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How to judge the difficulty of a MMORPG

Hi everyone,

still on my masterthesis (Value of user communities for MMORPG) and trying to find a way  measure the difficulty or challenge of a MMPORG.

So why is game A(WoW) more or less difficult than game B (EQ2).

Is it complexity of the game? The learning curve? The amount of time to get to endgame? Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM?

Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty?

 

Thanks again for your feedback.

Comments

  • Zayne3145Zayne3145 Member Posts: 1,448

    Hmm interesting.

    I'd say it's hard to gauge difficulty in a MMORPG as there are so many different factors that come into play.

    I believe age to be irrelevant to a certain degree. How hard or easy someone finds a game would come down to a combinaton of experience, intuition and intellect. Anyone with experience in a MMO will tell you that these last two attributes are not dependant on age.

    The overall design of a game can play a huge part in how difficult it is percieved to be. I'd say a game like WoW has a very accessible design and intuitive interface, whereas a game like EVE is considerably more daunting and has a much steeper learning curve simply because the general complexity of the game is much greater.

    image

  • Larry2298Larry2298 Member Posts: 865

    Any F2P are difficult.

     

     

     

  • SamuraiswordSamuraisword Member Posts: 2,111

    Supposedly free to play games are the easiest because you just buy your way. Flat subscription based games where everything is earned in-game thru expended effort are always more difficult.

    OP, basically all of the above that you mentioned. The expected age influences what the developer offers in terms of difficulty but it is a fact that the average online gamer is much older. Even in a game like Wizard 101 which is marketed and designed towards kids, I bet the average age of everyone playing is adult range.

    The criteria I use to determine wether a game is difficult aka challenging, which is what I desire, are the following:

    significant death penalty, usually hefty experience loss;

    skill based system instead of class based system;

    no instancing;

     a game that rewards most experience to combat rather than quests;

    realistic design including: believable travel not speedy travel clearly designed for ease, character weight capacity, no respecs available, no minimaps or arrows pointing where you should go, no stupid icons or glows indicating questgivers;

    offering quests that require problemsolving not just tasks;

    PvP with player looting;

     

     

    image

  • solarinesolarine Member Posts: 1,203

    From an academic point of view, I would say the difficulty of a game should be irrelevant to you. Beware the adjectives there! :)

    Think of it in the same way as trying to determine how "good" a book or movie is. There are just too many perspectives and variables for it to not be anything but purely subjective and thus generally useless in academical analysis. When you say "great film" or even a "difficult film", you can bet you'll get many "according to whom?" retorts.

    Of course you can say that actually a big point of the thesis is "what players regard as difficult in online games"... If so,  please do forget all of the above! (that is, until you need it, doh )

    For conversation's sake, I'd say what's difficult to me is what takes a lot of practice. Either in terms of application of strategy, or simple twitch-skill...

    The grind I would not say difficult at all, just time-consuming or boring :)

     

  • Omega3Omega3 Member Posts: 398
    Originally posted by ao_ninor


    Hi everyone,
    still on my masterthesis (Value of user communities for MMORPG) and trying to find a way  measure the difficulty or challenge of a MMPORG.
    So why is game A(WoW) more or less difficult than game B (EQ2).
    Is it complexity of the game? The learning curve? The amount of time to get to endgame? Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM?
    Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty?
    Thanks again for your feedback.

    1) What determines difficulty? Checkpoints put in the player's path on his way to become more powerful or advance in the game by any other mean.

    2) The only rule which has been proven right regarding MMORPGs is: the more playtime you put into a MMORPG, the more knowledgeable and powerful you become.

    3) Yet most of this power is not about player skill, but rather due to accumulating more and more powerful equipment; this is where i believe MMORPGs are not a difficult genre. Sure, knowing the in and out of a scripted encounter or honing your reactivity in PvP takes some personnal skill, yet gear does matter a lot in the equation.

    4) So to determine the difficulty of a MMO, we have to clearly point out the checkpoints, then determine if their beating requires, skill, gear, or / and time.

    The determining factor would be the skill requirement. If gear and time factors surpass the skill requirement, the game is easy, if skill is more important, the game is hard.

