Thursday, July 09, 2009
I've been playing Luminary for 6 weeks now, but I think I'll stop playing this now. The problem with Luminary is one shared with many Asian Free2Play games: They get exponentially more grindy over time. In one quest series I arrived at a point where to finish a quest I would need to gather over 50,000 resources, which at a drop rate of around 10% would mean killing half a million monsters. The exponential nature of quest series is most visible in sword-crafting quest series I'm also doing, where after making 1 stage 1 sword I had then to make 2 stage 2 swords, then 3 stage 3 swords etc., with both the number of swords and the resources needed per sword increasing.
I assume this is deliberate game design, to make sure everybody arrives at a point where the game is too grindy for him, because then you can dangle the carrot of faster advancement through items from the item store in front of them. Unfortunately the Aeria Games item store for Luminary is still not working. I wouldn't have minded giving them some of my money, I find that having fun with a game for 6 weeks is worth something, and the game company deserves some of my money. But I do know that on the internet that sort of opinion, that somebody providing entertainment should get paid for it, is an extremely outlandish one. And even me, while I would have been okay to pay *for* playing, I'm not going to pay them *after* I stopped.
I think it would actually be a good idea if games became more complex and difficult the further you advanced. But in the case of Luminary the complexity and difficulty remained pretty much the same, and only the number of monsters you needed to kill for your next task went up. It isn't more difficult to kill 1,000 monsters than to kill 100, or 10, it just takes longer. I had the same problem with WAR, where killing a mob at level 20 wasn't more difficult than in lower levels, but it took more and more kills to advance another level. Weirdly the Wrath of the Lich King expansion of World of Warcraft had the opposite problem: Going from level 70 to 71 was relatively slow, but the further you advanced, the faster progress got, and from 79 to 80 was pretty fast (because xp needed for next level only increase minimally, while xp per kill and quest go up much faster).
In WoW, not only is it already extremely easy for a fresh level 80 character to succeed in the average level 80 daily quest, but also it gets easier with time. Whether you raid, craft, PvP, or farm factions, your gear is improving at the level cap, but the quests remain the same. We all like our virtual rewards, but in the end the reward destroys the solo PvE content, making it too trivial. Outside of raids, or PvP if you are so inclined, life at the level cap is extremely boring.
So I do question the idea that "the game begins at the level cap". And I wonder if ultimately Everquest wasn't onto something with making reaching the level cap take much more time. The endgame is a notoriously weak point of most MMORPGs, so why hasten the process of the players getting there? The art is to design a progress curve which never gets so steep as to appear insurmountable, but in which progress also never becomes trivial. Not an easy task, that.