My husband is a dedicated Overwatch player, and lately he’s been watching videos about improving his skill that frankly seem to have just as much relevance to MMOs in general. For example, one series of videos that he’s been into covers the differences in play by people at different skill and competitive tier levels. And a lot of the difference boils down to nothing more than simple trust. At lower tiers, observers note, nobody trusts anybody else to get his own job done, so you have a roving pack of people all one setback away from becoming lone wolves. It’s not exactly that nobody ever works together; in fact, even these pick-up teams will at least attempt teamwork a little bit because they know it’s what the pros do. But as soon as the first plan falls apart, so does the trust. Nobody tries again. It’s every man for himself. By comparison, higher-end players tend to maintain trust much longer, and so teamwork strategies that would never withstand … [Read more...] about The Daily Grind: How much does trust for other players matter in MMORPGs?
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The other day I saw a comment on an MMO subreddit that I quite liked; to paraphrase, it basically stated that the system designers don’t care how many upvotes you get on Reddit and will not change their design as a result. And this is true. If you make a topic on a subreddit saying that, say, your favorite class in World of Warcraft should get 10x the health of every other class? You can get all the upvotes, but that will not result in a sudden health buff. The question, then, is how much fan communities should influence these mechanical designers. If the unofficial Star Trek Online forums are filled to the brim with people posting threads about mechanical reworks to photon torpedoes, that doesn’t mean those threads have good ideas, but it does indicate that there are problems with photon torpedoes. Or it indicates that a whole lot of people are unhappy about something, which might even be a case where the previously too-powerful photon … [Read more...] about The Daily Grind: How much should fan communities influence MMO designers?
You don’t want to know how much time I’ve spent carefully decorating my characters’ living spaces in Final Fantasy XIV. Or maybe you do; it is kind of on-brand. And the reality is that it’s about as much time proportionally as I’ve spent decorating strongholds in Star Wars: The Old Republic or assembling outfits in World of Warcraft or carefully choosing which sort of nacelle looks better on my ship in Star Trek Online. Let’s just round up and say that it’s a lot of time. Keep in mind, many of these things aren’t just time spent arranging things. Decorating a house in FFXIV means time spent deciding on furnishings, figuring out where to get them, usually gathering a lot of items to craft and crafting tons of furniture, then placing all of it. A new outfit in WoW means having most of the look, but having to go run one dungeon or another a few times for the last necessary drop, then color-coordinating the bits that look almost right but not … [Read more...] about The Daily Grind: How much time do you spend on aesthetics in MMOs?
There are two basic reactions I’ve seen to people who fear that their favorite MMO is going to shut down. Not people who know, people who fear it. People who see the writing that seems to be upon the wall, but with no official word. Some people fall into hardcore evangelist mode, pushing the game to everyone and trying to play as much of it as possible while the game is still alive. Others basically write the game off ahead of time and warn friends not already playing to not start, because it’s going to die in five months. I’ve seen it happen with games from Final Fantasy XIV to WildStar, and the only game that I’ve played intensely that seems to have avoided this is City of Heroes (which actually did shut down, but absolutely no players saw it coming until it was happening). And I think it’s interesting in that situation whether you tend to do your best to push the game’s number’s up or just try to accept the death preemptively. So what about … [Read more...] about The Daily Grind: How much does fear of an MMO shutdown affect your playtime?
A blog post on The Psychology of Video Games blog a few weeks ago seems relevant to our interests: It explores the “pleasure paradox,” which basically suggests that humans crave certainty, but once we get it, we’re bored. Experiments showed that subjects “said they would prefer to be less uncertain, but the results show that their happiness would have been diminished” if they actually were. We like a good mystery! Consequently, author Jamie Madigan argues, games should take advantage of this human quirk – say, by rewarding us based on some hidden modifier but not telling us what we did to earn it. In a weird way, that’s something ancient MMORPGs did by accident: Information was so obfuscated that playing was as much trial and error as anything, and game mechanics were an unintentional mystery. And something like, oh, websites publishing every single mage spell combo in Asheron’s Call? It killed the magic. So does every elitist in … [Read more...] about The Daily Grind: How much MMO game info should be hidden from the players?