Monday, December 7, 2009

Attention span issue

During the weekend I watched my youngest son play on computer. He started off with his DK, with whom he tackled the trolls in Stranglethorn. Due to the fact he doesn't understand English, I had to help with the quests and stuff, only to find out that the only thing he had gripes with was the fact that he couldn't summon his ghoul... And that was only because he didn't understand that he should have gotten some Corpse Dust from the vendor: the warning was also in English and didn't mean a thing to him.

That solved, he switched to Spore, which is in Finnish, so he can read and -most of the time- understand the instructions. He had earlier advanced to the tribal game, which he ran through pretty easily. And created his buildings and vehicles for the civilization game.

That done he had had enough with the Spore and turned to Oblivion. Only to switch to some Club Penguin after killing some cultists and stuff from behind the Oblivion gates.

After he quit on the computer.

All in all, the whole cycle took him three hours and he got bored to the computer gaming as entertainment.

This made me think about my own gaming and the way my kids are playing. For the kids, there has to be action, instant, constant and in fast cycles. Even our oldest son does require this, and he gets that from the BG's in WoW. Levelling isn't constant action enough and it seems that it's not as rewarding as the BG combats in personal level for him.

While levelling I was very content with the fact I could choose my own pace in playing. The furious action parts came in good moderation and almost when I wanted them to come. It wasn't like war in any way, it was a trek through the forests with some chores to do. It wasn't 99% waiting for the 1% furious, brutal, confusing chaos war is described to be.

What BG's are to me, anyhow.

Now as I think of the playing in the cap, it's the same, actually. 99% of time I've spent in the level cap has been waiting for the Heroic, doing repetitive dailies and reputation quests, and 1% running the heroics and instances. Main reason to this is of course me, myself and I for not being able to come up with anything else to do.

I have a pretty good attention span to things I'm doing, unlike my kids: but they are kids and they shouldn't have the same ability as I have. But I've noticed that the main complaints about WoW -especially it's content- comes from the issue of making the game more 'casual friendly', making the game playable in small chunks. Good example of this is the fact that the Trial of the Crusader is actually playable in very short time, as well as good old Onyxia.

Is this trend going to continue over to the Cataclysm content?

Are the MMO's and online games changing to cater the shorter attention span, much alike music videos?

I mean, DDO is excellent in that sense that the dungeons are very short and fast to complete and they are always readily available. And they are scaling easily from solo to epic content, making them cater to all kinds of compositions.

I know this may sound funny from me, after all the rants about not having time to allocate for raiding or committing to the game, but I don't want to see this happen. I don't want to see a MMORPG to be split and cut into music videos with fast cuts from action to action without anything in between. What is lacking from the game -WoW in this case- is the lore content in the cap. Sure there is the gearing content to prepare you for the more difficult content, but there is no lore to support that grind-killing of heroic instance bosses.

The levelling game has the story of the character -growth story- to support, even if you are speed levelling through it all. Your character develops and picks up things from here and there, even if you are not paying attention to it. At the cap all this comes to halt and suddenly you are depending on other people. I know it's possible to live with 6 hour friday gaming -and raid- like a certain Gnomeaggeddon successfully does at least according to the lates Twisted Nether Blogcast. He does, however, confirm that his raiding in addition to PUGging quite a lot comes also from friends asking him to raids they cannot fill up, which brings out the other people into the equation, too. But for me that doesn't make a story or create a need to make myself miserable in a PUG.

So in a sense the game for short attention span people serves its purpose, but for me it works only if there is a reason for the short, small chunks of action at a time. Say a large compound of dungeons/instances which you can work out in as long or short sequences as you like sounds perfect: current raids are like this, so why not the up and coming ones, too.

To answer my earlier question myself, yes, Cataclysm will continue trend, because it has to. It can be done well and it can be done poorly. Either way, Blizzard is going to do it the Blizzard way.

Polished to the max. Either for good or bad.