The Drop Kick

On Jan 1, Doug Flutie of the New England Patriots "produced a single point on a play that was deemed obsolete in the NFL (National Football League) at the outbreak of World War II."   The Boston Herald went on to note:

Flutie, 43, very likely played in his last regular season NFL game... was bemused by the fact that his final contribution to the NFL would be the reinvention of an extinct play.

Furthermore, quoting Flutie:

“That was fun and I was pretty fired up about just scoring an extra point. I was fired up that it went through, and to be part of that was fun. That’s what football is supposed to be.”

This is just where it starts.  Eve-Online, World of Warcraft and Kabuki theatre is where this strays...

The Wikipedia, (amazingly) updated so recently after the event, described Doug Flutie's drop kick as a non-strategic move and a farewell gesture.  It also noted that the drop-kick

...(is) often used as a surprise tactic. The ball would be snapped or lateraled to a back, who would perhaps fake a run or pass, but then would kick the field goal instead... This method of scoring worked well in the 1920s and 1930s, when the football was rounder at the ends (similar to a modern rugby ball)... In 1934, the ball was made more pointed at the ends. This made passing the ball easier, as was its intent, but made the drop kick obsolete, as the more pointed ball did not bounce up from the ground reliably.

Bill Littlefield in the week after the play described Doug Flutie' gesture as a reach to an era when American Football was a sport of amateurs.  This would be in contrast to our era when professional sports has turned play into work filled with specialists in teams min-maxing yields.

What of the MMOG experience?

To start, we may approach this via the wry question T.L. Taylor once posed, "but is it play":

All those instances where the fiction of the game collides with "real" lives. The buying and selling of virtual goods for offline money. The obligations, passions, even anxieties. Are all those players really players in any strict sense? Or are they doing something else?

And therein lies a well-established Terra Novan argument: when you overload the real world and real personalities onto the virtual (RMT, powerplaying), well, the roles are diminished and role-playing forgotten.  Sin ensues.

However, for the sake of discussion, I'll muse an *alternative* strawman. Namely, that if the blur between work and play is indeed upon us, perhaps it says less about the activity than the demeanor of the participant.  And that in turn speaks less directly to the superficialities of the space within which one participates than to the careful freedoms it affords.

By way of illustration, how can a place such as Eve-Online be construed as a playful place were it to be strictly judged by the color of one's actions?  It is a dark space of vast distances and abstract avatars in a kabuki punctuated by moments of pounding brutality and intricate economic subtext. Very little seems at first like P*L*A*Y.

Were I to claim here that the nuance of Eve-Online is more playful than an MMOG world such as World of Warcraft (WoW), would you believe me? To some this may sound an unscrupulous suggestion, WoW is after all the darling of the MMOG evangelists - it is casual, cartoon-like, and attracts millions. But my thought goes as follows.  WoW (and too it symbolizes so much in the genre) is a place that reeks of fun and playfulness on the surface, but once ensnared players are led into a deception that spells W*O*R*K.   Eve-Online on the other hand is Icelandic with Calvinist overtones - yet in its straightjacket there is opportunity to find one's own way towards a demeanor of play.  One represents a fall into an abyss, the other, a rise from one to redemption...

Bill Littlefield cited specialization as one of the factors undermining the amateur and playful demeanor of American Football.  Perhaps it is.  Perhaps too it is also the specialization of the roles in MMOGs that has undermined the sense of play in the MMOG.  One spends so much time mastering the Warrior that one dare not stray too far from the stricture of role lest they be branded as not knowing how to play a tank.  One dare not squander mana in friviolous spells as a priest lest they be branded as risking the party.  Et cetera.

Superficially, Eve-Online is a poster-child of role-specialization in the MMOG today given the millions of unattainable skill points that could be allocated.   But oddly, it doesn't feel that way.  The roles players adopt are not discrete, but instead blend continuously over occasion.  One day one may engage in trading, another in hauling, or "ratting" or guard duty, or just plain...  If the separation between roles is, say, 5% of some measure of ability, and that 5% is furthermore so easily fungible with the cost of business, it seems to strangely invite the kind of freedom an instance crawl in WoW rarely does:  does over-specialization choke play?

...

I'm not sure I believe all of my presentation above, yet, I feel like I might one day.  As Tim Burke implied, there can be no *uberness* without distinction, and an important distinction in many MMOG spaces is a convergence upon specialized knowledge reinforced by roles.   The players then take it from there, self-selecting groups to min-max their yields.

Would Doug Flutie dare drop-kick on a Raid today?

In a vague way, it seems like the missing MMOG hero may be due in part to the drive towards overspecialization.  After all,  if heroes were created then realized rather than to spontaneously emerge in a circumstance, would they still be heroes?  To be "out of the ordinary" requires perhaps an element of improvisation involving choice and a grace too.


Comments on The Drop Kick:

Bart Stewart says:

This distinction between EVE Online and World of Warcraft is exactly why I play EVE but not WoW.

I'm tired of worlds whose design is locked into the class/level/XP straitjacket. Maybe slaughtering one's way to the "highest level" is fun for a lot of people, but why must that be the only kind of fun available?

The class/level/XP system offers the security of knowing one's place, of having clear and specific expectations laid out for one by the designers. That's fine for those who want such protection, but what about those of us for whom "knowing one's place" is painful?

I prefer places that offer me the freedom to explore. I look for deep worlds with strategic secrets to be discovered, not simple games with only a few obvious and predetermined ways to "win." I want to tell my own unique story, not simply repeat one of a few stories that someone else decided I'm permitted to attempt.

What's wrong with wanting to drop-kick the ball now and then?

--Bart

Posted Jan 7, 2006 12:40:10 AM | link

Silvanis says:

I have to wonder if the min-max drive that seems to be instilled in so many players is a Western method of thought. Has the idea of "second place is the first loser" been so ingrained into our society that we include it even in our play? Are we incapable of playing a game without the need for a measuring stick showing "I'm better than you"? And is this a worldwide phenomena?

What makes the need to optimize our game time so appealing to people, anyway? I'd rather enjoy a 5 man dungeon with friends, regardless of what class or role they may end up being, then a strict military-style foray into a raid where you better know your role or you're out! And no idle chatter! What makes that fun?

Posted Jan 7, 2006 2:40:32 AM | link

David Reim says:

Leeeeeroyyyy Jenkins! Now that guy knew how to play (I suspect the other party members were working). Why did Leeroy shoot to fame? Other than being funny, I think one reason is that it was a pure expression of having fun; a concept that perhaps many WoW players (including my level 57 self) may have lost a little. Leeroy did the drop-kick. Plus, he had chicken.

Posted Jan 7, 2006 8:22:23 AM | link

nate combs says:

David> Leeeeeroyyyy Jenkins!

http://forum.ebaumsworld.com/showthread.php?t=71304

Posted Jan 7, 2006 10:55:25 AM | link

Franek says:

Nate writes:

To be "out of the ordinary" requires perhaps an element of improvisation involving choice and a grace too.

It may seem flippant, but to be out of the ordinary requires an ordinary. Perhaps in more complex virtual worlds the ordinary becomes those roles that the player finds uninteresting and with which he does not compete. And if, from a particular player's perspective, the world is too simple to provide such a background, then they can never be out of the ordinary. They see themselves directly competing with every other player for the same prize.

Posted Jan 7, 2006 11:48:32 AM | link

Raph says:

"Namely, that if the blur between work and play is indeed upon us, perhaps it says less about the activity than the demeanor of the participant."

A more politic way of saying "the grind is a state of mind" -- which got me in a lot of trouble. ;)

Excellent post, I agree with all of it. I push for classless systems because they permit shifts in my playstyle. I find more fun in a shifting playstyle. Given the vast quantity of alts we tend to see in class-based games, I suspect this is true of everyone.

Setting up tightly constrained goals and rigid frameworks reduces spontaneity in all walks of life. Why are we surprised that it is this way in a game?

The counter-argument, which Abalieno has made many times, is that freedom of choice also implies confusion; that linearity is accessibility. I think this can be conquered, though.

Posted Jan 7, 2006 2:47:16 PM | link

Gary Rogers says:

I'm with you on this one. I come from a more 'interactive fiction' background than one of MUD's and MUSHes. Yes (hang head), I write/wrote FanFiction. Organized FanFiction to be sure, though I've never really been the type to follow the 'course of study'.

