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It's All Fun in Games

A discussion on the impact of MMOG elements based on my definition of fun... (Note - take everything with a grain of salt, as we are only human. If you want more clarification, please read my "Defining" series, as everything is based off of that...)

Author: LackeyZero

Creating Variety

Posted by LackeyZero Monday July 23 2007 at 11:48AM
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There is a lack of variety in many current games. The first generation of online games, like UO, EQ, and RO, etc., had some variety (from what I heard at the very least). The second generation of games, however, seems to have devolved into a much more linear and bland form of gameplay. And right now, we are still in the second generation of online games, no matter how much the developers are touting about their new innovative game mechanics (which are in actuality very little). While in reality, the game design hasn’t even been utilized very well at all yet.

            There are games that don’t really even require leveling to be engaging and fun, because it has variety. I will use Zelda: The Ocarina of Time for this example. Sure there were hearts and new weapons the player obtained over time that made them slightly stronger. However, when I played this game, the main thing that kept my interest and focus was never those things made me stronger. It was about the adventure, places I could go to, little amount of story that existed, mini-games, puzzles, bosses with different abilities, platforming, etc. Even to the lesser extent, it had variety like lava suits so the lava wouldn’t harm the character. That’s what variety is…

            A bad example I will use is Guild Wars. It lacks variety. There may be a bit of miasma here or there in their dungeons that does damage over time, but there is really hardly any variety. Most of the fights feel the same. The dungeons feel the same. There’s nothing to explore. It is very linear, going from one area to the next in an orderly fashion. The PvE really sucks. (By the way, I am using this game as an example, because the players max out their level in the beginning of the game, way before the story/PvE ends).

            Okay! Here is what I’m suggesting: creating variety from existing core game mechanics. Is that so hard? One of the most underutilized game design is platforming. If characters can run and jump in 3D, there should be some platforming. Other basic game mechanics that can be modified are stats, movement speed, and whatever else that exist (e.g. bland wall design make characters dumber, -10 intelligence; or mirror reflection reveals how stupid you really look, -5 charisma; or high ground lacks oxygen, -mana regeneration speed; etc.). Add triggers to some of it, so that players can do something to stop the effects (momentarily), or maybe they have to strategically choose what or even when they want to turn off, because they’re limited by a resource. (Basically, this is like adding a puzzle element). Maybe the characters require certain gears or items to be protected from the effects. With that said, we need more variety and better game design, not necessarily new game mechanics…
TrentH writes:

Darkmist, I have to say I nearly completely agree with you.  Games today do have the issue in the sense that they don't really give players anything that makes them feel unique, nothing that makes them feel like they are in some way getting that new experience and attempting to keep their interest.  Instead, especially in MMORPGs today, they create giant time sinks which cause players to need to progress and spend large amounts of time playing the game and cut out the idea of giving players a bigger experience.

It is indeed a sad thing that its something that isn't looked into more about providing players with more variety of environments, gear, experiences overall.

Tue Jul 24 2007 1:17AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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