A View From the Road: Cry Less, Noob

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A View From the Road: Cry Less, Noob

Yeah, MMOGs are a lot more casual-friendly these days. So what?

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And cue the "casual gamers are dooming the industry" posts. I think this is where the implemation of achievement points and trophies really shines as a great idea. The casual gamer can play the game on easy while the more talented player can play it on impossible and they are rewarded. While not taking any content away from the casual gamer.

squid5580:
And cue the "casual gamers are dooming the industry" posts. I think this is where the implemation of achievement points and trophies really shines as a great idea. The casual gamer can play the game on easy while the more talented player can play it on impossible and they are rewarded. While not taking any content away from the casual gamer.

Exactamundo. Achievements and trophies for "Hard mode" are great. But casual players should be able to see everything.

EVE is only punishing if you take the pixels seriously. Otherwise, its just a bit frustrating

Actually, my thoughts on the subject are mixed to be honest. I think that for the time and effort put into certain things there should be more of a payoff than just a meaningless mark on your scorecard. Allegedly Blizzard plans to make your "Blizzscore" a huge benefit in their future games by providing special content and such based around it and it's achievements, though whether they will stick to their guns on this remains to be seen (as will how much it winds up mattering).

As immature as it sounds, I think part of the appeal of playing hardcore is being able to have/do something that other people want, but simply cannot. That is kind of a lot of the appeal and the problem is that game designers just don't get it. You remove that kind of emotional payoff, and the question arises as to why it's worth being hardcore and doing those challenging fights and stuff.

Personally I see no real problem with the idea of there being a zone or two (formerly the "endgame") that only the hardcore (or fairly hardcore) can access and deal with. If your playing that much time and get that good you sort of deserve it for your devotion (criticizing the sanity of such devotion and the priorities it indicates is something else entirely). Sure a lot of players miss out on that content, but by the same token you've still got a substantial player base (a guild or three on each server) that will see it, and the very existance of such things is going to motivate people to put in that kind of effort.

I think casuals and hardcore players can co-exist. I've been both, and am now somewhere in between. When I was playing casually oh sure, I was a bit envious to see some people walk around with their super-loot and to know they could very well have the devil himself (or whatever) on "Farm status", but honestly with the way I was playing I didn't need loot like that, and honestly didn't belong in that endgame because the point of killing the equivilent of one of the lords of all evil loses impact if just any goober can walk up and tweak his nose like a giant rat in the tutorial (which is where Casual gaming ultimatly goes). When I was going Hardcore for a while (and I went through a REALLY hardcore phase a few times) part of the fun was other people looking at me with that kind of envy. It make my B@lls feel big. But then again, I also knew that if they REALLY wanted it enough they could be where I was at that moment, maybe not in that specific game but in the next one (and there will ALWAYS be a next game, barring some kind of global "Dark Angel" like techno-apocolypse).

I mean honestly, I see nothing fundementally wrong with the idea of some things being present that take dedicated players to do.

Otherwise I agree pretty much 100% about the challenge vs. punishment aspects of the article, although I will point out that one of the big reasons why is simply that given that technology is not perfect it's possible to get rocked hardcore by something that isn't your fault, like lag or a disconnect. Oh sure, everyone lies about lagging or fakes DCs when stuff goes wrong, but the truth it is DOES happen to everyone for real which is why such things can never be dismissed.

I feel that nobody has really gotten a 'perfect' balance for failure in an RPG going IMO. I think in the end the trick is going to be not coming up with one death penelty that applies through the whole game, but the penelties for dying being subjective to how a character dies.

See, one of the things that bugs me in WoW is how casually death is treated simply because it just means some annoying repair bills and farming. Once we got into the habit of intentionally wiping raids "until we get it right" so we could fit as many attempts on a boss into a raid period as possible I felt something was seriously wrong. I mean I just do not feel right hurling my electronic avatar into the jaws of a giant elder demon from beyond space because someone messed up.

I also feel the lack of death penelties making players less picky, has also reduced the quality of the content itself simply because the companies (in this case I'm talking about Blizzard and WoW) cease to really balance/fully test all of their content properly nobody is going to complain if a borked boss wipes them for 3 hours straight because there are few penelties and they can always patch it later. Of course in the meantime I still wasted 3 hours of my life plus farming time because the company wasn't doing the job I pay it for. Nobody is going to complain because it's just gold, but that in of itself is part of the problem.

Granted there is a flip side to everything I'm saying, but the bottom line is that I think we have still to see a "sweet spot" reached with the risk to reward factors in MMORPGs.

I myself would probably like to see less obtuse bosses, with higher death penelties for them killing you, while at the same time having the death penelties being less extreme for less dramatic events.

