torsdag 12. februar 2009

Wrath of the Casual King

With the release of WOTLK WoW took at distinct step towards a MMORPG that caters for casual gamers. Where will it go next? Who is the game designed for?

As a backdrop for this you find the endless arguing simply referred to as "casual vs hardcore". The grife bewteen casual gamers and hardcore gamers has raged since... well forever. Long story short: Casual gamers complain that too much content is designed so that only no-lifers and social clients gets to enjoy it, it's too hard and too timeconsuming. The Hardcore gamers complain that the game is dumbed down and changes are made that is ruining the game, simply cause people are crap at playing.
That these will ever make peace is quite unlikely, you might as well put money down on pigs flying. However, what's getting interesting is that these two groups are getting harder to seperate. In early WoW days someone with an epic item was hardcore, cause that meant that they had either been in a raid (something reserved for the few and brave) - now you can roll through 5 man heroic dungeons withtout any issue and there has been a severe inflation of the value epic items from rare to standard. Moreover, a hardcore player used to be the one that knew their way around dugeons, about what specialisations were worthwhile and of the underlying mechanics. Now, this is something expected from everyone. Even the most casual of players is presumed to know about their classes abilities, to know of moneymaking schemes, instance strategies and patch updates. So is this still a valid distinction?

There is still arguments raging on most forums about upcoming changes and persistant problems, calls for nerfs or buffs to classes or content. Some say that the current content is too easy, while others are cheering about the chance to finally get access to parts of the game that previously were only avaiable to a minority group and a ceritain playstyle. However, it's not a clear divide between the two groups. It is true that the current content has taken a surprisingly short time to overcome, however as a entry level raiding dungeon: Naxxramas (which comprises most of the current raidingcontent) is alot more advanced then Molten Core (one of the first raid instnaces in early WoW) ever was. The community as a whole is more educated about game mechanics and strategies, regardless of the hardcore/casual distinction.
What's been removed is the elements that earlier were central in making the distinction between casual and hardcore: fights were you needed a strange raidcomposition (like 8 tanks on Four Horseman), gearchecks (fights that required the entire raid to be max-geared), resistchecks (fights that required a ceirtain type of gear to give survivability, like fire resist gear in Molten Core). With these timeconsuming and committing elements gone from the game, the focus is now on the fights themselves.

A bit of a roundabout way to my point, but I think I am getting there:

Our perception of new content is colored by our previous experiences, but we seem to forget the advancement of the player community when making such comparisons. Gameplay isnt just about what is designed, it's also about what the player brings to the table. With the aveage player beeing more knowledgable then before, new content ends up beeing perceived as easier - but in reality it's more complex then ever before.

2 kommentarer:

Apo sa...

Must say I really enjoy this blogg, not sure though what language to reply in:p

but on topic, during the more casual approach blizz are working on now, have pretty much made general recruiting easier as we don't have to gear up new members, and ppl know the tacts etc. also with the achievements being on armory is good.

however i do also feel that the applicants game understanding, or their level of skill have been on a lower standard than earlier. Not saying they are are useless, an ok player will always be an ok member to have, it's just seems like the ppl with the will to always strive to be on top of their game are getting harder to find.

casual or hardcore these days seems a bit meaningless. as if I get an application and my guild does 4 raids a week, the applicant knows what he's getting into. that goes for almost any one may there be 2 or 6 raid days a week.
Its all about skills, dedication and understanding of the game.

i might not agree with blizzard the way they made the game a little dumbmode. but it's the reality. so u dont need as much understanding of the game, but for most ppl it havent been for a long while, as all bosses kinda have the same abilities, when u have done a few u should be able to recognize them in a later raid.

on dedication, the player himself find the guild that suits him.

and skills well, we haven't had much need of it so far in wotlk, but i bet some of the hardmode bosses in upcoming content will require that. as for now the hardest encounter just requires gear. which u get from dedication.

bah, i weren't meant to write that much, and i'm not sure if there's a red line even:p

Just wanted to say that it might not be the perfect way to go where blizzard are going now, but it a step in a right direction as u see both hardcore (or oldschool) and casuals will benefit in the long run as more guilds have a larger player base to gain recruits from. and no more nightmares of needing 4 healers when there are 6 online, but only 1 atuned:p

so sry for the biig wall of txt:p


Kristine Ask sa...

I am def capped so big wall of text cannot crit me ;)

I agree that there you will still find players without a clue. However, thinking back to vanilla time when things like Dire Maul was kinda hardcore... Those of us who were hardcore enough to do DM, or possibly even raid BRD (!), didnt really have that much of a clue.

We wanted to be good at the game, but terms like spellrotation or soft-caps werent really part of our vocabulary or things we thought about.

Retards will be retards, and there is no shortage of them applying to our guild either, but a clueless player today is quite different from a clueless player 3 years ago. Now we fret about people not beeing hit capped. Back then we threw a hissyfit on warriors that wanted to tank with a 2 hander... The skill level havent necessarely been raised, but the expected knowledge about the game, the vocabulary and concepts that are taken for granted - has increased massivly.