Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ease of killing the joy

This seems to be the family introductions week.

My other son, coming 13 this year, is an avid gamer. His bread and butter are games. No special genre required, just games. He has a knack for them, especially the action games. FPS, platform jumpers, puzzles, you name it.

He also has a character in WoW, which he played for a while. But he didn't like the questing and grouping.

Quite the opposite from our youngest.

This son plays a lot of shooters, Crossfire mostly for it being a free to play and lightweight enough to run on their computer. He is good in it: not brilliant, but good. Good enough to be kicked from the matches for being a bot, using hacks or cheating.

The bad part of it: He doesn't cheat. He hates botting, cheating, hacking and using any additional tools in the shooters. He hates them, he hates people using them. "If they are not good enough to play, they should learn to play and not cheat", he says.

I couldn't agree more.

Because he understands the basic idea of a shooter - shoot and get shot at - he doesn't mind getting fragged every now and then. He knows he gets better all the time by following the frag count and his position in the final leaderboard. The more he plays, the more he gets to know the names of similar players and is able to make an educated guess on which side to join to get a good match (or an easy way to fulfill the daily mission...).

All this without resorting to addons or hacks.

I know it's an age old debate over the use of addons, whether they are cheating or not, but after playing Rift for a while it seems quite reasonable to say that the use of multiple addons in WoW has even more dumbed down the content and has caused the situation in which the Blizzard designers have been forced to come up with extreme gear and simon-says hurdles for the players to feel challenging.

The discussion kind of bugged me the other day, when a player/person/blogger I appreciate very much said that Rift would benefit from a threat meter, which would make it easier to spot if you are about to steal the aggro from the tank. I - playing a pure dps mage - do not want to see a threat meter just because I want to learn to play the game with the tools present in the game. My humble opinion, based on the WoW and Rift experiences, is that the more we have bells and whistles, measuring and gauges, the less we actually enjoy the illusion of the virtual world. Thus the less we really have things to measure in the game, the less we pay attention to the mathematics behind the illusion.

Oh, and the aggro stealing: even though I blast out my Pyro/Ele/Archon on full force, I can't steal aggro from a tank spec warrior or cleric. That's my experience so far, and I have a feeling that there are signs in the game telling when you are agitating the boss too much. I haven't been able to verify that feeling, though, but I will do my best to see if the boss/mob starts to give me the eye before they charge on me next time.

If that ever comes again.

Back to the topic, though. The easiest way to kill the joy in a multiple-player game, be it PvP or PvE is to either allow or use cheating. Be it hack, bot or clitching, its just the same: it will spoil the fun from the other parties not using them. The same goes IMO with the addons: the ones using certain utility addons have the advantage over the ones not using the same ones, and the solution can't be to 'get the addon, noob' in any sensible way.

In the end, these are games we want to enjoy. Be it by levelling, questing, crafting or raiding, we are entitled to feel equal in our game, not feeling put down because we do not succumb to the same level as the cheaters or for not having the same addons as the other guy.

I wonder what happened to the experiment to level and raid without any addons in WoW? I know there was someone trying to do that...

I'll get me coat.