Sunday, May 11, 2008

Games without guides

A reader wrote me to ask why World of Warcraft was considered to be so friendly to new players, when there are still so many things the game doesn't tell you. For example new players can easily overlook getting their first talent point at level 10. And who hasn't used third party guides or websites to find out where he has to go to get certain character improvements? Even with 3 level 70 characters I'm still constantly on sites like WoWWiki for example to find out where I can get new enchanting recipes for reputation, and to what dungeon I would have to go to gain that reputation. Where in the game is it explained that Warsong Gulch is a capture-the-flag game?

My only answer is that World of Warcraft is considered to be new-player friendly, because most other games are doing considerably worse. If you are slightly confused in WoW, you'll be completely lost in Everquest 2, where nothing is explained in-game. EVE Online is 5 years old now, and now gets lots of praise for finally improving their tutorials in a way that they actually explain the basics to new players. For Age of Conan I don't even know if they'll have a tutorial in the game for release, for the recent beta you had to download the tutorial videos from Fileplanet.

I wish that in the future game developers realize that having a game which can't be played without outside help is not a good idea. MMORPGs should have much better tutorials, and NPCs explaining you every detail of the game. MMORPGs should have sages and libraries, which fulfil the same function as sites like WoWWiki do now. If you market your game to the multi-million player mass market, you can't rely on all the players being connected enough to find out everything they need to know for themselves.

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