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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Having fun yet?

Posted by BadSpock Tuesday December 18 2007 at 5:10PM
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There are a lot of blogs and forums threads on this site about various aspects of MMOG's. I've stopped trying to use the term MMORPG, even on this site, because I feel some games listed on this site (and truly some gamers who frequent here) have lost sense of what a MMORPG is. But, that is a discussion for another time....

From my experience, the "Big Three" topics of conversation that are the most controversial on MMORPG.com are:

1. The "Grind"
2. PvP
3. Sandbox vs. Linear / Class vs. Skill

But I've had a realization. It all simply comes down to a little thing called "fun."

The main problem, is that people don't find the same things fun. That, and people will have their fun at the expense of other people's fun. Like JB said about different "flocks" of people colliding.

So how do you make a game that is fun for everyone? If you know the answer, you are probably very, very wealthy and the head of some major game development studio. If so, good luck to you.

So anyway, we'll take this from my perspective, one bullet point at a time.

1. The Grind:

I've always considered the "grind" to mean quite literally that players are not having fun. Grinding, to me, means that you are doing something, usually a repetitive task, as a means to some end rather for the intrinsically fun value of the task itself. This can easily apply to homework, work, travel, and of course our favorite, MMOG's! 

Nearly everything in a MMOG can be considered a grind if players don't have fun doing it. Asking for developers to "eliminate the grind" is nothing more then that individual asking for the devs to change the aspect of game play that they personally don't find fun. You can't eliminate the grind. 

Some think it's fun to kill mobs over and over and over watching their XP bar inch away. Some don't find it fun and call it a grind. Some think doing quest after quest is fun, others don't find it fun and consider it a grind. It's all perspective if you think about it.

However, some aspects of the modern MMOG are intentionally made to be repetitive. Why? So that you're subscription will be lengthened. Is this a bad thing? Yes. Does every dev do it? Yes. It's a basic limitation, no matter how big the dev studio, no matter how much money and time they have, they can only create a finite amount of content. Even randomly generated content has its finite limits, because the randomness is derived from variables; variables with finite limitations.

You simply cannot ask for more. All you can do is ask whether or not you are having fun with whatever the content happens to be, and even if you aren't, if the end-goal is worth the "grind" or not. If both the answers end up to be "NO" then you have to realize that your time with that game should be over. Plain and simple. Not having fun anymore, quit playing.

2- PvP:

PvP is also completely about fun. Some enjoy ganking and griefing, this is fun to them, so if the system allows it, they will do it. Being ganked and griefed isn't very fun for most (if any) so if they can avoid it, they will. It's having fun at someone else's expense. And you have to ask yourself then, is it worth it? Is your personal enjoyment worth ruining someone elses enjoyment? That's a question only you can answer.

Things like FFA vs. Faction vs. Guild vs. Realm etc. etc. are just options... some find certain varieties fun, some don't. Personally, I like FFA PvP when it is under the context of good role playing. I like Faction/realm based PvP for the feeling of being involved in something greater then myself. I like Guild PvP for the commradery that developes between guildmates. 

No one way is better then any other way. Just like some find player looting fun, others don't. Permadeath fun for some, worst idea ever for others. 

PvP is the biggest culprit when we talk about "flocks colliding." Some like structured, balanced, and fair PvP. Some like dominating others. Neither are bad or good, nor make you a good or bad person, it's just simply that those that find one type fun tend to not like the other kind I've noticed. 

The answer? I've always thought the answer was "choice." Give structured, fair, and balanced PvP to those who want it, but also give more chaotic and free-for-all PvP to those who want it. I'm talking about server types. As I beleive it was T0nyd said, if you find yourself on the wrong server, you have no one to blame but yourself. 

Point is- It's not about carebears and hardcore, PKs and anti-PKs etc. etc. PvP is just so tricky because there is always a winner and loser. PvE the "loser" is the game systems, when you kill a mob you aren't killing another living, breathing person as you are if you kill someone in PvP. It's about having fun, and the fact that it's almost always 99% of the time more fun for the victor then for the defeated.

