[MUD-Dev] Value

Sean Kelly sean at f4.ca
Wed Dec 21 06:42:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005

Brian "Ayavaron" Ross wrote:

> A topic that always came to mind to me when I played games was
> value.  I don't like it when I pay $50 for a game only to find
> that I couldn't get more than an hour into it due to
> insurmountable difficulty. When I pay full price for a game, I
> expect to be allowed to see all of the game regardless of my
> skill. It seems unfair that when I pay $50 for a game, I am only
> privy to 10% of the game.

By skill do you mean player skill or character ability (level or the
equivalent)?  From my reading of your post it seems you're referring
to the latter.  I'll address both just in case.

> I think this is a problem with MMORPGs too. MMORPGs are more
> expensive than normal games because there is the additional
> subscription fee beyond the initial price of the purchase.

> But MMORPGs also do a lot to lock off people of lower skill. I've
> heard people mention it within this mailing list even. They talk
> about locking off content to lower level players as a way to help
> prevent quest vandalism and such. But it seems unfair as they're
> paying the same price as everyone else.

Frankly, I haven't played a MMORPG yet that required player skill so
much as persistence.  Combat tends to be straightforward and
repetitive and there is typically little consequence for dying.  I
would be surprised at someone who told me they simply lacked the
skill to do what was required to progress their character.

> But I've hared some MMORPGs don't really start until you're at
> level XX (Usually 20). What if someone doesn't get to level 20 in
> the first month and then decides to quit? That person will have
> invested $65 into something that they didn't get to enjoy.

Have they?  In WoW, many of the dedicated roleplayers have been
playing since release and they still haven't made it to level 60.
Enjoyment simply doesn't correlate to achievement for some, nor does
it correlate to geography explored for others.  Subscription fees
are paid more for the opportunity to spend time in a game than by
the amount of content a given player experiences.  Some of the more
OCD grinders, for example, might spend 80 hours a week in game and
never leave whatever place they've discovered gives them the best
reward.  By what you're suggesting, these people should pay
practically nothing for a MMORPG even though they're consuming more
resources than most other players in the game.

> So I wonder now, do other people see this as a problem? Some games
> are designed around the idea of avoiding this type of thing (CoH
> and WoW) but why should some games require work before you can
> start enjoying them. That just isn't cool.

So far as player skill is concerned, my opinion is the opposite of
what you seem to be suggesting.  That is, I don't like that MMORPGs
so often reward persistence over skill.  I enjoy tactics and
unpredictable gameplay and most MMORPGs simply don't offer this.
Even PvP tends to be heavily skewed by player equipment--gained
through persistence--minimizing the need for player skill.  In fact,
this is a major reason why I quit playing WoW.

I've found Guild Wars to be a refreshing change from the MMORPG norm
however.  Early to mid game tends to be pretty forgiving, but
difficulty ramps up at end game where there are certain missions
that seem to be choke-points for unskilled players.  Some manage to
get through in balanced groups, but others seem unable to progress
past a certain few missions that require careful coordination or
specific tactics to overcome.  When trying to complete them myself I
was a bit frustrated simply because it seemed so difficult to get a
decent group together, but now I'm enjoying the lower player density
in later areas.

It's reasonable to suggest that this game model unfairly limits some
players from certain segments of the game, but at its core Guild
Wars is a competitive game, which is not true of most other MMORPGs.
Personally, I quite enjoy this, and have little desire to play
another "typical" MMORPG, though the small group cooperative focus
of DDO seems appealing as well.

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