Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Warcraft... before the world of

Today I'm going to talk about something that everybody knows about.  Something that is both a bane and a boon to PC gaming.  Warcraft.

When most people here the word Warcraft they immediately think "World of...".  Now don't get me wrong.  WoW is a boon to the gaming market.  No game in history has been more successful.  But it's success has overshadowed many other things, and when a market (or any system for that matter) becomes too homogenous it becomes weak.

I by no means HATE WoW.  In fact, I beta tested it.  What's more, I liked what I saw so much that I took it upon myself to become a missionary and convert all the other MMO players I knew to WoW before it was even out.  By the time it was released, I had collected a small mob of people to wait in line and buy it with me at midnight.  But I was also the first to quit WoW.  Many of them still play it, but I had lost interest long before the first expansion came out.  I feel that my main reasons for quitting was probably the fact that it takes so long to achieve greatness.  I hated grinding away for hours at a time with the hopes of one day being high enough level to dedicate myself to raids that I would have to set aside days to take part in because they themselves were many hours long.

I was a different kind of WoW player.  I wanted to continuously have new lands to explore and cooler creatures to look at.  I took to exploring areas that I was not supposed to get to at my level.  I would strip out of my armor (because if you died to many times wearing it it would break) and run naked into lands well above my level.  It was fun for a while, sneaking around in the shadows of the Burning Steppes with my level 17 Dwarf Hunter who had no pet.  But the places I could sneak into soon hit a wall and I lost all interest in the game.
Enough about playing WoW.  The real purpose of this rant is to talk about why I was excited about playing it to begin with.  

Before there was a World of Warcraft there was simply Warcraft.  My earliest memories of Warcraft were of wanting to know what it was but not being allowed to play it.  I had always been a console gamer.  It wasn't until later in life that I got a PC and started exploring that frontier.  But my cousin had a computer.  I remember going over to his house in the summer to swim in my Aunt and Uncle's pool and being fascinated by the computer they had.  While my mother would chat after the swimming was done I would sneak up to the computer room and spy on my cousin playing PC games.  Of the games he played only one really captivated me.

I would see him constructing an army and waging war with hordes of monstrous creatures.  When I would ask him about it all He would tell me was that it was called Warcraft and that I wouldn't understand it.  Well, if there is a way to make me do something it's to tell me I wouldn't be able to do it or that it would be too hard for me.

Once I got my hands on Warcraft I was hooked.  Warcraft II was even better and remains to this day my second favorite PC game.  My favorite is... you guessed it, Warcraft III and its expansion.  I loved the world that blizzard had created.  I remember reading the background story that were in the illustrated book that came with Warcraft II and falling in love with a fantasy universe I wished I could be part of.  I read the three novels that filled the gap between Warcraft II and III.  When Warcraft III came out I thought the cinematics were mind blowing and the new races were awesome beyond words.  Blizzard could do no wrong.

Like I said, I was really excited about WoW when it first came out.  When I lost interest in it it thought "Oh well, I'll just wait until Warcraft IV comes out."  I've been waiting for a long time.  It wasn't until one of the people I converted to WoW pointed something out to me that I realized that I might be waiting forever.  WoW is not just a game in a series of games, It's a persistent world that is constantly evolving and being added to.  If a new Warcraft RTS was made, it's story would either have already been told in WoW, or it would be a content spoiler for the game that now pays Blizzards bills.  He mused that if Blizzard had to choose between letting an audience down, it wouldn't be their cash cows audience.  With this in mind, I realized that the only way it could happen is if Warcraft IV and WoW II or a major WoW expansion were developed and released at the same time.  The resources needed to accomplish such a feat would be monumental.  

Now, there have been hints and rumors of a Warcraft IV in the works.  But with a perfectionist company like Blizzard, games usually still have years of development once we have had serious confirmation... which we have yet to have.

Sadly, I fear that WoW has all but killed the RTS franchise that made me love PC gaming.  Its been over 7 years since Warcraft III was first released and it looks like I have several more to wait before another is released (if ever).  Then again, Starcraft fans have been waiting over a decade for a real sequel and they still don't have it in their hands yet.

1 comment:

RetroPengo said...

Luckily, both StarCraft II and Diablo 3 are in beta testing :)

I was the same kind of WoW player you were. I was lucky enough to know someone very well on magic the gathering online who happened to work for Blizzard, so I got into the Friends and Family Alpha test for World of Warcraft. I've taken breaks playing, but I have finally put it down "forever", 7 years later.

Interesting story based on your play style. I was the first player to EVER set foot in Tanaris. That was while the Guardians of Blizzard were still at every entrance, and i know you know what those are. Also my guild and I snuck into stratholme back in the alpha test and saw all the buildings, some with purple placeholder textures. We were a naughty-exploration guild. We went into WPL and EPL (to get to stratholme) way before anyone else ever and we got lucky and found a hole in the side of the gate of strat and snuck in. (break in the world hole, like we used to fall through just in a wall instead.)

I've been playing Warcraft since... well.... Warcraft. I really wish they would develop Warcraft IV. That would be awesome, but you're right. They can't dump their cash-cow.