Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Kill Ten Minutes

I found a cool blog called Kill Ten Rats, which I have linked on my site. I commented on Ringthree's post, which questioned what makes WoW so popular, as to earn it 3.5 million worldwide subscribers. I felt inclined to post my response here, as well, and hope Ringthree doesn't mind. Instead of answering his question here, I'd prefer you just respond to my answers. If you want to answer the question for yourself, as Tomas did, just go to Kill Ten Rats.

Why WoW is popular enough to have 3.5 million subscribers:

1. More people on the planet = more potential subscribers.

2. More people have computers now than ever before. Many have more than one in the household.

3. Re-playability. Multiple servers, multiple characters, and two major factions to choose from make this a game that players can play from start to "finish" multiple times without repeating a lot of quests. (Yes, many quests are shared between factions, but each faction has about three major group areas of quests to choose from, which gives players more choice in leveling and character development than any other MMORPG out there today (as far as I know)).

4. Uncomplicated. Although some recipes/patters/whatnot require material from other professions or rare material, the profession part of the game is smooth and anyone can do it with ease. Also, the interface is efficient and simple, and allows for players who execute actions mostly with the mouse (clicking everything from actions to moving) to play well and enjoy the game.

5. Modifiable. What other MMORPG endorses players' ability to modify the UI (as long as it's not exploiting) in numerous ways with third party software?

6. Grinding is significantly reduced, although still present. The mechanics of the game require much more human interface and manual progression than a game like SWG, for instance. Example: I bought SWG, and determined quickly that without being maxed out in a set of skills, I was rather worthless, let alone poor. So, I quite easily programmed a mouse macro to replicate production, and literally slept while my character grinded. When I finally became a Master Blacksmith, the in-game economy was so disrupted by material farmers that I couldn't sell a thing I made for any amount of profit. Major flaw? NPCs never bought anything. The economy was 100% based on PC trading. Bad idea when most of the players are ages 10-20, and don't know or care about the economy. WoW, on the other hand, has a similar problem with the AH. However, you can still survive by selling to the NPCs, and you won't die if you can't get that Calibrated Boomstick that some dolt has for 999g at the AH, since, unlike some MMORPGs, most of the best stuff is not made, it's dropped.

7. Light death penalty. Players don't like being punished if they die, regardless of how they die. Though, everyone admits that some punishment is absolutely necessary. WoW has the lightest death punishment I've seen, but it's nicely balance. What a player loses upon death are two very important things, but not enough to frustrate the player into quitting -- time and wealth. It takes time to run back to one's corpse. When you're raiding, or in an instance, exploring, or anything, time is an important factor. Also, the minor at first, but continued and more costly in the future annoyance of having to repair your items is a suitable punishment for death. What WoW nicely avoids is punishing levels for death, or automatically taking a percentage of gold, or random items, or whatnot. Sure, that would undoubtedly happen IRL, but we play these games to avoid RL, right?

8. Finally, lack of anything better. I've played my share of MMORPGs throughout the years, and I'd have to say that, although not perfect, WoW has certainly learned from the mistakes of earlier MMORPGs, and, in general, the "feel" is right.


Anonymous Billtrollo said...

I agree.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 6:53:00 PM  
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