Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 25, 2019

WoW was not lightning in a bottle

Hello developers! It must make you feel better to say “WoW was lightning in a bottle” especially with the graveyard of “WoW-Killers” out there. And yet, WoW Classic will release within a day and its servers are already beyond full.

Ever since WoW, almost every genre of gaming has seen WoW’isms being trickled down into the gameplay. Not only are the MMO gameplay trickling to shooters and other genres, single player games’ “Open World” is heavily influenced by WoW. When I play Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I definitely feel influences from WoW.

What is WoW? It is the fusion of both Diablo and Warcraft. Clearly, WoW was made as a response to other MMOs at the time such as Everquest or even Ultima Online.

The rise of WoW Classic is not just a rejection of retail WoW, it is a rejection of current gaming.

I’m currently playing Ys VIII. There is ‘crafting’ and you even have to farm for it. Oh, and there are quests too. I’m thinking, “How the hell did THIS SHIT get into an action RPG?” WoW is not just the king MMORPG, it is the king RPG in general. It’s hard to play a RPG today and not see WoW shit all in it. It truly is one of the most influential games of all time.

Take Zelda: Breath of the Wild for example. All the little things you do to grind up gear, these are popular. In many ways, that is the default gameplay of WoW. But what hasn’t been explored or recognized is the social gameplay elements. In other words, ‘win friends and influence people’ to do your bidding within the game.

Let me put it in this context. One of the most enjoyable ways to play multiplayer is ‘no rules’. A full game of Warcraft 2 would go off. People would make secret alliances. It required more than just ‘Starcraft 2’ APM and tactics to win You had to play the players too. As time went on, Blizzard automated the social gameplay. Alliances would be pre-set and would disallow any funny business. It made the game more accessible, but it also made it less fun. The appeal of this social gameplay was a big part of the apocalypse shooters that came out recently (I can’t remember the name).

The open game world is not enough. Games need more social gameplay options.

Classic WoW is a game full of tedious farming (which some find pleasure in). But Classic WoW is primarily a game of social gameplay where all the players are stuck on an island (server). You must deal with the social ramifications of that server.

I think Classic WoW will both a success and a failure. It will be a success because so many gamers will gravitate to it. But it will fail because the social gameplay was never advanced (it was retarded). What I mean is that the failure will be people creating social bonds outside the game and bringing them into the server. Instead of people generating those social networks on the server themselves, too many guilds are coming in from the outside.

So what is the point then? The pre-made guild already shuts down much of the social gameplay. All that is left to do is min/max the farming of WoW. And boom, game over. “You have Naxx on farm.” So what?

I believe the bane of Classic WoW will be the pre-made social networks outside the game. Remember that Classic WoW was developed in a time where todays social media platforms did not exist. I believe those social media platforms will definitely tilt Classic WoW to a different direction. All the gameplay will seem very easy because the social networks are already established. You don’t have to establish them in the game, and you do not have to compete with other guilds on that same server for that talent.

It would be interesting if a video game were to further explore the social gameplay elements. But that would require some original thinking, not just remastering an old game.


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