[quote=“Geoffrey Duke”]As for the grind, as long as it’s enjoyable, I don’t see the problem. The sense of character progression in itself is a part of the fun: knowing you are becoming more and more powerful.
It’s the Playstation of MMOs and no one has the budget to match it so far. It deserves way more credit.
If WoW hadn’t been so successful, the devs would have suffered a lot for some of their design approaches. Despite being too hardcore at its core, it sucked in a lot of regular average Joes for a diverse range of reasons.[/quote]
Calling it the Playstation of MMO’s almost conveys anything that could be said about it, and indeed it’s getting all the credit in the world as it is. The fact that it didn’t dominate this stupid list is indicative of how mainstream the appeal of WoW truly is, half the subscribers aren’t even gamers in the larger sense, and so would never traffic a site like that. And the game is really only hard-core within it’s own limited criteria, as it’s clear “real gamers” are the most likely to criticize it for these same issues; and to put a finer point on things I’ve already said…
I feel that WoW was “diluted by trying to mold around the majority” from the get go. It’s the very definition of pulp gameplay, as Al3x said they’re trying to “polish the concepts introduced with Diablo ”, but to me they actually did an extremely bad job with it in some key concerns. D2 is a much better game, within it’s limitations, than WoW; because gear is that game. It makes perfect sense, it’s essentially the exact same structure as a great scrolling SHMUP: you build up weapons in order to see the levels you know by heart get demolished more impressively.
But, after the expansion at least, D2 also has a lot of nuance and convolution in the gear. Enough depth to plumb and agonizing decisions about personal priorities to be made, that though the suit indeed makes the player, at least that suit feels a lot more tailored by the end. And yes I know, the uber-build clones are every bit as much a part of D2 as anything else, but the game still has a chaotic charm… whereas WoW shamelessly attempts to distill that formula into an intravenous feed of ‘gameplay’. So not only do we end up with the unique adventure side of the experience being dismantled by these other competing, overpowering reinforcements; but they’ve also significantly stripped out the otherwise redeeming qualities of those reinforcements?!
I had a lvl 40 Nightelf Druid and a lvl 30 Gnome Warlock when I quit, there’s a lot I hadn’t seen obviously, but I’d seen enough. In what sense is the game really hard-core? What you’re talking about is the investment required to be powerful, right? So in essence, most everything that’s truly wondrous and admirable about WoW has nothing to do with the rewards of that investment; what’s hard-core about is at one and the same time what’s completely base, mindless, and in another sense even casual about it. It’s almost like the new version of insert quarter, press continue, get further
Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m trashing WoW… but I truly have a kind of despair when I think about these things. Being conscious of the dynamic in realtime may be pointless, but whatever. Consider the state of RPG’s in general: in the west at this point the jury seems to be in on the overall superiority of dynamic battles rather than completely traditional turn based systems. Even Japanese RPG’s have evolved a lot, few high profile titles are totally old-school anymore. But there’ve been great examples of evolutionary gameplay all along, and yet the wheels of progress still turned excruciatingly slow. The tyranny of tradition effect is inescapable, and inarguable. It’s going to be that much harder for any games that fall under the same umbrella as WoW to escape the furmula now, and in say twenty years, I can guarantee it will be possible to look back and count examples of games that did something which is then accepted as ‘better’, which yet floundered compared to other games that stick to the formula.
I understand you’re protective of WoW Geoffrey, and it’s deserving of every champion it has. But c’mon… it does NOT deserve any more recognition. I’m similarly protective of Halo, and actually that game helps me illustrate everything I’ve been rambling and raving on about a little more directly…
I will argue that Halo is a relatively subtle archetype, it stood out for the sum of it’s parts more than anything else. It was always amusing to me that so many of the most flogged criticisms of it were were actually positives for the people who love it: not enough weapons… but they all meant something; feels slow… yeah, it actually has character; regenerating health is lame… uh-huh, so why’s it been emulated so much since then; repeating scenery… umm, NO, the scenery that repeated just stood out more because, in aggregate, the game was less tiled than anything else around at the time!
The original Halo had a good story, and it was told competently, at worst it was well above average in videogame terms, regardless whether ‘you’ liked it or not. And the gameplay had a completely novel flavor, and again while it wasn’t to many people’s taste, claims that it’s generic cannot be backed up. So one thing I’m trying to get across is that I don’t think there’s much to object to about it as an archetype, not from it’s structure, pieces of it have been quite organically disseminated into FPS culture, and gaming is only the richer for it… however:
Look at what Halo has done to current gaming culture by it’s theme. The invasion of the Space Marines is directly tied to it’s popularity, and Halo almost deserves to go to hell on that basis alone. Which brings the lesson to it’s ultimate conclusion: when these breakout hits redefine what’s popular, it’s primarily the wrong lessons that get carried away and replicated the most from them.