Monday, August 24, 2009

The sweet victory of the B-team

I don't know what makes me most enthusiastic - the actual content in the information we've had about Cataclysm - or the overwhelming reception from the community that we've seen so far. It's too early to tell what is what. But the impression I will carry with me from this weekend, following BlizzCon from a distance, is that Blizzard very well succeed in what I was hoping for a few days ago. They're showing us that WoW is far from a dying game.

Excited players
Of course there are already some grumpy, disappointed, complaining blog and forum posts out there. There always will be. But the vast majority of players - new ones as well as old veterans who have cancelled their subscriptions long time ago - seem to be as excited about it as I am. Even Tobold, who's been so grumpy and tired with WoW for a while, has gotten caught the bug again. I'm not sure if we have solid reasons to be THAT happy. But those feelings are contagious, so they're filling the WoW community right now. Probably the previous tension, reinforced by the speculations, adds to it. It's just like at one of those inforgettable moments at great rock concerts, when the arena suddenly kind of explodes and we're all integrated, one huge organism, happily singing, dancing, breathing and drinking the music, the game we love so much.

Is this love-in-the-air feeling permanent or will it fade away once we've thought the changes over a bit more? I come to think of that TV-show where they grab some poor victim of a disaster (disease or natural catastrophe) who has lost their home and build a new luxury house for them. The walk-through of the new content in Cataclysm was a little bit like the walk-through in those shows. "Look what we've planning to do for you! And we've got this and this and this! Now check out this room! Awesome, isn't it?" It remains to see though if it will hold in the long run. Looking at the TV-show, some of the rooms they build for the children in those families are plain silly, just not anything that will work in everyday life, and as a mother I know that the kids will grow tired with them in no time. It could very well turn out to be the same with some of those changes when we've seen them come true and lived with them for a while.

But right now my eyes are glittering happily at the thought of the new stuff, as they are for so many other of you out there.

Reinforcing the grounds
I think that what makes this expansion so great is that Blizzard really show that they believe that the WoW concept has a few more years to come. I see it as if they're building a tower. Instead of just adding another level to an unstable building, which is leaning over in a dangerous angle, they've decided to go back to the bottom, rebuilding and enforcing the grounds.

With an Azeroth that feels up-to-date and interesting when you compare it other games, they've built a foundation that makes it possible to make further expansions, using the previous adding-new-contents-concept. The game will still hold together. Which is something that it - in all honesty - doesn't quite do at the moment. If you compare the artwork and the game experience you get from for instance Darkshore or Redridge Mountains of today with Icecrown, you can hardly believe it's the same game. Now hopefully this will smoothen out, even though some spots in Outlands will feel a bit old (Hellfire bores with orcs, anyone? Sigh.)

I'm not in the position that I can make any detailed analysis about the changes. There's too much to comment it all at once and I need some more time to think it over. Besides - at least in my world - we're only halfway through the current content. I'm so looking forward to see what Icecrown will be like, for one thing. But of course I'll come back to Cataclysm many times in the months to come. PPI basically reflects what currently fills my mind, what WoW looks like through my eyes for the time being. And you bet that I'll think a lot about this.

I just need to mention one of the details that made me clap my hands most intensely. Yes, of course you know what it is: they've finally given the gnomes a bit of love. A healing class! I wonder how long it will take before we see the first gnomes-only-guilds? I for one would just love to run instances in a Small People Party. The bigger dragon, the better!
Enjoying the victory
A few final thoughts: I hope that the BlizzCon Effect will remain for a little while before the community will go back to the ordinary whining and "it was better in the old days" ranting. I really think that the B-team deserve to linger in this feeling and cherish their victory for a little while.

Another winner is of course Boubouille at MMO-champion. He put his reputation at risk, publishing the leaked information. And he turned out to be correct in every detail, in spite of a lot of public criticism and questioning. Now his reputation as a trustworthy source of information is all-time-high. Cheers for you Boubouille! Come and have a pint whenever you're done with the Cataclysm reporting. You deserve it!


