Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 17, 2013
 
MMORPGs and win conditions

Dàchéng believes I don't know the difference between toys and games. But not only am I very well aware of that difference, I also believe that he didn't consider the possibility of somebody playing with a toy and only imagining playing a game. Imagine the following situation: You are on your way from home to work, when a car of a colleague rushes past you at high speed. Once arrived at work your colleague laughs at you and brags on how he beat you in your race. But you weren't even aware that there was a race on. Who of the two has misunderstood the situation?

MMORPGs very much work like that. Many of the people bragging how great they are at this "game" only managed to beat those who didn't even know there was a competition. And even different groups that all consider the game competitive all play under different rule sets: One guild claims to be the best because they had the server first kill of some raid boss. The next guild also claims to be the best, because they did it without practicing in the beta. The third guild claims to be the best because while their kill was later, it was done in less attempts. Gevlon claims to be the best because his guild did it in blue gear. And so on.

The difference between a toy and a game is that a game has rules that are universally understood and agreed upon. Playing with a toy in a competitive mind-set doesn't turn that toy into a game. When I said that World of Warcraft has no win condition, that was not a theoretical statement; it is a statement based on eight years of history: Nobody was ever declared the winner of World of Warcraft except by himself. World's most famous WoW player is more likely to be Leroy Jenkins, famous for his incompetence, than some player playing WoW exceptionally well. At best some guilds achieve passing fame, but they never really "win" the game.

That is not to say that it isn't perfectly all right to find a group of like-minded people and invent your own victory condition and strive to achieve it. Just like you can build a really impressive Hogwarts from Lego, and be proud of your achievement; but can you then say that you won Lego? I don't think so. You only competed against yourself, by rules of your own design. Winning World of Warcraft in your own mind doesn't make that win universally accepted.

Comments:
A Harry Potter fan group could very easily hold a competition to build the best Hogwarts from Lego. Someone who entered a really sweet Hogwarts into that contest would win it. They would be competing against other people, by rules of their design.

If Lego sold a prefabricated Hogwarts from their online store for a lot of money that would absolutely be 'Pay2Win' for the Harry Potter convention contest.
 
If Lego sold a prefabricated Hogwarts from their online store for a lot of money that would absolutely be 'Pay2Win' for the Harry Potter convention contest.

The contestants would sure see it like that. But I don't think that would give them the right to protest against Lego's plan to sell prefabricated Hogwarts. Instead it would be up to them to change their self-fabricated rules of competition to not be destroyed by Lego's offers, e.g. by stating that those prefab sets would be prohibited in the competition.

You just can't say that Lego doesn't have the right to sell whatever they want, just because that is in conflict with the some unofficial imaginary rules, especially not if those rules aren't written down anywhere.
 
Wait, people are saying companies don't have a right to go 'Pay2Win'? They absolutely do, but I hate when it happens, and I won't play those games.

As for the Lego analogy, if Blizzard didn't allow The Sword of Infinite Truths or whatever to be used in battlegrounds or the most recent raiding content (the same sort of idea as the convention banning the prefab kit) then no one would claim it was 'Pay2Win' either. Blizzard isn't just making the toy here, they're also heavily controlling the way the toy can be used, so it is on them to make those sorts of calls.
 
I think you are comparing WoW with a single race in the Olympics when it would be fairer to compare WoW with the Olympics itself. You cannot win the Olympics but you can win individual races in the Olympics. Likewise while you cannot win WoW there are many activities in WoW that can be played competitively and therefore can be won. PVP is an obvious example but there are plenty of ways to "win" at PVE as long as you can find someone else to compete against. If two guilds are trying to achieve a server first and one of the beats the other to it then it is a win. Of course if no one else is even trying to do something then I don't think you can use the word "win" although it might still be an achievement to be proud of.
 
If two guilds are trying to achieve a server first and one of the beats the other to it then it is a win.

Only if the guild coming second recognizes the win of the guild coming first. Which never happens. As I said before, each guild operates on their own set of rules to "server first", and will just consider anybody arriving before them to have "cheated" in one way or another. There is never a recognized winner.
 
Only if the guild coming second recognizes the win of the guild coming first

Whether the second-placed guild likes it or not, Blizzard make the rules on Server First aAchievements, and those who are server-first can link their achievement in trade chat. Sour grapes from the losers don't mean that the winners didn't win.

