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Comments

BlyGilmore

WoW is interesting. I am in the same camp as you. Sometimes I love the game, others I struggle to make myself login.

My biggest problem is the lack of world PvP. This has always been my love in MMOs - my guild attacking your guilds home turf and daring you to make use leave.

WoW doesn't have this on any regular scale. Skirmishes will break out, but people don't log into the game day in and day out to attack their enemies.

It is also the least "multiplayer" MMO I have played. The community has no feel to it. There are no consequences to just about anything you do with other players. And most folks spend 90 percent of their game time with the same four or five people.

The questing also gets old. I never understood why games require players who have already accomplished the task of going from 1 to X to do it again if they want a change of pace (aside from "just keep giving us money.")

To me Guild Wars got this best (although I don't know if it changed). If you had one character that was done and were with an established guild, you could run one moderately difficult quest and immediately be level 20 - at which time you would need to still spend a good amount of effort getting him ready to play at that level (gear and what no).

Carl Symborski

Summary: "Don't play the game, get in the game."

My response to Celia's epiphany is made more as a quest for clarification than anything else. I have read her entry several times trying to parse the statements which branch and bound across a variety of legitimate concerns. All of which appear to me as a screen which belay the root impetus behind the epiphany itself. So forgive me as I attempt to peel away layers of the onion until I find what might be the take away from this post.

Of course we all must first realize that present day MMOs, and computers in general, are not sentient beings and should not be credited with having human features such as spite and manipulative intentions. At least not today’s technology. So it is unreasonable to claim that the MMO "knows there are hardly any drops... so why is it taunting us so?" or that "It just doesn’t want us to go to bed at a reasonable hour!" or "the software is actively trying to thwart me." Similarly the reaction that "I was feeling manipulated" although real emotion felt by the player, is self manufactured. The assertion that "I feel like the game is playing me" describes a self inflicted feeling. The player is the player here; the "game" is not playing. If everyone were to log off Wow at the same time, the NPC would be left standing idle, and there would be no game because there would be no players.

Which leads us to the senseless quests typified by "it was one of those infernal 'get x larynxes from y type of scorpion' (NOT z type of scorpion), and the drops were like one in 10". Any quest based gamer can resonate with this lament. It is typical in Wow to be asked to gather "12 ears of a Furlog". And it is fair to assume from a player's perspective that this could be easily fulfilled with the dispatch of 6 Furlogs. After all each furlogue has 2 ears and 2 times 6 is 12 in most parts of the world. So why must we seek out and destroy 60 or more Furlogs in order to get 12 measily ears? I suppose one could argue from a "role play" perspective that the attacking Mage's magic spells cause excessive damage to the poor Furlog leaving it's ears vaporized and unable to be gathered. Or perhaps a Warrior's aggressive "finishing blow" similarly damages the ears rendering them useless. Or worse lobs the Furlogs head clean off sending it flying across the battle field and into an abyss. "Oh pity on that one ay? I think your arm was a bit stiff, and watch your follow through! Shall we try again on another? Right! Off you go lad."

So yes I agree that senseless quests can be annoying. However with a playful attitude they can be tolerated. Especially if the player focuses on the real reason Blizzard put such quests in game. And that reason is to add grist for you to grind on while gaining experience points. A successful Wow player must have a goal to work for. Leveling is that goal for most and this type of quest helps achieve that goal. If leveling is not your goal then by all means to not do those quests.

The subject of player choice is the next layer of the onion. "I get frustrated because ... NPC minions are telling me what to do". "...everything is more or less just a matter of following the directions given to us by NPCs." and "..for the most part, you are working to a script." Excuse me but is there a problem here? As players we choose to accept quests. And having done so should expect to be given the objectives of the quest. We are doing the quests for ourselves, not for the NPC afterall, so where is this emotion that they are "telling me what to do" coming from? As players we do have choices. A MMO game as in life is what we make of it. Seems to me that Celia's "human expat living in elfland" and doing mostly elf quests is a great example of the dimension of "play" already available to players and consistent with the steering wheel analogy.

Finally we arrive at the obligatory multi-player experiences as in "even the structured experiences are not obligatory; even something formal and competitive like Spades in There, I can get up and walk away from the table at any time". My claim is that you really can not walk away "at any time" without some social penalty. A Spades game is a group activity and leaving mid-game, is like a quarter back walking off a football field in the 3rd quarter. One IS obliged to attempt to find a substitute player for the sake of the others in the group. Not trying to do so is a social faux pas at best. Such is the price we pay to engage in a group experience.

Then with a reference to the Uru game "the one thing that keeps me from feeling completely manipulated in Uru is that I can walk away from the carrot whenever I want, and I can come back to it when I’m in the mood". This highlights the difference between single player self directed progress (indigenous to Uru's first 4 ages) versus committed group play. Many console games and some MMOs support essentially single player experiences where one does not need to be concerned with multiplayer. This is not to say that a compassionate group won't accomodate various player's preferences. A good group will! However adding the "multiplayer" dimension must be by definition not all about me.

