GDC 2009: Kaplan Cruise Director of Azeroth Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Games News, World of Warcraft News

Jeff Kaplan (Tigole) exposed his panel The Cruise Director of AZEROTH: Directed Gameplay within WORLD OF WARCRAFT at the GDC 2009 (Moscone Center, San Francisco). There are various interesting topics in this panel that fans would like to read.

The WoW Quests Problems theme summarized the 9 worst problems affecting players in the World of Warcraft quests:
1. The Christmas Tree Effect: Mini-map gets cluttered with yellow exclamation marks. So many quests, gahh!!!
2. Too Long, Didn’t Read: Quest text is too long, why read all that? Click, and go.
3. Medium Envy: More pew pew, less Lore. (Kaplan hates Metzen? Burn !!!)
4. Mystery: Kaplan mentioned Mankrik’s Wife. Nuff Said. Huh? WTF do I find [X].
5. Poorly Paced Quest Chains: Long quests discourage you from doing those in the future, and skip them. Myzrael [40] is given as example.
6. Gimmick Quests: Vehicles in quests are Teh suck, according to Kaplan. Fun for developers to make, not fun to players.
7. Bad Flow: A Loch Modan chart shows the poor choice of quest types imposed on players, and how to avoid it.
8. Collection Quest Mistakes: The Green Hills of Stranglethorn Vale
9. Why Am I Collecting This Shit?: So I have to collect 8 paws, but Gnolls drop one or none? Don’t they have two paws jacknabbit?

The Progressive Percentage Item Drop Mechanic show us how loot drops are coded to make progression more fast paced, while eliminating the poor drop rates that plagued us in classic WoW. On the other hand, the Game Developers Are Not Shakespeare topic might rise some eyebrows among the Lore Community.  We all know Tigole comes from a Raiding background back on his Everquest days, but I have to differ with him in this particular topic, mostly because I am on the other side of the spectrum. Lore is an important part of World of Warcraft, and it drives a percent of players who play the game, who love to read the Warcraft novels by Christie Golden, Richard A. Knaak, Keith DeCandido and other authors.

A lot of material from those novels have been brought to life in the MMO, and the experiences lived in-game when playing those quests, interacting with the heroes, and reading the lore in the quests related to those novels complement fittingly. I buy the expansions not to loot l33t items, but because of the lore.  Loot and raiding comes next as an addition to the overall experience. Not everyone wants to read quests, or cares about the story. But not everyone likes hardcore raiding either, or PvP.  Some like only one aspect of the WoW gameplay (there are casual and solo who don’t do raiding or PvP), or a combination of two such as PvP and Lore (an dislike dungeon raiding), some like lore and raiding (but not PvP—I’m among these group), and so on. Most of the people that play World of Warcraft do so because they experienced the single player storyline in Warcraft III and Frozen Throne, and previous Warcraft games. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a MMORPG.  Metzen and his team are our Shakespeares, and if anything I would love to see more books in printed format and more “experience a book”—of the Warcraft universe—in-game through textful quests.

I don’t hate Jeff Kaplan folks, just don’t share that particular view. In fact, I do like the work he’s done, and read most if not all of his interviews online. And although I will miss him as Lead Game Designer of World of Warcraft, I am confident he will do his best on the Next-Gen MMO.

Check out the different topics discussed throughout his GDC Panel:

This discussion will focus on the original development of WORLD OF WARCRAFT’s quest system and how it has changed over time, with WRATH OF THE LICH KING being the latest evolution. The presentation will also include some of the guidelines and philosophies that are followed when creating WoW content. It will also be suggested how WoW’s philosophy applies to other game genres and touch on topics such as game design as it applies to story, single player, massively multiplayer, open world and constrained locale considerations.

Attendees will gain some insight into the quest design nuances in World of Warcraft. Not only will this talk focus on quest design, but there will be discussion of directed gameplay and its relationship to story/lore.

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