Going Fishing (WoW)


This is the first of a series of entries on WoW.

"I will make the assertion that the most twitch aspect of the game is fishing. It requires a good sense of timing and dexterity, and it'll likely be the area of the game least impacted by grief players and network lag. It also provides food and money, which is always good."

Wednesday is always bagel day at work. As we filled up on coffee, bagels and shmear my co-workers and I started swapping insights and stories about Blizzard's upcoming Skinner box: World of Warcraft (WoW). A good chunk of my co-workers are ex-Blizzard, so we've seen the game at various stages of development. This leads to some interesting stories.

According to the Bartle Test, when playing these types of games, I am 80% Achiever, 53% Explorer, 46% Socializer, 20% Killier. I am what is known as a "Power Gamer" - a player who uses the knowledge of the game's dynamics in order to meet their goals quickly and efficiently. In WoW, I have come to realize that I play it no differently than how I played EQ or DAoC or any other MMOG.

For more ramblings about WoW, read on.

I've been playing WoW lately. It's one of the few games that will run on my ancient Powerbook G4 800mhz. It's also being simultaneously released with the PC version, which means that I have a game that I can play on PC or Mac.

World of Warcraft is a MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). Unlike normal games, the game world doesn't stop when you quit the game. It keeps going. It is a neverending game. The only time the game world ceases is when game servers are taken down for maintenance.

Historically, MMOGs are such a niche market of gaming that so far, game publishers have been consistently bad about predicting the numbers of people who will purchase and play their game. Sometimes the numbers exceed and overwhelm their servers, and other times, there are vastly empty servers with hardly anyone playing. I would put money down in Vegas that WoW will have overpopulated servers, and that within 8 hours of the game officially going "Live" they will have crashed and taken down for maintenance at least once.

Now, WoW is a internet only game, and as such, it should be easy to predict the approximate number of servers to have in order to achieve a positive gameplay experience and yet no company has been able to pull it off successfully yet. When we were making server guesses for Diablo II, we looked at our numbers of the people playing Starcraft and Diablo on Battle.net and made calculations based on that. We underestimated, and were forced to dispatch out additional units. In the meantime, game players and critics were logging onto Battle.net and having a horrible lag-infested time on the servers. I suspect that the same will occur with WoW, with an added bonus: Instead of players all being in seperate worlds having a laggy experience, there will now be a few hundred players in the same area hunting the same 3 dozen monsters, graphically bogging down all the other players in the area.

My solution? Kill a few monsters, buy a fishing pole and go fishing. While the other players are averaging one monster kill every 10 minutes, I'll be sitting on the dock, casting my line, and pulling up fish or treasure chests, which I can eat for health or sell for money. Then, after the bell has passed, I'll return to the newbie areas and quickly catch up to the bell (and hopefully surpassing it). Or I could just jump into the fray and chaos that each newbie zone will be. (I shudder at the thought of thousands of game players effectively wiping out Northshire and Elwynn Forest of monsters. Remember that scene in the Two Towers where Gandalf appears with the Riders of Rohan and a huge fracas ensues against the Orcs? That's exactly what the newbie areas will look like with scattered corpses of monsters and players littered across the battlefield.

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