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Reader Comments (56)

Posted: Nov 27th 2008 9:23PM Comrade Domovoi said

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I got one, how about guy who nobody cares about or remembers from the MUD days makes a big deal out of nothing to get his few minutes in the spotlight again? God forbid this guy plays some Warhammer for destruction, he'll have a heart attack.

Posted: Nov 27th 2008 10:17PM Ayenn said

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You know, when ever Bartle ends up in the unwashed blog-o-sphere I see comments like yours. Inevitably I shake my head at people who really don’t know what Bartle is about and make accusations such as yours.

For the record, I am not a Bartle fan boi. Like him, I am an academic with a focus on game and world design, so I connect with him professionally. Just as he says in his response post where he states his issue quite clearly (clear for those who understand who and what he is and what he is ACTUALY talking about):

“It's a pretty obscure point that will only make sense to a very small number of people with a designer mentality. Still, I only put it on my blog, it's not as if I pasted it all over the Internet or anything...”

also, for the record, his contribution to academics and game design is irrefutable. Just because you are not aware of his continuing contribution, his continuing importance, does not mean he has been forgotten. Far from it, actually. his text books are keystones in digital media design and game design curriculum.

He is not a rock star, nor does he want to be. Fame is not something he has ever wanted. He could care less about “the spot light” All he wants is to teach and write and hopefully help improve the world in some way.

As a professional academic and designer myself I expect only a small percentage, a VERY small percentage, of people to understand what I generally say about world design. I can speak to people not interested in the deep theory but much is lost in the necessary translation. If I don’t translate I am generally lambasted by those who do not look or think as deeply as I do about design theory because they only look at the surface of what I say, not what I am actually saying.

In short, your response is definitely appropriate for someone who has no real understanding of actual game design. You have a solid opinion for a game player who is more concerned about how mechanics benefit you specifically or the classes you prefer to play. Your opinion is pretty invalid when it is read by someone who has spent much of their life examining how game play actually works and what it does for game players.

Believe it or not game design theory is a really serious subject that takes player satisfaction well out of the realm of understanding of the average player. A design theorist is really and truly on the same level as, say, a physicist. We spend more time diving deep to better understand you, the player, and your object of focus, games, than you could possibly understand or even respect. Why? Because we care about the craft and art of game design and we care about what you get out of it. Our job is to insure that our peers and our students are as well informed of the bleeding edge of game design theory as possible so they can provide you the best possible games.

You may not like Bartle because of your misperceptions and you may not like me, now, because to you this response probably seems like a put down when it actually is not. However, we like you because you are the reason we do what we do. We seek to keep you entertained for the sake of entertaining you because that is what you want more than anything.

So, lay off the game design gaffer and give him some room. It will only benefit you.
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 7:43AM (Unverified) said

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'Like him, I am an academic...'

Stopped reading there.
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 4:15PM Arashikou said

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Actually, I think Bartle would find playing Destruction works out just fine. The point of his argument is not that the objects to torture and morally questionable actions in MMOs (which is how he originally came off sounding) but that he objects to Blizzard's careless handing out of such a quest to groups that should ostensibly object to it, yet the quest makes no attempt to reconcile your character's willingness to torture someone with the moral underpinnings your faction should have taught you. He's objecting to Blizzard butchering the story and lore, in other words.

In WAR, if you roll Destruction, you are choosing to join one of several marauding groups that have a long history of rape, torture, thievery, and murder. Such a quest would not feel out of place there, so he wouldn't have a problem.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2008 9:35PM TehKlute said

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The Ill fated Tabula Rasa offered players choices for morally questionable quests, its a shame wow hasnt.

One such quest has you questing for food for a prisoner, then you have a choice to give the food to the intel officers who will use it to extract information or give it straight to the prisoner. The officers say they will offer a food for info exchange, and the prisoner says they will drug it and pleads for untainted food.

Theres another one involving reporting a restricted substance trafficker to an officer, but the officer himself may be addicted to the substance.

The TR quests have some mild consequences, such as some nps reacting differently, but nothing game changing. Im sure there are other MMOs that have choices, and single player ones have been doing it for years.

PS. In before wow fanboy nerd rage.

Posted: Nov 27th 2008 10:05PM Graill440 said

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Your point on morality checks is a good one. To bad none of them mean anything in the way you can interact with others or influence your "destiny" or your party destiny at the time the choice is made, such as a bad choice while in a group will leak down to everyone, same goes for a good choice.

faction hits are just cheap, and that what most morality checks control if anything.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2008 10:42PM TehKlute said

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We won't see a truly deep morality system even attempted in an MMO for at least a few years unfortunately.
Combining the complexity of say, Fable's morality system and Warcraft's scope would be a truly daunting task, but if I had to say what the future of MMOs would be I would certainly suggest it to be in that direction.

Certainly something to look forward to though.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2008 11:59PM (Unverified) said

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I just did that "Prisoner quest" in TR with its "moral choice". The prisoner is an insect-like alien that is a member of the race that just took the Earth from us and is trying to exterminate the last of our race. There isn't much of a dilema IMHO.
When I did it, I was thinking "yeah do whatever to it, gimme the chaingun".
There were a few other quest like that in TR but overall they didn't have any real impact on anything.

Again I will fall back on what I said before. This is WoW we are talking about. There is nothing in this game that goes to the sort of depth he is talking about. WoW is about harvesting points and getting uber loot. That's it.
Bartle needs to stop playing so much WoW, he reads into way to much. :) Didn't he write an article about how he would shut WoW down because he thought it was a horrible game? Why's he playing it?

