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Role Playing (Games)

Why Computer RPGs Waste Your Time 476

spidweb writes "RPGVault has an editorial about two particularly noxious qualities of computer role-playing games. Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel goes off on a tear, discussing how you work forever to earn the right to do anything exciting, and must 'prove yourself' by expending tons of your time. From the article: 'So now, thinking about playing an RPG just makes me tired. I'm tired of starting a new game and being a loser. I'm tired of running the same errands to prove myself. The next time I enter my fantasy world, I want it to not assume that I'm a jackass.'" I think Oblivion handled this well, scaling the world as you went and giving you really interesting things to do from the get-go. What other games dodge this bullet? Do you see this timesink as an inevitable part of the RPG genre?
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Why Computer RPGs Waste Your Time

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  • Whiner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mandelbr0t ( 1015855 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:31PM (#18030124) Journal
    If you don't like it don't play. As I'm sure you're aware, there's plenty of other ways to spend your free time. Don't try and foist your problems with RPG onto me. TFA lacked anything more than anecdotal "I played for too long and didn't have any fun".
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:32PM (#18030128) Journal
    What sweeping statements he's making! None of what he said would even sound vaguely familiar to me if not for the PVP aspects of MMORPGs, where people expect you to be at some sort of "honor level" or "rank" or whatever in order to play with you, which becomes a vicious circle. (Can't play to gain rank because your rank isn't high enough.)

    But "computer RPGs" in general? And what would those be? Oblivion? Baldur's Gate? Dungeon Siege? Neverwinter Nights? KOTOR? I mean give me a break, those games do NOT treat you like a moron who has to grind in order to do anything fun. Those games give you ongoing, increasingly challenging excitement. There's no sense of "I played long enough so now I get to have fun" at all! I'm really confused by the sentiment.

    Though I admit to not having read the article (blocked here).
  • ADHD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eviloverlordx ( 99809 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:35PM (#18030196)
    The author sounds like he's got attention span issues. If an RPG only took 10 hours to play, I'd feel ripped off. For games in general, I usually deem one hour per dollar spent a 'break-even' point in terms of ROI. 10 hours would be a total loss, unless it was a bargain bin game. Some of my favorites (Guild Wars, Half-Life 2, etc.) are well past the one hour per dollar level.
  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:36PM (#18030216)
    , discussing how you work forever to earn the right to do anything exciting, and must 'prove yourself' by expending tons of your time. From the article: 'So now, thinking about playing an RPG just makes me tired.

    Call me old-fashioned, but isn't this the point of most computer games, not just RPGs ? If you want to defeat the boss, you have to play all the levels before it. Or use the cheat code. In CRPGs, the story is often a key point of the game. And in Japanese RPGs, you often start out doing exciting things - Final Fantasy 7/8/.., anyone.

    And that's not just in computer games. If you read a novel, you'll have to start at the beginning and read all the pages until the end. If you want to climb a mountain and brag about it, you're not going to take the lift.

    Geez, what is it about this young generation that feels entitled to instant gratification ?

  • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:41PM (#18030308)

    They both were engrossing from the start
    But they both still started you off as a loser. You spend hours fighting rats, getting lost books, and trying not to off noober. What the author points to is the KOTOR "dude where's my lightsaber" problem. Most RPGs start you off unimaginatively at the absolute lowest level, so you get a sense of progression.
  • Scaling Rewards (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:47PM (#18030410)
    The problem with MMORPGs is the reward for the effort. This isn't just a few players in a D&D campaign: you've got huge populations. In order to reward people who do well in the game you HAVE to provide cool and unique places to play with cool and unique opponents that drop cool and unique items.

    If you step back you notice all the novel and interesting things in these games happen at the top levels because, frankly, that's where they HAVE to be. If the game peaks midway through the level grind, why would anyone keep enduring it?

    In the meantime, the game's value gets diluted where it's only the end game that is important. Instead of treating time investment as something to be rewarded with something to ooh and ahh over, or something reserved for the selected few, it's treated as a requirement to get your fill of the game. You have people paying $X per month. You could be paying $X for dull repetitive content or really exciting unique content... it all depends on how much work you put into it.

    This simply doesn't happen with older RPG games. With few players at a time you can make sure everyone's having fun as a group. Together. The world bends to them. How many DM's out there have tweaked random encounters to fix challenge levels for their players? How many DM's roll their own quests specificly to have a good time? With the "MASSIVE" in MMORPGs, there cannot possibly be good attention paid to the up-and-coming players. You focus on the bottom so they get hooked and learn how to play the game, you focus on the top so nobody gets bored and leaves, and the middle? Well, screw them. Hurry up and get beefy.

    On the aside, I've liked just about everything that ever came out of Spiderweb Software. Although, perhaps they could take a lesson from Oblivion and scaling opponents with the player's progress. Reward scaling is great in their games with side quests and little things to discover if you have the patience to crawl around, but the games usually stop being fun when I become a living God in the games and can decimate just about every enemy area without a sweat.
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:53PM (#18030518)
    Agreed, but the meat of the game still has to be fun.

    A game could have the most amazing boss fight of all time and an awesome ending, but if everything before that point is terribly dull, then I'm not interested in playing.

    The challenge is creating a game that's fun throughout - even if you're just killing rats or dumb-dumb orcs at the beginning. And let's face it: many game studios simply lack the talent and insight to make such tasks fun. I think anyone can create a good boss fight, but it takes real talent to make the in between stuff (town exploration, traveling, sidequesting) fun and engaging.
  • Re:Whiner (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SurturZ ( 54334 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @05:57PM (#18030578) Homepage Journal
    Computer games are a leisure activity and therefore are a "waste of time" more or less by definition. Whether a particular CRPG is fun or not is a different issue, and to a large extent dependent on the player. For example, I quite like grinding in CoH because I often play late at night just before going to bed and I just want to switch off my brain for a bit.

    That said, a CRPG where you start off all powerful and then gradually lose power as the game progresses might be interesting. I doubt anyone would like it though.
  • by knarfling ( 735361 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:07PM (#18030750) Journal

    First, let me say I can partially understand where he is coming from. Usually I run into this when I want to replay an RPG over again. As you go through the game you find bigger and better items (weapons, armor, magic, etc.) and when you start over again, you think, "If I could just get the *Light Sword* found at the end of the game, I could kick butt in the beginning of the game and get to the end that much quicker." I know some people who like to hack the game just to give their characters the coveted items early in the game.

