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Remember that time when Pandas were made a playable race and it turned out to be an April Fool’s Joke… until they proved so popular that Pandaria happened? Today’s suggestion to improve the next Warcraft expansion comes straight from another gag, but with a twist. The Textual Attendance plays on a certain generation’s obsession with the ‘play your own’ adventure which did indeed give the perception of not simply free will, but actual ability to make a book last longer than the time it took you to read it once.

Now, I ask myself, why can’t this be done with questing in Azeroth?

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One of Legion’s major selling points was that you could do any zone in any order, thanks to the wonder of zonal scaling. This is great on (hand waggle) two or three runs, but after that you’re faced with the same quests, like it or not. Yes, treasures and the like, plus dungeons and pet battles create some notion of diversity, but that’s really all there is. After twelve years of the same linear approach, time and again, there were hints with the Warlords Garrison that at least some kind of variety might be possible, but the failure of that project to ignite popular interest appears to have scuppered any form of variance this time around.

I really feel it is time to start creating quests which can have different outcomes based on the individual decisions players make at first interaction.

So why can’t questing be like this? It is still a step by step process, but your initial quest giver sends you to a place where you have to choose from one of two rewards. By doing so, the next step of the process provides further options: some of them have a ‘bonus’ element which you can pick up, others just give a larger, comparable reward in gold. However, for those of us with alts: if three of them all do different branches of this quest whilst levelling, and pick up the three bonus branches, you’re then rewarded with a SPECIAL BONUS QUEST that any of your alts can go do, with a set of nice rewards that you can collect as well.

Really, is this too much to ask after over a decade of just being asked to do the same old stuff, over and over again?

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What this requires is an element of storytelling that I feel was present in both 100-110 levelling and Suramar, but which seems lacking on Argus. By that I mean a depth to the stories of supporting characters, which in 7.3 have  gained the status of simple set dressing. Everything appears to be about the Light and Shadow, and although I’ll grant you we are only three weeks into what I’ve been promised is ‘epic’ lore, I’m betting there won’t be the variety of Suramar storytelling on offer. What that zone benefited from undoubtedly was a compelling narrative. It also allowed us to become invested in the whole rather than simply parts: although there are clearly elements at play which are attempting to do this now, most people are not on Argus for the lore anyway.

We all know why the place exists, and it is as distraction for the next six weeks.

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One of the consistently great takeaways from this Expansion has been the Professions questing, which is is EXACTLY and the depth and breadth I feel is required for content going forward. If there is the possibility to combine this with something that isn’t simply a case of following a line from A to B it would be really, REALLY brilliant. We could even go back to the Suramar mentality that, when you reached a certain reputation level, existing quests could reset with a differing set of outcomes and a new group of phased ‘backgrounds’ to match.

I mean…

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9 thoughts on “The State of Azeroth: My Affair

  1. If the rewards are different on the paths, people will complain that they HAVE TO look up the best path on Wowhead.

    If the rewards are the same, 90% of the people just pick the first option without reading any lore text.

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    • rewards should be cosmetic – artifact ‘looks’ and the style challenge weekend shows there is interest in this. Customising your look and showing people your choices / alliances through your visual look – a bit like the AD&D chaotic/lawful good/evil four box model but visually via ‘looks’

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  2. It’s funny, I am actually waiting for WoW:Legion to be “done” so I can go back and play the rest of the expansion. I loved the 100-110, the Suramar story line, and did everything I could as a non-raider – hit my gear “cap” and then sat back. Then the Isles launched and reset all the grind/work I had done to that point so I decided to wait to see what else they launched before going back. I am not the core WoW player – I like having a beginning, middle, and end to an expansion so there is downtime to do other things and play other games until the next big expansion. Every step of the way I buy, play until progression isn’t worth the effort (for me), and wait for the next.

    This may not happen this time, I realize it, so trying to sort how I approach this new-WoW =)

    Bit off topic from today’s post but I loved what they did with the Suramar story line and more of that would work for me – but I do recognize I am not the core player base anymore.

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  3. Branching will not work since most questing is designed for grouping, especially now when the group finder has become a huge success – right click on quest, find group. I find groups for weirdest things sometimes! As well as multi-tagging – not grouped but doing the same thing, everyone gets credit and loot. People complained that phasing introduced the issue when two people can’t meet on a quest, ’cause they are different phase. Branching quests might complicate things even further.

    This has been done in single player games for ages now, since before WoW was invented, but there’s a reason MMOs are hesitant to attempt it.

    Aaaand MMOs are stupidly competitive, so there’s always an issue of “fastest”, “best” etc. like the first comment said. People are best at ruining fun for themselves.

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    • if anything the WQ grouping model and the addons that help show grouping and regrouping frequently is possible – the UI needs to be tweaked a llittle that is all – and put people into groups like DFR/LFR does. End stage make choice regroup – rinse repeat. This idea of Alt is genius if you ask me. The original books only allowed you to branch for a time, you were routed back to the main plot so the variances are more controled than the example here – but you can make it as complex or limited as you want.

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  4. I suspect it would feel hollow. The main story is on rails so the only choices we have are on cosmetic issues that have no impact on the world. Which tower we build, who leads our demon hunters and do we pay the old lady’s fine bill for her?

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    • myabe – but its not too different to the class quest lines / spec quest lines. You could have one area phased three or four ways per faction (horde/alliance/neutral) havingbranched out from a single point – then two then four – over the course of a few weeks – bring people back to a consistent point and repeat. it would be no more hollow than the plot we have anyway.

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