     Imo.

     

    My addiction History:
    >> EQ1 2000-2004 - Shaman/Bard/Wizard/Monk - nolife raid-whore
    >> WoW 2004-2009 + Cataclysm for 2 months - hardcore casual
    >> Current status : done with MMO, too old for that crap.

  • happyclappyhappyclappy Member Posts: 99

    Is it complexity of the game?

    Up to a point, EvE online for example is complex to begin with, but over time should be less so.

    The learning curve?

    Yes, again as the 2 games you mention are linear the learning curve is more of a series of straight lines. If you were to plot a graph of relative difficulty vs. level. then you will get a spike at 50 if you are new to the game as you progress into dungeon content.

    The amount of time to get to endgame?

    Time doesn't equate to difficulty in the same way as a game with fixed rules such as chess, as you can get an expansion that adds 10 levels or a patch which nerfs or buffs characters/classes. There is a certain element of luck too, would a player who found lots of epics find the game easier than someone who finds none? I'd said definitely

    Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM? It adds another dimension to a game, I would say yes because a PvE encounter is always the same a PvP encounter is 99.9999% of the time different.

    Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty? No.

  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 41,214
    Originally posted by ao_ninor


    Hi everyone,
    still on my masterthesis (Value of user communities for MMORPG) and trying to find a way  measure the difficulty or challenge of a MMPORG.
    So why is game A(WoW) more or less difficult than game B (EQ2).
    Is it complexity of the game? The learning curve? The amount of time to get to endgame? Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM?
    Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty?
     
    Thanks again for your feedback.

     

    Well, first, lots of ways to measure difficulty.  Some are more physically challenging, requiring quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination.  Others are more of a cerebral challenge, (such as EVE) and require players to spend a lot of time reading and studying the game (some call it spreadsheets in space) in order to properly master?

    For some players like myself, I have more trouble with games in the first category vs the 2nd.    And as far as your example goes, I wouldn't really consider EQ 2 any more challenging than WOW, though I feel it a has more depth in a couple of areas, yet lacks in some the WOW excels at.

    Some games like Lineage 2 are considered difficult because they have a horrific grinding curve which can require an extreme number of hours to reach the upper level end game, yet to some players, they have no problem in overcoming this obstacle. (I couldn't do it)

    So in a way, your answer is yes to all.  It can be considered more difficult based on the complexity of gameplay, or the learning curve, or the time to endgame, or the difficulty /harsheness of the PVP.  The problem is, what is difficult to one player, will not be so to another.  (I'm  not much help, am I?)

    As to conclusions regarding difficulty vs average age, I'd say there's only a few, i.e. in EVE the average age tends to be higher than most games, but it that due to its complexity, difficulty or what?  No one really can say for sure. 

    There are many players who feel WOW is an "easy" game therefore is full of "kiddies".  While there are alot of folks under 18,  Blizzard claims the average age is 27, so not sure how true it is that age is a correlation to the games difficulty.

    In my own case, after playing various games over the years, I found EVE, DAOC, Shadowbane and Lineage 2 to be more difficult than WOW, LotRO, AOC, and City of Heroes/Villians. That's about the only conclusion I can offer.

     

    "True friends stab you in the front." | Oscar Wilde 

    "I need to finish" - Christian Wolff: The Accountant

    Just trying to live long enough to play a new, released MMORPG, playing New Worlds atm

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  • wjrasmussenwjrasmussen Member Posts: 1,493
    Originally posted by ao_ninor


    Hi everyone,
    still on my masterthesis (Value of user communities for MMORPG) and trying to find a way  measure the difficulty or challenge of a MMPORG.
    So why is game A(WoW) more or less difficult than game B (EQ2).
    Is it complexity of the game? The learning curve? The amount of time to get to endgame? Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM?
    Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty?
     
    Thanks again for your feedback.

    These games are not difficult IMO. 

     

  • BrianshoBriansho Member UncommonPosts: 3,586

    Does the game require most of your attention while playing? Can you ALT+TAB out of it do other stuff like watch youtube or chat over IM without worrying about your stuff?

