I wasn’t WoWed.

So, World of Warcraft, which is probably the most profitable PC game ever, has a free 10-day trial. Being the last gamer on Earth to have played it, I decided to give it a try.

I… I don’t get it.

I really don’t see what the point is. I mean, why are hojillions of people playing it? Why did it win so many awards? I was bored, and even a little confused.

It probably doesn’t help that I really dislike the artistic style they went with, but mostly the game just fails to intrigue me. You see a zillion other characters running around, doing the same things you need to do to finish a quest. Not much story there, ya know? If everybody else is tackling this quest, why do you need MY help?

And you’d think that with that many characters, it’d seem more like a real place, a real city or whatever. Nope! Just the opposite, really — the non-player characters are just standing there, waiting to dole out quests, and the players are all running everywhere they go, clearly on one quest or another.

The ratio of adventurers to non-adventurers is like 100 to 1. It just seems silly.

Now, I can’t really offer serious suggestions on the gameplay, since the game is so popular that Blizzard employees have been able to buy small continents with their stock dividends, but here’s what I think might be more interesting:

  1. The inability to discern between NPCs and PCs. No labels floating overhead identifying who is who.
  2. The ability to GIVE quests. “Fetch me 10 herbroots. I’ll pay 5 silver.” The system automatically determines how many experience points a given quest might be worth, though I imagine it needs some careful logic to prevent leveling from happening by giving each other dumb quests. You could write your quest in whatever flowery language you want — the player who approaches you might not ever know you’re a PC, rather than an NPC.
  3. Quests that require more NPC-like actions. “Man this booth for a few sales, my dear apprentice of mercantile. I’ll return shortly.”
    “Await the messengers from the city of Burgrath. They come along quite frequently. Determine which ones you think are spies, and report.”
    “Patrol this street and report back how many mages you see over the next few minutes.”
    Maybe those are boring, because there’s no combat. But I think they could be nifty.

  4. A conversation engine for NPCs. Instead of *hear request**accept quest*, have it be language-based. “Can you do that for me?” “Y-e-s
    That would allow conversations with any NPC, making it harder to determine who is an NPC and who is a PC. The old Turing test.
    Why would you want to appear as an NPC?
    Because you could defraud other players when they complete your quest.
    The defense against this, of course, is that the players can just chat at each other and announce to those nearby in the world that “Algoroth is human — cheated me out of my quest reward.”
    Or you could attack that player if you dared, or maybe report the fraud to police.

I dunno. Maybe there’s nothing that would really get me interested in the game. But these brownies must have SOMETHING in them, because millions of folks are paying to play EVERY MONTH.

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