And now from left field … if you’re looking for a great World of Warcraft blog-related podcast check out the Twisted Nether Blogcast. I’m probably the last blogger to know about these guys, but I must say I’m really enjoying catching up on the episodes I’ve missed. Thanks to Siha over at Banana Shoulders who, even though she doesn’t know it, and indirectly, put me on to this podcast.
You have probably heard about the AoC “Real-combat” system. The question is whether, when you really get down to it, the AoC combat mechanics are better than WoW, or just different?
From the user’s point of view there is a bit more involved in the multipoint attack and defense system, but is it really that revolutionary? There might be a bit more to it in PvP, but for PvE it’s not the night and day difference I expected. Once again eye candy/immersion adds something here with nice graphics depicting combos and finishing moves, but I suspect that’s more due to the age of WoW, not the “revolutionary” AoC combat system.
As I said before, I only have limited experience in AoC, and there is certainly a lot I haven’t seen, such as mounted and siege combat, but I’m still to be convinced that AoC has a revolutionary combat system. Evolutionary maybe? Different? Yes, to an extent.
One of the first things that struck me was the graphics in AoC, and it was the same with LotRO. It’s little things, not really related to character models. You know, things like grass and plants gently swaying in the breeze, greater detail in the environment, realistic shadows, environmental sounds … a richness. I did wonder if it was just because it was different but I now think it was because there were just more environmental inputs to combine.
So, does the eye (ear) candy really make that much difference? After thinking about it for a while I have decided that what it comes down to is that eye and ear candy allows an increased feeling of immersion in a virtual world. Running around Tortage made me feel like I did when I first ran into Ironforge a few years ago after being isolated in Teldrassil as a low level Night Elf, but it was more than just new sights and sounds, it was the extent to which it was done.
It’s no surprise really, WoW is aging. Just compare Crysis to an FPS you were playing 3+ years ago. It’s the same thing. This is one of the reasons I think Blizzard will have to do something to keep people interested in WoW. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think WoW is going away overnight, but it’s definitely not “shiny” any more. Of course it’s not all about eye candy. Tetris is an engaging game, even today, and game-play is still a significant part of the whole equation.
With the recent release of Age of Conan (AoC), and Warhammer Online (WAR) scheduled for release later this year, I find myself asking this question and wondering what I’ll be doing next year.
I guess the question is more whether the content that comes with WotLK will be enough? I say content because that’s really what we’re talking about. There is nothing really radical about WotLK as far as I know. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but at this stage there is nothing that indicates a major change to the graphics engine or the mechanics of the game. It really comes down to a new class, new zones, new instances, and a new profession. Sure, there will be “updates” to existing content, but nothing … radical or particularly inspiring. Maybe that’s Blizzard’s plan? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or is it the bane of some other successful enterprises; the issue of maintaining compatibility with legacy systems?
Blizzard has a few things going for it, namely money, infrastructure, experience, the player base, literally years of personal investment by players, the lore, and reasonably acceptable game mechanics (particularly for the casual player), not to mention a cross-platform client. All these things act against people committing to switching. Better the devil you know …
My guess is that WotLK will be the last of the major content releases we see from Blizzard, at least for WoW as we currently know it. I just can’t see the game continuing into the new decade the way it is. That means major change, or simply “WoW will diminish, and go into the West, and remain WoW” (sorry Galadriel).
I’ll continue this later with a few observations based on my (limited) time in AoC (and LotRO), and the considerations that naturally arise when hypothesising about leaving WoW behind.
Well, I’ve been absent for a while again, but I have another excuse; I’ve been working on my latest project.
WoW Character Watch is a service that “watches” WoW toons and reports on changes over a period of time. Siha over at Banana Shoulders was the first to pick up on it after she helped with some alpha testing. It’s now firmly in beta with a lot of enhancements in the pipeline.
It should be handy for guild management as well as individuals. Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think.