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News & Features Discussion  » [General Article] World of Warcraft: The Evolution of WoW

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  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 14180

 
OP  11/06/13 6:51:39 PM#1

World of Warcraft is in the spotlight this month, both for this week's Blizzcon and possible expansion announcement and, later, for the game's ninth anniversary. We take a look back at how WoW has evolved over the years. Join us in taking a look back before posting some of your favorite memories in the comments.

World of Warcraft was announced in 2001 at the (now defunct) European Computer Trade Show. There, Blizzard execs promise gamers a diverse, accessible online gameplay experience that both hard-core and novice gamers could enjoy. This wasn't an idle affirmation; by then Blizzard had more than proven its ability to design games with mass market appeal. In fact, although officially World of Warcraft took  four years to develop, in a way it had been in the works since 1994. Blizzard's classic real-time-strategy title Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (released in 1994) redefined strategy game rules and served as a litmus test for Blizzard's philosophy of accessible design. The follow-up to that title, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness reinforced that success and convinced the development team it was onto something big. 

Read more of Nellie Johnson's World of Warcraft: The Evolution of WoW.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  elocke

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/15/04
Posts: 4114

11/07/13 12:10:45 PM#2

"It could also mean we're in for a genre full of less-innovative, more metrics-driven games."

I see it as being very similar to the movie industry.  We have a TON of horrible metric driven, cookie cutter, cash grab movies amidst 2 to 4 Good to Great movies per year.  Same with the music scene.  I think it's just par for the course for the entertainment industry and the gaming side is a part of that.  As much as there was a golden age of movies, it's still a thriving industry and every so often pumps out a few quality titles that keep it going, as will be the same with the gaming industry long after WoW has closed shop.  Question is, when is the next "WoW" coming and will it be anything like WoW at all or something different.

I like to compare it to the Star Wars Trilogy(original) giving way to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Different yet similar and equally awesome.  Plenty of room for WoW to move over and let another take the throne.  But I'm going to enjoy the crap out of everything WoW oriented up to that point and probably long after, much like I do with the Star Wars IP.

http://www.twitch.tv/elockethemmoaddict

https://twitter.com/MMOAddicted

  tordurbar

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/02/10
Posts: 412

11/07/13 12:17:41 PM#3

Yes, I am back for the third time. 6 years then 1 then 1. Most of the reasons for my return are nostalgia, including playing a shape-shifter and flying - something I do not see in other AAA MMOs. The Timeless Isle has been a blast and I am gearing up all my alts for the next expansion there.

I cannot prove it but I think that one of the reasons for WOWs success was that it brought in female players. Although I had only played MMOs for three years (EQ, Ach, etc.) meeting a true female (verified by voice chat) was rare. The number of women exploded with WOW and to this day I find many more of them playing WOW than any other AAA MMO). Of course, this is my opinion.

Another reason for WOWs success is that it picked up a more mature (older?) audience. I almost had culture shock from going from Lineage 2 to WOW. People were actually helpful in WOW.  Yes, there was Barrens chat but I was one who enjoyed the Chuck Norris jokes. The maturity level has going down dramatically since WOW vanilla and I believe that could be one of the reasons why so many have left.

Interesting that the article refers to the "changing audience". Well, I am almost 10 years older, and as a baby boomer I am getting on in years. Actually this is one of the reasons that I returned to WOW. Action combat is fun for a while but causes physical pain after an extended period of time. Agility demanding and brain demanding puzzles are fun but when you get to a certain age your ability to complete them (especially jumping puzzles) deteriorates. There is nothing more frustrating than a puzzle that you can't complete.  I used to PVP but after getting completely embarrassed in other games I have given up that mode.  It is true that you can't do what you used to do - but I can still play WOW.

WOW getting simpler for a target younger audience has a side benefit for us curmudgeons as well. I STILL hate what Blizzard did to the Talents in CATA and continued in MOP. I remember the "simple but deep" motto from somewhere. Things are getting simpler but deeper not so much. No matter. I am back again.

  Mors.Magne

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

11/07/13 12:20:27 PM#4

I have very fond memories of WoW. 

 

BUT, it needs something big and dramatic to put itself firmly back in the lead again. 

 

Something like 3D compatibility (Oculus Rift etc.)

 

WoW needs to return to full-world PvP.

 

Make characters more customisable again, AND REVERSE THE FIRE MAGE NERF (you never know - if you do this, TotalBiscuit might start liking WoW again).

  Mors.Magne

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

11/07/13 12:30:14 PM#5
Originally posted by tordurbar

Yes, I am back for the third time. 6 years then 1 then 1. Most of the reasons for my return are nostalgia, including playing a shape-shifter and flying - something I do not see in other AAA MMOs. The Timeless Isle has been a blast and I am gearing up all my alts for the next expansion there.

I cannot prove it but I think that one of the reasons for WOWs success was that it brought in female players. Although I had only played MMOs for three years (EQ, Ach, etc.) meeting a true female (verified by voice chat) was rare. The number of women exploded with WOW and to this day I find many more of them playing WOW than any other AAA MMO). Of course, this is my opinion.

Another reason for WOWs success is that it picked up a more mature (older?) audience. I almost had culture shock from going from Lineage 2 to WOW. People were actually helpful in WOW.  Yes, there was Barrens chat but I was one who enjoyed the Chuck Norris jokes. The maturity level has going down dramatically since WOW vanilla and I believe that could be one of the reasons why so many have left.

Interesting that the article refers to the "changing audience". Well, I am almost 10 years older, and as a baby boomer I am getting on in years. Actually this is one of the reasons that I returned to WOW. Action combat is fun for a while but causes physical pain after an extended period of time. Agility demanding and brain demanding puzzles are fun but when you get to a certain age your ability to complete them (especially jumping puzzles) deteriorates. There is nothing more frustrating than a puzzle that you can't complete.  I used to PVP but after getting completely embarrassed in other games I have given up that mode.  It is true that you can't do what you used to do - but I can still play WOW.

WOW getting simpler for a target younger audience has a side benefit for us curmudgeons as well. I STILL hate what Blizzard did to the Talents in CATA and continued in MOP. I remember the "simple but deep" motto from somewhere. Things are getting simpler but deeper not so much. No matter. I am back again.

 

Thank you. That's a very interesting perspective. I agree with everything you've said.

 

My only critisism is that WoW very heavily favours rare people like you at the end game. It doesn't offer much for busy people who play solo. For example, even the short-term pet battle games give rewards only viable if you play in a group over extended periods of time, i.e. - raids and dungeons.

 

Obviously, people like you must be favoured as regards rewards, but I'm just saying that there need to be more activities for people with less time commitment during the end-game.

  Nadia

Tipster

Joined: 7/26/03
Posts: 11780

11/07/13 12:39:06 PM#6
  Heatsink98

Novice Member

Joined: 5/10/06
Posts: 31

11/07/13 1:54:02 PM#7
The dumbing of the game design over the years is a real problem.  Unless this new expansion injects real depth back into WoW gameplay, the slide will continue.  The designers have a product now where progression means seeing bigger numbers floating over mobs' heads, and they expect that to be entertaining.  Oh, and Pokemon, there's that now, too.
  Mors.Magne

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

11/07/13 2:15:29 PM#8
Originally posted by Heatsink98
The dumbing of the game design over the years is a real problem.  Unless this new expansion injects real depth back into WoW gameplay, the slide will continue.  The designers have a product now where progression means seeing bigger numbers floating over mobs' heads, and they expect that to be entertaining.  Oh, and Pokemon, there's that now, too.

I agree that WoW's depth has been diminished and this is a bad thing, e.g. - crafting used to be more powerful - now there is no point.

 

However, I liked the PvP pet battles because you can play them if you have a spare 5 minutes. The problem with the PvP pet battles is that you must go raiding for the rewards to be useful. So you can't play the end-game of WoW on a casual basis.

 

WoW's end-game activities (raiding etc) demand many hours (half a day etc.) on a daily/weekly basis. This limits the fan-base and gives MMORPGs in general a very bad name, e.g. - nerdy, no life, antisocial etc.

  adam_nox

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/31/06
Posts: 2088

11/07/13 2:20:11 PM#9
Nothing will compare to the first weeks in WoW.  People who joined after the BGs were patched in will just never quite relate to those that played before that (and didn't grumpily rage quit every time the server kicked them off).
  Gravarg

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 8/24/06
Posts: 3215

11/07/13 7:24:07 PM#10

SPOILER ALERT....maybe

 

Just speculation, but if the new expansion is truly "Warlords of Draenor" then we might be seeing the end of the Warcraft Universe.  This sounds like it would herald in the return of Sargeras and the real true threat to Azeroth.  The only other thing worse than Sargeras would be if the "Old Gods" returned, however if you've been playing, it clearly points to "someone" coming back and he is the "true threat" to Azeroth :)

 

P.S.  WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

  vmoped

Novice Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 1722

11/07/13 7:55:07 PM#11
Originally posted by Mors.Magne

I have very fond memories of WoW. 

 

BUT, it needs something big and dramatic to put itself firmly back in the lead again. 

 

Something like 3D compatibility (Oculus Rift etc.)

 

WoW needs to return to full-world PvP.

 

Make characters more customisable again, AND REVERSE THE FIRE MAGE NERF (you never know - if you do this, TotalBiscuit might start liking WoW again).

Nvidia introduced 3d vision to WoW years ago, it was a thud of sorts.  It looked good in the stores, but I doubt many people bought it...

Link: http://www.nvidia.com/object/3d-vision-games.html

Open world and character customization would be nice to see in-game again, but I doubt they will go back on their "development" of the game.

Cheers!

MMO Vet since AOL Neverwinter Nights circa 1992. My MMO beat up your MMO. =S

  dorugu

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/06/03
Posts: 145

11/07/13 8:11:21 PM#12

what they need is to stop listening 2 the locusts tht treat very mmo like a race to max lvl after all theyre not the ones tht stay the longest :)

i would want more hidden quests objects and lore tidbits and more exploration and deeper non linear dungeons and  more customization options

  BruceYee

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/04/08
Posts: 280

11/08/13 12:43:12 AM#13

IMO WoW's lore was always its strong point and what I found all the people I played with latched onto and loved.

The gear/reputation grinds really turned me away from this game because aside from some cosmetic items, the reputation items you spent weeks/months getting were useless when a expansion came out.

"If you can control a man's thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do."-Winston Churchill

  emperorwings

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/25/06
Posts: 1411

11/08/13 12:55:40 AM#14
Bolvar Fordragon is coming back. You'll see.

This isn't a signature, you just think it is.

  loulaki

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/20/11
Posts: 826

11/08/13 4:18:56 AM#15

well i suppose i am the only one who believes that WoW is what Hollywood is for cinema, great numbers but no point...

i was great fan of Warcraft III RoC & TFT, but i didnt liked the MMO at all ... i couldnt play MMO without PvP, and its 2 factions PvP was looking broken, it proved broken... never played WoW higher than 11lvl ... :p

  Mors.Magne

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

11/08/13 4:28:42 AM#16
Originally posted by vmoped
Originally posted by Mors.Magne

I have very fond memories of WoW. 

 

BUT, it needs something big and dramatic to put itself firmly back in the lead again. 

 

Something like 3D compatibility (Oculus Rift etc.)

 

WoW needs to return to full-world PvP.

 

Make characters more customisable again, AND REVERSE THE FIRE MAGE NERF (you never know - if you do this, TotalBiscuit might start liking WoW again).

Nvidia introduced 3d vision to WoW years ago, it was a thud of sorts.  It looked good in the stores, but I doubt many people bought it...

Link: http://www.nvidia.com/object/3d-vision-games.html

Open world and character customization would be nice to see in-game again, but I doubt they will go back on their "development" of the game.

Cheers!

No - I mean proper 3D - a different screen for each eye - when you turn your head, your view changes.

 

I don't mean that horrible '3D' fixed screen where you have to wear 'sunglasses' and everything is dark.

 

We are talking about 2 completely different things.

  User Deleted
11/08/13 4:53:27 AM#17
WoW is doing fine and will be for a long time.

Newer MMOs like ARR, GW2, and TOR are all flaming out. Players are returning to WoW, hence the better than expected quarterly report.
  Mors.Magne

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/07
Posts: 1432

11/08/13 6:25:48 AM#18
Originally posted by Sajman01
WoW is doing fine and will be for a long time.

Newer MMOs like ARR, GW2, and TOR are all flaming out. Players are returning to WoW, hence the better than expected quarterly report.

The only reason I'm more inclined to return to WoW than the other games you mention is because I have more 'assets' in WoW.

In other words, it's because ''WoW got there first'.

That's not exactly the most glowing of reasons to return to WoW. Knowing the psychology of this, I certainly won't buy WoW if Blizzard don't put in a huge effort and make something good.

 

 

  User Deleted
11/08/13 6:43:40 AM#19
Originally posted by dorugu

what they need is to stop listening 2 the locusts tht treat very mmo like a race to max lvl after all theyre not the ones tht stay the longest :)

i would want more hidden quests objects and lore tidbits and more exploration and deeper non linear dungeons and  more customization options

Good ideas. Exploration rewards and Easter eggs would certainly get people of all levels back out in the world at large and revitalize Azeroth if well thought out.

 

And how about level scaling and some type of dynamic events? It must be do-able, so let's see what happens in the future. It just seems like all the effort to re-craft the open world has been wasted, so far. It's a great world and people should have a reason to be in it after they outlevel the zones.

  RajCaj

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/11/08
Posts: 684

11/08/13 10:16:56 AM#20
Originally posted by Mors.Magne
Originally posted by tordurbar
 

Thank you. That's a very interesting perspective. I agree with everything you've said.

 

My only critisism is that WoW very heavily favours rare people like you at the end game. It doesn't offer much for busy people who play solo. For example, even the short-term pet battle games give rewards only viable if you play in a group over extended periods of time, i.e. - raids and dungeons.

 

Obviously, people like you must be favoured as regards rewards, but I'm just saying that there need to be more activities for people with less time commitment during the end-game.

Not sure if you're trolling here, but there has been a constant push (since the 1st expansion of the game) to streamline the game & make the experience more convienent for solo players......or players that don't have access to guilds)

From when Groups had to form on their own, and physically travel to dungeons, to meeting stones (where only 2 members needed to summon rest of group), to automated group finders, that found a group for you and automatially zones you & and out.

From difficult to complete solo quests (where you actually had a chance of dieing) to easy to complete quests, where you never have to worry about your HP falling any where near dangerous levels. 

Instances have gone from 1+ hr long events, to roughly 30 min experiences.  PvP Battlegrounds have also been tuned down to run around 30 or so minutes to complete.

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