Warcraft update – a few quick notes

A quick summary of the past few weeks in Warcraft. As a casual-hardcore player (meaning a player who does not play 40+ hours per week, but takes the experience seriously) this is a very odd time to be playing an online game.

As you read keep in the back of your mind the fact that this is a huge community, and that the community really has no idea what is coming. Many people all waiting for either the second coming, or the sky to fall in.
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The new James Bond movie

Given the hype and the “but its not real bond” rants that were in the USA media, I was secretly apprehensive about the new Bond flick. My god its a good film!

Its more the Bond I thought it should always have been. If you’re a fan then you’ve got your own impression, as you’ve already seen it. If you’ve never seen a Bond film, or not “got it” before, then this might be a film for you.

Bond is a mean mongrel in thsi version, with a good brain in his head, and a snapish sense of humour. I was impressed by the touches which hinted to the old style (ms broadchest?), and very pleased to see the direction knew when to hit the action button.

I’m suspect on some elements of the plot, but the plot hold together better than almost all the other Bond films, and certainly better than the Mission Impossible series.

Who uses, buys and promotes your software?

The Innovation Zen blog has a short and interesting article on how changing the model of an “ideal user” to include those outside the typical user experience can significantly affect the draw and success of a business.

Essentially the point is that their may be many different people involved in the sale of a product or service (Users, Purchasers and Influencers), and each should be identified and marketed to. Further each should also be given the opportunity to move beyond their initial role, and this is where each can be come really powerful.

The User, Purchaser, and Influencer may all be the same person, or could conceivably be many different people. Especially on large purchases (and big projects) the buying decision will not often be left to a single individual, and even if it is that person will be affected by many people around them.

How then do these people change or combine roles, and then become peer leverage for new customers? The answer is not simple, but an example as in the World of Warcraft game (as used in the Innovation Zen Blog) is a good one.

In WoW the player begins having little or no idea of how to user the system. So very obvious objectives, tool tips, and prompts lead the user through the initial experience. As far as game play the early missions are almost impossible to fail, and the rewards are very quick to arrive, and quite gratifying.

The after it is assumed that the user has the basics, the challenge gets a little harder, and the user is encouraged to move through the game more independently.

The player can opt to turn off the tool-tips, and start adding their own short-cuts to commonly user items; which is a direct way of acknowledging their own progression, and taking ownership of the experience.

Later at level 5, the player can add a new complexity called Professions (Alchemy, Smithing, Enchanting, etc) which is totally optional and rewarding, while adding to the time and complexity of thinking required in the game. And on this goes through out the game, with improved or new abilities being available every few levels.

This gradual change is what draws a player further inside the game, and gives them the immersion that drives them on. I see this as a Nurture -> Rapture -> Mentor type of progression, and is created in the community as new players are helped (and hounded) by more experienced ones.

Warcraft (and many other good product models) have an ability to be repeated many times, and also keep raising the reward the more time/money a customer commits.

Perhaps the immersive nature is special to an online game, but the interactivity and personal involvement is something that many brands are trying to develop (YouTube, MySpace), and the growth of online communities has never been more fragmented or stronger than now.

What will Google do with YouTube to pick up on the community feel? I don’t know; but I do know that if they don’t do anything they will be missing a huge opportunity; and I doubt that will happen.

Gear your Warcraft PvP Rewards now till expansion

More than once I’ve seen messages in forums about what to do now that you’re 60, till the expansion arrives.

Well if you’re a new 60, and have not started getting gear from the serious instances like MC and ZG, then get into battlegrounds. The gear rewards are great and you can solo quests while waiting for the battleground to start.

And the new changes to BG mean that you can get gear without climbing up the ranks, as the ranks have been removed.

For what I’ve read the battleground are going to be very busy, and the opportunity to get ranks will be huge. The gear is equal to T1 in most cases, with some exceptions being close to T2 (which means for my Paladin it might not be worth it, but for my Warlock its a good idea). Interesting that the exta bonus for having all the items in a set is very nice, and it only takes 6x items for the set.

The WoW Insiders have a great article here that gives more detail.

The gurus and experts that post the serious info all seem to be saying “wait and see” rather than it will be better or worse for gear compared with what is comming in Jan.

What I do know is that its an easy way to practice killing in a chaotic environment, there are no repair bills, and the queues will hopefully be very short. Also you get a reward even if your team does not win, which is great for the new players. Anyone can do this.

– WoW’s Armour Set Page which shows the look of each set by Class and race.
– WoW’ PVP Rewards
– A groovy forum post with all the info.

Google Answers to shutdown

The Google Q&A offering called Google Answers will close its virtual doors in about a week due to a lack of uptake.

Compared with Yahoo’s service a run of 800 answers over 4 years is certainly not going to make you a $google. And this may be a case of Yahoo grabbing the users and the market not really needing another service.

The blog entry here thanks the users, and especially the small crew of developers who made it real. Cudos to them for giving it a go, and as an add-on to searching I think this concept is good.

– How many people really use these services? (lets say not a huge proportion)
– How authorative are the answers considered in the professional communities? (lets say its casual answers, therefore no real value)

Link: the blog who told me

I’m sure Google will recover (joke), and darn sure that the developers and staff learned some great lessons and are very employable.