Immersion is very important to me. The suspension of disbelief is critical into buying into a virtual world. I’m a big fan of details, polish and the little things that the typical powergamers don’t care about. One of the things that WoW got right was the introduction of critters into Azeroth. Every area has small animals like deer, rams, frogs, squirrels, etc. that are indigenous to their surroundings and really help to make the world believable. The level of detail in WoW is a joy to behold.
Another thing WoW got right was putting in children in the game. It really makes me feel I’m part of a living world full of people when I see kids fishing, teasing each other and doing the stuff the kids do. I loved the orc kids too. One thing I hope to see in future online games is more old people. Every village and town should have some wise old hags and wizened scholars to flesh out the NPC demographics.
However, Blizzard dropped the ball with their 24 day/night cycle. This was a great opportunity to create cities and towns with NPCs with actual schedules but they have done nothing in this area. Another problem is that WoW has barely any difference between day and night. It’s just purely cosmetic and has no impact on game play or strategy–which is a shame. If you look back at some of the early screenshots of WoW you’ll notice that it was actually dark in their nighttime screenshots. Towns and villages had a welcoming glow emanating from their lamps and windows. What a shame they dumbed down the night!
From now on *every* online world will have to have at the very least the same level of detail and polish that WoW currently has. There is no turning back as players will not accept anything less. I’m hoping that Sigil will have a detail team of artists that goes through every zone and adds the appropriate doodads, items and critters to make each area come alive. For me the magic and wonder comes from the the fact that if a company can put in small inconsequential details like a frog or a barrel in a field, what then do they have in store for us in the deep, dark dungeons we have yet to see? It’s all about presentation and showmanship. Hopefully Sigil will realize this for Vanguard.