WoW Design Improvements: Introduction

This article is part 1 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

Since I ranted about Blizzard’s not considering the needs of their customers earlier today, I feel I have to explain a few more reasons why I think that’s the case. I mentioned one reason, Blizzard’s pandering to the needs of a handful of extremely dedicated players over the mass of their customer base.

I have other reasons, which I consider to be design mistakes on Blizzard’s part. To explain them, I need to explain a number of features of World of Warcraft.

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WoW Design Improvements: Chatting

This article is part 2 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

Well, I took my time. Things are busy right now. As I’m waiting for the compiler to do it’s dirty deeds, I can spare some time on discussing the first feature in my series on WoW design improvements: chatting with other users.

Chatting in WoW stands in the tradition of all MUDs that came before it, and is reminiscent of IRC. What you type ends up as a message in a channel, and which channel that is depends on the type of channel and which channel you last spoke into.

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WoW Design Improvements: In-Game Mail

This article is part 3 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

In a lot of ways, my gripes about WoW’s in-game mail system are similar to that about the in-game chat system: it’s needlessly restrictive. Because I’ve given a fair amount of reasoning in my previous post, this one is going to be a bit shorter1.

Generally speaking, my criticism of the built-in mail system is that it’s so much like email that I don’t understand why it’s not email.

When considering the similarities between the built-in chat system and IRC, I can explain the differences between the two with the fact that nowadays not everyone is familiar with IRC and how it’s done. That argument falls apart when you consider that WoW’s chat system still comes with operator privileges and some of the special channel-related commands that IRC uses2.

But this is email. Just about everyone knows how to use email.

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  1. But not much. []
  2. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, that just goes to show that you likely don’t use IRC much, and might well be overwhelmed with these aspects of the WoW chat system. []

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.


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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WoW Design Improvements: Friends & Foes

This article is part 5 of 8 in the series WoW Design Improvements

I mentioned in a previous post in this series that the World of Warcraft client lets you put other players on a friends list, or on an ignore list.

The only feature of the ignore list is that characters on this list cannot send you messages via the game’s chat system. Even things spoken in a common channel won’t appear on your screen.

The friends list has two features:

  1. You get notified via a special message and a sound when characters on your friends list come online or go offline.
  2. Looking at the list, you can quickly determine which of your friends are currently online, as they are displayed in a different colour from the rest.

Today I’d like to discuss the shortcomings of these lists.

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