Welcome to the second edition of our Community Spotlight segment. This week is somewhat of a special treat for me and I hope for you too. Over this last week, I was able to pin down Tobold of Tobold's Gaming Blog to answer a few questions with me. If you have any doubts about who Tobold is, I'd have to assume that you're new to the blog scene. This kindly gentleman has been helped begin the MMO blogging trend and currently runs one of the most widely read MMO blogs on the internet. Though, if you were to ask him, he'd respond in his typically humble fashion.
We sit down and talk a little bit about WoW, MMO gaming, geese, and ice cream. Enjoy!
Chris: Hi Tobold and thanks for doing the interview. To begin, can you tell us a little bit about who you and what your blog is about?
Tobold: My blog is about MMORPGs from a player's perspective. I am specifically interested in questions of the consequences of game design on the behavior of players, how incentives modify what players in a virtual world do. The blog also contains some virtual world economic posts, and the occasional post about the real world. Finally I'm interested in the subject of blogging itself, so there are some introspective posts on the blog about the blog.
Chris: As a reader of the site, I know you're a big World of Warcraft. What's kept you playing through the years?
Tobold: I've been trying to answer that question for WoW and every other game for years, but there is no simple answer. I think it has a lot to do with a virtual "to do" list, logging on and having some goal in the game: Reaching the next level, getting a new piece of gear, beating some dungeon, mastering a new tradeskill. While all these goals are in a way trivial, games like World of Warcraft work by immediatedly rewarding you for achieving them. I think the sense of achievement and constant rewards is what keeps us playing for years, even if our intellect tells us that we are just collecting pixels.
Chris: How do you feel about the pace at which new content gets added to the game? Does it concern you that other development companies seeming to be setting a higher standard compared to Blizzard's current rate?
Tobold: I do think that Blizzard is slow, compared to the competition, in the pace at which they add new content. That leads to noticeable dips in player activity between expansions. On the other hand, the quality of the added content, especially in the case of expansions, is usually quite high. Blizzard earns $500 million per year as profit, but it is hard for me to say whether they do not reinvest more into the game because they really couldn't produce high quality content faster if they hired more people, or whether they deliberately choose to use World of Warcraft as a cash cow to finance development of other games.
Chris: There was a definitive shift in the focus from "hardcore" to "casual" with the transition from TBC to WotLK. How do you feel about...