Vertically Challenged May Not Be So Bad.

With Chris being gone and the readers of Game By Night at the mercy of whomever stops in and posts, I have decided to make my move and subject you all to yet another rambling from the dark recesses of my skull.  God Speed readers.

Recently, I have been reading a lot of posts about the coming of Cataclysm to World of Warcraft.  That is, the expansion, not the downfall of the MMO giant.  One of the things that I have come to realize over the years of bouncing between two personalities (the one that is a total fanboy and the other that is imagining what type of pitchfork to storm Blizzard HQ with) is that WoW is really boring just before expansions.  Even with the recent additions of Ruby Sanctum and the relatively new ICC content, the game just slows to a halt. Something about knowing  all of the work you put in now, will mean nothing in a few months time makes the experience… meh.  This seems to be the nature of any game that increases its vertical game rather than it’s horizontal.

Cataclysm is going to revamp the 1-60 and provide new content post 80.  It is arguably the best expansion, imo, they have come up with yet.  Mainly because they are refocusing in on the leveling experience and not just the meta end game.  And this is where my brain started spouting what ifs.

Cataclysm is adding both and endgame and the new content, so we know that it is possible for them to pump out content on both fronts.  Yet the WoW path pushes you into only two valid options for extending your game time: Raiding and PvP.  Everything else is just utilized to get you to these two end game goals.  Where is the time spent on making the rest of the game enjoyable for non-raiders/pvpers?  I can’t think of any.

As the industry giant, it surprised me to see that they have not been more innovative on this front.  Sure they add new dungeons to explore, but most of the time it is more in line with a tool to get you into the next raid more efficiently (also read skip over older raids) rather than something to promote a longer more enjoyable game play scenario.  Ive mentioned this to people before and have often been confronted with the option of, “Well do some of the older raids if you want a new experience.”  The problem is the fact that I am trying to find something fun to do and it seems like the only option is a raid, be it old or new.  Don’t get me wrong, I love raiding.  However, when I need a break, doing an older version of the same thing feels like being handed a pencil when I am sick of my selection of crayon colors.  Sure I can scribble away creating new varieties of the color gray, but in the end Im stuck with something dull and crappy colored that was more or less a watered down version of the initial experience.

This isn’t meant to be a slam on World of Warcraft, but AAA endgame focused games as a whole.  I look at the games that I have the most fun playing and it tends to be the games that offer me a variety of experiences outside of the holy trinity.  No not that holy trinity, the Raiding, PvP, Crafting holy trinity.  Games that deviate and offer fun things to do like decorative housing, vehicle racing, music options (go lotro!), heck even gambling are largely more entertaining on a day to day basis.  Call them mini games if you want, but I find that these can be great mini experiences that really add flavor to a game’s entrée.

If WoW continues on the same way it has the last two expansions, we will see minor innovations and large reskinnings of the same experience we have had the last few years.  Exploring the changed lands of Azeroth will be AWESOME!… the first time through.  Maybe even the second.  And then we are right back where we started with content we have seen and nothing to do but level and get to cap so we can raid or pvp.  Even that will eventually lose luster and we will be sitting in the same spot we are now. Unmotivated to take on content that will easily be erased by the next expansion.

If the expansions were more horizontal in nature, we would have so much more to do as a whole on just the raiding front.  Say the game stayed with a 60 cap.  All of those zones, raids, dungeons, experiences would be options for your end game rather than requirements to get there, or passed over unused content.  Making alts wouldn’t be a chore as much as a new experience.  One path would turn into 60.  All that gear? Interchangeable adding new flexibilities to your personal looks and customizations.  One raid wouldnt stand out at THEE raid.  Players could enjoy what they thought was the most fun and still continue to participate in the newer content without taking a huge DPS/Healing/Tankage hit.

It may just be me but I really think this would improve how the game is played, not take away from it.  I guess deep down I am just tired of seeing the ceiling get higher while the walls of boredom close in on me. Come on developers, let’s see some expansions that add to the game rather than trading old content for new. The funny part for me is that the most innovative titles in this area seem to be the in the “less quality” F2P market.  Go figure.

What do you all think?  What are your thoughts on the Horizontal/Vertical Expansion?  Do you think a change like this would add or take away from your game experience? Would it increase the longevity of a games fun for you?

Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.


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  1. Tweets that mention Game By Night » Vertically Challenged May Not Be So Bad. -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BaronJuJu, Gavin Townsley. Gavin Townsley said: Check out my latest Contribution to @Gamebynight talking about Horizontal/Vertical Expansions. #mmo #blog #expansions http://bit.ly/bvxxCI […]

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