Do you think SW:TOR is going to be successful? I'm hopeful, based on BioWare's past RPG successes; however, for some reason, I get the feeling their MMO is going to end up being more like a multiplayer KOTOR than anything...
Another question: do you think Blizzard is hurt any by not having programmed a traditional RPG?
For its RTS games and for Diablo, having RPG-like elements adds something to the gameplay, mostly in terms of customizing your hero unit's capabilities; however, for what is ostensibly a massive online RPG, in WoW I sometimes feel as though it's harder to get invested in any of the characters I've made for any reason other than the amount of time I've sunk into a particular character.
I'm not convinced the carrot/stick approach with loot-or-cool-ability/level grind is the best way to go about motivating people to become involved in their character; outside of the level treadmill, there is little outside of flavor text to differentiate one class or race from another. Rep gains don't really have any lasting effect on the character (other than new loot in some cases, and reduced price for others); the current trend in WoW seems to be to remove the culturally specific traits and abilities.
I also get the sense with some of their character ability decisions that some of the class skills that we've waited many years and many patches for (to either implement or fix) could have been solved either easier or quicker -- or both -- if someone or some people on staff had actually designed a pen-and-paper RPG or CRPG or two. (Then again, it could be argued that the carrot/stick of loot-or-cool ability/level grind is a feature of some RPGs as well...)
However, I don't have the breadth of MMORPG experience to know if that's something that's specific to Blizzard or something that occurs in most MMORPGs; I would be curious to hear your take on the matter.
I'm still very fond of the older style of EverQuest classes (warrior, rogue, cleric, ranger, druid, shaman, magician, wizard, necromancer, shadow knight, paladin). The group dynamics in battles (even with random combinations) are amazing, and I haven't really found this kind of focus in other games so far.
Perhaps this was passed down to EQ from classic DikuMUD (I never played any Dikus) and the genius is there, but I don't care: I just like the way these classes are designed.
I keep making new characters in Shards of Dalaya every day and trying different combinations.
Actually, I'd be interested in hearing your general thoughts about storytelling in MMOs. I'm skeptical that traditional single-player methods will work, because in an MMO it's impossible for every player to be the lone hero who single-handedly saves the galaxy from evil. Either you end up with gigantic immersion breakers like bosses respawning after you kill them, or else you isolate people into separate versions of the world, which hurts the social aspect of the game. I've always thought that the best approach for an MMO is to create a really compelling backstory and then let players create their own stories within that context.
So what do you think: Do traditional storytelling methods work well in MMOs?
I think it will sell over a million boxes just like AoC and War but I think success is now better defined at the one year out subscriber numbers. What I worry about is the game being to short, and as Tolthir pointed out, not really feeling like an mmo.
Tobold, what do you think about the newest announced changes to Wintergrasp in 3.2? Initially everyone raved about it, pointing fingers at Warhammer's sieges and laughing. Now it turns out, Blizzard has exactly the same problems as Mythic and tries to solve lag and performance issues with the same poor workaround of limiting the number of players who can take part. Blizzard even tried already to make their content unattractive to players (!) by changing the WG dailies to weeklies, but apparently that did not ruin the fun for enough people. Isn't that all quite paradox? :)
I'm curious about your opinion on Champions Online. Especially since it'll be, if I'm not mistaken, the only mmo close to release which can be played on the Xbox 360 as well. And it has a combat system which doesn't have boring autoattacking and no downtime afaik.
I'd be curious if you have any comment on the recent bg changes in WoW. Well, actually, not exactly the pvp changes, but the fact that you will be able to turn off xp gain, meaning twinks will be able to do low lvl instances if they so wish it. Think it might liven up the old world instances a little to have a pool of twinks that may be interested in running an instance for real from time to time?