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Videos Videos - The Rant - Keep Your Carrots

This week's Rant focuses on the notion of difficulty and grinding in MMOs, and why Bill's one player who won't soon be caught chasing the carrot on a stick any longer.

Duration: 3:05
Views: 2,576  20 comments
Game: General
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Maisson writes: I am on the same wave length. I play MMO's for the adventure and story not for gear grind and raiding. It's worse when raiding is the only way to finish a story. I don't get to play until late at night for a couple of hours and trying to raid in a couple of hours doesn't happen since the raid and start times do not evolve around me. In my opnion MMO's should have options for both the raiders and solo/small groupers when it comes to epic loot and story finishing. Make the loot unique and lengthy to obtain and have an alternate route to through the story for us which may take longer then raiding, but atleast we will get to experience it and have some gear to show. Mon Apr 22 2013 9:12AM Report
Shaigh writes:

Problem with the carrot thinkin is that it buys on the notion that people play content based on the gear they get and fail to understand that the reason people play in the first place is that its fun.


Its fun to do dungeons, its fun to raid, its fun to beat people in PvP, its fun crafting. Sure, sometimes it do get repetitive and you end up in a group that sucks, or for no reason the raid goes awful and at that point its good to have the promise of gear because it gives you a goal, but if gear is your only reason for playing you won't play for long.


MMO endgame isn't about getting gear, its about the journey to get them.

Mon Apr 22 2013 9:13AM Report
Tekaelon writes: The problem is that game designers have not found new ways of progression. Currently I play GW2 where gear progression is minimal. Still there are thiose in my guild who would prefer more hard core raiding accompanied by higher levels of gear. May ArenaNer never give into that!  Mon Apr 22 2013 9:41AM Report
WereLlama writes:

Time is definately a pain in a the arse.

I think there is a niche for a game with capped game times that focus more on adventure/team building and less on grinding.

Maybe then, we can reward merit vs seniority.

Mon Apr 22 2013 9:50AM Report
Trystic writes:

There's not a whole lot the game designers can do. Honestly I think it's a consumer problem. I can agree on game mechanics being too easy in alot of popular MMO's nowadays but it really comes down to the goals of the player. WoW for example can be an extremely difficult game if you're looking to become a world reknown PvPer, or lead a guild in world first raid boss kills. No matter what mechanics a game designer puts into a game, the players will master it and it will become repetitive, I found this playing Tera. Even though most of the game is skill and timing base it still becomes repetitive when you've mastered aiming and the skill rotation. With this in mind they have no choice but to add content which lengthens the process from starting to finishing the game.

Maybe the reason League of Legends is so popular is because it brings alot of similar experiences that MMO's bring into a very short usually 45 minute skirmish. You grind to a decent level with some occasional PvP, then group into a 5 man team for either objective "raid" kills or more PvP to secure the win, or struggle to the end of a defeat, all the while tryin to get that next piece of gear.

I can't agree with your Guild Wars 2 comment saying it requires you to be "skilled" in different areas of the game. From my experience in GW2 the World vs World was mostly zerg, the leveling if you wanted to do it efficiently was mostly zerg, and the crafting was pretty similar to other MMO's and was not at all skill based but simply required "time". But that's not necessarily a bad thing, you can't expect everything in an MMO to be as hard as Contra. Putting difficult but rewarding experiences is something Guild Wars 2 is definetely breaking ground on, but the traditional MMO experience is still very much on that "easy" side of the scale.

Mon Apr 22 2013 9:56AM Report
Dogblaster writes: I play mmorpg for grind and gear. Mon Apr 22 2013 10:20AM Report
Battlerock writes: Right on about gear and grind. Lately anything I have played has felt like agrind though. I have tried and tried to play GW2, I cant seem to make it past lvl 20 before I get bored of my toon and delete it. World of Warcraft was great for a while but im sick of grinding out new gear every patch and paying for the grind as well. I like what PS2 does in that even though im casual, low level, less experienced... if I just out my thinking cap on I can contribute in one way or another and I can wipe out someone higher leveled than me with a skilled shot. While we are at it here, I have flip flopped back and forth as to whether I should even play pc games any more. I bought a pc last week and already returned it. I found that even after some time away, im just no linger motivated to play anything really. I see whafs coming down the pipe it looks like the same old with new skins. Not only that, but the pricing is just so messed up anymore its a huge turn off. I was excited for a whike with neverwinter , eos, and wildstar coming, but its just going to be the same old crap with new skins. I have lost my patience with pc gaming. At some point you realize your lifestyle and priorities no linger allow you to endulge in these type of games. I am not surprised that Bill after just having another child is ranting about grinding and promoting more of a log in and just have fun at anytime any place any level Mon Apr 22 2013 11:22AM Report
Battlerock writes: Boy I love typing on my phone that looks like crap Mon Apr 22 2013 11:25AM Report
Wizardry writes:

I most certainly agree on the premise to game.

Geesh i think Bill is the ONLY guy at this station that gets and understands gaming.


You do need carrots becuase just like in real life,we strive to hold new things.

Example,people have fun driving their NEW car,you play hockey,you enjoy going out and buying a new stick or new skates.Before playing baseball you go out and look for a really nice glove.

The difference is that in real life,we spend a lot of time enjoying what we have,we don't NEED a new carrot everyday to warrant coming back to the game we love.

There lies the massive problem in game design,levels and fear are outdated so fast,they become meaningless tiem sinks.

Even the so called END GAME Epics or LEgendary items are every bit as meaningless becuase you are done levelling,so what's the point?

As mentioned,it is the Adventure anf FUN that should take precedence in our games.

Mon Apr 22 2013 12:20PM Report
maplestone writes:

Putting the carrots behind playstyles that I have chosen not to play does not feel like a superior option to putting them behind a grind.

Also, on the whole question of testing player skill, I think that whole question is overlooking a fundemental difference in the reasons different people play.  I am not looking for challenge.  I am not a super-skilled hero, the character I am playing is the hero.  I'm just a whisper in the character's ear.

Mon Apr 22 2013 1:15PM Report
FoeHammerJT writes:

The modern gamer simply burns thru "adventure" content far to fast for any developer to keep up.


Hence the gear grind, or level grind, or realm point grind. MMO players spend far toooo much time behind their PCs to expect a "New Adventure" everytime they sit at the PC.

Frankly, i'd love to see an MMO not so obessed with accessibility that did offer a group of players a significant challenge (FFXI) comes to mind in many regards. Asheron's call did this right in a lot of places.

Maybe if we spent more time looking for adventure in real life and there were fewer players taking a week off on a new MMO release to wipe out 4 years worth of content development in the first month, we'd appreciate our MMOs more.

Mon Apr 22 2013 4:44PM Report
Purutzil writes:

I think your confusing a carrot and 'better gear' mixed up. I honestly like the concept of stuff taking time and work to get... but one that does take skill. I disagree about your GW2 comment  with the 'skill' (sorry, you even said yourself that it can be bought and ultimately the 'grind' of it) but meh...


Carrot on a stick makes games compelling so we want to keep playing. The problem is that carrot is starting to have less skill involved and more about time. Things ARE easier and making it so anyone can do anything is hurting the game. The reason we loved raiding so much in the past was due to the fact so few got to experience the content that it made it feel that much more thrilling to get to that point and try and beat it through CHALLENGE.

Don't get me wrong, it doesn't need to be that super old school type of curve where no one experiences that 'end' content, but still having a place few get to explore and maybe giving some perhaps 'gear progression' to aid in patching up player skill with items to  boost them can be 'alright' in some ways (though not really my thing). 


Its not the carrot that is the problem, its the fact instead of being on a stick, its right in front of our lips. We can easily take a bite and its pulled away, having to run back and take another. There is no 'difficulty' or 'skill' involved all that often anymore and it really hurts us.


People crave "MORE" because the carrot is so easy, so developers just try giving us smaller bites before pulling it away instead of making it harder. Increasing the grind but not making it more difficult. If you reach the 'end', then what is there to really work for, and thus the wrong mentality is established in which to stop it, we instead see developers just padding it out instead of giving that challenge.

Mon Apr 22 2013 6:53PM Report
rodingo writes:

I think we are seeing a shift in the paradigm, a little at a time.  Like Bill said earlier, a big reason for teh carrot was to keep people playing.  The longer it take to ge the carrot, the more monthly subs the player is willing to pay.  It's a money making device in most current forms, but doesn't have to be.  Now that some game studios are daring to try the B2P route, they don't need to keep the player glued artificially with a standard stepping stone of gear checks.  They can let player skill and guild organization prevail over time spent.  I can see how this leaves a sour taste on some people's mouth because they cut their mmo teeth during the subscription based, gear grind era.  You can see all the time with the "What do I do now?" posts. 

That's the same question a lot of us non-raider types were asking in the gear grind games a while back.  We would finish our questing to max level and figure out that for us who don't want to raid have no content left.  There was no carrot for us back then, so we would leave the game and try another.

SWG was a different beast and used one of the worst grinding mechanics possible with its Jedi carrot.  Well that wasn't the carrot I was looking for either, but luckily they had BH missions to help me go after those who wanted to be "elite".  Of course the tracking on that either bugged or the typical Jedi was afk macroing locked away in some house somewhere 9 out of 10 times.

What am I getting at? I don't know, but all I can say is that things ARE changing in payment models and endgames in various games that have released recently or being released soon. I can finally have choices in various games that actual catere to what I want instead of having to settle with the typical tired crap.

Mon Apr 22 2013 8:09PM Report
healboot writes:

The carrot on a stick is the easiest way for the devs to get some rest. Its there Carrot they chased, but just like American automakers they just keep mass producing junk. The whole Idea of skill in a Video game is convuleted, since my button mashing skill is beter than yours the Carrot was made for me.

A online persistant world will only survive if its accessable in small bites as well as large, both receving satisfaction from time spent, and neither gaining an advantage that negates the need of the other

Mon Apr 22 2013 8:22PM Report
JasonJ writes:

whoa whoa whoa wait...Bill Murphy isnt falling for the carrot on a stick anymore yet he is gunho for TESO?

A game based on RvRvR where from level 1 onward you are led from zone to zone leading you to the central PvP lands is a game that is 100% carrot on a stick. ITS THE BASE DESIGN. All roads lead to the center, end game.

Mon Apr 22 2013 10:03PM Report
aleos writes: Yup. Mon Apr 22 2013 11:53PM Report
Tuchaka writes: in a word why the carrot , simple psychological adiction. Tue Apr 23 2013 12:04AM Report
Wraithone writes:

Excellent points Bill.  I've long since fallen off the raiding band wagon.  Hell, these days, I seldom bother running dungeons more than a few times, just to see the content. 

In WoW, for example I have two 90's and seven 85's.  My 90 rogue has the best gear, at i455. In other words mostly low level blues.  But that will be sufficient for the next expansion.

  I see no real point in using the LFR or heroics, as people go into hysterics, if you aren't a zealot about them.  Thats not what I'm looking for in games these days.

Tue Apr 23 2013 2:55AM Report
AlBQuirky writes:

I keep expecting to click "play" and then hear your extra loud, angry, screaming shouts assail my ears!  I really don't think that's in your nature, though :)

I agree with you.  I have never been a "carrot chaser" and the whole concept leaves me in the dust, wondering, "Huh?"

For me, there is a difference between making that chase interesting and boring.  Doing the exact same thing over and over again, hoping to get a random loot drop is boring.  Doing ~25 different activities that take time is fun for me.

I had a tough time in WoW trying for, NOT top Druid gear, but something lesser for my Druid.  It was an armor drop from doing the time portal thing.  I had a couple of guildmates helping me out and we all gave up after about 20 tries in 2 days time with narry a peek at the coveted random drop.  That was first, and last time I have (or will) ever try to get anything relying on a random drop.

I'll just pull up a chair at your table and have some iced tead :)

Tue Apr 23 2013 8:09AM Report
Asleep writes:

Its ALL carrot on a stick. Look yeh you like the friends you make, the times you have, the adventures you take, but you must know you don't get anything without something.

Even if you are not trying with all you have to get that one thing anymore, you are still in it to get something, even if its your adventure/friendship fix you are still there putting in the time to get what you want.

Thats how these games are designed to keep you logging in, many layers of stick and carrot, if you truly came to terms with it, and don't like the system, you wouldn't play this genre.

TLDR: Gear is not the only carrot these games keep you chasing.

Wed Apr 24 2013 1:31PM Report writes:
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