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Is Cataclysm the Next World of Warcraft Expansion? 259

ajs writes "There has been no official announcement yet, but a number of moves by Blizzard Entertainment seem to indicate that the next expansion for World of Warcraft could be titled Cataclysm. Speculation began when Blizzard trademarked Cataclysm recently, and then later when a test server briefly popped up with the word 'Maelstrom' in its name. If true, the name would fall neatly into the WoW lore and expected expansion list. The Cataclysm is another name for the Great Sundering, an event that created a swirling vortex of water and mystical energies (the 'Maelstrom') that has appeared on the world map in-game since release. There are also indications that early design work included some of the islands in this area, which has long fueled anticipation of a Maelstrom-based expansion involving the former Night Elf noble, Azshara, queen of the Naga and the Goblins whose main city is in the south seas."
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Is Cataclysm the Next World of Warcraft Expansion?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 12, 2009 @01:58PM (#28668469)

    ... and probably the last

    Yeah, they're really hurting in subscriber numbers these days... Oh wait...

  • Does anyone care? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:12PM (#28668561)

    I'm fairly sure that it will need a neat 4-letter-acronym, but aside of that, nobody will care for its name, its story or anything else RPG or WC-story related it might bring along.

    What matters is, how much of a level cap increase will it bring (ok, the usual 10 levels, that one is a given), what is the new socket or gizmo you can tack onto your gear (we had sockets and runes already, so this time they'd have to come up with something really new, at least I can't think of anything else that's been done before) and whether they manage to dumb it down any more.

    Fanboys, flame away.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:31PM (#28668677)

    There is *some* truth to what you are saying: mainly the part about rather or not they manage to dumb it down. I've played WoW since July 2005 and it gets more casual by the patch. Seems to me that they are beginning the end for it, slowly phasing it out so everyone will move to the next Blizzard MMO whenever it rolls around.

  • by k_187 ( 61692 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:34PM (#28668703) Journal
    I think for a lot of players interest waxes and wanes within each expansion cycle. I played from launch for about a year. Stopped until the 1st expansion, played that until bored. Stopped until the 2nd expansion, played that until I got bored again. The coming back to things is a lot of fun, until you've seen the new sights and get back on the treadmill. I'm not the only person I know that's played like this. I had a lot of fun when I came back to the last expansion. Not so much by the time I left. I'm sure it'll be the same way again.
  • Re:It has a story? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:36PM (#28668719) Journal

    The storyline is awesome, but it takes a LONG time to really get to know it. Not only that there is alot of lore that goes back to WCIII. If you played that you have a much greater understanding of the lore and events.

  • How the... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @02:42PM (#28668743)

    How the hell did speculation about the -name- of a possible future WoW expansion make the front page? I like games and MMOs, but this is beyond boring.

  • Re:It has a story? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:01PM (#28668887)

    Well, there's "story" and then there's "story". I believe the GP would refer to what you're referring to as "setting" or "backstory". Lore is an important part of the setting, but it is not itself a storyline. It's the backdrop behind the main plot, but it's not the main plot.

    Nearly all MMORPG's (and some non-MMO RPG's, e.g. Morrowind), suffer from having a fabulously well developed setting and rich lore, but almost no actual story. If you're used to playing traditional RPG's, where there's an actual plot that you progress through and are an active part of, WoW will definitely leave you flat. Diablo, simplistic as it was, had a richer storyline than WoW...

    If you're looking for an MMO with a decent storyline, I'd recommend Guild Wars. It's not exactly high art, but it's a great deal better than any other MMO I've ever seen in placing you at the center of events that actually move and change the world as you go along.

  • by Ifandbut ( 1328775 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:03PM (#28668903)

    Why does anyone play a game? To have fun. To some people playing a game is alot more fun then dealing with awkward social situations. My best friends are people I have met through MMOs. When you met someone in a MMO you at least know that they also enjoy the game, so you have that much in common. When I met a random person in the "real world" I have no idea if I'll have anything in common besides the need to breath, eat, and sleep.

    Believe it or not, there IS hope. I have a buddy who gave up WoW entirely. Now he has a life, a job, and GASP - even a girlfriend. He is actually winning at life and says that he can't believe how much time he was wasting on such a stupid game.

    You can't win at life either. All you can do is attempt to pass your DNA on to the next generation and figure out a comfortable way to live until you die. I have come to realize that 90% of life is just trying to pass the time until you die. The other 10% is in pursuit of some "legacy" that will never matter or even be recorded in history.

    Playing life is just as pointless as playing WoW. They are both treadmills and neither mater when all is said and done. However, life is 10000x more boring then WoW could ever be.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:10PM (#28668961)

    That you don't like WoW is fine, but it is a rather stupid thing to say "Does anyone care?" Yes, WoW players care and there are a LOT of WoW players. It is one of the best selling games of all time and is THE best selling MMO of all time by a wide margin. Thus, a lot of people care what is going on with it.

    So if WoW isn't your thing then don't play it. However don't act surprised that a large number of techies are interested in it. It is an extremely popular game.

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:36PM (#28669147)
    You are correct that they never said the max level is 100. The developers HAVE said that all of their equations and formula were designed to be able to scale up to at least level 100 though. They've acknowledged that they didn't plan for beyond that, but I'm sure they could tweak them if need be, given how much money it's bringing in.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @03:44PM (#28669201)

    Whether people will get tired of it will, IMO, mostly depend on how long Blizzard manages to keep the cardinal sins that have been commited before at bay. And arguably it gets harder with every expansion.

