What Can Destiny Learn From World Of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft is such an interesting beast. We are talking about a video game that has somehow managed to remain relevant for 10 years. 10 years. Interestingly enough, Bungie has always talked about Destiny in terms of a ten year plan. World of Warcraft has essentially just achieved what Destiny wants to achieve.

So when I spoke to Ion Hazzikostas, lead game designer on World of Warcraft, I asked him if he had any advice for Bungie and Destiny, who are attempting to undertake the same journey Blizzard did all those years ago when it launched World of Warcraft.

He didn't have any concrete answers.

"It's tough," said Ion. "I think in many ways Destiny has the potential and they've on the right track. They have a tremendously fun core game — my team has been playing the hell out of that game. It's what half the encounter team I'm currently working with goes home and does on a nightly basis. There's a tremendous amount of fun there.

"I think people are still dealing with what the game is. Coming into it some people weren't sure: is it an MMO or an FPS, what exactly was it supposed to be? There were a lot of different expectations there. They've already done a lot of great work and the potential is there to improve it and iterate. It's already a great game in many ways and it's just going to keep getting better."

Ion admitted he hasn't been able to spend too much time with the game — he's been too busy putting the final touches on Warlords of Draenor — but the key to making World of Warcraft sustainable for so long, he says, was it's ability to constantly and consistently evolve in the right directions.

2004. That's when World of Warcraft came out. Here is a list of other games that came out in 2004: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Jesus. When Blizzard talks about how to make a video game relevant for 10 years, you should probably listen.


    I'm mostly just surprised that ActiBlizz didn't sit Bungie down with the WoW guys and make them ask questions before launch.

      Probably because they already knew the answers, WoW has a franchise/foundation, community and a cult following trying to mimic that for a new IP would be impossible.

        Project Titan was cancelled. I don't even think Blizzard knows how to make the next WoW.

      Or mid way through development, even. Then maybe, just maybe, it might have had something enjoyable to do post end game.

    is it an MMO or an FPS, what exactly was it supposed to be?This is exactly what I keep asking. It seems like Destiny wants the best of both worlds but hasn't really considered how to make the core concepts of an MMO work within an FPS. I used to play GunZ a long time ago and that was a fun way of merging a TPS and the relevant MMO concepts.

    I think my main problem with Destiny is the "Grind Gate" (#grindgate!). In order to have the next level of fun, you need to spend X amount of time grinding for gear and levels rather than being able to jump in like L4D or TF2 and tweak your loadout to suit your play style. It also doesn't help that every co-op mode is a straight up horde mode affair with little variance in enemies or enemy behaviour. Even the more basic MMOs tend to have a bit more variance in terms of their mobs.

    I've been asking for a while now why Destiny didn't make some kind of deal with Activision HQ to borrow some Blizzard devs. They're all under the one umbrella, there should've been some interplay.

    Destiny's made some decently-famous fumbles that WoW managed to pick up in beta.
    Take the Cryptarch:
    People don't like getting let down. The primary concern was that you saw a purple blueprint, and got a (worse) green or blue item out of it. You felt let down, like you'd lost something.

    Blizzard encountered EXACTLY the same reaction when dealing with session-length. In testing, Blizzard introduced a penalty to exp-gain when playing for too long. They had an ideal session-length in mind, and wanted to encourage it. Players HATED it. So what did Blizzard do? They removed the penalty, reduced all exp gained across the board, then added a bonus for logging out.

    It was functionally identical, but people loved it. If it FEELS like a reward, players like it. If it FEELS like a loss, people hate it. Really basic shit that WoW learned in testing over ten years ago.

    Destiny missed that one, and now we have the deliciously cruel Legendary Engram on Twitter to show for it.

    There have been other examples. They didn't need to happen. The knowledge is there, the lessons have already been learned, the wheel did NOT need to be reinvented. Getting people to play a game for ten years requires some really good understanding of player psychology. Bungie's proving over and over again that they don't have that, and are learning from their own mistakes, when they should be learning from mistakes made ten years ago by the industry-leaders working for the same publisher.

      I don't think it's that Bungie doesn't have that experience I think it's that Bungie doesn't understand how relevant their own experience is so they're falling back on things they don't understand. From day one I've said Destiny feels like it was designed by someone who has a friend who explained MMORPGs to them. They make all these mistakes trying to do MMORPG stuff that anybody who has reached end-game in World of Warcraft could see coming a mile away. Literally anyone who has ever done a reputation grind would instantly put their hand up and asked where the reputation tab is when they got to rank 20.
      For some reason they think they have to get players on a treadmill progression system or else everyone will quit. They think they have to make raiding an elite tier or else nobody will stick around to buy the expansions. Instead they need to look at Halo and realise people stuck around because the game is awesome. Destiny is super fun to play but they're so busy trying to use MMORPG tricks to force us to keep playing that they don't realise people actually want to keep playing it.

      Last edited 23/10/14 2:25 pm

      I honestly think Bungie actually believed their own rhetoric about Destiny not being an MMO and being totally new so thought they did not need to learn from MMO devs.
      A case of being too self focused, a bit like how Rage was just like borderlands and fallout 3 but the devs did not even notice and thought their stuff was innovative.

