There’s a lot to be said for Blizzard’s iterative design philosophy: it means that new features are getting added to the game in each successive expansion, and it means that those features rarely get the opportunity to become stale by doing them over and over again without providing some new form of content.
All that being said, there are certain concepts that have been introduced into the game that I feel would have been really interesting to see if they’d been in the game from the very start. It flies in the face of iterative design to do that, but this is a chance for me to mix things up and that’s pretty much what I’m all about on PW:R, so here we go:
Imagine if the concept of a player-run farm had been introduced in the base game, and had been a growing feature of the game as the expansions progressed.
Patch 1.9: The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj
As part of the War Effort event, players at max-level are granted a plot of land that allows them to generate resources needed to support the Might of Kalimdor. Alliance players would take over an existing farm in Elwynn Forest, while Horde players would be tasked with recovering an abandoned farm near Razor Hill in Durotar.
- The farm would act as a daily hub, offering a variety of quests ranging from defending the farm from aggressive monsters (kobolds/gnolls in Elwynn, quillboar/centaur in Durotar) to cajoling peons/peasants into their work.
- The farm would have a trading post where players could take certain esoteric drops that showed up in pre-AQ raids and exchange them for War Effort resources.
- As with the original War Effort event, players could use those resources either to get themselves a randomized piece of gear, or they could use them for Commendations that would let them gain reputation with allied factions.
- Following the War Effort event, new work orders would show up that would allow the resources to be used for other neutral factions in the game, like the Zandalar Tribe, the Argent Dawn, or the Cenarion Circle.
Patch 2.0: The Burning Crusade
Just like the wars in Azeroth needed farms to support them, so too does the battle in Outland require material support. With the Dark Portal hotly contested with forces of the Burning Legion, the Horde and Alliance have both turned to Nagrand as the breadbasket for their efforts on the shattered world. After players have proven their worth the Kurenai and the Mag’har (Alliance and Horde, respectively), they’re given leave to harvest their own resources from the Talbuk Ranch.
- In addition to the original farm functionality, players would be able to raise their own talbuk mounts as part of a long-form grind, similar to the Wintersaber Trainers grind.
- In addition to defending the ranch from ogre cattle-rustlers, players would have the option of attempting to steal resources from the opposing faction’s ranch.
- Resource exchanges can only take place in Halaa, giving players more incentive to engage in the PVP tug-of-war over the city.
- The addition of new factions like the Sha’tari Skyguard, Ogri’la, and the Shattered Sun Offensive all open up new daily options and resource exchanges as the patches proceed forward.
Patch 3.0: Wrath of the Lich King
As the primary fortified landfall point for both the Alliance and the Horde, Borean Tundra houses both the Farshire settlers and Torp’s Farm, both of which need to be secured and defended against aggressors. In a shift from BC, no rep requirement is necessary to begin working the farm, but more content is distributed there over the course of the expansion.
- Both locations expand to include a mine, which will need to be defended frequently from Nerubian attacks.
- In 3.1, the Scourge attacks are replaced by attacks from loot-crazed poachers, Northsea pirates, and Copperpot goons.
- In 3.2, the goon attacks are replaced by attacks from the opposing faction, and new PVP dailies are available. Additionally, the Argent Tournament opens up, granting new resource exchange options.
- In 3.3, the Argent Crusade offers new resource exchange options.
Patch 4.0: Cataclysm
The Shattering presents an opportunity for players to either return to their farms in Elwynn Forest and Durotar to begin generating new resources, or provides new farms in Dun Morogh and Mulgore.
- In either case, the farm gains an Archaeology specialist who allows resources to be exchanged for specific Archaeology fragments.
- In 4.2, the Avengers of Hyjal offer new resource exchange options.
- Many more of your resources this expansion are going to support reconstruction efforts in Stormwind and Orgrimmar, and the rewards for stealing resources from the opposing factions farms are much higher than in previous expansions. This includes stealing resources from the Nagrand and Borean Tundra farms as well.
To an extent, this dovetails into the Mists of Pandaria version more readily, as Sunsong Ranch is a neutral position where there’s no factional competition involved. Instead, the faction conflict is shifted to Krasarang and later to the Isle of Thunder, while Sunsong ends up being much more focused on resource generation and helping out the people of Halfhill.
All of this builds into the farm becoming the garrison in Warlords of Draenor just as perfectly, with a much stronger formalization of tasks by having buildings like the Trading Post to facilitate resource exchanges.
Ideally, I’d always want the farms to stay as semi-relevant content: you could always go back to the farm of the proper expansion and do resource exchanges, which would allow crafting materials that you farmed up while soloing old raids to always have some degree of use aside from either feeding really old school crafters or being vendor trash. I also like the idea of being able to get NPCs to run your farm for you, but exactly how that plays into player economics might make that less of a cool idea.
Anyhow, that’s what having the farm as a constant game feature could conceivably look like. ^_^