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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 9:20AM BigAndShiny said

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My personal opinion is that MMOs shouldn't be difficult. Many play only for the social element, and the feeling of slowly over time building up your character while being able to chat/watch TV/eat dinner at the same time is nice. Great stories I love, and I look forward to TSW, but at the same time, if I want challenge, Ill go play aniother game.

The vocal minority of min/max'ers and hardcore raiders will disagree, but an mmo is about spending time in a virtual world, and it should be fun.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 9:22AM BigAndShiny said

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@BigAndShiny
and by fun, I mean relaxing at the end of a hard day
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Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:14AM Fakeassname said

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@BigAndShiny

the funny thing is that 90% of all mmos are exactly that .... for the first few levels, then once the developers think they have got people hooked they ratchet up the stress levels so that people feel like they -have- to play instead of focusing on making a game that people -want- to play.
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Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:10AM Fakeassname said

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#1 stupid "challenge" system in MMOs: forced grouping.

yay! the exciting challenge of assigning four times the stat points of what a player of the same level could have .... and then making them the general run of the mill mobs wandering around instead of a boss.

well then, what's a boss if that's a normal monster? INSTA-DEATH ATTACKS!

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:31AM DarkWalker said

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@Tempes Magus

Let me put this in another way:

- Getting a good enough PvE or PvP character build/gear in WoW is not a challenge. It's a grind. There is minimal choice in the gearing/speccing - i.e., unless the player goes out of his way to make bad choices, in the end he will have a fairly competitive character no matter what - but players need to repeat the same old boring content countless times in order to get the needed gear.
(creating a good enough set of bindings, macros, and addons, on the other hand, can be a challenge, though an often underappreciated one :)

- Getting a good enough PvP character build in Guild Wars (on an account with all skills unlocked, either by having completed the PvE game or by purchasing the PvP version in the first place) is a challenge. There is no grind - everyone is given the same "tools" to work with - but players have a limited number of skills, among the plethora available ones, he can use at a time. Finding a good secondary class and skill set, together with balancing the needed stats, and developing the required play style and strategies to use the build, is challenging and influences character performance a lot.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:47AM Borick said

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I don't think that challenge is key. Challenge is relative to the subject and any time we try to develop "the best" sorts of challenges for any player type, we abandon any sort of social presence that isn't engineered.

The key is not challenge. Challenge is what you engineer into the various games that you have within your world. I think that the missing element is investment, and that ties directly to player ownership of their gameworld.

I think that seeking to engineer game challenge is a craft to be practiced, of course, but it must be subordinate to social elements which do not fall within the magisteria of game design.

I don't think the goal is to make a game, but to make a world that can nurture games.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:48AM happyfish said

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Logistical challenges are the most frustrating part of MMOs for me. My kin in Lotro makes fun of me because my tag line is "instancing is serious business" and I'm partially serious. I try to be good natured about people who have more important things to do then play video games, but it sure drives me nuts to run with level capped characters who cant do their job because they cant be bothered to learn the game. Part of me wants to be elitist (sorry cant come, need better gear), but then another side is "elitist at a video game?, come on". Those are two positions that are hard to reconcile.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 11:12AM DarkWalker said

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@happyfish

I find it good MMO etiquette to always come as prepared as possible to every group content. I see doing less than one's best in a group context to be a serious show of contempt to the other players in the group, and meriting a kick, more so if it actually endangers the group.

(Though I try to see the distinction between an inexperienced player and a player that is simply lazy. The lazy player deserves a kick if he ever endangers the group. The inexperienced one deserves guidance and a chance to properly learn the game.)

One of the reasons I prefer my solo content challenging and my group content lenient. If the group content is easy, players won't endanger the group nearly as much, thus greatly lessening the need for kicks.
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Posted: Jul 12th 2011 10:58AM Borick said

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@Tempes Magus Well said.

It's obvious that challenge isn't paramount in the DIKU model -- gear is. Property.

It ties back to ownership. Gear. Shinies. The challenge of the raid model isn't what keeps most people coming back, except that it acts as a gate to exclusive ownership of in-game resources.

Talking about 'challenge' as if it were a statistic a game can obtain seems obtuse.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 11:02AM DarkWalker said

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@Tempes Magus

This is why the top raiding guilds are able to progress so much in so little time. Apart from hard gear checks, WoW raiding basically has coordination challenges tuned at normal player groups. When you pick a really coordinated raiding group, they will breeze through every content that does not include a hard gear check.

