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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why WoW is a bad game, reason #8

Lack of content updates

If you've been around World of Warcraft since the early alpha of 2003, you'll know that there haven't really been any major content updates to the game ever since, and that's three years ago. Let's start out to show the most recent addition to the content of World of Warcraft, Ahn'Quiraj.

Inside of the Ahn'Quiraj temple, alpha

Inside of todays Ahn'Quiraj temple, which have looked the same since the release of World of Warcraft

Ahn'Quiraj temple outside. The picture is from alpha, and it looked the same until patch 1.8.0, 10 october 2005

This is the "new" look Ahn'Quiraj got in 1.8.0 and that was later released as a "new" instance in 1.9.0, january 2006.
"Players will have to complete a world event of massive proportions before they can open the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj on their realm."
It was said that alliance and horde would need to cooperate together in a epic world event to open the gates. The epic event turned out to be that both sides would need to gather a insane amount of random resources. Let's take a look at the instance lists for the different versions of World of Warcraft.

Alpha version 5.3
Dec 11 2003
  • 0, Azeroth
  • 1, Kalimdor
  • 2, UnderMine
  • 13, test (Testing)
  • 17, Kalidar
  • 25, ScottTest (Scott Test)
  • 29, Test (CashTest)
  • 30, PVPZone01
  • 33, Shadowfang
  • 34, StormwindJail
  • 35, StormwindPrison
  • 36, DeadminesInstance
  • 37, PVPZone02
  • 42, Collin (Collin's Test)
  • 43, WailingCaverns (WailingCavernsInstance)
  • 44, Monastery (MonasteryInterior)
  • 47, RazorfenKraulInstance (RazorfenKraul)
  • 48, Blackfathom (Blackfathom Instance)
  • 70, Uldaman (Uldaman Instance)
  • 90, GnomeragonInstance
  • 109, SunkenTemple (SunkenTempleInstance)
  • 129, RazorfenDowns (RazorfenDownsInstance)
Release version 1.1.0
Nov 07 2004
  • 0, Azeroth (Eastern Kingdoms)
  • 1, Kalimdor
  • 13, test (Testing)
  • 25, ScottTest (Scott Test)
  • 29, Test (CashTest)
  • 30, PVPZone01
  • 33, Shadowfang
  • 34, StormwindJail
  • 35, StormwindPrison
  • 36, DeadminesInstance
  • 37, PVPZone02 (Crush the Alliance!)
    (Defend yourself from the onslaught of the Horde!)
  • 42, Collin (Collin's Test)
  • 43, WailingCaverns (WailingCavernsInstance)
  • 44, Monastery (MonasteryInterior)
  • 47, RazorfenKraulInstance (RazorfenKraul)
  • 48, Blackfathom (Blackfathom Instance)
  • 70, Uldaman (Uldaman Instance)
  • 90, GnomeragonInstance (GnomeragonInstance)
  • 109, SunkenTemple (SunkenTempleInstance)
  • 129, RazorfenDowns (RazorfenDownsInstance)
  • 169, EmeraldDream (Emerald Dream)
  • 189, MonasteryInstances
  • 209, TanarisInstance (Zul'farrak)
  • 229, BlackRockSpire (Blackrock Upper Instance)
  • 230, BlackrockDepths (Blackrock Lower Instance)
  • 249, OnyxiaLairInstance (Onyxias Lair Instance)
  • 269, CavernsOfTime (Caverns of Time)
  • 289, SchoolofNecromancy (School of Necromancy)
  • 309, Zul'gurub
  • 329, Stratholme
  • 349, Mauradon
  • 369, DeeprunTram (Deeprun Tram)
  • 389, OrgrimmarInstance
  • 409, MoltenCore (Molten Core)
  • 429, DireMaul (Dire Maul)
  • 449, AlliancePVPBarracks (Alliance PVP Barracks)
  • 450, HordePVPBarracks (Horde PVP Barracks)
  • 451, development (Development Land)
There were quite few new instances that was added to the game files compared with a year earlier. Maraudan was released 18th december 2004, and followed by Dire Maul soon after. Note the removal of Undermine, although it was just water. Another interesting instance that got removed from the alpha was Kalidar.

