The success of a game, whether it be in the board game, video game, card game, or otherwise, greatly hinges on the designer’s ability to merge artistic vision with game mechanics to form an enjoyable experience that gives its players the opportunity to immerse themselves and feel and live the game through their eyes, ears, and fingertips. The cornerstone game of the trading card world, Magic: the Gathering, rests its laurels on this philosophy, and its continued success, despite years of evolving development, can be attributed to it.
With World of Warcraft, I feel that their sense of flavour is not exactly at the level of Wizards of the Coast just yet, but despite the strong grasp that they have on the MMO market, they do a minimally acceptable job in satisfying the lore nuts through tie-in products (novels, TCGs and the like), roleplaying realms, and more. It is only now that they are beginning to realize the importance of creating a sense of worldliness, and maintaining a grasp at their perception of their audience’s appreciation for that world they create.
Like all other games that use an expansion model (i.e., again, Magic: the Gathering), World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving game, and with each expansion, the development team has to reconcile the necessary mechanical changes with that of the flavour and lore that supports it. With the imminent arrival of Cataclysm, characters go through 5 more seasons of experience, and their journey throughout the forever changed landscapes of Azeroth, learn new abilities that epitomize what it means to be a member of their race and class.
As a proud user of a Gnome Mage, I can’t help but be ecstatic at the flavour I will be getting come Cataclysm. My avatar’s dear homeland is in the process of reclamation, and when he reaches the pinnacle of his experiences, will have learned the wildest of new spells and abilities. Such flavour is so enticing that I now forever tempted to transfer him to an RP server just to savour those new tastes and experiences.
Specifically, as a Mage, I am absolutely at the edge of my seat, nearly contorting myself in WTF-ery from the huge burst of flavour that we’d be getting. After hearing the name of the ability, Time Warp, associated with the mechanic known as HeroLust, I high-fived myself (since there was no one else nearby at the time) for having experienced a brilliant move made by the Blizzard development team. Any other class, whether they be Warrior, Warlock, Pally, or otherwise, could have received this function, but flavour-wise, this perfect marriage makes the most sense for Mages.
Time Warp. I am not simply rallying my comrades to satiate themselves with their own sense of heroism or bloodlust. I am manipulating time itself and destroying my slower foes. There is no other class that could pull this off as flavorful as a mage can. I am a manipulator of space and now time as well. A slayer of foes, particularly warlocks.
Come Cataclysm, every time I do the time warp again, I will feel like I’m Dio Brando from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and the world will crumble under my feet. Deathwing will be no match for my WRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.
And I have Blizzard to thank for it.