WoWs Game Director Ion Hazzikostas spoke to WIRED about World of Warcraft and how the online role-playing game has changed over the past 15 years.
Ion Hazzikostas, Game Director at Blizzard for World of Warcraft, has one Editor of WIRED talked about the changes WoW has undergone over the past 15 years and how these changes reflect what has been happening on the Internet in general and in the genre of MMORPGs during this time. In the following we have summarized the most important insights from the conversation.
- According to Hazzikostas, when a game appears today, it is quickly deciphered. It used to be very different. As an example, he throws Street Fighter into the race: There were self-contained groups of gamers in the Arcarde halls, in the local video game shops or in their own neighborhood, where hierarchies of the fighters emerged. If a player with a character was particularly good, that character was quickly considered the best within the group. In the next town, however, this hierarchy of fighters could have been very different. The information and experiences were much more fragmented and localized. In fact, most players may have played the game wrong, according to Hazzikostas.
- Thanks to the internet and platforms such as Reddit and Youtube, this has changed completely over the years. Today everything is made into a rocket science. The gamers have become extremely good at solving problems, finding out the optimum and distributing the information.
- What applies to Street Fighter can also be transported on WoW. There were no rules in Vanilla, no right or wrong way to play WoW. It was about opening up this huge fantasy world to yourself and finding out things.
- In addition, back then you had to be much more tolerant than today when it came to other players' mistakes. Throwing the healer out of the dungeon group for doing something wrong? But not if you have to wait 30 minutes or more for a new healer! And when the healer does his job and is also nice, he quickly ends up in the friends list of other players, which gradually builds up a strong network.
- The challenges of Vanilla-WoW, the friction caused by these challenges and the mastering of this challenge / friction together ensured that the connections developed between players were further strengthened.
- Like all other still relevant MMORPGs, WoW has been brought more and more into line over the years: obstacles that slowed players down as they progressed were removed. Comfort features such as automated group searches, quest help and simplified gameplay mechanics came into play. Leveling takes less and less time.
- According to Hazzikostas, players have done their part with the aggressive search for information and a culture of optimization that has become the norm over time.
- In Vanilla, the fight against epic raid bosses was reserved for a small number of players. Today, more than half of all WoW players master the biggest raid challenges the game has to offer.
- Today WoW players are also much better than it was in Vanilla back then. Almost everyone wants to minimize their weaknesses and optimally expand their strengths. Those who do not do this on their own will be pushed in this direction by the community because this is the new standard. Once the optimum has been found, it is assumed that everyone has this knowledge. The answer to every question is just a Google search away.
- WoW is much more "casual" than it was back then, because developers and players have directed development in this direction. This in turn ensures that the connection between players has become less important, the aforementioned friction is missing in order to have to build strong connections. At the same time, it is much easier today to play with buddies or strangers across servers.
- WoW Classic is currently also showing that the social interaction from back then cannot simply be copied. Back then, it was a big, special advantage of WoW for many players that they could communicate with other players in chat and headphones while playing an online game together. For many it was the first multiplayer experience of this kind. Today, however, almost every game has a multiplayer mode, friend lists, voice chat and a social network system.
- Hazzikostas finds it remarkable that a lot has not changed in 15 years. One of his employees, who was already working on World of Warcraft at the time, had a classic raid that broke up in the blackwing lair due to a loot drama. That was there then, it still exists today.
- Hazzikostas wants an MMORPG that surprises the players and takes them into a completely unknown world. Gradually opening up to this unknown world is what makes the genre so appealing to the Game Director.
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