Kalidar

instance from alpha, looks like a battleground

Release version 1.9.3 Feb 07 2006
  • 0, Azeroth (Eastern Kingdoms)
  • 1, Kalimdor
  • 13, test (Testing)
  • 25, ScottTest (Scott Test)
  • 29, Test (CashTest)
  • 30, PVPZone01 (Alterac Valley)
  • 33, Shadowfang
  • 34, StormwindJail
  • 35, StormwindPrison
  • 36, DeadminesInstance
  • 37, PVPZone02 (Azshara Crater)
  • 42, Collin (Collin's Test)
  • 43, WailingCaverns (WailingCavernsInstance)
  • 44, Monastery (MonasteryInterior)
  • 47, RazorfenKraulInstance (RazorfenKraul)
  • 48, Blackfathom (Blackfathom Instance)
  • 70, Uldaman (Uldaman Instance)
  • 90, GnomeragonInstance (GnomeragonInstance)
  • 109, SunkenTemple (SunkenTempleInstance)
  • 129, RazorfenDowns (RazorfenDownsInstance)
  • 169, EmeraldDream (Emerald Dream)
  • 189, MonasteryInstances
  • 209, TanarisInstance (Zul'farrak)
  • 229, BlackRockSpire (Blackrock Upper Instance)
  • 230, BlackrockDepths (Blackrock Lower Instance)
  • 249, OnyxiaLairInstance (Onyxias Lair Instance)
  • 269, CavernsOfTime (Caverns of Time)
  • 289, SchoolofNecromancy (School of Necromancy)
  • 309, Zul'gurub
  • 329, Stratholme
  • 349, Mauradon
  • 369, DeeprunTram (Deeprun Tram)
  • 389, OrgrimmarInstance
  • 409, MoltenCore (Molten Core)
  • 429, DireMaul (Dire Maul)
  • 449, AlliancePVPBarracks (Alliance PVP Barracks)
  • 450, HordePVPBarracks (Horde PVP Barracks)
  • 451, development (Development Land)
  • 469, BlackwingLair (Blackwing Lair)
  • 489, PVPZone03 (Warsong Gulch)
  • 509, AhnQiraj (Ahn'Qiraj)
  • 529, PVPZone04 (Arathi Basin)
  • 531, AhnQirajTemple (Ahn'Qiraj Temple)
Now there's only five new instances compared with over a year ago, and all of them (except Ahn'Quiraj and it's temple) have been completed within the game files since atleast april 2005. Alterac Valley (PVPZone01) and Warsong Gulch (PVPZone03) was released june 2005, and Alterac Valley had already existed over 1 year and a half.

Blackwing Lair was released july 2005, atleast over three months since its existance. One of the oldest battlegrounds, Azhara Crater (PVPZone02) haven't yet been released due of this date and it has been in the game for 2 years already.

A old map of Azhara Crater

Azhara Crater, as it looks today

Two other battleground like places, found within Kalidar minimap files. They got a resemblance with Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley.

Zul'Gurub, December 2003

The final look for Zul'Gurub, november 2004, but it was released almost a year later in september 2005

Player housing was tested during the alpha of World of Warcraft. It has since then been abandoned and will most likely never be touched again.

World of Warcraft\Data\World\wmo\PlayerHousing\HumanHumanLevelOneTest.wmo.MPQ from the alpha

World of Warcraft\Data\World\wmo\PlayerHousing\HumanHumanLevelThreeTest.wmo.MPQ from the alpha

This house is called GuildHouseA, could it've been intended for player guilds at first and later scrapped? This particular house can be found on GM Island.

GuildHouseB, can be found at Ravenholdt Manner

Ironforge had two elevators that looked like those in the undercity, one leading down to Gnomeregan and the other one leading to Old Ironforge.

Ironforge during alpha, with bridges within the city

Ironforge at the release of World of Warcraft, without the bridges

Westfall lighthouse and it's changes through the early versions of World of Warcraft

This became the final look of the Westfall lighthouse

Designer Island, most probably the prefab for Westfall, were on the same map as Azeroth but far northeast, beyond the edge of the map. Later on they added the Dragon Isles (three Onyxia like caves) and a Naga temple there.