    Some games deal with this by having shortcuts that you find out after you already need them. The first time though, you go the long way building up experience and learning the shortcuts. If you go through again, you know the shortcuts so you don't spend a lot of time just building experience. The problem with that is that there is a trade off. Once one person knows the shortcut, EVERYBODY knows it. Why do the long way when someone else has found the shortcut for you?

    After having said all that, I firmly believe that Role Playing Games are there for you to play a role. What fun is the game if your role is Urak the Unkillable? Do you really want a role where you start out as all powerful and the goal is to lose all your powers and get rid off all your cool stuff? (Maybe I will start a game with that as the premise.) If you don't like the role any more, don't play the game.

    As for me, it is true that I don't play nearly as many RPG's as I used to. They do take a lot of time that I don't have any more. There are times that I don't like starting out so low and I want to start out with a bit more of a head start. But I still get a kick out of improving my character(s) and developing him/her/them the way I want. I tend to prefer games where I have lots of control how I build the character. Do I want a wizard or a warrior? A fighter that can do some magic, or a magic user that knows which end of a sword to hold? What are the benefits and drawbacks to a quest? I know that not everyone likes the same games I do, and not everyone likes the same character development. Furthermore, as time goes on, peoples tastes change. If you don't like spending that much time developing a character, perhaps it is time to either change game styles, or program one that better fits what you want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:08PM (#18030758)
    What RPGs often do wrong is make the main XP source from killing targets, so a char that goes out and kills 500 wolves is innately better than one which killed only 5. When the game system rewards tediousness, many players will get tired and angry.

    There are a few examples that I recall that alter the formula a bit. The Elder Scroll series do not derive leveling purely from killing, so your character can enjoy doing whatever he/she needs to. Chrono Cross levels all your characters when you beat the next boss; all the creatures in between is just practice. Deus Ex (the original) had an RPG-like system which rewarded the player skill points for completing objectives. All three basically having leveling objectives that don't include "killing X more creatures".

    As a side note, I don't feel having to run-around-and-level in RPGs is nearly as bad and distracting as having to collect resources and redo all research in every scenario of a RTS.
  • Re:Whiner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:09PM (#18030796) Journal
    More or less my sentiments.

    CRPGs have the leveling treadmill/grind, because people *like it*. I loved that shit from age 8 to 18. You're constantly rewarded, and it can give you a sense of accomplishment.

    Now, that game mechanic bores me. So I don't play those games anymore.

    I guess the real point to be made here is that there are really two subgenres of CRPGs:

    Those that focus on the leveling grind, and those that actually focus on "role playing". Some people like one, some like the other. That's pretty much all there is to it.
  • by ShawnMcCool42 ( 557138 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:12PM (#18030848)
    I'm a long time gamer and i've been known to get sucked into FF11 and then the far superior WoW.

    I had so much fun with WoW, but I ended up quitting and eventually feeling disdain towards the MMO genre as it currently exists.

    I honestly can't find a nugget of story or novelesque quality at all in either of the MMOs I've mentioned. On top of that, the entire game structure is set around rewarding you for spending your time playing. I find that beyond superficial familiarity of your abilities and being observant in-general there's no real skill to be had in these titles. I can't believe I worked so hard to get a stupid mount in WoW...

    In the time it took me to grow to level 45 with two seperate characters I could have beaten a number of games that had a MUCH higher engagement level than WoW. WoW is drawn out and slow, you have to play for an hour to complete a quest (you know what I'm talking about, don't nitpick me here). I've come to realize that I'd rather have a much more condensed gaming experience. I feel that for every 1 part of WoW i expended 3 parts time. Why bother when there's SO many great titles out with closer to 1:1 ratio?

    I don't really have anything at all against the people who play the games.. But, for me (at least personally) I find them to be an extremely inefficient use of time.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:12PM (#18030860) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure if you understand what he meant.

    If the fun is in a challenge, and the game turns out to be just a bunch of pizza errands, what is the point? If one wanted to do pizza errands, I'm sure Domino's is hiring. The amount of time it takes to level-up to be able to have a chance against the next boss is what turns me off of RPGs, MMOs and such.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:14PM (#18030908) Journal

    I am talking about the RPG effect were the end or even the mid-level game is just one long hack&slash. Offcourse you might have a different opinion, maybe the descende into one long slaughter session is what you call the exitiing bit and you are glad to have gotten that boring talkie stuff.

    Not even NWN2 succeeds here. Part of the problem is that the game gets too big. You go from a having a small party whose members are constantly in each others hair providing color, to a HUGE party who members you can barely get to know, whose interaction is extremely random because you have ZERO change of hitting the right combo of party members at the right moment/location.

    But an ever worse game was a RPG set in our own medeival times but were magic was real. It started out as a good RPG but soon became nothing more then one long dungeon crawl with zero Rpg elements.

    But back to bashing NWN2. If you have played it, you will have seen a loading screen message that tells you that you can interact with your party members enough to change them. What they don't say is that you can change ONE of them. The dwarf can become a monk. About half way through too and then that is it. Zero reaction from him.

    Whoopee. Then again, the entire game is not to fleshed out. Only one romance option per gender. No same sex romance. If only they hadn't gone for a every single class as a party member approach and concentraded on a smaller group they could have avoided all that.

    BUT I never really came across the need to 'grind' in a PC RPG. Yeah, in a way perhaps the whole bit in NWN2 were you got to do quest after quest to get access to the next area in your quest. Espcially since the "part of Neverwinter blocked of by the guards" bit is getting pretty old by now. Is that city ever not under lockdown?

    Yet that is part of the gameplay, sure it is not the best story telling to do all these quests when you feel you should be rushing to get inside but that is the way bad stories work. It is like that eternal sex scene in action movies were the leads suddenly get naked for no reason when they really should be trying to solve the case.

    As for ALWAYS playing a newbie. Well yeah, that can get old. Again NWN2 fails here a bit. Since you can create your own character you get the effect of being treated like a kid when your character is a 200 year old elf. Sure, they mature slower but still. Wel at least they were bright enough to make your forster father an elf as well.

    As for starting at level 1. Okay, just try to imagine a game where you start at level 20. Problem? Well, if it is D&D beyond that you start to come close to godhood. Monk's are near invulnerable. Fighters slice and dice through anything, magic users don't have a single spell available anymore that does NOT wipe out the entire party (by accident, I SWEAR!) and healers can pull people back from death before they were born.