    1) New players vs. old players and catching up
    One of the most devastating problems of MMOs so far was that old players quit over time, but new players are not drawn into the game. The main reason being that it's hard to catch up to the old players, so why bother trying? So far they managed to make it easy for new players to catch up. With the last expansion you already saw a few cracks in that shell.

    2) Acceptance of new players
    Veterans quickly zipped through the "normal" levels of the instances or bypassed them altogether. This was possible because the raid gear from before added so many "levels" (essentially, equipment is additional levels, I'll elaborate if necessary, but I think that's something everyone figured out by now) that they could easily step over the "lower", normal mode, new dungeons. This in turn meant that new players eventually hit a wall. They could not get the "normal" level gear (or raid gear from the previous expansion) because nobody did those dungeons, and they were not accepted into heroic instances because they lacked the gear.

    3) Equipment power inflation
    This is tightly tied with the previous points. The gear has to be more powerful than the one from the previous expansion. Else, why bother getting it? On the other hand, too much power in the gear opens up the aforementioned player gap. The power gap was quite noticable between BC and WotLK, probably because of the complaints from old players that the green crap level 71 blew the snot out of their gold raid gear they fought so hard at level 70. The power inflation will go on and become worse and worse with every expansion.

    4) Additional "equipment slots"
    This can be a boon or a killer. So far, again, WoW managed to use it beneficial. New players could easily "overequip" compared to the low level monsters and zip through them. It was not unheard that you could easily solo heroics at your level until you reached the expansion levels, because you could now add so much more boost to your character than you could before the expansions. It can be quite a problem for new players who cannot get those goodies easily (unless they have high level friends who equip them) because that stuff simply does not drop easily, or at all, from old time monsters, or can only be crafted altogether.

    In short, how long WoW will survive will not depend how much goodies they toss at old players. Sorry, not intending to hurt your feelings if you're an old time WoW player, but you will stay anyway, as long as they don't stop producing any content altogether. Some will quit over time, and whether or not WoW will stay to be the top game will depend on whether it manages to fill those ranks of quitters with new players.

  • by bubkus_jones ( 561139 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @04:22PM (#28669441)

    Everything can be described as a big time and money sucking void, really.

  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Sunday July 12, 2009 @06:10PM (#28670283)

    The next MMO is, according to statements from Blizzard sources, to be a new IP - not based on any previous franchise. Given that 3 of their upcoming products are sequels or expansions (Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, next WoW expansion) it stands to reason that they might want to try to launch a new franchise - they need to keep the future markets in mind.

  • Re:It has a story? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:22AM (#28672825) Homepage Journal

    Your post had no points in it, the idea that MMO's are all about socializing is BS

    MMOs are about ... well, they're not about anything. They're what you put into them. WoW can be about raiding every week to get a shiny new toy.

    It can be about taking out opposing players in the arena.

    It can be about building the perfect "RP set" of gear with the perfect look to match the background you've written for your character.

    It can be about crushing the competition in the auction house.

    It can be about collecting every non-combat pet in the game.

    It can be about exploring the world (more on that below).

    For many people I know, WoW is just where they log in to talk to their friends.

    After you've explored a world once it gets really fucking boring treading back and forth

    There's an achievement in WoW for having explored the entire world. One of my characters has it, and it's a bit of a lie because you only have to visit the major parts of each zone. Even after questing in every zone while I leveled, there was still a good solid two weeks of evenings I put in going to all of the places that were left. WoW is *huge*... exploring isn't something you just do in a week and are done. Amusingly, even after having done that I found myself, today, in a cave saying, "oh hey, I've never seen this cave before!"

    You're really not speaking with any authority, here.

  • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @07:43AM (#28674417)

    I don't think it's going to be World of Starcraft. Even if it was, you could pick out anywhere from 3 to 7 fractions potentially depending on how it is done. You have Arcturus Mengsk and the Terran Dominion. You have Jimmy Raynor and his bunch of guys. You have the UEF (can't count them out). You have Kerrigan. You have Artanis and the Protoss survivors. You have Zeratul and the Dark Templar. There's also always an opportunity for another Overmind causing a split of the Zerg forces.

    No, I think Blizzard isn't doing World of Starcraft, but I can't see them doing another fantasy genre MMO. They're going to do a different genre in order to pull in more subscribers while potentially preventing a mass migration from WoW to this unnamed MMO. So I sit here looking at the various genres that Blizzard could do, and I'm left concluding that this new MMO is going to be a scifi MMO. The genre is underdone at best, and it's ripe for a good developer to come in and make a killing on it.

  • by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Monday July 13, 2009 @09:31AM (#28675249) Homepage Journal

    Great more content that 80% of the players will never see. I still have friends that still haven't seen Molten Core, Naxx, or any other raid instance. The irony is when you release an expansion, none of the established players go tot he old content anymore (as a whole) which means new players coming in never see any of the old content because no one runs them anymore. I recently ran a new player through UBRS (Upper Blackrock Spire) and he never knew there were any other instanced dungeons outside of Outlands (He was a new player and started post-burning crusade.)

    When Lich King came out the only Outland instances anyone ran anymore were heroics. New players coming in would never get to actually do those instances because, frankly the established players were at the point that only heroic mode was worth their time.

    As plotted: Take the month to month changes in population (rather then total volume) and compare the data. Every MMO with an expansion gets a 3 month spike in uptake but every time the annual trend goes down every expansion.

    Expansions are great for $$$ but bad for longevity. It becomes a drug addict's exercise in "Chasing the Dragon". Eventually you have to start churning out expansions quicker and quicker to maintain the high but ultimately you lockout new players and hit "the point of no return" on the decline.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"