Monday, February 17, 2014

To Build a Home :: Requiem for a Tower

Has it been nearly a week?

When is a Tower NOT a Tower?

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a Mage Tent. However it is only stage one of three possible looks for this 'building' in your Garrison, but it was SO good that last week people on Twitter were debating whether they'd want to improve it .If you have no interest in the minigame that is the Garrison, one assumes this will be the equivalent of having Halfhill still with the weeds, the cart and the mossy boulder: all the starter buildings and nowt else, which raises yet ANOTHER question.

Will doing nothing with a Garrison even be possible with Warlords? When the Lead Content Designer uses a phrase like 'huge part of your core experience'  WHAT EXACTLY DOES HE MEAN?

When someone asked a while back if we'd get Race-Specific buildings for the Garrisons feature, a CM responded with a telling metaphor: you'd get that or you'd get a raid tier. He meant this of course as an indication of the manpower production hours involved and that you can have either one or the other, and clearly (as we have considered previously) that kind of commitment is not going to happen with a completely untried feature. HOWEVER, and that's intentionally caps for a reason, the Garrison gives Blizzard something it's never had before in gaming terms. Suddenly, there is the potential of a customisable lobby to the game.

The Crown Tower Hotel Lobby. Shiny.

There's a damn good reason why Hotel lobbies are so shiny and sparkly: they want to detract you from the shoebox room you've got to spend the next week of your life in on business or holiday. They are the shop window on the company with whom you have thrown your hard-earned cash at and this is their way of showing you that even if the wi fi may cost by the hour in your room, you can have a bit for free down here. Complimentary nibbles are de rigeur and if I need to explain to you why there are two bars and a restaurant on this level and not on the 16th, you're doing it wrong. The lobby is your portal to a new world, and I suspect the Garrison could well be the first place you end up in before you even make it to Draenor. Why? Because if you can set your hearthstone here (which you will be able to) and there's a portal in your Mage Tent to everywhere important (because there will be) then you won't NEED anywhere else to play the game when you log in, and if everyone uses the Lobby to access the Hotel, you might not need Capitol Cities the next expansion around, which is a big thing all in itself to begin with.

The lag-inducing, look at my mount seeking Capital City model. Outmoded?

Of course, there are two main player hubs in Warlords, because everyone needs somewhere to do their mogging and wave their junk about show that new mount off to random strangers. Even if you don't build places like this they will naturally evolve in games over time, especially with proximity to trainers and quest targets/givers. However, the Garrison is planning to offer not simply the ability for you to travel from it, but also for people to travel to you and admire your collection. In fact, once people can access your Garrison to come spy on your colour-co-ordinated Cats, we are into territory that is probably going to seem all to familiar for those of you with a handheld device:


Your Garrison is your base, your own personal capital city. It is on your PC/Mac without the need to interact with anyone else, and therefore you don't have to worry about lag from ALL THOSE OTHER PEOPLE. For someone who crashed every time she first wandered into Ironforge in Vanilla this is kind of a big deal, it could also save considerable manhours on design work and would avoid navigational disasters like the Exodar, which no-one goes to now anyway NO THEY DON'T. [*] The point here is twofold: this place is where you can do things in your way, and Blizzard can give you everything you need to do just that, so even if you never make it out of your Garrison that login, you're still a part of the game, and that feeling is crucial. Why would Blizzard bother with all this artwork for a feature most people won't care about anyway? Well, if it's the first thing you're presented with every time you log, you're gonna want to look at summat pretty... and although this Expansion around that might not happen, the future has a lot of possibilities at stake. When the first thing you do when someone chucks a Friends Code at you in Animal Crossing is go scope out their interior design skills, so will it be for us. You WILL want to go and spy on random people. There WILL be contests for the best use of available game resources, and all of that adds up to Blizzard wanting from the word go to give us the power, but ultimately retain the controlling interest.

FREE WI FI in your Garrison :O Why go to Ironforge EVER AGAIN?


The consequences of front-loading your gaming experience are many and various, but for now we're not even sure when we'll get this, only that its coming Soon (TM) However, it is going to happen. The writing is elegantly inscribed on the walls of your Mage Tower, when the man says part of your core experience, I'm assuming he's not selling the complimentary peanuts.

Blizzard want you to live here. The question now becomes, do you get a choice?


[*] World PvP is gonna change as a result. You just watch.


Lethality said...

Good topic.

It's hard to reconcile the idea of private player space with public gathering areas in an MMO. The two just seem to be completely at odds with each other.

While the latter promotes the social and economic interactions you want between players in an MMO, the former provides an awesome level of customization and personalization.

What's a dev to do?!

I don't suspect we'll see Garrisons as our starter area though.

On the topic of customization -- one of the key selling points of private player space -- it will be interesting to see if Blizzard allows players to keep the "mage tent" (or whatever) instead of being locked to visual upgrades. Kind of like transmog, but for buildings.

Alternative Chat said...

I'd like to wager (at some point) that when Warlords hits and you 'pre-make' a L90 that you will be deliberately funnelled through your Garrison where there will be some kind of 'starter' zone for them, if only to check yo know which way is North and how to hit things. All that could be included to reside on your computer with no interacting with the server, after all.

The lobby has many potential uses, not simply to tempt you with snacks :D