      Or something. Missed player physiology 101 maybe as you say.

        Well to be fair to Rage, the AI character movement was some of the best and most fluid I've ever seen in a game. The rest though, pretty generic and kinda crap really. The movement though... When I do that thought exercise where I design my dream game taking elements from loads of other games, the movement of the AI characters is usually taken from Rage

      It really does feel like bungie didn't think they were making an MMO and so didn't look too hard at the concepts and lessons that others have done. Hell, even just watching the Extra Credits stuff on MMOs would have helped avoid a few of the weird things they've done with it.

      Once again, it has the feeling of a project that changed scope mid way through and suffered for it.

      The cryptarch though... damn man, he's a prick or a saint depending on who you ask. I think it was on Tuesday I got a legendary special weapon engram (I've been on a run of freakish luck lately), took it to cryppy, Bam! Exotic Plan C fusion rifle. By contrast, @longjocks has barely seen a legendary engram since the patch that fixed cryppy's colour blindness and when we did the nightfall yesterday you know what his reward was? 8 strange coins. Eight. Literally 1 LESS than doing it on the highest difficulty weekly heroic. The only consolation being that he'll be able to afford any of the exotics Xur is selling on the weekend (which is the only way he's ever gotten an exotic).

      It's a stellar example of why the game desperately needs trading, as is the fact I have another mate with lots of ascendant energy and he doesn't need it, I have 35 ascendant shards and every bit of armour I have is fully upgraded. Can we swap? Hell no, we need to tell a story about how we got it...

        Trading would be great! However, I believe it would need serious limitations. Such as Clan only and only things such as upgrade materials only. No Glimmer. The game doesn't need an economy. We all know the demons that come with in game currency trading. Weapons shouldn't be able to be traded either.

    While Blizzard's perspective is interesting I think World of Warcraft is exactly the wrong game for Destiny to emulate. From content to community management the games are just so different from each other. DC Universe Online made this mistake* with their end-game PvE. They attempted to build content using staples of the genre popularised by World of Warcraft without realising that even though their game used similar terminology it used radically different gameplay mechanics. Rather than looking to God of War they looked to World of Warcraft. Destiny needs to look more into why Halo 2 lasted forever.
    I think Destiny has made that mistake in quite a lot of it's content. They let MMORPGs be the default influence in a lot of situations where they should have came up with something from scratch. Their loot drop and gear progression systems have deep roots in MMORPGs where they're the go to answer to 'how do you keep a player playing?', but with Destiny's fun core gameplay it doesn't need anywhere near as much carrot and stick. I think in a world without MMORPGs Bungie would have came up with a more satisfying solution.
    Destiny tries to make a new genre by smashing old genres together instead of expanding the FPS genre into something new.

    I think the other big thing to realise is that World of Warcraft has a massive community, and not just in sheer subscriber volume. It's got a competitive raiding scene that other games can't even hope to attract. There's not just a rich lore but there's a huge real-world history. The Burning Crusade actually happened. It's not just a point in the Warcaft timeline. Ask a World of Warcraft player 'what were you doing in the Burning Crusade?' and you'll get an answer. 'I was raiding. I was still in high school so I'd play every day. I was more into consoles back then. I was just a casual PvPer'.
    That makes it possible for Blizzard to easily do things that other games can't. So many MMORPGs have failed because they poured their efforts into competitive raiding content without realising a competitive raiding scene is much more than just balanced raids.

    *Mistake is a bit of a harsh word. Like Destiny they were in unexplored territory and looked in the wrong direction to see what worked.

      I think the story (or lack of) in Destiny is a huge problem.

      Remember the Cabal? They "blow up planets just for getting in their way", but they're such a throwaway enemy. You spend half your time on Mars fighting them, and then they're just forgotten for a Vex finale. Speaking of which, in the opening for the final mission Ghost says something like "This is it: we either save the Traveler or the Vex destroy our worlds". Where did this come from? The Vex never seemed to be actively threatening anything.

      Which brings me to feeling like you have involvement in the world. There's plenty of lore in Destiny about Guardians defending the walls of the last city on Earth, but you never actually do anything there. Consider a kind of territorial approach, where the community as a whole would need to go out and recapture/defend zones on the outskirts of the city, else the fallen/hive would push in closer. Maybe a reduction in XP/rep gains the close the enemies are to the city to encourage Guardians to get out there? Or go completely harsh and do a full server reset if the Fallen manage to recapture the city?

      I realise it would be hard to do in a game with many other people inhabiting the world, but maybe completing certain missions would actually change things? Maybe you might destroy the source of the hive on Earth, so they no longer spawn there?

      The game is fun to play, but pretty much everything else about it just feels hollow.

