Former Blizzard man on World of Warcraft: "I think we killed a genre" | PCGamesN

World of Warcraft

Former Blizzard man on World of Warcraft: "I think we killed a genre"

Over a decade ago, a team at Blizzard took up accessibility as its mantra and made a game called World of Warcraft. A man named Mark Kern led them through countless UI iterations in search of the easiest and most intuitive interface; he directed them to build huge numbers of quests, ensuring the player never had to worry about where to go next.

Now though, Kern works at Red 5 Studios on a game called Firefall. And he worries he helped Blizzard make a terrible mistake.

“It worked,” he says. “Players came in droves, millions of them. But at what cost? Sometimes I look at WoW and think ‘what have we done?’ I think I know. I think we killed a genre.”

Kern pinpoints one particular problem with what he describes as the “creeping casualness that permeates all MMOs” - a gradually flattening difficulty curve. He believes that a sense of achievement is the first casualty of easier questing, and soon enough reaching max level becomes the only real challenge in the game - hence the contemporary MMO player’s obsession with the ‘endgame’.

“Nobody stops to admire a beautiful zone or listen to story or lore, because there is no time to do so,” he explains in a lengthy blog post. “You are fed from a fire-hose of quests that you feel compelled to blaze through, whose content is so easy and quick to accomplish, that you are never in one place long enough to appreciate the incredible world around you. We feel bored by these quests, simply watching numbers on our quest trackers count down to completion before we are fed the next line of quests.”

As a consequence, says Kern, we lose the “whole journey in between”.

The knock-on effect of all this is that developers have no motivation to design intricate or unique quests, knowing that players will simply burn through them with their eyes locked on the horizon.

“This makes the situation even worse, as not only do we not have a sense of accomplishment, but we enjoy these quests chains less and less as they become simpler and more cookie-cutter,” Kern despairs. “The moment to moment gameplay suffers.”

Eventually, Kern writes, developers end up driving away the very players they’d hoped to attract. But this is no slippery slope argument - it’s already happened.

“No wonder we have such a huge crowd of jaded and bored MMO players,” says Kern. “Every MMO that follows the WoW formula is a trivial exercise, dominated by rote and convention, trading off the joy of the journey for a series of meaningless tasks. And when we race to the end, we expect some kind of miracle end-game that will keep us playing. 

“It never does.”

With Firefall, of course, Kern hopes to provide an antidote to this - instilling a little challenge and depth into a field long-starved of both. If you’re a former MMO fan, let us know: do you think he’s managed to put a finger on what’s wrong with the genre?

Thanks, Shacknews.

Login or Register
1
+1
-0
Dog Pants's picture
1312

He's right to an extent, but his observation is only valid for that (admittedly very common) type of third-person, quest based MMORPG. There are other ways to do MMORPG, Eve being a famous example, but too few try to break the mold.

1
+1
-0
avatar
15

I give him props for noting the truth, but I don't think Firefall will be that antidote. No where near.

 

Just another MMO that will be skimmed over by most (like defiance). I tried the beta and personally didn't care for it (thought it was just a mess from the start).

1
+1
-0
avatar
1

Absolutely.

 

I started MMORPG's with EQ1...and it was amazing. Not just because it was my first one, but because it made you feel you WERE the character in that living world. This is missing from nearly every MMORPG on the market now, as they are more lobby games in nature...single player lobby games at that...as they are so hand held and easy, no one needs anyone else until "endgame"...which should NEVER be a term used in an MMORPG.

 

Yep...been saying this for years and deemed a bitter vet. Just glad to see someone from Blizzard...current or former opened their eyes.

Try these free to play games
?

These are affiliate links - clicking them and playing the games directly supports PCGamesN

Spotlight
?

Our Spotlight units plug content our journalists have made, that our advertisers want to promote. Sometimes the promotion is paid for, but the content they go to is always independent with no client oversight or approval.

Alienware - Game VictoriousTurtle Beach
World of Warcraft patch 6.2 preview: back to the skies

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft patch 6.2 preview: back to the skies

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor final boss cinematic has leaked

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor final boss cinematic has leaked

World of Warcraft is about to reclaim character names from inactive accounts

World of Warcraft is about to reclaim character names from inactive accounts

World of Warcraft patch 6.2 will unleash the Burning Legion on June 23rd

World of Warcraft patch 6.2 will unleash the Burning Legion on June 23rd

Blizzard will lift the ban on flying in World of Warcraft's Draenor soon

Blizzard will lift the ban on flying in World of Warcraft's Draenor soon

Blizzard have no plans on flying mounts in Warlords of Draenor, or beyond

Blizzard have no plans on flying mounts in Warlords of Draenor, or beyond

Blizzard on World of Warcraft PvP as an eSport:

World of Warcraft

Blizzard on World of Warcraft PvP as an eSport: "it's kind of hard to watch"

Leeroy Jenkins almost made it into the Warcraft movie

Leeroy Jenkins almost made it into the Warcraft movie

Take the best selfie in World of Warcraft and win a trip to Blizzcon

Take the best selfie in World of Warcraft and win a trip to Blizzcon

See the Warcraft movie's take on Orgrim Doomhammer; CGI orcs aren't

See the Warcraft movie's take on Orgrim Doomhammer; CGI orcs aren't "just creatures"

World of Warcraft's three million missing players will come back, says lead game designer

World of Warcraft's three million missing players will come back, says lead game designer

Blizzard clean up World of Warcraft bots with more than 100,000 six-month bans

Blizzard clean up World of Warcraft bots with more than 100,000 six-month bans

AFK on a giant turtle: why WoW's only neutral level 90 player spent 4164 hours on a single island

World of Warcraft

AFK on a giant turtle: why WoW's only neutral level 90 player spent 4164 hours on a single island

World of Warcraft drops down to 7.1 million subscribers

World of Warcraft drops down to 7.1 million subscribers

The World of Warcraft movie has been pushed back

The World of Warcraft movie has been pushed back

WoW Tokens are on their way to Europe right now

WoW Tokens are on their way to Europe right now

Blizzard incentivises revisiting old dungeons with Timewalking

Blizzard incentivises revisiting old dungeons with Timewalking

WoW Tokens have already shed almost a quarter of their value

WoW Tokens have already shed almost a quarter of their value

Blizzard plan to strip currency systems from World of Warcraft raiding in Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft

Blizzard plan to strip currency systems from World of Warcraft raiding in Warlords of Draenor

WoW Tokens go live tomorrow in the Americas and Australia / New Zealand

WoW Tokens go live tomorrow in the Americas and Australia / New Zealand

World of Warcraft Arena World Championships will be held at BlizzCon 2015

World of Warcraft Arena World Championships will be held at BlizzCon 2015

World of Warcraft’s WoW Token will release soon, prices will flux depending on market forces

World of Warcraft’s WoW Token will release soon, prices will flux depending on market forces

World of Warcraft player creates video guide on power levelling through 90-100 in five hours

World of Warcraft player creates video guide on power levelling through 90-100 in five hours

Blizzard introduce

Blizzard introduce "WoW Token", which is like EVE's PLEX for World of Warcraft