    Sure a TRUE RPG could probably pull it off. In fact there is an other genre of games that already does. It is called an adventure. RPG without the combat. Because what does the combat mean if you are so fucking powerfull that nobody can stand against you. It would have to be an RPG with extreme story telling.

    I want one, but in todays world were not a single RPG designer can resist skipping corners by just adding a few extra levels of nothing but boring nasties you already defeated dozen of times, I am not holding my breath.

    Even the legendary Planescape Torment had them.

    But as for needing to grind up, he is playing the wrong games.

  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:17PM (#18030940) Homepage

    Most RPGs start you off unimaginatively at the absolute lowest level, so you get a sense of progression.
    Isn't that kind of the point though? Much of the fun of an RPG is the progression and the ability to choose how you progress. If you started off as a level 100 uber-arch-mage with a +50 staff of insta-death and just spent most of the game trampling on underlings and occasionally fighting a main enemy who puts up a fight it wouldn't really be appealing to what most people want from an RPG. Sure, it could be an OK game if done right, but it would lack much of what people want from an RPG. A lot of the fun comes from building up from nothing into a self-made super-powerful being of your design and improving your inventory as you go. While the start of the game might not have the fun of being able to put up a good fight you instead get a decent storyline (hopefully) that keeps things interesting and makes you want to keep going. That's why BG and games like it work - you might be a piss-ant at the start but you get a good story from beginning to end.
  • Re:Oblivion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:17PM (#18030946)
    Or enjoyed it a little less, as the case may be. What's the point of advancement if everything else advances at the exact same rate?
  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:17PM (#18030950) Homepage
    If you read a novel, you'll have to start at the beginning and read all the pages until the end. If you want to climb a mountain and brag about it, you're not going to take the lift.

    I think you're missing the point. He's not saying he wants to skip to the end, he's saying he's already read from the beginning. He's already climbed the mountain. He's already worked his way up from the mail room to middle management. He's saying, "let's move on."

    Now it's possible -- perhaps even likely -- that he's simply ahead of the curve. It could be that he's been playing longer, or gets bored more quickly, whereas most other people are just discovering RPGs and/or still on the way to the top of that mountain, if you will. The market won't move on until there are a substantial number of (potential) customers demanding something more.
  • by wuie ( 884711 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:20PM (#18030980)
    The concept of 'wasted time' is completely dependent on the person who is doing the activity. For some people, it's a fun and rewarding experience to start a character in a different world/time/setting and build that character up through experiences and quests. However, for some people, this is akin to pulling teeth: an agonizing trial that they believe separates them from the action at the endgame. In the latter category, I'd place the author.

    I'm one of those people that likes the build a character from scratch and have them grow as I see fit. For this reasons, CRPGs are perfect for me, and don't feel like a waste of time at all. The fact that the author complains about 90 minutes of doing a quest when he could have used that time for something more 'exciting', like watching a movie, tells me one thing: he should definately get his entertainment elsewhere. He wants spontaneous action, he doesn't want to build the character but have it handed to him on a silver platter. There's nothing wrong about that, since there are plenty of games that do this, but CRPGs are not one of them.

    It's not a matter of the CRPGs being at fault, it's just the author looking in the wrong place for his entertainment.
  • Re:Guild Wars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jezzerr ( 414452 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:20PM (#18030986)
    To an extent i agree, however once again this "grinding for points" isn't really vital to finish the game. Yes i agree that the sunspear points are useful because they allow you to gain an extra 30 attrib points but they are easy to get and getting them can be combined with most quests on the beginners island

    Lightbringer points, although handy with the extras you gain with them are not vital to fight the final areas or bosses if you have a group which knows what it's doing :)
  • by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:55PM (#18031488)
    Perhaps a majority of the problem is the ridiculously unrealistic gap between an experienced warrior and one with relatively less experience.

    I think the entire problem would resolve itself if the difference between a level 1 character's fighting ability and a level 90 character's fighting ability was significantly less.

    In an MMORPG environment, if 3 level 1 characters could gang up and take down someone who has reached the highest point you can reach, then I think the entire concept of the grind would take a back seat to interesting gameplay.

    PlanetSide is an MMOFPS that takes this concept and deals with it quite well. You can spend your points each level to gain the ability to use new weapons or vehicles, with some abilities having pre-requisite abilities. If you want, you can trade the abilities back for the points you used to earn them, but you can only 'sell' one ability every 6 hours. Once you're level 8 or so, you have access to pretty much everything the game has to offer, and further levels only serve to expand the number of things you can do at once -- essentially expanding your flexibility. But by no means is a level 20 character STRONGER than a level 8 character, they simply have more venues of attack.
  • by alisson ( 1040324 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:57PM (#18031524)
    That isn't why RPGS/MMOs waste our time. That's simply how they do it. So why do they?

    Because you love them, darnit >:(
  • Cross-marketing? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Doc Hoss ( 1062428 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:01PM (#18031586) Journal
    I think the big problem confronting developers these days is the financial benefits to cross-marketing a video game. Since development budgets have gotten larger, the demand by "the brass" to make more money off one particular game has increased as well. Same way that Hollywood works: if you drop a lot of money on a project, you want a strong return. The problem with this in the video game industry is that people expect a game to be a great performer in more than one category. People don't really want a roleplaying game anymore...they want a roleplaying/action/adventure game that has great puzzles and an amazing fighting system.

    In short, the problem is one of expectations, not of production. One poster here brings up Fallout, one of my favorite games of all time, and a perfect illustration of my point. The game is a straight-up roleplaying game. There is fighting, but the fighting system is a bit cumbersome. However, the system still gets the job done within the confines of the environment of this game. If someone plays this game expecting a fighting system that's fast-paced, exciting, and streamlined, they're in big trouble. By the same token, if I go to the next Jerry Bruckheimer movie expecting the next "American History X" or "Man on Fire" (2 of my favorites that happen to make commentaries on important social issues), I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Not neccessarily because it's a bad movie, but because my expectations were not met. I think it's the same with video games.

  • by Canthros ( 5769 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:03PM (#18031608)
    He's talking about CRPGs, not just the MMO sort. You may have noticed that he specifically bitched about FFXII?

    Incidentally, if you read to the end of the article, he pretty much cme to the conclusion you just noted: no more games that take more than 10-12 hours.

