I’ve not played World of Warcraft for some time, I think it is because for many of the characters that I play on it I’ve gone pretty much as far as I can (i.e. I haven’t really got the time to raid, and with that in mind there is little point in me going into dungeons).
I logged on with my main character a Paladin (think of a knight in shining armour that can magically heal people of their wounds) and discovered that there was a new quest or me – something involving Trolls.
So I wandered off to complete this little storyline of quests. Trudging around the jungle of Stranglethorn vale killing things, as is my wont, until I hit my head against the thing that annoys me about MMORPGs.
I had teamed up with one of the characters controlled by the computer (an NPC, non-player character), and we’d tracked down a huge panther – the panther had then grabbed my companion, a dwarf by the name of Direhammer, and run off into the undergrowth.
This wasn’t a problem, Direhammer had some flares and so I was able to follow the panther back to it’s lair where I did what I do best and shoved three feet of metal through it’s innards.
Entering further into the creature’s lair I found Direhammer spread out on the floor apparently breathing his last.
He knew he was dying and so asked me to fetch his boots, as ‘no dwarf should be buried without his boots’.
No worries fella I thought. I can do that healing magic, heaven knows I’ve healed enough players in the past, sometimes I’ve even brought them back to life – I’m sure I can heal you little dwarfy chap.
So I healed him, watched his health bar go from 5% to 100%. Surely a happy occasion – I’d cured him of all those nasty puncture wounds caused by the panther I’d killed outside the cave.
I handed him his boots and he dropped dead.
It’s that bit which annoys me. There are plenty of people who can heal, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that tried healing the little fellow, but no – the story that is programmed into the system states that the dwarf must die, and while I’ve been bringing players back from the dead since I was a little low levelled Paladin in training, for some reason this chappy was just ‘fated’ to die.
The inability to affect the world, and the trouble in which people can have their own adventures is the main problem I have with MMORPGs, that the world is unchanging (until the game developers change it for you), and the way that NPCs have their set scripts and cannot deviate from them breaks that illusion of a large and vibrant world.
It also annoys me that the developers couldn’t have forseen this and written into the story the ability to heal the dwarf. Even if he just gave a little wave of thanks and then disappeared into the jungle for his next big hunt, it would make the world seem that little bit more alive.
I suppose that if I truly wanted a dynamic world I’d play EVE online, where the people who drive the story, and who are often your biggest enemies, are other players, but to be honest it’s just that bit too complicated of a game for me.
I’d like to think that, given the way graphics have jumped on in leaps and bounds, that one day the developers will turn their attention more to the NPCs and their behaviour. However i suspect that this is a lot more complicated than doubling the number of polygons that each monster is made up of.