        The Vex, nearly indestructable... except for that glowing glass tube on their belly. Sneeze at that thing and they're gone.
        That whole 'everyone is the worst thing ever and they're about to blow up the universe' thing annoyed me. It's standard for a FPS plot to have things esculate that way but Destiny didn't even try to justify it. It wasn't esculation it was just there. It's just like 'oh yeah, the Hive have been on the Moon for centuries, but they chose 20 minutes after you were brought back from the dead (something that's possibly mentioned once after the fact, if you are in fact Dr Shim) as the perfect time to strike'.
        For all the time spent talking about the Collapse every character and event felt like it just appeared right after you did. Nothing seems to have any history to it. Nobody feels like they grew up in this world.

        Last edited 23/10/14 2:14 pm

          In all fairness, it could be the reason you were brought back from the dead is because they were massing for an attack. Of course if they'd had a story we might have been told that...

        There really wasn't any indication that the vex were getting towards a tipping point in strength but I kind of got the sense it was supposed to be a "cut off the head and the body will die" kind of thing. But of course given the status quo requirement of the kind of game it was the vex were never even on earth so it was hard to feel that they were immediately threatening the traveller or the city (did they ever say where on earth the city was?).

      I agree, the landscape of gaming is littered with the corpses of games that tried to emulate WoW

    Ok I love Destiny and I have played a lot, but...

    There's just so many little things that don't make sense. I cannot comprehend how they left out things like skipping cinematics, a reputation tab in the menu, party and crucible chat, a variety of mission types, etc etc...

    It just makes no fucking sense, it's absolutely bizarre. In some places it feels like it was made by people who have never played a game in their life.

      I know what you mean, as a game I feel like its still a beta...

      I have been playing betas for over a decade and I have seen games with seriously more content in their first stages of release then what Destiny has in total and it's never justified - Its like seriously Bungie we know your game is post-apocalyptic but it shouldn't feel so barren in the name of having fun.

      Theres never a time when you see groups of humans (NPCs) outside the one small "tower" they have...

      AND YET YOU SEE A MASSIVE SPRAWLING CITY... Like MASSVE... Underneath that Dome, and yet it all feels like its off limits because its easier to develop a small central plaza that you can look down on it all... I want to explore the city :(

      The number of NPC's needs a VAST increase and they all need dialogue, maybe if they hadnt screwed up so badly on the Grimoire cards there may have seen content inside the game.

      Also as many people have previously mentioned for a game that should have a massive backstory and lore - its completely missed the mark on both these everyone who is alive feels like they were born the age they are (is there even a single young NPC in the whole game?) and it feels more like Halo: Destiny Edition because the mechanics feel the same just no masterchief.

      The sad part is they have built these fantastic landscapes that are all just completely empty.

      Finding Random NPC's scattered throughout the world who give quests/loot is a much more intuitive and exciting way to play MMOs' and I believe Destiny is in dire need of it.

      Little things that bother me include getting half of he story with stats.

      For example: this mission gives you 2000XP on normal or 2400XP on hard. So ... how much xp do I need for the next level? All you get is a bar, how much XP does that bar take to fill up? Why give numbered XP rewards for completing tasks but no xp numbers anywhere else?

      This helmet gives me 532 "intellect" which apparently reduces the cool down for my ability. But by how much!? Why gives us numbers so specific but not communicate what that number grants? Why sit and choose between a helmet that gives 192 Intellect and another that has 473 discipline but not let us know how great that effect is? Is the difference between 250 and 500 anything significant? Are we talking a 2 second difference, or a 20 seconds?

      It's weird that that an RPG style game has all kinds of numbers in one area and progress bars in the other that cannot be reconciled. Isn't that the point of comparing items and numbers to be able to make choices?

    Man, I've got Destiny Fatigue just from hearing about it ad bloody nausium. Not so much from players, but it seems to be all over my FB feed, links and YT videos and multiple articles in gaming sites or magazine I flick through. Throttling the PR and marketing back a little couldn't hurt. I remember WoW being up in everyone's grill like that too for a while, but then it seemed to find it's place and I think it benefited from being on the periphery, rather than constantly in the spotlight. But 2003 was a different, more moderate time in gaming before we had our senses bludgeoned with contemporary, full spectrum advertising...

    Destiny was nothing to me than Halo x Borderlands x MMO, Granted it tried to break the walls between mmo and fps (Raid Bosses, etc.) i just couldn't have fun with it.

    Kokaku is no longer a relevant source of game news or reviews. The proof of this is in this Blizz./Activision/Vivendi biased article about WoW. Destiny is universes better than WoW. And no, WoW hasn't been relevant for 10 years. Like McDonald's, the quality of WoW is low at best, but it's easy to access because of it's low hardware requirements. WoW has never been the King of MMORPGS, it has always been the most flexible mmorpg. In the respect of being flexible, WoW is a great game. However, the WoW gameplay and story is easily subpar. Destiny doesn't have to kill WoW because WoW isn't good enough to need to be killed.

    I am glad Bungie finally joined in on the MMORPG crew. Bungie clearly made a great mmorpg that will go beyond outlasting WoW, Everquest, and other still kicking mmorpgs. Before anyone thinks I'm a Bungie fanboy/girl, I'm not. Halo is way overdone and overrated as a FPS action game. However, Destiny has clearly transcended it's Halo predecessor. Like WoW, Halo is only fun - not in the realm of video game greatness.

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