Feb 20, 2012

How Star Wars got me back into WoW

Wasn't Star Wars supposed to be a World of Warcraft killer? Instead, after hitting maximum level in The Old Republic, I find myself playing World of Warcraft more and more.

I have a couple theories on this. First and foremost, the main focus in The Old Republic is story. Once you hit maximum level and finish off your class story line, there real is no story motivation at all. Your character goes from a well rounded in depth character to a flat piece of stats. Furthermore, these stats are vague and undefined, especially the ones used for tanking. Is absorption better than defense? What about parry? And shield? It just seems like there are too many statistics to juggle. On top of all of that there is absolutely no progression path to advance your character post level 50, and if there is one in place, BioWare needs to do a way better way of defining it.

As much as some people refuse to accept some changes that WoW had made to it's end-game progression, it is fairly linear and easy to understand. You hit level 85, you work on  your Heroic dungeon gear while supplementing with Justice Points while slowly building up your Valor Points for higher level gear. And once you finish building your Justice Point collection, with a view pieces of Valor Point gear mixed in, you can jump into the latest tier of raiding. Same with the often ignored PvP system. You run battlegrounds to gain Honor Points and Conquest Points to help build your characters items up.

The addition of the Command Boards in the main cities also help guide the player experience. When a new patch comes out new quests pop up for everyone to see on their minimap. They are bright and easy to see because of the color theory used to differentiate icons on the minimap. The bright yellow exclamation point has become a gaming norm for a reason, and the equivalent symbol in Star Wars is hard to see because of the color palette picked for the areas around it. The light steel blue would stand out in certain colors, but considering most of the Star Wars universe, especially in the main fleet areas, matches the palette of the light steel blue, the icon for new information gets lost in the noise of everything else going on.

Out of everything Star Wars did to differentiate itself from WoW it seems that it actually tried to hard and distanced itself from the magic of WoW. Everyone thinks World of Warcraft is on its way out since it seems to be dropping 100,000 subscribers quite frequently. What people forget is that Warcraft is king for a reason. There is a lot of clever design that goes into the game that most everyone, especially Warcraft players, take for granted.

Now I am not playing as much as I did in my heydays of being an officer in a guild and raiding four nights a week, but logging on and doing dailies, running a couple of dungeons through the dungeon finder, and grouping up with old friends to take a bite out of nostalgic raids is good enough for me.

Games aren't about which game is better or which game brings in the most revenue for a company, but about how much fun you have as a player. Design can help guide that experience, and the faulty and muddled design of The Old Republic made me put up the lightsaber and grab my staff of magic. Watch out Azeroth. I am back.