How would I redesign World of Warcraft?

The Wrath of the Lich King is out and my WoW-spider-sense is tingling. Should I pick up the game again or not? Why did I quit in the first place? And when I started to remember all the reasons, I thought: they should totally redesign the entire game! And I’ve got a few tips on how to make WoW more interesting.

In the new expansion they’ve introduced new zones with dungeons, factions, creatures and everything the rest of the game has already. The one new thing is the first of the hero classes: the death knight. I imagine some of WoW must be invaded by hundreds of death knights right now. Having played basically all classes, I know the game inside out (still some little Irish friend of mine calls me a n00b, there’s always a better player out there). Since I got bored with it after a year of intense play, as I’ve described in my review of World of Warcraft, I don’t think that even introducing this new class with new gameplay would motivate me to play once again.

So what does the Death Knight bring to the table? Well, if you have a level 55+ character (during development it used to be higher) you can create a new character of the class Death Knight of any race (this last bit is a very good decision). The new gameplay this class offers is that it can dps and tank! W00T, we didn’t have a class like that before (druid, warrior for example). And there are three talent trees: blood (warrior), frost (mage) and unholy (priest/warlock). The Death Knight is basically nothing new, but the same classes combined. Will it then create new gameplay opportunities? Of course, this class will change the dynamics of raiding a bit, but other than that no, of course not.

The problem with WoW’s gameplay is that it’s repetitive on many levels and becomes extremely unchallenging when you’re done levelling. How could this be changed? What I’d do, personally, I’d redesign the entire game. The social dimension of WoW is critical to keeping you playing, yet the tools players have to organise themselves are very limited and very narrowly designed. A guild, for example, always have to have some hierarchy, while a lot of players would like to establish a more friendlier en socially more acceptable form of grouping. For instance, there are options to create private chatrooms, every player has a friendlist, but still friends or social players can’t organise within the possibilities that guilds can. And guilds are too structured, formal and hierarchical to solve the problem. I would therefore get rid of guilds and create a system that would form social groups that would have a more democratic system, basically wikipedia-like. They would all have the power to change and adjust their groups privileges, yet the social rules of their own group would make sure that this system works, social control.

Landscapes in World of Warcraft

Next to this WoW offers such a wonderful world, yet exploring this world and unintended gameplay (see my essay) isn’t rewarded at all. Violence is. The tendency to make violence your core gameplay is so boring, it’s been done, think of something new now, please designers! Pulling the trigger, pushing a button, throwing a fireball, it’s all good. Now let me cuddle with those lovely fluffy bunnies that you’ve got running around. I must give WoW credit for one thing, they did implement professions like cooking, blacksmithing etc. These professions, however, are all for the development and benefit of raids, gear, buffs, in other words, it all has to do with the essential core gameplay: fighting.

So why not develop some gameplay, maybe classes, that aren’t violent and have a purely social, structural, positive, neutral or constructive objective? This would of course mean to redesign the entire game, but I’m don’t mean that they’d have to get rid of the objectives, systems or classes they have now. I’d suggest adding something to this current design. For instance, you could develop a class that could only design, build and sell homes for other players (and themselves of course). That way players would be able to create a place of their own or of their social group and they’d be structuring and creating the world. Consequently you could have tailors, not like there are now, but real tailors that design clothing (not gear, but pretty things). How cool would it be to have a beautiful outfit to wear while not in your Tier 3. Or create a breeding class that would breed new creatures they could sell to hunters or to farmers who would create food for social gatherings etc. Get where I’m going with this? Offer the World of Warcraft a new dimension that would stimulate player creativity, creating meaningful gameplay and developing better social relations to make it truly a full and cool world.

This would of course mean changing the game from what it is now to a totally different experience, but I find it a shame that the world is so limited at the moment. It’s unchallenging for me to essentially keep casting fireballs for all eternity and grinding for motes and trying to get a drop from a 25-man raid just to get some numbers up. Create some gameplay that’s truly unique and creative! That’s what I’d do if I had the chance to redesign WoW.

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  • Comments (3)
  1. Star Wars Galaxies had a load of non-combat classes in, like doctors (although they also had some hugely powerful biological weapons), dancers, musicians and make-over consultants. They all had their own special roles, usually played out in towns rather than in combat. Like you could get experience points for successfully giving other players a difficult haircut.

    Plus the crafting and business side of things was a lot more advanced than WoW. Anyone could buy mining kits and set up mineral extractors out in the wilderness, build machines and tools to manufacture items, and hire an NPC vendor – or even build a whole shop – to sell your goods. Plus you could learn new skills and change career as you went through the game – you weren’t tied into your initial class choice all the way through.

    It was a very clever game. It’s just a shame the combat was so broken. And they never really got Jedi characters to work properly… obviously everyone wanted to have a Jedi character, but they would have to be either really rare or totally nerfed to balance with the other career paths.

  2. A WoW Diplomat? Earn exp. collecting taxs and paving roads… i like it.

  3. @Purplechair: I’ve never played Star Wars Galaxies (isn’t it pretty old by now), so good tip. It’s a shame that designs are almost always unbalanced, eventhough there are some pretty good games out there.

    @WoW: A diplomat would be an awesome profession! Or a roadbuilder for that matter. :)

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