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Reader Comments (22)

Posted: Jan 31st 2012 1:13PM Anatidae said

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@Corso Gear grinding has become the reason we play MMOs.

Myself, I think it is a horrible game design for MMOs. This is what happens when you let gear become your player reward/achievement/advancements:

1. Constant imbalance as new gear becomes available, stats become inflated and the mathematics behind the systems break down.

2. Gear advancement has to be granted at a fast enough rate to keep players interested in returning, but slow enough to make it last as long as possible. But actually timing how long players will take to grind their gear is an almost impossible task. Blizzard is probably the most experienced at developing Raiding content at this date, and they still have problems getting timing and balance down right.

3. The gear-grind, along with the level mechanic - serves to separate players. In Battlefield 3, I can start new and even with my "newbie" weapons I can kill another player and help achieve the goal of the map. I make a difference. In almost any MMO, a level 1 character is useless. A level 20 character is useless. Maybe at level 50, 80, 90, 1000 - something that reaches the end, I THINK I am useful, but no. I also have to grind out X amount of gear, then finally I might be useful to my fellow players.

4. Gear (and level) grinding makes content obsolete - fast. Again, I'll use the FPS gameplay as a comparison. In Left4Dead, my magnum pistol is just as good as when I picked it up the first day I played. In WoW, I constantly sell off gear as it is replaced. The same with content - I'll play the same FPS maps for years and have fun. In WoW, there are HUGE areas of virtual land that almost no one visits if they can help it. Think of how much content in WoW is pointless or almost ignored as players are trying to race through it as fast as possible.


I don't have the perfect answer for the gear grind. My ideas go to changing the way we think about gear in that it should have a lifespan and "wear out" needing constant replacement. If players made the gear, that would create a huge player based economy. But even if the gear came from dungeons, it would give a constant reason to visit places - to get a new set of whatever because your old whatever is wearing out.

Then maybe instead of gear having greater and greater stats, it could be that different gear has different looks, procs, special abilities, etc... that entice players to collect them and if they want to keep them forever - entice them to collect them over and over. Then the challenge for the developer is making variety - which I think is a better option for the player. I'd be keen if Blizzard made it so that WoW had a dozen different end-game tier sets that all had different bonuses and abilities.


I guess after writing this I think a good way to say it is that MMOs suffer from vertical advancement syndrome where more horizontal advancement could add a lot more flavor and stronger end-game. And, let's be real, we spend most of our time in MMOs at "end-game" and developers spend most of their time developing the "leveling-game". Seems pretty crazy if you ask me.
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Posted: Jan 31st 2012 11:36AM mysecretid said

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If the game update were actually about the addition of more playable character-based content, I'd be interested.

More group activities don't entirely hide the fact that there's precious little content /beyond/ group content in this game.

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