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WoW, Titan and calling shotgun


Looking back at this year's Blizzcon, I can say that I found some of the Q&A sections from the World of Warcraft panels a bit awkward at times. Most questions were great and the majority of answers were equally so, but I noticed an increased amount of "we've thought about this but...", "we would really like to have this but...", "it's a great idea that we've thought a lot about, but..." type of replies.

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While it is somewhat normal for a game this huge to have a lot of things on its wish list and I perfectly understand that no matter the size of the team / company, time and resources are finite, I can't help but wonder if there isn't another underlying cause for these answers. Namely, Titan.

One thing that I am sure of is that Blizzard wants Titan and WoW to be two completely different games. If Titan will be considered WoW 2.0 even for a moment, then the first version will have a very hard time staying successful for much longer. Many MMOs in the last 5 years have tried to clone WoW and be the biblical Goliath killer and so far pretty much all have failed. The last thing Blizzard wants to do is to make the game that succeeds.

Considering this, an obvious consequence is that WoW and Titan should share as few features as possible, in order to differentiate their audiences. Of course their going to have some stuff in common... it would be ridiculous for Blizzard to not apply in Titan some lessons learned with WoW, but it's also critical for the new game to actually feel new. To make this happen, I wouldn't be very surprised if the two dev teams actually communicate with each other about future features in order to decide who will "tag" them. And Titan being the youngest sibling, the one that still has to prove itself, I'm betting it has first pick in a lot of cases.

So this brings me back to the awkward Q&A answers. What if some of them are caused by the Titan team having called "shotgun" first?

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For example, let's take player housing. I'm not saying that this will 100% be in Titan, but I find it to be a great example, even if it won't prove true. Player housing makes so much sense in WoW, it actually screams "PUT ME IN!". They've been adding new ways to deposit your gear, your vanity items, pets, mounts and so on, but they're all isolated from each other and with no actual representation ingame. They're just silly menus or, in the best case scenario, extra bank slots.
Giving every player some actual terrain ingame (probably instanced), with a home, a stable for all the silly animals we carry around and maybe a place for crafting, where he / she could keep all its stuff and even show off to guests makes a lot more sense in my book. Make it upgradable and customisable and you can build a whole endgame activity around it, with maybe a Builder profession to go along.

If I can think of it, they've certainly long thought about it (it was actually a partially planned feature when they released the game), especially since housing is being requested by fans every year. And yet it is not in the game and they're always dodgy with the answers about it. Hmmm, that's weird, unless...

If player housing was a main feature planned for Titan, how would the WoW devs respond to questions about it? Well, exactly how they are doing it now. They can't say "yes, we'll probably put it in", because they probably won't since Titan called dibs. And they can't say "no, we don't like the idea" either because when it will be announced in Titan, their statements would come back and haunt the new game. The "it's something we've been thinking about etc etc..." is the only real available answer.

Like I said, I don't know and it's pretty much impossible to know which features fall into the above described category, but I am absolutely sure there are some rather big ones. Maybe player housing, maybe the dance studio ("that was a joke... haha... fat chance"), maybe any other sandbox feature that WoW is missing.

The main idea is, when we get dodgy answers from the WoW developers, one reason might be exactly what I've written here, which makes the feature they're referring to a possible Titan puzzle piece.

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There's also a ramification of this: if a certain feature ALREADY exists in WoW and it's a defining characteristic of the game, we probably won't be seeing it in TItan... but there's a chance we might see its exact opposite.

Here are some examples I'm thinking of:
  • heavily instanced endgame in WoW => a lot of open-world activities in Titan
  • PvE based entirely on "kill the dragon, get loot" in WoW => PvE based on crafting / exploration / building communities / "surviving" in Titan
  • "hotkey" MMO => action based MMO, maybe even FPS
  • rigid economy and crafting systems in WoW => player-run with a lot more freedom in Titan
  • gnomes in WoW => no gnomes in Titan
I'm sure you guys can add a lot more and maybe even refine this entire reasoning. The important thing to remember is that it is indeed just a theory. It has a good foundation I believe, it can easily be true, but it also might miss the truth completely. It's pretty much impossible to know until we get more info, but this doesn't make "theorycrafting" any less fun, that's for sure! :)




3 Comments

While I'm not saying that this isn't at least partially possible, I don't think it is very probable that this is how Blizzard are reasoning. I think it is much more probable that Blizzard avoid putting things into WoW that they don't feel fit very well, and then try to make sure that those concepts, if good, fit well into Titan.

I don't think minimizing overlap of features can ever be the best thing for keeping WoW players playing WoW if it means keeping great features out of WoW. It just doesn't really make sense. In fact, it would tend to drive players away from WoW and toward the game that actually incorporates these features. Further, Blizzard aren't acting alone on their market and I'm pretty sure that they are more worried about losing market share to other companies than they worry about possible cannibalization effects of having several MMOs in their portfolio of games.

Frankly,that part of the article feels a bit "tinfoil hatty".
I couldn't find it when I wrote the article, but I've stumbled across it meanwhile: http://news.mmosite....velopment.shtml It's an interesting interview that originally sparked this idea into my head. If you consider his answers a bit diplomatic (which I chose to do :D ), then the real meaning of them is not that far away from what I wrote. It remains of course just theory, but that's pretty much all we can create now.

Minimizing overlap features is indeed far from being an ideal thing, but I think it is one of the sacrifices companies with more than one MMO have to do. If one feature fits better into Titan's style, I have no doubt that the WoW devs will have a hard time getting it in their game also. It's how I see it anyway... who knows how right / wrong I am.
World of Warcraft is a great game in many ways.
For Titan, what I concerned about is the way how people would interact with each other in the game, that's the core exp for an MMORPG. Titan must done better then WoW, no matter what kinds universe we would be live in.