The map of Designer Island during the alpha, and as you can clearly see it's a replica of Westfall

The Naga temple that got added to Designer Island at the release of World of Warcraft

And a updated map of how Designer Island looks like today, with the three Dragons Isles leading out of the left part of the picture

Map of Programmer Island during the alpha

Programmer Island, the prefab for Elwynn Forest, was also once part of Azeroth (northwest outside the map), but got instanced along with Designer Island into the Developer Instance (451) at the retail release of World of Warcraft.

Around patch 1.9.0 they removed "Chow is my love monkey" from Programmer Island, due to reasons unknown

Scholomance, or School of Necromancy as it was named back then, and as with all the unfinished instances during the alpha, the dark portal had to act as a placeholder.

Scholomance as it looks today

A gryphon master during alpha, during the time that the gryphons was still being developed

The entrance to Western Plaguelands from Trisfal Glades, was blocked off by Guardians of Blizzard to prevent players to enter the unfinished zone

Western Plaguelands, as it looked during the alpha

Western Plaguelands as it looks today

Untextured version of Scarlet Monestary during development

Textured version of Scarlet Monestary during alpha

The final look of Scarlet Monestary for the retail version of the game

Another screenshot of Scarlet Monestary during development

And the textured version

Before the game was released, Scarlet Monestary was a single instance, but Blizzard butchered it into three instances instead, just before the game went retail.

Gadgetzan alpha

Gadgetzan retail version

Some goblin laboratories on the two islands south of Tanaris during alpha, these buildings was later removed for the retail version and replaced with pirates instead.

For those who made it past the fatigue area between the islands and Tanaris, there was a bottle with a note buried in the sand, waiting for them at the first island.

The note said "What the heck are you doing here?", but that one got also removed shortly after and the only remains is a circle formed shadow of the bottle in the sand.

Developers playground, southwest of Silithus during the alpha. It got completly removed for the retail version of the game.

A topdown view on developers playground

The outside of Caverns of Time during the alpha

The outside of Caverns of Time in the current version of WoW

A early version of one of the three instances during the alpha, this one was changed later to Hyjal when it was attacked by Archemonde

Durnholde Keep during the alpha

Todays Durnholde Keep

Durnholde Keep in Old Hillsbrad Foothills, through Caverns of Time

A complete map of Old Hillsbrad Foothills, one of the instances in Caverns of Time

Tarren Mill in Old Hillsbrad Foothills

Standard Tarren Mill in Hillsbrad Foothills

The Black Morass, another instance in Caverns of Time that has been in the game since it was released during november 2004. This is the part where players will aid Medivh in the opening of the dark portal, that will eventually corrupt the land surrounding it, resulting in the Blasted Lands.

Early version of the Nethergarde Keep in the Blasted Lands

The final version of Nethergarde Keep

Karazhan and how it looked during alpha

The new and much smaller tower that came with the release of WoW

Inside of Karazhan, the tower of Medivh, will be released in the expansion The Burning Crusade. Although this actually new content that seems to have gone through alot of work and it's looking really interesting, it requires people to buy a expansion to be able to access this content which I find unreasonalbe.

They have already been paying a monthly fee and they've already bought a version of the game from the store, so why do they need to pay yet again for new content?

Wailing Caverns during alpha

Wailing Caverns at retail release

Booty Bay during alpha

Booty Bay in retail, notice how the Statue of Christ have been changed into a goblin


How World of Warcraft looks today, a map from kaldorei

One of the early maps around retail

A concept of the world map for World of Warcraft

A screenshot of the worldmap during alpha

The Island of Doctor Lapidis only existed during alpha, and was one of the two small islands west of Booty Bay, the other one was Giljim's Island.

Both islands got removed in the retail version of the game, but if you swim far enough, west of Booty Bay, you can still make the zone names appear.

The Island of Doctor Lapidis seems to have been a development area for troll ruins, that could later be found throughout the game.

Giljim's Island

A skeleton of what looks like a panderan transportation turtle on Giljim's Island

The statue of liberty on Jaguero Isle, east of Stranglethorn, like a scene from planet of the apes, and although the island still exist, the statue was removed by the release of WoW. A interesting note is that the statue is actually a titan female.

A underwater dark portal in Azhara during the alpha. As mentioned earlier, these portals were placeholders for instances yet to come, so this brings us the question, was it supposed to be a underwater instance in Azhara?

