Global Chat: Do you think you could design a better game than World of Warcraft?

Above, you'll see the once-ominous portal...

Let’s be honest: We all are so egotistical and opinionated that we totally think we could design a better MMO than World of Warcraft. Back-seat developing is what we do, baby! But MMO blogger Kaylriene went one step further by actually trying to do that (on paper, at least), and discovering that game design is a hellishly complex enterprise.

“The idea here is to share why I don’t always buy fully into my own ideas or suggestions for WoW — while I think I have something to offer, I don’t pretend to know all the nuance of game design, and this post will illustrate that all too well,” he said.

Read on for more MMO essays, including tips for making gold in WoW Classic, the best April Fools holiday that exists in-game, exploring Black Desert’s oceans, and more!

The Lazy Goldmaker: Gold making in WoW Classic

“My main plan will be to focus on raw gold in the beginning. Then I will spend my gold on leveling tailoring and enchanting so I can shuffle enchanting materials which is likely to be very profitable. I already have some shuffle ideas, and I will look for more. Then I’ll work on obtaining the rare enchanting and tailoring recipes to craft those for gold.”

Mailvatar: Yo ho, this ain’t no work for landlubbers

“I engaged in more of Black Desert Online’s oceanic content during the past week, because of course I did. After all I was eager to take out my new frigate and explore the open sea, brave its dangers and hopefully make some profit in the process.”

Inventory Full: Fool’s gold

“Over in EverQuest II we have a much more appealing prospect in Bristlebane Day. There really is a ‘day,’ too. The whole festival runs for a couple of weeks but there’s a bunch of stuff that only happens on the First of April, including rabbit-catching, special harvests and the Sphinx questline.”

We never claimed to be saints.

Through Wolfy’s Eyes: Send the clowns away

“What makes me think that The Division 2 will stay in my gaming rotation when Anthem fell away? There are a number of ideas, but chief among them is that even though I really do enjoy Anthem’s gameplay, I also really can’t bring myself to fire up a game when the developers are making clownshoe decisions.”

Bring Your Own Games: Google Stadia, is it the future?

“The Stadia is a very risky bet from Google, if it succeeds and does what players hope, it could very well revolutionize the entire industry and make Google one of the top names in gaming. If it fails though, it will go down as another big name to flop in entering the industry along with the likes of Steam Box and Ouya.”

Contains Moderate Peril: Why am I doing this?

“Regardless of whether such mechanics are right or wrong, lazy or ‘classic,’ grinding is an inherent aspect of most video games, especially the MMO genre. Players burn through narrative driven quest content far too quickly, therefore there has to be systems to slow player progress down and make then repeat content. However, the point of the original post isn’t to debate whether grinding is right or wrong. It’s about what you as a player do next when finally ask yourself this question.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Kickstarter Donor

100% sure that I can design a much better MMO for players with a mindset roughly similar to mine. Looking at the game design document I’ve been working on for years, I have good reasons to think I already did. And considering that it’s already more than just a design paper, I’m reasonably optimistic that whether or not it’s just talks will be verifiable at some point in the future.

However, design a better MMO than WoW for the average gamer? I doubt it. Assuming you can do so implies that you would do better than Blizzard, without the behavioural datas from millions of players. Not saying that it’s impossible, as such datas live within their own design bias and can only iterate upon themselves, leaving quite a few options open. But it seems unlikely. Should we see an MMO doing bigger numbers than WoW at some point, we’ll know for sure it was possible.


For gamers? Yes i can! For shareholders/suits? Nope i cannot.

Dave Ward

No, but its good to know from other posts that people’s egos are alive and well :)

Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

Probably not. I’ve played dozens of MMOs, big and little, ambitious and not so. As we see WoW in its fading light, there are a score of things that as a player I want different, including taking the focus away from raids, go back to having an open world, rather than the one on rails expansions have been since WoD, make flying exciting rather than just the best travel option, make exploration worthwhile again, to name a few. But at its peak, WoW delivered a full range of fun and interest that is hard to top. Many have tried and only a very few have come even close.

Jon Wax

Yes. Already have. Can’t afford tomake it.

Sarah Cushaway

In theory and on paper? Yep.

Do I have the coding skills or the money to do so? Hell no.


I would use Vanilla WoW as a base game and add my own features on top, to put it simply, I will attempt to add a whole sandbox layer on top of the themepark layer, remove leveling and replace it with individual skill levels where a skill gets leveled only when it’s being used.

I will try to create a world where there is the conventional way of progressing – quest lines, dungeons and unconventional ways like crafting, professions and other sandbox methods.

