Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Engineer in Warcraft

So I am still riding high on the gifted World of Warcraft timecards from Christmas. The wife and I have graciously agreed to share a single account. She plays pretty rarely anyway and I play in the evenings after dinner.

Last week she told me about an article that basically stated no other developer will ever be able to beat this game. This is not too hard to imagine. At well over 10 million subs and each paying $15 USD per month to play... count up those zeros... $150,000,000 per month or 1.8 billion dollars per year. Blizzard may be putting a measurable dent in our trade deficit. That buys a lot of developers. Blizzard now has a department of full time staff devoted to making flowers prettier. If you consider $$ = quality a valid equation, then no one in the market today can match the investment that Blizzard can.

That said, I don't find Warcraft to be "all that" or even "the best game made." It certainly is a "good" game. I find it frustrating on more and more occasions as I tire of the basic mechanics and never changing themes, but it delivers more of what I want out of a game than other titles. Combined with the fact that even my mother can buy me a game card as an impulse gift and I may well be playing this game until I retire (or longer). I am still hopeful that something else will come along with new themes and all the same qualities of game satisfaction, but I don't see anything on the 2 year horizon.

We bounce back and forth from the Muradin (PvE) and Nazjatar (PvP) servers--but always Horde side. In my New Zealand timezone I am often playing solo so PvP is less satisfying at times, but I have a ton of friend on the Naz server and the game serves as both game entertainment and cherished time with old pals. Pretty much can not beat that.

I have to give Kudos to Blizzard for adding in a multitude of fun widgets to the game over the years. While I think most "hard core" players are all in the game for the power gaming (40 man raids to quest for the most epic gear), I find more enjoyment from the simple goofiness of the Engineering profession. You see, my Warlock, Melongrim, has been an Engineer her whole career. Warcraft uses a sort of "steam punk" version of technology where characters can create mechanical pets and even flying gyro-copters and other fanciful items. The Wrath of the Lich King expansion introduced "tinkering" items that allow you to add bizarre features to your existing armor/items like Hand Pyro-Rockets. This tinker allows you to turn an ordinary pair of gloves in to a damage dealing ranged weapon (fires once a minute). Or you can turn your cloak in to a parachute (so you can jump off cliffs without dying). One of my new favourites is to make "Explosive Decoys". These look like harmless critters that hop innocently around the vast WoW landscape like rabbits, squirrels, rats, etc. They are often killed casually by pedestrial players as a means to level up weapon skills or just out of boredom. But my explosive decoys are hardly innocent. They blast a 5 yard radius for 1700 points of damage--easily killing everything under 30th level. I giggle just imagining the potential.

With Engineering you can also fashion directly useful bombs and grenades. These are usually made 1 or 2 at a time and increase in effectiveness as you level up. But curiously I just trained for the ability to make a "Box of Bombs" that makes something like 30 grenades at a time. I have no idea why this sudden increase was added. These bombs are also listed as doing "light siege damage" and I have no idea what that means either.

The point here is these little gems keep the players interested. With $150 million per month to goof around, I think there may not be a better engineering playground for many years to come.

Game On!

PS: Go ahead... kill the bunny. *snicker* Pay no attention to the snickering warlock behind the tree.

No comments: