So, I really don't think it takes any rocket science to understand that the pathways in Wizard101 are very straightforward . . . and this is probably a good thing in the end, but I must admit that there are moments when it feels too straight. There are moments when I wish the complexity was just a tad bit more.
There was a time when the game didn't have that little yellow arrow on the bottom that guided you through. The moment that little yellow helper friend hit the game, was the moment the game became a ton easier and a ton less about exploration . . . and that's completely ok with a lot of the playerbase. And truth be known, if I'm given a choice between arrow or no arrow, I'm going to choose arrow. Haha! If given the choice of being hand-fed grapes while reclining on a chair or plucking them off the vine myself, I'd probably choose being hand-fed grapes.
BUT, truth be known, I don't think this game was originally built with the quest arrow in mind. It wasn't there at the release of the game and it wasn't even there at the release of Dragonspyre. Our original world wasn't meant to be completed with a quest arrow. I feel that in a game like this, there should be moments where you think to yourself, I'm LOST! And then overcoming that challenge is where the reward is.
How do you overcome the challenge of being lost? Some people run to fansites like this searching for the answers. Some people turn to their friends list. Some people try to understand it themselves and get back on track. Any way you overcome it is perfectly great by me, but to really be immersed in something, I would argue that there need to be challenges that simulate real life. Real life is not a straight path. In real life we don't have a yellow arrow leading us to success.
So with that, I now present a couple graphics I created a few months ago and never published.
1- The root of the problem as illustrated by Dragonspyre:
2- How Dragonspyre should have looked:
Why would I say that? DRAGONSPYRE IS THE FINAL CHALLENGE OF THE ORIGINAL GAME! I'm saying "original game" in this case because as we know, Wizard101 is going to probably continue inheriting new layers to it over the next few years. Many new stories and sub-plots will continue to be added to the game, and we know that Malistaire will probably make a return to the game somehow, but Dragonspyre will always be that original final world. End game.
"End game" should be the ultimate challenge in any game. Dragonspyre should have had more complexity to it. There should have been times when I was journeying on multiple paths trying to unlock one or two final zones. Getting to Dragonspyre academy should have been more complex. In essence it should have been a "keyed" zone where I needed to find world keys that lay before me in many (or at least a few) different directions. Being stuck and lost would have
1- Led to more of a sense of accomplishment when you became unstuck and found your way.
2- Increased the need to rely on your friends to help you.
3- Increased dependence on fansites.
4- Increased brainpower! Brainpower is GOOD! THINKING IS AWESOME!
UNFORTUNATELY, you know that we would have also heard a lot of whining. Just like in real life when your kids say, "feed me grapes, daddy," and I say, ". . . go get them yourself," there's a lot of whining. No one likes whining . . . unless it's a rewarding occupation.
Now there is a point when the complexity is just ridiculous . . . example, in Everquest (sorry I always go to Everquest for examples) there was an "end game" zone that required you to collect fragments from nine different worlds (taking up nine different slots in your bank and backpack), take a raid group in to fight mini-bosses throughout the world to get 1 important piece of the puzzle, then do a two-group instance to get another key component, and finally complete a full 72 person raid to get the final key to open up the end zone in the game. Anyone that ever completed the "Vex Thal key" in Everquest within the first few years of its release would tell you that it was one of the most grueling experience in an MMO they've ever undertaken. That amount of complexity is WAAAAAYY too much for Wizard101. I would never in a million years suggest that kind of insanity for Wizard101. NEVER EVER NEVER.
But, is it too much to ask for a little more complexity in world layout and construction?
do they all have to look like this?
It's too formulaic at this point. Even Grizzleheim is too formulaic and that was a good scratch at attempting some additional complexity. The boss fights in "end game" Grizzleheim are much more complex than Dragonspyre.
End of the day though, you can't go back and change the way things went down and the way things are in the game. They would never ever never redesign Dragonspyre. It's done. It's completed product. It's out the door.
But there are hopes for the future, right? What do you think? Do you think Celestia and the worlds beyond should keep to the three zones beyond three zones, step by step by step quest progression leading you through to the end, or do you think these worlds should bring more complexity and more challenges? Do you think there should be more quests in Celestia where the quest arrow is completely disabled?
From my point of view, hands down, if they don't add some new degree of complexity to the world, the heavily grandmaster playerbase is going to finish this thing in a few days and be bored again.