Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not for you

I came across this description of an old Everquest expansion, The Shadows of Luclin:
"The expansion focuses on high-level content, providing a number of zones meant to be used by large groups of players and many extremely powerful monsters to fight."

This coupled with a post from Tree Bark Jacket blog: "I am going to go out on a limb and say that most hardcore raiders don't want hard modes of existing content - they want content that only they will get to see, being truly skilled and dedicated players - a la old Naxx and Sunwell."

That got me to thinking, did "casual" players in EQ get upset that an expansion was created for a different type of player than them? Or did EQ even have casual players?

I've never fully empathized with this desire to see content that no one else gets to see. Instead I enjoy comparing experiences. "Remember how hard X was?" leads to a more conversation, "You should have been there when it was Y" leads to a one-sided story.


Verilazic said...

Your point is good, however, I don't think it covers all of it. While I agree that most hardcore players probably would like some exclusive content, I think there's still a downside to what Blizzard's been doing to make the game easier for casual players.

Two stories, if you will:

There once was a grade school teacher who one day when one of his students did a good job at something, he exclaimed "you get a brownie point!". The student, and the class were all excited at this, and began working harder in class and the teacher rewarded them all in turn with brownie points. And as they worked harder, he rewarded them with more and more brownie points, even after they couldn't work any harder. Eventually he was telling kids "you get 10,000 brownie points!". Around this point, the kids lost all enthusiasm, and realized that the whole reward was ultimately meaningless and worthless.

Second story: One of my relatives who's a teacher related this one to me: She had a particularly difficult student that was constantly disrupting class and generally not doing his work and just being a bother. Finally, in exasperation, she asked him during one of their one-on-ones "what would it take to get you to behave?!" The student responded, "If you give me candy I'll be good."

Both of these stories are supposed to convey this point: rewards are self-defeating. In the end, you have to keep rewarding the person more and more, as the reward becomes more and more devalued in their eyes (even a real reward like candy follows this rule). You, myself, and a number of other people have been feeling burnout, right? But in some ways for some people, it feels different than normal. It's more like you've started to question the point of it all. And imho, a lot of it is coming from this cycle of behavior->reward.

I'd say Blizzard is the first game company to encounter this phenomena at a serious level, and I don't think there's anything they can do about it at this point. I honestly don't know if there's anything any of us can do about it. We're pretty much stuck expecting certain rewards from the game, and they can't suddenly stop giving it to us, but at the same time, eventually they're not going to be able to top what they did in the latest patch or expansion.

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