If one's long term goal is play in a multiplayer / group setting, perhaps the real epiphany here is the realization that MMOs like Wow require a commitment to the group. As in sports, this involves giving up some control by playing a particular role in the guild and accepting group consensus decisions. It also involves doing some things which may not be fun in the short term but are necessary to achieve long term group goals. Those boring grinding quests for 12 ears are not unlike sport practice clinics and team scrums.

The issue I believe is not "am I playing the game or is the game playing me". The real point of an MMO I feel is for the player to "get in the game" in the first place. Forget about who is playing who. By "getting in the game" one can readily experience those "stellar moments, especially when the teamwork is really humming". And I agree with Celia this is where MMOGs are at their best.

tilda

SWG was a game where one played it, then with the NGE Sony and SWG played the players...this upset me and a lot of players enough to make us leave for good, not good practise if a company is trying to keep gamers.

WoW and Blizzard always played the players, and for that reason it got real dull after a while.

I think Last Chaos is interesting as it is free so there is a question of who plays who, the only way to tell is check it out :) http://lastchaos.aeriagames.com/ see what you think :)

Deg

In my last semester of college, I've realized the value of time. This caused a cut back on my game playing and a cancellation of my WoW account (until the summer, if not forever). The hours I spent grinding far outweighed the joy of the few instances of "swing" time.

I've never felt this way in Uru, however. This might be because I feel a part of the story and community there. In WoW, I have no impact on the world. But I feel that I have an impact in Uru. I've moved the story along and interacted with the games actor-characters. This might be why I don't mind going after that carrot. Perhaps I don't mind because there are less carrots in Uru than Wow, and that I can play at a slower pace and still keep up with my friends.

But I might be reevaluating that as I look for the last two Great Zero markers I need...

ronmeiners

Hi Deg, and welcome.

Good points on the value of community also, and how that contributes to a lasting interest in games.

Or to put it another way, I think one of our goals with the blog is to hilight and explore the crucial importance of community in the experience of virtual worlds. It's a key part of players' motivation, and not well understood (yet), or appeciated.

Celia Pearce

Wow thanks everyone for all the thoughtful dialog; this is precisely what we wanted, and I'm thrilled!

And thank you Carl for you critique of my rant, which was much less rational than you give it credit for. :)

However, you got to heart of the matter repeatedly there. I obviously must like WoW or I wouldn't play it so much! But I think I play it for two reasons primarily: The first and foremost, is precisely for the other players and the sense of community. And you're absolutely write about Spades in There...a point I really had not considered at that point of my rant. If it considered very poor manners to walk away from a Spades game in There, and if you absolutely must, it's generally expected to find a suitable replacement.

But this gets at the SOUL of MMOGs: it's about the commitment to the PLAYERS not to the GAME. In reality, I don't give a dang about WoW. Oh sure, I like exploring the world, and playing different characters, and exploring the different parts of my personality that each character activates. But my main commitment is to my guilds and to the people I play with. That's really WHY I play, almost entirely.

In response to your comments about the game doing something or not doing something to the players, I would argue that in fact the game, any game, is not a neutral space but a piece of software constructed by designers about which decisions have been made. And those decisions belie an underlying attitude or emotional posture if you will to the players. In fact, you and I have discussed this on many occasions. Azzeroth, like There, and Second Life, are mini nations, and communities, but they are first and foremost corporations. And the attitude that each takes towards the denizens of its "world" is an indicator of their attitude towards what they view as their "customers."

Okay, so this is where Ron comes in. Community management IS NOT merely customer service. A classic example: the weekend community that was wiped off the map when a neighborhood was plopped into their regular squatting spot. Why? Because the community manager in charge of neighborhoods rarely came in-world on the weekends, WHEN EVERYBODY WAS THERE.

Given Blizzard's general position towards both customer service (only open during daytime business hours) and community management (none that I can see), I think it's fair to assume that although the company has put a great deal of passion, creatifity and ingenuity into the game, they don't seem to have a high level of sensitivity towards its users. Note the recent talk of a gnome strike, which was put down by threats of subscription termination.

Granted, Azzeroth is not a nation (although it has the same population as Denmark), but if it were, this would put it into the classification of totalitarian dictatorship. I suppose if we looked at it from a corporate perspective, it's more like "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason."

Well I guess I'm going off on a rant again here, but my point is, the "game" doesn't have any feelings about the player, but the people made it do. And some game designs express a higher level of respect for the players than others.

All ranting aside, I still like WoW and will continue to play, and will no doubt have fun doing so. I also have to have an inherent rspect for the game because so many people DO like to play it. Clearly Blizzard is doing something right.

Okay that's enough ranting for now. Please let's continue the dialog.

Big G Makes WoW Gold

Try managing a raiding guild for end-game content. That'll suck the joy out of ANY game! :)

tyler

"Dear friends, I'm now playing Zu Online. Do you want to join me and thousands of other players around the world?

Zu Online is an elaborately and well-designed 3D MMORPG featuring the rich culture of Chinese martial arts. Its most outstanding feature is putting emphasis on the traditional oriental culture of monkery. In the game, players are able to fly, create epic items, create guilds, walk pets, just to name a few.

A new world is waiting for you to explore! "

Zu video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUDToAjqNmg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAu6h1XLtvY

strategy  guide fan

Great post ! I love this game and i read everything about it.

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