In this case, there is an impartial third party that sets the rules: Blizzard. The same is true of league ladders. They are created by impartial third parties, such as GuildOx or WoWProgress, and not every guild gets listed on those lists, because they are opt-in lists. They are, by and large, lists of guilds that want to take part in the league.
 
You know, after reading both posts I think Dàchéng and you make a good argument for MMO's being a hybrid between toy and game. Both your arguments that they're either fish or fowl aren't strong enough for those positions though.

Mmo's are both a game and a toy, and it's possible you can either see that or play one, like quantum :-)
 
it would be fairer to compare WoW with the Olympics itself

I second that. There are different "races" in WoW and many of them can be won "officially".

When each arena season ends, some people get their gladiator drakes while 99,5% of players don't. It looks to me like those 0,5% have won.

There are in-game leaderboards for challenge modes. It looks to me that the party which did a dungeon in minimum time is a current winner for that dungeon.

There are even leaderboards for pet trainers, all official.

Wowprogress.com is also an attempt, though unofficial, to determine winners in raiding. Tobold may disregard wowprogress, but most competitive raiders do take its standings seriously when looking for guild.
 
Many of those games Dacheng describes are established in the minds of the players. Tobold I think you are right in the concept that you can only really win a game if the losing party recognizes the game and with it your victory. However, „the game“ raiding progression for example is well established in the players minds, and the losers indeed do recognize their defeat. So by existing in the minds of so many competitors, the game itself exists. Anybody taking part in a oldtimer car race with a bugatti veyron stating „I don’t care about your game, in MY game bugattis are allowed!“ would be just as silly as the guy racing you on the way to work.

The question for the developer/publisher now would be if people will play wow in the long term when you can just buy yourself into good gear. Let’s assume the sword of infinite power gets implemented:

There are only 2 possibilities for „the game“ called progression raiding:
1. buying stuff becomes baseline, or
2. shop-items are banned from progression raiding

To come back to the question for the developer, would this be good for wow?
1. shop-items are baseline
I doubt this would be good since you are alienating a part of your player base, putting them at a disadvantage since they can not or refuse to buy items on top of their subscription. Another large chunk of the raiders would be pissed since they need to buy gear now and spend more than the 15 bucks a month, another chunk because their grind has less meaning and so on.. many people pissed off on the bottom line.
2. shop-items are banned from „the game“
If this remains the case I think it would work for those that aquire their gear by playing/grinding. Let‘s just say the items get implemented but cannot be used in current raids and PvP as mentioned above.
But, are you doing yourself a favor by offering your players a toy for sale that they aren’t allowed to use in „the game“? Or will they just be pissed off? Will they even buy it? Most players don’t want to farm leather faster, they want an edge in raiding or see their name on the top of recount…

I doubt it would be good for wow in both possibilities. Sure, activision could get a little more insta-cash, but in the long run? I think this would hurt the playerbase.

Not to mention the shit-storm in gaming press and blogs...

 
Nick Page suggested that if Blizzard didn't allow The Sword of Infinite Truths to be used in raiding content then no one would claim it was 'Pay2Win'

I can't agree, I'm afraid. If somebody gearing up for a raid can more easily and more speedily get the gear he needs if he can use The Sword™ to help with it, (and he is in the raiding race game) then he must get it, even if he can't take The Sword™ into the raid instance. The Sword™ is a precursor to the actual gear he needs, and if his competitors are using The Sword™ to gain a competitive advantage, then so must he. The raiding game is not only fought in the raid instance. There is a lot of preparation needed to before even looking the boss in the eyes. As Sun Tzu said, "the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won".

Of course, if the sword offers no competitive advantage in any of the games we can play in Azeroth, and is only a cosmetic item, then that would be fine.

Oh, but wait. What if the game I'm playing isn't the raiding game, but the sword-collecting game? As I know from my guild master Fuill's auction-house activities, there is a thriving niche of players whose game (or pastime to be more precise) is completing collections. If I want to compete in that game, and complete my collection, then I need to either pay for The Sword™ or find a new pastime.

