Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Posts Tagged ‘WoW

Theorycrafting – Immersion

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Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

I was interested a few weeks ago to read this article at Massively. But I guess what was more interesting were the comments. It seems the majority of people (well, Massively readers at least) don’t feel that attached to their characters. Most simply, when they’ve had enough of a game, log out when they get bored, and if they don’t log back in again, well, no sleep will be lost over it.

But I got thinking. Recently, I’ve dabbled in Morrowind and Oblivion (two of the finest games I’ve ever played) and I found myself, as I approached the end of a gaming session, riding to a city to close the game down in my house, or an inn. Of course, there’s no benefit of this. No benefit at all, except maybe the peace of mind of knowing that I won’t boot up straight into a fight. But, most areas would guarentee that. Then I thought of MMOs again. The only time I’ve ever felt the need to log out in a certain area is for the rested XP bonus for logging out in an inn or a city in WoW, and similar things in other games. That in turn, got me thinking. In some ways, it’s a bribe for immersion. You act “immersed” and you get rewarded. So why do MMOs feel the need to bribe you to do something that CRPGs provide naturally?

MMO developers like to have the buzzword “immersive” attached to their products. It’s a neat little word that conveys a lot of positive emotions about that product. If something is described as immersive, I think;

  1. There’s lots to do – you become a part of the world
  2. Character progression is good – you develop alongside the character you play
  3. Once you play, you want to keep on playing – it’s the “can’t put it down” effect that you get with books, or “can’t switch it off” effect with a TV show
  4. You’ll play lots, so you’ll get good value for money – even more important these days
  5. Most importantly, it’s fun – that, after all, is the reason we play games

The thing is – if I’m being bribed into feel immersed, I don’t feel immersed. It’s simply min-maxing – making the best of the time I play the game. But, am I an average gamer? I have an awful tendency to overthink things, and to attempt to simplify things. Does that mean, that, even though I don’t feel immersed, most players do? I’d love to hear your opinions. Do you feel immersed in MMOs? How about single players games?

Part of the reason why I think I feel immersed in single player games is, they feel more realistic. There’s no addons, and often a minimal UI. There’s no leetspeak in the chatbox, no goldspam. The graphics are invariably better, the world is quieter. Monsters don’t respawn after two minutes. People behave like people – they don’t sprint everywhere (except me), in good games, they eat, they drink, they gossip, they live like people. There’s nobody standing on the mailbox dancing naked. I think, ultimately, that’s the reason I feel immersed in single player games. I don’t have to worry about guild politics. I don’t have to worry if I make a huge cock-up – there’s nobody to laugh at how noobish I am. I can simply relax and enjoy the game. I can concentrate on the dialogue, often I have choices (as opposed to MMOs where questing simply involves running through dialogue boxes, which all end up at the Accept/Decline screen). I guess that, at a basic level, immersion is simply feeling a connection with the game you’re playing. And if I can concentrate on the game, as opposed to what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s easier to be immersed.

Written by Gordo

April 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Posted in MMO, PC

Tagged with , , , , ,

And stay out!

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While scouring the blogsphere this evening, I came across a comment by Thrade on Syp’s rather excellent WAR blog. This is what he said:

“I hope as many WoWfanboys stay with WoW as possible; I don’t want any of there [sic] kind in our new game.”

It got me thinking – as a potential future player, nay, stakeholder in WAR, do I want WoW fanboys joining me in the ‘World of Warhammer’?

