Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Classic WOW Design

I've never been a serious WOW player. I've never even taken a character to max level. If there is such a thing as a filthy casual, that's me (except I take showers).

So when WOW classic came out, I figured I'd get it a fresh go. As a game designer, these are my thoughts so far:

Traveling to places requires a lot of walking
Some quests require you to walk for minutes to reach your destination. It forces you to learn the landscape. It increases immersion. As far as I'm concerned, flying mounts should have never been added to the game. It detaches you from the environment.

Energy/Mana management is important
As a mage, it usually takes half my mana to kill a single enemy. If another enemy attacks me, I could run out of mana and die ... so after every kill I stop to refill my mana.

Attacking 2 enemies/mobs at once, usually means you will die
I'm used to Destiny and Diablo where you can steam roll over stuff. No can do in wow. If I see two enemies grouped together, I pass on attacking them solo. That adds a tactical component to the game. I hate that Destiny does not have this. Destiny's design approach is just to flood an area with mobs are rely on your twitch skills or constant re-spawning to get thru an area. It didn't used to be like that. In the original Destiny 1, you could slowly work your way through nightfall solo and get a halo achievement for that. Not any more. You play fast, accurate and furious or you suck.

The world feels vast
It may look primitive but the environment goes on without pause. Modern games like Division, Destiny or Anthem put too much emphasis on fantastic visuals. These visuals require significant load times that they hide with maps or flying ships or in Anthem's case ... not well at all. I think there is a case for simpler graphics that allow the landscape to stretch on forever.

People are friendly
Very rarely do I encounter anyone that is not friendly.This is due to several factors:
1. People playing classic wow are probably a majority of veteran players who are good mannered.
2. Buffs matter. Putting a buff on someone as you pass by is a way of saying hi in a meaningful way.
3. You need to cooperate to beat stuff and being caustic isn't doing you any favors.

Respawning is something you need to pay attention to
If you need to penetrate into an enemy camp and kill high level mobs to get there, you need to watch your back. Enemies are going to respawn behind you and could trap you. And... if you die in an enemy camp, you may not find a safe spot to revive.

Some non-dungeon areas require grouping with others
I played a were-wolf area last night that required groups of people working together. I really want to complete every quest and there was no way I was completing those quests without the help of others. There was one quest (ambush) where I got what I needed and I just stuck around for another 15 minutes until everyone had a chance to complete it.

Money is tight
Gold... OMG... It is hard to get this stuff. Having to earn money makes you appreciate it. You don't have enough to spend it on everything you want (training, profession, items) so you need to carefully choose what you want.

Leveling is slow
It takes hours to go up one level. When you do level up, you stop to put a point in your talent tree... because those upgrades matter.

Quests are important and take time to complete
In modern wow, I didn't pay much attention to quest text. In classic, I read it all because I know I'm not going to level out of an area before I complete the quests. Last night I was struggling to find anything to do in an area that I was not done with. That forced me to go into harder areas to complete lingering quests.

The death penalty is rough
If you die, you may walk minutes to get back to your body. After dying a few times, you think really hard about that. I'd say it isn't quite as punishing as Dark Souls where you have to fight your way back to your body to get the resources you lost, but it is punishing.

Closing thoughts
Wow classic is a solid old school game. Modern games try to hook you with quick leveling, no death penalties and fremium addictive RNG/Gambling aspects. Wow classic has none of that and it is refreshing.