Blizzcon came and went this weekend. As far as I know, I’m the only person in my guild (there might be one other) who bought the virtual ticket. In guild chat Friday and Saturday night, no one was chatting about the new revelations unless I brought it up, and then there were only a few quick replies. There was no excitement. No buzz.
I don’t blame Blizzard for this. They are doing all they can. Coming up with new ideas for games within the game, taking us down lore paths that are fascinating and interesting, and streamlining the game experience.
I think much of the problem lies with the time between WoW and the old RTS games, Warcraft I, II, and III.
When WoW first came out, a significant percentage of players were drawn to it from their love of the RTS games. I know I was. Seeing your favorite Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness scenes and zones brought to life was a wonderful experience. This is in addition to the EQ players that came over to WoW because it was the next Big Thing.
When Burning Crusade came out, I remember so much buzz being about the role that the old RTS games played. The Dark Portal, Karazhan, Outland, and others were all prominent in Warcraft II. Many players geeked out over this, even though Warcraft II was over 10 years old at the time of the Burning Crusade expansion. The excitement was infectious, and others were prompted to look up the lore or read the novels to join in on the geekfest.
Similarly, when Wrath came out the characters and settings were taken from the Warcraft III RTS. The Arthas storyline was a favorite, and dedicated fans of the RTS series couldn’t wait to face him. The story was much fresher this time around – there was only six years between Warcraft III and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to WoW.
For the Cataclysm expansion, the developers went with other figures from Warcraft lore – Deathwing and the Aspects. However, this expansion, while steeped in lore, brought less connection to the RTS game series. It still pulled characters from the classic stories as told in the novels. However, in this expansion we see Blizzard drawing their lore very much from novels rather than their own prior games.
with Mists of Pandaria, it seems almost like the writers ran out of lore. They created the continent of Pandaria out of thin air based only on presence of some peripheral characters in the RTS games. At this point, they are making things up as they go, and the veteran players can sense it. Gone are the familiar settings and characters. Gone is the connection to the RTS experiences of the past.
Think about it – why is it that at every Blizzcon, players cry for the return of Alleria and Turalyon? Why is there so much interest in fighting the Burning Legion again? These are the heroes and villains that we are familiar with.
With that in mind, Warlords of Draenor is a good idea. Bring back some of those classic names. Go back to the days of Ner’zhul and Durotan as played out in Warcraft II. Try to recapture that old feeling.
But, Warcraft II was twenty years ago, now. Most WoW players haven’t played it. In fact, the RTS games won’t even run on modern computers. Even though a return to those settings is good in principle, I think we have lost a critical mass of the RTS players, and its getting hard to generate that excitement.