Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Outbreak in Azeroth

Emergence kills, kids!

Clever/fiendish/unsuspecting World of Warcraft players have introduced a virulent in-game plague to population centers. A vicious damage over time debuff, Corrupted Blood spreads through proximity to friendlies.

It has a short lifespan and exists chiefly in one high-level dungeon, but the aforementioned cleverboots/fiends/unsuspectoids brought it back to town, for example, by recruiting healers to keep Typhoid Marys standing. They targeted, among other places, cities home to new players.

The sagas will tell of skeletons knee-deep in the streets.

The plague wasn't intended to leave the instance where it was found, but as we've seen before, players are fond of telling stories the game designers didn't intend.

What's amazing to me is that the disease has vectors like real-world ones: some exotic ailment is contracted out in the wild then exposed to cities, where it wipes out some vulnerable segment of the population before dying out. It even has animal carriers, non-combat pets. Plague pandas!

Of course, evil rage-virus labs and occasional sociopaths aside, plagues aren't spread deliberately. Griefers went after newbies but also auction house patrons and gold farmers, bringing a economic slant to the events.

Corrupted Blood hasn't broken wide on many servers yet -- and may not at all if the developers quash it -- but as news spreads you can be sure the cooties will as well. If there's anything more virulent than a plague, it's news of an exploit.


Dr. Gori said...

It's funny that something that wasn't even supposed to be part of the gameplay is the type of thing that might get non-MMO gamers (like me) to play them.

I like RPGs, but I don't want to spend months of sleepless nights levelling up--and depending on benevolent 12-year-olds to let me tag along--before I can actually play, explore, and enjoy myself without worrying about dying the minute I leave the town borders. And in those games, if you can't play for a while, you risk getting left behind by friends who've gained a dozen levels in the meantime.

I know for some people, rewards like new levels and stronger items are incentive to play. But playing a fun game can be reward enough. (And, if you need a reward, frequent gameplay increases your skills--in effect, levelling you up. In former Soviet Russia, game subscribes to you!)

I'd much rather play some level-free infection type game, where characters work alone and together to either spread something or avoid contracting it. And it doesn't have to be disease. It could be a Body Snatchers type of thing. It could be the spread of a religion. It could be the establishment of predator/prey relationships among different species (animal vs. animal or even vamps vs. humans). Hell, it could just wind up being a multi-team game of Freeze Tag, or Risk, or both of those combined somehow.

Oh, and if someone makes (or has made) a persistent online equivalent of Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard, I'm there.

Kira said...

I think you may be on to something with an infection spreading/containing game, Doc...

Though it's still a shooter, not something like you're describing, I believe there's a co-op mode of Resident Evil: Outbreak where one player is a zombie and tries to enzombie the other players. Like tag, with braaaaaains. Delicious braaaains.

Kira said...

Also, you might try Guild Wars, which The Boyfriend has spent loads of time with and now I am as well. It's gorgeously and inventively designed, and you can be as social or not as you please.

The game has population centers but otherwise is wholly instanced, so you and your friends, or you and some randoms, or even you and a posse of NPCs can adventure apart from the masses.

And, no monthly fee. Woo!

Dr. Gori said...

Thanks, Kira. I didn't know about the RE: Outbreak zombie tag! And Guild Wars sounds cool, too. However, I must retract my previous post. I got We Love Katamari over the weekend, and I won't be playing anything but that for the next decade or so.