Monday, February 06, 2006

The Search for the Holy MMORPG: Part Six

(Continued from The Search for the Holy MMORPG: Part Five)

What's left?
Ok, so we've tried a whole slew of online games, and not one has been able to satisfy our desire to explore and build our characters to ├╝ber levels. We miss the good ol' days of the original EverQuest, where we would not really know what we were doing and get into trouble by attacking something that simply "looked" small. Here's a tip: size really doesn't matter in MMO's!

Looking at what remains in the MMO landscape, there's really not much more we can do, except sign up for the betas of Dungeons & Dragons Online and Auto Assault. D&D Online looks promising, and we get to try it out tomorrow. Auto Assault is a different twist on MMO's in the vein of Mad Max. Basically you drive around a post-apocalyptic world improving your vehicle and killing things. Interesting, but probably not for long term.

So with all this in mind, we finally broke down and purchased World of Warcraft. Remember, I hesitated to do this because for one thing, it is extremely popular, meaning there may be tons of young kiddies who may ruin gameplay for me, and there was no demo to try. But with nothing else going on in the MMO landscape that looked good, we had no choice.

Now I know why WoW is so popular. One, it has very little competition. Two, it is designed by Blizzard, who knows what they're doing. And three, they did it right. At first we were shocked that there was no tutorial in the game. But after playing for 5 minutes we knew why. The user interface is so simple and approachable, it doesn't need to be taught. You'll just know how to use it if you've ever played any RPG or MMO in the past.

We played for a few hours last night and I think we may have found what we were looking for. Yes, the graphics are cartoony, but the art designer did a phenomenal job making low polygon models actually look good!

Basically, to keep things responsive and hardware requirements fairly low, Blizzard opted to use low polygon 3D models, since they are simpler and faster to render. So instead of trying to make low polygon models look realistic, which would look bad, they worked within the constraints and went for the cartoony look, which doesn't require high polygon models.

The results are amazing. The game is VERY responsive, the interface is brainless, the visuals look good, and so far, the quests have been typical, but fun.


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