Hello Azeroth! Hello Kalimdor!
2003-05-14 01:11:59 - Furor Planedefiler
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Tigole and company at Blizzard Headquarters for a pre-E3 sneak peek at the World of Warcraft. This was my second time meeting up with Tigole in a year and after the last showing and tour I was given, I was extremely anxious to see what all was going on over there at Blizzard HQ.
The first thing on the agenda was to check out the new work area for WoW. Tigole pointed out that they had moved the whole team to the larger side of the building to accomodate their new staff members and larger work force. You could tell right off these guys were not messing around. I'm talking a veritable army of people pouring their hearts out to put this game together. Even with quite a few of them already away for E3, the buiding was a hive of activity.
I was introduced to quite a few people, zone populators, quest builders, artists, AI developers, you name it, I even met the guy who designs items - perhaps a mistake on Tigole's part! I KNOW WHERE YOU WORK BUDDY! Watch those nerfs :) Everyone I met was just amped about the game, which got me even more excited about the whole damn thing.
So we finally reached Tigole's office and I sat down for the demonstration. Now mind you, when I went to visit last year and saw the build they had then, it looked READY to roll out. Remember, I'm an EQ player so I'm used to being fed unfinished crap. WoW at that point, however, looked more polished and ready than EQ ever was/has been. I was ready to consume WoW just from what I saw then, unfortunately, someone didn't get my $12,000,000 donation, Alpha evaded me!
So as I was saying, I was thinking to myself, "How can this get better than it was?" Boy was I in for a surprise. Aside from the gameworld being way, way more developed, this time they showed me their UI, Quest Engine, Tradeskilling Engine, you name it, it was rolled out... All those complaints we've had in Everquest, and other MMORPGS were addressed. Essentially, you could look at the game and see that this game was built by people that LOVED to game. People that had faced the same damn frustrations we face and have faced daily. No more carpal tunnal syndrome tradeskilling. No more 45 hour Jboot camps. No idiotic quests, instead quests with meaning and meaningful rewards starting at lvl 1 and moving onward. To top it off, an intricately designed combat and spellcasting engine that didn't look and feel like absolute crap. Even PvP seemed like something people would WANT to participate in - something I had previously deemed impossible for an MMORPG to combine into a PvE oriented world with success.
I was shown all the classes, including the new Druid (more on this one later). The basic methods of tranportation were shown to me, including Griffin rides. Now this one really stuck out at me. Tig clicked on the NPC and a mini-map came up, he clicked on where he wanted to go (he had have to have been there before this destination was even available to him btw), paid his 50 pesos, and he was off. Now the thing is, as you're being taken to your destination on these Griffins, you can pan around all over the place and see the world around you. The AMAZING thing, however, is that you think you're looking at a damn painting as you fly overhead because it looks so damn amazing, but you're looking at the actual gameworld. You can see NPCs and players fighting below you, hell they can see you flying overhead. I got a really great feeling flying over what I was told was 'a really dangerous area,' imagining that one day, I'd be fighting down there while newbies flew overhead 'ooooing and aaaaahhing' at the amazing things going on below them - an incredibly, incredibly immersive and awe inspiring feeling.
The level and attention to detail that had been shown to every aspect of this game was evident. You are an alchemist? You need to forage herbs? Click on the forage button, your player actually begins to walk MUCH slower and looks down at the ground, meanwhile the overhead map directs you to hot spots where the rare herbs you need may be spawned. This was just ONE aspect of Tradeskills. Perhaps you are a blacksmith? When you are experienced/skilled enough, you may be able to craft the "Unholy Vorpal Blade of Uberness," but WHERE you craft the item would be of utmost importance. To craft such a fine blade, you would have to forge the blade itself in the depths of Blackrock Spine. These guys just don't miss a DAMN beat. I never thought I could get excited about a damn tradeskill, but just hearing something like this just wowed me (no pun intended), being shown these things, just freaked me out - a game that wasn't all talk? That lived up to a legacy it had built up for itself over the years from its RTS incarnation. Amazing.
So aside from the classic three classes, Warrior, Mage, and Shaman, I was shown the Hunter and the Druid. I was also told that there was more to come, but I was warned that should I gain such knowledge, people with bamboo sticks and a large burlap sack would be knocking on my door in the morning - I didn't wanna take any chances so I didn't press the issue.
The Hunter you could liken to the prototypical Ranger. They are masters of ranged attack, whether through gun (dwarf with shotty reloading T2 style is a sight to see) or bow, these guys put out some hurt. But the coolness factor of them being able to tame various animals in the gameworld, name their pets, and even level them up in power, is what gives them that extra Blizzard touch. Watching them in action was pretty bad ass, and this is guaranteed to be a popular class.
By far and away, though, the Druid was the most bad ass of the classes I was shown (IMO!). Now it was funny, because when I looked at the character selection list I saw this big bad ass looking Night Elf and then under his name I saw 'Druid.' I gave a little chuckle under my breath, then they loaded him up. This ain't your momma's druid! A Druid is a shapeshifter. At different levels they gain the ability to shapeshift into different animals, and these animals have different abilities/pros/cons. The second I saw the shapeshift to the panther, I knew it was ON. After that I saw the shapeshift to the bear and then finally the hawk. Yes, you can fly. Heh... insanity. They can also 'dopplegang,' I guess you'd call it, into various forms of animals that are in the area they inhabit. Which would obviously make for a great ambush attack, as I hide in the bushes as a little harmless bunny wabbit and someone insolent, like I don't know, Parv, rolls around and I own him 'Bear Stylie.' What did Miggs tell you Parv??? That's what I thought...
I assure you, I am leaving out so much, but I don't think you want me typing for the next three hours about WoW. Wait for all the incredible reviews it is guaranteed to get this E3 - and guys, I'm sorry if I forgot any details or even muddled up some details, it was information overload combined with being mesmerized for an hour and change. I'm only human!
Thanks again to Tigole and Blizzard for having me and letting me get a peek at this insane and incredible game. After all the crap I've had to put up with these past four to five months, it really helped just cool me down and feel good about this genre again... great works guys.
*EDIT* Duh, totally forgot to provide you guys with links that you should reference: World of Warcraft Homepage and World of Warcraft General Discussion forums hosted by Blizzard (go easy on the people there please).
Oh damn, I almost forgot. The bank in the human city HAD A VELVET FREAKIN ROPE LINE! VELVET I TELL YOU! Where do I sign up?