Blizzard have already done this in many Azerothian games: Trading Cards, Sparkly Ponies and Pandaren Monks converted the games of mount-collecting and pet-collecting into Pay-To-Win games. Some people left Azeroth as a result, many more bought them in the cash shop. Blizzard have every right to sell what they like in their cash shop, but the moment I have to buy The Sword™ to remain competitive in my chosen games, well that's the moment I hand in my mana.
 
What are even talking about here?

Each player plays for his own reasons, fine, point granted. So? The majority of the players, the people whose fees pay the overhead and make the game profitable have their own reasons, and it's not the server first game.

It's evident that in terms of the game game developers are playing, F2P is more profitable for everyone who isn't Blizzard.

Don't like that? Cool. Don't play those games. What the the developers figured out is that it's better to have a lot of people spending a little money, and a few spending a lot of money for games competing with WoW.

All these arguments about Pay2win and whether F2P or subs are the best are irrelevant in the face of the raw fact that F2P generates more money for games below a certain size--- enough money that it is apparently not even a contest. And everything but WoW is below a certain size.

If the choice is life with F2P or death by sub, the choice is clear. Discussion over.
 
What are even talking about here?

Each player plays for his own reasons, fine, point granted. So? The majority of the players, the people whose fees pay the overhead and make the game profitable have their own reasons, and it's not the server first game.

It's evident that in terms of the game game developers are playing, F2P is more profitable for everyone who isn't Blizzard.

Don't like that? Cool. Don't play those games. What the the developers figured out is that it's better to have a lot of people spending a little money, and a few spending a lot of money for games competing with WoW.

All these arguments about Pay2win and whether F2P or subs are the best are irrelevant in the face of the raw fact that F2P generates more money for games below a certain size--- enough money that it is apparently not even a contest. And everything but WoW is below a certain size.

If the choice is life with F2P or death by sub, the choice is clear. Discussion over.
 
"If somebody gearing up for a raid can more easily and more speedily get the gear he needs if he can use The Sword™ to help with it, (and he is in the raiding race game) then he must get it."

True for the top level raiding game, but lots of second-tier guilds won't enforce that, unless it's *very* necessary.

Again, it shows that there are grey areas.

I just hope that even if the last poster is right and FTP games take over, there will be enough customer pressure to ensure that for some games at least the PTW quotient will be kept below a tolerable level.
 
A win does not have to be "universally accepted" to be a win. If you create the game, you create the rules and the "Win" condition. A game of racing your friend can then be fairly said to have been won provided that, in this game for which you made the rules, no rule was made that your friend had to know he was playing. We all play games to which only we know the rules all the time.
 
After looking over the pictures from the link I can say unequivocally that she won at legos.
 
Tobold: And even different groups that all consider the game competitive all play under different rule sets:

While certainly it's absolutely possible for players to completely disagree upon rulesets, it's not something I've seen often. I think you would be hard-pressed to find such occurrences, and basically impossible to prove that it happens on a wide scale. Within the hardcore community, I think it's well established what people fight for (world firsts, server firsts, etc.)

In the more general communtity, I think your argument that the general community is completely ignorant of the hardcore community is rather spurious. I highly doubt that most players are completely unaware of the hardcore competitions of raiding and server firsts. At best, you could make the argument that people simply choose not to participate in such competitions, but that's a different argument altogether.

Tobold: When I said that World of Warcraft has no win condition, that was not a theoretical statement; it is a statement based on eight years of history: Nobody was ever declared the winner of World of Warcraft except by himself.

I would only say that this is because WoW doesn't have the end condition set yet (due to more content constantly being pushed out). But that's certainly not to say that there aren't win conditions available to the players. You can certainly beat raid dungeons. You can certainly win at PVP. Just because the overarching win condition isn't available doesn't mean there isn't stuff to win.

Take for example, any complex board game, like Chess. You can certainly win an instance of the game, but no one can lay claim to beating the entire game. Nonetheless, if you could pay some amount of money to turn your pawns into queens such that you could beat any player, that would certainly be an instance of "Pay2Win".

You may not be be beating the game of chess (that would require a couple supercomputers and all the time in the world as they did with chess), but you can certainly win instances of it, and that's enough to qualify.
 
There is a world champion of chess. Who, pray, is the current world champion of World of Warcraft?
 
