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[WoW] My thoughts on _World of Warcraft_

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Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 16, 2005 3:26:54 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

Some random thoughts and questions on _World of Warcraft_. I've been
playing computer RPGs for 20 years, but only certain kinds (every
_Ultima_ I-VII, _Neverwinter Nights_, and _Knights of the Old
Republic_); most of the others, whether _Bard's Tale_ on the C64 two
decades ago or _Morrowind_ and _Final Fantasy X_ today, I simply
couldn't get into for one reason or another.

Other than briefly betatesting _Ultima Online_ way back in 1997, WoW
is my first MMORPG due to my being 100% Unix (Linux and now also OS X)
for the past decade. I've had the game for going on two months and
have worked my Paladin to level 24 after somewhat more than three days
of /played time.

Performance on my little iBook G4 800MHz with 640MB is surprisingly
good, actually, and noticeably improved after recent operating system
patches. I do always exit all other applications, even the Finder
(using TinkerTool); Firefox, in particular, with the dozens of tabs I
typically keep open, noticeably slows the game otherwise. It's an old
cliché uttered by the more idiotic of Mac fanatics that successive OS
X updates make the system run faster (they're usually onfusing the
prelinking the Installer does after the upgrade with genuine system
performance enhancements), but as I understand it the
10.3.7 and 10.3.8 updates contain WoW-specific patches written by
fans at Apple.

Currently, I typically see 10-25 FPS outdoors. The worst lags
naturally occur in crowded areas like the Ironforge auction house/bank
section. Group battles within the Elite-level keep in eastern Redridge
feel like stop-motion animation with as low as 1-2 FPS. But even there
it's playable for me, although others might disagree.

The graphics are beautiful. I don't know what _Everquest_ or _FFXI_
looks like in person, but if _FFXI_ looks like _FFX_ I know what I
prefer.

As implied above, I really don't play the game very often; mostly in
long spurts on the weekends. Since I haven't played other MMORPGs I
can't personally attest to what others (and the sales rankings) say
about WoW being more accessible to the casual gamer, but it's
certainly been that way for me. Certainly I've felt no pressure
whatsoever to level up to keep up with the Joneses, if you
will. Similarly, I can't personally say whether there's less grinding
in WoW than in other MMORPGs but I can say I've really not felt that
anything in the game was excessively tedious (well, maybe the
requirement to kill 20 Plague Spreaders among the many other undead
roaming around Raven Hill; only after finishing it aided by a kind
passerby did I discover that the underground crypt is filled with
them).

On my PvE server Llane, everyone seems quite nice and I can't say I've
yet run into the kinds of idiots others have griped about. As noted, a
kind passerby had no compunctions about helping a total stranger out
with a remarkably tedious quest he'd already done for a good half
hour. With the channels it's usually quite easy to find an ad hoc
group to go tackle some tough quest together. As another noted, people
give me drive-by buffs all the time and lately I've been trying to
reciprocate more often (it's more awkward for me given the iBook's
touchpad).

I'm impressed by the sheer scale of the game. It's gratifying to look
at the map and realize that I've only been to exactly four sections
(Goldshire/Stormwind, Westwood, Redridge, Duskwood) and portions of
two others (Ironforge/Dun Morogh and the path to Loch Modan). It's
gratifying to know that there's so much left to see and do.

Speaking of which, how many different paths are there in the game? I
know that were I to start a new Human Warlock character I'd also
start at Goldshire and face the same quests as I'm doing now, minus
the few character-specific quests like the Paladin one I'm doing
now. But what if I began as a Gnome Warlock, and thus start off at
(I think) Dun Morogh? Where would the two story paths merge? (Given
that I've begun to receive 25-30 level Gnomeragan quests I suspect
I've reached the merge point.) If I began as a Night Elf Mage on the
other side of the world, what about then? Is there a point where I'd
"permanently" migrate to the Eastern continent?

I imagine that Horde characters' story paths are almost completely
separate from the Alliance. But are there overlaps here as well? For
example, I know that Molten Core is a 60+ instance; is it something
that's only questable by the Alliance, or for all comers?

