Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 23, 2015
World integration of garrisons

In Star Wars: The Old Republic you have a star ship on which your followers live. World of Warcraft garrisons have a lot more functionality for your followers, and the garrison is a lot better integrated into the world: It is located in the starting zone for your faction on the map, and in many respects works like any other quest hub, but better.

That integration comes at a price: Unlike the SWTOR star ship, your garrison can't take off and go somewhere else. You already notice a difference once you leave the starting zone and start questing in other zones, but at least there is still a good connection by flight paths. But I am wondering what will happen in two years, when the next expansion with the next continent comes out. Will we abandon our current garrisons and build new ones on the next expansion continent? Will we keep the old garrison and travel by portal? If we keep the old garrison, will we upgrade the crafting buildings to craft the resources and items of the next expansion?

In short, the garrisons are a nice new idea, but they aren't very portable. There is a reason why SWTOR has space ships, or the houses in Wildstar are on floating rocks in the air. The better you integrate player housing into the current zones of the world, the more problems you get when those zones get outdated by the next expansion.

Solvable perhaps with some kind of instant travel skill. Ideally a two way thing that allows you to return back to where you come from. I have seen that sort of functionality called "Mark and Recall" before.

Obviously need to be some restrictions: Cannot be used while in combat nor in instances for example.
The difference is, garrisons are NOT player housing. They are designed to be part of the current addon and meant to be abandoned with 7.0.
They will have the same usefulness as the MoP farm has today.
Well, looks like my guess was correct! They are a one-time thing. No doubt Blizz will consider bring an evolved version in as future iteration - maybe they think of garrisons as an evolved version of daily quests.

It just occurred to me: maybe Blizzard think of every WoW exp[ansion nowadays as something akin to a new game, or more precisely another sequel to an existing game. You can import your characters and even their equipmwnt, like in the old days of CRPGs. But new players will effectively start on the latest game. for the most part. Those who are interested can go back and explore the earlier ones.
I think there's quit a strong argument for restarting MMOs at each expansion, selling them as discrete games that include either an upgrade of an existing character or a fresh character of appropriate level and gear. Had game developers understood back at the beginning of the genre just how long these games would continue to sell and make money and how large and sprawling they would become then surely they would have taken a very different approach. They know now and we are beginning to see the design paradigms evolve to fit reality.
I considered the exact same question a month or two ago, and I figured that Blizz would either abandon them entirely or make you start over. The latter would be MUCH more likely if Blizz' data shows that Garrisons are the most popular thing in WoW (outside of Raiding).

Well, it's just like the Farm in Mists of Pandaria. We abandoned the Farm after Pandaria.

I don't think anyone is really decrying that decision. Garrisons will end up being the same.

Perhaps the real lesson is that not everything in an MMO needs to be permanent. Maybe it's okay to have a feature be used for a year or two, and then move on to a different feature.
Another thing: even while the garrison is located in the world, it effectively cuts the players off from the world. And it's not trivial to go and meet other (random) players (except of course if you treat the garrison as a sort of lobby while waiting in some queue for a dungeon/LFR/battleground/arena).

I think it would have been better if the garrison were located on the edge of a more common area (like the farm in Mists was next to the market town/cooking hub). Maybe as a "wing" off the side of the faction base, so you could meet other people doing their business more organically as is the case right now.

And yes, I expect the current garrison to stay in Draenor. Maybe you can take your music and some followers with you though...
Blizzard will likely never go Free to Play with WoW, but I wonder if they'll consider Buy to Play?

Subs are dwindling more and more between expansions. The subscription money is good and important, but if it continues to dip between expansions, could there be a breakpoint where the lost sub revenue is made up for by increased sales of the expacs?
MoP farms => WoD garrison => Next
maybe your garrison will become the new Dalaran, all uprooted and sent across the world
'Buy to play' is a nice model. The only thing is you have to trust the company to keep it up, but that would be no problem for Blizzard.
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