Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Games for explorers
I mentioned end of last year that I have a Guild Café page, and that Guild Café is also the current home of the Bartle test and similar quizzes about what kind of a MMORPG player you are. Now mbp just mentioned in a comment that he is mainly an explorer in the Bartle test, and that the World of Warcraft end game is appeals only to achievers. Which would leave him and his fellow explorers, including me, to play crap games like Project Entropia or The Sims Online.
I don't think the situation is quite as bad. World of Warcraft is actually a rather good game for explorers, because it takes hundreds of hours to explore all the zones, different classes, quests and dungeons. The only problem is the end game. The explorer in me went to Karazhan only a few times, made a tick mark behind it saying "been there, seen it", and didn't come back. An achiever goes to Karazhan several nights a week looking for tiny incremental improvements to his power, which will then enable him to go on to the next raid dungeon. Making an end game for achievers is a lot easier than making an end game for explorers. Explorers want new content all the time, achievers are happy with hitting their heads against a brick wall over and over, as long as they make tiny dents into that wall and thus "advance".
The result is that explorers jump from one game to the next more often than achievers. It is somewhat unfortunate that the biggest growth of my blog readership occured over the last 3 years, of which I spend 2.5 years in World of Warcraft. It makes me look as if I usually stay in a game very long. But only the original EQ and WoW were games in which I stayed for more than 6 months. I played tons of games for only a few months, because either I had explored all the accessible parts of them after that time, or further exploration just didn't appear to be any fun, due to the game being bland.
For me exploration is not only looking at pretty 3D graphics. That is why games like Second Life don't interest me. I want to explore gameplay, strategies, tactical options, game economy, and the influence of game design on player behavior. That requires a game to actually have a gameplay, and to have a variety of interesting strategies and tactical options. Many bad MMORPGs fall short in that respect.
So basically the game I'd like to see is a new World of Warcraft. A game as big and as good in gameplay as WoW, but different and new. A WoW expansion like Wrath of the Lich King interests me less, because there are only a few new elements in a sea of more of the same. For some time I was hoping that Warhammer Online could be a good next game for explorers, having 6 different races with 4 different classes per race, thus offering a huge replayability and amount of exploration content. But right now most WAR beta players I hear from say it is "like WoW without the fun". So the best case scenario is that EA Mythic needs some more time to find the fun, and I won't see WAR before christmas 2008. Worst case is some suit deciding to release WAR as planned in Q1 2008 and WAR becoming next year's Vanguard.
I sure hope they'll manage to make the leveling game of WAR fun. But even if it is very good, I'll sooner or later arrive at the end game, having tried all possible alts. And then I'll probably leave the game again to look for the next explorer game. A player-killer type of end game in WAR interests me as little as the achiever type of end game in WoW. I'll play with it a bit, but if you expect me to raid the same PvP zone for the umpteenths time I'm out.