This morning I was able to play WoW Classic a bit between work meetings, as thankfully the queue issue had not yet picked back up. I fully expect that tonight I won’t be able to get in again, but we will see. I was able to get to level 5 on my human rogue, going through the initial starter area and ending in Goldshire.
It’s obviously very early, but playing just felt right. As the video in the previous Classic post talked about, there is a sense that all of this content was created with a passion, and that passion shows in all of the little details that bring the zone together. Yes, the quests are very simple kill X of this, collect Y of that, but that’s not so much a problem as it is a core feature of basically any RPG. And there is a good reason that questing format is still being used after dozens of years; it works. It’s not a problem that needs fixing. In fact, when a game features too many overly complex quests, it can feel burdensome. There is beauty in the simplicity of those quests, and how while doing them you can focus more of your attention on the tiny details of the world you are playing in.
This is all especially true in a themepark MMO like WoW, where the core gameplay loop is simple and enjoyable, but the real ‘meat’ of the game is the social aspect and doing all of your activities in a virtual world, rather than alone in an offline RPG (or in current WoW, which is an online but basically a solo RPG with chat spam). Again its early, but I don’t think that fundamental design, that WoW eventually moved away, is a relic of the past, or something that isn’t applicable today. Classic being enjoyable, for me at least, isn’t just about the nostalgia, its mostly about the fact that Vanilla WoW was a really fun MMO to play. The graphics have aged, sure, and some of the UI elements aren’t up to todays standards of good design, but the core gameplay feels right, and it works.
Quickly on the subject of the queues and how Blizzard messed up. By now we all realize that “you think you do, but you don’t” (dude has Mittani-levels of smug in that video too, on top of being comically wrong) should just go on J. Allen Brack’s tombstone, which he will need since he should also be tossed out of his office as president of Blizzard (not an actual death threat, relax), but even Blizzard’s answer today about the queues, and how they didn’t want to open too many servers early is idiotic.
First, if you have to open dozens of additional servers PRIOR TO GO LIVE, you suck at estimating. I get having to open a few more servers for the most popular type/region, but that’s not the case here. Across the board they needed a lot more of everything, which is just a reflection of horrible planning. Had the original server list been twice what it was, at least, so many of these initial problems would have been resolved.
Second, considering this is the second time WoW is being ‘released’, and that it’s 15 years later, how is Blizzard still not capable of having a smooth launch? A queue that is 4 hours long might as well be the same thing as the servers being offline, especially if even those who are in-game are getting kicked out when a layer crashes. I understand that the first day is unique in the number of people trying to log in, and that everyone is starting in the same zones, but still, its 15 years later! Technology has evolved, you should have better hardware and tools, and, most importantly, you are now a massive mega-corp with practically unlimited resources launching what is surely going to be the biggest ‘release’ of the year. Of a franchise that is the very reason your entire company is so big to begin with. FIGURE IT OUT!