Accomidating game play
March 30, 2010 2 Comments
If you’re familiar with my writing you know that I like to set up a common premise and then explain later on why it is I disagree with it, and play a Devil’s Advocate of sorts. Well, faithful reader, fret not, for this post will not be all that different! But I’ll try to keep the twists and turns of my thought process interesting enough to not bore you entirely. So, venture forth and think about the nature of our interaction with our hobby du jour.
Werit made a great post about his foray into the PvE of WAR. It’s on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, laying just to the side of the left ventricle (it feeds the aorta!). In his post, he makes one particular point that stood out most apparent to me, and really struck a chord in my critical thinking approach I often take to gaming.
“Often times it seems players are guilty of expecting a game to change to fit their needs, I know I am.”
It seemed to me to be a very insightful and succinct summation of many players outlook at the games we play. When we first come into a game, it’s often postulated that we come into it with zero expectations, and that we respond to the game as it exists. As time moves on, we supposedly stick around because the state of the game is acceptable to us, and the style and focus of the game meshes well with our interests. I don’t entirely disagree with this particular assessment, but then again I don’t entirely agree as well (haha, a twist!).
The MMO genre has been around long enough that the majority of people coming in to play the game understand some of the core systems of how they work. Most players will come from other RPG games, or maybe even competitive online FPS games. Either way you slice it, I’ve never heard of a player coming into an MMO fresh off the non-gaming boat, it’s further down the path after a couple other gateway games. So, anyone who comes to the game is going to have some inherent expectations or prejudices, justified or not, that they will carry with them like that business card of the guy you met two years ago while at another job, just in case you ever need that contact. You’ll have it always in the back of your mind, and filter what you see from then on with the tinge of that memory.
MMOs are a good example of what happens when lots of players approach a game with a lot of diverse elements. Games of the genre need to be able to cater to a lot of different playstyles and have many different avenues of play to keep people entertained, and thus subscribed. The more people able to be enticed to keep playing, the more money the company will make. This last statement has about the same level of insight as my declaration that water is wet, but I’m trying to spell things out, and go step by step of my thought process, so stay with me.
Gamers in general are becoming more well versed and educated about what they spend their free-time participating in. I know it’s rare for me to buy a console game without having read reviews, or talked to other people who have played it first. I’ll buy a game brand-new on the occasion that it’s from a development studio that I know and trust beyond a shadow of a doubt, and have a proven track record with the series or similar games. With MMOs, I (and many I believe) do the same thing. With the MMO genre though, the development tends to be incredibly longer, and more expansive than with single-player games, companies have also become more open and communicative about what they are doing. The wealth of information, and the fervor of gamers trying to make wise purchases is the equation that brings about hype. The problem is that hype gets overblown, and people are unrealistic about the reality of the product they’re looking into. Information gets devoured, but so does rumor, supposition, and inferring over the gaps. This problem gets protracted and further compounded due to the afore-said development time.
I know that I fell guilty to this situation as well. My fan-boi fervor of the Warhammer universe, and all the charismatic, and entertaining personalities of Mythic really drew me in to the interest of the game, despite my never having played heavily in a PvP world outside of the light skirmishing I did in SWG. I watched every podcast, every Barnet phone video, and read every word of every newsletter, trying to find out more about the game and whether it would be a good fit for me. I was desperately hoping that this game would be accommodating to my playstyle, and fill the whole left in me by PvE ennui. The thing that most enticed me was the promise of parallel PvP progression play throughout the entirety of the game. Dungeons would be good fun if desired, but by no means required or even heavily focused upon. I could spend all of my time doing what it was that I wanted, PvP.
Sadly for me, that wasn’t quite so true at launch, and to a lesser extent, still is not so today. However, PvE isn’t a deathknel for me, and I’m a pragmatist at heart. I looked at this game, and realized that there are aspects that I may not enjoy as thoroughly as the next guy, or may not even agree with 100%, but I take it for what it is. The bulk of the game is something I can thoroughly enjoy, in large and small doses. As light entertainment, or serious competition. I view the game as a place for me to go play at. I never went to a playground as a child and demanded that the swing be more like the merry-go-round, or the slide more like the monkey bars, I did what I enjoyed at each, then ran screaming in glee to the next one, often making up games on the fly with my buddies. I was able to see each experience for what it was, and not have an expectation of its subservience to me, but rather, how I could best enjoy what I had available.