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Hudson's Hideout

Ramblings of a MMO player and Miniature wargamer

Author: pvthudson01

How do you fix the casual player dilemna?

Posted by pvthudson01 Thursday October 16 2008 at 11:20AM
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This article reposted from my new blog home at

The World of Warcraft spin machine is in full force this week. During Blizzcon, interviewed Blizzard's COO Paul Sams who declared that players were already returning to World of Warcraft after WAR's release.

In the interview he gloats and brags and claims that Blizzard's expansions for WoW come out so slow due to massive content additions and how complex they are. I really don't buy that at all. While they do polish the hell out of their products, I think that the real reason for the delays are that they try to watch the market and copy or include everything that makes another game popular. It just makes me curious how as time went on Blizzard announced things like achievement systems and added in game calendars. Whatever. It still does not mask the problem that WoW is a PVE raid oriented game with high end content that 60% of its playerbase will not be able to experience due to time constraints.

I look at something like Mines of Moria and think that Turbine may be doing us more favors with Legendary Weapons and small 3 man dungeons than any other MMO out there right now. I remember when Lost Dungeons of Norrath came out. Or even the mission generator in Anarchy Online. No one has made an effort to copy this or give us this kind of content. I loved LDON because you would go to a camp and spawn a mission and it would be random (as random as technology allowed back then) and then it was a great romp through a dungeon for some good gear. The camps would be full of people and everyone KNEW WHERE TO GO. Dungeons weren't hidden in a cave somewhere with a swirly entrance. Some nights I would tank 5-6 dungeons in a row and have a blast. If you wanted a different flavor you would go to Faydark and Q up for the vampire dungeons, or Ro and Q up for the Orc dungeon in the desert. Of course it being EQ1, LDON's relied heavily on tank, healer, crowd control. In the effort of MMO's today to be so solo friendly, they have shot any chance at this type of content in the foot.

In Anarchy Online we had a mission generator that you could scale for XP or money. You just zone in and you get your own little dungeon...errr..base to explore and shoot stuff.

What are the issues with generated content we see? People ignore the outside lands, or if it is single player content no one would ever see anyone. I think EQ2 ran into this issue with some of their mini expansion packs you could buy for 5 bucks or whatever the price was. Tabula Rasa had this issue even though the instances scaled, which was pure awesomeness. However no one in Tabula Rasa grouped or talked. End result: Garriott shoots himself into space and his "dream game" dies a horrible death.

Warhammer is running into this with Scenarios. Are all these instancing ideas killing MMO communities? Do we need to drop this mechanic and force people into the open and make them work together? It would be hard I know. You can't have 80 vs 80 Nordenwatch, you have to control the amount of players and make sure it ends. Everquest 1 never had this problem because it was PVE not PVP oriented. Unless you get rid of the scenario idea and make your world one massive open RVR, you will always be limited by technology and by player populations. Warhammer Online has come the closest to fixing this with Public Quests. We have a system where you can kinda "raid" outdoors in content that is pushed along by people participating and advancing it to the next stage. If there are not enough people, it simply sits at Stage 1 and gets ignored. If ther are enough people, it pushes to Stage 3 or 4 and a "raid" boss appears. Brilliant actually. What if more games incorporated this type of content EVERYWHERE. I personally love it. is not a dungeon, and it is not PVP. Of course dungeons in EQ1 were wide open, and we saw spawn campers, loot whores and botters everywhere, which is why WoW went with instancing and OMG THE CYCLE IS ENDLESS.

I don't know why I am clamoring over all this lately. I just wanted to see more people involved in the content of MMO's but minus the grouping holy trinity or the need for a set amount of players. Any way you look at it, I would not want to be the designer that would have to try and hash that out for a new MMO. Maybe Darren over at Common Sense Gamer had it right and we should all just play Oblivion.

Ok, that is the last of "thoughtful Hudson" you all get this week. I am out of here for a Brooks and Dunn concert tonight. Don't ask...just don't ask.

xbellx777 writes:

ya idk i have lost a little respect for blizzard the last couple of years bc of wow and all.  they are now just another big corporation that just thinks about money.  which isn't neccisarily a bad thing its just not whaat blizzard was ten years ago.  you would think that they would realize that they were incredibly lucky that they came out with wow at the perfect time.  oh well  i don't think you will ever fix the casual player dilema

Thu Oct 16 2008 1:52PM Report
Kaelas writes:

The main reason for WAR's people leaving is becuase of the developers. Things weren't nearly polished, too many promises not kept. Personally, TCOS, The Agency, and Champions Online are my to watch games.

Thu Oct 16 2008 3:47PM Report
crunchyblack writes:

I think that the people leaving warhammer and heading back to wow has little to do with the developers and their promises.

wow and war are completely diffrent games, in objectives, how they play, and what you do.  You cannot expect everyone who left wow and went to warhammer to like the change.

While the developers did cut material for release it still has been one of the smoothest launches that i can remember.  While there are problems at least the developers aknowledge them and have been pumping out lots of patches to fix them. Either way it was kind of a stretch to believe that war would have pulled millions of wow players away and keep them happy with a completely diffrent gameplay model.

As far as the casual gamer goes, i do think that war hit the nail on the head, offering multiple ways to level up.  The casual gamer can enjoy a few scenarios and level up while doing it.  No need to grinding to endgame and grinding for equipments to be useful in scenarios or even open field RvR.  The problem with war's approach is going to be the availability of scenarios down the road, they need to find a way to gurantee that the casual player can log on quickly and quickly find a scenario or even a public quest.

I really think the key to making casual gamers and hardcore gamers happy is to give the casual gamer options on how to level up, that doesnt involve killing mobs for hours at a time, while reserving some portion of the content for top level.  Its all about blancing content correctly.

Thu Oct 16 2008 9:43PM Report
Eluwien writes:


I have to agree that the roots of the casual player dilemma, are indeed in the instancing and solo friendly design that has taken over the genre in recent years. Cross server battlegrounds, highly level based linear design  and no real realmpride reduces the feeling of belonging even more. Casual every day Joe ends up being alone in his level, without any real drive to know the other people fighting against other players he's never going to fight again in a static world in which no act has an effect.

With the new server technology -(dynamic load distribution)-, it wouldn't be that hard  to create server clusters that can handle hunreds of players&mobs on same field of vision area. Just takes a while to that tech to end up on MMO's use.

Fri Oct 17 2008 2:14AM Report
Anofalye writes:

Have different XP curves on different servers, with different rules on each...maybe some loot or zones are not accessible on "easy servers".


Casuals would found themselves with casuals mostly, and so would elitists players.


And maybe I could hope for a "hardcore grouping server" eventually...where everything is done with a team of 6...


Anyway, some MMOs already have tests servers, why not have a casual server?  And then why not expand to please the tastes of the players?

Fri Oct 17 2008 7:50AM Report
Pinmomster writes:

I am no where near being a hard core gamer.  I don't even play every day.  I don't want to "have" to play with a group of folks if I am not in the mood for that because sometimes I want to go it alone although I do like to have others to talk with and visit with and maybe have a party with for more experience while I am smacking monsters around.  Other times it is great to have a group of gamers to work with.  I just wish there were more games that let me decide which way I want to play. 

Fri Oct 17 2008 11:31AM Report
nefermor writes:

I think a lot of wow players can identify with this article including my self even though I play most days. The harsh truth though is that wow is moving into the new mmo sports field with ever more focus on the arena play. So not only are the high end raids impossible to get to (applications to the guilds who do them are like job applications) for casual players but the arena system is the only alternative and its very competitive , repetitious and a frustrating grind. Think walking away from your computer with an ice bag on your head.

The thing though is that there is no other game that offers real competition to wow simply due to its exceptional functionality. I beta test a lot of games and I'm still waiting for one that will offer a way out. The new games seem to think that everyone wants to PVP all the time and that just isn't true especially for casual gamers. I don't know if its marketing or maybe that too many of the lead game devs out there come from PVP backgrounds in their childhood, but most people I talk to in wow are now rerolling alts all the time to play lower end content simply because its more fun and less frustrating as game play. Yet these players who I feel are the majority of accounts are treated as though they did not exist.

Fri Oct 17 2008 3:46PM Report
Frostbite05 writes:

No matter what people say WoW is a PVE game and to get to most endgame requires alot of dedication. Arena and BG's are really just a side show in this game and even these take alot of time to achieve anything worthwile

Tue Nov 11 2008 9:46AM Report writes:
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