I am not a big player of MMORPMMGOMMGS, the last one I spent any time on being Ultima Online when it first came out, plus a few hours on EverQuest, so I might be impressed by things that are old-hat...
In the interest of brevity and for all the executives and marketing people that read the Grumpy Gamer, I figured I'd just bullet point my feedback.
- I am awestruck by the scope of the world. It is huge and feels huge. The world is so visually tasty and really seems to be designed as a real world, not just a vehicle for quests. After several days of questing, I made it to the coast, the sun was setting and I just stared out into the sea, letting my mind wonder, just like I do at the real Ocean. Several other players were doing the same. That is a real achievement.
- I find it amusing that when you loot a corpse while grouped, a "roll a dice" interface comes up to see who gets the booty. It's an interesting holdover from the D&D days. Why dice? Why not paper-scissor-rock. That's why I would do. Of course, one of my dreams has been to make the worlds first Massively Multiplayer Paper Scissor Rocks game (MMPSRG). I actually wrote a whole design for it.
- I really enjoy (and am impressed by) the art style and art direction. I've always like the Warcraft world because it has a nice hint of cartoomieness (not a real word). They translated this into a pure 3D environment perfectly.
- Why aren't other players more friendly? It's not that people are rude, it's just that nobody is very chatty. I've tried to strike up conversations with several other people and am ignored or greeted with a simple "hi", follow by a dash down the road. Other than the people in my group, everyone else might as well be NPC's.
- I would like to see an option for "word balloons" above peoples heads when they speak. I don't pay much attention to the chat area in the lower left. This might help with the social aspect of chatting.
- The in-game maps stink. The close-up ones are OK, but when you zoom out, there is no context. You are really forced to hunt down better maps on the internet.
- I'd like to be able to mouse over buildings to see what they are. I hate wandering into town and having to hunt down the right building. I know you can mouse over the signs, but they often aren't visible.
- One of my favorite activities is what I call "drive-by-cowing". Once you get up in levels, you can take out a cow in a single swing. Start about 100 feet way and run towards the cow, as you pass, swing and take it out. Keep running and see how many cows you can take out. It's twice as fun with someone following you taking screen shots.
- Nobody seems to mind that I go around killing livestock, which I assume the locals use for meat, milk and possibly companionship on a lonely night. Maybe if I keep doing it, people will slowly start to starve and I'll feel bad. I'd like to see the guards come over and give me a little sword-smack for killing cows and sheep.
- Why can bears and boars resist my magic? Come on, they're animals, and not wicked-cool magic animals, just plain old animals. Makes no sense. Suspension of disbelief alert.
- It's pretty funny to see someone being chased by a "train" of monsters. We were exploring this old mine the other day, and while standing in a tunnel some guys runs by the entrance being chanced by 5 Tunnel Rats. Do I help out? No, I just "/point-n-laugh".
- All the vendors seem to sell the same stuff. It's like they all have the same distributor. I'd like to find more interesting items at different places. I started out looking for some better Maces, but soon gave up when I realized it's just a chain store.
- I'm currently at Level 15, and I've been in the weapon, armor and magic doldrums for quite a few levels now. Nothing really new and interesting. I'm starting to tire of my mace and the same 3 magic spells. I'm a product of the MTV generation, I need new spells every 15 minutes.
- Needs more Pirates!
- You should get extra XP for killing a new creatures for the first time. It was really disappointing to discover the Mechanical Golems, excitingly enter battle and discover that I got the same XP as I did for the Bear down the road. I realize that it's all numbers under the veneer of a texture-map, but it was new for me, and I wanted to be rewarded.
- Can you move a character to another server? I didn't see a way to do this, and I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to. It was very frustrating to run into someone (in the real world...stay with me) and find out they are playing, but we're on different server. I can see how they wouldn't want people jumping servers on a whim, but having it take a few days, or give a character a limited number of jumps would be nice.
- I am always annoyed by games that they to make inventory management a game-play mechanism. Why can I only carry 12 things? Why does a huge two hand rock-hammer take as much space as 10 drops of spider spuge? Seems like I should be able to carry as much spider spuge as I want.
- The city of Stormwind is simple amazing. It real feels like you're in the midsts of a real husseling and busseling city. I am constantly amazed and impressed with the layout and architecture of the world. We have come to call this place "Mall of America". All it needs is a Roller-coaster in the middle.
- The fact that the Tram and the Gryphon rides that place in the 3D world is great. They could have cheaped out and made them canned sequences, but they didn't. It's fun to see other people battling for XP below you, or see someone fly-by on a Gryphon as you track over the mountains.
- I would really like to see some sort of story. Oh sure, there is a story in the opening cut-scene about something or another, fact is I watched about 7 seconds of it before hitting ESC. I'm not sure why I'm running around killing everything that I see, getting XP, getting money and repeating the cycle. I'd like to think there was some greater goal we were all reaching for, and one that really mattered to my character and my day-to-day actions. I know some other MMG's has tried to do this sort of thing with limited success.
- I like the game play mechanism of dying and being taken to the closest cemetery, then trekking as a ghost to recover your body. It feels right in terms of risky actions verses the penalty. Last night we discovered a cave system under a building. As we walked though the deserted tunnels, my heart was beating and I was genuinely worried about running into a group of Bandits and dying. In a single player game, I would have just saved and all the tension would have been gone. We did end up dying, but 3 minutes later we we back in our bodies running like hell to get out. Perfect experience.
- I really dislike the class system found in most D&D inspired RPG's. It make little sense to me that just because I am a Paladin I can't use a gun. Seems like I should be able to use what ever I train for and get good at. There could be certain skills that counter each other, like getting good at magic could demising your sword-play. I want to pick up a gun and try to blast things. I'm not asking to be very good at it, but at least let me try it.
- There were a lot of people playing on Valentines Day...just saying.
- I am curious to know the story behind the simultaneous release of the Mac and Windows versions. The only reason I own this game is because there is a Mac version. What was the decision making process? Are there any lessons for other publishers to learn?
- And finally, why the hell can't they remember my username and password. Just a little checkbox that says "Remember Username and Password" would be great. I am the only person that uses my machine, and if it was compromised, the last thing I would be worrying about the 129 pieces of copper being held by my character.
I realize the preceding bullet points contain a lot of nitpicking criticism, but they are just that, nitpicking. Over all, this is one incredibly impressive game. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into the designing and construction of the worlds, towns and buildings. While I've sure there is to some degree, I can't detect any cookie cutter places.
The game is strangely (for me anyway) addictive. I play for a few hours every day. Afterwards, I feel like I wasted my evening or weekend, only to be anxious to get back to it the next day. It is quickly becoming the game I've played the most.
I do wonder why I play the game so much. For me, it is really a two player LAN game. The fact that 600,000 other people are also playing is irrelevant, or is it? I don't interact with anyone else, for all I care those other players are NPC's, but there is something enticing about being with other people, even if you ignore each other. Maybe that's why I enjoy going to the movies and sitting in the dark with a bunch of strangers.
Good news is, no ones cell phone as rung during combat. "Hello?" "Hey! Guess what I'm doing? Yeah, Killing a Trogg, it's awesome dude."
Now for the obligatory screen shots: