Monday, March 22, 2010

What took the fun for me?

Tobold beat me to it with his post about Stockholm syndrome and Hecker's nightmare. It's a great post about the rewards the current DIKU MUD based MMO's really offer to us players. Sadly Google's Buzz has a separate discussion to it, which doesn't connect to the discussion in the post itself. Anyhow, I commented the post in Buzz like this:
Great post, as usual. It's along the same lines as I was sketching a post on my own blog, as I realized that you have to change how you approach the game at level cap: instead of following questlines and the 'great story' of the game, you must learn to enjoy micro management and min-maxing. For a story driven (nearly to roleplaying level) player like me this is a nightmare, really.

By saying so I have to disagree with Merlot up there: in WoW there is no story after you hit level cap. There is a grind through heroics to gain access to the ICC to be able to continue the story you have been playing through most of the Northrend quests. The abrupt change from great stories and continuity (sometimes a bit poor but still) to gear grind in gogo-groups is such a lackluster that I have given up. I find no enjoyment in running through the same instances night in, night out only to gain that one last emblem to gain that one last piece of gear: the gear and/or maxing the stat isn't a reward enough to keep me as a gamer interested. Much like Luke stated, except that I cannot see that T10 gearset as an achievement or reward anymore.

There has been some complaints how DIKU MUD type games railroad the advancement: how about really doing this in a good way? You could choose your approach to a quest, let it be in selecting your approach from multiple choices (continue story, abandon story, take another route), and really be railroaded through a STORY in a MMO? this is something I expect to see in SW later on, something that has been lacking in the earlier games I've played.

I believe that the type of MMO Tobold asks for could be made, but it would require a developer willing to break - or strongly modify - the currently accepted mode which WoW developed to it's prime. 
 My gripes with the cap level game comes from the min-maxing being the only reason to play. In that sense I feel that the famed "End Game" is really a depiction of the Hecker's Nightmare: Shitty game design that the designers are paying the players to play. By game design it's mandatory to switch from lv264 gear to lv277 gear as much as it is to aim for a Royal flush instead of a mere color in Poker. The difference is even bigger at lower gear levels, so the game 'rewards' the player who has the butt to sit at her/his computer night in, night out doing the same encounters to receive either that upgrade as a loot or that last emblem needed to purchase that reward.

The sad part is the fact that the great storylines really stop when you hit the cap. Only to be replaced with the senseless revisitations to the heroics and later on the Icecrown Citadel with it's priced final confrontation with the Lich King. As the progression route, where the story could have been made to flow through, is broken and forgotten, there is not much for a story and lore to be of interest.

It comes down to why you play. Do you play to win the game and min-max as the designers suppose you to do, or do you play for the stories and lore the levelling game is so full of?

Either way, you play as you find the game to be fun. I don't find min-maxing without a storyline fun. Perhaps this means that the end game in any MMO is dead for me then?

"All work, no play, makes Jack a dull boy..."