3-  Sandbox vs. Linear:

The classic debate. Class vs. skill. Sandbox vs. Linear. Generally speaking, many see the two as different sides of the same coin. They go together; sandbox and skill, linear and class. 
What it really comes down to, of course, is fun. Some like the freedom to explore, wander off the beaten path, and invent their own content. Some like to be shown cool and fun things to do. 

That's it. I think of it this way. You are either going to a amusement park like Six Flags or  you are doing something else. 

Let me clarify, you go to Six Flags expecting to do certain things that you know you are going to enjoy. Of course, only if you enjoy amusement parks and rides.
If you don't go to Six Flags, you can do anything else. Go to the park, play basketball, hang out with your friends, spend time in the toolshed on your hobby... etc. 
Will you have as much fun as if you went to Six Flags? If you like rides and roller coasters, chances are, if you go to Six Flags you are garaunteed to have fun. 

The same is true in linear vs. sandbox games. If you like being shown things to do, and find those things enjoyable and fun, then you will enjoy the linear game. If you like the freedom to be able to do whatever, and know that you'll be able to enjoy yourself and have fun doing whatever, then you will enjoy the sandbox game.  

I really hope that made sense.

I see all this endless debate back and forth about the "grind" and about PvP and about skill vs. class and/or linear vs. sandbox... And people debate as if their brand of fun is somehow MORE fun and enjoyable then the other persons, and they just CAN'T see how the other person can't agree with them?!

But, as with all the truths in life, you'll find that the answer depends greatly upon your particular point of view.

Now, one thing I will acknowledge is that the vast majority of recently released MMOs and those in developement seem to cater more towards one side of the spectrum. The other side feels as if they are not being properly represented. This is perfectly natural and I truly sympathize with you. 
Unfortunately it's all numbers. The "majority" likes things one way, so the minority is all too often overlooked. Sadly, there is no answer nor clever statement I can make that will change this. You simply need to hope/pray that a developer creates a game specifically for the minority.

However, creating a MMOG with the intention of only appealing to one particular audience, and shunning the support of the majority is not a financial move that many will be willing to make given the immense costs of designing and operating a MMOG. Sorry.

So are you having fun yet?

JB47394 writes:

I'm 100% behind the idea that MMOs should be about finding fun and that different people have different notions of what's fun.

My concern is for players who lose their sense of perspective about these 'games', turning them into far more than just a fun way to spend some time.  And for games that fan the flames of confusion.

Ask the victim of the Eve Online assassination and theft effort if they were having fun.  When does it stop being a game?  When do we turn into little league fathers who start throwing punches over a bad call?

Tue Dec 18 2007 5:55PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Exactly.

In an online environment, just like in any real life social environment, there exists the possibility for people/players to have conflicting goals and/or viewpoints.

In real life, we have legal systems and rules concerning conduct and responsibility to help us mediate these conflicting ideals. But as we all know, they are far from perfect.

In games, we have either the social stigma's within the game, the very game systems themselves (i.e. you CAN'T PvP that guy) and/or a combination of the two. But they are far from perfect.

Are we then simply asking too much? For our games to somehow make more "sense" then the real world where often times, things make very little sense? Obviously, the game environment let's us control things that we can't in real life. If you write the code that says player A cannot kill player B, then that is absolute. This is not so true in real life sadly.

But at what point do we over regulate? Where we make too many rules? 

This is the fundamental problem between the "open/sandbox" types and the "structured/linear" types. Wow that is a much  better explaination then my Six Flags reference... lol

Tue Dec 18 2007 6:09PM Report
t0nyd writes:

 I agree with most of what you have written. With that said Im going to touch upon what I disagree with...

1. Ganking and Griefing

      All PvP games are about having fun with others. I dont understand the concept of having fun at someone elses expense. The idea is, if its a good fight, if the battle is close, both players should walk away happy.