    Someone else already hit on the other thing you missed: it doesn't sound like he's upset about character levels, per se. He was aggravated about having to do piddly little bullshit for hours on end so he could move on to the bits of the game that mattered. It took this guy 47 hours to get through FFXII. Hell, it took me 120+ and I didn't do every quest or collect every Esper--or very many of either, actually. (I generally liked FFXII, but mostly because the grinding was less tedious than it had been for some time.)

    I guess the question he's trying to get at is this: why isn't the game made such that you gain whatever levels you need by the time you get to where you need them?
  • by krotkruton ( 967718 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:07PM (#18031666)
    I can see how a lot of people might not like that, but I think that is exactly why people who enjoy RPGs play them. That's why I play them at least. If I find a flash game online that lets me build levels and get stronger (remember Odell Down Under? where you're a fish that grows bigger?), I'll play for a couple hours. I enjoy that kind of thing. I think that they put franchise mode in sports games for people like me. We like the progression. I think the more important points of the article were the ones talking about the tedium of how to progress. His FFXII example was right on the mark. I played FFXII for 127 hours before I finally gave up trying to complete it and just beat it. I bet that the majority of that time was spent walking. A little bit of walking is fine, but when it takes 30 minutes to get somewhere (because it just takes that long to move, not because it's a challenge), that's pretty damn frustrating. I do agree with you about the "getting lost books" part, because it seems like so many quests in games, especially MMORPGs, are just "go here, kill this, pick up item, return".

    As for the "Most RPGs start you off unimaginatively at the absolute lowest level" statement, that's really not fair, and I don't think it's true. One reason, assuming that a game involves gaining levels, you have to start at some level. Regardless of what that level is, it's the absolute lowest level. I mean, you can't start at a higher level or else that would be the new absolute lowest level. Another reason looks at it from a different perspective in that if you take any game, its reasonable to say that the character could have started off weaker. By that I mean that given any first character with some starting abilities and statistics, you can always make those abilities weaker, even if you have to go into negative values, so you never start at the absolute lowest level. From those reasons, I think that either every game must start at the absolute lowest level, so the absolute lowest level is meaningless, or you can always start at a lower level, so there is no absolute lowest level.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:08PM (#18031686)
    I think the point is that the end game might be about puzzles or role playing or story or character interaction instead of hack and slash. "Progression" doesn't have to mean "better weapons and spells".
  • My pet peeve (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:21PM (#18031876) Homepage

    It isn't the grind. Sure, the grinding wastes time to turn five hours of content (much of which these days is cut-scenes) into 50 hours of game. My pet peeve is the forced grind caused by random encounters that come out of nowhere. Walk 30 seconds, fight five minutes, repeat. That gets really annoying when you're just wandering around trying to figure out where the hell you are.

    Now I admit that back in the old days ('80s) it was simply easier to write the code to work that way. Having random monsters show on the map might not even be feasible depending on the sprite limitations of the video hardware.

    But that was two decades ago, and you'd think that by now that the "walk 30 seconds, fight five minutes, repeat" paradigm would be as dead as a hobgoblin killed by a 60th level GrindMaster.

    And even some of the new metaphors aren't all that great. A friend of mine figured how to set up FFXII to quite literally play itself. He rigged up the auto-combat so that a particular battle would esentially last forever (with a monster that kept spawning minions), started the battle, then walked away. When he got back, he just had to interrupt the auto-combat and kill the main monster manually.

  • Wasting time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BIGmog ( 592353 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:21PM (#18031878) Homepage Journal
    The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)
  • by GamblerZG ( 866389 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:29PM (#18032004)

    The concept of 'wasted time' is completely dependent on the person who is doing the activity.

    This is a common relativist argument that can be (and frequently is) used to justify anything. You just make a claim that all concepts are subjective, and you're done. No logic necessary.

    I'm one of those people that likes the build a character from scratch and have them grow as I see fit.

    It's not about character development. The point is, games can be meaningful and thought-provoking, but they often are not. Instead, some game designers prefer to pad games with lots of repetitive and essentially meaningless actions. If you're killing endless enemies generated by the game system, that is a waste of your lifetime, regardless of whether you like it or not. It's a waste of time because you could skip all the killing, and nothing, absolutely nothing would change.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:38PM (#18032156)
    I play shooters, and have for a long time. netrek was my first online multiplayer internet game. I never got into the whole MUD thing, for the same reason I don't like RPGs today. The game isn't about skill, but rather how much shit you collect.

    I've played Doom, RTCW, Call of Duty, BF2, etc. The reason I like the shooter games is because you get better not because of the shit you've collected, but because of your skill moving the mouse and whacknig the keyboard, learning the map. Along with your ability to work together as a team, to predict what might happen and counter it, etc.

    So I can understand that point. When i switch from one shooter to another, it doesn't take me months to get good. I need to learn the interface, and maybe some new rules. But I already know how to work as a team, to communicate, and all that stuff. So I have a chance, to be competitive against the guy who has been playing for months in just a matter of weeks... I don't have to run around collecting shit to become a 49th level super ninja with dynamite punch.

    What is disappointing is that this difference has become lost on many of the shooter game makers. BF2 tried to make it so as you played you got access to more weapons. War Rock appears to be something similar. And so on. I guess they do this to try to drag you and keep you playing the game longer. But what it does is make the game more frustrating up front, and as such one is less likely to switch to playing the new game from something old.

    But because of this changing the game to a form of collecting shit... while you can take the skills to another game, you can't take the shit.

    It's essentially a form of vendor lock-in.

    And that's why they do it.
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:42PM (#18032196) Journal
    > it seems like so many quests in games, especially MMORPGs, are just "go here, kill this, pick up item, return".

    Beowulf: Kill the end-boss.

    The Iliad: Fetch Helen. Kill lots of Trojans first. Lots of long speech cutscenes.

    The Labors of Hercules: Lots and lots of fetch quests.

    The Ring Cycle: Fedex quest, total Lotr ripoff.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:46PM (#18032260) Journal

    Alright, they aren't really traditional RPGs, but I think I'll mention a few here. SPOILER WARNING if you care.

    First, Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This is actually the weakest example: You start out as a weakling, learn the controls, and gain skills and heart pieces and such. However, when you first draw the Master Sword, you're completely thrown off guard. Alright, Link is bigger and stronger, but he also has lost a few abilities. No more slingshot, no more boomerang, and no more hiding under the Hylian Shield like a turtle going into his shell.