--
<URL:http://www.pobox.com/~ylee/&gt; PERTH ----> *
Cpu(s): 3.5% us, 2.0% sy, 0.5% ni, 90.1% id, 3.5% wa, 0.5% hi, 0.0% si
Mem: 515800k total, 508000k used, 7800k free, 192656k buffers
Swap: 1052216k total, 40964k used, 1011252k free, 108768k cached
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 16, 2005 3:26:55 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

Yeechang Lee wrote:
> Speaking of which, how many different paths are there in the game? I
> know that were I to start a new Human Warlock character I'd also
> start at Goldshire and face the same quests as I'm doing now, minus
> the few character-specific quests like the Paladin one I'm doing
> now. But what if I began as a Gnome Warlock, and thus start off at
> (I think) Dun Morogh? Where would the two story paths merge? (Given
> that I've begun to receive 25-30 level Gnomeragan quests I suspect
> I've reached the merge point.) If I began as a Night Elf Mage on the
> other side of the world, what about then? Is there a point where I'd
> "permanently" migrate to the Eastern continent?
>
> I imagine that Horde characters' story paths are almost completely
> separate from the Alliance. But are there overlaps here as well? For
> example, I know that Molten Core is a 60+ instance; is it something
> that's only questable by the Alliance, or for all comers?


The quest system is mostly based on geography. Once you start going to
the same zones as other races in your faction (ie Hilsbrad and
Ashenvale) then you will see the same quests. There are some class
specific quests, and even some profession specific quests, but those
are probably about 10% of the total number of quests avaialble at a
given level.

Also, any quest that comes from a nuetral party like a Goblin is
available to both factions. There are more and more of these as you get
higher in levels. The designers did this on purpose to foster
conflict/competition. On a PvP server especially, the areas where both
factions are trying to farm the same mob or grab the same item are
hotbeds of PvP.

In the end the effect of race on the gaming experience is very small.
Once you get past level 30 it's irrelevent. Class and profession matter
alot more.

Also, the game forces you to go back and forth between continents
continuously. At any given level there are usually 2 zones that are
appropriot for you. There are not enough quests in just 1 of those
zones to get you through to the next part of the game. Each zone also
usually has exactly 1 Horde and 1 Alliance town with a flight path as
well.

Example (rough estimates from memory here):

L20-30 Stonetalon & Thousand Needles
L25-35 Hilsbrad & Ashenvale
L30-40 Arathi & Desolace
L35-45 Stranglethorn
L40-50 Swamp of Sorrows & Duskwallow Marsh
etc, etc

Here's some maps that really help explain how the world is laid out...

http://www.worldofwar.net/cartography/
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 16, 2005 3:26:55 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

Yeechang Lee wrote:
>
> As implied above, I really don't play the game very often; mostly in
> long spurts on the weekends. Since I haven't played other MMORPGs I
> can't personally attest to what others (and the sales rankings) say
> about WoW being more accessible to the casual gamer, but it's
> certainly been that way for me.

WoW is my 4th MMORPG and I find it is definitely easy to get into.
Very friendly game to casual players. Similar to City of Heroes in
that regard.

> Certainly I've felt no pressure
> whatsoever to level up to keep up with the Joneses, if you
> will.

That pressure will come. It's still early in the game's life. There
will come a day where the low level zones are empty and it is virtually
impossible to do any of the elite quests below 50th level, due to no
other low level players to group with. Grinding and solo questing will
always be possible, but there will come a time where new and low level
players will feel left behind.

> Similarly, I can't personally say whether there's less grinding
> in WoW than in other MMORPGs but I can say I've really not felt that
> anything in the game was excessively tedious (well, maybe the
> requirement to kill 20 Plague Spreaders among the many other undead
> roaming around Raven Hill; only after finishing it aided by a kind
> passerby did I discover that the underground crypt is filled with
> them).
>

There is far less pure grinding in WoW than any other game I've played.


> On my PvE server Llane, everyone seems quite nice and I can't say
I've
> yet run into the kinds of idiots others have griped about. As noted,
a
> kind passerby had no compunctions about helping a total stranger out
> with a remarkably tedious quest he'd already done for a good half
> hour. With the channels it's usually quite easy to find an ad hoc
> group to go tackle some tough quest together. As another noted,
people
> give me drive-by buffs all the time and lately I've been trying to
> reciprocate more often (it's more awkward for me given the iBook's
> touchpad).
>

I have been fortunate also in that most of the people I've run into
have been pretty good folks. The funny thing is that WoW actually has
the reputation for having the worst userbase of all the MMORPGs. I
haven't found that to be the case at all.

> I'm impressed by the sheer scale of the game. It's gratifying to look
> at the map and realize that I've only been to exactly four sections
> (Goldshire/Stormwind, Westwood, Redridge, Duskwood) and portions of
> two others (Ironforge/Dun Morogh and the path to Loch Modan). It's
> gratifying to know that there's so much left to see and do.
>

The better you know it, the smaller it gets.

With my first character, The Barrens was a vast and frightening place.
I spent probably two weeks in there hunting down quest mobs and
locations, dodging danger and exploring. But by the time I was running
my 4th character through that zone I was able run through it in a
couple days, exhausting all the quests there one by one. I knew
exactly where to go and what to do.

On the other hand, you can get to 60th level while skipping entire
zones. I have never been to Searing Gorge or Blasted Lands. A friend
of mine never went to Dustwallow Marsh or Swamp of Sorrows. I had to
guide him to Stonard for his flight path just yesterday so that we
could kill the dragon for our Onyxia keys. So there really is more
there to see and do than you can with any one character.

> Speaking of which, how many different paths are there in the game? I
> know that were I to start a new Human Warlock character I'd also
> start at Goldshire and face the same quests as I'm doing now, minus
> the few character-specific quests like the Paladin one I'm doing
> now. But what if I began as a Gnome Warlock, and thus start off at
> (I think) Dun Morogh? Where would the two story paths merge? (Given
> that I've begun to receive 25-30 level Gnomeragan quests I suspect
> I've reached the merge point.) If I began as a Night Elf Mage on the
> other side of the world, what about then? Is there a point where I'd
> "permanently" migrate to the Eastern continent?
>

I think if you really tried you could keep your storylines separate for
quite a long time. Possibly the entire game. If the Alliance is like
the Horde, and from everything I've read the Alliance areas are
actually MORE developed than the Horde's, there are at least 2
appropriate zones for any given level. For the Horde, there's a
separate progression on each continent. You can follow the
Silverpine-Hillsbrad-Arathi route or you can go the
Barrens-Stonetalon/Ashenvale-Thousand Needles way. Or a mix. Also,
far as I know you can do any set of quests you want regardless of race.
Certain quests lend themselves to certain races due to location, but
if you ran a lvl 1 elf over to the dwarf newbie area I believe you
could do the whole dwarf/gnome set as an elf and completely skip your
own race's quests. Most commonly, though, the paths begin to merge in
the teens and by the 30s everyone is doing the same stuff no matter
what path they followed early on. As I said, though, it doesn't have
to be this way -- I know someone who completely skipped Stranglethorn
Vale, which is practically *the* hotspot for late 30s to early 40s.

> I imagine that Horde characters' story paths are almost completely
> separate from the Alliance. But are there overlaps here as well? For
> example, I know that Molten Core is a 60+ instance; is it something
> that's only questable by the Alliance, or for all comers?
>

There is a ton of overlap. The designed the game to bring the Horde
and Alliance head to head, not only when specifically seeking out PvP
but also just in the course of normal adventuring. There are a number
of "contested zones" scattered around which contain large numbers of
quests for both sides. Hillsbrad Foothills, Stranglethorn Vale,
Winterspring, Ungoro Crater just to name a few.

