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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

GW2: Lack Of End-Game Gear-Grind Raiding = Massive Untapped Market

Posted by Meleagar Thursday May 3 2012 at 9:35AM
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I don't think anyone, really, has a clue what kind of untapped market exists for what, IMO, is the first true, 3D AAA MMORPG. 

I say that because all prior games in the "MMORPG" market were not primarily "role-playing" games; they were gear-and-level grinding, end-game elitist group and raid games. We've never seen a major MMO (except perhaps UO, which wasn't 3D) that was first and fundamentally structured to serve role-playing.

I'm not talking about role-players that necessarily talk in-character, or who are writing long stories about themselves, but rather players that just want to carve out a semi-unique niche in style of play and character build and overall personality, and have available to them all of the same kind of content and reward available to anyone else.  Players who just want the game mechanics and design to embrace them and reward them, not essentially beat them and ridicule them like a red-headed step-troll.

No, role-playing is not the same as "class min-maxing for the purpose of endgame gear-grind raiding".  For over a decade now, the term "role" has been bastardized by developers into  (via game structure and mechanics) meaning nothing more than a mechanistic function. Role-playing, in its original sense, meant structuring your avatar and acting like a fictional character. It was about personality first, not stats and build. Sure, you could build a non-conformist character in WoW, but why? Nobody there was really role-playing (outside of the few desperate to find a game that actually supported such a thing); they just wanted you to serve the function they wanted you to. You were a cog that either made the gear-grinding machine work better, or worse. Shut the hell up with your play-acting, fool!  Get in line with the proper  build or be laughed at and ostracized!

Like many, I realized that in virtually all AAA MMORPGs, the developers not only didn't see players as anything more than potential end-game cogs, that's how the entire game was structured. Sure, you could go in and do something else, but as soon as the gee-whiz graphics wore off, you realized every single thing in the game was designed and structured in conformance with "cog" mentality, and that the whole community was made up of  either happy cogs, or those trying to enjoy the game in spite of its obvious structure and mentality that disappoved of alternate playstyles.

How many potential long-term players did this mentality drive out of the genre, seeking solace instead in games they could play alone or together with friends and role-play to their heart's content, without being assaulted every second by an overwhelming sense that they (since the weren't proper cogs) simply didn't matter?  How many expansions can one put up with that catered to gear-grinding raiders before they took to heart the message that they just weren't welcome? 

IMO, GW2 is the first 3D AAA MMORPG, period, because it has structured the entire game to not only embrace, but to reward all kinds of role-players fully and completely. Role-play to your heart's content. No need to pursue leveling - the whole game is the end-game! No need to gear-grind - top gear will come to you,and it's not a gear-centric game anyway!  There is no elitist raiding system that excludes your build or playstyle - jump into raid-style world events as you find them, contribute to them as you see fit as per your character, and get the reward you deserve.

This is the first AAA MMOG where individuality of character and playstyle is fully embraced and rewarded.  I don't think even ANET realizes what kind of untapped market exists for this kind of game, if they (or word of mouth) can just get the word out and explain what GW2 really is.


Yamota writes:

A ThemePark embracing Role Playing? Sorry but I have a hard time immersing myself into a ThemePark no matter how flexible the gear and level mechanics are.

Thu May 10 2012 3:08AM Report
Meleagar writes:

While a sandbox world might provide one a broader opportunity to create unique and diverse characters, I don't think having a set structure diminshes the capacity to roleplay - any role-playing requires some sort of structure wherein characters can play off of context and develop a character that is meaningful in terms of the contextual story and world.  What you gain in role-playing diversity in sandbox, you lose in coherent context and structure, IMO.

GW2 offers the freedom to create a wide range of character stories, and a wide range of highly worthwhile skills and abilities, without coercing you down a certain min-max pathway. It might not be the ideal format for role-playing, but it is certainly much, much batter than other MMMOG's that basically make you choose from a handful of roles that are supported by full-game mechanics.

I'd rather have true diversity of character abilities and a theme-park world, than a handful of theme-park character builds to choose from in a sandbox world. 

Thu May 10 2012 5:35AM Report writes:
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