Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Theory in Action; the WoW Experiment

I've been thinking about returning to my World of Warcraft days. I long to play again, and while I often dread the idea of levelling even more characters, and hate the fact that Blizzard is pushing another expansion instead of expanding in-game content for "free," I find that this provides me with an opportunity. In examining the theory of video games, I find some problems and quirks that are difficult to explain or even grasp myself. So, I've decided to conduct an experiment.

When I was a new player to WoW, I was not a new player to MMORPGs. I had the basic concept, but things eluded me, and some things I didn't learn about until an embarassing amount of time later. It never occured to me that this might be a flaw with the design of the game itself, and not a problem with my understanding it. I want to return to that newbieness and see if it was indeed my problem, or if the game lacked important knowledge that a newbie needs.

So, here is the experiment. I will document myself playing two new characters. For one, I will follow all newbie quest lines and help information. I will only explore new zones if directed there by a quest, and if I don't happen upon quest givers or am not led close enough to them to see them on my minimap, I will not visit them. In all ways I will pretend I know nothing about the game when I start. For the other one, I will use my knowledge and experience to level up quickly and efficiently.

Benchmarks I will use to evaluate this experiment:
1. Money earned in-game (will vary based on class skills cost)
2. Time to level
3. Zones explored (i.e. content explored)
4. Gear (appropriateness and overall power)
5. Anything else that arises that seems relevant

In the next posts I will detail my character selection and reasoning. Most of my logic and reasons will become apparent through the experiment. I will try to keep from boring you with the trivialities of leveling and only bring up important points, but I want to document this experiment. I am by no means a fast and efficient leveler, but I have leveled so many characters certain things become second nature to me. It will be hard to keep this experiment pure, but I feel I am up to the task.

Let me know if there is anything else you think I should consider in this experiment by leaving me a comment on this post.

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