World of Warcraft should steal Overwatch’s Workshop
Back in 2009, City of Heroes added the Mission Architect, a feature which let the community design content for players. It was, by and large, a reasonable success, modeled on similar features such as the Neverwinter Nights editor and toolset. This is an idea that is still being tried by various companies — for example, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will have a story creator mode. Seeing this, I have to say something that I believe to be obvious — World of Warcraft should have added a means for player created content way back in 2009 when City of Heroes did it, and the fact that they still haven’t in 2019 when Ubisoft is adding it to a single-player RPG makes me incredulous that WoW hasn’t added one yet.
Especially when Overwatch has a game mode editor tool called The Workshop. That’s right, Blizzard decided to make a means for players to create modes for Overwatch before they did this for World of Warcraft. And this makes me wonder why, with a game as popular and player driven as World of Warcraft, Blizzard hasn’t done the same where it would make the most sense.
Player vs. Player vs. Player Creations
I mean, just taking the Workshop as an exemplar, imagine letting players make their own Battlegrounds and Arena situations via an editing tool. You could let players add in free-for-all deathmatches. Imagine taking the map for Warsong Gulch but adding in new mechanics that take the capture the flag gameplay and utterly twist it around, a la Brawls like Gravity Lapse. Or even take settings we’re seeing in the Warfronts and turning them into PVP areas — converting the Arathi and Darkshore Warfronts into Battlegrounds, or getting even wilder and turning PVE dungeons and raids into PVP formats.
I feel like this would be pretty amazing, because it could be part of the Brawl system and could let players get really creative in terms of what they could do with existing assets. If you wanted to do a 10 vs. 10 Deathmatch in the Horde Garrison from Warlords of Draenor? You could. What about 40 vs. 40 Capture the Flag inside Blackwing Lair, or a base capturing Arathi Basin style game inside Molten Core, with molten lava hazards and maybe even the bosses from MC in there as well, where you’d have to kill the bosses to capture the bases while dealing with the enemy team? You could do that, too. I’m not even coming up with the really cool ideas, I know, but this gives you some idea of what you could do. Imagine a Defense of the Ancients-style PVP map, using the Darkshore zone revamp, with players in the roles of the DOTA heroes.
Making an environment of stories
But I think the really cool thing would be to take the literally thousands of zones, dungeons, raids, and other existing map sets in World of Warcraft and letting players create scenarios, quest chains, dungeon and raid content to explore. I know a map editor would not be likely — players adding actual art assets and maps to the world doesn’t seem likely. But imagine taking Alterac Valley and crafting a series of quests and boss encounters that tells a story of one Orc or Dwarf trying to reclaim their home. Or doing something cool and different like allowing players to see the Temple at Karabor fall to the Old Horde and become the Black Temple, something players clamored after and never got when Warlords of Draenor came out.
World of Warcraft has fifteen years worth of art assets and maps for players to make use of and a game editor ala Overwatch’s Workshop feature could be an amazing way to let players play around. You’d just need to add an interface that let players explore this content, and it could be done — we’ve already got the Blizzard store integrated into WoW, a browser for player created story content wouldn’t be impossible. You’d probably want to vet what you let in — you don’t want players making dungeons consisting of a series of level-1 mobs that drop every epic and legendary imaginable — but there are ways around that, including locking loot drops to level appropriate content and forcibly randomizing them so that if you wanted epic loot to drop inside your content it would only drop from a mob tough enough to make it worthwhile.
I really feel like there’s room for this kind of gameplay in World of Warcraft, especially now that the game is old enough that it’s got such a potential library of places and creatures to draw from.
The time is now
I admit, I was first struck with, “Why doesn’t WoW have this yet?” when I saw the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey news, but the more I think about Overwatch and the Workshop, the more I think this is an idea that World of Warcraft should have adopted years ago. Something like the Workshop, that lets you take existing content and add new rules and new experiences, would enliven both PVE and PVP content and let players get a sense for how magical, and how difficult, creating game modes that work and make sense really is.
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