I guess part of it is that I kind of feel nobody should ever casually say "wipe" over raid chat and have everyone gleefully committ lemming like suicide. I think it's stupid, and a lot of factors contribute to it. I mean seriously when learning a boss guilds plan to fit as many deaths as possible into a raid time, and I spend as much time on a hard boss running back to the entrance as I do in actual battle.

Sorry I really don't agree

For some unfathomable reason, players gladly put up with all of this. Sure, for many there's a fond veil of nostalgia over the whole thing, but even Barker admits that it's usually in the context of "Oh man, remember how much that sucked?" These sorts of gameplay mechanics would never fly in a modern MMOG, and for good reason: They did suck.

No. No they didn't.

I started off on MUDs a long long time ago and I, in my noobishness picked a race/class that was almost totally wrong (Think Troll Wizard), but I stuck at it. And boy did I stick at it.

And did I have fun? Hell yes.

Then I moved to Everquest and had a graphics card so bad that I couldn't even make out the writing. I just knew that black was me hitting the enemy and red was me getting hit. As long as black overruled red, I was doing well.

And I died. Many Many many times.

Did I have fun? Hell yes.

Then I got my gfx card upgrade and started watching the figures. I'd become so attuned to the colours that I could figure out my chances just from the first two rounds of combat.

I deliberately picked a character that was KOS in most places and then tested the limit of where I could get to...sneaking into places where I could draw guards out and then gank them.

Then I moved to CoX and wanted to play a tough character, so again I picked one I knew was gimped.

But by this time, the "casual" mode had set in, and the hardcore crowd knew they could romp the game on casual mode, so wanting to do it the tough way was out. We had to take on +5 mobs all at the same time through military precision with NO ROLEPLAYING EVER!
(Seriously, you were kicked if you even showed any sign or RP)

So, the nerf bat came down and the casuals were made to play the game properly. This bored them, so they left. Leaving the rest of us struggling under huge nerfs that made the game a challenge even at easy level and gave us 50 hours of grind per level.

What the designers fail to realise is there is multiple ways of playing the game that don't correspond just to the whims of the crowd, mainly because if you pander to them, you just have a system that sets up elitist pricks who teabag everyone that comes their way, before they leave two months in because they've completed it.

I retried EQ2 recently and found they had a badge for getting to level 20 within 7 days. With my little knowledge, I pulled it off within 10 hours play.

Eve isn't hard, it's just full of PvP'ers who know the game inside out, like I did with the MUDs once. That's where half the problems lie. Even in WoW, there's a whole set of ways where you can make your PvP character win 90% of their matches and that just leads to frustration.

Some of us want to craft, some of us want to RP, some of us want to zip through the good bits and some of us want a game that challenges us.

At the moment, all a lot of MMO games are looking at are the "casual" gamers, who do just like they do on Peggle, Pop Up Pirates and the rest. Stay for a few months soaking up the pixels and then move en masse to another game. That doesn't make a good population.

Equally, a pure hardcore crowd (Eve) doesn't really help as casuals are just lynched on entering.

What would help is a twin-tier where the casuals can have fun while the hardcore can sweat tears. The casuals may keep the populations up, but the hardcore actually test the game and stay with it.

Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

But that's exactly the point expressed there, the fond memories were essentially of... crap. You can laugh about them, and you may have enjoyed them at the time, but that doesn't change the fact that these were often very sub-par methods of getting the game done. What you're confusing here is cause and effect. You loved the effect, the feeling you got from playing games the way you did, but now many 'Hardcore' players are confusing 'Changing the cause' with 'Butchering the effect'. If you think the game still lacks the feeling of crying at the feet of an unfeeling, uncaring and merciless God-Boss, you have never fought the Raid Destroyer. Letting casuals into the room doesn't destroy or devalue the room, in fact it does the exact opposite.

'And if they don't like it, well, then they can just go play EVE Online.'

Excellent way to end the article, only difference from the title being that noob tears are sought after and encouraged for the general amusement of the server populace. Cry More Noob :D

The only thing better is veteran emoragequit.

squid5580:
And cue the "casual gamers are dooming the industry" posts. I think this is where the implemation of achievement points and trophies really shines as a great idea. The casual gamer can play the game on easy while the more talented player can play it on impossible and they are rewarded. While not taking any content away from the casual gamer.

But what about people like me who can't play games like WoW and EQ because we think they are where gamers go to die yet are SO hard core we have tones of trophies and know its just a game so we don't get angry? lol. My buddies hardcore in the fact that if his grenade doesn't kill something he FREAKS lol.

Donnyp:
My buddies hardcore in the fact that if his grenade doesn't kill something he FREAKS lol.