Now, my good, charitable, kind upbringing causes me to immediately say I shouldn’t say I want them to stay away. I should offer a place for them, I shouldn’t discriminate. But what if it ruins the experience for everyone else? What if it causes other players to leave? Kind of like the big loud blokes who gatecrash a party, and the original, pleasant guests disappear. Surely you’d say you should have locked your doors to them before they came in, and allow everyone else to enjoy the party? That’s what I’d say too. But Mythic can’t shut their doors to people. They can’t have interviews with people who want to play their game, and review them on a case-by-case basis. People who want to play do so. So why would people from WoW, come to WAR, dragging alongside them their ‘CHUCK NORRIS PWNZ UR MOM’ attitude? Well:

  1. WoW is old. No denying it. It’s passed its sell-by-date. It’s lost its youthful vigour and now creaks and groans each time you load it up.
  2. Blizzard butchered their lore, their dignity and their souls to keep it on top. As a result, it’s not really a hugely fulfilling experience. It feels like a timesink.
  3. They’re now clutching at straws trying to keep the subscriber numbers up. If they lose their grip, the subscriber numbers will snowball. They’re shamelessly stealing sucessful features from other MMOs (that’s where this whole discussion stemmed from) – as a result, WoW is losing it’s originality, starting to look like some sort of inbred mongrel rat. Sort of like this. Whereas WAR, built from the ground up to integrate these features, holds them much better, and is looking pretty slick and smooth.

As a result, many WoW players want something new. But, even after 4 years in Azeroth and Outland, they still demand quality. And enough polish so you can see your face in it!

Why do they need the attitude? I hear you ask. Well, I think it’s more of an environmental thing. I guess when everyone around you, 10 million other players are talking like that, you just kind of pick it up. Naturally, you can’t beat them, so why not join them? Indulge in your immature side! The only problem is you find out you can’t revert back to standard English. You forget the phrase ‘is/am better than’ and in place your neurons only recall the term ‘Own’ or ‘Pwn’. You forget all manners of earthly Deity, and in his/her/their place is Chuck Norris, Texas Ranger. And for some reason, you have a strange obsession with peoples’ mums…

I guess what I’m trying to say, is try to show these people a little understanding. Clearly we can’t be shot of them, so use it as an oppourtuinity to show them that you needn’t behave like they do when playing with people online. Show them the civilised way, chuck them an invite to your guild if you’re able too. Maybe if everyone can ‘De-PWN’ a WoW fanboy, the WARld will be a better place.

Written by Gordo

July 17, 2008 at 7:49 pm

My Relationship with WoW

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I make no secret that I despise what WoW has become. The world’s biggest timesink. Yet I still see fun in it. Even when I read about incoming features that I hate, I nearly always see things that I love at the same time. My interest in this Titanic of a game has been sparked again recently by my friend offering me a ‘Scroll of Ressurection’, causing my account to regain activity for 10 days.

Those 10 days are drawing to a close, but they’ve certainly been thought-provoking and insightful. I’ve hit one of the lowest milestones in the game, in getting to level 70. In some ways, that’s where my interest in the game ends. I’ve no desire to lose hours of my time grinding an instance for a piece of gear that allows me to progress to the next level of instance to grind. I love instances, I love raids, but not when I’m doing that instance for the hundredth time. I really enjoy learning the instance, how the bosses work, I like a challenge, and I enjoy the ‘process’ of a raid, the organisation, and the feeling when it all works out, and that boss is down. But the raids in WoW take that enjoyment I experience and stretch it to the limit.

WoW grabs you with pretty graphics and easy gameplay, and sucks even the most anti-gamers in, and pretty soon they play it religiously, barely stopping to eat. It’s something we’ve all read stories about. And yet, for some reason, I don’t feel the same way. I’m not compelled to play 16 hours a day until I’ve got my ‘Epix’. I’ve no desire to spend my life in Alterac Valley. It got me thinking, why?

I think the truest answer is, that WoW is a game for people who’ve never played a game before. I mean that in an extremely loose sense of the word. Not people who’ve literally never played a game before, but people who’ve never connected with a game. People who’ve never seen what a game can really be, all the range of emotions it can bring. WoW simply provides a medium through which people can enlarge their ego, by getting better gear than someone else. That makes people feel good, but a game should be so much more than that. A game should excite you, frustrate you, make you laugh, make you sigh (because men don’t cry!), make you feel empathy, and act on that empathy so you end up feeling better about yourself and the situation you worked on. To me, WoW does none of that. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen all those things at work in better, greater games. Sorry WoW, but you’re too shallow for me. You don’t provide those things. I’ve no connection with the world, or the other characters. You just have me, as a player, looking at the next piece of gear on my wishlist. But I tend to think, ‘It doesn’t have to be like this’, and pretty soon I end up logging out. And I think unless Blizzard take WoW in a totally different direction, I might not ever be able to truly enjoy it.

