Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 09, 2008
 
When progress stops

I mentioned that I am in the beta of Football Manager Live, and I've been playing that pretty constantly for weeks now. In FML there are up to 1,000 managers per game world, and every day your rank among the managers is calculated, based on your match and financial results. When I started I was obviously rock bottom, and then I slowly worked my way up to rank 250. And there I stopped. Every day I'm moving either a couple of ranks up, or a couple of ranks down again, but for the last two weeks I've been around rank 250. Apparently there are 249 managers that constantly play more and better than I do. Not really a surprise, as I only play about an hour per day, and I'm not really an expert on football. That's how such rankings work, the long-term value reflects your relative ability and commitment, and it is impossible for everyone to be at the top. At some point progress, if measured by going up in ranks, stops. And if you play for the progress, then the fun stops too.

The reason I mention this is because FML is a PvP game, just like Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. And as far as I understood, your progress in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning will stop too. There isn't an endless raid circuit, like in World of Warcraft, because the Trials of Atlantis expansion of Dark Age of Camelot showed Mythic that a raid circuit pretty much ruins RvR. Progress *must* stop when you reach the level cap and get the endgame set of gear out of the dungeons, because only that way will RvR be balanced. You simply don't want somebody with T6 raid gear easily killing somebody who "only" got T4 gear, because then PvP just stops, with everyone feeling obliged to raid until they have the top gear. The PvE game is supposed to stop at some point in WAR, and only the PvP game remains. And in that PvP game you (or your guild) will make some initial progress, working your ways up the ranks, until at some point your progress stops. Some other guild will be at the top, and will constantly be better than you, because of their higher ability and commitment. At some point your progress has to stop in PvP, by definition you can't raise forever in the ranks. And then what will happen to your fun?

I'm not saying that a PvE game like World of Warcraft provides endless fun. The raid circuit only offers an illusion of endless progress. Most players get stuck somewhere in the raid circuit and realize that with their ability and commitment they won't be able to progress more. But I think that the process takes longer in WoW than it will take in WAR. And it is easier to restart in WoW, just add another 10 levels at the top and everyone progresses again. Players like progress! I don't know how they are going to react to a situation where the only progress is a movement of the front line, and that one resets whenever one side wins. Is sacking Altdorf or the Inevitable city once a month enough to keep players motivated for the long term? You tell me.
Comments:
I look at it a little like Planetside.

Sooner or later on any given day, one side starts consistently winning.

Then fun comes back when you work out how to break that hold or wait for the reset and try that much harder to make your opposition pay for the earlier defeats.

Yes, presumably sooner or later you will have all the best kit. After that, I hope, it will become a tactical game. When stats wont make or break a siege, you have to think about it, and therein lies for me at least, vast tracts of fun.
 
I think such games would be much more fun if they had more than two factions. That way, if one became stronger, the others could team up to weaken them, so there'd be an ever-shifting pattern of alliances.
 
I believe it's meant to take a very, very long time to reach renown rank 80.

We also don't know (or I don't know) exactly how itemization works at the top level in the King encounters. You might have to do a number of king encounters (which I think you can only do once per sacking) to get all the loot, although that's just speculation.

One thing Mythic said that has stuck with me is that they want to make this game more fun in the long term. For me that's code for near-endless advancement ala WoW.
 
Progress was always the reason I quit Wow (twice). I had reached the point where my guild was not progressing and either I would have to try and get in a better guild, or I would have to increase my play time and continue to hit the wall, I finally quit. I hate paying for a game that is not fun to me.

And therefore, I'm curious as to what exactly WAR will have at endgame because I've not really head in detail.
 
The thing is, the game isn't zero-sum.

In a zero sum system, much like your Fantasy Football example, progress does stop due to the actions of other players.

In the WAR system, progress stops because you ran out progress to make. And if renown ranks are anything like Realm Ranks from DAoC, there will be a point where you stop giving a damn about ranking up and just play the game for what it is because no matter wether you grind specifically for it or just mess around you won't be ranking up anytime soon.

And since players aren't directly competing against each other for ranks/levels/guild levels, the amount of progress you make within the game is strictly limited by you, with a caveat to the RvR lockout on Capitol City content.


I suppose I just have a more FPS mindset. I enjoy the PvP play and hate the gear wars that mar it with endless grindfests. I tend to twink in WoW because I despise arena and anyone that hates arena is instantly stuck two tiers of PvP gear behind.
 
I hit that brick wall you mentioned about WoW about an hour after I hit level 70 and got my flying mount! I think WAR will keep me much more satisfied than that to be honest.

...Ranks = progress
...Renown Ranks = progress
...Guild Ranks = progress
...Pushing the RvR front back and forth through keeps = progress (and regress)
...Gear = progress
...Your standing in the weekly RvR ladders = progress (if they set things up like DAOC)
 
If WAR were a ladder competition, with a single class and one battlefield, your analogy might work. As it is, you're comparing two very different things.

The endgame is RvR. A wargame. With the overall goal to advance your REALM. If someone is playing just to level a character or climb the tier ladder, they're seriously missing the point, in my opinion.
 
I might play War, I might not. I am a PvP person, who came from FPS games. For me, getting PvP gear boiled down to evening the playing field, not just trying to out-gear my opponent. Honestly, I don't want to lose because I'm wearing greens and blues. If another player beats me because of skill, so be it. It's just a video game, not real life. It meant nothing.

In the better FPS games, everyone starts out equal. Twitch skill aside, it is like being able to jump into a battleground/arena/world pvp and decide that you would be better off playing a shaman rather than a mage in any given instant. Only in FPS games, you can switch from say a sniper kit, to an assault kit, or whatever, instantly. It doesn't require a few months of leveling and gear grinding. You just play.

If War offers something even remotely like that, even if the gamestyle is just a WoW clone, as I'm sure it probably is, I would go to it. But if it is like WoW in that it is going to take me a few months of leveling and gear grinding to be able to PvP without being destroyed by the person who doesn't have to work for a living and has better gear, I'll likely stay with WoW, as I already have my toons geared.

Progress is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not so much worried about "progressing", because that ultimately means that others are having to be left behind. And being left behind and having to catch up is something I can definitely see hindering someone from playing. I can only imagine the wall a new WoW player is going to have to climb to get to 80.

I don't want to have to climb another wall in War to get to the same place as WoW. For me, "progress" is sometimes the thing that holds me back. Reputation grinds for head enchants, shoulder enchants, keys, etc, can be fun the first time. Maybe even the second time. But I don't want to have to do that over and over again in order to "progress" my character. There are times, such as now, when I am actually glad (!) that I don't need to go grind rep to be able to do x, y and z.

Maybe its just the PvP/FPS persons view, and I understand that RvR may actually be what I'm looking for, but sometimes, I don't want to progress anymore.

Sometimes I just want to play the game.
 
I don't want to have to climb another wall in War to get to the same place as WoW. For me, "progress" is sometimes the thing that holds me back. Reputation grinds for head enchants, shoulder enchants, keys, etc, can be fun the first time. Maybe even the second time. But I don't want to have to do that over and over again in order to "progress" my character. There are times, such as now, when I am actually glad (!) that I don't need to go grind rep to be able to do x, y and z.

Maybe its just the PvP/FPS persons view, and I understand that RvR may actually be what I'm looking for, but sometimes, I don't want to progress anymore.


I am just one PvE person, but the second paragraph describes how I feel when "progressing" exactly. Those sorts of things feel like bureaucratic paperwork to me. (Though unfortunately for my personal PvE experiences, a lot of people disagree, which means almost all these games will end up with levels, gearing up, and all that stuff to keep those expectations happy.
 
Nice shameless plug of website, just saw the same link in a comment on another MMO-themed website...

As for WAR, what it seems to me is the capital city zones are going to be a hub for all added content. The previous questing tiers are to train you for the various types of gameplay.

As for RvR, I have seen Destruction being easily in control of most of the zones the majority of the time so there is definitely going to be some balancing issues.
 
Well, I may be the odd man out, but in the 4 years that I've been playing WoW I have only 3 characters on my account. My main is very well equipped and faction/skills are maxxed out across the board. Hitting the wall is a given in WoW, and I realized what my limitations were early on for what I could hope to accomplish with my work/RL demands being what they are.

What will be interesting to see in War, is when the playerbase starts theorycrafting and the signal to noise ratio rises on the forums. Will the devs have the same kind of feedback loop like Blizzard does to maintain some semblance of balance across the board, or will the vocal minority get its way as they have in WoW patches of past?

The ability of the Devs to make -good- changes will be the thing to watch early on.
 
You make a very good point. I stopped playing both WoW and LotRO within two weeks of realizing that because of my playtime constraints, my progress in the game was effectively over. Progress in rl is a grind, full of doubt and luck. If the game I'm playing does not provide a certain progress committment ratio (maybe 8 hours played = new ability or experience) I quickly find another game that will. Sadly, that currently means single player games. *shrug*
 
That's one topic I already thought of several times. You inspired me to write about it in lenght, and as I most probably cannot paste it all here, here is a link for you to check it out:

http://zelmor.blogspot.com/2008/08/when-fun-stops.html

I'm awaiting replies of all of you, as I care of what others think, should they discuss it in normal manners.
 
Nice shameless plug of website, just saw the same link in a comment on another MMO-themed website...

The comment spam he is talking about has been removed. Just another gold seller spam.
 
Tobold his is an old problem that predates computer games and it has long been solved in sports like Golf and Tennis. People find others their own level to play with and make their own sub goals based around their own abilities. I may never be able to beat Tiger Woods but I can still have lots of fun trying to win the office tournament.

If Football Manager live has only one league and everyone quickly finds there own level then folks probably will lose interest quickly. Guild Wars is also a rigidly balanced PVP game but it has multiple layers of competition ranging from casual random arenas to seriously competitive team tournaments. This has worked extremely well for GW and it has managed to build and hold on to a large player base.
 
Are these games not RPG's?

PvE is closer to the concept of a RPG and not PvP.

I personally would have no interest in an MMORPG that claimed that PvE is over when you level peak.

Wild horses could not not drag me through a PvP BG in WoW or sign up to a PvP realm for that matter.

Thanks Tobold the more I hear about Warhammer the more it sounds like I wont be buying it.
 
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