I will expand on the crafting and other professions of the game and try to add another layer of depth to the combat.

The itemization will be kind of like in Morrowind where you have left and right glove, left and right bracer, left and right shoulder pad, in fact even deeper with the goal to allow players to create their unique appearance.

The world will, like WoW feature a plethora of different environments – forests, jungles, deserts, swamps and add replay value to them, so even if the players finish the quests in the zone, they can come back and still progress in those zones if they want (think enemy scaling to the player’s strength and repeatable/new randomized quest lines) so that if a player likes one zone really much, they can spend their entire time in that one zone and they will never feel like they will run out of activities.

Another thing would be making interacting with the world and NPCs in it more deep and personal, like in TES games where you can enter every building and interact with small objects like mugs and loafs of bread, where you can talk to NPCs about different topics and hear individual opinions, where the list of topics increases as you explore the world.

I don’t know how successful that will be, but that’s my idea of an interesting MMORPG. This also includes my personal pet peeves with games, especially how zones are used only once and you can’t go back to them, because there is nothing else to do in them anymore. For example my personal favorite zone in WoW is Westfall (Vanilla) and the other ones are Redridge Mountains, Elwynn Forest, Stranglethorn Vale.


Better for who? For a niche with the (somewhat) same preferences as me, sure could do. For a broad audience like WoW or other mainstream mmos, I sure couldn’t and neither have I the desire to try. And obviously “better” can not be measured in player numbers, and I certainly could not make a profitable one and probably not even a financially viable one; hand me 100m with no obligations kind of deal.

And then there is the reality check. You can design a perfect mmo on paper, even to great detail, but as it is in all game development, there are things that change (also radically, therefore so many disappointments with various kickstarters); for a mmo this process is even more complicated.
– To make a good game, you HAVE to be able to toss and change ideas very dynamically, even core ideas if they don’t “work”. If you idea camp, you are sure to fail, however it is still extremely important to have a vision.
– As you start even a small game (multipled for a gigantic mmo project), there will be interests influencing the game; it is impossible to be a dictator because you need all these people. You will need game designers, art people, management, maybe publisher, investors, etc – All need to have some influence to do their work properly and to feel invested (you won’t get quality from people who don’t care) .. All these will challenge your ideas every day.
– And then there are just things out of anyones control, trends, core employees leaving, bad launches, bad timing, turkey farm pr (one turkey goes gbbblbadgamrgbbllbadpeoplegblgbl and the rest follows), competition. And you .. Can you stay focused and work your ass off, never blinking, always believing, for years.. 2 years..5 years..through rough times where the company is sure to close down tomorrow ? No one knows if they can, everyone can break.


Yes, I certainly do. Of course I’d need the resources behind me to fund it, I’m not a programmer or anything, but I very much could design a better MMORPG than World of Warcraft.

Yet you’re asking me this question now, hundreds of MMORPG releases after WoW that I’ve had the benefit and experience of taking part in. Working with what they had to work with at the start of WoW, including choices made when net speeds for users weren’t what they have become, having seen only a small number of other MMORPGs at the time and improving on stuff they felt they did wrong – they did an amazing job that would have been fairly hard to beat (at the time).

You want to take us backwards and take away all of our game experiences we’ve had, go back to what gaming was like when it was released, even saying I was the same age that I am now I very very much doubt I could have done anything better no matter the resources behind me.

It’s hard for me to try and imagine what it would have been like without all of the experience that I have now after all these years of MMORPGs. But in trying to take myself backwards I’d say they did great for the time. In designing a new MMORPG I’d be taking so much experience from games that all came after WoW. It isn’t really a fair fight to ask us today if we could design a better game than WoW, even though many do still fail at that task :D


Sort of.

I believe that I could come up with a better combat system, far better itemisation and better features for building a community. I like my numbers and my inter-operative systems and I genuinely think that the lessons I’ve learned since SWG 2003 would allow me to design something better than WoW in these respects.

But, games are massive, one person alone isn’t going to have the skill sets necessary to make an all-in-one MMORPG. I’m definitely missing that raw creativity, plus I hate story in my games, so I’d need someone else to come up with the IP and story. I’m also not great with economics, so whilst I could come up with better itemisation, I’d suck at designing a crafting system that led to a thriving in-game economy. I’d also like to get a psychologist or anthropologist on board to help with the community features – whilst I think I’d do better than WoW, always best to hire some experts in order to avoid obvious pitfalls.

None of that would matter without the IP though…..still the most important thing when it comes to selling a game!