    Not to mention, the new dungeons and new creatures are a LOT harder.

    So, there's progression, but about halfway through the game, you get thrown completely off balance. You're no longer the leveled-up badass, you're now probably the weakest you've been through the entire game. Eventually, you gain all those abilities back (and more), but for that period of time, you're stuck with an entirely different set of abilities than you're used to. So it's not even a set-back, it's like you're playing a different game.

    This isn't the only time they do something like this, by the way. Fight against the final boss, and he knocks away your Master Sword -- which is probably your default sword, and which easily deals the most damage to him. You have to fight an entire stage of him without that weapon.

    Next exhibit: Half-Life. Definitely NOT an RPG, but definitely has some things which could be emulated. Moving through the original game, you tend to amass an arsenal -- basically, if you're not conscious of your ammo usage, you end up with nothing, but if you give it even the slightest thought, you'll always be collecting more guns.

    However, at a certain point -- immediately after your first brush with the ninjas (which are probably the most difficult enemies you've had to deal with so far) -- you are captured. No way to avoid it, and this is the closest thing the game has to a cinematic, after which you are dumped unceremoniously into a trash compactor, without even your crowbar. And Gordon Freeman does not know kung-fu.

    Toward the end of the game, it changes again, with Xen. Either you love it or you hate it, but it's definitely different. The most obvious thing is the gravity -- most places in Xen have extremely low gravity, and you have a long jump, both of which have never happened before in the game. Technically, it makes you more powerful, but it's tricky as hell.

    And in Half-Life 2, the same kind of thing happens -- at the end of the game, you lose all weapons, but get a supercharged gravity gun. Progression, but variety.

    Final Fantasy X: Via Purifico, and others. More than once, your team is split up, and you have to play as only one or two of your characters, looking for the rest. You may have leveled that character into an uber-badass -- or maybe not. Often, certain abilities are completely removed -- for instance, at least two bosses (one of them recurring) can one-hit your Aeons (summons), rendering them mostly useless.

    (Of course, Final Fantasy X can also be seen as the antithesis of this -- depending on how you level up, the final bosses might be tough, but often, Omega Weapon is just too easy. My roommate one-hit him by accident, because before then, he'd "killed the same wolf 50 times to get stronger".)

    The list could go on and on, but I think there's one more of these that is really worth mentioning: Halo.

    The original. Halo 2 was cool, but really, you are an absolute badass in Halo already -- and this is one of the very rare games that actually bothers to have a backstory to support why you kick so much more ass than the marines backing you up. Halo 2 had bosses, but Halo really didn't.

    No, what Halo had was mostly the same damned enemies, but new situations. There is no final boss, and you're fighting the same creatures, nothing really new, gameplay-wise, but there IS a final scenario that is as challenging as any boss fight, and much more realistic when you think ab

  • by wcbarksdale ( 621327 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @07:54PM (#18032346)
    Ideally a story and progression would be expressed in some way other than just replacing your +2 sword with a +10 sword. If you look at the narrative structure of something like Lord of the Rings, the events at the beginning of the story seem minor by the climax, but they didn't seem minor at the time. I believe GP's complaint is that things at the beginning of the game seem trivial and stupid as you are doing them.
  • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:09PM (#18032522) Journal
    I think the problem started when time became a selling point. RPGs started advertising "50+ hours of gameplay", and short games were criticized for being a bad value. Total nonsense. The first Final Fantasy can be thoroughly beaten in less than 20 hours. That's a good amount of time. The Lunar games, which are arguably worth the extended time, take 30-40 hours. Grandia, which is a beast, basically takes 50 hours, however a lot of that extra time is spent in dungeons, specifically one massive optional dungeon.

    Not every game is good enough to justify 50 hours of my time. In fact, very few are, and I would prefer to choose whether to spend that time or not (for example, by getting Medusa swords and pink tails) for a game I happen to like. Long games have less replay value, not more.

    I regretfully stopped playing Final Fantasy games after FF8, which I couldn't be bothered to finish. The optional side quests in FF7-9 were mostly absurd and stupid affairs. I do not want to breed chocobos for a few hours just to get to some damn island and get a summon. Nor do I want to jump rope, or master some other idiotic game in every town just to get a unique item. It makes me think there should be an option to massacre those idiot NPCs and take their items, which is one of the features I like in Bethesda's games.

    The optional feature that seems to be most lacking is opportunities for simple exploration. In most games there were times where you could veer off and find neat things, or get to a later town and talk to people before events happen and maybe buy a more powerful weapon or piece of armor. Simple things that are interesting and take 5-20 minutes to do, and have a simple reward or even no reward that you won't miss if you forget or if you decide not to do it. Later games seemed to forget this mechanic, and for every optional thing there had to be some sort of unique item or benefit just to justify doing it. This made the games feel tedious, especially when you did not have the option to go back and get the items later.

    Finally, I think the jump to 3D hurt the genre. Hey you kids - get off my lawn! It took me a long time to realize why I prefer 2D games (except for FPS games, obviously). Two dimensional representations are inherently artistic. You have to draw something, and that takes skill. Having a computer animate a 3 dimensional model lowers the bar dramatically. It becomes harder to appreciate artistic skill, and making a more detailed model and adding lighting effects obscure the artwork, for better or for worse. I want to see art, not technical effects. It is interesting that the opposite happens with 2D graphics, higher resolution makes bad artwork all the more apparent.
  • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:22PM (#18032682) Journal
    /me is also 34 /me also prefers "pause action" RPG's /me understands the need for levelling.

    The main reason that I want to go through the levelling process is because I may not want to take Magic Missle as my first combat spell. Consider it self challenging. If you automatically get the best available weapon/spell each time, it's just as bad as if you started as uber-dude. Sure it can seem pointless to work up from peons, but ever game does it.

    In Half-Life (the original), wasn't your first wave pretty much head crabs? You start with single-pop enemies and work your way up to the harder ones. Same for weapons. They start you with the pistol. You don't get the BFG9000 until much later in the game.

    RPG's just tend to do it slower and throughout the entire game (once you get a rocket launcher, does it really get any harder). But you get Magic Missle. Then you level up and you get fireball. And you level up and get lightning. And you level up and get Finger of Death.