There's also a whole goblin faction -- called the Steamwheedle Cartel I
believe. It is comprised of towns that are neutral to the Horde and
Alliance. They include Everlook, Gadgetzan, Ratchet, and Booty Bay and
each of them has a number of quests that can be completed by both
Alliance and Horde characters.

As a Horde shaman I completed one of the quests out of Booty Bay with
an Alliance character. We couldn't communicate but it was obvious
neither one of us was going to reach the quest objective and neither
one of us had any friends with us, so we just started working together
using movement and gestures to clear out the quest objective so that
both of us could complete it.
Related resources
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 16, 2005 7:09:11 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

patrick.barnes@standardregister.com wrote:
> That pressure will come. It's still early in the game's life.
> There will come a day where the low level zones are empty and it is
> virtually impossible to do any of the elite quests below 50th level,
> due to no other low level players to group with. Grinding and solo
> questing will always be possible, but there will come a time where
> new and low level players will feel left behind.

I presume this happened with Everquest, Asheron's Call, and Ultima
Online? I know each game plateaued in the 200 to 300,000-subscriber
range and convinced many observers that those figures were the most
any MMORPG outside east Asia could ever hit.

WoW has blasted beyond the peak totals for all three games combined,
but you're right; it's entirely possible, even likely, that at some
point its subscriber figures will also plateau. But for all we know it
may not occur until the 2, 5, or 10-million level.

> I think if you really tried you could keep your storylines separate
> for quite a long time. Possibly the entire game.

See, I'd actually *prefer* this. I'd want the experience for my next
character to be as different as possible from my Paladin. I've never
understood the mindset behind replaying a RPG; as much as I enjoyed
KotoR, I couldn't see myself replaying it from the start just to see
the various evil alternatives. The most I could do was to make the
choice at the two-thirds point to "go evil" and finish from there.

There's a Paladin-specific quest I'm doing right now that does involve
some travel to the northern lands, but I am strongly considering
avoiding the several Gnomeragon quests I've received unless I hear
it's a requirement to go further. There are plenty of 25-30+ Elite
quests (headlined by the infamous Van Cleef) I haven't tackled yet in
"my" regions, thank you.

--
<URL:http://www.pobox.com/~ylee/&gt; PERTH ----> *
Cpu(s): 3.6% us, 2.0% sy, 0.5% ni, 90.0% id, 3.5% wa, 0.5% hi, 0.0% si
Mem: 515800k total, 490560k used, 25240k free, 64824k buffers
Swap: 1052216k total, 41156k used, 1011060k free, 236432k cached
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 16, 2005 7:15:39 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

In article <slrnd3gmh7.hq0.ylee@pobox.com>,
Yeechang Lee <ylee@pobox.com> wrote:

> patrick.barnes@standardregister.com wrote:
> > That pressure will come. It's still early in the game's life.
> > There will come a day where the low level zones are empty and it is
> > virtually impossible to do any of the elite quests below 50th level,
> > due to no other low level players to group with. Grinding and solo
> > questing will always be possible, but there will come a time where
> > new and low level players will feel left behind.

[...]
> but you're right; it's entirely possible, even likely, that at some
> point its subscriber figures will also plateau. But for all we know it
> may not occur until the 2, 5, or 10-million level.

I think the problem isn't so much that subscriptions plateau, as that
new people don't sign up fast enough. If you're the only guy who signs
up on your server this week, and someone else is the only one who signed
up last week, there'll just be the two of you in noobie land.