This place was high up in the air, just east of Teldrassil during the alpha

Moonglade during alpha

Moonglade during retail

Hyjal during alpha

Hyjal today, which have looked the same since retail, and haven't yet been released

Winterspring during alpha

Stormwind during alpha

Stormwind prison, a instance similiar to the Stockades (Stormwind jail), has been around since alpha and hasn't yet been released

The blocked off entrance to Stormwind Prison through the canals

Ashenvale during alpha, with a much more sharp looking graphic than the current one

The same goes for the Darkshore

The entrance to Felwood looked a bit odd during alpha

And I think this is from Teldrassil in a early version of WoW

Some old screenshots from Darnassus

Darkshire during alpha

And Darkshire from the release of WoW, notice how the trees got uglier

Supposedly pre-alpha pictures from Duskwood

Orgrimmar during alpha

Orgrimmar after retail was released

Something in between

Searing Gorge in alpha

Searing Gorge in retail

Stratholme during alpha, with what looks like a untextured version of the black citadel in the sky

Todays Stratholme, with the entrance of Naxxramas Necropolis, which hasn't been released as of yet and there's currently no files within the game package containing any piece of this area... except from Kel'Thuzad in his lich form.

Kel'Thuzad

NYTimes: "What can you tell me about Naxxramas?"

Tigole: "Naxxramas is going to be the most difficult thing in the game until the expansion pack comes out. It will be the pinnacle, and it's absolutely massive. You'll see this big necropolis floating above Eastern Plaguelands. It's a 40-man raid zone, and it's bigger than the Undercity [one of the main cities in the game]. Things could change, but we're up to something like 18 bosses in there, and they are really cool, too. But it's going to be hard. Really hard. We're hoping to release it in the spring."

NYTimes: "Will we need to open Naxxramas with a big farming event like Ahn'Qiraj?"

Tigole: "No. Naxxramas will just be open. But we do want to do a world event, which we want to call the Scourge Invasion, or hopefully something cooler than that, that would basically be something for everyone who's not going into Naxxramas. So they would see the impact without having to actually go in. [In other words, get ready for undead to pop up in some unlikely places.]"

Blizzard is hoping to release it in the spring, before the expansion is released, from Jeff Kaplan himself.

The Emerald Dream, and how it looked back around the release of World of Warcraft

"The Emerald Dream is shaping up to be extremely cool. We don't want to preview any of that content yet as it is *endgame* and we want some surprises for players.

The zone is massive and beautiful. And once the content team is done with it, it will be exceedingly challenging >=]

Actually, we have some pretty cool stuff planned for druids. They will definitely have a link to the Emerald Dream. There's also a zone on the way to the peak of Mount Hyjal called Moonglade that will be very core to druid characters. Our *master of Warcraft lore*, Chris Metzen, is never short on ideas when it comes to the druid class. I was running around the Emerald Dream last Thursday... you guys are in for a treat. The level designers are doing a killer job."

-Jeff Kaplan, December 06 2003

A small map of the Emerald Dream

Outlands and how it looked like around the release of WoW


A very old screenshot from Outland

A map of Outlands, Draenor, as it currently looks like, but it will most probably change significantly once the expansion is released
"Chris Metzen revealed in the Developer Panels that Illidan closed all the Dark Portals of Outland. Nevertheless, MagusRogue, a World of Warcraft RPG Game Designer from White-Wolf revealed the following:

"The portals were shut down by Illidan, actually. However, some of the quests in the Burning Crusade Expansion have you re-opening these and going to new dimensions, fighting the legion in new worlds. Should be awesome."

Tom Chilton: "[Outland is] going to comprise of several new outdoors zones. In a lot of ways, it'll be like crossing from Azeroth to Kalimdor. You'll go through the portal, get your load screen and there you are: Outlands. You'll start off on what we call the Hellfire Peninsula. That's a level 54-60 zone. Everything in Outlands just kind of goes from there. It'll flow like you'd expect from outdoor world zones in WoW, all the way through to the Level 70 content, dungeons, and so on."

So hopefully you've now realized that the game haven't really changed much contentwise since the early alpha 2003, so what have Blizzard been adding to the game each patch?

They've added a few more quests, a few more armors, redone the graphics on some armors, released a few already finished instances, some holiday material and most notoriously, they've done class and talents changes each patch, and even redone some completly.

