 1970's, but it seems like only yesterday...

One of the undoubted highlights of last year's Olympic Opening Ceremony owed a great deal to the above bit of (worryingly) vintage cinema: fortunately the only time Daniel Craig channelled Roger Moore was the Union Jack parachute. The Bond franchise is now undergoing a decidedly healthy reboot, and I know I'm not the only person eagerly anticipating Skyfall's release on DVD. I can already see you wondering how I'm going to turn this into a Warcraft post, because I'm pretty far away from anything virtual or that might contain a cameo by a Gnome, but humour me. It's the word 'reboot' we're interested in here: Hollywood loves the concept. Spiderman's already undergone a re-incarnation, Superman's next up to the blocks (Christopher Reeve makes Moore look positively animated, so I'm all for this one) and I find myself considering the benefits of tearing up a concept and starting again.

I wonder, can I persuade Blizzard to do that with the World Events template?

Once upon a time, when everybody was new to the game, the monthly festivals were great diversions from the normal run of events on Azeroth. Adding the additional 'carrot' of a mount with top level mount speed was a stroke of inspired genius, and I remember the enjoyment I had (plus the frustration, looking at you Children's Week) in finally gaining my Meta and the achievement, What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been. Eight years on however, and the cracks are most definitely beginning to show, despite various amendments and upgrades to gear iLevels. What used to be a great way to spend some time in game has become tired and repetitive: after all, once you've explored every part of the World once, do you really want to have to do it again every time a new Festival rolls around? If you want XP and cash this is no longer the best or most economic use of your time to do so. With so much variety and interest in other areas of the game, isn't it high time Blizzard considered a World Events reboot?

The biggest single problem that I can see is the amount of content tied up with an upgrade: as things have been added and tinkered with over the years there's been some consolidation with the basics (at least now most festivals have a tokens = prizes mechanic) but there's precious little in terms of new things to do or to purchase. Winter Veil, for instance, was sorely disappointing this year: yeah, the footballs are great to play with but it might have been more sensible to actually engage the Pandaren a bit more in the entire shebang, especially as they were spending their first time in the Festival. In fact, I'd love to see any kind of concession (in quest form) to try and make our new friends both welcome and involved: there are no Elders in Pandaria at all, but they're everywhere else. Yes, I KNOW you could argue that because they've been lost for so long the festival wouldn't have any Elders there to begin with, but is that really the excuse we're going to use for everything else remaining unchanged?

This would normally be the paragraph where I came up with some helpful tips to change the way the World Events are conducted, but part of me really doesn't want that to happen: I want them removed completely so we can start from scratch. I know that's a largely impractical idea, but when I look at the way Blizzard have created the Wanderer's Festival in Krasarang, which runs for two hours every Sunday, I find myself thinking that maybe the future is more about small and less about large. I'd love to see more 'moments' that worked like this, that occurred across the Continents, perhaps in tandem with the bigger events. Looking at the Fishing 'migrations' that are being tested in 5.2 I wonder how hard it would be to insert similar circumstances into every World Event, to at least bring some variety to proceedings. Failing that I have to say that I think the current World Event model is no longer fit for purpose.

Looking at the sheer amount of new content being worked on for 5.2, including sizable updates to the 'monthy' event that is the Darkmoon Faire, I really hope it isn't long before someone's given the job of sitting down and giving the Calender a good once over. Reboots are a great way of re-acquainting both new and old audiences of your content, after all. Needless to say, I for one would be all ears if you decide to reinvent the Lunar Festival, or Children's Week... and I'm betting I wouldn't be alone.

My orphan would probably thank you as well...

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