Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bartle and WoW

So there's been some buzz going around lately about Richard Bartle's latest interview. Most of it coming from enraged Warhammer fans who take umbrage at his comment that he wont play WAR because he already played it and it was called WoW. I think that statement is fair enough, and in fact, I hope that WAR is similar to WoW in many ways, because WoW does do a lot of things right. Anyway, there has already been a lot of talk about that on other blogs and Bartle has even responded on some of them.

But, I'm going to skip commenting further on that bit and instead focus on the rest of the interview, because I found a lot of his comments about WoW exceedingly odd.

My first impression on reading the transcript is that Bartle seems to have some trouble voicing his thoughts. Some of his responses are pretty jumbled and they all kind of ramble. My second impression is that the title is very misleading as he really says very little about how he would change WoW. He has one comment asking why the WoW auction interface doesn't accept buy orders, and another about the limitations of the LFG tool. Both good points, but the rest is a semi-coherent ramble.

As far as I know, Bartle hasn't done any active MMO development in years, and from some of his responses, that's probably a good thing. He says that he has played WoW to the point of having three level 70s (which is about all I can understand from his disjointed mutterings about his character progression). But, it also seems that he wanted to play WoW as a solo game almost entirely (and I also don't understand the part where he bitches about being 'required' to farm Stranglethorn Vale if he chose leatherworking? You know, there are plenty of skinnable creatures in other zones and also a little something called the auction house).

He has a very odd comment about having trouble getting a group together to get his last 0.5 Tier armor piece for one of his level 70 characters!! I don't know why he's so focused and upset about trying to get a level 60 blue armor piece for a level 70 character, but I doubt anyone will argue that the LFG interface in WoW is subpar. I've managed to get into a couple of instance groups using it, but, for the most part, the only reason the LFG tool ever sees any use in-game is so that players can get access to the LFG channel and manually assemble groups themselves.

Then he goes off on a rant about Karazhan and mentions several times about how its impossible to go into with PUG. Maybe Bartle should have tried harder, because I see Karazhan PUGs forming all the time. The process for acquiring a key to Karazhan is pretty painful, and the fact that they used to require EVERYONE to have the key was just plain dumb, but I'm really not sure why he calls it a "guild breaker". Karazhan was the first epic-level raid zone that Blizzard created that could be easily explored by even the most casual of guilds.

It seems as if he really had little idea what he was doing in WoW (or he's just really, really, really bad at explaining himself). Now granted, I have had my own share of complaints about WoW, but I have also played for 3 years and delved into every aspect of the game; crafting, soloing, raiding, PvP of all sorts, and even roleplaying, so I feel I have a pretty solid base from which to throw out my complaints, suggestions and applause as warranted. But from reading this interview, I have to wonder if Bartle should have had his daughter show him how to play the game.

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