Insanely long essay about World of Warcraft

I finally managed to give birth to my essay (because it’s far from being a review) about what I think of World of Warcraft.

I cannot paste it here as I thought because it’s more than 100Kb of text, written in my always foolish style.
You can read it on the official forums:

Or on the italian website (in two parts):

Obviously I don’t expect nor believe someone will read that, so you can still see the few screenshot (resized, they are a lot, a lot better at full size…) I’ve collected and selected here:

That’s friggin hardcore…:shock:

I’d discuss some of that stuff with you, but I forgot to take notes. Anybody got the CliffNotes handy? :wink:

I have taken a look at it, but did not read it all through. It gave me the impression, however, that you say “this game is revolutionary”, but don’t want to comment on the gameplay too much. Could you give a list with five bullet points to summarize why WoW is revolutionary? 100 words or less. :-)


To the extent that WoW is revolutionary it would be, IMO, because it melds the essence of MMORPG gameplay with Diablo-like accessibility. Minimal death penalties, transparent interface, compelling look, and addictive rewards all within a persistent world/persistent character setting.

Of course they could change things to teh suck; it’s only a beta :wink:

The secret of MMORPG success is this:

do A to be rewarded with B

If it was fun, increase difficulty slightly, repeat. If fun starts to wane, change A and B. A and B must remain in proportion - so as difficulty increases so do rewards, and as rewards make you more powerful, challenge must increase.

The issue is this… the “fun” of MMORPGs is the journey from A to B. It’s not the crafting, fighting, socializing. It’s doing all these things in order to progress from A to B, in order to see what the next iteration of A abd B are.

Anything you put in the way of me getting from A to B that cannot be looked at and said “Hey, that actively adds to element A or B” is an impediment to fun and must be removed.

When a game has ceased to challenge or reward me, it ceases to be a game and becomes a chat room. Similarly, when a player perceives that the enjoyment derived from progressing from A to B is exceeded by “needless friction” then they’re done with it. The only thing that keeps them around is a feeling of commitment to whatever in-game social group they may belong to.

Diablo seems to personify this formula. Kill monsters to get big enough to kill bigger monsters to get big enough to kill the boss and get to a new area. Repeat.

Your reward is:
micro-reward of each encounter victory and loot.
medium rewards of frequent character advancement, customizing your loot through gems and the cube. Satisfaction of defeating medium-boss encounters and clearing sub-areas.
macro-reward system is simple and yet the most powerful driving force for continued play… seeing lesser rewards added together and making transition to a new area via defeating a major foe.

So any game that can reward me frequently with small tangible gains, and allow me to see all that added up into the occasional major gain works well. Where MMORPG games are seriously broken is that as challenge increases so does the time interval between rewards. Thus, it takes to long to accomplish something and we then start paying more attention to the annoyances than the rewards, get bored with the game and quit. Same deal happens if the reward does not feel appropriate to the challenge, and also if the challenge-to-reward path is not sufficiently varied as to maintain interest, but not so different as to add frustration.

A game should reward challenge, but I think they go wrong when they instead reward “frustration tolerance”. For example… FF XI. In order to advance, I need to do mindless fedex quests and time-sink quests. This has pushed my challenge-to-reward balance way out of whack, and thus I no longer have any desire to play the game. Now, if I could achieve advancement through a more interesting means, I’d still be playing. However, I have no desire to turn in trinkets to aquire fame enough that they’ll give me access to the challenge I really want. At this point it’s frustration tolerance, because the game has built up such friction that the challenge and goal are now merely to “survive” an undesirable advancement system long enough that my “goal” of getting back to the “fun part” is reached.

Now, when this sort of thing happens… that maintaining interest in the game becomes THE challenge, and the game becoming fun again is the reward… would you not say the system is severely broken?

I read the whole thing. And, while I agree with your general sentiments of praise I would add:

I dont think the game is revolutionary and why exactly do you feel that it is? I think its very much evolutionary. They took EQ and changed some things, mostly for the better…although the gameplay as a whole is impossible to analyze at this point, with just a level 30 cap and zero end-game content.

Your perspective of the game’s netcode and lag are heavily skewed. There isnt any noticeable netcode lag for me. There are occasionally server-side issues, but they arent network related and hopefully they have them fixed (there were some posts last night indicating that they have identified one of the culprits).

I definitely agree that the mapping and interface need some bigtime work.

I dont think its accessible as Diablo. I think people new to MMORPGs will struggle outside of the newbie areas. And by struggle I mean die a lot and train other people in the process.

About the only thing I see revolutionary in WoW, and using that word seems like a stretch, is the death system.

But, even if you accept yout statement at face value, is that the description of a revolutionary MMORPG?


Didn’t say it was revolutionary; said that if you were determined to call it revolutionary here are the things you could use to support such a claim. I’ve always felt (ok, at least since I’ve seen it) that WoW is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

I disagree about the accessibility though. I think it’s not much less accessible than Diablo, when you take into account the sophistication of the audience, which has been raised on, well, Diablo and WarCraft games. It’s hard to die early on unless you are truly unlucky or unwise, and with death’s sting hardly being felt, you can experiment with near impunity.

Quoting Lum:
[i]The model for every MMO’s content up to this point has been, with very few exceptions, non-linear, thin, time-dependent and relying on players to aspire to goals that many players never reach. All of these are hostile to many players – the mythical “casual player” that the very structure of massively multiplayer gaming seems antithetical to. How can we work on scaling down some of that “newb hostility”?

Grinding. Levelling. Camping. It’s all the same thing – you are exchanging hours of your time for the privilege of the game recognizing that your kung fu is in fact superior. Making “teh fun” being the reward for suffering through 90% of your game isn’t just bad game design, it’s sadism, for crying out loud. And not only that, it’s stupidty, because only the upper 10% will bother to even try to get through the gate.

If you’re spending 90% of your efforts on the last 10% of your game, something is wrong. The game should be fun. Not the endgame, not the final payoff, the game should be fun. If you’re not consistently having fun 15 minutes after installing the game, something is wrong. And there is not a single MMO on the market today that completely meets that criteria. Period. And people wonder why they haven’t achieved mass market success yet.

The elder game is going to be striven for anyway. That upper 10% is going to want to be there no matter what. There’s no need to make a huge wall to climb for them to get there. Instead, design the game around what the player does after they finish the tutorial. What is fun? Where is the player going to go next? What are they going to do? How are they going to be engaged in the wider world around them, what goals will they have, and how engaging is the process that they go about meeting them?[/i]

I cut/pasted these parts because they feel like the ground on which WoW is built.

Now, there was the GDC where all the guru of the industry have met and have discussed about games and design. There was Raph Koster and Rich Vogel and they started a discussion about static/dynamic content in mmorpgs. Completely out of the blue.
Till they reached a conclusion and a math formula: 70% static, 30% dynamic

Now, it suddenly becomes obvious why mmorpgs have sucked till now. How damn you are able to discuss something without even considering a concrete game? These are technician. They study a mmorpg like a complex math formula. And it’s obvious that the result will suck greatly.

Here peoples are failing to get the easier part. A mmorpg surely has to deal with a technical part. But the real soul is about creativity. It’s where a game ceases to be just a math engine and it becomes a work of art. That will seduce a player. It’s about the magic, the passion, the cohesive teamwork of a bunch of very talented peoples.

It has nothing to do with discovering a stupid math formula to create the perfect game. Mmorpgs don’t need to be discovered, they need to be created. And creation is more about the emotional side than simple, raw reasoning like an abstract theory.

Yes revolutionary.

For me revolutionary is equal to WoW. For two reasons:

1- It never happened before that a game comes out as a real work of art. With an absolute harmony between all its parts. Here I’m sure there’s an incredible teamork at Blizzard, behind the scenes. They must have some form of magic involved. Not only they have terribly talented artists but the cohesion coming out the game is simply incredible.

2- They delivered what till now has been impossible. A game where grind doesn’t exist and where the mechanics aren’t based on the frustration. The game wants and allows you to have fun instead of fighting actively against that.

As I said WoW is a complete new experience and delivers now what simply was considered an utopia before. Now we have a proof. Mmorpgs don’t need to be designed to suck.

I just take your monstrosity as fan boy hype so they keep you in the loop, which I think you were trying to say at one point. I think, who knows.

But I have always wondered what an Italian Koontz would read like if he was on acid, now i know.




Absolutely far from the reality. I always write a lot about everything and this never brought me benefits aside being pointed as a troll and sometimes get banned. Usually I just concentrate on the bad parts. In this case I wanted to point out what has been achieved. Firstly because I waited for this for too long. Secondly because I hope to help Blizzard and the rest of the players till other devs to realize where is the strength of this game and why it really feels as a revolution.

On Waterthread they told me that more than a review it seems a manifesto. And it’s true. But it isn’t a manifesto to receive love from Blizzard. It’s simply my opinion about WoW and even the general market.

Absolutely far from the reality. I always write a lot about everything and this never brought me benefits aside being pointed as a troll and sometime get banned. Usually I just concentrate on the bad parts.[/quote]Do you get banned for wordiness or whining? This sounds kinda suspect on the part of the forum mods either way. Maybe you were banned from Evil Avatar or something? I hear everyone else here was banned from EA…

He gets banned from wt.o for liking DAoC - :)

Even when he posts a DAoC rant.

But, HRose is not a viral marketer - he’ll be hammering at WoW’s faults as release day nears.


That’s sure. In my “essay” there’s already the origin of that. As I said WoW has already accomplished a lot and I’ll play it no matter of what happens from now till release. But if they’ll propose the PvP and it won’t be on the same level of greatness of what they presented till now, I’ll surely complain (or suggest, it’s the same for me).

I never said that WoW is perfect. I said it’s perfect what I saw till now.
And it’s a lot for me and for all the peoples buying this game.

Yeah, that never happened before. That sentence seems designed to let everyone know that you are a hapless fanboy whose opinions are never, ever to be trusted.

For some reason I agree with this…

HRose has a point, though. There is something about WoW–and damned if I can pin it down–that recaptures the same sort of appeal of Diablo, but in an MMORPG wrapper. Call it the “Blizzard touch,” call it magic, whatever (and this from a guy who pretty much dislikes all the *Craft games in their entirety), but WoW is one of those “just a little bit more” games even in beta.

Revolutionary? Art? Dunno. Fun? Yeah.

Oh yes, perfection and bliss until you get steamrollered by the stinking masses of pottymouthed children. SWG’s got a large number of cretins and many of them seem to be planning to nomadically migrate to WoW. So in that sense I’m looking forward to it. Few of the roleplayers seem very curious which works for me though, it seems, City of Heroes may be attracting some of them.

I really, really, hope Space Expansion is the anti-suckage device because between these two games alot of jaded folks, powergamers and roleplayers alike, may well get tugged away from SWG. I’m only still there because my buddies are great RPers and manage to keep me entertained - and with the faint hope that the SE will be the game that’s advertised, with all the depth that implies.

Brian too has a point. One of the drawbacks (my elitism is showing, I know) of making MMOs accessible is, well, they become accessible. Not a drawback to the folks raking in the subscription fees, but sometimes a drawback to gamers who don’t really (come on, 'fess up) want to play with the masses. The masses who kill steal, run around like they’re on amphetamines, always turn on free for all looting in groups, cheat if possible, and play the game as if it was an RTS or, um, Diablo on public servers.

The WoW beta for all of its charm does have more than its share of these sorts of bottom feeders. Far more than betas of more “hardcore” MMOs IMO.