  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:31PM (#18032784) Journal
    It's a shame you posted AC, you are so very right. Part of the problem of progression being manifest in constant increases in power, is the rediculous difference between a noob and an experienced character. When damage and HP can be 100X you're starting stats, well that's just dumb.
  • by krotkruton ( 967718 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:33PM (#18032806)
    Good question. I totally understand your relation, and you probably realize the differences I'm about to state, but I'm gonna say them anyway.
    The Labors of Hercules: 12 labors, most of them pretty direct (as in, he goes and gets the object instead of needing a dozen things before he can get the object)
    Auto Assault: I couldn't find an exact number of quests, but I found one site that listed 120 quests. Of the 120, 111 were levels 1-9, 8 were 10-20, and one was 20+. From playing the game up to about level 25, I think that there were fewer quests as you gained levels, but not a big difference. I thinks it's a pretty safe bet to say that there are an average of 70 quests for every ten levels, and with 80 possible levels, that's 5600 quests. Considering that there are general as well as class and race specific quests, we'd have to cut that number way down, but I think there are at least a few hundred for any one character type. I don't think I fought more than 2 bosses to get to level 25 in all of the quests because 99% were go here, kill this, bring back item quests. At least Herc got to kill some fun at the end of each of his quests.

    But seriously, the problem isn't that you are travelling somewhere to kill a monster that has an important item that is needed by a group of people or for you to do something else, the problem is that it is soooo much more unimaginative and repetitive than that. Let's look at Shadow of the Colossus as an example. The game can be summed up as "go here, kill this, return, repeat", but those actions are so much more involved. First you have to travel through a beautiful world to find the monster, then you have to figure out how to kill (usually involved solving a puzzle of how to climb the monster), then you get warped back to the start and find another monster. Contrast that with Auto Assault where the only real difference between the quests is the location of the monster, the name and shape of the monster, and the name of the person you talk to afterwards. However, after a few quests, all of those things just repeat so you aren't ever doing anything new. I'm not sure if that's still really clear on what I mean by "go here, kill this, return, repeat", but assume that I'm saying it in a monotonous, robotic tone, and that should get the idea across.
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:55PM (#18033110) Homepage Journal
    "Blame DnD for that"
    I blame people who poorley implement RPGs. PnP DnD is different. Even so, most people I know did away with whatever they considered cruft.

    I new SWG was going to suck because it was built by the same people who think killing a rat for experience, and level work well for all systems.

    What he wants is to start off as an Epic hero, and do epic non -grind events right at the begining. There is nothing wrong with that, and that is exactly how SWG should have been.

    Using Star Wars as an example, I should ahve been able to say "hmm I want to play a Jedi" and imediatly started off as someone just finishing there Jedi training and could take 4 blaster toating Stormtrooper right away. OR be the Smugler and start with contacts and a ship. and so on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:30PM (#18033446)
    Baldur's Gate and NWN (II anyway, I was not as good) are both excellent games; I would also recommend Temple of Elemental Evil, but it's not quite as good.

    I know exactly what you mean about the divergence of RPGs - there seem to be at least two strains; one is action and the other more strategic. I happen to prefer the strategic variety for a number of reasons: I like becoming attached to likeable characters and feeling real hate for the vile ones. I like the sense of teamwork and accomplishment from fighting tough battles where I have to use my character's unique skills after spending hours earning them. I like the sense that I'm both playing a game and reading a good fantasy novel at the same time. I also enjoy existing in a world where people speak intelligently instead of saying things like "lol, noob, I'm so high right now"...and that doesn't cost me $15/month.

    Admittedly, that's not for everyone; some people, including lots of my friends, prefer the more hack-and-slash RPGs; they prefer faster action, easier learning curves, and the simple back-story. Different tastes.

    Unfortunately, it seems that game companies seem to prefer to develop the second kind of RPG. They take less time, require only fancy graphics engines, and appeal to a wider audience (assumption, not a hard fact).

    I would absolutely love to find an RPG that had graphics worth looking at, a compelling story, three-dimensional personae, a party (that is, multiple characters), and a sense of accomplishment. Bonus points if it implements a balanced rules system (developers who may be reading this: just pay Wizards of the Coast the money to license the DnD engine, it's better than whatever you're going to make and they've already tested it).

    The article linked seems to be mostly derogatory and inflammatory. A cursory read-over gives me the sense that the writer isn't so much frustrated with playing RPGs as he is with the genre. He complains that where you start out as a nobody in (most) RPGs, you start as a hero right away in action games; he notes that you spend a good deal of time doing simple, non-heroic tasks in order to improve your abilities.

    This last point is true, but can be avoided. For example, in Baldur's Gate, your (main) character is unique and special (offspring of the deceased god of murder). From your very first experience point, you're the center of a virtual maelstrom of events and intrigue. In contrast, in the multiplayer-oriented games, you're not special or unique. You're just another first-level character who's essentially a nobody in the game. This works really well for balance, but only exacerbates that issue of being a "first-level nobody".

    I would propose that perhaps, instead of attacking RPGs, find a game type he enjoys. I would imagine Counterstrike would fit the bill nicely. Personally, I don't like sports or racing games very much, so I don't play them. It's not really that hard a concept, so I'm having trouble figuring out at which point this went over the head of an adult human being.

  • by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:52PM (#18033660) Homepage Journal
    I'll agree with you on one thing, I understand your frustration of a 12 hour story being told in 40, with tedious crap thrown in the mix. Now, personally, I love watching ongoing TV series, or lots of anime series that may take 20 hours to go through (I won't watch them one a week though... which is why I download 10 episodes of LOST or whatever anime strikes my fancy), because I really like the epic structure of an ongoing plot that subtlely changes and progresses over time. But what I want is some variety in my experience. I usually detest short games because they don't have the time to develop any unique character of their own, so if I end up playing five 10-hour games, have I really had more variety than a 50 hour repetative RPG? No, most likely not. What I want is PROGRESSION, and I don't just mean, "congradulations Billy, now your level 34!" because one number displayed on a menu screen is not going to keep my interest.

    I'm a little weary of your "rewarding for work" example, because, essentially, even though I love the story part of the experience, I want more than just a story. The bottom line is that if the gameplay is simply an excuse to further the plot, then why have it at all? Xenogears and Xenosaga would have made a great animated series, but to be honest, they were terrible games because the gameplay was nothing more than an excuse to further the story. I'd like a game to be well-rounded, with an interesting and ever-changing story as well as interesting and ever-changing gameplay. I mean, isn't that WHY we play RPGs instead of simply watching TV shows or reading books? The more personally involved with the gameplay you become, the more immersed you become in the story as well... so RPGs have the potential to be an increadibly powerful form of storytelling.

