The well written and high production value online rag, The Escapist, is running a great little story on the rise of the current MMOG king Blizzard. Heavy on history and light on analysis the piece discusses much of Blizzards early days and the rise of RTS. The title, "Secret Sauce: The Rise of Blizzard" gave me expectations that were largely unfulfilled.
Like any reformed addict I refuse to touch the stuff and thus have never played WoW. Yet, I am titillated by the subject. Why is the game so immensely popular when others are not? Is there really a secret sauce?
In the case of WoW I think there are a couple of reasons: - It *is* a well-made game. Looks great, sounds great, works great, is quick to learn but takes time to master. - Yet it's not exactly original, so the masses can take it as their own. It's also very addictive with interesting quests a plenty and lots to do. The learning curve is just right, unlike in some games where you get frustrated dying time and again before you get anywhere. In WoW you feel like you are achieving something all the time. - When it came out it sweeped the floor with the competition because of point number one. - And this helped it reach that critical mass where you feel left out if you don't play it. - Which in turn means there is a vibrant and very large community.
Unrelated to the topic, but a funny story nevertheless: I played WoW, I became a terrorist
I played WoW for about a year before recently leaving. I had no interest in commiting to a serious guild schedule or pvp grind. If you aren't willing/able to devote a large portion of your life to the end-game, you almost hit a wall in your progression. In any case, it's an excellent game, and even if you only play a little while at 60, it's worth it. I don't think Blizzard does anything special, it's just that they do it so well.
Most people, including me, have said that WoW is so great not because it changes anything but because it takes what other MMO's do and tweak it and perfect it. For example, the game is absolutely amazingly easy to use, and the death and experience bar is perfect. Most people like it because it makes MMO's easy and fun to play, which is why I am sure they are avoiding EQ2, which has terrible interface and annoying features like losing XP when dying and whatnot.
Speaking of leveling down. That was the stray that broke the camels back for me in EQ. I just leveled then almost immediately died. Whoop down a level. I was like f this and started playing half-life. I never picked it up again.
Ha, I remember the days of BatMUD. Dying had a massive penalty on your xp. I quit playing it when once I died several times in the same night because of lag and ended up loosing something like 90% of my xp...
That'd be the same reason I quit Final Fantasy XI. Experience loss is quite annoying.
WoW has no XP loss when you die which is why many people like their system. Also, the interface is so easy. I quit playing Dark Age of Camelot because their interface was way too complicated and it was way to hard for noobs to get to level 50 (the lvl cap). WoW is so noob friendly, its easy to get to level 60 by just soloing.
Matt Neuteboom Wrote:
Exactly. Blizzard really isn't much of an innovator. Their games aren't really anything new or unique. However, they take well established genres and look at what was good and bad in the games others have made and then make a game that includes all the good (and then some), but none of the bad (or very little). That's why Blizzard games are always so great. They are also willing to push back the release date if necessary in order to put out a complete game rather than a mostly-complete game. Other companies don't do that and then just put out a lot of patches (if we're lucky) to fix the problems they didn't take the time to fix before release.
I am dying for the expansion!! :D
For me the reasons for playing WOW were simple: I enjoyed Warcraft 1, Warcraft 2 and 2X, Warcraft 3 and Warcraft 3X. World of Warcraft was just another product in that same universe for me. And I really enjoyed being there. Locations that were levels in the previous games were for the most part well represented in the 3D MMO universe of WOW. I've explored forests and canyons and deserts and farms. I've picked up books and scrolls talking about background information and additional history to the game. I've fought Orcs, Naga, Skeletons, Fire Elementals... all the familiar stuff from the RTS with a nice helping of "much more". I think it's easy to forget that there's gamers like me who have just enjoyed Blizzard's previous stuff and decided to take a chance and hand them subscription money based on their previous record.
I can see how WOW isn't particularly original if you've been playing other MMORPGs. I haven't and for me the joy of the experience came in following the game series, finding some online friends along the way. Raids and Battlegrounds were great for some people, they didn't really appeal to me. I was really in it for the quest and exploration content. Of course having said that, I'm done with it now and haven't played it for a year. I probably won't go back to it.