MLW said...

It looks like it will be fun and refreshing, but it's not WoW. They're deleting most of the old zones, they're gutting and rebuilding every talent tree, and redoing the entire stat system.

I think I saw this happen once, it was called Everquest 2. But this time, they won't be cleaving their subscription numbers in half.

Tomas said...

It's interesting that you would say it isn't WoW. But I think it's this very type of thing that makes it WoW.

To me, to go back and completely change your game to something new will involve some disheartenment to those who really loved certain zones, but I'm sure they will find another to fill that zoid.

Here is food for through: You may love Azhara, or perhaps the Barrens, but maybe now you will find refuge in a place that is almost certainly avoided by everyone now: Desolace.

To me, I'm excited, and I for one cannot wait. Before watching Blizzcon, and even after reading the MMO-CHAMPION reportings, I wasn't really anticipating to want to be a part of the next expansion as hugely as I once might of.

But there you go, as Larisa said in her post, maybe it's the enchantment of seeing so many people gather for something they enjoy, something that everyone there enjoys, and realizing that this isn't merely, as Elnia put, "just a game".

We can show them, all the nay-sayers, that there is something more to this, and there is something here to be proud of.

Tomas said...

After posting that last comment, I felt I needed to personally thank you, Larisa, and all your bartenders for maintaining the PPI.

It's always a great read, and seems to really provoke a lot of good thoughts and feelings.

I know you must get an immense amount of readers now, but I can only hope to see your blog grow from here.


WTFspaghetti said...

I agree with Azryu


Arthak said...

I quit WoW about a month ago, sure to never return.

Then Blizz drops the Cataclysm bomb on us...
After a long time of "no fun" there is a silver lining at the horizon.

After what I´ve read and seen about Cataclysm I started to re-think my decision. WoW is not just going to get "another" expansion. Cataclysm will more be like WoW Reloaded. With all the changes it will be a whole new game.

For me... I´m itching again ;).

Carra said...

I also noticed the gnome priest thing. It makes no sense lore wise but my gnome fetish gets the upper hand in this case.

And I also start feeling that twinkle to get back into WoW. Level some of my alts, try out some of the new stuff they have added through patches. And try out some of the old stuff before it's gone.

The goblin addition is also a great addition. I just adore cutesy cute characters in these games. And being able to play a cute little female goblin? Yes please! Sure, it doesn't change the gameplay in any way but I can be a cute hordie and actually play through new content. Now, they do have to add pink ponytails for my goblin.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely super excited about Cataclysm - like Arthak said it is almost like WoW 2 what with (what we call) the old world being completely revamped to such an extent.

With regards to the guy at MMO-Champion being proven right - I am actually now feeling a bit sad that there was a leak. Yesterday Spinks had linked an interview with J Allen Brack by Escapist magazine. They asked how the team had reacted to the leak and this was his answer: "They went through the five stages of grief, really. It’s hard to not have this initial irritation, where you work on something, you want to build up a surprise, an awesome reveal, and have it yanked out from under you. But as the weekend went on, and they saw how the WoW community was getting excited about the news, it became easier to accept. The reality is, the fans still went crazy for Cataclysm."

Reading that made me feel really bad for the Blizz guys. The excitement of trying to arrange a big surprise for a friend is a great buzz and for something on this scale it must've been even more so - and then to just have the wind taken out of their sails like that because someone couldn't keep their mouth shut. All's well that ends well, sure - but still, makes me feel a bit sad for them. /pat Blizz ppl

M said...

"I see it as if they're building a tower. Instead of just adding another level to an unstable building, which is leaning over in a dangerous angle, they've decided to go back to the bottom, rebuilding and enforcing the grounds."

Awesome analogy, and really hits the nail on the head of why I'm thrilled by what they've announced. This promises to not just be a thin veneer of make-up over an aging, wrinkly face, but a true batch of cosmetic surgery mixed with some anti-aging creams... or something like that :-p

Anonymous said...

