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Changing ways to win MMOs

October 30, 2008

While I am not playing Warhammer Online and not trying to follow what is happening in that game, some tidbits of information still tend to reach my proximity.

Apparently there are some issues with many players only playing to win the game in a few limited ways in which the game provides. This leaves people wanting to win the game in different games somewhat frustrated at times.

Win in this context is to me to reach the max level in the game. Having levels in a game where your character improves with additional levels is an excellent game mechanic – it is easy to understand, easy to measure progress and often easy to associate some awards with the levels (increased attributes, skills, access to new content etc). It is also useful to help give the player som direction in a game – not everyone is comfortable being thrown into a sandbox environment from start.

So it is not really surprising that many players’ enjoyment from a game comes from progressing in an reasonably optimal way along the leveling path to win the game and other elements of the game may become secondary to that goal.

At least in hindsight (always easier in hindsight…) it becomes reasonably clear that less clear and goal-oriented game mechanics may not get the same attention, in particular when the target audience for these games widens.

So if this game mechnic is used at all in a game, why not either focus on it only, or try to get it out of the way at an early stage? Let people do their leveling, get to the max level in the game with only a limited amount of options to get there. Then after that, provide a more wide variety of game options.

With the leveling part done people with either be done with the game entirely or their appetite may just have been triggered for more. In the latter case there more options to offer different choices – people know the basics of the game and can more easily take on tasks that possibly could have been more dauting during the initial learning phase of the game.

The leveling time should be kept shorter in this case then; not the 100s of hours that has been the norm, but rather 10s of hours and more closer to time spend on single player games.

The message would essentially be “congratulations, yopu have won! Now when you are a winner we have loads of cool new stuff for you to try, covering many different play styles – enjoy!”.

Categories: MMO Games
  1. October 30, 2008 at 19:16

    Or just not make it the obvious “ding” that so many people associate with the genre.

    I have been foaming at the mouth over Fable 2, and I probably should not…but it just makes me look at the RPG in a different light.

    I never note any type of “level” in the game.
    I increase my powers, but I never am involved in “OMG, I must get to next level” mentality.

    And this I think is the problem with most MMO’s.
    Guild Wars though does not make you feel this either. The levels are so much a thing in the back of you mind…and I think it all narrows down to one issue.

    The game does not occupy you in any other way than the levels. The carrot stick issues in the MMO world really makes the genre tired to me.
    They all are starting to forget the RPG part of the MMO.

    Until SWTOR, this may stay the problem (even though Aion interests me if the grind is not too harsh…but it is Korean, and Korean MMO’s make you slash your wrists with grind…)

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