Written by Gordo

July 14, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Posted in MMO

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The future: My next MMO.

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So, I’ve ditched Age of Conan. Now which MMO should I play? It’s a tough choice for me. Clearly there are no AAA games out for launch soon. WAR, I’ll definetly play, and am very excited about, but what will I play in the mean time? Tricky.

Here’s my shortlist:

  1. WoW – not imaginative, not original, not brilliant. I’d rather not go back there, but maybe I would have fun if I tried again? After seeing the lack of questing in AoC, and the need for grinding, I might appreciate having quests instead of grinds to get levels. I might get to 70 (my character was 65 when I left him), and get immersed in the masses of endgame I’ve so far, left untapped.
  2. EVE – I’m personally torn on this one. I’ve done a trial before, and I found it too slow MMOsfor my liking. But people say, once you get ‘into it’, there’s nothing like it. They claim it’s the richest, deepest MMO experience out there. Does that make me shallow? I’m not sure, but my philosophy is, a game must be accessible. Forget all notions of depth, if the swimming pool has a layer of ice on top, no matter how deep it is, you won’t be able to swim until you’ve done a lot of smashing. So maybe I should try it again, and do some hacking at the ice until I’m immersed. Or would I be better admitting I’m not the kind of gamer that EVE is designed for?
  3. Everquest 2 – Kind of like WoW’s younger brother, not quite so smart, not quite so handsome, not quite so good at sport, but still not easy to write off. It has quite a large playerbase, but can it really be suitable for a complete newcomer like me?
  4. No MMO – A strange notion for me, I’ve played an MMO pretty much solid for a couple of years now. But maybe taking a break from the MMO world might allow me to enjoy some of the delights the non-MMO side of the industry has to offer. I’ve still got LoZ: Twilight Princess, GTA IV, COD 4, Super Mario Galaxy, to name but a few, that I’d like to play. Normally though, I play an MMO alongside these other games, at the expense of pace, allowing me to jump between them depending on how much fun I’m having in each at a certain time.

Written by Gordo

June 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Posted in MMO, PC

Tagged with , , ,

Age of Conan at 55.

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I hit 55 earlier today in Age of Conan, and I thought – why am I still playing? Most of the game revolves around grinding now, but still, I seem strangely addicted.

It hit me. My guild. My guild is awesome, a bunch of some of the best MMO players on my server, and the reason I’m still playing this game, and I’m still so hooked, is because I can’t wait to rake in the achievements with these guys. When I was playing LOTRO, I got fed up with levelling. I ground my way through it, and then, when I hit level 50, everything changed. Suddenly, I was taking part in raids into the Rift, and I was having so much fun. The process of a raid is what I enjoy, the achievement you feel after knocking down a boss even quicker than before. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Bartle test, it analyses your gamer psychology. Well, I came out as an achiever. I could have told you that, but still… Achieving is why I play games.

Age of Conan has so much in it to achieve. Raiding, PvP, city building, they’re all huge achievements to be unlocked. And while the gameplay is good, the combat, admittedly, I do really enjoy, the level of quests is poor, and the time needed to level is quite high, but I’ll persevere, and then, when I get to level 80, the fun will start for me. The levelling is little more than a glorified tutorial for me, teaching me how to play the class.

I’ll stay in Age of Conan for the time being, and while my position on Warhammer Online hasn’t changed, it’s looking possible that I could have two MMO subscriptions on the go for the first time ever. By that time, maybe Age of Conan will have lost it’s fun (LOTRO inevitably did, but why that happened is enough material for another post). Or maybe I’ll still enjoy the achievements I complete with my guild.