    Does the game require you to be alert and concentrate on what you are doing? Can you zone out and lose your concentration doing repetitive tasks or does it keep you on your toes? Do you feel sleepy while playing?

    Can you interact with other people to accomplish similar goals or is it like a single-player console game with a monthly subscription?

    Does it require you to have some hand-eye coordination or can you just randomly smash buttons and "win"?

    Don't be terrorized! You're more likely to die of a car accident, drowning, fire, or murder! More people die every year from prescription drugs than terrorism LOL!

  • just1opinionjust1opinion Member UncommonPosts: 4,641

    I think "difficulty" in an MMO, is going to be something impossible to measure.  "Difficulty" is actually very subjective.  What is "difficult" to one person, may be a pure JOY and "easy" to someone else.

    For instance, I find things that are very BORING, to me, to be "difficult," because I do NOT tolerate boredom very well.  The activity ITSELF might be "easy" intellectually, but that KIND of "easy" is boring to ME, rendering it, therefore, DIFFICULT.  Do you see what I'm trying to say?

    I just don't think this is something that can have an overall generic determination or assessment, because people are all VERY very different. 

    Another example:

    I absolutely loved when I started playing EVE.  I had to think, and learn, and discover, and strategically make decisions.  I had to plan, and figure, and pre-think situations to determine what direction I needed to go with different things.  That appeals to me, therefore, it's NOT difficult, it's FUN.  For my partner, who enjoys OTHER types of things in games....that would probably BE difficult.

    President of The Marvelously Meowhead Fan Club

  • ao_ninorao_ninor Member Posts: 12

    Wow, thank for all the input.

    I have to agree that difficulty probably is not objective but subjective to the player and tightly connected to the motivation of the player. Gonna be a tough one to get that into the evaluation.

  • safwdsafwd Member Posts: 879
    Originally posted by Samuraisword


    I like what he has said so i am just going to steal it and add a little.
    Supposedly free to play games are the easiest because you just buy your way. Flat subscription based games where everything is earned in-game thru expended effort are always more difficult.
    OP, basically all of the above that you mentioned. The expected age influences what the developer offers in terms of difficulty but it is a fact that the average online gamer is much older. Even in a game like Wizard 101 which is marketed and designed towards kids, I bet the average age of everyone playing is adult range.
    The criteria I use to determine wether a game is difficult aka challenging, which is what I desire, are the following:
    significant death penalty, usually hefty experience loss; I too like a good DP. Many now days just see it as a timesink but i see it as a method to get people to care in the game. I didnt want to die in EQ so i did what i had to do to try and keep that from happening, i didnt care if i died in WoW so i did alot of stupid stuff that got me killed. Fear is actually pretty important i think.
    skill based system instead of class based system; I cant agree with this. I think a class based system can be challenging as well. Just create a class based system where everything isnt just given to you. Yes, you actually have to use that 2H sword before you are any good with it, you cant just pay a guy 10 gold and be a pro.
    no instancing; I like this also. Instancing is ok on a very small level but i would just as soon have none.
     a game that rewards most experience to combat rather than quests; I would like a game that gives No experience for quests. Quests should be something that you do because you want to see what you get at the end or just because you want to do it, not because it gives the best exp.
    realistic design including: believable travel not speedy travel clearly designed for ease, character weight capacity, no respecs available, no minimaps or arrows pointing where you should go, no stupid icons or glows indicating questgivers; This i think is a huge factor in the Challenge of a game. I dont want everything handed to me.
    offering quests that require problemsolving not just tasks; Yes, please make me think a little bit on quests. All kill quests all the time gets a little boring.
    PvP with player looting; PVP does add plenty of Challenge to a game but i would like the PVP to be purposefull and not just a gank fest. And im not too keen on full loot but some loot and all coin i like.
     
     



     

  • Reborn17Reborn17 Member Posts: 414

    IMO difficulty of an mmo is a result graph of mental effort  vs ease of advancement. The entertainment lvl of mmos has been compared to popping bubblewrap, low intensity fun, so the more concentration and mental acuity required to play successfully or to control the actions of the character itself, the more challenging it is. Then measure that vs ease of advancement, the amount of xp needed to advance vs the % xp generated by defeating a mob, quest or mission. This "ease of advancement" also becomes subjectively more or less difficult based on the availability of ways to level as compared to the preferred playstyle of the individual, and his/her enjoyment of the basic parameters of the game. 

     

    "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -Edmund Burke

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  • guitarcrashguitarcrash Member Posts: 20

    I don't think MMOs are difficult aside from grinding. Heck even grinding is not difficult, its just time consuming.

    Ok here are my opinions:

    still on my masterthesis (Value of user communities for MMORPG) and trying to find a way measure the difficulty or challenge of a MMPORG.

    > usually in research to measure something you need a scale. if there ain't any, then make one. have the experts answer it and use a statistical test to determine whether or not your tool is valid.

    So why is game A(WoW) more or less difficult than game B (EQ2).

    > set a criteria for your comparison first. make the tool.

    Is it complexity of the game? The learning curve? The amount of time to get to endgame? Does PvP make a game more difficult than just PvM?

    >you can include them all in a questionnaire if you ask me. a simple likert would do. just have it go through a series of stat tests.

    Do you think that the average age of the players allows conclusions on the difficulty?

    >come on does age really matter? gamers are gamers. you can use any existing research if there is any for this variable.



     

    When I hold my guitar, I become a different person.

  • Z3R01Z3R01 Member UncommonPosts: 2,425

    If you can't get passed the tutorial without feeling like you're retarded, the game is too difficult (Eve)

    If you walk ten feet into a zone and get WTF PWNED! by some god awful creature the game is too difficult (Ryzom)

    If you cant do shit passed level 10 with out a full group of players that understand there class its too difficult (FFXI).

    If you go into a new area and get killed by another player and lose everything you own, the game is to difficult (Eve,UO)

     

    Playing: Nothing

    Looking forward to: Nothing 


  • rafmeisterrafmeister Member Posts: 69
    Originally posted by safwd

    Originally posted by Samuraisword


    I like what he has said so i am just going to steal it and add a little.
    Supposedly free to play games are the easiest because you just buy your way. Flat subscription based games where everything is earned in-game thru expended effort are always more difficult.
    OP, basically all of the above that you mentioned. The expected age influences what the developer offers in terms of difficulty but it is a fact that the average online gamer is much older. Even in a game like Wizard 101 which is marketed and designed towards kids, I bet the average age of everyone playing is adult range.
    The criteria I use to determine wether a game is difficult aka challenging, which is what I desire, are the following:
    significant death penalty, usually hefty experience loss; I too like a good DP. Many now days just see it as a timesink but i see it as a method to get people to care in the game. I didnt want to die in EQ so i did what i had to do to try and keep that from happening, i didnt care if i died in WoW so i did alot of stupid stuff that got me killed. Fear is actually pretty important i think.
    skill based system instead of class based system; I cant agree with this. I think a class based system can be challenging as well. Just create a class based system where everything isnt just given to you. Yes, you actually have to use that 2H sword before you are any good with it, you cant just pay a guy 10 gold and be a pro.
    no instancing; I like this also. Instancing is ok on a very small level but i would just as soon have none.
     a game that rewards most experience to combat rather than quests; I would like a game that gives No experience for quests. Quests should be something that you do because you want to see what you get at the end or just because you want to do it, not because it gives the best exp.
    realistic design including: believable travel not speedy travel clearly designed for ease, character weight capacity, no respecs available, no minimaps or arrows pointing where you should go, no stupid icons or glows indicating questgivers; This i think is a huge factor in the Challenge of a game. I dont want everything handed to me.
    offering quests that require problemsolving not just tasks; Yes, please make me think a little bit on quests. All kill quests all the time gets a little boring.
    PvP with player looting; PVP does add plenty of Challenge to a game but i would like the PVP to be purposefull and not just a gank fest. And im not too keen on full loot but some loot and all coin i like.
     
     



     



     

    Couldn't have said it any better. Spot on.

  • updudewazzupdudewazz Member Posts: 10

    I had some research education and I suggest you should develop your own tool and have the game reviewers rate it. And do an Cron's(dunno if spelled it right) test on it.

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