Friday, February 4, 2011

Cataclysm's Biggiest Miss

There are a few things I think Blizzard could have done better with Cataclysm but the one thing I think they missed the most with is their redesign of the old world.  While it was fantastic in imagery and I really do love the quests in some areas as they where rich with lore or just flat out fun there is something that Blizzard had the chance to do that they didn't.

Blizzard could have went the route that I think the next big game will go with some day.  The redesigned world means they put a lot of work and effort into it, why did they not go one step further and make everything dynamic.

What do I mean by dynamic?

Each quest in the game is designed with a level.  Each mob in the game is designed with a level. Dungeons are designed with a level.  You get the idea right?  Everything they design is set in stone.

Why not make everything dynamic.  If a level 15 attacks a boar in red ridge the boar will be level 15.  If a level 85 attacks a boar in red ridge the boar is level 85.

This way, if you wanted to, you can level from 84 to 85 in red ridge.  You can choose where you quest.  The quest reward would be reflective of your level and not a set level.  The mobs needed to get the quest done would be reflective of your level and not a set level.

This idea is the next generation of MMORPG.  It makes the entire world current content all the time.  This means you can really control how and where you level.  It also means that no content will ever be outdated.  You might still get bored with it, but it will always be current for you.

There are some issues that would arise with a change of this magnitude but those can be easily addressed.

What happens if you wanted light leather for something and now everything is 85 if the mobs are now level 85 mobs like you? 
Well, boars in red ridge will always give light leather regardless of your level.

What use would light leather be to a level 85 that chooses to level there?
Redesign professions to use all items at all levels.  Inscription got it right (until cataclysm's 450-525 where they screwed it up).  You can use milled herbs of any level to make glyphs that are good at 85.

How can you make other professions the same in a way? 
Create a new profession specific thing that is required for all items and make a trade vendor that trades that item for stacks of 20 leather/herbs/ores/gems/cloth of any profession.  Now all items have value to all levels of professions. Something like when BC starts all things now need a special thread/bottle/setting/screw/etc that can only be received from trading in a stack of some gatherable.

What about loot tables, questing in twilight highlands would make more sense because I can get a level appropriate drop from those mobs?
Have loot tables based on the level the mob when it is killed.  They have a list of world drops for greens, blues and epics.  If the mobs triggers a green drop, check the level of the mob that died, drop the appropriate level item from the global loot table for that level.

Wouldn't that hurt enchanters looking for lower level materials?
Have a reverse trader for lower level items that trade the current highest level things down.  Like the ink trader, once again, showing that inscription was the only profession someone actually thought about before making it.

What about people of different levels grouping up?
Groups would work on the average level of the group but the group level will never be less then 3 levels below the top leveled person.

Does this means I can't help my level 15 friend with quests?
Sure you can, a mob will view people around them as if they are the same level as them (in a standard zone).  Mobs do not get their level until they aggro on someone.  Let your level 15 friend aggro them then you kill them.  Be careful not to be in a group with them however.  You do not want a level 82 aggroing on them.  Grouped people are always considered, at lowest, 3 levels under the top level person as mentioned before.

Dungeons and Raid:
So what about dungeons and raids?
They would auto scale as well and their loot tables would also be adjusted.  Wouldn't you love to run AQ40 at 85.  How awesome would that be.

More on level:
So every zone would be my level?
Nope, all zones would be one of five designations.  Very easy, Easy, Standard, Hard and Very Hard.
Very Easy = 2 levels below your level or your group level.
Easy = 1 level below your level or your group level.
Standard = Your level or your group level.
Hard = 1 level above your level or your group level.
Very Hard = 2 levels above your level or your group level.
Northshire would be very easy for example as it is a starting area.

Some small reasons this would be great:
1) Now it would be worth stopping for peacebloom if you where a herbalist/alchemist. You would need to trade stacks of herbs to get bottles to make potions and flasks.
2) Now it would be worth stopping to skin everything if you where a leatherworker/skinner.  You would need to trade stacks of leather for thread.
3) Now it would be worth stopping to mine everything if you are a miner/blacksmith.  You would need to trade stacks for special screws.
4) Gems too, you would need to trade stacks of old gems for special setting to make some items.
5) Cloth as well, you would need special thread from their trade in as well.
6) Questing for loremaster would actually be an achievement.  Not just something to pass the time bringing meaning to the word achievement.
7) Archaeology/Fishing would no longer be something that was a general annoyance when something attacked you in most places.  You would need to work to dig/fish at every site everywhere because all mobs are level appropriate for you.
8) AQ 40 at 85 would be amazing. Heck, all raids would be amazing.  No more outdated content.  Ever. Twins with 285M hit points.  Have fun.  I see 85s wiping it still now.
9) Dungeon finder would have many more dungeons to choose from making it less redundant.  How many days in a row do I have to get GB, really.  How about heroic strath for my daily that day.  That would be fun and getting runecloth from it would not be like getting outdated cloth, it would still have a use even at top level.
10) There would be reasons to farm stuff, everywhere.  No areas ever becomes outdated.
11) Dungeons would cater to all skill levels.  Heroic stockades, by design would be tons easier then heroic GB.  Better players can do GB and less skilled players can do stockades.
12) Raids would cater to all skill levels.  Molten Core, by design, would be easier then BoT.  Both types of player would be capable of raiding with only their skill level to dictate which raid they raid.

Dynamic design would also offer additional ability when it comes to updating the game with future expansions.

You know how the holiday events add quest lines just for the holidays?  How about expansions add additional quests just for the expansion. 

Cataclysm could have had a quest line that lead you all over the world with cataclysm themed quests that are not part of the standard quest flow.  When cataclysm is over, you just remove those quests just like when a holiday is over you remove the holiday quests.

No need to redesign the whole world every time you want to update the world.  The basic go here, kill that, collect this quests will always be there for leveling people and the expansion (holiday type) quest lines would only be there for that expansion.

Designing like this would make updating easier.
- Like the holiday quest lines there would be expansion quest lines.
- Adding to the game means you can add stuff anywhere without it disrupting flow.
- No need to have to redesign every time there is a world altering event.

Designing like this would mean something for everyone.
- Bad players can quest only in very easy zones. 
- Average players can quest only in standard zones.
- Hard core players can quest only in very hard zones.
- All dungeons would have normal and heroic versions.
- All raids would have normal and heroic versions.

Talking about complete design for all players for raids and dungeons.
- Very easy settings for normal and heroic.
- Easy settings for normal and heroic.
- Standard settings for normal and heroic.
- Hard settings for normal and heroics.
- Very hard settings for normal and heroics.
- This means every dungeon or raid has 10 settings of various difficultly that the player can decide to try.

New expansions would fit seamlessly into the game
- Zones and quests reflective of level means that when cata had come out I could have went to twilight highlands first if I wanted to.  More power to the player to choose to play the game they want to play it.
- It gives people more choice.  Don't want to do BC content?  Just do some more of the areas in the old world or hell, just jump to LK at 61 and quest there.
- Lets people choose the areas they like.  Go do twilight highlands after wetlands if you want, it is right there anyway.
- Gives old players more reason to come back.  Cataclysm interested you but you have not played since vanilla and not really interested in going through BC and LK just to see if you like Cataclysm?  No need to go through BC and LK, just go straight to cataclysm content, after buying all three expansions of course.

Professions are no longer linked to expansions alone.
- You need all materials from all levels of profession progression. 
- This gives more life to the market and to forgotten areas for purposes of farming.

Holiday events are no longer things just to pass the time.
- That 70 dungeon that has the holiday boss is an 85 dungeon if you are.
- Those areas that you needed to go to with those annoying level 22 mobs are now filled with mobs that can kill you.
- Accomplishing holiday achievements is now an actual accomplishment instead of something that shows you just have to much free time.

Speaking of achievements.
- Going back to grind rep achievements is now a task.  You now earned that BC rep, it was not just something that shows you spent time, it shows you worked for it.
- Getting groups to do mount runs on SH or MT or UP will be required.  Making these more so achievements instead of just a matter of who wasted the most time farming easy out dated content solo.
- Getting old dungeon/raid achievements is no longer a matter of soloing it in 5 minutes.  You actually have to do the dungeon at level no matter what your level is which means no matter when you got the achievement you earned it.

Blizzard wasted so much time redesigning the old world, why did they just not do it the right way?  Why didn't they do it so that they did not need to redo it all again as soon as deathwing is dead because all these quests will be outdated as soon as they happens.  Why remake dated quests, mobs, and areas when you could have made quests mobs and areas that would last forever at all levels no matter how long the game lasts?  

Everyone talks about a WoW killer coming along some day.  I can assure you that when the time comes it will be dynamically designed to not become dated by its own design.  It will use a system something like I detailed here.  Something that means everything, everywhere in the world will always be current content.

That is how a MMORPG should be designed.  That is what Blizzard had the chance to do when they wasted all this time redesigning something they will only need to be redesigned again in the next expansion. 

That is why WoW is a dated game because it is designed to be dated by their very own design.  Their design is not forward thinking.  If they want WoW to be strong and stay strong they need to design it so that it grows as its users grow and that can be done by designing everything dynamically.

Why have they not done this yet?  What will be the first game to do it right?  I personally can not wait until the time comes when there is a game out there that grows with me, the player.

I would absolutely love if Cataclysm was like that. 
Doing the daily dungeons would no longer be a chore as there would be more possible options to get.
Getting back into raiding would not be learning new content for people if they did not want to, they could raid something they are comfortable with.  God forbid that they let people play doing something they like to do.
Doing dailies would give more variety.  I am bored to hell of the TB dailies already.
They can add dailies for everything if they wanted to.

An alchemist daily that gives a bottle instead of having to turn in 20 herbs for 10 bottles.
A leatherworking daily that gives a thread instead of having to turn in 20 leather for 10 thread.
A mining daily that gives a screw instead of having to turn in 20 ore for 10 screws.
You get the idea.  It would bring a lot more to the game if it where designed like this.  Also, like this, the tokens they give out for dailies would not become worthless each new expansion as the bottles, threads, screws, etc, will always be needed.

Darn, so many ideas on what could be done with this.  Why does it need to be a dream of a great game, why couldn't Cataclysm have been this perfect design?

All that time spent redesigning Cataclysm for nothing really.  They had the chance to do something great being they where completely redesigning it anyway and they missed, completely.  How much better would the game have been if they had been just a little bit of a forward thinking company?

I want a game like the one I just described.

Do you think it can be done?

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