Nah, that's just being spastic. :P

On the other hand if you don't want to see everything, you shouldn't have to. In WoW, I've poked my head into a couple of regions, looked around, said "Nah, I don't think so," and toddled along to a different area. Periodically I get forced into an area and have to grind my way through it (omg Tanaris, so much hate) but I've skipped Ashenvale and Thousand Needles and abandoned all quests in the aptly named Desolace and it has not impeded my progression through the game. Those skipped areas also serve as a reservoir of new gameplay when I have played my preferred areas to death, rezzed them, and played them to death again.

In single player games, this happens too - the level you hate, for whatever reason. Halo CE is still a sentimental favorite that I would play through again and again--if I could skip The Library (which I can't because I lost my saved games when I moved to the 360.)

I suspect, given the time I spend playing and the time I spend researching how to play better, that I would fall into the category of "hardcore" but I don't care about achievements and I don't feel obliged to beat any level or boss that doesn't interest me. The article seems to propose two types of gamers - the Casual who is playing for entertainment, pure and simple, emphasis on the "simple, and the Hardcore who lives for the sense of accomplishment that comes from playing the game through on the "Bellycrawling Over an Endless Plain of Broken Glass" setting. But I feel like there could and should be another category, which for lack of a better term I call the Impatient gamer. Yes, yes, I see the challenge of this level, it's very difficult and well-crafted and requires a lot of skill AND OMG I JUST DON'T CARE. I've tried getting through it 3-5 times, still haven't made it, have taken time to admire the game mechanics and the design, both very good, and now I'm just bored.

This is why God gave us GameFAQs. But I wouldn't use the walkthroughs if I didn't have to, and if I could skip it and come back later, not only would it reduce my irritation on the first playthrough, it would increase the replay value. I'd have what is effectively new content to play when I came back to the game at some later point. It would be like saving a couple of servings of a tasty dish to have as leftovers the next day.

Donnyp:

squid5580:
And cue the "casual gamers are dooming the industry" posts. I think this is where the implemation of achievement points and trophies really shines as a great idea. The casual gamer can play the game on easy while the more talented player can play it on impossible and they are rewarded. While not taking any content away from the casual gamer.

But what about people like me who can't play games like WoW and EQ because we think they are where gamers go to die yet are SO hard core we have tones of trophies and know its just a game so we don't get angry? lol. My buddies hardcore in the fact that if his grenade doesn't kill something he FREAKS lol.

I avoided the word "hardcore" and replaced it with talented for this exact reason. If you have a ton of trophies it doesn't make you hardcore. What about the person who spends 20 hours a day playing 1 game. Does that mean they are less "hardcore" than you because obviously they wouldn't have nearly as many trophies?

The_root_of_all_evil:
Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

Sorry mate, but summarising your post is pretty simple: you loved it punishing because you're a gaming masochist. You spent the entire post going on about how, yes, it was crap it was and about how much you loved it crap. I don't think many people will agree with you on that. I know I sure as hell wouldn't. "Enjoyability" in a game is a subjective trait, "quality" and "playability" are not, and if game developers aren't striving for maximum quality and playability they aren't very good developers.

One of the best examples of this issue is Guild Wars (the game I still hold as the MMO gold standard). After the third campaign came out ArenaNet introduced an actual "hard mode" to the game. All enemies received a considerable buff to level, AI and certain attributes such as movement speed, loot drops were massively improved to compensate for the merciless difficulty and several new titles were introduced for tasks such as clearing every mission or killing all enemies in each zone on hard mode. And the best part? It was completely optional- all you had to do to play hard mode was click the "hard mode" button in your party bar before leaving town. Hardcore players lapped it up greedily, casual players cheerfully ignored it. It was fantastic and drastically extended the life of the game without any adverse effects or compromises to the existing game at all.

This is something the Guild Wars developers caught on to - making high-end content that almost nobody can see is kind of stupid. See, they tied access to the 2 big dungeons in the first 'expansion' to ownership of the respective capitol cities for the 2 factions guilds (and therefore players) can join (hence the name "Factions"). But ownership of those cities involved donating the most faction which meant constant PvP grinding in a race against everyone else on your side, so the odds of most players ever being able to get into those normally was pretty much zero.

And the high-end PvE content in the original game was tied into which region had teams dominating in the highly competitive PvP game, which meant certain times of the day it was impossible to get in because the only ones up and playing were on a different continent and some of the regions almost never had the "favor of the gods", so they just didn't get to go there at all.

Of course in Guild Wars there really isn't anything in those dungeons/zones that's better than things you can find elsewhere - it's mainly just for the fun/challenge/prestige, but it still sucked that there was content that you couldn't play because groups of people you don't know were losing in PvP, or because none of your friends have enough time to farm faction like it's their second job.

These days there are scrolls you can easily purchase/find to take you into those zones, and access to the core 'end-game content' is tied into player achievements across all zones (Each time somebody maxes out a title X amount of minutes are added to the Favor of the Gods). The outpost control is still around and you are still rewarded for being that dedicated (insane), but you aren't locked out of content because you don't control the capitol cities.

Looking at the game now versus when I originally started playing is a real eye-opener, so much has improved that it's just not funny - and a lot of those changes revolve around not punishing the new players or casual gamers.

Ultrajoe:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

But that's exactly the point expressed there, the fond memories were essentially of... crap.

Nope, that's not the point. My fond memories were of getting through the crap, not of the crap itself. There's no point in having a game where, for instance, the entire game is holding down W+M1 running at the enemy.
The real game is stealthily creeping past the enemy, waiting for them to have a momentary lapse of concentration and then igniting 5 of them.

You're gonna die a few times sorting the timing out (the "crap") but it's through the crap that you learn how to be a gaming "god".

Arcane Azmadi:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

Sorry mate, but summarising your post is pretty simple: you loved it punishing because you're a gaming masochist.

That's the problem with summarising, it misses out on the subtle points that you spent time making.
Guild Wars has it's own hideous problems, like the 51 Monk, Assassin Shutdowns and quests that are so broken it's untrue. (Little girl's flute?)

Put it this way, I loved going out to the East Commonlands and watching the sunset. Yeah I had to run past 15 KOS lions and it took me 10 minutes to cross the level (even with SoW), but it was worth it in the end.

Simply clicking on Monster A while the Holy Trinity locks it down may get you the loot, but there's no fun in that.

I know I sure as hell wouldn't. "Enjoyability" in a game is a subjective trait, "quality" and "playability" are not, and if game developers aren't striving for maximum quality and playability they aren't very good developers.

Wanna see how many developers we can name that aren't very good? Especially with certain patches.

Therumancer:
As immature as it sounds, I think part of the appeal of playing hardcore is being able to have/do something that other people want, but simply cannot. That is kind of a lot of the appeal and the problem is that game designers just don't get it. You remove that kind of emotional payoff, and the question arises as to why it's worth being hardcore and doing those challenging fights and stuff.

The gradual emergence of "regenerative health" has all but taken away much of the challenge that was once present in many games. A new generation of gamers will all but wipe out the memory of those days. They will momentarily crouch behind a piece of furniture or debris as the screen flashes red and know not what "difficult" once was...

If a game does not test you, you are not going to love it.

If a so-called computer game is a stream of computer generated visual effects with periodic quicktime events, that is not a game, but an exercise in noobishness. It might have great voice acting, beautiful effects and music, but if surmounting it's obstacles does not push you to your strategic and hand-eye coordination limits, it will just be "meh." It will be mostly forgotten in a few months.

Now the addictiveness of WoW was this: sure all the questing might be stupid but I figured that would all change with the "endgame"... so I thought. WoW was fun for awhile, because competing against twinks in level 19 and 29 battlegrounds did test me, as I was leveling up that part was indeed difficult. PvP parts of WoW I did enjoy most of the way through. But as I reached endgame and realized that both PvE and PvP challenges are basically overcome with better gear, and good gear comes from repeating unchallenging material (maybe hard the first time but not once you've done it a couple of times). As I came to realize that's all there is, that is "the game," WoW's luster faded quickly. It is a small palette of commands one uses in a raid, and having figured those out, it is only gear that distinguishes the participants. There simply was no way for me to truly distinguish my uberness. Addiction resolved.

I agree though that there should be easier access to the full content of the game. Open up the raids so guilds with members just dinging level 70 (I mean 80 now... I quit with Burning Crusade) can still go in, even if they get their ass handed to them by the first boss--however make the first boss accessible to 70 greens, of all the raid instances, and then make the last boss beatable only if everyone has high level purple gear (versus repeating Kharazan 20 times until people are geared enough to go into Gromm's Lair, or whatever, the names are fuzzy now.)

And I also agree it is important to distinguish challenging from punishing, to a degree, though part of good strategic design is being rewarded for good choices and punished for bad ones.

Agreed 100%, I had no term for it before, but punishing is the word I wanted/needed.

There are plenty of non-challenging difficulties that a game has, especially when a boss only does 1-2 special things to watch out for, but you lose if other people in your group manage to screw it up, and, well, that would happen a lot with 39 other people, I would imagine. Hell, it happens enough with 10.

Totally agreed. It's no secret I'm not a big MMO fan, but I used to play them a bit more a couple years ago and one of the things that always confused me was why developers were punishing players for playing the game... And that was the very reason I quit the many of them.

The number 1 dick move that I grew tired of very, very fast, was, as you mentioned, death penalties. Specially in PvP. PvP is part of the game, why am I being punished for playing it? And some games were destructive about it too... You'd loose half of your gear as loot (which everyone around would quickly liberate you of) if you died, or your gear would break... Or half of your current experience. Etc, etc. That wasn't challenging, that was just fucking cruel. Easily one of the best things MMO's have been doing is removing these penalties in lieu of more "slight slap on the wrist" ones.

As for the whole "CASUAL VS. HARDCORE!" dilemma, allow me to extend your conclusions from "MMOs" to "games in general". Games should not bar people who can't spend 5 hours a day in front of their computers from playing it. What a good game should do is provide a challenge adapted to various skill levels. The old motto "easy to learn, difficult to master" comes to mind. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, take a game like TF2 for instances. Every class can do their basic role, with average efficiency, quite easily. But if you truly wanna shine as any class you gotta learn their ropes. It's easy to become an average [any class], but to become a master of that class is difficult, it's challenging (some classes more than others).

I remember my friend used to sit at his computer playing EverQuest from the second he got home from school until he went to sleep (passed out from exhaustion most likely). He didn't even pay attention to his girlfriend who was actually hot to make the relationship last more than month. How she liked him, I have no idea.

Point is, I'd like to think I'm a pretty skilled gamer, but even I don't have the patience to grind for hours on end, as the majority of others don't either. Not regularly anyways. And if it wasn't the difficulty of playing the game, it was the assholes who talked shit because you didn't know what you were doing, like people just are supposed to know the ins and the outs from the second they sign up. It ain't happenin'.

When I tried playing an MMORPG, I was fortunate to run into someone who was very helpful and happened to be from my area. He got me into a guild, but after that, the fun stopped. When the guy wasn't online, it was like pulling teeth to get anyone from the guild to give me tips, and they regularly took advantage of me when I was trying to sell things or whatever. This was after I joined several raiding parties and did my share to help out.

MMORPGs aren't for people who want to enjoy a game, they are for hardcore gamer bragging rights. What makes a holier-than-thou attitude any better than noob teabagging?

Thats actually the difference I find in playing Guild Wars and Maplestory.I've had Guild Wars for 3 years now(or is it four? I can't remember) and I love it because once you buy it, it's free. Anyway, I'm not that big of a pc gamer. I'll play any game that I find interesting, but my computers have never been able to handle all the games that I would like to play, so I'm a console gamer. I only log into GW about once a week anyway.

But yeah, I started out on Maplestory a looong time ago, and I found it boring because it was all grinding and boredom. The quests were mostly about grinding and the OH SO Frustraiting lazy npc quests.(I need to flush the toilet, but I'm busy washing my hands. Can you go five miles away and find me at least three handles that might work to flush this toilet? Then, I'll need you to flush the toilet for me.)

Guild wars seems more story based, so I like it better anyway. But my main problem with Maplestory was that if you didn't spend like five hours playing it a day, you couldn't do the quests that were actually interesting. Guild Wars, I entered the world of post searing at level 4 because of some jerks that took advantage of me not knowing what was going on. However, instead of letting that get to me, I continued to play on that character, and he remains my main to this day. But I could play it all and even though it was difficult, still live and enjoy the game at such a low level.

Now don't get me wrong, Maplestory has changed to be a little less boring, and I do know that it has some great things for hardcore gamers and casuals alike. Infact, the new cygnus knight got me into that game again, though only mainly because my friends play. Guild Wars, no matter how little I play it, I always have a great time. You can basically play it like a one player game, if you use the NPC henchmen, and that something else I like.

I can't say if I've ever been casual or hardcore, I doubt I ever reached an extreme of either side. But it's kind of nice when you don't have to be hardcore to enjoy the game, but it's also nice to know that there are some really legendary things that you can do if you're good or at least patient with the game. The idea should always be that you've got stuff in the game that any casual can do, and also stuff in the game that only the hardest of hardcores can do. These gaming communities are communities, and people get remembered when they do awsome stuff. You just need to ballance it out to where the people that don't have the time or skill to reach said awsome plateu can still feel like they're worth something for being able to play the game at thier skill level.

(Sorry for such a long post. I don't know how it got that way.)

Vohn_exel:
Guild Wars, I entered the world of post searing at level 4 because of some jerks that took advantage of me not knowing what was going on. However, instead of letting that get to me, I continued to play on that character, and he remains my main to this day. But I could play it all and even though it was difficult, still live and enjoy the game at such a low level.

Another one for my camp I feel :) Easy is tedious.

Death Penalties are the things that almost made me break keyboards when I was still actively playing MMO's. While my experience with this is limited to Experience penalties (you lose 10% of the total XP you need to level), it's not hard to feel angry because you died of LAG. It's worse when you think that that 10% will take you 4 or 5 hours of grinding to get back. Though this also had an upside in that players are trained to play carefully and select targets that they can actually kill.

Another complaint I can think of from those days is the unnatural difficulty curve in most areas. You might be breezing through one area, then on the next there are monsters strong enough to one-hit kill you without any warning.

