Friday, August 30, 2019

WoW Classic: Day 4

So it's probably not the most amazing thing anyone has every seen. But I saw the best example of social design in a while last night.

In the Barrens there is a not particularly well designed-quest called Ignition. It's a quest that you find in a random area of the world, where you talk to a NPC, get the required quest objective items and then come back. Then you get a second quest where you then do a short escort quest. Doesn't sound too bad so far.

Unfortunately, it's a quest that makes you reconsider if Blizzard even knew they were making a multiplayer game when they added it. Once you turn the quest it, you have about 5 seconds for everyone else in your group to also accept the escort quest or they get left out. The NPC then has about a 15 minute respawn timer.

So last night, knowing that this quest was going to be a problem, I sought out other local players to help complete it. One player had already been bitten by this quest design and grouped up quickly with me in order to give a second try. We then filled out the rest of the three members of the group of hopefuls. 

We were waiting for the NPC to spawn and started a nice conversation. One player was watching Matt Mercer's Critical Role channel on Twitch, a Dungeons & Dragons show. I hadn't seen the show, but this led to a conversation about D&D, miniatures, and other similar streams. 

Finally, the NPC spawned, we began the quest and off we went. Except for one thing. One player wasn't quick enough and didn't get credit. It was the original guy I had grouped with who hadn't gotten credit before. I felt legitimately heartbroken for him and offered to stick around another 15 minute respawn cycle to help out. 

And so did everyone else. And we just talked. Two of the members turned out to be from Florida and were concerned about the impending hurricanes. We commiserated about our histories of natural disasters and other topics as well. Eventually the NPC spawned again and our final player finally got the quest credit.

So it was a small moment of half an hour in a night where I had played for hours. But it illustrated what I loved about World of Warcraft and was everything that I had hoped Classic to be. I want to be clear, this quest was terrible design. Nobody should try to make a game like this. But it happened to work out because 5 people were already invested and willing to dig in and do a quest twice despite the experience/hour ratio.

Whether Blizzard wanted it or not, whether Blizzard honestly realizes it or not, it's reintroduced the game that I've been missing for oh so very long. And I can't wait to log in to play it again. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt this way about a game.

1 comment:

  1. There's a quest exactly like that in Loch Modan (in fact I bet one's cut and pasted from the other). I tried to do it three times last night and failed every time. The first time I didn't understand how it worked and spent ten minutes runing around looking for the escort NPC, who was actually on his walk with some other player. Once I'd figured that out I waited at his spawn, talked to him, thought I'd got the quest, escorted him with two other people doing the same.

    I wasn't grouped with them but they invited me after a while. We walked the NPC to his destination and... nothing. The group disbanded and i realised that although I'd spoken to the NPC he never gave me the quest.

    Third time I knew how it all worked. I waited at spawn. Two other people were there again. NPC spawned, I spoke to him and made certain I completed the dialog to get the quest... except I had the scrolling text on and I was still watching it unfurl when someone else completed the thing and set the NPC walking. Again I didn't have the quest so at that point I gave up. I'm going to do it again today, if I can be bothered.

    It really is bad design because even if you do group there's no guarantee everyone will be on the same page. Then again, there are plenty of quests so it doesn't much matter if you skip some.

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