have just spent quite a long while reading through andy gavin's decently in-depth commentary on WoW. if you don't know, gavin was the inventor of crash bandicoot, and a bit of an all-round gamer/tech/critic dude. it's interesting to see his commentary not only from the POV of someone who clearly has played WoW from the beginning (to a moderately high-level), but also someone who is a designer and an 'insider' in the games industry. a really thoughtful and encouraging read. nicely structured, and really highlights the core aspects of each expansion pack. heavily recommend - worth the time.http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2012/1 … s-vanilla/http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2012/1 … g-crusade/http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2012/1 … lich-king/http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2012/1 … cataclysm/http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2013/0 … -pandaria/
here is a neat summary of my point about changing item looks. he calls it 'the end of the silhouette', and within the wider context of his cross-game analysis, it really emphasizes just how much normalization/homogeneity/fast-tracking there was between WotLK and cataclysm (which he considers the absolute nadir of the series). first i'll include his point about 'reforging', introduced in cataclysm with much fan-fare - but which he assesses from a game-designer's perspective as an accessory in the march towards boring sameness:
A number of gearing innovations were introduced with Cataclysm. In the BC and LK eras, the number of affixes (different stats and attributes possible on gear) had expanded considerably. The game has a lot of gear specs: plate tanks, plate dps, plate healing, mail spell dps, mail melee, mail ranged, mail healing, leather healing, leather spell dps, leather melee, leather tanking, cloth healing and cloth dps. In the old days, the designers ignored some, like bear tanks, but with making every spec viable came the need to provide them gear.
With Cataclysm, the designers tried to reduce this gear proliferation and consolidate stats. For example, the new “mastery” stat, basically good for every spec, but does something different for each. It might improve healing for a Holy Priest and damage for a Shadow Priest.
To make more gear useful to more players Blizzard introduced the reforging vendor. This allowed players to exchange one secondary stat on an item for another secondary stat. For example, if you had an item with crit and mastery, but want more haste, you could take half the mastery off and turn it into haste. This was reversible and modifiable.
This allowed almost any gear that fit your basic spec to be adjusted to fit your overall itemization. The downside was that it made gear increasingly by the numbers. Individual items used to matter more. You sought out the Azuresong Mageblade or the Core Hound Tooth. After Cataclysm, if the item had a higher ilevel (item level) and fit your spec at all, it was likely better. This meant that you stopped caring so much about the individualitem and its stats and more about its ilevel.
Vanilla, BC, and LK WOW never allowed the modification of gear appearance. Other games had dyes and methods of cosmetic alteration, but in WOW, the gear actually looked good, and because each class had unique tier gear, it was usually possible at a glance to tell how good (or at least dedicated) a player was. In fact, when I first started playing I was really impressed by the way your character slowly improved visually. At first, you dressed in rags, and slowly but surely you got cooler looking (with a few setbacks). I, like most players, chose function over form, and sometimes had a patchwork appearance.
Cataclysmchanged all that by introducing Transmogrification. The transmorg vendor, would for a fee, make any piece of gear look like any other of the same type that you owned (i.e. you couldn’t make a bow look like a sword). Suddenly, your best gear was disconnected from your best-looking gear. The cool part of this was that old gear, which often looked very cool or nostalgic, was useful again as a template for appearance. It also allowed characters to construct unified thematic sets without compromising function. Negatively, the specific new gear you got became even less memorable. It was just ilevel and stats.
the whole thing really is worth a read. even if you're not a major WoW player. even if you never played WoW. it's a fascinating history of how one of the best PC games to ever be released for the PC platform turned into what it is today - and what that says about game-design trends and changes in the gaming market/gamers themselves. and he does present it with some fairness and rationality; it's not another 'everything sucks, vanilla ruled' jeremiad. he praises blizzard multiple times for their good intentions and willingness to experiment and try new things. so fuckin' read it, bitches. it's rare to get long-form writing on video-games that is actually worth the 30 minutes of your time.
Last edited by Uzique The Lesser (2013-04-04 17:58:27)