I first thought, "Where is the new class?" "Where are the new Zones?" "Where is the Northrend of Cataclysm"

What? we are going back to the old lands? I wasn't thrilled, then I thought about all makes sense. Those other things will come over the years...but Blizz is building something. I mean we are still getting over the DK's how they have affected the game.

To be predictable would not have done the game any good.

My problem is the waiting. ;)

Larísa said...

@Jorbundgard: It's not WoW? But then what IS wow? As long as I can keep Larísa with her strenghts and weaknesses, as long as I've at least got a couple of people on my friends list who still play, as long as there are quests to complete and raid bosses to down and landscapes to devour and enjoy, it's surely WoW to me.
And after all - they promised to keep that lady in Westfall.

@Azryu: thank you so much for your kind words! I don't know what an "immense" amount of readers are. There are currently about 800 subscribers. That is surely far, far beyound anything I could think of a year ago. For long I had no more than 15 subscribers. But on the other hand, the PPI is quite insignificant in the huge Blogosphere, there are many other blogs with many more visitors and much more influence. However: this doesn't matter. What matters to me is the enjoyment of writing and to mingle with the guests, having a pint and a giggle in the bar, pondering upon things together. So I'm very happy about how things have turned out. Just about everything I could dream of.

WTF Spaghetti: Cheers!

@Arthak: good to hear, good to hear! I'll have to keep an eye at your blog then...

@Carra: a goblin with pink ponoytails? I always imagined them bold... I have to check out the models if they've posted any.

@Tufva: as I commented at Spinks, I wouldn't be surprised if the leak actually was planted. It certainly didn't harm them, on the contrary, I think they got much more and better media covarage than they would have gotten without it. So even if it wasn't planted, I don't think anyone would be kicked because of it. They'll probably forgive it, busy as they are celebrating the success...

@Fulguralis: another great analogy! In real life I'm no fan of cosmetic surgery, but for a game, it certainly can be a good thing if you want them to last longer.

@RJK: yeah, I think they've thought this over pretty well. They have a long term plan. Probably the successor of WoW will take a few years to develop, and they want to make sure that they'll be able to keep the audience tied to Blizzard until they're ready to take up the competition with themselves.

Fitz said...

You always have the best analogies in your blog entries Larisa, which is one of many things that makes PPI a must-read (that and the bartender serves up double shots in the mixed drinks like a pro).

I had to giggle about your thoughts on the Extreme Makeover Home shows. I had not thought of the kids growing out of the ridiculous rooms, but I had thought about how hard it must be to try and sell one of these homes! Oh and we have a basketball court in this bedroom, etc. Good luck with that sell!

PS - You may have a reason to drop by our world of healer blogs now that we've welcomed our short friends to the priesthood. A long overdue addition if you ask me! Welcome to the heal-train.

River said...

Worgen Mages....Worgen Mages. I can't see it.

We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog said...

Cataclysm does look awesome and I agree that the developers should be given big pats on the back (assuming it turns out to be as good as it looks).

My only gripe is that Draenei get no new class combinations and yet every other race does. What's up with the alien gypsy hate?!

Wishart said...

Love the blog loved it from the beginning, but I like the pink pony tail's from old ;) WoW isn't going to die but it is loosing players. This is noticeable from the lack of true hardcore raiders (Especially in the big guild of old in vanilla wow etc) wow is a get rich/get epics fast game and is being constantly dumbed down. I like the look of wow I love what they have done but its to easy, even on their questionnaire when asked why are you cancelling "games to easy" is an option. I would start up my subscription tomorrow if they made it hard again make epics mean something.

Larísa said...

Wishart! wow,long time no hear! A voice from the past, at a far distant server in another galaxy... Larísa at lvl 40-50 in Searing Gorge comes to mind. Anyway: actually the hard modes are.. pretty hard. I don't know how much you've done of them, but I think ToC hard mode will keep us occupied for a while (although normal didn't put up much of a resistens). I think the talk about "dumbification" of the game is partly right, but not the whole truth. There are still challenges around if you look for them.