1- Blizzard has no competition and they don’t need to try anymore to stay ahead. There isn’t any need to fight even on the last thousands of players. They win, everyone else lost. Game over.
The patches are getting slower and more insubstantial, filled with pages of convoluted class changes. It’s quite obvious that the there’s no creative push behind this and that they are only trying to please the current many subscribers, especially the ones still heavily invested in the game. There is no attempt to reach further.
It’s also quite obvious that resources are being moved. A while ago Blizzard was only working on WoW. Now they have WoW, Starcraft, Diablo and another MMO project. They were never able to do more than one thing at once and now the focus will start to shift. As always in this industry you only see the effect of what happens behind the scenes a few years later. It starts now, the effect will come later.
The lead designer, Jeff Kaplan, left WoW to move on the new project. We know only of the public figures but it is obvious that he is followed by many more that work in the back.
WoW is now in the (un)capable hands of Kalgan. Have fun.
2- Lum quoted various pieces from a conference (where industry people only go to feel proud, boast their cultivated shortsightedness, feel validated among equals, avoid challenges, avoid reality, shake hands, and whose game design relevance is a negative number) where Jeff Kaplan talks about quest design. Jeff Kaplan is in my “good guys book” and I’m not entirely sure if he was mocking the audience thinking that they would only grasp the superficial level anyway, and so talk in a language they could understand.
It’s not the specific of what he says to be wrong, it’s the overall sense. I only read Lum quotes but those ideas were considered good ideas “on paper” that revealed to be poor in practice. Bottom line: these ideas should be avoided.
That’s a wrong conclusion. Wrong interpretation. It’s about trying to understand aspects of the game with only one rigid model. That’s the inner flaw. It’s not in the quest ideas, it’s in the approach.
Everyone of those examples isn’t just a “good idea on paper”. Gone bad in practice. Why? Because it obviously was a bad idea even in paper? Nope. It was a possibly good idea with an inappropriate execution.
That’s the point: good ideas with bad execution. All of them.
Take the example of the quest in Stranglethorn. The idea is cool. It is also not an obligatory quest, so if you don’t like the added layers you can always skip it. Where’s the big flaw of that quest? Not in the concept. It’s in the limits of the inventory. So. You may solve the problem by erasing the quest entirely. Or you may fix the one problem. In this case you could create a container object that takes 1 slot in the inventory and that can contain all the parts that can be then taken and sold in the auction, traded or whatever.
“For a single quest to consume 19 spaces in your bags is just ridiculous.”
That’s right. That’s why you solve the one problem, as the cool concept behind the quest wasn’t to consume all those spaces, but to create an economy and add a new layer.
Now this is an example, but every one else following is the seed of the same consideration: inappropriate quest concepts because they don’t fit the standard framework. Not BAD quest concepts. Just quest concepts that step out of the limited tools given.
Problem is the framework, not the material. The problem is execution, not quest concepts. Given that implementation, the quest didn’t work. But this doesn’t make it an universally bad quest that wouldn’t or can’t work in other cases.
The “quest chains” aren’t bad because of what they are. They are bad because the quest UI is standardized and doesn’t support them properly (in fact the only way to see even a short chain quest is to use MODs like Wowhead). It’s again a flaw in the framework. You are bringing creative ideas to a framework that doesn’t support them. Either you dump all creative quest concepts, or you invest in programmers that expand the framework to support new quest types properly. But, again, the rigidness of a framework is the real true cause of a good or bad idea applied to it. Its context.
So enjoy your GDC. Either I’m overestimating Kaplan, or he was there just to deceive you with apparent sincerity. He keeps the good lessons (solutions) for himself.
Ubiq on this as well. That would lead to think that he doesn’t get it either, but look further, deeper. That’s the hidden war he’s doing to Bioware. His purpose is there. Nowadays when devs have an hard time to impose themselves internally, they rant externally.