When Gevlon isn't ranting about the bliss of being dirty rich and owning a raid for a night, he comes up with fascinatingly interesting posts. Like the one about how to play a MMO right. This crossed an issue to which We Fly Spitfires made a nice complimentary post, too.
Goal making and levels.
Whereas Gevlon covers the subject from the standpoint of MMO's being an addiction and that people feeling guilty or having inadequate resources are playing the game actually wrong -something which I completely agree with him-, We Fly Spitfires shows how the goal setting can really enhance and enrich your game play experience. By setting definite, concrete goals you have a straightforward aim to go for. And you're cutting off all the things which do not help you achieve this aim.
Just like in normal goal setting. In real life. Really.
I have now aim, too, which actually has two levels. First my aim is to level Laiskajaakko to lv80 and enter heroics with the guild. The second is to learn to play the toon so well he's ready to run with the guild as a contributing member.
This thinking has caused -already before Gevlon and others blogged about this- that I have started to enjoy the game again. I doubt it has much to do with Northrend content, as I find the killing spree boring still: instead, to see the experience increase and the levels ding one after another creates the thrills.
Not to mention the nice guild chat full of nice personalities and issues.
I think it's easier to focus on your levelling game than the heroics and end game progression. Granted, the progression is still a valid measurement of your success, but to progress in the end game content is co-operative effort, not your own effort, and your own excellent performance may be ruined by someone else's mediocre one. Or by a freak accident. So the end game focused 'aims' are not as effective in motivating people as the levelling. In levelling you can always see where you are at any particular time and where you are headed.
And this is the trap of level based MMOPRG's: levels represent the instant gratification curve of the game. Each ding on new level means that you have achieved yet another step on your hierarchy ladder, taking you one step further towards the ultimate world domination level cap. Levels are an easy measure of your playing success. Gear is more ambivalent, as the cookie cutter gear for certain talent build may well be off your build's requirements: there are no set ways to evaluate a playstyle over another, except in the performance in a set job function in a raid. Which cannot be compared to each other directly because the group composition varies.
This makes the overall gratification of the end game achievements more ambiguous and most certainly not so appealing to the casual weekend gamers (and morons and slackers).
There is no game over screen in MMO's. Too bad.