Sunday, April 24, 2011
Turning back time
Spinks is posing a challenge: "Open a new trial account in WoW, pick a character based on looks/ class description, and play it up to level 10. Then see how fun you found the gameplay." Well, apart from the "trial account" part, I just did that in Cataclysm, leveling up a new goblin hunter and worgen warlock. And I found the experience fun enough. In particular I found the quests more fun than the equivalent first ten levels of playing two characters in Rift, which I also did around the same time. But of course that is highly subjective. And not really a good measure, because it is impossible to turn back time.
"Fun" doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is a feeling which melds from the what you are currently doing and all your previous experience. Me, personally, I'm a bit sick and tired of the standard kill 10 foozles quests, so subjectively I liked the WoW new player experience more than the Rift new player experience, because the new WoW starting zones have a lot more non-standard quests, more use of vehicles, scripts, and other "modern" quest telling gadgets. Somebody else might be sick and tired of how classes and talents work in WoW, and might find the Rift new player experience with its souls more fun. Or he might find WoW too static and prefer the slightly less static rifts in Rift.
Thus unless you take a really new player who never played MMORPGs before, and let him play through the newbie experience, it is impossible to get an accurate reading of how "fun" a newbie zone is. Everybody falls in love with his first MMORPG. People who started with EQ will still reminisce about how great that was, before this or that developement "ruined the game". And so on with every MMORPG, every veteran player can tell you exactly what "ruined the game" of his first MMORPG. When in fact people simply burned out, and are just blaming some minor changes in the game to a mental development which took place in their own heads.
I burned out from World of Warcraft, which is why I cancelled my account. I need at least some months of break before I can play a similar quest and level-based game again, which will most probably we Star Wars: The Old Republic. As I realize that the burnout is in my head, and not the fault of WoW, I don't believe in the solution of just switching to a new game already now, which is over 90% similar to WoW. I'm pretty certain that in the coming months there will be a lot of people realizing that once the new shiny feeling has worn off, Rift plays a lot like WoW. And as their burnout with the WoW-like gameplay is in their heads, they will burn out from Rift quickly. Watching the MMORPG blogosphere I can already see the writing on the wall. That is not the fault of Rift, but the natural effect of playing through similar gameplay for thousands of hours over the last years. Some people will blame some change in Rift ("that new patch totally ruined the game"), others will bizarrely find a way to blame WoW for their Rift burnout. But the simple fact is that you can't turn back time and "unplay" the thousands of hours of MMORPG you already did. "Fun" is something that suffers from diminishing return.