It was, I suppose, only a matter of time. The following post is absolutely laden with spoilers for an upcoming (possible) feature in 7.2.5, entitled the Trial of Style. It is an inevitable evolution for Mogging in game, potentially holds MASSIVE implications for the future of many parts of Warcraft gameplay, and it might be the most exciting thing to personally happen to me since I got retweeted by Duncan Jones during the period prior to the Warcraft Movie. So honestly, this is kind of a big deal. It’s also dangerously close to being a clone of a Minecraft Hypixel server mini game game my 12 year old still plays with regularity, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
For the TL;DW crowd, here’s the deal: you are presented with a ‘theme’ to mog with once everyone arrives in the ‘scenario’ (which looks suspiciously like a portion of the Magister’s Terrace instance) plus a short period of time to set your hair and pick an outfit to ‘match’ the theme. Then, you are judged by everybody else via a simple voting system and BOOM everybody gets a prize (because there are no losers in the Land of Mogging, folks.) This is, effectively, a Minecraft Build Battle, except you can’t make yourself look like a penis [*], which seemed to be what happened a lot when my daughter played the game. If you couldn’t build the item that was asked of you? Everybody just went for the cheap knob gag.
There’s immediately a problem here, and if I were ActiBlizz I’d be mindful of this when the feature launches. Data mining has already revealed the 16 ‘themes’ that you’ll be asked to mog to:
You and I both know how this game gets min/maxxed using data mining, right? People are already collecting stuff well before content ever gets to release, and this feature will be no different. There will be those who will be amazed and then complain when the feature goes live because of that one woman on Shadowsong who takes 30 seconds to get ready, because she already saved 16 outfits for each of these themes already, all with matching vanity pets. It’s not fair, they’ll whine, because clearly she’s cheated by having information well in advance, and suddenly that fun and stress-free feature will become a hotbed of seething resentment. You know I said yesterday that people are the biggest problem in this game? Well, here’s the feature that will not only prove that, but will ruin friendships and destroy Guilds overnight.
Or, maybe everybody could do everything in game like this going forward.
Imagine a World of Warcraft where the player base decided what was the best Tier 21 look, based on a bunch of NPC’s modelling the looks in a capital city. How about you get to vote on who’s the best PvP player by watching them play in Spectator mode and voting not on the winner, but who you think deserves the title more. It could be extended to other things too: new mini pets and mounts, what ‘vanity’ ability your class got in the next expansion… the list goes on. The problem, of course, is when someone turns up and draws a knob on everything because they don’t care about anything other than themselves, and if they can upset you in the process, so much the better. The brilliant ideas that involve collaboration work only when everybody is prepared to get on board. I’ve not checked, but if there’s party chat in the Trial I REALLY hope that they consider turning it off completely and maybe just allowing emotes, because the potential to grief in this mini game is already a concern, even from this distance.
The mindset for this undoubtedly is that the ‘Trial’ will only attract a certain type of person to begin with, and although that may be true, what inevitable happens when you give people the opportunity to be truly creative is that the selfish and arrogant bastards always turn up to dump on people’s enjoyment from a great height. After twelve years of playing this game, inevitably it will again come down to self policing and the hope everybody plays nicely. However, I sense that my excitement for this as a game development will be equally matched by glee in thsoe who know if they want to turn up and be toxic, they’ll have a better chance of upsetting someone in this format than could be the case anywhere else, and giving people the chance to min/max (because that’s what will already be happening) could well make that allure even more attractive. The fact that this, and the Dance Studio are being trailed as features in an ‘interim’ patch makes me wonder whether they’re being watched as test beds for other, more significant content down the line.
There’s the other version of the Future in my head where nobody cares and the feature is a flop, and I suspect what will really happen when the Trial of Style debuts is somewhere in between these two outcomes. Needless to say, wars have begun on lesser arguments. I’m insanely excited for the first time since Garrisons were announced and all I’m saying ActiBlizz is that you’d better not bugger this up the same way you did that concept.
When aesthetics are why you’re playing, this stuff really matters.
[*] Well you could, but that’s a subjective opinion anyway.