Posted Mon, Aug 24, 2009 by Ethec
Loading... is the premier daily MMORPG news, coverage, and commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.
For all my ranting about the rampant commercialization at BlizzCon this year, the announcement and details regarding Cataclysm, plans for Battle.net and Diablo 3, and how Blizzard artfully dodged most of the critical discussion surrounding StarCraft 2 combined for a stroke of absolute genius. If you're not still processing what happened this weekend (and it's not because of hangover, event plague, and jet lag of epic proportions), or simply don't care because WoW's not your thing, then there's a few things you should know. Catch up in Loading... Blizzard's Master Stroke!
You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is The Pulse?).
Here's today's top 5 Pulse results:
Biggest Movers today :
|Recent MMO Releases|
Post-BlizzCon second pot of coffee greetings to you. Even a day later we're still processing all that happened in Anaheim and I'm sure you are too. If you aren't, you might have missed some of the key points and the absolutely dramatic effect they'll have on Blizzard's games, for good or ill. Our coverage continues to roll out, so let's look at some of the bold print bullet points from this year's BlizzCon, which was anything but a snoozer like last year's BlizzCon.
First of all, it's a shame that the Cataclysm's leak blunted the groundshaking effect of the announcement somewhat. If you're takeaway was that there will be two new races - one interesting in a Wolverine kind of way, one not-so-much (except for the extremely cool goblin means of travel, rocket-belts for flight and combat and the badass race car mount) - 7 new zones for levels 78-85, and guild advancement (hurray for catching up to EverQuest 2 six years later on this feature), you missed something. Every single existing zone is changing - some in large ways (The Barrens and Desolace were cited as examples of zones that will completely change, graphics and all, with more dynamtic graphical phasing too, depending on the state of gameplay), some in small ways (all zones will be flight-enabled, for example) - and the changes aren't simply cosmetic. The leveling flow is changing profoundly too, and new race / class combos might make re-rolling that much more interesting burned out on the elder game ratrace. To put it succinctly, Blizzard is making WoW 2.0 - it's called Cataclysm.
This might not seem like a big thing to powergamers who will rush the endgame content and the rest of the game be damned, but Blizzard's smart enough to know that you can't grow the game by catering solely to the endgame crowd. That's how you maintain an MMO, that's how you make it cool and make the intervening levels meaningful, but the trickle of word-of-mouth prospectives willing to brave the same old and somewhat desolate leveling treadmill to get to the goodies is nothing compared to the massive influx WoW will get with a complete revamp. To those of us on the outside who maybe played WoW and couldn't get into it, WoW won't just continue to be someone else's game, there's a real chance to get in on something like the ground level again. And, knowing Blizzard, they'll be targetting players of other MMOs moreso this time around, since their die-hards may or may not re-roll. I'm guessing they probably will, no matter what they're saying now.
It's not all roses and exclamation points, though. If poorly done, Cataclysm could be true to its name. Look no further than NGE or Trials of Atlantic for examples of dramatic rewrites that, to many players, broke more than they fixed. If there's one developer that has a decent chance of pulling it off, though, it's Blizzard. For more on Cataclysm check out the Opening Ceremonies coverage, the preview panel video, and an in-depth article coming out in the next day or so (it takes a little time to wrap up everything we heard into one nice, neat package).
A distant second in terms of explosiveness, but fairly cool nonetheless, is Battle.net. As Medawky noted over the weekend, while signing in to play a single-player game isn't the most exciting thing in the world, it beats DRM. I'd note that the friend notifications Steam's implementation gives the evil editor Ethec evidence for who's playing Steam games when deadlines are being missed. Battle.net looks to be a much more complete integration of games and client than the Steam model as well, with cross-game chat and replays in addition to staples like achievements and matchmaking.
As Stow pointed out in his article, the ability to create a private game with your friends and fill it out with public gamers is very cool as well. I'm not as pleased about the mod marketplace - many of the Q&A sessions had at least one person that asked why a StarCraft 2 mod marketplace when commercializing World of Warcraft add-ons is so strongly discouraged. The complaint is fairly legitimate - I'd like to see add-on authors be compensated for their good work, and there's little doubt that WoW would not be as popular or accessible today without at least a dozen worthy mods - and it was fairly enjoyable to see Mike Morhaime et al squirm a bit before playing the copyright infringement and creative property card. I'd like to see a decent centralized Blizzard-run add-on marketplace for WoW, but if Blizzard had announced WoW was going down that same path we'd see some politics in action as the Curse and WoWInterface lobbies (among others) start screaming.
Is Cataclysm the best of all possible Worlds of Warcraft in the future? What's not to like? Load up on information at the Ten Ton Hammer BlizzCon 2009 coverage portal then share your thoughts in the Loading... forum while I take a nap.
7 new MMOG home-grown articles today, many from BlizzCon! 67 in August! 927 in 2009!
New Coverage and Guides At Ten Ton Hammer Today
Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!
-Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team