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Fight the Power!

Tim Eisen Posted:
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You can’t put a price on power.(14.99 a month?) Thousands if not millions spend their entire lives in pursuit of it. The He-Man franchise was based on selling it to children! (someone's been watching Netflix) Oh please, if you haven’t realized MMORPG characters are action figures for adults then feel free to see your way out. What do devs call a blank character? A paper doll! Why? Because they know if it was socially acceptable adults would play with figures in a sandbox all day long! Ahem, sorry about that, sometimes he gets to me. Now where was I...

Ah yes, the majority of games marketed to men (aka the majority of games) are based on the acquisition of power. It’s such a...powerful tool that chasing it retains out attention (and moneys) for months. Call it a development crutch or logical game design but the reality is it works. The illusion of power sells. What is the gear grind? What is the level grind? What is the crafting grind? The pursuit of them is rife with trials and tribulations but that pursuit is not for adventure, its for progression which makes our character what? More powerful! (Like that time Green Ranger Became White Ranger after he looted that epic sword.)

It isn’t that we’re all power hungry madlads but we like to escape to a place where we have greater volumes of it. We may be at peace with our place in life, our jobs (or not), our 81 Honda, etc. but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy logging into a world that makes us feel like a demigod. It’s not the only player retainer but it’s proven to be one of the single most effective. How many games did you walk away from after reaching max level? How many times did you get your full gear set and lose the desire to log in?

It’s not that the game suddenly changed, its that you got the power you sought and the thrill of the chase was gone. (If only a game dared to change those tropes.) Showing it off and using it to vanquish your foes can only sustain you for so long before you need another fix of the good stuff, chasing more power. To quote a dear friend “once Burning Crusade came out and random mob loot was more powerful than my epics I refused to keep playing”. Once my power was nullified what was the point?

That brings us to Camelot Unchained. (about time) PVP games can not retain new players post launch if the power gap is too great. Many studios know this but few adjust their systems for it. Most of them rely on other power grinds, cash shops or players making alts. Some are designed from the beginning with the intention to go hard and burn out within a few months before closing shop with a full bank account. Camelot Unchained is boldly going where few MMORPGs have gone before. (Overused line, -5 XP) Mark Jacobs sees clearly the shortfalls of such expirational thinking and seeks something more akin to EVE than Warcraft. Leveling in Camelot Unchained will feature slow, mostly linear power obtention.

New players will not feel inept upon logging in a year after launch. (Blasphemy!) Within a reasonable amount of time they will be able to contribute to PVP and hold their own on the battlefield, to a point. We don’t yet know the ratio but even proponents of such a system agree a veteran that has dedicated the time and energy should and will be more powerful than a new player, but not in game breaking, quit point way.

In the modern hyperactive gaming market this is extremely important. You used to have months but now you fight for a few hours to grab and retain a new player. From social media (aka discount bin MMORPGs), video streaming apps and games across an ever widening array of devices the industry has never had such a breadth of competition. New players don’t have the time or patience to lose for months on end when competition offers them instant dopamine a mere click away. (What’s that? Sorry I was watching twitch on my other monitor while talking in discord while playing Far Cry 5 while texting and making a pizza...)

All that said it is not as if Camelot lacks and form of power, quite the contrary. Camelot Unchained didn’t remove power, it changed it and in doing so it made it more significant than any ding or shiny ever could. (But mah shiny dings!) This is because power in Camelot comes from skill, strategy, acquisition of resources and above all else, victory on the battlefield. Power in this game evolved into something harder to obtain and harder yet to hang onto. That will make it more significant than any other MMORPG not named EVE Online.

What I am curious about is you, the millions, and The Tim means millions, of my faithful readers. (All 3 of them.) As veterans of a genre based on acquiring power though traditional means, does this alternate path retain you? It’s certainly appealing to a new player but are they worth it? Can your ego tolerate the sacrilege that is possibly losing to a player with less played time than you? (It is a delicate flower.) Is a battled based more on strategy, skill and numbers than time played, levels dinged and gear earned something modern MMORPGers are willing to accept? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry