|Some gamers just "want to progress" in MMOs, "it is a bedrock"|
|Posted: 22.10.2010 11:05 by Simon Priest||Comments: 0|
Age of Conan executive producer Craig Morrison has offered his thoughts of the MMO genre, noting it's "very progression focused" for a reason.
Some players just want to fight, explore, socialise, and be told a story and so on. People have "reservations" about BioWare's story-focused MMO.
"When you are playing through a game there are different motivations at play. Even within the same game different motivations can make us want, or not want, to do different aspects of any given gameplay experience," .
What motivations lie within an MMO?
■ Sometimes we want to progress, we just want to get those +1s to whatever, be it exp, gear or any other rewards that are available.
■ Sometimes we want to achieve something or beat something because it is there, we don't always need to know why.
■ Sometimes we want to explore
■ Sometimes we want to fight
■ Sometimes we want to socialize
■ Sometimes we want to discover a story, or background elements
■ Sometimes we want to be told a story
The key really is finding a balance between these elements argues Morrison, never getting too heavy handed with one extreme.
"MMOs by design, have so far been very progression focused, and I don't mean quest or linear progression focused. I mean just progression based in general. Whether your game is considered a 'theme park' or a 'sandbox', or anything in between," he continued.
"The inherent factor tying it all together in an MMO has generally been that your character is progressing, and getting 'better' (in whichever way the game in question defines 'better')." BioWare is developing Star Wars: The Old Republic and has placed huge focus on progression through storytelling, much like a singleplayer RPG.
"...sometimes the gameplay and the progression motivates us, even if the task is mundane, or maybe more likely repetitive, we sometimes just want to get that next level / spell / combo / shiny or achievement."
Placing so much emphasis on story, having every NPC voiced as in BioWare's ambitious MMO project, is giving people 'reservation' notes Morrison, because it appears to force players to experience a story and therefore interrupts that flow of progression.
"People comment on it all the time, in particular now, with the heavy hitter that is The Old Republic pitching it as so integral to their experience," he added. One of the first GUI updates to World of Warcraft was to skip quest text he points out.
"At a fundamental level many designers and game writers bemoan this facet of players behavior, blame on the culture of immediacy and short attention spans prevalent more and more modern gaming society, and try to come up with ways to forcible change players behavior."
"I am not sure that we often enough ask why the players behave like that...at least seriously, rather than trying to dismiss it as some recent laziness inspired lack of interest on behalf of all the players out there." World of Warcraft and Aion get it 'right' for Morrison.
"I really like the sequences in Aion, or the World of Warcraft expansions where you got cut-scenes or intros to an area the first time you visit it. Those are good examples of smart use of that kind of sequence."
"It helps establish a reason for the players journey, it might introduce points of interest, or give the players some helpful hints on where to travel next, or it might deliver some suitably dramatic introduction to the villain of an area, and none of those generally grate on players, because their appearance is part of a natural flow," he said.
"So introduce these elements at times when the player has not yet entered that 'progression' state of mind, and they actually start to serve you well in creating a more interesting experience."
Craig Morrison's blog article raises many interesting points to be considered. Progression 'fever' is the MMO's greatest asset but can also be its biggest curse if it does something that stands in its way too often. Are you looking forward to BioWare's narrative-led Star Wars: The Old Republic? Each class has its very own story to follow.