Reload... Okay now I know there's one around that corner

| Friday, July 9, 2010
I think there's a mental problem with WoW players. I do not if WoW causes it or if it causes us to play WoW. Maybe it's a raider-specific problem. I turned a semi-sandbox into a scripted and predictable fight.

A few weeks back I bought the Ghost Recon everything pack off Steam. I was rather protective of my soldiers, not wanting them to die. This is despite their tendency to shuffle around corners into enemy fire. Just like raiding...

I'd constantly save and reload. As it went along I'd memorize enemy positions and behaviors. Behaviors appeared to be semi-randomized, but were still predictable enough that I could know "there is an enemy around that corner, throw a grenade". What was originally a sandbox of sorts with many paths and tactics, I progressively broke down into discrete steps, a dance of slow choreography. I wasn't playing Ghost Recon assaulting a hostile camp; I was raiding with a different UI.

Yes, there is a planning element to the game. Player are supposed to anticipate obstacles and figure out ways around. But those aren't supposed to be scripted out based on foreknowledge. It's meant to be a more dynamic process of combining knowledge of the land (that we do get ahead of time for some planning) and each team adapting on the fly. We're supposed to know the terrain, not every single enemy position and behavior. But I made it into that anyway.

Sometimes I'd start all over, recognizing that a certain path just wasn't smart to take, and use a different strategy. But more often I'd simply be reacting to the individual enemy actions.

No one told me to do this. I had no repair bills. I had no one on vent yelling at me. Just me. A bit of lost time and some swearing were the only cost for deaths.

Maybe I can't really blame Blizzard for predictable fights. Maybe we'd demand them if we didn't have them. Maybe we'd do all we could to make them even they didn't deliver.

Holy shit, we're boring.


Quicksilver said...

easy fix: just stop pve-ing

Shintar said...

I'm not sure that has anything to do with WoW. It's just striving for a certain degree of perfectionism (since you absolutely want to finish without losing any team members). No?

Wiggin said...

I think your actions are pretty normal, I found myself doing them long before I played wow.

I successfully beat all the story missions of GTA3, Vice City and San Andreas with zero busts, cheats, or hospital visits.

You are damn right to assume I saved after every mission and reloaded if I died or got busted.

In Gran Turismo 4 I constantly drove my secord, third or even fourth best car in a given event to earn more A-spec points. These points served no purpose but bragging rights.

I think it is to two things. Like Shintar said, a pursuit of perfect, but also a degree of difficulty. If the game is easy enough, perfection, or near perfection is possible.

If you feel like you barely got through a level/mission/encounter with the grit of your teeth, you won't be reloading for another play through, but the experience will last you longer.

We seek for meaningful experiences, dynamic flow may be what game developers want from players, but players want dynamic flow from their gameplay. We don't want to remember if there is always a guy behind this corner...because if he is, we will remember and act accordingly.

Basically, we will take the easy way out, in our pursuit of perfection, or create imaginary rules to make something more challenging. Is that contradictory?

Leah said...

I used to play starcraft, warcraft (one and 2 never played third even though I keep meaning to buy it), first dungeon keeper (didn't like second one much) and before that heroes of might and magic this exact way. long before I started playing WoW, my biggest self-given challenge to myself was to win a level with no losses.

my favorite heroes of might and magic is 4 precisely becasue I can make my characters so strong? I need no army to back me up.

so I guess I'm just nodding to Shintar and Wiggin who said it before me and are more articulate :P

Andrux51 said...

I tend to play that way on any party-based single player RPG, especially if my party members all start (or come in) at the same xp level.

Final Fantasy 1 for instance, I will reload if a single one of my party members die, because I'm super OCD and want them all to be at the exact same xp throughout the game.

Funny thing is, it usually comes to kick me in the ass in the games where they institute devastating abilities to (level multiplied by x) spells, and I still can't stop doing it...

Same story with Fire Emblem series, where if one of your characters dies in combat, you can never use them again, although they still exist in the narrative outside of battle.

I don't think WoW has caused this behavior, I've been doing it since the late 80's :) It's just part of who we are and how we value the different facets of the game.

Tesh said...

I'll echo Wiggin on this one. Fine article, to be sure, but I didn't learn this behavior from WoW, I learned it from games with save slots and no desire to make long runs through stuff I've done already.

X-Com was probably the place that it first started for me.

Klepsacovic said...

Maybe it's a matter of "gaming maturity". I only accepted myself as a gamer in maybe the last 4 years, so maybe it takes a while to develop as a gamer and to start striving. Before wow the only game I really got into was called Escape Velocity, a sort of topdown arcade-style space combat and trading game. I'd suggest it, but maybe I'm gettng off topic.

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