I just did one Shared Topic few days ago and now there’s another interesting one right away next week. Awesome. This time, Naithin of Fun in Games asks the following:
Pretend for a moment that WoW hasn’t yet been released. Or perhaps it is, but you’ve never heard of the whole SWG NGE debacle, and thus have no fear about dramatically changing how everything works post-release.
You have the original (or BC, or Wrath, or Current, your pick) design docs to start from, but you’re free to change absolutely everything if you so choose.
With all this power, what would you change? What would make WoW the dream game for you?
A tricky question indeed, especially given that I’m mostly satisfied with how WoW works and plays out. If I had to choose, then I have only two things to add to the current design.
Living NPCs in a living world.
We all know how NPCs work right now. Most of them are still standing in places they started 6 years ago, unless that place no longer exists of course. Only a handful of NPCs ever walk around or do things, and they’re mostly guards, non-interactive citizens or random vendors nobody really needs.
What if every NPC was scripted? Imagine dwarfs in Ironforge leaving their posts and going to a nearby inn for a drink? Vendors and trainers moving around their shops and just doing stuff. Or closing shops for the night – you can still find them nearby, sleeping in their beds and could still interact with them and learn/buy whatever you need (since it’s a game after all, and limiting this to work hours every day would be stupid, especially given that people play in the evenings as well), they just wouldn’t be standing around in one place for all eternity. Imagine if all NPCs would be like the flying trainer in Dalaran – you know, the usually bored Hira Snowdawn, who sometimes flies around the landing pad on her dragonhawk. I always liked that about her.
Also, how about being able to interact with every NPC? After all, they’ve been living in that bloody place forever, surely they would have something to say to a hero like you, wouldn’t they? Or maybe they’d be just scared that a weird looking alien or a walking ex-Scourge wants to talk to them and would run away. There’s a hint of that right now – in some places like Dalaran or Isle of Quel’danas NPCs react to you being exalted with their faction, but while it’s a nice touch to make the player feel noticed by the world, it’s really quite rare and not really enough.
Scripting all NPCs would really make Azeroth feel more alive.
Quest choices and consequences.
There’s a very cool quest in the Mount Hyjal, called A Bird in Hand. You and Thisalee Crow have to capture and interrogate the harpy matron. And the interrogation is nothing like the infamous quest in the Borean Tundra that so many people disliked.
You have a choice of how to ask the harpy and what to do with her afterwards. This is an awesome thing, but what if this choice affected the later quests given by Thisalee? Not to the point of making them completely unavailaible if you make the wrong choice, but just having a slightly different quest texts would be enough. Having the choice in the quest itself is already awesome, now how about making that quest matter?
That’s not to say I’d like to see some kind of a morality system like in Fallout or Fable, though that’s also not a bad idea in itself. I just want NPCs to react to my character’s actions. If I kill and torture that captured harpy, surely it should have some kind of an effect on the druids that are camping the nearby place. Would they give me bad looks then and talk like all they want is to make me go away from their place as fast as it’s possible?
How about having different quest turn-in points? It’s even currently in game for the Forged Documents quest for Inscription – you can talk to different NPCs and take their gold. While the quest itself and things that NPCs say when turning it in are awesome, I still kind of feel bad each time I’m doing it. There should be also a “good” way to finish it, like the fishing daily in which you can either fish for yourself or take other fishermen’s catches. Or, maybe the “good” way is just to not forge documents. Oh well.
Anyway, why not have this technology applied to normal questing as well? It shouldn’t mess with quest rewards, only introduce splitting of the storylines for one or two quests. Even if the quests were essentially the same – like having either “kill 10 elementals” or “use this item on 10 elementals when they’re low on health” as a solution to an elemental problem around the quest hub – it would provide a way to make the questing process less boring and more unique. Even if in the end it wouldn’t matter if you got 5 gold from one NPC or the other, and both would follow up with the same quest.
Paired with scripted NPCs and their ability to react to player’s actions, it would make for a world that feels far more alive than it currently is.
Unfortunately, I’m fully aware how many quests and NPCs this game has and how much work would it take to implement the things I’m asking for. I believe it would be totally worth it though – making Azeroth feel like a living place should be just as important as making new raids and endgame stuff.
It was a long time since I last participated in Blog Azeroth’s Shared Topic, but here comes the current one from Ringo Flinthammer with a question about Archaeology. Since I’ve been doing it quite a lot recently, it’s a good moment to talk about it a bit more.
I have to admit I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention to Archaeology before the expansion’s release. Obviously, I knew it was going to be in and that it will provide bits of lore and stuff, but that’s pretty much all. I definitely wasn’t prepared for what it really is.
It’s a bloody annoyance and yet I still do it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I dislike the profession itself – after all, I get all kinds of different stuff from it, some useful, some not really, and the most useful ones are very rare and seem impossible to obtain. It’s just absurdly annoying to do, even with the abundance of flight paths all over the world and a 310% speed flying mount.
I like getting new pets, mounts, fun stuff like Bones of Transformation or Innkeeper’s Daughter (speaking of hearthstones, I’ve recently read the Stormrage novel and was surprised at how apparently hearthstones are very rare and expensive artifacts – yet all adventurers have one) and even the gray common items have either amusing tooltips or provide nice lore fragments, but it all just takes a lot of time.
I wish Blizzard would “fix” it a little bit, and I’m not talking about tinkering with the Survey ability, which will happen in 4.0.6 and will reduce time spent on the site itself. That’s all good and a welcome change indeed, but how about some kind of a mechanic that will not spawn a site in Winterspring after I complete one in Uldum?
How about extending the durations on the items? Surely there’s nothing wrong with me running for an hour around Stormwind as a Naga or a Wisp – the transformations either drop if I enter combat anyway or I can’t use spells and abilities in them. 20 seconds is cool for random amusement in raids before a pull, but not for much more.
So… it’s an annoying profession and has a lot of downtime spent on flying around, but it’s still something to do in the time between raids or when listening to some podcasts, as it’s a bit hard for me to focus on tanking or healing while being distracted by people talking. Which is about on the same level for me as Fishing or other gathering professions are.
I didn’t pick it up on my druid and probably won’t do so on either of the alts here on Deathwing, but I might use it to speed up leveling on other realms. And on low level, the new 4.0.6 prices of common items will surely help to get some gold.