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Posts Tagged ‘grind’

AFK Gaming

Nefchast makes note of the way that EVE allows for players to make progress even while not actively “playing” over here:

Grinding

…and it reminded me of a post over at the Armor Games blog that asked if players liked “minimal interaction” games.  (They are notable for Gemcraft, a great Flash Tower Defense game that has a nice AFK flavor to it if you want it to.)

No Touching

As an old-school Incredible Machine guy, with a deep love of strategy and planning, with a fairly constrained schedule and kids that may need attention at a moment’s notice, I really like games that fall into the “fire and forget” category.  Similarly, I love tactical turn-based games.  Yes, I’m a Chess geek, too, though I can’t get my family to play with me any more.  There’s just something terribly satisfying seeing a plan come to fruition, especially if it’s because foresight leveraged and magnified precise effort.

Does that mean I’d make a good criminal mastermind, manipulating events from the shadows, never getting my hands dirty?  Would such make for satisfying game design?  Hmm… forget Grand Theft Auto, I want to play Grand Theft Government.  Then again, the bankers beat me to it.

Maybe my penchant for AFK gaming just makes me lazy, but I tend to think it just means I’m exercising a different part of my body.  Games that require planning and foresight make my brain happy, even as they don’t require much in the way of physical skill.  As I’m a pretty cerebral sort to start with, such a clear preference shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

It should be noted that I do like games that require full attention, too, just at different times.  Variety and options, that’s what I keep calling for.

As for MMOs, I’ve noted before that I spend an inordinate amount of time planning things and actually studying the game; far more than I actually play them, as it happens.  It’s partly the dev mindset, partly just the sort of gamer I am.

Still… if you could automate the mind-numbing grind in these DIKU MMOs, and do so without shady black market captive labor, would you?  Would it be better to just get rid of the grind?  Also, how does AFK gaming coincide with the whole “we’ve gotta make these players play with other people because this is an MMO, dangit” mentality?  (Note:  I don’t like that mentality, siding firmly with Saylah, but still…)

…could you level up by chatting?  Now there’s an incentive to socialize.

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I don’t get raiding.

Sure, I understand the pure mechanics of raids, but I must not have the raiding gene.  To me, it’s the most obvious treadmill in a modern MMO; you do the same thing in the same place (usually with the same people at the same time every week) over and over, wishing for that one lucky drop and that concurrent lucky roll to make it all worthwhile.  I’d just as soon get a free Flash slot machine and pretend that the coins are purple.

To be fair, I can sympathize with those who play the raids to test their mettle and see new sights.  That much seems appealing to me.  It’s really raid farming that I don’t get.

Why make a huge, sprawling world with millions of polys and gigabytes of data, and actively try to funnel players into a tiny fraction of it?  It just seems very wasteful to me from a dev viewpoint, and as a player, I feel a bit slighted that the focus of modern MMO design is on the “endgame”.  Why not put that level of interest and fun throughout the whole game world, for every player?

(There’s a tangent to be run there about how a leveling system makes it so only a small fraction of the world is relevant to the player at any one time, and how strong level differences amplify the effect.  Again, that just seems like a big waste of resources when you’re world crafting.  It’s no big deal when the game is meant to be played through and then left behind, but I thought these “virtual worlds” could offer more.)

Of course, I’m of the mind that I’d rather have a world in which to play rather than stuff to acquire, and that there should be as much (if not more) joy in the journey as in the fruit of labor.  When that journey is repeated repeatedly in an effort to get more stuff, I lose interest.  That said, I can sympathize with the mindset that sees raids as fun gameplay in and of themselves… but I still think that it would wind up fairly repetitious compared to the crazy sort of PvP that you might see in CounterStrike or TF2, or an interesting living, dynamic PvE world.  Maybe I’m wrong on that, though.  *shrug*

I don’t actually mind that raids are in MMOs (rather than complaining about how raiders are worthless), but I do find myself discouraged that such has become the major focus of most modern DIKU designs.  It seems like such a shallow experience to me that I’ll never really play the raiding game, and I’m discouraged that devs aren’t trying to expand the notions of the MMO genre beyond crafting better treadmills.

Then again, I do understand it a bit from a business perspective.  If you can get the bulk of your players to play with a tiny bit of your content over and over, you’re reducing overhead.  I guess it just seems a bit dishonest to me to sell that sort of experience as a game world, rather than a series of multiplayer dungeon crawls.  (And further dishonest to monetize it constantly, rather than allowing instanced experiences to be peer-to-peer free beasties, like most dungeon crawlers.)

Still, in the grand “raiders vs. soloers” debate that flares up every now and then, I’m firmly in the solo Explorer camp (as are both of those articles, by the way), mostly baffled with those who do raid, but content to leave them to their devices.  I’m saddened that the potential I see in MMOs is largely squandered on such narrow gaming, but I’ve grown to believe that such is just the market.  It’s apparently what people want, so more power to them.  I’m just sitting this dance out, waiting for something more compelling.  My wallet is with me.

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