Tuesday: Strange dreams and coffeeApril 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
Tags: game design, hawley's stupid experiment
Tuesday was a social evening, so that helped keep the edge off the shakes and the constant need to twitch and press keys according to a muscle-memory pattern whenever there was a loud noise.
And the dreams. Those lemon yellow sails…
Non-sequitur time: Coffee.
I know many people who will happily drink whatever coffee is dropped in front of them, as long as it’s coffee in concept at least. So long as there is the requisite ratio of coffee, hot water, milk and sugar they’re happy.
Then there those that I term the Coffee Snobs. Just the mention of the word “instant” is enough to get them to make that sort of face that makes me think I’ve just dropped one in their swimming pool (I am not implying that those with swimming pools are coffee snobs, nor implying that being a coffee snob entitles you to a swimming pool. I am merely trying to draw a suitable analogy). For them, instant is like unto death.
They all have their own little idiosyncrasies when it comes to making a “proper” coffee, but the fact remains that it’s not enough to make a cup of coffee quickly; there is a ritual that must be performed, and that takes time.
For an avowed Tea man such as myself, it all seems a bit strange. Standard brew-making means using a teapot. Being lazy means brewing it in the mug. But it’s not my intention to upset the coffee-lovers of the world, snob or no…
No, it’s to point out that there is a reason that most of us are content with instant coffee, and that’s because it is precisely that. Instant.
So much of modern life is instant. We don’t have the time to take our time any more; if it’s not instant gratification, then it’s just not good enough.
I suppose that’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy for MMO gaming to become a part of our lives. If I want to play a boardgame (Last Night On Earth is a current favourite, Carcassone for hot PvP action) then it takes time to get it set up, get some friends ‘round and start playing. After the playing of game there’s tidying it all away and ejecting friends. All of that takes time and effort to arrange; spontaneity went the way of the dodo about the same time as the end of my days of shared housing and student life.
MMOs provide everything I could want. They provide the game pieces, the rules, fellow players, and all for just a few clicks to get going, or stop playing. It’s available, it’s easy and it’s instant.
So is it any surprise that MMO gameplay is becoming more and more instant? The nature of MMO gaming has been changing over the past few years. Part of this is because technology and game design have been evolving, but I’m pretty sure that player habits are changing the way that MMOs develop, and continue to develop.
As a player, I both need and want instant gameplay. I don’t want to have to spend 6 hours raiding to feel that I’ve achieved something within the game. I don’t want to spend 4 hours per night, every night for a month to grind an achievement out. I don’t want to have to feel that if I don’t spend 20+ hours per week playing that I might as well not have bothered.
In short, I don’t want a second, unpaid job. I want some entertainment, some fun, and a social experience all in the safety of my own personal geek-pit. No, that all sounds a bit wrong. Umm…
Maybe I should try and distract you, gentle reader, with that old Hardcore vs Casual debate. Yes! That will do. Hardcore players bemoan the loss of the good old days, where it took real commitment to get to maximum level, where raiding was akin to being in the special forces, and only the elite got to play with the best toys.
And nowadays Casual players get welfare epixxx, run around high-end raid instances in PUGs, and don’t even have to grind mobs for cash for 30 hours a week just to afford their repair bills.
Yet whilst I look back at the old days with some nostalgia, I don’t particularly want their return. I’m not about to reinstall the original Everquest for a bit of old-skool, and I really, really don’t want to go back to spending 5 hours farming mobs just to get enough cash to pay for next level’s skill training.
I suppose that makes me a Durty Casual. I’m not oblivious to the various comments and discussions about the Hardcore-Casual divide, nor am I unaware of the various complaints about (among others) World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online getting “easier”. I do see valid points being made, but the simple fact is that casual gamestyles work with my current lifestyle.
I enjoy being able to log on for a spare half hour and not only have fun, but have it mean something within the game. It’s nice to be able to log out and have noticed that I gained a lovely upgrade to an item, or advanced crafting skills, or brutalised a few orcs for fun and a decent profit, or even just noticed my xp bar move more than imperceptibly.
It’s instant gaming, and in a good way. How can something that makes the fun *more* be a bad thing?