This will be true even if retention is 100% and subscriptions continue
to increase at the rate of 1 per server per week ;) 

--
Nabuu, Tauren druid on Dethecus.
Also (rarely):
Chum, Gnome warlock, Bronzebeard
Tost, Dwarven rogue, Bronzebeard
Meadow, Night elf priest, Bronzebeard
Harmany, Undead mage, Dethecus
<http://www.ManyFriends.com/WoW/PhotoAlbum/&gt;
Aka "Misc" -- If you don't remove your pants, I won't get your email.
March 16, 2005 7:15:40 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

["Followup-To:" header set to comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg.]
On 2005-03-16, Nabuu <Nabuu@*YOUR-PANTS*ManyFriends.com> wrote:

> I think the problem isn't so much that subscriptions plateau, as that
> new people don't sign up fast enough. If you're the only guy who signs
> up on your server this week, and someone else is the only one who signed
> up last week, there'll just be the two of you in noobie land.
>
> This will be true even if retention is 100% and subscriptions continue
> to increase at the rate of 1 per server per week ;) 

You're missing out on the alt-aholics. If I remember you could
have up to eight characters on each server.
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 17, 2005 1:12:19 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

On 16 Mar 2005 16:09:11 GMT, Yeechang Lee wrote:

> I presume this happened with Everquest, Asheron's Call, and Ultima
> Online?

Not in Ultima Online, no, but Ultima Online is less narrow than WoW; more
of a "real" world. Ultima Online also doesn't have character levels, but
only skill values that depend on what you're doing. It's entire possible to
reach Grandmaster status in a number of crafting skills without ever
killing even one monster. While there are places that are more suited for
players with developed skills, new and old players always mingle in towns,
and easier areas are always close to harder areas, so that you are never
faced with actually completely empty "newbie zones". You can also play with
anyone you wish, since there is no such thing as "xp" -- you gain skill by
using skills, and it doesn't matter if you cast your magic bolt at a weak
skeleton or a mighty dragon. Ultima Online is pretty much a one-of-a-kind
MMORPG and can't be compared to "gamey" MMORPGs like WoW or Everquest. They
are all fun games, just different.

M.
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 18, 2005 8:44:45 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.warcraft,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

> Speaking of which, how many different paths are there in the game? I
> know that were I to start a new Human Warlock character I'd also
> start at Goldshire and face the same quests as I'm doing now, minus
> the few character-specific quests like the Paladin one I'm doing
> now. But what if I began as a Gnome Warlock, and thus start off at
> (I think) Dun Morogh? Where would the two story paths merge? (Given
> that I've begun to receive 25-30 level Gnomeragan quests I suspect
> I've reached the merge point.) If I began as a Night Elf Mage on the
> other side of the world, what about then? Is there a point where I'd
> "permanently" migrate to the Eastern continent?
>

For me its about level 10. I usually do the quests in both loch modan and
darkshore, alternating between them for several quests at a time. I havnt
bothered with westfall yet, but I do pop over to redridge and do those.

> I imagine that Horde characters' story paths are almost completely
> separate from the Alliance. But are there overlaps here as well? For
> example, I know that Molten Core is a 60+ instance; is it something
> that's only questable by the Alliance, or for all comers?

You tend to meet horde in Hillsbrad, and then stranglehorn vale. After that
the zones are all "shared"
Anonymous
a b Ý World of Warcraft
March 19, 2005 1:32:53 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

shadows <shadows@whitefang.com> wrote in
news:slrnd3grm0.ftd.shadows@helena.whitefang.com:

> ["Followup-To:" header set to comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg.]
> On 2005-03-16, Nabuu <Nabuu@*YOUR-PANTS*ManyFriends.com> wrote:
>
>> I think the problem isn't so much that subscriptions plateau, as that
>> new people don't sign up fast enough. If you're the only guy who
>> signs up on your server this week, and someone else is the only one
>> who signed up last week, there'll just be the two of you in noobie
>> land.
>>
>> This will be true even if retention is 100% and subscriptions
>> continue to increase at the rate of 1 per server per week ;) 
>
> You're missing out on the alt-aholics. If I remember you could
> have up to eight characters on each server.
>

Alts are leveled very fast, often helped by higher chars in guild.
Even if Blizzard would introduce a couple of new races to lure players into
rerolling, the veterans will fly through levels with amazing speed.

The only way to do something about low level is to introduce new
factions/quests in the newbie zones that have to be completed/started at
low levels and significantly change all the subsequent leveling. But
that's a ton of work for developers, and will justify an expansion.
!