Play EVE! Lots of moral choice in that game and you don't need an NPC to hold your hand, you gotta figure it out on your own.

I would love to read some of his "observations" after playing a month in EVE.
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 4:27PM Arashikou said

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Thing is - with all this new "phasing" stuff they're doing, WoW is in the perfect place to do what TR didn't/couldn't, by offering you choices in how you complete quests that DO have long-reaching effects on the game-world. Players who make different choices could end up in different phases. Choose not to torture the prisoner? Fine - he becomes the lead-off to a quest chain that gets you entrance to a secret sect in Dalaran. Do torture him? A town that would have been razed is saved and becomes a questing hub.

The closest thing WoW had to that was the way they implemented choosing between Aldor/Scryer in TBC, and that only really affected your faction standings (which implicitly changed the landscape by making some NPCs hostile to you) and who would offer you quests.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2008 9:48PM Grok said

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I don't know why Bartle is bothering to explain himself. The people who understand the point he was trying to make got it in his initial post. The rest will see his response as just more fuel for their fire and continue calling him names.

Posted: Nov 27th 2008 10:19PM Ayenn said

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And for him to collect important data about gamers... believe it or not. I read Bartle flame responses to understand how gamers think, not because I think they are clever or even accurate responses.
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Posted: Nov 27th 2008 10:53PM (Unverified) said

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Did I miss something... it is a GAME!!! You want moral choices? Be sure to check out Fallout 3. People have way to much free time to get hung up over this kinda crap.

Posted: Nov 27th 2008 11:17PM Firebreak said

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"it is a GAME!!!"

I love this arguement, I mean you can apply it to anything and not have to make any kind of actual point.

I think what Bartle shows is that there is a flaw in the way MMOs allow characters to interact with the environment. If you would only listen to what he has to say then you understand that he is trying to make the way games are made better. He wants the player to be able to express through his character a choice. Think about how awesome it would be to throw a quest back into the givers face and tell them to bugger off and open up a entirely new quest based on your actions, wether it is for good or evil or just in between.

In the end I have to agree with him, MMOs can be and should be better about this. Should WoW change how their game works. No. Should future games take this into consideration. Yes.

He is just trying to make it a better experience.




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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 4:29PM Arashikou said

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Isn't Fallout 3 ALSO a game?
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 12:08AM (Unverified) said

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I said it in the last blog and I'll say it in this one. Why should we care what this guy says or thinks?

It's quite obvious from Bartle's comments in the past he hasn't the first clue about game design. Now he has trouble clicking the cancel quest button on the screen in WoW and people need to have deep discussions about it? Ridiculous.

Posted: Nov 28th 2008 12:41AM TehKlute said

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You dont think that giving players the choice between torture and just abandoning the quest is poor game design? All the time invested in a quest chain and, heaven forbid, players actually become interested in the quest's plot are for nil if they decide not to torture the character.

It would be like a choose your own ending book that said 'turn to page 20 to torture the character, turn to page 21 not to'. You turn to page 21 and its just a blank page. Talk about engrossing and interactive gaming...
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 1:03AM fatpanda said

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You want moral choices that will shape your character and gameplay?
Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Guaranteed?
No.
Strong faith have I?
Hell yes.

Posted: Nov 28th 2008 5:27AM (Unverified) said

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Agree!

If Bioware can make moral choice the centre of their MMO, it'll be a significant evolution in MMOs.

I'm sure that they will and can as:

- Choice & morality is actually a big part of the overall SW story i.e. choosing to turn to the dark side or away from it

- KOTOR, even after 5 years (I think) is still an utterly awesome game, with a great story & characters and a real sense that your decisions are not to be taken lightly.

And of course a big part of the gaming mechanic (gaining light or dark side points for greater power re. using force abilities from either side) was done through the player making a choice to do a bad or good thing.

I replayed KOTOR just 2 months ago and was again, astounded at how fantastic the plot and characters were - if Bioware can make the TOR MMO as amazing as the single player KOTOR RP then it will be an astounding game....
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Posted: Nov 28th 2008 5:27AM (Unverified) said

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Agree with Richard Bartle & it's a shame that people don't try and read more closely re. what he was trying to say i.e. that:

- Torture is being presented as 'OK' by a faction that's meant to be one of the good guys

- But more importantly, that in the game it's presented as a throw away part of the quest chain i.e. that's it's just no big deal to casually torture someone.

And like RB, I think that it's fine for DK's to torture in the DK starting experience - you're meant to be playing a 100% evil character, after all.

I think that Blizzard really made a mistake here and as I've posted on the previous article here, they really should re-work this q in the next content patch.

Posted: Nov 28th 2008 12:21PM (Unverified) said

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@Jack

It's not about whether they are "good or evil", it's how they view themselves. Also, the way I always understood the Kirin Tor was not that they were "good buys" per say, but that they were guys who craved information and were more of a chaotic good. Plus the dude who you're torturing wasn't exactly friendly to them and theres. Not that that makes the whole torture deal right, but I think it's a little bit less black and white as to where the quest comes from.

That said, I totally get what Bartle is saying. There's a LOT of depth in Wrath, and I personally have seen several things that garnered a legitiment emotional response. Considering that I don't see why they couldn't have had an option to tell the mages to pound sand.
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