Warlords of Draenor Thoughts

I just hit the new level cap in World of Warcraft. I think WoW has become an interesting game as a way to see a decade of evolving game design on display. There are a few things I want to look at. Quest Design In the beginning, quests were repetitive tasks where you start at point A, go to point B, kill/take/harvest something, and either return to point A or move on to point C. This structure is still what WoW, and every other game uses, but a few things have been updated. WoW is sliding ever closer to a mobile quest system. In modern and sci-fi games, this is easy, you just use a communicator of some sort to tell the quest giver you did what was required. A great example of this is Wildstar. In practice, a mobile quest system reduces the zone ping pong effect of running each path twice. I think it is a much better method of questing than the quest hub model. However, WoW generally doesn’t have cell phones, so there must be a magical or mechanical item to do this. Blizzard is in a bind if they want to keep immersion going, so Continue Reading →

Trees vs Choices

After spending some time with Diablo III, I was reminded of maybe the most fundamental change between D2 and D3, and in “old” Bizzard and “new” Blizzard.  Most of you are probably aware of the skill trees in Diablo 2.  Some of you may have played World of Warcraft.  Both had skill trees that looked like a flow chart: A Diablo II skill tree. An “old” WoW talent tree. Both operated on the idea that at various experience levels you gained points to spend in the trees.  These points either improved abilities or unlocked new ones.  Diablo 3 and the new WoW talent trees both dumped that approach in favor of unlocking core abilities at certain levels, and then providing a small number of choices.  In D3 this takes the form of glyphs that alter a given ability.  In WoW, the system is a little more convoluted, but at each talent tree level you generally get to choose between three additional abilities or modifications. Picking glyphs for a skill in Diablo 3. The “new” talent tree in WoW.  Another major change in the system was that in the old point-based system respeccing your skills was either impossible or incurred a Continue Reading →