Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Wildstar paths and Bartle types

In 1996 Dr. Richard Bartle published "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs", describing what came to be known as the "Bartle types" of killer, achiever, explorer, and socializer.  Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey later turned that idea into the "Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology", an online test where by answering some questions you could find out which type you tended towards,which made these player types very well known in the MMORPG community. So it wasn't surprising that many people who wrote about Wildstar tried to explain the "paths" concept in that game as representing the four Bartle types, even on Wikipedia (until somebody edits that out). Which is utter nonsense.

If you put the Bartle types on a graph, it shows that achievers and explorers want to interact with the world / game, while the socializers and killers want to interact with other players. The other axis is whether the interaction is competitive (achievers, killers) or not (socializers, explorers). Now if you look at the four path of Wildstar: Soldier, Explorer, Settler, and Scientist, they are all about an interaction with the world / game. The Settler path has a tiny social component in it insofar as the buff stations you erect can be used by other players; but to do the Settler missions you do not need other players, you only interact with game elements. All four Wildstar paths would better be described as appealing to explorers and achievers, while they won't appeal much to killers (defined as player killers, not monster killers) or socializers.

In fact as far as Bartle types go, the four paths are pretty much the same: You get a list of things to do in each zone (achievers like to complete that sort of stuff) and you need to go to various points on the map and click on things (explorer stuff). The differences are in details that can't be expressed on the two axes of player/world and competitive/non-competitive interaction.

The Wildstar Explorer path is for people who like jumping puzzles and good views. Plays pretty much like the vistas in Guild Wars 2. Curiously there isn't much exploring to do, except of exploring how to best jump on to a high place. But the locations you need to visit are clearly marked on your map.

The Settler path ends up having more exploration elements than the Explorer path, because you need to gather extra resources to power up those buffing stations. As the resources aren't marked on your map, you actually need to explore to find them. Well, to some degree at least. Of course you run across plenty of them while you just do normal questing.

The Soldier path is all about killing monsters (not players). You go to marked locations on the map where either you have to kill a specific semi-boss type NPC, or hold a position against waves of monsters.

The Scientist path allows you to scan wildlife with your drone, which gives some minor buffs sometimes, but mostly provides you with more text windows to read. If you are interested in lore, and the type of player who read every book in Skyrim, this is the path for you.

I do like the idea of paths. The different paths will appeal to the preferences of different players. You just can't force these different preferences into the corset of the Bartle types.

When it comes to exploration...which is my favorite element of MMOs from back in the day....I really feel that the convenient place markers and pathing aids have killed this part of MMOs for me. I still remember when WoW introduced markers, thinking it would fundamentally affect the game in a bad way and I still believe it did. Nothing encourages one to "hurry up and level" like having your quest goals conveniently marked out for you. I fully understand why it's popular for the right kind of player (which I think is larger in number than the ones like me who wish we didn't have all our goals clearly marked) but for true explorers it ruined MMOs. And yeah you can turn it off in some games (like WoW) and I do, but the psychological effect of knowing you have to deliberately ignore a cheap and easy "speed level assistance" feature that everyone else is using is tough, especially in modern MMOs which by design favor the "hurry up to the end" model of design.

@Tori - I see exploring and questing as quite different. I love exploring but want quest arrows. When I want to do 3 quests before bed, I don't want to wander around lost. OTOH, the artifacts in Rift are their most used feature and,IMO, great. Interesting, non-combat stats things at the top of mountains, under lakes, spread throughout the world. And not all on the obvious places. But as soon as I have Quest#2165 to kill BillTheRat I want to go achieve that, not explore.
I don't think the 4 paths are that great but I really applaud them for trying. I.e. understanding that there is more than just soldier type. Explorer path was the biggest disappointment being the path for undermedicated, hyperactive adolescents rather than explorers. (It goes without saying that I can't jump well.)
Well Tori, I guess I have fondish memories of having Alalkhazham open all the time while leveling, but I think the simple thing to do is allow people to turn that off if they want, because I for one do not really get off on wandering around a cartesian plane with a few trees on it. Just doesn't really do much for me.

Of course I pretty much despised everything about leveling and was ready to skip it by STV.
IMO there should be procedurally-generated quests with no arrows. And the rewards should be inessential, because players will often fail them completely.
There is a constant error people make in the whole Bartle Types thing, in that they land on "explorer" and conflate that with some sort of overland cartographer motivation.

But if you actually read what Bartle wrote, he puts "explorer" as somebody for whom "exploration of the game" is a motivation. It isn't just a map oriented vocation.

I wish I could find it, but quite a while back Bartle wrote something about WildStar's approach to his types where he said that an "explorer" in his model would want to play all the WildStar paths, not just the one allegedly for explorers.

And then he groused about how they could have consulted him.
Maybe this:
@bojan mihaljevic - No, I found that one when I went looking for the quote. The one I am looking for was earlier, when Carbine was just done revealing their Bartle type paths, though he does have a quip in that post as well about being consulted. When you make money through consulting, I am sure that rankles a bit.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool