In response to "Azeroth Is Burning" from The Escapist forums: I'm going to be the voice of dissent as often as that usually happens. I understand the perspective of game journalism nowadays and how it's tied to the industry, but at the same time I'm a bit surprised we aren't seeing more "Gerstmann"-type rebellion as people break from the pack.
I say this because we've been here before. A lot of people probably don't remember what happened with a PnP RPG setting called "The Forgotten Realms" where the company (then TSR) decided to do something much like this called "The Avatar Crisis" and pretty much level and reform vast tracts of the world. Borders were altered, key NPCs and locations died or changed, even gods were wiped out (oh boy were they). It was all very cool at the time, and a big deal, but it pretty much opened the door for the same thing to be done pretty much every few years, and for it to become more trite and banal each time.
Now, you can say "I trust Blizzard," but I will point out that people trusted TSR and guys like Ed Greenwood back then too. I think established world settings exist for the sake of familiarity and stability, you start messing with that and there is no way to undo it. If WoW keeps going on as long as the original Everquest did (and is still going), despite the company releasing other MMOs, will you still think it's as awesome the third time around? Do you think that your not going to say "well this is wild, and all but I really preferred the original" after a while? Unlike with AD&D you can't just blow the dust off your old books and run a campaign with what you felt was a superior product.
I guess part of the big problem is that Blizzard is very corporate now; I don't think it's the same company it was when WoW launched attitude-wise. I think the release of the very Kotick-like StarCraft 2 with its limited content and $10 higher price tag sort of shows this.
Oh sure, I'm the old fogey (35! you young whipper snappers) but I can't help but feel that I've seen all this before and know how it will turn out. Of course I'll probably buy it anyway ... which is again what they are counting on.
BTW, another good example would be DC and it's "Crisis" gimmick which was cool the first time but we're up to what three or four of these now, every time they want a burst in comics sales or to make changes? It kind of got old, predictable, and kind of silly. Making me wish the door was never opened to begin with.
At first I was starting to worry that this was going to be another story about "Blizz destroying the cool, old zones." But right there at the end you hit the nail on the head.
My personal example: Final Fantasy X. I freaking LOVED that game. I laughed (sincerely) during that stupid laughing scene, I gasped in shock when I learned that Sin was Tidus's father, I even cried in that moment when Yuna fell through his disappearing body. I probably played through it three times in a row just to catch all of the nuances.
Now ... playing through it is hard. The emotion of the story is still there, but being jaded by newer games, the gameplay is kinda slow and repetitive. Its hard to even finish it.
Nostalgia is a dangerous thing because we develop these fond memories, not because the thing itself was all that stellar, but because we haven't had access to all of the things that really are stellar.
I loved leveling back in vanilla WoW, I loved hunting down all the quests for a dungeon and going to do them. Now, in helping my wife track down those same quest, I want to throw my keyboard through the window at having to trudge across the world to find one quest.
Nostalgia is fine, as long as it remains a memory. Better to retain those fond memories of Durotar and come back to find a whole new Durotar awaiting your exploration, then to come back to the same old Durotar and find that it hasn't aged well. Which will really destroy your fond memories more?
In response to "This Is the Way the World Ends" from The Escapist forums: "(Contrast that with Illidan Stormrage in The Burning Crusade, who, in Street's opinion, wasn't introduced strongly enough for players to associate him with the larger arc of the story.)"
I just have to say this is true. Your enemy is the burning legion in BC and then suddenly you're hunting the elves that want to kill them. So they bind demon magic to use against them ... enemy of my enemy is a better idea isn't it? The whole Blood Elf Sunwell story was much higher impact and woven in to greater effect.
If they meant to redesign out the longer quest areas they should have done that instead of making mounts easier. It's so easy to get mounts that long distances are trivial at best. That said I'm all for more RP-style quests. I read every bit of dialog with NPCs ... even when I ask where the trainers are.
Its funny how long it takes Blizzard to add in ideas. Lost Dungeons of Norath had LFG tool groups and CoH has scaling levels for forever. They're a great part of the fun in each game. Including them in Bliz's work should be a natural evolution.
I'm not fond of PvP ... or events that force it. The game is tending more towards that so even on the non PvP servers it has that feel. I wish they would take the chance to strengthen some of the neutral groups like the CC and give some sort of alternative to panting with blood-lust.
So all this talk about the Horde experiencing yet another loyalty shake-up in the ranks has brought an old question back to mind - what about the Alliance? I admit that I have hardly played much A-side, but one of the reasons for that was because so much about the Alliance feels bland and dull. Their five races all but hold hands and have picnics in the park in Stormwind every week, while the Horde is full of people second-guessing and eyeing each other suspiciously. It would go a long way towards making the Alliance more interesting if the events of Cataclysm actually knocked over the comfortable couch that the "good guys" all hang out on together.
Take it from a long-time Hordie whose Forsaken Warrior got every Horde city BUT the Undercity to Exalted just to spit in the eye of Sylvanas. Internal strife can be a seriously awesome thing.