During my time away from WoW I did lots of things. I even tried other games. I did some console gaming, but I really am just not a console gamer. I also tried DC Universe Online after it went free to play. I liked the game, but I think what I liked about it the most had nothing to do with the game. I’m just a sucker for super heroes.

As an aside, if you want to experience how talent trees can go wrong, and why I’m looking forward to the MoP talent trees, check out DC Universe Online. I created a acrobatic, dual pistol, sorcerer, which left me with 4 different talent trees. One for movement (mine was acrobatic, but there’s flying and a speed runner [think Flash]), one for weaponry, one for sorcery, and one for iconic powers. Each of these had multiple tiers. Trying to figure out how to prioritize what points to put where is an absolute nightmare.

That leads me into what I like most about WoW: the meta-game. Because WoW is so mature and so widely played, there are so many things to do outside of the game that’s still game related. First there’s the community. This blog is one small example of the community at large. I subscribe and read a ton of WoW blogs every day, and each voice is unique and brings a new perspective to the game. Then there’s the database sites like wowhead, or tool sites like WoW Reforge, or WoW Heroes. There’s even applications you can run like SimulationCraft to help you understand things in the game. Addons are a huge part of the enjoyment of the game for me. Crafting a space that I find useful and usable to do what I do and how I do it is so much fun.

All of these things are so hard for competing platforms to go up against. The issues are two-fold here: one being so much is reliant on a large and active user base (Blizzard didn’t create any of the things I talked about), the second being creating an open platform to allow your user base to create these things.

DC Universe Online launched without the ability for Addons. They did this because it’s easier to develop the game if they don’t have to worry about that aspect of it. I think if games want to compete with World of Warcraft in this third party space they have to develop with an open platform first in there minds. There’s a saying among programmers: Eat your own dog food. Basically what it means is that if you’re building something make sure you are the one to use it. That way if it sucks you are motivated to improve it naturally. You can build a product to use the same open platform that you can then expose to other people to consume. Yes, it is harder, and takes more time, but developing products worth shipping are worth the effort.

Maybe game companies don’t care about competing with WoW in this space. Maybe they think that it’s just not that important to their customers at large. I don’t know if they’re right, they have really smart people working for them advising them, so maybe they are. All I know is that great game concepts can draw me to come try out a game, but the experience as a whole is why I end up coming back here.