    But this is precisely the reason that I DON'T like Tactical RPGs... the gameplay might be great, and the story might be great, but the manner of progression doesn't immerse me in the experience. While being "open ended", I have no interaction with the world except in the form of fight sequences. Give me the opportunity to actually explore the world on my own, talk with people, but give me a great story that I can follow as well. Many people see Tactical RPGs as incredibly "free", but I find them incredibly stifling and uncontrollable, because my options consist of clicking on a new battle site or town and going straight into orthodox gameplay.

    RPGs are about a balance of gameplay, story, and interactivity. The most effective games are able to marry the three, or at least switch back and forth between them seemlessly. I think Metroid Prime is quite possibly one of the best examples (even though some wouldn't consider it an RPG... it follows the same basic philosophy), in which the gameplay and story are perfectly married: you learn that the Metroids have been held captive by the Pirates in a sub-zero base because you go there yourself and are attacked by them. Halo/Marathon do this a bit too, so do Zelda. Turn based RPGs may not be able to perfectly marry gameplay and plot, but some do a great job at interspersing the two.

    The bottom line is, if I'm playing an RPG, then I've obviously not come simply for the gameplay or I'd play a puzzle game or FPS in which that was the ONLY thing that happened, and I haven't come just for the story, because if I wanted that, I'd watch a movie or read a book. I've come because I want to experience the interactive marriage of these two aspects.

    The larger issue, though, is that RPGs are still very unsophisticated and simplistic in their basic ideas. It is a relatively new art form, so I'll cut it some slack, but I think we could be getting more diversity than we have been. Video games, in general, are still in their infancy. 30 years from now, I can't wait to see what happens. The 1950s were amazing for film, so were the 70s. When we reach the stage of video game eras comperable to the film Noir or italian art film, we're going to have one hell of a powerful medium in which to view. And bet your life, it will happen.
  • by scgops ( 598104 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @11:01PM (#18034194)

    I spent lots of time playing DnD in the 80's. Most of the time, we continued on with existing mid- or high-level characters. On the rare occurrence we wanted to start off new, we still started in the level 7 to 11 range. No one wanted to play a total noob and get killed when a weak enemy made one good roll.

    Besides, whoever was being Dungeon Master knew they couldn't get away with killing off a bunch of player characters quickly, no matter what the dice said, or they would quickly find themselves very much alone.

    DnD isn't responsible for gaming systems that require people to start from scratch and grind through low levels. Unimaginative people who never had friends to play with are the ones to blame for such things.
  • Zelda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeadboltX ( 751907 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @02:51AM (#18035602)
    Zelda is a good example about how an RPG should be, especially the most recent one "Twilight Princess"

    In Zelda you don't have any "experience" nor "levels" to gain.
    There are no strength, dexterity, or wisdom attributes for which you can boost with equipment.
    You don't have to loot corpses for marginal equipment upgrades and you don't have time-sink kill quests to kill the same monsters over and over and over again.
    You don't have 10 slots for armor and magical jewelery and it doesn't take 2 minutes to kill a group of monsters.

    You do start out weak in Zelda but it has the same kind of progression as a first person shooter, weapons. You get new weapons and as soon as you do, *gasp*, you can use them! In traditional RPGs you pick up a sword and then you have to "learn" how to use it, slowly raising your skill; or you find weapons that you can't even use for one reason or another.

    The "fun" of traditional RPGs is had by way of achievements. You look at how far you have come and how much gear and attribute points you have to show for it.

    The fun of Zelda is figuring out the puzzles.
  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredshom[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Friday February 16, 2007 @04:49AM (#18036050) Homepage

    Blame DnD for that. They're trying to compress into a single gameplay experience what DnD players may see across several campaigns. They follow the pattern of creating a character and pushing through the early levels so that the character has a more "natural" development.
    Not only do I fail to see what D&D has to do with it, but back when I still managed to sync my free time with others to play it, I DM-ed an awful lot of games and the consensus was that low-level players were much more fun to play than the high level ones because the adventures were much more creative. This probably is more difficult to translate to a computer game though since gadgets are much more easier to insert than an interesting story.

    As for MMORPG, I looked at one once and gave up after an hour. Running after critters to build experience for days at an end seemed completely mind numbing to me. I tried Diablo (or Diablo 2 maybe) too but it never worked for me either (run around trying to find creature, kill, repeat). OTOH Dark Messiah of Might and Magic does work as an adventure game (or would if the game wasn't so incredibly buggy that is) because it's actually immersive. It's actually an adventure.

    Of course it's largely a matter of personal taste (just look at the enormous success of the Diablo line or of a lot of MMORPGs).
  • Besides, whoever was being Dungeon Master knew they couldn't get away with killing off a bunch of player characters quickly, no matter what the dice said, or they would quickly find themselves very much alone.
    Every DM knows that the dice are only there to make noises. You pick numbers that make the game interesting, not numbers that are random. That's why there's a DM. Otherwise you might as well pick one of those multiple choice books.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @08:36AM (#18037008) Journal
    Nah, D&D isn't the culprit. Look, it's not about starting with a nuke spell and a vorpal sword, it's about starting doing boring, stupid, mundane, unimporting things like catching flies for your sister's collection or returning books to the library. There's nothing in D&D to enforce that. You could start a level 1 with a kitchen knife in D&D and still be right in the middle of something extremely important, if your GM had imagination.

    The real culprit is the thrice-accursed Monomyth [] a.k.a. The Hero's Journey [] script that we got in video games via Hollywood. (Yes, if you thought 90% of what Hollywood produces is the exact same script with different props and details, you'd be right: it _is_ the same rehashed script.)

    That script requires certain steps. You must start with an everyman character (Joe Average, basically) doing mundane things, that the viewer can empathise with. You don't even give him his goal until the middle of the story. Etc.

    Now that by itself gets boring when I have seen the exact same script 100 times before in a movie, or in a game. But in a game the problems are just starting:

    1. Who's doing it? In a movie I'm leaning back and just watching the hero do those mundane things for a while, and that's ok. In a game I'm required to actually do them. It's a bigger turn off. Sorry, that's not what I bought a game for. If I wanted to experience my barbarian's life as a peasant before the big life-changing events, I'd go back to playing Harvest Moon.

