Monday, June 22, 2009
I am reading various MMO blogs, and one thing that struck me recently was how different the basic gameplay activities in a MMORPG can be, and how different people enjoy different gameplay modes. So I thought I'd list various gameplay modes of MMORPGs in general, without reference to specific games, or even specific sub-games like "PvP" or "raiding". Instead I'll reduce everything to what players are actually doing in the various activities.
1) Arcade gameplay mode: This is the type of gameplay which challenges your eye-hand-coordination and reaction speed. Things are happening fast on your screen, and you need to react. What you have to do is not terribly complicated in itself, its often not more than moving to the right place at the right time, or using the right ability at the right time. But the fact that you're not given a lot of time to think makes it that this is what is often considered to be "challenging" in MMORPGs.
2) Planning gameplay mode: This is a completely different type of challenge, which also exists in many MMORPGs. But in this case you have all the time you want, and the challenge is in taking the right decision in complicated circumstances. This type of gameplay often requires planning, including taking notes (or using an addon that takes notes for you), and sometimes even Excel spreadsheets. Often it is the economy which gives rise to this sort of gameplay, buying low, selling high, or finding which sort of crafting turns low-value resources into high-value goods. But planning could also be involved in long-term character development, planning "builds" etc.
3) Relaxed advancement mode: Now we moved away from challenge, but still are in the world of character advancement. I'm talking here about the kind of gameplay you might prefer when you get home after work, are too tired or not in the mood for any big challenge, but would still like to advance your character a bit by playing. This often involves questing, or "farming" monsters at low risk for xp or loot, or the forms of resource gathering where you have to move around and gather stuff by clicking on resource nodes. Things you can do without really exerting yourself, or taking much of a risk, but still slowly improving your character by gaining points or currency.
4) Hanging out mode: Finally we arrive at modes of gameplay where you aren't even trying to advance your character, or doing anything useful. Instead you're just chatting, hanging out with friends, or wandering around like a tourist looking at things in areas that aren't dangerous at all. Maybe you're waiting for something, or are just socializing, or you are trying to grab the attention of others with unusual behavior or by parading exclusive possessions.
I think that is more or less it, or did I forget any major modes of gameplay? I would say that most players play in all of these modes at various times, but have their preferred modes. I definitely prefer planning challenges to arcade challenges, often engage in relaxed advancement, and rarely just hang out doing nothing much. How about you?