Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Tetris - The Strategy Guide
Recently a lot of the more hardcore World of Warcraft players have been chiding the more casual players for not doing more theorycrafting, calling them stupid for not reading up on the latest flavor of the month talent builds and spell rotation on sites like Elitist Jerks. Sublime irony, them claiming "WoW is too easy, and you need to study hard to succeed". Who is more stupid, the player who is trying things out and learns by practicing and discussing with other players, or the person blindly following some written instructions? If somebody needs a written guide to play World of Warcraft, he probably also needs a strategy guide to play Tetris. And yeah, sad as it is, Tetris - The Strategy Guide exists, and I'll probably get some hits on my blog by people looking for it.
Raph Koster, who in his A Theory of Fun book proposes that the fun of playing a game comes from the learning experience you have while experimenting with the game, would probably say that this is just another example of players optimizing the fun out of games: You skip the part where you have fun and learn by playing around with your spells and abilities, or where you discuss the best spell rotation with guild mates of the same class, and go directly for maximum result with everybody using the same optimized talent build, spell rotation, and boss strategy.
I don't think games are meant to be played that way. The learning experience has to be an integral part of the game, not externalized to some third-party website. I think Blizzard realized that, which is why we do have raid dungeons with training-wheels on them now, like Naxxramas. A raid environment is different from a solo or small group situation, so if you expect people to master raiding, you need to give them a place to train. You can't expect people after 80 levels of soloing to turn up as a perfect raider to their very first raid. And you can't complain that the tutorial raid dungeon is too easy, because that is the point of it.
I find it sad how many World of Warcraft players, especially the hardcore ones, do their utmost to minimize communication with other players. "Oh no, don't make me talk to the other players and give them pointers on how to improve their perform or what strategy to use on this boss. Let's just kick everybody out of the guild who hasn't read the Elitist Jerks forums, and watched the boss kill video on YouTube." For a game that is supposed to be a "massively multiplayer" game, this is really a poor attitude. It is surprising how some people can even turn something like raiding, which is inherently a cooperative multiplayer thing, into an anti-social event where nobody needs to communicate with anyone else.