Saturday, 15 February 2014

My thoughts on the preview of Garrisons

This week Blizzard posted another blog post talking about the progress they are making with the Garrisons. They focused on the Alliance, and said the next time they will show more of the Horde side. You can read the whole post here.

What was shown on the Alliance side was impressive. The buildings, while clearly new, still carry that old scent of the Warcraft of old. They managed to capture, what I would call the essence of Warcraft. I really liked how they went about the upgrading the buildings. How a tent filled with books can in time transform into a full fledged Mage Tower.

They are trying to mimic the world truths, and have different races on different profession buildings. What that means, is that your new favourite Jewelcrafter in your Garrison will be a Draenei, and your entrepreneuring engineer who is making things cost ten times more than they should will be, a gnome. What confused me for a moment was them saying your blacksmith will be Dwarf. While that makes sense on its own, Humans have a racial bonus to Blacksmithing. Dwarves, I thought would have the reign over Archeology, and Mining.

And all that is great, but what bothers me, and I am not alone in this is that this is just too human, and the last picture too orcish. This is an architecture based on just two races. And while the architecture of humans looks decent, I think that many of the Alliance races would prefer architecture of their individual race. Such as Draenei, Night Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes.

Same goes for the Horde, aside from Orcs, nobody really likes their style. It is too barbaric, too spiky, too unrefined. I think Forsaken would build in style of human architecture if they had the chance. It is much more likely than erecting a set of buildings out of thin air. At least they know something of human architecture. Trolls have their own style, as do Tauren, and Goblins. And do not let me start about the Blood Elves.

What was shown on the Horde side, suits only Orcs. What was shown on the Alliance side, suits only Humans, but the rest can take comfort, that at least they do not have to have an orcish Garrison. Small comfort if any.

On other side we have a little glimpse into the minds of developers, where they discuss how little stories help them set the tone and atmosphere of each building. What I hope, is that the building such as mage tower would have the same functionality as it does in their story. I want to have all the books I read through my time in Warcraft in one place, where I can interact with them, especially now, that I am not sure for most of their locations anymore. And if they still exists.

It was suggested, and I agree with the idea, that it would be much better if they gave us options, and for starters just reused the old buildings that already exist in the world. Or at least make this alternative to the horrid orcish architecture, and a variety for the human style of building. We already have so many buildings on Azeroth, that could be reused, and gave us some flavour. All those sanctums of the Blood Elves, dwarven bunkers, Troll inns.

To this, Takralus responded:
@Lirena: Using existing art sounds like a great idea, until you remember that Garrison buildings use an upgrade system, so each building has several different iterations. This is part of the reason Garrisons are such a huge task, art-wise. I don't even think we have existing art for every building in each race anyway, so most of it would still have to be done from scratch.

I could live without my buildings being visually upgraded. And even though it is a huge undertaking, which would require a lot of time, It is worth it. I would even be ready to sacrifice a whole patch if it means we get Garrisons on the level we want them. That meaning more customisation and not being forced to build in only Human for Alliance and only Orc for the Horde.

To be honest, I think that even if they just let us choose between the Orc and Human architecture ignoring the faction restrictions would be a good start. We could paint the roofs red, and slap some red banners around, and be happy. Same for the Alliance, if they wished, they could paint the roofs of the orcish buildings blue, and hang around some golden lions on a blue field.

I am willing to make a bet that the difference between two chosen architectures would be enormous.

At last, another quote from the post. This is taken out of the context of what Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton said. It is taken out of the context, because the rest of what he said is not relevant for this discussion:
We knew we wanted the Garrison to feel like a big new feature, but we also wanted to keep it familiar, like bringing a piece of home to Draenor. There is just something about running into Stormwind or Orgrimmar that evokes that sense of faction pride, and that’s exactly what we wanted out of the Garrison.

Now, I cannot say for others, but Orgrimmar never felt like home. I always considered Silvermoon for home, and then Dalaran, and Shattrath. Never Orgrimmar. Orgrimmar as such, has never really evoked a sense of faction pride in me. The Horde banner on the other side, did. I do not feel proud to be a member of the Horde when I see Orgrimmar. It is a pile of hot dust in a canyon surrounded by black metal and strenuous amounts of smog. It has oil fields withing the city walls!

As for Stormwind, sure city might have felt like home for my Worgen Warrior, but there was a reason why his hearthstone during Cataclysm was in the old part of town. But that does not mean, I want to have a touch of Stormwind wherever I go. I would prefer to have a Tranquillien in Draenor, or Astrannar, or even Kharanos. The old Astrannar, before it was all burning.

So in short, I wish for more actual customization, or at least to chose between the two styles they are working on, no matter what faction I play.

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