But I loved the social aspect of it all. Adventuring with like-minded people is great. Trash talk goes a-flyin' when someone dies.

Honestly, I have zero interest in non-death penalty based pvp. There's a whole dynamic that is there when people have consequences for dying - lootable items is what I'm thinking of here - and without that I can't be bothered.

I never PvPed for the hell of it, for fun, or whatever. I did it because I am a strategy nut, and I'm addicted to the deadly serious adrenaline rush when you put it all on the line.

But Eve Online is the only MMO that does PvP in a way I personally enjoy. Mindless insta-respawn killfests aren't fun for me at all. If I wanted that kind of action, I'd play an FPS.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

My sentiments exactly. I love a challenge in a game where you are rewarded for excellent play with something other than just a shiny star on your achievement list. You gain respect from the community and you make a lot of friends with your guild mates while you're at it. I find that more solid comradery comes from content that is much more difficult. It creates a buzz that is difficult to match with any other gaming experience.
A game could never make me jump up and down screaming "YES! FUCK YES!" and yet when my guild killed M'uru (one of the most difficult raid bosses ever made) I did. Were the wipes demoralizing? Yes. Was the preparation and execution exhausting? Absolutely, but the victory was so very sweet.

Amen. I'm sorry but there is still content in MMO's to cater to the masochistic.
Anyone crying otherwise hasn't actually gotten there and is bullshiteing their face off for the sake of justifying their little whine-crusade.

I've played games that carry the torch of clearly being only for the grindy, twitchy, 8 hour a day gamer and really, after time, I really am not having fun, because everyone's just trying to 'Out-elitest' everyone else and it does become a glorified dick waving contest that I just don't want to get into anymore.

I have my own nostalgias but I acknowledge when things are just for the best.
Things are not being made casual, believe me if they were my mum wouldn't look at my WoW interface like I was using advanced microsoft excel spreadsheets and I was explaining trigonometry to her.

Shes a gamer too so... believe me that explanation is not void of merit.

Yeah Eve Online is the game for me. Sense of loss in this game is one of the main reasons i love it. You can lose everything if you make a mistake. but it does not take you long to build it back up again.
No naff respawning and back in the battle almost instantly. Unless you have ships nearby :)

Charli:

I've played games that carry the torch of clearly being only for the grindy, twitchy, 8 hour a day gamer and really, after time, I really am not having fun, because everyone's just trying to 'Out-elitest' everyone else and it does become a glorified dick waving contest that I just don't want to get into anymore.

And that attitude is what really gets me down. Just because I want to spend time taking down Hamidon or Rallos Zek does not mean that I laugh at petty level 1's that would kill to be me.

Look next to you, one of those level 1's is likely to be me as well.

I like casual at times, I like hardcore at times. But changing one into the other because of "demographics" is stupid, petty and gives you a brief increase in treasury before burying your game.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Charli:

I've played games that carry the torch of clearly being only for the grindy, twitchy, 8 hour a day gamer and really, after time, I really am not having fun, because everyone's just trying to 'Out-elitest' everyone else and it does become a glorified dick waving contest that I just don't want to get into anymore.

And that attitude is what really gets me down. Just because I want to spend time taking down Hamidon or Rallos Zek does not mean that I laugh at petty level 1's that would kill to be me.

Look next to you, one of those level 1's is likely to be me as well.

I like casual at times, I like hardcore at times. But changing one into the other because of "demographics" is stupid, petty and gives you a brief increase in treasury before burying your game.

Aaand I think you misunderstand me, I'm not saying interchanging one for the other is good, it certainly isn't. But making all the visable content avaliable to those that play the game the average amount of time for the entire playerbase isn't a bad thing, this is what irritates me when those that carry the title of hardcore get their knickers in a knot about.

Level 1's don't even enter into the equation, I'm talking about those of a fairly equal status at the higher end of the game who suddenly get left in the cold because they can't keep up the hours needed to see everything... I mean it's a game! Not a job! Averaging out and then creating difficult modes of those things for the overly dedicated with better rewards is a very good way to go about it. Just seeing the content and imagining how hard the difficult modes are will be enough for the so called casual. And for those that want to take it further the option is there.

But those that still whine after that is what gets my headaches going.

And sorry but I was in the leiu of 'First wave' Zakum Killers in Maple Story Global (US now only isn't it?), I know what being one of those overly dedicated individuals is like... kinda boring after a while. Nice memory, wouldn't go back to it though...

I am NOT saying make all MMO's more casual, that's not what the article is saying either. These Games are working toward happy mediums for all and what gets me down is the hardcore failing to see it because it's not what they are used to, if they just changed their thought patterns and got down to see what can be done 'instead of', they'll find the tough chewy center of self inflicted greif they always like picking at... Myself included.

While some MMO's are casualling it up so to speak, I don't agree with it, some are trying their hardest to cater to all and still getting greif...which really sucks.

Charli:

Aaand I think you misunderstand me,

Not much to misunderstand really : "because everyone's just trying to 'Out-elitest' everyone else and it does become a glorified dick waving contest" : seems quite to the point.

But making all the visable content avaliable to those that play the game the average amount of time for the entire playerbase isn't a bad thing

Yes it is, and do you want me to tell you why?

Average amount of time can be REALLY low. I spent over 1000 hours in City Of Heroes and never got to see all the content, but some people did and had a wail of a time.

How much time do you think the casual has to spend? 4 hours a week maybe? 6 months until they get bored, so maybe 80 hours in game.

And in that time they HAVE to be able to appreciate everything? That's just crushingly bad.

Should Diablo have removed the cow level because not many people could have got to it?

Take a look at a game like GTA Vice City which isn't an MMO. How long would it take you to explore everything that had to offer? Years of casual play?

Are you saying that you'd stop people being that "overly dedicated individuals"?

No? Well neither would I.

Equally I'm not saying that you need to log on a 7 each night to have a chance at a .01% drop of the Uber-Goober Armour of Uberness, because that gets really old, really quick.

What's needed is an understanding that there's (at least) 2 different styles of play and not just set the game to only accomodate one of them. Which ironically is what Eve tends to do.

Casual friendly does not have to mean hardcore unfriendly, which is what Microsoft seem to be sticking on at the moment with Windows, you just have to have a little track that says "For a tougher time, click here".

I've collected more rats tails than you've had hot dinners :) So sometimes I like to start on cats.

Proteus214:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Fond veil of nostalgia, my bum. It was frustrating, evil and sucked my life away. I still loved it. If you want pretty skipping games then fine, but don't paint my game with rainbows when I like the dark.

My sentiments exactly. I love a challenge in a game where you are rewarded for excellent play with something other than just a shiny star on your achievement list. You gain respect from the community and you make a lot of friends with your guild mates while you're at it. I find that more solid comradery comes from content that is much more difficult. It creates a buzz that is difficult to match with any other gaming experience.
A game could never make me jump up and down screaming "YES! FUCK YES!" and yet when my guild killed M'uru (one of the most difficult raid bosses ever made) I did. Were the wipes demoralizing? Yes. Was the preparation and execution exhausting? Absolutely, but the victory was so very sweet.

But here you're precisely proving my points.

Are there any severe death penalties in WoW? Not at all; you lose some money on repairs and that's it. But that doesn't mean M'uru was any less of a complicated and intense boss fight. Would you have still enjoyed fighting him so much if every time you'd wiped, you'd lost 10% of your level and had to go grind it back? Or if every time you wiped, you had to wait 15 minutes for your death penalty to go away?

Now imagine that Blizzard had been doing the same "Normal Mode / Hard Mode" thing for TBC. The exact same fight with M'uru that took you wipe after wipe to get down - no changes whatsoever - would be "Hard Mode," and you'd get better gear from it. But then there'd also be a "Normal Mode" for less advanced raiders to take in and see the content. They'd get to control the blue dragons as they fought one of the leaders of the Burning Legion for the fate of Azeroth. They wouldn't get your fancy title, or special mounts, or loot that's as good, but they'd get to SEE it.

See, this is my point: There's nothing wrong with a challenge. Indeed, challenges keep us playing. But singleplayer games have difficulty settings that let players experience the entire thing at their level of challenge - why should MMOGs be any different? Something that's a challenge for the top tier of raiders is literally insurmountable by 99% of the populace; why should all the coolest art, lore, etc be found there?

If you can give the raiders their challenge (and last I checked, Hard Mode Anub'arak has only been killed by what, seven or eight guilds and it's been more than a month?) and still let more casual players see the content - at their own level of challenge - then you absolutely should.

Okay good Funk gets my point, because everyone else isn't getting that they're saying exactly what I think should be done, our experiences are just amounting to different ways of going about it.

It's difficult to explain when every one of us is probably playing a different MMO with different lines of developement and innovation in place.

If there's one thing about playing early, you can experience the early content. Playing the latest version would happen to result in getting better but mostly catering to the newbies.

I played several MMOs and came back to see what's different and pretty much the old versions are more of a tightrope walkings than easy cakewalk of the present day.

Jerry Holkins (Tycho)

There is a kind of genius expressed by Blizzard's mission to level the curve of World of Warcraft's original experience, slashing down brambles and rooting out malevolent fauna in an effort to grease the chute. As someone who has escaped its necrotic whorls, it feels a little like they're diluting the meager achievements I managed to secure, but any maneuver that diminishes the petty cruelties of that arc must be seen as a kindness in aggregate.

I might refer to the Penny Arcade comic "Consider the Nub".

