Game Philosopher

The philosophy of games and gaming

Blizzard’s Design Philosophy for WoW

Posted by gamephilosopher on September 8, 2006

I’ve never played World of Warcraft, maybe I will some day, but I did read a great article yesterday that I thought would be a great read for you people.

http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/09/06/agc-rob-pardos-keynote/

Its a keynote speech from WoW’s Lead Designer Rob Pardo and it has some really good details about what choices Blizzard made when designing the game. Here are some highlights.

 “Another thing we talked about very early on was the game being soloable to [level] 60.”

In designing a game so that it’s accessible to a wide array of people, Blizzard wanted to capture the casual and the hardcore gamers. The way I see it is that casual gamers are less likely to band together into groups because they’re not online for 8 hours a day cultivating relationships with other players. Therefore, they can’t be made to rely on groups to complete the game or they’ll lose interest. On the other side of the coin, the hardcore players have the ability to go solo or run around with their mates. Both are viable options.

““Killing with a purpose” is the quest philosophy for WoW. With other MMOs, quests were just go out and see that experience bar move.”

I know this from personal experience. I’m currently playing an MMO that doesn’t even HAVE a plot, and about 5 hours worth of missions. The result is going around killing stuff, and then going somewhere else and killing stuff, ad nauseum. People lose interest within weeks because you eventually run out of things to do. In a subscription based game, this is the worst thing that can happen, especially if you can figure out the game sucks within the free trial…

“An example of Tradeoffs: system requirements of Wow versus Crysis, for example. Crysis looks awesome. But we would rather have the broader market. So that forced us to the stylized art style that is resistant to looking dated. ”

I never really thought about this, but since opinions of what graphics are cutting edge changes by the day, it would be very tough for an MMO to last for several years without looking dated. Stylized art sidesteps the age factor so the developers can concentrate on patching flaws and coming up with new content rather than keeping up with the graphical jonses.

Overall, a great article, even if you’re not into WoW. I didn’t forsee me ever trying it out, but after reading this article, I just may…

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