Where's there to explore?

| Monday, May 31, 2010
A long time ago, on an account far far away, I did some hopping. And more hopping. And then I discovered the Land of Broken Terrain Textures. It was in this land that I eventually made my way to the airport at the top of Ironforge.

I had a grand time. This was a new place to me. I'd read no strategy guides, I'd seen no quest givers, nothing was there except pure, uncut world. This was discovery! Adventure! Exploration! Up there is a battle between trolls and dwarves and a few planes and runways. How grand!

Ah, but for risk of the ban. Blizzard doesn't much like people going to these areas. We're not supposed to peak behind the stage. I cannot claim that people have been banned for such exploration, but I have heard of GMs booting people out. As time goes on they patch up more and more areas. At one point there was an 'easy' path from southern Winterspring to Hyjal. You can find screenshots around; it is a grand area, which I've never been fortunate enough to see for myself.

I also did some hopping in Winterspring and found my self near, but not quite in, Felwood. The view was magnificent. A bit more hopping and running took me off a very long cliff, dropping me somewhere in Darkshore, but not Darkshore, surrounded by trolls. You can see it flying overhead. What a strange place. It made me think of Naxxramas.

You might remember the statistics: only a few percent of players saw the original Naxx. The devs didn't like this much. No one was seeing their amazing work. Who sees the troll village? Few people. Not so many fly over it, and how much can they see from there anyway? People tend to tab out when flying anyway. I imagine just as many people saw Naxxramas floating in the sky, but that's hardly equal to fighting in it. Naxx was remade in an expansion and many more people saw it. I've heard that the troll village is also being tweaked, opened up, and so people will see it.

But I ask, why? I understand the desire to display one's creation. That is not my question. But why hide it in the first place? There are many places in the world which are as well-made as any we would ride past on a quest, but they are closed to us; behind walls and up cliffs. Explorer types search for ways in, breaking into Ahn'Qiraj before Brann did, before Silithus was remade. It isn't easy and it results in to tangible rewards. So few people go there. Those who do, find what they seek: the joy of discovery. Is anything else needed? I think not. It's the only truly optional content: no artificial rewards, no grinds, nothing except what players find when they seek.

Artists want their work to be seen. Or at least their work which they think is good enough to be seen. You might find an artist who refuses to show work but insists it is worth seeing. That is actually just a crazy person pretending to be an artist. It is best to move along your way and not get lost in analogies, which I'm pretty sure I didn't use in this paragraph. This leads to the question: why is the art of Blizzard being hidden? There are three possibilities: they feel it is incomplete and not worth seeing, they are crazies pretending to be artists, or some outside malevolent force blocks it regardless of their wishes. Some people call that management.

The incomplete art theory is backed up by the construction signs in Hyjal. However that seems like a rather half-ass solution. We know WoW can have invisible walls. Why not set one around Hyjal? It sounds simple enough, but if I know anything about programming and design, it's that things never are. However I am currently wearing my Ignorant Commentator hat, so I get to claim that it would be simple and Blizzard is just lazy and stupid for not doing that. But lazy and stupid don't really explain much. It's like claiming that speeding causes cars to crash, forgetting the importance of the existence of things to crash into, so speeding is helpful, but not sufficient.

The sanity of Blizzard is something one could question. They did, after all, create quite a few insanity mechanics, a god of insanity, a metal of insanity, an insane god, an achievement, another achievement, and mechagnomes. However insane people tend to be shitty artists, whereas Blizzard has created quite a bit of good art. I cannot claim that they are insane people pretending to be artists.

That leaves the malevolent bureaucracy, management, authority, The Man, whatever you wish to call it. This appears to be the most complete explanation. It explains why areas are deemed off-limits without being properly blocked. Only an entity of evil would create a world nearly devoid of exploration (it's too damn small and we get pushed everywhere by quests), with the exception of a few strange areas, which are then used as excuse to attack the account. In other words: It's a trap. This leads to the logical solution: We must destroy the Death Star and kill Emperor Palpatine so that we can once again explore Azeroth and dance with Jawas. Blizzard, tear down this wall.

In the meantime, we must content ourselves with moving about the world in a way which is unexpected and unintended, but not quite against the rules. Get off your flying mount and see the world on foot. Stop flying over the troll villages of Storm Peaks and Icecrown. They're figurative villages, so don't go claiming they're not there. Look at them up close and see how different the world looks when you're not zipping over it in half a second.


Anonymous said...

Probably the most fun I've ever had in wow was exploring all the places I knew I probably shouldn't be.

Chris and Cathy said...

It feels kinda like some government cover up with these off limit places. Area 52 zones perhaps. Maybe there are hidden creatures being protected from our eyes. See, now my imagination is running away with me:) hehe

Wonderful post:)

Klepsacovic said...

Are there not Draenei being dissected under the Tanaris desert? We may never know.

Gronthe said...

I've been to some of these places quite a few times, and it's thrilling. I know I'm in an "unintended" location, but like you I've never known of anyone to get banned. It's quite nice to see the world untouched by questgivers or vendors, just crazy trolls and even crazier little people...er, gnomes & dwarves.

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