I'm gonna disagree.

I am no where near a "hardcore" player, and I am not a "casual" player.

(As an aside, I'm seriously tired of gamers having to be pigeonholed as either "hardcore" or "casual")

I don't think the problem was that MMO's were too difficult or punishing. I also don't think that making them more "casual" was a solution.

Hear me out.

With the 1st and 2nd generation of MMO's (Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies) you didn't create a character and log in for the purpose of completing the game. You logged in to build your character, meet people and make friends, join a guild, explore the world, craft items, open a shop, help build a community, tackle dungeons, hunt down bosses, find treasure, defeat other players from other factions, protect your guildmates from playerkillers, hunt down playerkillers, and generally experience the life of your character.

All of the above was made more fulfilling and gratifying because it took a little bit of work, dedication, and sweat to make it happen.

Very few, if anyone, logged into that first generation of MMO's thinking "Man, I wish I could skip all this boring training and leveling crap so I can beat the final boss and finish this game."

Something happened though, in the transition of that 2nd generation. Developers began spending more time on content at the end-game. Why not? Most of their players were there now and they had to come up with a way to retain them instead of them moving to another game.

As end-game content expanded, it was necessary to up the difficulty in order to keep people playing. If you could clear new content in 1 month with your level capped character, then there was no point in maintaining a subscription. You could buy the expansion, play your month and see all the new things, get the new loot, and then happily suspend your account and play something else until the next expansion.

Fast forward to today's MMO's and what you find is a glorified tutorial designed to take you, on rails, through leveling your character to cap. Because level cap is where the real game is.

You want to defeat the Lich King? No problem. You can have every step from level 1-80 laid out right in front of you so you don't even have to think about what zone to go to and what monsters to fight. Grouping? Not necessary. Even though the game is Massively Multiplayer, you can breeze through the entire leveling experience all by your lonesome in about 5-10 days of play time.

"But you can't defeat the Lich King by just being level 80", you say? No problem, the game has already been modified to allow you to get 75% of the gear you'll need to enter the last raid dungeon without ever having set foot in any of the previous raid dungeons. It's a good thing too, because you won't be able to find anyone doing the previous content that will accept a character that needs the upgrades from that content anyway.

Developers have been making their end-games more "casual" because they're doing nothing to keep players from racing to be there.

No, I think the original MMO's WERE casual games. A typical night in UO could be spent in a guild tavern, doing nothing but sitting around and telling stories with guildmates. In Everquest, the developers knew that not everyone would be level capped and waiting for the next dungeon to be released because they were bored with the latest. There were things to do regardless of your level, size of your guild, and/or your ability to put together a small army of people to tackle a boss. Yes, there were some things that were extreme, including death penalties and week-long respawn timers, but they were doing something new and different and trying different ways of keeping people playing their game.

The major punishments were ironed out later on, but the popularity was growing and the gaming companies wanted to sell more product. The pendulum swung too far in the other direction. The status quo has become so diluted now that anything resembling the original ideal of an online world where you log in to a character and participate in the world just for the experience of the world is laughed at.

Today's MMO's have become a mad dash to the end. A single-player game teasing you with lots of little goodies you'll get to play with when you reach level cap. A glorified forum full of people and guilds waiting to post "First!" when they complete new content.

If you're not having your hand held by quest givers to direct you through the content, your game is a "grindfest".

If you are encouraged to seek out people to form groups to see content before you are level-capped, the game is too "hardcore".

If you can't defeat 3 other players on your own, the game isn't "balanced".

If you want people to experience the world you've built and not worry about being level-capped, having the best gear, a bank full of wealth, and plenty of things to do once you're at level cap, then your game is not only "too easy", or "boring", but it's also "incomplete" and "lacking content".

I still "play" my MMO games. Do you?

Or do you "complete" them?

lordswift1:
Yeah Eve Online is the game for me. Sense of loss in this game is one of the main reasons i love it. You can lose everything if you make a mistake. but it does not take you long to build it back up again.
No naff respawning and back in the battle almost instantly. Unless you have ships nearby :)

I think that is a good way to handle things... death penalties yes, for which you lose and your victor gains, but at the same time make them easy to recover from.

If my warlock lost his Staff of Infinite Mysteries to some rogue ganker (I'm talking early Burning Crusade), after all the guild/raid BS and patience I put up with to get it, I would have walked out the door, bought a gun, and shot my monitor, keyboard, and probably computer too. I mean I have several broken keyboards to my credit as it is even without severe death penalties. BUT... if replacing that staff meant a weeks worth of honor farming in the battlegrounds, I could have dealt with that, and I think I would prefer the game that way.

EVE, my sense is, from the time I played, is that nearly everything, including quest items, can be bought with ISK. I respect that. I think I could have gotten into EVE if only the fun parts came sooner.

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