Stranglethorn Vale: Hot or Not?

It isn’t often that you get a chance to see two notable professionals duke it out about the design of a WoW zone. But Stranglethorn Vale, the marmite of the Warcraft World (ie. you love it or you hate it) inspires strong emotions among players and pros alike.

Richard Bartle describes why he thinks it’s such a well designed zone.

He’s made good points. When I have levelled an alt from scratch, I’ve always breathed a sigh of relief when I got into Stranglethorn in the low 30s because it was such an easy, well laid out zone for levelling. I don’t agree with all of his points, in particular the flow is less good for Horde than Alliance, but he reminded me of all the fun I’d had working through quests there.

Aside from that, it’s an awesome article and worth reading for his musings on the theme of the zone and how he feels the quest and level design feeds into the whole experience. I don’t know if was mostly a happy accident with Stranglethorn or if this is the kind of thing MMO level designers think about all the time — I’d like to think it was the latter though.

Lum picks Stranglethorn apart and describes why it drives him nuts.

This isn’t as well executed an article or as persuasive an argument, but he’s right that the zone covers too wide a level range, and the jump between them is not smooth. The levelling guides always solved this by presenting it in two parts and sending you off round the world in the interrim. Not something you’d associate with smooth flow.