Friday, March 14, 2014

To Build a Home :: Kodachrome

Oh, this is a goodie.

This time last week, pretty soon after I'd published last week's post, Warcraft Game Designer Jeremy Feasel proved, once and for all, that there's actually an Alpha Client of the game, and inside that is a Garrison. He gave us a picture to prove it.

I hope that's not your L100 in this Expansion's tier...

As a screenshot, this is stupidly ambiguous, but wonderfully telling. This isn't just player housing, people, this really IS A GARRISON. A living, breathing centre where there's running water and working lights and LOOK THAT'S A HEROES CALL BOARD THERE. Yes, to the right of the fountain.

Oh, and so we know what we're looking at, Mr Feasel was good enough to supply the details:

Right. Barracks is gonna be the big stone building on the right. Town Hall (which wasn't mentioned in the original release specs, by the way) will be the clock tower building (insert your Back to the Future reference here) and the Inn will be the building on the left. I assume that the lovely covered wagons to our far left will be where our merchants 'live', and this is where I find myself looking at the lass kneeling and wondering whether you end up taking off your battle armour when you enter a Garrison, and casual clothing is the order of business when you're surrounded by your own personal army. I'm also considering the possibility that if you have to go and 'discover' every single person who inhabits this space in the game world, just how indivisible this part of the experience will be from the process of levelling.

This might go some way to explaining why we have a bit longer to wait for our Expansion.

There's also been a hint of this change from an interview from Alex Afrasiabi where he states that Garrisons will make the game play differently and feel 'new.' If I were a betting woman I'd put some gold on the table and predict the following:

  • Garrisons give every player a uniquely 'personal' gaming experience inside the wider plot of Warlords, leading to more immersion and less 'predictable' gameplay. This means every players experience will be different, depending on what decisions they make inside their Garrison. Consider it a Personal Scenario, that plays out alongside the main storyline of the game, where you can dictate the flow of events at your speed and to your tastes.
  • A lot more items/NPC's and events will be linked back to your Garrison than first expected. In fact, you'll have to spend a lot of time in the Gaming World to pick up Garrison 'storyline' if you want the complete experience.
  • People who don't care so much about the Garrison will be able to still play but with a less flavour-rich version of events. It will entirely depend on the individual what you do, giving a far greater sense of personal accountability.

I find myself thinking that, if they do this right, it does have the potential to completely change the way the game works, and by that I mean the game stops being about you going to find the fights and pursue the storylines, and the Garrison gives you a custom-built and customisable backdrop in which the events of Draenor play out AROUND YOU. The best way to describe this would be with the Theatre metaphor I've used before, I think. In previous expansions you've been a character who has travelled to places and always retuned to a 'set' that's contained lots of other characters: a capitol city, for instance, or a hub like Shatt or Dalaran. This time around your 'set' is something that isn't designed by a bunch of people in California. They made all the pieces of the set but it is entirely up to you how you place those elements together, how you construct your 'backdrop', and what items you choose to collect and use along the way from your Journey. It becomes a story that is as individual as you are, with your character right smack bang in the centre of the action.

If this is the plan, then it's BLOODY GENIUS.

Trouble 't Mill!

Sadly, there's still no definitive indicator of a Beta: however, if Garrisons are this closely integrated into the design plan and we only saw a functioning one LAST WEEK, this might go some way as to explaining why it's not ready to play with yet. Maybe they weren't joking when they said Garrisons were a game changer either: if this works, it does have the potential to completely redefine the gameplay experience, and after ten years, that might have some rather interesting consequences...

1 comment:

Just Me said...


These garrisons just look better every day. I am wondering, considering a comment I saw yesterday (sorry can't remember where) about the possibility of not having flight at all in Draenor, that if you put in a mage tower will you be able to teleport to cities around Dreanor. Could be an interesting twist.

Looking forward to your upcoming posts.