I like Wolfshead blog a lot. He stirs up conversation and makes a lot of good points that often aren’t regurgitated observations of new and maturing MMO players. This latest post (Reflections on the Upcoming EverQuest 3) is a plea to SOE to learn from their previous mistakes and do their own thing instead of trying to recreate WoW.
I agree with him for the most part, but I do disagree with his identification of WoW’s weaknesses.
Capitalize on the weaknesses of Blizzard’s WoW:
- Offer player housing as WoW has no player housing.
- Offer role-play support and mechanics. WoW has almost zero support and mechanics for role-players.
- Offer live GM events as WoW has no Live GM events.
- Provide more opportunities for player freedom and player impact contrasted with WoW’s reliance on heavily scripted quests and narratives — those MMOs will be dead soon anyways
- Community is a commodity! Blizzard doesn’t understand this. Promote a good community by enforcing chat rule in contrast with Blizzard’s shameful and horrible mismanagement of WoW community which is a cesspool.
- Implement the original EQ’s accelerated day/night schedule — WoW does this horribly and sentences players who play late at night to a lifetime of eternal darkness.
- Have different NPCs and mobs spawn during the day and at night – WoW completely misses the boat here.
- Resist the temptation to regurgitate the sophomoric pop culture references that WoW has in your MMO.
I disagree with player housing. It’s a waste of development time to build a system that really isn’t all that important to players. If player housing was important, why wasn’t DAoC, EQ2 or VG more successful? (Okay, don’t go into details with VG.) I log into a MMO to have an adventure, not play house. I know some people like this, but WoW isn’t suffering AT ALL because they don’t have housing.
I also disagree with the role-play support and mechanics. I played on a PVP RP server in WoW and it was a lot of fun. People will role-play whether you give them support tools or not. I mean, people role-played with text based games and in games like EQ which really only had emotes. I think this is another weak comment.
I do agree with offering GM events. EQ didn’t do this nearly enough (unless you were playing on that special server that cost more), but the fact that there were events run by GMs was a good thing. You don’t see that in WoW. Instead you see scripted events which, even if they are cool, are not unique to your experience and they’re not exactly shared by a select few people either. Everyone gets to do them.
I do agree that WoW leads you around but I do like some scripted results to quests. People can always go their own way and explore, but it’s not as easy. When you hand in a quest the NPCs sometimes react to what you gave them and something results which is often more rewarding than the set of gloves you got.
I agree with the community point but I think it’s a bit unfair to paint every WoW server community with the same brush. I recently played around on a PVP server where people were actually helpful and mature. Tradechat wasn’t filled with Chuck Norris comments or stupidity, they were actually using it for trade or recruiting or setting up PUGs. Still, the Blizzard forums are absolutely horrid. I don’t bother going there. To expand on what was said about the need to group, it was a good enforcer of people behaving themselves. I agree there. I don’t see a game that requires grouping being any success with a MMO subscription type fee. Too many people are spoiled with not wanting to group.
I agree about the day/night cycle. WoW failed at this but I don’t think it’s going to be a game maker. I’m lucky in that I play WoW at various times of the day so I get to see the really awesome lighting effects as the day carries on into night. Night really isn’t all that dark though, which is also a little disappointing.
I somewhat disagree with the pop culture references. EQ1 had plenty of those, they just weren’t always as obvious or plentiful as they are in WoW. I remember there used to be a site that tracked them but I can’t seem to find that now.
He continues to note that by the time EQ3 comes out, Blizzard’s next MMO will likely be out as well as several others coming from places like 38 Studios. Which is a good point – will EQ3 be playing catch up to WoW when Blizzard will be grabbing the MMO genre and leaping forward with it? Who knows.
I like a lot of what he continues to say even if I think most people won’t last long in that sort of MMO.
Go give it a read.
Even if it is going to take hours… Wow, I thought I was done reading a little after that bit but there was more and more.
Here are a few of the points from his wish list:
This is like eating your cake and having it too. People are going to go with the path of least resistance because they can’t help themselves. It’s also really hard to develop content for both without drawing lines. In WoW, the lines are you need groups for instances and raids, but you can roam around the world and quest on your own. In EQ1 you could solo, but only for the early levels unless you were specific classes – usually caster classes.
Those were the only ‘asks’ I had different opinions on.