This, and the standard bug fixes, has been all the changes that have been done to the game since 2-3 years ago, and that's the reason why I say there haven't really been any new content implemented to the game, just reworked some of the old. Releasing instances every second month, that's been finished for years, isn't considered new content.

Scrolls of Lore: Pre-release screenshots

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey man, have you ever coded a massive project? do you think that as soon as new art is done they can just pop it into the game, and provide more, usless patches? do you really think that the instances are completely finished? maybe they are place holders and blizz is going to fill in blanks before a realse of the patch containg the new instance/area/quest or whatever else. This is a game first, it is art work second, i am sure as soon as major class issues are worked out and all the remaning instances are finished, then you will see updates in the art area.

Also, just because it was in alpha does not mean it is anywhere near ready for retail, even beta. If you got a problem, go program for blizz and show them what they are doing wrong, and im sure the 5.5million players also agree, more downtime for bigger patches to make the game look "pretty"

Anonymous said...

hey man, have you ever coded a massive project? do you think that as soon as new art is done they can just pop it into the game, and provide more, usless patches? do you really think that the instances are completely finished? maybe they are place holders and blizz is going to fill in blanks before a realse of the patch containg the new instance/area/quest or whatever else. This is a game first, it is art work second, i am sure as soon as major class issues are worked out and all the remaning instances are finished, then you will see updates in the art area.

Also, just because it was in alpha does not mean it is anywhere near ready for retail, even beta. If you got a problem, go program for blizz and show them what they are doing wrong, and im sure the 5.5million players also agree, more downtime for bigger patches to make the game look "pretty"


The whole point is, why pay for something that is already loaded into your PC's files? Monthly fee, fine, but buying a new expansion pack for something that's already on your computer(as tweaked as it may be)? Pssh...

Anonymous said...

Very interesting read, thanks.

Mother Superior said...

For as negative as this post seems it's supposed to be, I'm actually intrigued by it. I didn't play any of Alpha or Beta, nor could I get a grasp on wall-walking so I missed out on a big chunk of the "hidden" game. I really do enjoy seeing this though. How things started, what they developed into and some ideas as to what I'll see in the future. I understand your point, that a lot of the "content" is in the game already, but not all. As much as it might seem like the company is being selfish by making people pay for things they do have to pay employees and server rental/upkeep fees. I won't deny that the company is making money off this game, but isn't that why it's here? I'm a firm believer that I--at least--am getting what I pay for. Sure, some of the game has unreleased tidbits of the expansion in it, but over all, that is all just skeleton for what the expansion is building. Untill I play Burning Crusade (if I play, of course) I'm going to stand by my feeling of this game being extremely well put together and presented.

Anonymous said...

I love the pictures. And I can see Blizzard doing to WoW what EA did to Ultima Online.

They have the "stuff" already in game, but are forcing people to spend another 29.99-39.99 for an expansion to enjoy it.

Patrick said...

Wow, thanks for the cool pictures! That map of the emerald dream is really gonna come in handy for the private server I play on, and the Jesus pic was good for a laugh. But I still love WoW just as much as before.

Anonymous said...

i play the expansion, MAN this is an OLD post. the game is awesome, and it is a small price to pay for another awesome 10 levels and plenty of instances, there are tons of patches fixing every little thing that goes wrong, and the art may suck a little but its a game, who cares? are you going to be just standing there, looking at the trees, all day? NO! you are going to be out there kicking ass lvling up and destroying everything. currently with the expansion you get access to 2 instance hubs with around 4 instances in each of them, oh strike that, 3 instance hubs with 4 instances, thats 12 so far, then 2 huge instances called Zul'Aman, and the Black Temple, where you fight illidan himself. there is also Gruuls Lair, where a giant Gronn resides, and the Sunwell with one of the newer patches, giving 2 MORE instances. count them up buddy, thats 17 instances, and they are getting closer with the NEXT expansion Wrath of the Lich King, which will be awe inspiring. GG the game rocks, you just must be a picky art critic.

Dopefish said...

You're completly right, this post is old! :)

Some of the posts in this series feels kind of dumb/outdated afterwards, and the biggest conclusion for me is that WoW simply isn't my type of game.

It's hugely successful and Blizzard should have credits for that.

And yeah I'm very cynical. I even complain about the games we're doing at our office ;)

Gold Guide for World of Warcraft said...

good post :)