    Now I'm not saying there should be only combat, far from it, but spare me the meaningless "see, as you start as an average joe" chores. Make it important. If it's just the "you started as a peasant" intro, then make it the FMV intro to the game and let me at the controls when I have something finally important to achieve. I'm not saying it should be the final goal from the start either. Just _something_ important.

    FF7 for example got this right: you start as a mercenary in the middle of a mission to blow up a power plant. It's not the final goal, so it doesnt spoil story progression. But it's not boring, mundane and uninteresting either. You're someone, you're (supposedly) the trained professional these guys hired, and you're doing something fitting your (supposed) qualification and worth your fee. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

    2. Time involved? In a 90 minute movie, the mundane intro parts are maybe 15 minutes. In an 18 hour game that would proportionally be 3 hours. Thankfully nowadays most game designers do drastically shorten it too, but there _are_ clueless attempts at applying the monomyth to the letter. Even if it means 3 hours worth of running around returning library books and lost puppies. Frankly, if 15 minutes are enough to introduce the characters in a movie, they're enough in a game too. There's no need to scale everything equally.

    3. Does it even serve the same purpose? A movie is watched mostly in one go. A game isn't. Even _if_ that intro part served some purpose in a movie, for the transition between mundane and the movie world, that is lost in a game as soon as I save now and reload the next day. The next day I start directly in the middle of it without any such transition.

    And frankly, by now we have plenty of evidence that it actually works perfectly without such transitions. There is no massive problem suspending disbelief when you reload directly in the middle of the plot. So why do we need it in the beginning anyway?

    4. Scaling and time again. The monomyth taken literally is ok for a 3 hour story, but not for a 30 hour game. Building up linearly to the climax in 20 hours and coming down in 10 is boring. Even novels use multiple interwoven plots to keep it interesting over long periods of time.

    There was this unsavoury comparing a good video game plot to multiple female orgasms, with plateaus and peaks all over the plac
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:10AM (#18037214) Journal
    Well, see, the funny thing is that _the_ most successful MMORPG (it has RPG in the name at least) is exactly what you describe as "non-fun". And funnily it has over 90% of the MMO market. So most people actually find that fun, eh?

    The thing is, in WoW, you may be level 1, but you start massively "uber" compared to similar level enemies. The wolves and kobolds in Northshire do 1 hp per attack, ffs. Not 1d6 or anything. Just 1 to 1. You have massive hp for your level, you hit several _times_ harder than any enemy, your hp regens right back in no time (which is why so few people appreciate a Paladin or Priest early), travel times are short, your equipment is perfectly adequate without any grinding or farming, etc. The only way to die even if you wanted to is to herd a small army of enemies or jump off Teldrassil if you're an elf. _Totally_ uber.

    You'll even get your first non-soloable boss at all at level 10 or so. (Hogger, if you're a human, different ones for the others.) Until then, you're _the_ uber-soldier that can mow down NPCs left and right with impunity.

    You're in some ways more uber than you'll be at level 70. You'll need damn good equipment to be uber at level 70, while at level 1 you're uber even naked. In some ways your whole progression through WoW is struggling to hold onto that level 1 god-like power as the enemies grow faster than your base stats do. You even end up letting go of some of that power in some domains, to better hang on to it in other domains. (The choice of talent trees, for example.)

    Guess what? It's fun if done right.

    Look, level and equipment progressions are good and motivating, but there's no reason to be dumb about it. Which is what a lot of game designers are.

    Yes, you grow up in levels/spells/equipment, but so do the enemies. _That_ is the motivator in gaining levels. But against equal level enemies you can do well from day 1 and it _will_ be fun. Starting level 1 does _not_ mean you have to start an unsurvivable peasant against level 1 enemies. It just means you won't kill any level 20s for now, but against level 1 enemies you can still be as powerful as you want to.

    I'm not saying I should start level 100 with a nuke. But my level 1 mage should still be perfectly able to kill a level 1 rat or kobold or whatever your game is all about. My level 1 modern soldier should be able to draw that pistol or M-16 he's been trained to use, and actually shoot a level 1 enemy. My level 1 padawan in a SW setting should be perfectly able to kill a level 1 Greedo, if he picks on me instead of Han. Etc. There is simply no bloody reason why, at _any_ point in the game, I shouldn't be able to put up a good fight against an _equal_ level enemy.

    It also doesn't mean you have to start doing boring mundane stuff like rescuing kittens from trees and picking apples in the garden.
  • by Fatal Darkness ( 18549 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:56PM (#18040926)

    The thing is, in WoW, you may be level 1, but you start massively "uber" compared to similar level enemies. The wolves and kobolds in Northshire do 1 hp per attack, ffs. Not 1d6 or anything. Just 1 to 1. You have massive hp for your level, you hit several _times_ harder than any enemy, your hp regens right back in no time (which is why so few people appreciate a Paladin or Priest early), travel times are short, your equipment is perfectly adequate without any grinding or farming, etc. The only way to die even if you wanted to is to herd a small army of enemies or jump off Teldrassil if you're an elf. _Totally_ uber.
    Can we say WoW fanboy?

    All of this applies to only the first 20 levels of the game -- which just happens to be the level cap for trial accounts.

    After level 20 the game becomes a tedious grind to reach level cap. There is nothing worthwile to do prior to level cap because anything you work hard for is going to be obsoleted in a couple of levels. It's just a long boring grind of "go kill 8 orcs," "ok now go kill 10 tigers..." Rinse. Repeat.

    Once you reach level cap, there's nothing for the casual player to do. At this point you not only have to commit a tremendous amount of time to accomplish anything worthwhile, but you also have to find 20 - 40 friends to do it with you.

    If you are lucky enough to get into a raid it can take hours. God forbid you have to take a piss in the middle of it. When it's all said and done you're still going to walk out empty handed 90% of the time, as only a few good items ever drop and you may potentially be rolling against the entire raid for them. So you dedicate hours getting people together and hours in the dungeon just so you can play a lottery?

    As someone who has a full time career, takes night classes and has other responsibilities I had to give up playing at level 60 because I felt stuck. There was nothing I could do as I only had a few hours to play each week and you practically have to set aside half a day or longer, several nights a week, to accomplish anything. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but my time is valuable to me and I can think of better ways of spending it.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb