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Coices, and The Illusion of Choices.

AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

Extra Credits, a YouTube channel I subscribe to, just put out a 3 part series on this topic. The latest one, out today, covers Negative Possibility Space which seems to be lacking in so many games today. Take a peek (5:32 minutes long) and let your thoughts be seen :)

- Al

Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
- FARGIN_WAR

Comments

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    How about an example?

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • Neo_ViperNeo_Viper NotyourbusinessPosts: 598Member

    I'm only going to make a short post, up to you to decide if it's relevant to the topic at hand or not.

    Choice in MMORPGs (as well as many other games) belongs to the relaxed/casual player. The hardcore, elite, min-maxers don't have any choice, they have only one way, the optimal built for their character's unique role.

    People who complain about the lack of choices in MMORPG are often doing it to themself.

    My computer is better than yours.

  • HolophonistHolophonist Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 2,086Member Uncommon

    Choice really doesn't have much to do with whether or not you're a hardcore player or a casual player. It just seems like it is in the current atmosphere of games because the end goal is pretty much always the same so the choices in how to get there don't really matter. However in a broader game with more things to do, more long-term professions and goals like UO or other sandboxes then there are a lot of choices. In UO you could be a PK, a crafter, an "adventurer" (read: pve), you could even be a treasure hunter, or a thief. Each of those roles could be assumed by either hardcore or casual players.

     

    However I don't really think that's on topic. The video seems to be focusing on rewarding players for their actions....? To be honest I don't really get the significance of what he's saying other than to name this somewhat common phenomenon: negative possibility space. Also, I think he's wrong. People won't be satisfied with just a subtle nod to their achievements. If you climb a giant mountain and find a treasure chest up there and inside the treasure chest is a relatively crappy sword, you're not going to be happy with it, contrary to what he's claiming.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Neo_Viper

    I'm only going to make a short post, up to you to decide if it's relevant to the topic at hand or not.

    Choice in MMORPGs (as well as many other games) belongs to the relaxed/casual player. The hardcore, elite, min-maxers don't have any choice, they have only one way, the optimal built for their character's unique role.

    People who complain about the lack of choices in MMORPG are often doing it to themself.

    But how can I stop seeing the most optimal way of doing things?

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • Neo_ViperNeo_Viper NotyourbusinessPosts: 598Member
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by Neo_Viper

    I'm only going to make a short post, up to you to decide if it's relevant to the topic at hand or not.

    Choice in MMORPGs (as well as many other games) belongs to the relaxed/casual player. The hardcore, elite, min-maxers don't have any choice, they have only one way, the optimal built for their character's unique role.

    People who complain about the lack of choices in MMORPG are often doing it to themself.

    But how can I stop seeing the most optimal way of doing things?

    There are other things to do in a MMORPG than just doing the highest DPS.

    My computer is better than yours.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Holophonist

    Choice really doesn't have much to do with whether or not you're a hardcore player or a casual player. It just seems like it is in the current atmosphere of games because the end goal is pretty much always the same so the choices in how to get there don't really matter. However in a broader game with more things to do, more long-term professions and goals like UO or other sandboxes then there are a lot of choices. In UO you could be a PK, a crafter, an "adventurer" (read: pve), you could even be a treasure hunter, or a thief. Each of those roles could be assumed by either hardcore or casual players.

    You can always boil things down to something. Like in Eve: ISK/hour. How much ISK per hour you get. Or ISK/hour in relation to effort.

    All games have some form of currency, and currency gives you options. It is a safe bet to optimize your inflow of that currency in every game you play. It doesn't really matter how you do it. If treasure hunters get twice as more as thieves, people will roll treasure hunters.

    However I don't really think that's on topic. The video seems to be focusing on rewarding players for their actions....? To be honest I don't really get the significance of what he's saying other than to name this somewhat common phenomenon: negative possibility space. Also, I think he's wrong. People won't be satisfied with just a subtle nod to their achievements. If you climb a giant mountain and find a treasure chest up there and inside the treasure chest is a relatively crappy sword, you're not going to be happy with it, contrary to what he's claiming.

    No, he is most definitely right. Even a slight acknowledgement is huge compared to getting nothing. The whole ending of Fallout 1 & 2 is basically just a log of what you did in the game. And people absolutely loved it.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Neo_Viper
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by Neo_Viper

    I'm only going to make a short post, up to you to decide if it's relevant to the topic at hand or not.

    Choice in MMORPGs (as well as many other games) belongs to the relaxed/casual player. The hardcore, elite, min-maxers don't have any choice, they have only one way, the optimal built for their character's unique role.

    People who complain about the lack of choices in MMORPG are often doing it to themself.

    But how can I stop seeing the most optimal way of doing things?

    There are other things to do in a MMORPG than just doing the highest DPS.

    Of course.

    There's the best way to make money, best way to make money fast, best way to make money with the least amount of effort, best build to complete an encounter/quest/dungeon, the build with the highest win rate in PvP...

    Yeah there are many things you can optimize.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • HolophonistHolophonist Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 2,086Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by Holophonist

    Choice really doesn't have much to do with whether or not you're a hardcore player or a casual player. It just seems like it is in the current atmosphere of games because the end goal is pretty much always the same so the choices in how to get there don't really matter. However in a broader game with more things to do, more long-term professions and goals like UO or other sandboxes then there are a lot of choices. In UO you could be a PK, a crafter, an "adventurer" (read: pve), you could even be a treasure hunter, or a thief. Each of those roles could be assumed by either hardcore or casual players.

    You can always boil things down to something. Like in Eve: ISK/hour. How much ISK per hour you get. Or ISK/hour in relation to effort.

    All games have some form of currency, and currency gives you options. It is a safe bet to optimize your inflow of that currency in every game you play. It doesn't really matter how you do it. If treasure hunters get twice as more as thieves, people will roll treasure hunters.

    Yes, you can boil things down to the most efficient way of achieving something. What I'm saying is there doesn't have to be only one thing to achieve. Making a tamer/bard was probably the most profitable profession in UO when I played, but that's not going to necessarily help you if your goal is to make the most famous vendor or rune library. 

    However I don't really think that's on topic. The video seems to be focusing on rewarding players for their actions....? To be honest I don't really get the significance of what he's saying other than to name this somewhat common phenomenon: negative possibility space. Also, I think he's wrong. People won't be satisfied with just a subtle nod to their achievements. If you climb a giant mountain and find a treasure chest up there and inside the treasure chest is a relatively crappy sword, you're not going to be happy with it, contrary to what he's claiming.

    No, he is most definitely right. Even a slight acknowledgement is huge compared to getting nothing. The whole ending of Fallout 1 & 2 is basically just a log of what you did in the game. And people absolutely loved it.

    Huge compared to getting nothing but it's not going to satisfy a lot of people. Example: diving to the bottom of a lake under a waterfall in skyrim and finding an ancient looking chest! What do you find inside? a pile of salt and a leather jerkin or whatever. 

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    It was my impression that MMOs tend to be full of easter egg rewards, it's just that they are such sprawling creations that it's impossible to anticpate and reward every quirky notion, so in an MMO, it feels like stumbling across a needle in a haystack rather than an accomplishment.

  • HalandirHalandir nnPosts: 758Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by Neo_Viper

    ...

    But how can I stop seeing the most optimal way of doing things?

     

    Get married!

     

    We dont need casuals in our games!!! Errm... Well we DO need casuals to fund and populate our games - But the games should be all about "hardcore" because: We dont need casuals in our games!!!
    (repeat ad infinitum)

  • FoomerangFoomerang Portland, ORPosts: 5,565Member Uncommon

    none of this would be a problem if we were all socialists ;)

  • TheRealBanangoTheRealBanango Fairfax, VAPosts: 75Member

    I didn't watch the video yet (still at work) but I would like to comment on what people have said in the forum so far.

    Firstly, Choice is only important when there is a goal to be reached. Like Neo_Viper states (and i think Quirhid is on this side), hardcore players do not have a choice in how to reach the goal, because they want to optimize they're gameplay. I think this is very limiting in the enjoyment of a game, and the opposite of what developers should be worried about. Choice is not the problem, its the developers establishing the importance of goals in a game....examples: reach this level, get this gear, kill this boss, etc. So for me, I would eliminate the hierarchy of what you should achieve in a game, you do this by eliminating the concept of end-game. By doing so, players are able to decide on how to play the game themselves, and what goals they want to achieve be it crafting, exploring, making the most money, being the best warrior, etc. I understand there still will be hard core players trying to find the best way to do anything in the game, but by displacing the importance on these things, choice becomes an unnecessary thing to implement as a developer because the choice is handed to the player, and the player fits it to his play style, also more  enjoyment can be squeezed out of the game for more players, a good thing imo. (pretty much what holophonist is getting at)

     

    On rewarding players. Rewards are necessary, but shouldn't be limited to what a developer puts in a chest. There has to be more creative ways to reward a player, iike the fall out logs mentioned. There has to be things that every play style can benefit from, like permanent skill increase (datacrons in swtor), experience points, or even cosmetic changes. I will comment later when I watch the video.

    image
  • HelleriHelleri Felton, CAPosts: 927Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    How about an example?

    Though this is not an MMORPG, it is likely the single best example in gaming that could be given at the moment. That being of choice made meaningless and shallow design used to mask lack of depth. Depth being given to in this context as ability to have a different experience from someone else playing through the same content. It is Ultra-Linearism If I may coin a phrase to describe it. I would say the game under review is an extreem example. But, I think the deep seeded fear amongst any player of MMORPG's is that this might be where the genre is headed on the whole....A movie you prompt to continue playing.

     

    [And, I know at this pint having posted a few of this youtube users videos it might seem like I am plugging. But, it's one of the ones on my sub list and this seems highly pertinent]

     

     

    image

  • telldonnytelldonny New York, NYPosts: 7Member

    Since the problem here is the need to search for the most optimal route, and as mentioned earlier - the goals developers have decided on - then one way of doing that would be to change your method.

     

    Achievement is a big part of feeling accomplished - instead of looking at the most optimal route (which hardcore players consider a lack of choice) then look to other methods and challenges. Hard to think up an example, but, think of other methods of handicap? For greater achievement. Like some people who play Pokemon - only one Pokemon throughout the game, or catch the first six Pokemon and use them until endgame without getting more, etc.

     

    The goal is still the same get to the end of the game/finish the league) but the method used there is different (handicapping yourself, or doing something different.) Actually reaching your goal even outside of the optimum route is exciting in itself, because you have the choice of doing something differently. 

  • NovusodNovusod Lakewood, NJPosts: 892Member Uncommon
    These types of choices are extremely important in building a living breathing world. The whole idea of MMORPG is based fulfilling "negative space." Everyone wants to find a little cave, a door, a hidden area when exploring. If they didn't why bother exploring at all. I prefer to call these things Easter Eggs. Even instances should have Easter eggs. This is what really makes world design fun. MMORPGs are more then just stats, min-maxing, and power gaming. Exploration is a huge part of the game world. EQ1 and Vanilla EQ2 were full of little hidden Easter Eggs.
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by Quirhid
    How about an example?
    Really? You can not think of any?

    1) GW2: No matter what you choose for your starting background, you end with the same 3 choices at level 30 (Vigil, Whisperers, and Priory) with your first choice having no bearing on the these. No matter which path you choose, you face Zhaitan in Orr with your previous two choices having no bearing on this.

    2) World of Warcraft: They used to have chests scattered about Azeroth in out of the way places. Nothing major in them, maybe a few copper or silver. These are now gone from the game.

    3) In general: How many MMOs show you a nice vista with no way to get to it?

    Expectations. MMOs and games have a habit of setting up expectations for players and not delivering. If a player has no expectations, they will never be disappointed. Ever play a game (not necessarily an MMO) that had an empty cave?


    Originally posted by Quirhid

    Originally posted by Neo_Viper
    I'm only going to make a short post, up to you to decide if it's relevant to the topic at hand or not.Choice in MMORPGs (as well as many other games) belongs to the relaxed/casual player. The hardcore, elite, min-maxers don't have any choice, they have only one way, the optimal built for their character's unique role.People who complain about the lack of choices in MMORPG are often doing it to themself.
    But how can I stop seeing the most optimal way of doing things?
    Try role playing your character concept, not the game. It is a different style of gameplay and may not be your bag, but I find it quite fun :)

    I have played many games where I have a character concept. I will not use a better weapon if it does not fit with my concept of the character. I will not use better armor if it doesn't "look right" for my character concept. Otherwise, I am just playing a pretty numbers game. That is not very fun for me. It poses no challenge. 10 is always better than 4. There is no thought process going on.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by Helleri

    Originally posted by Quirhid
    How about an example?
    Though this is not an MMORPG, it is likely the single best example in gaming that could be given at the moment. That being of choice made meaningless and shallow design used to mask lack of depth. Depth being given to in this context as ability to have a different experience from someone else playing through the same content. It is Ultra-Linearism If I may coin a phrase to describe it. I would say the game under review is an extreem example. But, I think the deep seeded fear amongst any player of MMORPG's is that this might be where the genre is headed on the whole....A movie you prompt to continue playing.[And, I know at this pint having posted a few of this youtube users videos it might seem like I am plugging. But, it's one of the ones on my sub list and this seems highly pertinent]
    Great example! Thanks :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • HelleriHelleri Felton, CAPosts: 927Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

     


    Originally posted by Helleri

    Originally posted by Quirhid
    How about an example?

    Though this is not an MMORPG, it is likely the single best example in gaming that could be given at the moment. That being of choice made meaningless and shallow design used to mask lack of depth. Depth being given to in this context as ability to have a different experience from someone else playing through the same content. It is Ultra-Linearism If I may coin a phrase to describe it. I would say the game under review is an extreem example. But, I think the deep seeded fear amongst any player of MMORPG's is that this might be where the genre is headed on the whole....A movie you prompt to continue playing.

     

    [And, I know at this pint having posted a few of this youtube users videos it might seem like I am plugging. But, it's one of the ones on my sub list and this seems highly pertinent]


    Great example! Thanks :)

     

    As far as an MMORPG goes I can think of one good example of a game that has the illusion of choice at a cursory glance but within it lies really no options. That would be Aika Online. This MMORPG was popular for a while and I think it was the lack of choice (not even that choices don't matter but that having a choice at all in the game is mere illusion) that really caused it's downfall. As far as I know it is still technically running. But, it has been banished to a small corner of the internet. Populated by players who can't justify walking away from it given the time and money they have sunk into it.

     

    Btw I also watched season 1 of the extra credits channel you linked. And I mostly like what they have had to say, so I subscribed. Thanks for referring to them , it's a good channel.

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