Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Yet Another Soapbox

For the last week or so I have had to force myself not to write about a Gamasutra soapbox article about World of Warcraft. It is just another piece of mindless drivel written by somebody in the industry with one whole game credit (at least that I could find in my whole 30 seconds of looking) who seems to have just wanted the attention for his blog or something. He just comes across as completely clueless idiot with thing likes slamming the terms of service because he thinks they can just code around all anti-social and exploitive behavior players can come up with. He really should get back to his day job of herding cats.

Anyway, I’m breaking my silence because Gamasutra has posted a soapbox response article which prints some response letters from game professionals and other respondents. Personally I don’t think any of them give him the smacking around he really deserves, but what do I know?

The thing that gets me about these types of spouting off isn’t that this game may not just be his cup of tea, but rather the tendency for people to point at the latest, greatest, best-selling, immensely popular game and say how they have got it all wrong. These are the same yahoos who are responsible for all the other massively-now canceled-loads of crap that flopped under the weight of all their poorly thought out, over intellectualized, stupidity.

And if you think I’m reacting as a fan boy remember that I worked at the late Westwood Studios and was part of the team that invented the Real-Time Strategy genre with the creation of the game Dune 2.

Play Westwood's Dune 2 and then play Blizzard's Warcraft, notice anything similar? Easier question would be, “notice anything different?” (Correct answer is: “the trees” and that’s about all)

Next play Blizzard’s Warcraft 2’s pre-release press demo, then Westwood’s Command & Conquer, and then the actual released version of Warcarft 2. Did you see that brilliant interface change? The one that wasn’t in Warcraft 2’s press demo, but was in Command & Conquer which shipped about a week or two later and then somehow wound up in Warcraft 2 when it hit the shelves?

Quickly for those of you who didn’t just rush out and play all those games; Dune 2 and the first Warcraft had you selected a unit, then pressed a button like “move” or “attack” and then clicked where you wanted him to go or what unit you wanted it to attack. While working on the mouse cursor art for Command & Conquer it occurred to me that the game should be smart enough to know that after selecting on a unit if you clicked on regular terrain you probably wanted that unit to go there as opposed to clicking on an enemy unit which you probably wanted to attack. Blizzard saw that inovation and reworked it into Warcraft 2!

Whew! I have wanted to rant about that for a long time. I feel so much better, so light... so free...

But seriously, I hold no hard feelings. It was a brilliant "well duh" idea and they would have been stupid for not using it. Blizzard is very good at taking an existing game type or what have you and polishing it up very very very well. In my opinion sometimes improvement can be just as good as innovation when it comes to progress. It keeps things moving forward which is always a good thing… the bastards.

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