Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 08, 2014
Longevity of games

There has been quite a lot of discussion on the quick hype-to-decline cycle of MMORPGs recently, here and elsewhere, after that cycle was again demonstrated for both The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. Even the already derogatory term "three-monther" is sometimes too optimistic. Not many people are still willing to invest years of their lives in a new MMORPG. But is that even surprising?

I've been playing games for over 40 years now. I'm old enough to have grown up with board games instead of video games. I have played many thousands of games over the years. How many games do you think did I play for more than 2 years of my life? It was only three: Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and World of Warcraft. And of these the only one I'm still playing (after 30 years!) is Dungeons & Dragons. Playing any game for years is the exception. Playing a game for a while until I get bored and move on is the normal situation.

According to Raph Koster's Theory of Fun, we have fun while learning to master a game. Once the learning period is over, that part of the fun disappears. The more games you play, the faster you understand new games, especially if they heavily borrow features from previous games. As complex as a modern MMORPG is, much of that complexity is borrowed from the past. You don't need to learn again what an aggro radius is, or how mobs respawn always at the same locations, because this works in the games of 2014 exactly like it worked in MMORPGs a decade ago.

I was asking myself why Dungeons & Dragons has so much more longevity than other games for me. The answer is relatively simple: With Dungeons & Dragons you never arrive at the point where what happens next is completely predictable. What happens next isn't determined by rules or algorithms, but by humans making playful decisions. And that creates a truly endless variety of possible outcomes. In a computer game human ingenuity is boxed in by the limited actions the game allows you to take, so even a multi-player computer game never reaches the same variety of possible outcomes than a tabletop roleplaying game.

If you wished you had a game that you can play for the next decades to come, I can only very much recommend trying out pen & paper roleplaying games. Now might be a good time to start playing Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, if you never played D&D before. For less than $20 for the Starter Set plus free Basic Rules pdf you could set yourself up for a hobby for a lifetime. And in between you'll still have enough time to flutter like a butterfly from one computer game to the next.

I played my first mmo, WoW, 9 years ago. It was all very special back then. Being able to travel through a huge, open world. Meeting new friends. Going and wiping in dungeons as a group, and later a guild. PvP in the Barrens. The first time in a raid or the first Onyxia kill. All those things felt memorable, even today.

I've played some Wildstar, for a month or two. But it's enough, it's pretty much the same all over again. That's OK with me, I've still got a huge library of single player games to play. And I go back to WoW every two years for a few months.

As you say, playing a game for over half a year is the exception. I can probably count them on one hand: Age of Empires 2, WoW, Return to Castle Wolfenstein. And now that I think of it, that's the first fps, mmo and rts game I've played in multiplayer. Companies need to offer something new if they want to hook me again.
Well, while ESO and WS not worked as expected by hype, GW2 is alive and well after two years...

IMHO, MMO genre need advance and evolve and look for innovation. Public quests, better NPC AI, a non-static world. GW2 worked at that direction, while ESO and WS stayed at the old EQ/WoW formulae: traditional quests and quest hubs.

NOW, I think that if EQNext give us 80% than it is promising, we will see other step in the direction of innovation.
We've played 4 generation D&D games and that is pretty amazing to me. And we are teaching them to the next generation as my friends' kids start joining us for our regular play nights.
Imagination never goes out of style. MMOs were built on the foundation of RPGs which were built to give D&D players online options.
The only friends I know who have given up our usual tabletop game sessions have done so for online RP guilds, but I still wonder how they can stand not rolling D20s on a regular basis!
I'm still playing in our D&D 3.0 campaign, coming up on 13 years this fall. We're not exactly the speediest bunch, as I just am about to hit 6th level, but that's fine.

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool