Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pokemon and Farmville

There was a lot of information this weeks about the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria, which I am not going to discuss in detail. I just want to discuss two features, already decried as "Pokemon" and "Farmville". Although the details are still sketchy and much might still change, it is foreseen that there will be a feature in which you can do battles using your pets. And you will have some sort of a farm, with daily quests to tend it.

Now I don't expect too much of these features. I would really love to play a REAL Pokemon MMORPG, based on the elemental strengths and weaknesses of the original game. But I'm pretty sure that MoP pet battles won't be as elaborate as that. And having a farm in WoW will probably still be far from what you'd expect from a "player housing" feature.

But I would like to state that features like this are a good addition to the game, because they increase the "world" aspect of World of Warcraft. They aren't on the critical path to ultimate power, but instead add alternative activities for people who aren't all that interested in ultimate power and just want to live in a fun virtual world. Although she is now playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, my ultra-casual wife is still playing World of Warcraft from time to time to do things like collecting pets or doing fishing quests. And she complains that SWTOR doesn't have many of those "world" features.

World of Warcraft has lost some of the "world" feeling by the extreme progress acceleration the leveling game has undergone. Blizzard basically wants to keep "time to level cap" constant, but that has weird effects if the level cap is 90 instead of 60. It's like watching a film in 1.5x fast forward mode, you can still follow the story but everything is somewhat weird and distorted. And by rushing through the zones at high speed you end up being less familiar with them than you were when doing them during vanilla. Note that this acceleration is *not* something the casual players requested, it was done at the request of the people who think the game starts at the level cap who wouldn't accept that every expansion pushed that level cap further away.

So everything Blizzard adds which makes the game feel more like the World of Warcraft instead of the Rush to Power of Warcraft is very welcome indeed. Jokes about Pokemon and Farmville notwithstanding.

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