Realism != Immersability

It’s been around 3 months that I’m away from World of Warcraft. Not because I’m trying to give up my addiction or because I’m pissed with something Blizzard changed; the problem is that I don’t have a proper place to sit down and play for hours like I used to. Also, internet is not that good here, and latency is a problem with WoW. Due these problems, I kept thinking about going back to Guild Wars, the first MMO I played.

Guild Wars have a different movement model, which makes it easier to play without a mouse (and, thus, without a proper place to sit.) Also, some places (the outdoors, outside “outposts”) have their own instance, so you don’t need to worry about someone coming and messing with your game and, better yet, since you can enter those areas alone, you don’t need to worry about latency that much, since you’re running most of the area all by yourself (thus, solving the latency problem.)

There was another thing drawing me back to Guild Wars, though: The gorgeous scenery. I’m not kidding: There is one place in the first game (they had 3 expansions already, I own 2 of those plus the original game), which I could sit and just keep looking at the screen for hours. I may have taken a screenshot a long time ago and used as wallpaper, so gorgeous it looked.

This weekend, after fighting for ages trying to run on every way I could think of (VirtualBox, wine, free version of Crossover), I finally managed to make it run thanks to the paid version of Codeweaves Crossover (still on trial, but I may buy it.) And I spent a good part of my weekend playing the starting areas again, just to remember how to play (not to mention that I may have messed up my skills/talent points on my previous characters so better start clean.) And, after that long, one question that I asked myself while playing WoW never pop up:

Am I that character or a person playing that character?

I know it sounds weird, but I asked that myself several times: When I’m playing… Am I the character? Or Not?

Truth is, I never really found a good answer for that. Yes, I get immersed in the game and its story but I can’t quite make it if I’m that character running around killing things and getting gold for that.

Thing is, even if Guild Wars looks better and have a more natural look on everything (i.e., the characters have a more human look, the animals based on real ones really look like the real ones), it doesn’t give that impression of immersability that WoW have, even if the later have a much more cartoonish look.

In a thought, Guild Wars should provide a bigger immersability than WoW: It looks more natural, the events look more like real life, the locations are more real life but, in the very end, it doesn’t feel like the game “traps” you into itself. WoW, in all it’s cartoonish way with dwarfs, elfs and blue goats from outer space still is capable to dragging you out of this plane to somewhere else.

Experiment continues…

Lore vs (statistical) Data

As most of you already know, I’m playing World of Warcraft for a while. “For a while” means “time enough to create about 6 characters.”

Anyway, this morning, playing with my Blood Elf, I got myself asking “what the hell is this ‘dead scar’ in the middle of the map?” And the answer was easy to find on WowWiki. And, to my surprise, they have a pretty good explanation for that.

Which also made me think about the whole WoW lore. I mean, it is not the first time I got impressed by the richness of the lore. When I was playing with a Draenei and doing all the chained quests one right after the another, I got a pretty good idea of the events from the arrival of the Draenei to Azeroth, to the beginnings of the alliance between humans, elfs and dwarfs and the draenei. And the way the quests were designed makes this easy to get, as long as you follow them in order.

Before WoW, I used to play GuildWars. The way GuildWars works is quite the same way WoW works, except that the quests are designed to be done in just one place, then you have to complete a special quest, a “mission” in GuildWars-lingo, then you move to the next area, do more quests, open the mission and so on. It forces you to follow the lore, to learn what did happen in there.

In a way, like Gerald once told me, things get a complete different perspective when you realize that everything your character is is just a few numbers in a database. That’s the way I feel about most people who play WoW: they are just fighting the numbers in the database, not following a story where you play a character on it. They are munchkins, not RPGers.

PS: Isn’t it cool that the two androids in the Star Trek universe make a nice subject?