Well, from 1993 to 2006, there were two chess world champions. Who was the real champion then?
 
There's the world champion, Viswanathan Anand, who received the title by winning the World Chess Championships and has consistently defended his title. And then there's Magnus Carlsen, who is the highest rated FIDE player in the history of chess. Finally, Wikipedia names multiple different people winning at chess under shorter time controls (blitz chess).

None of these people can lay claim to beating chess itself. They can lay claim to beating others at chess in certain tournaments or in certain circumstances (i.e. under various time controls, match play or tournament play, etc.), but neither of them can say they have solved chess and beat it.

Let's not forget that the World Chess Champion is an artificial title as well, just agreed upon by the majority of hardcore chess players today. This makes it not any different than the sub-competitions that hardcore raiders agree on in striving for world/region/server firsts.
 
So does World of Warcraft have *anybody* who enjoys a recognition of his skills comparable to that enjoyed by Viswanathan Anand or Magnus Carlsen in chess?

Furthermore, if those two wanted to find out who was the better chess player, they could find out by playing against each other under a set of official rules. Where are those rules for World of Warcraft?
 
I guess top rated Arena teams and Guild raiding progression is the closest in meaning to what you say. It only works for groups since all high level content is group-based.

For a solo player, what about --
http://wow.joystiq.com/2009/12/03/taiwanese-player-earns-all-of-the-achievements /

 
/taiwanese-player-earns-all-of-the-achievements /

This is exactly what I am saying: Yet another personal win condition. You could also say that the guy who played to level cap without killing a single mob won World of Warcraft. Or the first guy to solo Ragnaros. Or the first guy who hit the gold cap. You can't win a game which has a million win conditions.
 
Why do top raiding guilds (i.e. Method, who has consistently been in the top 1-2 of world firsts) or arena teams not qualify? They certainly enjoy recognition by a large number of players. These certainly aren't personal wins, as there is certainly competition there.

Would you deny these wins simply because some number of other people don't participate or are unaware of them? Then why would you allow the wins of chess champions either? Not everyone plays chess or even knows about the World Chess Champion.

Why do you also emphasize only the win of the game as a whole, rather than acknowledge the existence of sub-competitions within a single game? Carlsen is the top rated player through consistent wins of tournaments (i.e. round robin/swiss tournaments with many people), while Anand is the current champion of match play (i.e. a series of multiple games against a single person). Other people are best at blitz chess. I wouldn't be surprised if there was someone even better than all of these people at correspondence chess, where there are no time limits.

Any one match between these folks would only prove the winner to be better at whichever competition ruleset they were playing under at the time, and would only be recognized as a "world champion" of chess by those who agree to that particular ruleset as being the end all, be all ruleset of chess (which no one ruleset will ever be).

If you want to acknowledge a World Champion of Chess who is only a world champion at a certain ruleset (e.g. Anand in match play), and is not a champion of all rulesets of chess, then you should acknowledge the many various champions of the various conditions that have been agreed upon by players as wins in a competition.
 
Why do you also emphasize only the win of the game as a whole, rather than acknowledge the existence of sub-competitions within a single game?

Remember, the starting point of the argument was people saying "Game companies shouldn't be allowed to sell item X, because that would be Pay2Win". My argument is that this is bullshit, because there can't be Pay2Win if there is no overall win condition.

If EVERYTHING in the game can be a win, then every item in the shop is Pay2Win. For example in World of Warcraft there certainly is a "sub-competition", as you call it, to collect pets or mounts. Blizzard sells pets or mounts. So is World of Warcraft Pay2Win?
 
It would most certainly be, for those who competed to get the most pets.

The problem here is that the term "Pay2Win" by itself lacks context with regards to the particular competition that you would be winning. I think it's rather implied that "Pay2Win" when used in common parlance by hardcore gamers is used to refer to the PVE/PVP skill sub-competitions, and not towards any other win condition. I don't think it's fair to evaluate the "pay2win" status of a game without taking into account what win condition players are talking about.

On a further note, there is the distinction that you could make between the "pay2win" status of a sub-competition and the status on the game as a whole, but I think that's not really a point worth arguing over when players really only concern themselves over these sub-competitions and not the competition of the entire game.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool