Saturday, February 08, 2014

Building the Perfect Beast


There's suddenly an awful lot to talk about Garrisons, and that suits me just fine.

We can expect some new feature artwork on Tuesday courtesy of Blizzard, which was confirmed by Tweet yesterday, but that's not what piqued my interest (because we have a feature especially for that, which will be switched from Monday next week to accommodate the anticipated awesome.) What I want to talk about is Bashiok's assertion above, that the level of artwork required at this stage to give people variety in their Garrisons would come at the cost of a raid tier. That's a fairly stark choice, and I don't think anyone would realistically be stupid enough to sacrifice that kind of content to a new feature.

However, a year from now? That's a different story.

Did someone say Sandbox games?

I don't think anyone here would argue that sandbox games aren't just a passing fad; the ability to build what you want from a basic set of items is an idea that many, MANY games have built their livelihoods upon. You could argue 'God Games' like Civilisation and Sim City work on the exact same basic principle: here's a blank page, build stuff on it and see what happens. Things react with other things, manage the results. When you take something like that and, say do what Ever Quest Landmark is currently doing in Beta you will get people unreasonably excited because it combines the sandbox mentality with an established fantasy setting and then people find it increasingly difficult to separate what's the game controlling things and what is them, and that's a Holy Grail you'll have whole armies of game players off to try and locate. This isn't a cup of a carpenter either, this has more attachments and abilities than Marvin the Paranoid Android. You'd even accommodate the moaning about the diodes too, because you'd have created something utterly unique. Transpose that to Azeroth, and I'm already excited simply typing the possibility.

You'd have something you made in Warcraft, not the designers.

This is probably the key point, and why we've suddenly switched to bold type. Yes, the building blocks might be designed by Blizzard, but the end result is your creation and no-one else's, and in the changing world of gaming that's becoming a very big deal.

Why is this kind of gaming so compelling?

I like to use my Guild as a pretty average yardstick of what people would play in a more casual setting, and the talk right now is all about customisation in your Garrison. What will we get? Will there be many options or just a few? What can we build? Very few people at this stage seem particularly bothered about Missions or Followers, all the talk is about aesthetics... and then you just have to look at games like Animal Crossing: New Leaf to understand the building mentality is not simply important, but compulsive. This is what Player Housing has always been about to begin with: your rules, your colour co-ordinating birdhouses and food mixers. As has been mentioned here before, the number of 'accessories' Blizzard already have to stick in homes is bloody huge, the only thing that would take the time is new buildings. The same is true for tier gear, and if Blizzard were cute there could be a lot of judicious recycling in lots of different departments.

In fact, after a decade of this game, Blizzard's cupboard of riches has to be overflowing. Maybe it is time to start looking at options for rewards.

Debbie asks: Which Would YOU Choose?

The question of artwork recycling's come and gone as an issue over the years: some would argue that brand new locations with every Expansion is as important as the next X levels you need to conquer. In a decade this means there's a phenomenal number of things in game that could be reused, and similarly a lot of places that now lie dormant that might be reconsidered as new places to go. It then comes down to Blizzard looking at making from scratch or recycling old content as the preferred option to present things as 'new.' Needless to say, and I have discussed this at length, with patches bringing new content it might not be beyond the realms of possibilities to introduce new building additions with 6.1, a Darnassian theme with 6.2 and then an Undead theme in 6.3, the key being that over time you get to mix and match all these diverse styles as you see fit. They key, of course, is how successful those first few months are for the feature. If the feedback I hear is any indicator, the potential is there.

However, a wise company's not about to sacrifice the established on a hunch, not in this day and age, however great that potential may seem... so the onus is with the player base. Listen to the voices, people. They're telling you that this is your moment. You just need to build.

Kevin understood. Will you?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never minded some recycled art in raids, so long as not all of it is recycled and the mechanics are fun.

Dragon Soul was annoying because it was short and it was all we had for so long. I actually liked fighting through the approach to Wyrmrest and wouldn't have minded a little bit more of that. Siege of Orgrimmar has some recycled rooms, too, but the Galakras and Iron Juggernaut fights are awesome environment-wise.

I would love to fight across the bridge approaching Stormwind, or in the Lordaeron throne room, or in Stromgarde as part of a raid. So long as there were a raid-only door that we open and we get a few new boss rooms, that would be just fine.

And there was a ton of excitement when the Kara cleanup files were datamined.

So people don't mind some recycled art in raids, so long as they get plenty of quality bosses and a bit of new artwork. They could divert some environment artists to garrisons.