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DiscussionNov 13, 2023 8:00 am CT

What usability changes would you like to see in Blizzard games?

One of the features in the World of Warcraft 10.2 patch is the Pathfinder achievement, which allows us to use old-world flying in the Dragon Isles, including the new Emerald Dream zone. While Dragonriding has been a big hit for many users, there is a subset of the user base who have found it difficult and disorientating, either due to it triggering motion sickness symptoms, visual processing issues at the speed of Dragonriding, or for mobility/dexterity reasons. Up until now, the primary accessibility option has been the introduction of the ride-along function that lets you be carried as a passenger on someone else’s mount, but it leaves you reliant on your guide to get you where you want to go. Most of us play to be able to actually play the game ourselves.

Usability in design benefits everyone, not just disabled users. When looking at usability we talk about users being permanently, temporarily, or situationally disabled. Examples of that could be a person who uses a wheelchair due to MS (permanent), or uses crutches due to a broken leg (temporary), or has difficulty moving because of carrying a heavy box (situationally). All three users might benefit from an elevator as an alternative to using the stairs.

Usability in game design might include the ability to change font typeface or size to make it easier to read quest text. Or providing audio cues for significant boss attacks to help vision impaired users react. Neither of these options harm users that don’t need them but still might be considered desirable. Some games have “easy mode” options to give players the chance to experience the story even if they don’t have access to the same rewards or achievements. World of Warcraft does this to an extent with LFR, letting users who either lack the time or the skill to participate in an organized raid to still try raiding experience the encounters for themselves.

We were talking in staff chat about alternative usability options for Dragonriding, maybe a toggle to switch between the two modes on any supported mount. Maybe have a quest chain to unlock a faster old world mount speed, still not as fast as Dragonriding but faster than now. Allow people to attempt the races in old world mode, put cosmetics and most of the achievements at silver, which would be moderately easy in Dragonriding mode, but require nearly perfect execution in old world mode. Keep gold mastery behind the near perfect execution of Dragonriding mode.

What sort of changes would you make to an existing game system to make it more accessible? What current game mechanics or systems create barriers to you fully participating?

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