       I enjoy ganking and being ganked. When you are taken by surprise and put up a good fight and or possibly win, thats fun. The problem with most gamers today is that they do not enjoy to lose. If they lose or die, their gaming experience is ruined. This is also the main reason PvE is so bland. Most games cater to the player that wants easy PvE. If there is no chance of death, if there is only success, then what is the purpose of playing?

 I look at it like playing chess. Your going to win some and lose some. If you only want to play a game where you win 90% of the time, well, whats the point of that...

Tue Dec 18 2007 6:45PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Ah yes my friend, but that is not how I define ganking.

Being jumped and having a good fight where the battle is close is not ganking. Ambushing and/or having superior numbers is not ganking nor is it griefing, it's simply tactics.

I define ganking as "killing another player who has absolutely no chance of defending themselves." Like a level 70 in WoW attacking a level 30 player. The level 30 has no chance of defending themselves, no chance for victory, so this action, this "gank" is exactly what you describe as a situation where you win 100% of the time, and as you said, what's the point of that?

Tue Dec 18 2007 7:06PM Report
BadSpock writes:

So indeed, slaughtering an opponent that has no chance of survival is having fun at someone elses expense. 

Get what I mean? 

Close victories are great victories, and hair-line defeats are indeed defeats, but give the satisfaction that you "almost won."

Being ganked, as I define it, is neither a worthy nor honorable victory, and the feeling of hopelessness will always leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Tue Dec 18 2007 7:09PM Report
t0nyd writes:

Yea, with how you define ganking, the problems lie with the developers. In a game like WoW the same can be said of two players of the same level due to Extreme gear differences.

When WoW first came out, as a lvl 35 hunter, I could actually affect the outcome of a fight between 60s. The mechanics were much different back then. Also gear wasnt as much of a factor. I do enjoy a game where level and gear isnt as important as skill. If skill is more important than level and gear, than ganking will be less of an issue

Tue Dec 18 2007 7:42PM Report
JB47394 writes:

t0nyd: "If there is no chance of death, if there is only success, then what is the purpose of playing?"

To have fun.  Most people can have fun without any sense of risk or reward.  Designers seem to refer to such activities as 'intrinsically rewarding'.  Chatting is fun because it is intrinsically rewarding.

Note that shooting galleries are rather popular.  You get to blast away without anybody shooting back.  And it's actually considered to be a lot of fun.

Tue Dec 18 2007 8:00PM Report
t0nyd writes:

Heh. Shooting galleries are not a good example. You might shoot more targets than some, but less than others. The point im getting at is that the game should be fun whether you win or lose.

Blasting away without anyone shooting back is basically PvE. Chatting can be fun, but its also not a game. A game is defined as, A physical or mental competition conducted according to rules, with the participants in direct opposition to each other. Chatting is not a game, unless you are talking about debating. In most debates you will have winners and losers.

 

Tue Dec 18 2007 8:44PM Report
vajuras writes:

I approve of slaying lowbies although I take little joy in it. if any. I do it for role playing purposes, to keep them down. I do it to make them hate my Guild and to make my Guild known. I have killed many lowbies and laughed with glee when I saw my Chain Lightning crit.

I have slayed helpless lowbies to start massive wars. I have denied them resources because they were my enemy.

I have ganked because I had been ganked. In every MMO I lie to you not I am a pacifist. But all it takes is being ganked one time then everytime I see someone from opssosing faction all I see is the bastard that killed my helpless lowbie.

I gank because they would gank me if they had the chance. It has happened, I have spared my enemies only to have them strike me down the next day for no reason while I was grindin' a tough mob

Tue Dec 18 2007 10:58PM Report
Drolletje writes:

I agree with the most heroobya has said, I think too games should just be about fun, however there are a lot of players out there who don't mind whether a game is fun or not, they want rewards for the time they spend playing, something that they can show off to other players and that gives them an advantage over other players. They want to be superior because they invest more time, or have better skills, or have more friends, or ... But the fact is that they already have an advantage because of that, and they really don't need superior gear to show that off. Thats what a lot of players fail to understand.

