Archive for June, 2007

WoW Design Improvements: Conclusion

This article is part 7 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements
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If you’ve followed my series on the design mistakes of World of Warcraft, you’ll likely have noticed that I haven’t spoken a single word of criticism about the game’s mechanics. Truth be told, there are things that could be tweaked here and there, but I get the impression that not only do things work very smoothly in that department, they also are pretty much what Blizzard set out to do.

I’ve criticized the game from a completely different angle, which you might have noticed by the word I repeated over and over again: community.

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WoW Design Improvements: Addons

This article is part 6 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements
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There is one outstanding feature in the WoW client, which can get me pretty excited, and that’s the ability to modify the client user interface with Addons.

Addons can not only modify the user interface elements already on the screen, but also add completely new functionality. Need help remembering which herbs you picked on what part of the game world? It’s there. Fancy a game of Texas Hold’em while your raid leader blathers away about the tactics to take down the next boss? Why don’t you play one?

Still, not all is good with the Addons to WoW. Here’s my take on what could be improved.

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Delicious Music

Today I did something that I had wanted to do for just about as long as this site has been online. Note that I’m not referring to this blog, which has been online for only a few weeks. I’m talking about, oh, it’ll have been 1999 or 2000 that I wanted this thing done. I wanted to get a list of my CD collection online.

The major reason for doing this hasn’t changed over the years: I wanted to give friends a way to look up whichever artist/album they were curious about. I like introducing people to new music, just as I like listening to music I’ve never heard before.

You’ll note that a new menu item Music has appeared in the menu bar at the top. Go ahead and browse!

I created the library with a wonderful program called, Delicious Library, by a company called, Delicious Monster. It’s best feature is that it’ll use your webcam to scan in barcodes on the media you want to file, and look up details on Amazon. It stores it’s data in an easy-to-parse XML file, so today I hacked a small script which generates HTML from that data.

I suspect that I’ll add a few features over time. What’s more important, though, is to fix the data in the library. Because quite frankly, a lot of the album release dates are borked.

WoW Design Improvements: Guilds

This article is part 4 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

Organizing players of a game-themed virtual world into guilds or clans is just about as old as virtual worlds themselves. Since virtual worlds are places to meet people in, as opposed to games you play on your own, it seems natural to encourage the formation of communities.

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Creating content difficult enough to be tackled by one player alone is just about the perfect way of doing just that. When people want to organize into long-lasting communities, giving them the tools to do so is not only sensible, it’s required if you want your world to survive long.

Guilds are the time-honoured approach to this, and, ignoring some kinks here and there, they work well enough. On the other hand, they’re not necessarily ideal either.

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Experts Anno 1974

I’ve been recommended the book Computer Lib, by Theodor H. Nelson1 a while ago. Well, it wasn’t exactly recommended, but I interpreted it as a recommendation. So I went and got it, a first edition, 6th reprint from 19782.

I’d barely managed to read the introduction, when I came across a quote that struck a chord, because I had written about something along the same lines a few weeks ago.

Knowledge is power and so it tends to be hoarded. Experts in any field rarely want people to understand what they do, and generally enjoy putting them down.

Thus if we say that the use of computers is dominated by a priesthood, people who spatter you with unintelligable (sic) answers and seem unwilling to give you straight ones, it is not that they are different in this respect from any other profession. Doctors, lawyers and construction engineers are the same way.

Here I go and try to explain this “expert” behaviour in reasonable terms, and other people, long before me, blame it on pure bloodymindedness. Just goes to show how much I believe in the good in people.

  1. Nelson incidentally co-developed Xanadu, a Hypertext system that predates the WWW. But it was Tim who got a knighthood. []
  2. It was first printed in 1974. []