Initial Impressions: WORLD OF WARCRAFT

Okay, so for someone who was a huge fan of fantasy, role-playing games, WARCRAFT and its sequels, and Blizzard itself, you might’ve thought I’d have jumped on Blizzard’s massively multi-player masterpiece when it was first released.  I did not.  I was deathly afraid of WORLD OF WARCRAFT for all the reasons above.  Knowing my tendencies to  . . . er . . . overly focus on things to the exclusion of all others and my bit of experience playing FINAL FANTASY XI (the online one) and RAGNAROK ONLINE I was certain that WoW would be crack cocaine in digital form.

In the end, I decided it was necessary for me to face the dangers of WoW addiction in order to have some experience with the game.  It is a pivotal piece of gaming and so many people reference things within it (especially when talking about creating other online games) that I had to play it enough to be familiar with it.  With all that being said, let’s get into it!

WORLD OF WARCRAFT is what is known as an MMORPG or massively multi-player role-playing game.  It is set in the fantasy world Blizzard created in their WARCRAFT series of strategy computer games, where humans battle orcs and both sides have allies in other races and fantastic creatures.  The game features several different races on both sides of the two playable alliances: the Alliance and the Horde.  I found myself more attracted to the look of the Alliance characters (the sort of “good” side that has Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes fighting for it), but in the end I put together a tauren (a sort of minatour type race) druid.

The main gameplay consists of walking your character around the fantasy world and destroying creatures.  The former is done with standard keyboard controls or by clicking where you want to go.  The latter is the focus of the game and generally consists of clicking on a creature then attacking it with one or more abilities.  The abilities range from simple damage dealing to effects like holding a creature in place.  Like its predecessors, WoW use monster bashing (with all its dice-rolling glory) as its main mechanic, but the draw is in the growth of the character itself.  There’s a sense of accomplishment felt when your character is strong enough to survive and travel to a new area.  There’s always that next level to gain to see what new monster-overcoming power your character can learn and since it’s an online game and one that supports a massive number of players, you can do adventures with several of your friends at once.  It does become a bit of Dungeons and Dragons without pens, paper, dice, and having to imagine what these creatures, characters, and locations look like.

And in case you’re wondering, I did have a mild obsession with it after my initial hour (which goes by pretty fast, by the way), but I’ve been able to manage my WoW play pretty well.  I think I was right, though, if they’d have had this game when I was in college and I’d gotten it, that would’ve been the end of a lot of my classes!

A Long Absence

Hello all you beautiful people.  It’s been a while since my last post here.  A lot and not that much at all has happened since the last post.  I’ve tried out quite a few games and been reading through 10-year old Game Developer magazines.  I’ve also gotten up to speed on general iPad/iPhone development using Objective-C and the iPhone SDK.

I’ve been getting into the habit in the last few weeks of sitting down with a game I’ve never played and trying it out for an hour.  I have a few reasons for doing this: a) as a designer, I want to look at what other games are doing/have done, b) I want to analyze how well other games pull a gamer in within the first moments of a game and how much of the game the player can get a feel for in those moments and c) I like to play games.  My plan was/is to write up my impressions of the games I’ve been running through.  So pretty soon you should be able to look forward to some notes on Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Assassin’s Creed, NickToons Unite!, Open Season, Sonic Heroes, Sonic & Knuckles, Jimmy Neutron: Attack of the Twonkies, Kirby Air Ride, and World of Warcraft. As you may have noticed, I’ve been raiding my little brother’s library for titles I hadn’t played.

Reading through the old Game Developer magazines has been interesting.  Not only has there been a lot of great information I’ve left sitting on my shelves for all these years, but it’s pretty fun reliving the history of game development through articles written when I was in college.  I’ve been reading them chronologically and just got to 2002 last night, a time when the Front Line Awards were praising the nVidia GeForce 3 graphics card, Maya 4, and the “new” Titanium Powerbook G4.  It was also funny to notice an ad for the 2002 Game Developers Conference while wearing the freebie shirt I got from attending the 2002 Game Developers Conference.

lastly, I just want to mention that the Pragmatic Programmers’ iPhone SDK Development by Bill Dudney and Chris Adamson is a great book for getting up to speed on the basics of iPhone/iPad development using Apple’s iOS SDK.  I found it well written and the progression of topics well thought-out.  I also liked that the authors chose to be tutorial-level detailed with new topics, but as the reader progresses through the book, the authors leave the implementation of previously learned material to the reader.  It does the dual job of forcing the reader to actually learn what there doing and practice it, while also making the book itself more readable and hold more information (since they don’t have to reprint the same instructions over and over again, lots of space is saved).  so yeah, good book.  Great resource.  It’s been super helpful in getting me my first iPad gig.



Currently playing: World of Warcraft Trial Edition