What Fighting Games Could Learn from Starcraft

In Warcraft II, you select one of two sides at the start, and see one of two incompatible stories, where your side wins. Only when the next product came out did you see what the canonical story was.

Starcraft instead had a single story told throughout the game.

Every fighting game I’ve played uses the Warcraft II model; I’d like to see one use the Starcraft method.

New Plans

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with this blog; whether I should put more effort into it, or if I’d be better off just posting in the official Guild War 2 suggestion forum.

Thanks to the Newbie Blogger Initiative, I’ve decided to continue blogging. The plan is to do at least one post a week. I’m narrowing my focus to three things — discussing areas of a game I think could be improved; suggesting specific improvements for those areas; and pointing out parts of a game that I like, and could be useful in other games. I’m hoping that by pointing out a potential problem area before I have a solution for it I can get more discussing going, and post more frequently.

I’ll be covering whatever games strike my fancy, but it’ll be mostly Guild Wars 2 for the near future. Not only am I interested in the game, I figure suggestions are more likely to affect the game while it’s in the beta stage.

Character Creation UI

So one of the main components of a character creation system is selecting an option from a list of possibilities, for faces, hair styles, and so on. I always go through all the possibilities, noting the ones that I like, and then comparing those ones to each other until I narrow it down to the one I like the most.

I’ve never seen a user interface designed for this behavior though. I’d prefer not to have to make mental notes. What I’d like to see is buttons to go to the next or prior item in the list, and a button to reject an option, causing it to be skipped by the next and prior buttons.

So the first trip through the list for each item I’d hit either the next item button or the reject item button (and each should have a keyboard shortcut).  Narrowing it down after that would frequently involve going back and forth between two options until I decided which I preferred.

Readers, how do you create characters? Is this something you’d like to see?

Thoughts on Rift

So I played in Rift’s beta 4 last weekend. It’s very similar to WoW, yet I found it considerably more fun.

I like the character models better, for one. Pretty clearly a matter of taste. Rift’s character creation was good – I particularly liked the ability to choose two colors for your hair, the base color and the highlight. Would have been nice if there were any real options for changing the body.

The class system is fun.  It takes much less time for your character to have enough abilities to be interesting, and the increased customization makes your character feel unique. I found planning my characters somewhat interesting in WoW, where it was just deciding what race/class combos I wanted to do – Rift is far better for that.  And it appears it will be possible to switch up a character’s abilities significantly for more variety, which I like.

The biggest change, though, is that it has a point to its persistent open world.  When a Rift or Invasion shows up, you actually want other people around, and fight with them. I found this quite fun. Also, I found just doing quests was more fun when I grouped with a second person – I think the difference from WoW is that enemies generally have more health. It’d be fun to try and figure out a pair of builds designed to quest together.

Thoughts on World of Warcraft

I’ve been somewhat interested in trying WoW for a long time; when it was on sale for $5, I started my free trial and then bought it.

I’m not really a fan.  The biggest issue was that I didn’t enjoy the basic combat much – I think it needs more variety and interesting choices. In particular, making a normal fight be 1 on 1 means the basic question of who to attack first that is common in Guild Wars is missing.

Also, I don’t understand the game’s fundamental design – an online persistent world means sacrificing a lot compared to a single-player RPG. You get respawning enemies, the world never really changes, and so on. In return, you get to have other people around. But since WoW’s online persistent world is designed for solo players, having other people around never seems to give any benefit. Even playing with a friend didn’t make the open world more fun, because working together to kill enemies meant they died way too quickly.

I did like the quest system – it was always quick and easy to make progress. The world was beautiful, and I enjoyed seeing new areas.