Home > Design, MMO > It ain’t what it used to be

It ain’t what it used to be

Time-zones can be a bitch, but they can also be quite useful for inspiration. See, by the time I get up my little British (and Euro) chums have already done their morning posts and, as I peruse them over coffee, I can get all sorts of ideas I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

This one is Spinks’ fault, again. The post itself is on MMO burnout and how to avoid it — a feat I’m not sure is actually possible — but a passing comment in the text was what drew me to comment and then, shock-horror, made me have a thought of my own.

Here’s the catalyst:

The first thing that strikes me is that many players (probably the majority) don’t ever go through the  mastery and burnout phases. They hop straight from ramping up to casual, possibly even skipping the ramping up phase if the game offers that option.

The original posit comes from Nick Yee’s gaming life-cycle idea. (As an aside, if you’ve not read any of Nick’s stuff you really should. It may not be entirely right all the time, but it’s a pretty awesome body of work.)

What caught my eye on Spinks’ commentary was her assumption that casual players aren’t interested in mastery, which is defined by Nick Yee as “The player is at the higher-end of the game and is either well-situated in a guild and doing raids, or happily soloing high level quests, or competing in PvP content.”  [My emphasis.]

Spinks sort of ignores the soloing stuff in favour of saying — I think — that mastery basically means raiding, and that most players aren’t hardcore enough to ever want to master their character well enough to raid. NOTE that I am doing a bit of a hatchet-job on paraphrasing her because I’m trying to get to the point a little more rapidly than I usually do; her post is, as usual, well worth reading for its own content We’re still in the ramping up phase here.

(See what I did thar?)

I chipped in with my usual “Power to the slackers!” comment, in which I — fairly, I think — pointed out that while I don’t raid I do like to master what my characters can do and get the feeling that I’m playing competently.  I may claim to be crap but that’s more often than not modesty, with or without a dash of false. I don’t move in exalted expert-player circles so although I think I’m actually pretty competent with my chars, I’m never really sure. Besides, as far as I’m concerned char mastery should be a zen thing: you can always learn to do better.

I’m also mostly nit-picking with Spinks because I like to hold up my little “Slacker” placard on her un-noobish hardcore site.

But then I had an actual thought.

We’ve spent so many years assuming that raiding is a mastery activity, because it used to be. But is it still?

Everyone knows I don’t raid, so I’m not necessarily competent to expound on this subject but I sure as hell can speculate since that’s free and requires zero skill. I do also have a few friends — no, really — who raid, and I’ve been listening to stuff they’ve had to say for some years now.

And one of the things they say boils down to “Raiding ain’t what it used to be.”

So if the only hardcore thing about raiding is giving up half your spare time, because the actual challenge of the raids has pretty much gone bye-bye, how hardcore is that really?

Just askin’.

Categories: Design, MMO Tags: , ,
  1. Longasc
    August 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Hm… hm… I actually think HARDCORE means this:

    1.) … people still play WoW!!!
    2.) … and still raid.

    A veteran can explain every new raid by evoking memories of the same patterns used since Molten Core throughout to Northrend.

  2. August 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

    My definition of “hardcore” is “skillful”.

    Timesinks like the high level WoW content don’t require much skill (beyond paying attention, which not everyone seems to master); they give you experience pretty much automatically because you have to spend so much time on them you can’t avoid it.

    Games that allow a sufficiently skillful player to master it quickly allow players to demonstrate their skill by doing so. I got the impression that much in WoW’s design – especially starting with TBC – prevents such players from doing just that, by demanding long grinds for prerequisites to unlock higher-level content, etc.

  3. Masith
    August 17, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Honestly I think the claims people make that raiding isn’t what it used to be are false. I’ve been raiding since MC and am presently in a guild fighting LK HM25 atm and I can assure you he is not really any easier than any other of the really hard bosses I’ve fought in my time.

    I wonder if the reason people say that raiding is easier is because they put artificial limits on themselves due to the introduction of hardmodes. If you decide that your raid’s ulitimate goal is to kill Arthas on normal then I can respect that but you have to realise that you are effectively stopping raiding at around halfway through BT in terms of difficulty when comparing WotLK with TBC.

  4. August 17, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I know casual players who really don’t care about mastering their characters or knowing the game backwards. And I know other casual players who really do.

    I just mean some people are happy running around, using autoattack, wearing very inappropriate gear for their class/ spec, and chatting to their friends. So they’re not really interested in this notion of mastering anything, but they’re happy and it’s a valid way to play and doesn’t get in anyone else’s way.

    • August 17, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Aye, exactly. I just like to wave my SLACKER sign around on your comments now and then. You know that. :D

      • August 17, 2010 at 10:05 am

        I know it and I love you for it :) I do slack in some games more than others, I may be the worst ever burglar in LOTRO but because there isn’t a damage meter no one ever notices, it’s great!

        • August 17, 2010 at 10:09 am

          HAH! You’re about as much a slacker as I am hardcore! :D

          But you can have an honourary T-shirt anyway! Hrm… /goes to CafePress

  5. August 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Well you’re maybe just hardcore casual. You enjoy maxing out what you feel is important but not raiding or other things that you don’t enjoy. I can’t say though I don’t know to what extent you go heh.

  6. August 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    As resident devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate herself, I’d just like to point out that the afore-posted raiders are 99.99% likely to use customized UI’s and add-ons to help them raid. And that if they do, this is an open and shut case of “Yes, Virginia, raids really have gotten easier.” Not because dev’s have coded them that way, but because the supposed hardcore raiders have made them that way with their own customized version of slacking.

  7. August 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    people are stupid

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