March 27, 2007

Asking for directions

Posted in World of Warcrack at 12:39 am by loolar

Okay, so I’m a sufferer of the addiction known as World of Warcraft, or Warcrack, to us junkies.  Just today I cramped up my wrist trying to bottle feed my son at the same time as I played one-handed using only the mouse.  Hey, that poor prisoner really needed my help escaping.

And, like most things, much as I love it, it could use some improvement.  The great thing is that, as players of the game know, the developers do change and redesign as needs dictate.  Hopefully this post will get to them.   Perhaps I should set more realistic goals.  Hopefully this post will get to anyone.

At any rate, the game has a fun mechanic wherein, as you discover the world, a map interface gets filled in.  You can “discover” new areas, which in turn are rendered complete on your map.  Helps you to see where you’ve been, and how to get back home.

Except in the places where such a map would arguably be the most useful – dungeons (or “instances” as they’re known in the game, since your group enters the dungeon and thereby creates a single “instance” of its existence, accessible only by your group.  Keeps down the griefing from other players, and allows you to actually accomplish the quests without competing with hundreds of other players at a time).

As any intrepid explorer knows, it’s a lot easier to find your way when you have landmarks like mountains.  But once you’re digging around in someone’s burial crypt, the landmarks are hard to find (“I’m sorry, was this your femur?”).  Why not have a similar system, where the instance map “fills in” as you progress?  Enterprising players have already used a combination of screen capture and amateur rendering to create virtual maps you can find online – why not have it be part of the game?

I think the game should offer sections of the instance maps as you accomplish goals or overcome challenges.  Don’t give me the map until I’ve “been there and done that.”  But afterwards, it sure would be nice to be able to see how it works – and how the heck to get out.

I’d also like some sort of virtual “breadcrumbs” to mark paths through dungeons.  Real life spelunkers will use chalk or grease pencils to mark paths through the depths; it makes sense that adventurers might do the same.  The game already allows you to toggle symbol tags on monsters (helps groups coordinate tactics, as in, “get the diamond first, then the club, then the heart”); a similar system for the environment would be just as useful.  Especially in Sunken Temple, which is a rubik’s cube nightmare of spatial orientation.

Of course, maybe they intentionally left these features out, wanting you to get more lost in the dungeon and therefore spend more time “there” (read: playing the game).  After all, that’s what they do in Vegas, right?  There are no maps in casinos.  Hmm… maybe that addiction analogy just got creepy.

Better go play some more.

1 Comment »

  1. samablog said,

    Actually, Calzone lives down the street from Blizzard HQ and he and Vaughn got to beta test the game before it was released. I’ll direct him to this post. Maybe he knows someone he can forward it to.

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