Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fool me around, dear

Level cap killed my fun in WoW. Several times over, especially the most recent 'grind rep till you really drop dead and quit' Firelands stunt.

Like I've said time and again, I like levelling up. I like the stories, sometimes even the feeling of being the hero of the day. But when I hit the cap, I really feel that this was it: the stories are told, there is nothing more to go for - especially storywise.

Raiding is no story. Raiding is a passtime for those who play the MMO to win. It's the cornerstone of competitive edge in the genre. Forget the RPG part of MMO's alltogether, as that has been forgotten way back when.

I had a lengthy post written in my head about all this, but the frustration got the better of it. I had clever statements in the lines of comparing the new MMO character's growth - or evolution - to the full blown hero and how that doesn't come anywhere near the concept of Universal Hero which Joseph Conrad coined and George Lucas (among others) later utilized succesfully. There is no such evolution of character in MMO's because everyone is as much a hero as the next player character!

I had also clever reasoning why raiding per se is outdated and faulty design, as it came to be from game mechanics present in Everquest. You had this huge, next-to-unbeatable monster for which you needed really huge amounts of people to beat. The mechanics stated that no single character could have ever fallen those monsters. It was part of the game. Then came the instanced dungeons and raids and it was taken as a norm that the 'final' monsters reside in instanced 'dungeons' with their ever breeding minions.

And the game was over for the heroic evolution on the player character.

Why? Because everything started to evolve around the gear required by game design to fell the beast. No amount of character development was needed, only hitting the cap and gearing up.

Take the quest system to it and you can easily see the current state of levelling: the speediest method wins by far. In Rift, which I currently play most, you get the 'veteran reward potion' which grants you 100% more experience for 2 hours. Clever way to give the players the choice either to level up fast or to take the scenic route. In WoW the 1-60 content has been watered down so much that when you earlier had trouble with world elites of your own level, you can now take down one 2-3 levels higher without breaking a sweat. And you level up the questing zones so fast that you cannot even complete the quest chains in one area without the quests in that chain going grey. 

In short, the story of a young farmer's helper growing into a world saving hero is not there. It cannot be unless the structure of the games is either changed or... we just move back to the single player games.

Bring back the world bosses, which are not contained in the instanced containment fields. Different ways to gain recognition, prestige and power.

And please, please... stop calling 'reputation quests' content. I mean, if you can show me one heroic fiction story in which the hero must do simple, menial tasks time and again to gain favour or influence only to be able to purchase that one shiny piece of gear for his next challenge, then I may accept this. Otherwise it's really just the game developers deliberately wasting the players time because they just couldn't come up with any better.

Content should be something that entices you, lures you deeper into the story or game, makes you feel emotions and grants eventually the sense of accomplishment. The best quest chains do that time and again, even if you know them by heart already.

Senseless reputation grind doesn't. Except for the feeling of accomplishment, which is usually described as being a relief.

How many times you have to be fooled before you see the vanity of it all and say that it's enough?

(Discussion in my Google+ )