Wed Dec 19 2007 3:45AM Report
wowfun929 writes:

I agree with most of what you have written. And  i want to tell you a good  platform  for  trading virtual currencies- that's www.bygamer.com  bygamer is  a website devoted  to enabling  global  game custormer to custormer  trading of virtual currencies.   You have the opportunity  to buy directly  from another gamer with  a n much lower price !obal game customer to customer currenciesding of virtual currencies

Wed Dec 19 2007 4:06AM Report
Auspice writes:

Drolletje i think you completely missed the point of heerobya.  He is saying that not everyone has the same veiw of "fun".  Some people might like what you call "grinding", and think that whatever you think is fun is a grind.  Personally, ill grind the hell out of something i hate doing so that when i kill something huge, that is a coordinated fight, and you can see all the steps go smoothly after trying to learn it for a few hours, i have fun.  That feeling at the end, where you know you worked for it, and got the gratification out of it is fun to me, where i think PvPing in the same BG for hours on end isnt that fun, where you sound like the kind of person who would like that.

The good thing about an MMO is that you can play with people who like what you like, and i can play with people who like what i like.

I really respect heerobya for putting that out there, that isnt an easy concept to figure out without someone putting it in your face.

Wed Dec 19 2007 6:17AM Report
JB47394 writes:

t0nyd: "Chatting can be fun, but its also not a game. A game is defined as, A physical or mental competition conducted according to rules, with the participants in direct opposition to each other. Chatting is not a game, unless you are talking about debating. In most debates you will have winners and losers."

Don't fixate on semantics.  I can call an MMO a turnip (compete with definition) and it doesn't make it true.  MMOs are about having fun, and people have fun in lots of different ways.  That fun need not be predicated in participants acting in direct opposition to each other.

Participants acting in direct opposition to each other is one kind of fun.  They can also work in concert, or their actions may not relate to each other at all, even though they might stand side by side and talk about all manner of things.  They might not even be doing anything and just jabber away.

(dramatically looks around)

Yes, MMORPG.COM is an MMO.  We have formless avatars and we interact in a kind of turn-based chat.  Heck, we even have levels.  The discussions are fun for me, and I assume it is for you too.  Calling this site an MMO may sound stupid, but from an academic standpoint, it's a perfectly valid observation.  When Raph Koster is done, MMORPG.COM may even have its own 3D avatars instead of profile pictures.

Wed Dec 19 2007 9:36AM Report
BadSpock writes:

T0nyd - You are right about gear in WoW, it can create situations (very easily) where gear far out trumps level. Imagine two level 70s, one has been 70 for months, has high end raid and/or PvP gear, and the second just hit 70 and has crap greens and a few scattered blues. Totally uneven fight, and some would say, the undergeared 70 would have no chance of survival and victory. Is this indeed a gank? I don't know... but I know the solution is LESS DEPENDANCE ON GEAR lol. At least in PvP... 

JB- Imagine if MMORPG.com became a 3D virtual world where we could wander around between discussion rooms and art galleries, movie theaters etc. That'd be sweet. Heck, maybe even throw in "portals" that would log you into your favorite MMO, and even be able to drag a party from the MMORPG.com virtual space into the game world...

That'd be sick. Like the Sony Online thing or whatever it is.

Wed Dec 19 2007 9:50AM Report
Auspice writes:

I dont know heerobya that actually sounds a lot like the sims MMO and that one was mostly popular with adolescent girls, and gay men. :)  I have a hard time critisizing WoW as much as most games, because they overcame a lot of the problems that most games have, such as class balance, the gear gap, and casual vs harcore play.  That person with greens and blues will be melting face in a couple of months if he just does 10 arena games a week. (btw i just quit WoW so im not a lover either)

Wed Dec 19 2007 10:38AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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