This also got me thinking, of the basic game mechanic of guild competition present in AoC. It’s something many sucessful MMOs don’t do. WoW, obviously, goes with the faction vs. faction approach. Both methods, do, for me, have advantages, the faction approach’s main advantage is that no matter your quality or experience, you have allies of all types. But the biggest disadvantage is an imbalance causes an imbalance in the whole PvP game. The guild approach’s main advantage for me is the personal feel – you know everyone in your guild, and as such, feel much closer with the members. The disadvantage is, you need to scout around to find a guild on joining, and there will, inevitably be elite guilds, which the smaller guilds can’t compete with.

Overall, I can enjoy a game with both system, but I think, for Age of Conan, the guild system works well. The idea of defending my guild’s city, and fighting for the reputation of my clan appeals to me. The personal aspect of it makes my battles really feel worthwhile.

P.S. Sorry for the rollercoaster views on AoC at the moment. Some days are good in Hyboria, others bad. Today was really good!

Written by Gordo

June 9, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Age of Conan, MMO

Tagged with , , ,

WAR – the MMOMessiah?

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The MMORPG community is a large and complex one, not easy to analyse at all. However, many players are looking for the next mass-popularity MMO. That is, the MMO that becomes the largest game in the world. There is a consensus that World of Warcraft, long the undisputed King, Emporer, Tsar and High Priest of the MMO world has had it’s day – the best is behind it. Whilst the upcoming expansion pack ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes, I can’t see it fulfilling the players’ every dream.

WoW nowadays is a mix of people playing for the social aspect purely, some who are doing a little bit of the raid content and endgame PvP, and Pro-gamers and 1337 raiders. Many of which have played the game for far too long, and are striving for something else, only sticking with WoW until that messiah comes.

Many people saw Age of Conan coming, and thought it would be that game. As much as it would be nice if it were, I guess I always knew it would not – why? It’s too different. It explores adult themes, and WoW has always been quite a teenager-friendly game. The graphics are good, but need a decent rig to run; single mums who can’t afford to spend that much on a PC could play WoW and enjoy it, a little time away from their busy lives – but no way could they do the same with AoC. Also, AoC is a strongly male-orientated game; I’ve yet to meet a female gamer on my server (yes, I guarantee they do exist, but in WoW, there was a pretty large percentage, considering this is a video game, once the realm of only middle-aged men and teenage boys). That has the result of repelling women, repelling men who normally play with their girlfriend or wife, and repelling men who hope to meet a woman in the game (yes, I’ve met ingame couples in previous games that have ended up with a real life marraige!).

As well as this, the combat in AoC is more skill-based – it rewards people who’ve played RPGs and fighting games for years, and makes progression much harder for those who’ve not. WoW didn’t do this; it’s combat was so simple, anyone could pick it up and learn to play in minutes, yet it had the depth, that it attracted ‘Pro-Gamers’ (and still does) – a mistimed skill can cause a wipe for a group in the toughest of dungeons or fiercest of battlegrounds.

What am I getting at? Well – WoW is, as far as I’m concerned, history. There’s room for a new MMO on the block, one which will take over the world like WoW did. And, this Autumn (Fall for the American reader), Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is coming out. This game comes from a 30 year old IP, one that, probably, of all the IPs you could use to build a game on, has the most content available. It is similar enough to WoW in all the good respects, and different enough in the bad. It’s a game that’ll be built for the average Joe’s PC, so it can tap into the mass market. It has a realm vs realm PvP system, giving you automatic allies, and a common cause with them. It promises quest that affect the state of the world you reside in, large scale battles allowing you to even take your enemies’ city for a limited amount of time. All you actions, directly or indirectly, lead to the promotion of your side – but simultaneously, another body of players will be doing the same, belittling the effort you made. This game could be special, and I’m definetly going to be checking up on this game as it progresses. I have my collector’s edition pre-ordered, and I can’t wait until the Open Beta, when I should get to see the game for myself, and see if it really works. And if it does, could it be the WoW-beater? The messiah of MMOs?

Written by Gordo

May 27, 2008 at 6:54 pm