(It's why I'm not such a fan of raiding in most MMOs. Though the individual challenges in a raid fight are easy, there's always a high chance someone else in the group will provoke a wipe. Last night I was soloing a Spiral Knights boss - something that depends only on my skill, and severely punishes every mistake I made - and thinking how much more fun I was having than I ever had tanking any plain old WoW boss fight.)

I also agree about the RNG. So much that I never treat rare drops as marks of accomplishment - I see them as just an indication that the player had some fleeting, exceedingly good luck. I also never go after rare drops; I treat them as if they didn't exist at all. While I might undertake a long, but predictable, grind to get an item (hello, netherdrakes :) ), I won't grind a rare item with a low chance drop rate.

(I also refuse to look at raid loot tables, because if an item that has a good drop chance refuses to drop for me, and I know it, I might just give up on the raid altogether. I sincerely would rather farm some kind of raid currency than rely on loot drops, even if the average gearing time was faster with the random loot.)

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 11:16AM (Unverified) said

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Simple solution: STOP TRYING TO CATER TO EVERYONE
If we had MMOs for each segment of players instead of every MMO trying to get the entire MMO market to play then it would result in better quality games for everyone, as well as less idiots whining that something should/should not be in an MMO just because they dont like it.

But obviously devs/publishers are content with ruining yet another generation of MMOs by making crappy attempts at jack-of-all-trades clones of each other.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 12:01PM (Unverified) said

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@Tempes Magus
I was talking about from a difficulty standpoint, i thought that was obvious considering the topic of discussion.
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Posted: Jul 12th 2011 11:51AM Nucleon said

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I guess I'm the contrary of most of the past posters as I play MMOs almost solely for the challenge. When I play single players games, once I've figured out it's systems then usually I leave the game behind. The main reason I stick with MMOs is because of the diversity of challenges that they offer, from the individual dedication necessary for character progression, to the twitch challenge of PvP, to the strategic execution needed in raids and dungeons, to the logistic challenge of group management (even though sometimes this drives me bonkers).

But the key to it is the doing these challenges *with* other people, that's what makes it special, and that's why I despise leveling in modern MMOs since it's basically a solo-rails experience without any challenge.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 12:00PM Sorithal said

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Obviously they shouldn't be as hard as I Wanna Be The Guy :P

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 12:17PM Heraclea said

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"Cnallenge" should never get in the way of social interaction in games. This was the one thing that kept me a regular City of Heroes player for so long. Used to be in that game you could do any of the game content without waiting for tanks or healers. They've moved away from that somewhat for certain content --- although in CoH the required players are buffers and debuffers, rather than tanks or healers --- and to that extent my interest in the game has waned.

The problem with choreographed boss fights is not simply one of team coordination. Almost all of the gimmicks used in choreographed boss fights tend to favor ranged DPS over melee DPS, and non-physical DPS over physical DPS. Gimmick fights are full of forced disengages, requirements to stand somewhere else, debuffs that force you to run away from the rest of the team, and similar nuisances. All of these mechanics favor those character classes that do not need to be close to the monster to damage it.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 2:27PM Cyclone Jack said

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With MMOs having such a wide range of players, I think they need to give the player the tools they need to increase the difficulty.

CoH, for example, has a difficulty slider where I can increase the difficulty of the enemies, as well as increase the number of enemies per spawn. Or, I can go into the Architect and custom make a challenge. In LOTRO I can tweak the Skirmish difficulty. This is something I would like to see more games do. Unfortunately, most games keep their challenges gated and are set up specifically for group content due to their class mechanics.

Posted: Jul 13th 2011 11:09AM Cyclone Jack said

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@Tempes Magus

Oh, I agree. The two things I would love to see in more MMOs is scalable difficulty and CoH's Sidekicking system.

I think the biggest issue with difficulty is, as you stated, making it work outside of instances. It works well in CoH due to the majority of content being in instanced missions, and LOTRO Skirmishes because they are instanced as well. However, most of the other MMOs keep their challenging content locked away in dungeons anyways, which are all instanced.

I think the issue is two-fold. Scalable instances requires scalable rewards, as well a dev team capable of creating compelling scalable content. Another options would be to take advantage of the phasing tech, though that may be more difficult than it sounds.

It's doable, but I think that by making instances scalable they may upset their core raiders.
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Posted: Jul 12th 2011 6:57PM DeepSleeper said

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I can't believe you have to put a disclaimer on opinion columns now.

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