To me the ability to bring individuality to the game is sorely lacking in WoW. I tried a RP server, and was deeply disappointed in the experience, in the same way I was disappointed in organized FanFiction. There's no method for playing a Night Elf Druid raised by a Dwarf Priest in Iron Forge. None. You get to play a 'reduced dimentionality character,' just as is encouraged in organized FanFiction. I've seen this in both Stargate and Star Trek groups.

I think though, that the reasons are perhaps a bit shallower than we realize. In trying to understand why people want to write (this is FanFiction after all, not MMO's) Ensign RedShirt through her experiences perhaps the truth is that most people who come to these forms of entertainment aren't the most creative or reflective people.

Is "Hey, I wanna be a dwarf bruiser like Gimli," where the majority of players are coming from? If you look at derivative names (other than the ones that have no attempt at role play) I'm lead to believe that there is a sizable contingent that want to play at being the characters that they venerate / connect with. This is actually perfectly fine, and I'm sure that these people can find a great deal of entertainment in the games and 'play' that they find.

The market for gamers that want to really explore a huge realm of possibilities, specialization and role-play is rather small I would think, and I'd count myself among those people. Just the other day I was wondering to myself, while looking at 'Second Life', hey, if I could be ANYTHING, what would I be? This is quite different from games such as WoW that present you with clearly defined 'Courses of Study'. But as we see from the success of the different games perhaps a guided path is what a majority of people crave.

Posted Jan 7, 2006 3:58:21 PM | link

Andy Havens says:

No offense to Nate and his well written post -- and he makes a good (and entertaining) reference to another sport/genre/game (and as a former Boston rez w/ a former Buffalonian wife, WE HEART DOUG FLUTIE!) -- but this same set of issues pervades just about every type of leisure and entertainment activity, not to mention many kinds of business roles. The balance of "fun vs. work" or "amateur vs. professional" or, as Stephen R. Donadldson put it in a whole series of books, "Order vs. Chaos," is fundamental to how we enjoy and approach anything we enjoy and/or find important.

It's the balance, young Jedi, that may, in fact, be the most important thing, eh? Rather than picking one over the other. Too much chaos, and the "center cannot hold." Too much order, and there is no opportunity for creativity and growth.

In MMO terms, for example right now, you've got SL, which doesn't have hardly any order. You can be "anything." As a result, they have attracted users on two extreme ends of the scale. Those who want no order; who want to wander around and do nothing, essentially (chat, dance, screw), and those who want to establish their own order (make money, create content for those who want to do nothing, build their own internal games). On the other end, you've got MMORPGs like WoW or EVE, which give lots more structure. They've attracted many more users, I think, because our current definitions of "games" require a less abstract definition of things like "rules," "levels," "winning," "teams," etc., than are available on SL.

Neither is bad; they are just different.

SL is a back-lot, pick-up game of screw-around tag where you sometimes whip tennis balls at each other and sometimes shout "freeze tag!" and sometimes jump the fence into Kenny's yard and chase his three-legged cat for awhile 'cause that's funny as hell. WoW is little league with uniforms and teams and sponsors and equipment and rankings. There's room for both in the neighborhood. And room for both on your hard-drive, probably.

Now... where somebody will make some *serious* dough (like WoW isn't already...) is when they figure out how to graft the truly creative (i.e., flexible/chaotic) tools of old-school, pen-and-paper roll-playing fun onto a system like WoW and allow the players to do some SL-style stuff in a game-world that has a few more "rules."

Imagine, for example, a WoW where (for example) guilds with X-number of players were alloted a chunk of land on which they could build their own guild hall. Where, when they reached a certain level of play they could research and create their own spells. Where they could elect governmental leaders. Where they could contribute to the back-story. Where they were, essentially, invited back-stage to participate in the next stage of development.

Right now, SL is all about inviting everyone to cross the line and become content creators. WoW makes a very clear distinction between the content creators (Blizzard) and consumers (players).

How much *more* fun will it be when we can run onto the field with Flutie and kick our own field goals?

Posted Jan 7, 2006 7:30:29 PM | link

gus andrews says:

Exactly what I needed to hear right now as I try to get WoW out of my system for good, levelling my rogue to 40 to get a steed -- the end goal that I personally have set for myself, screw level 75 or whatever it's about to be with the expansion, all I want is to have a horse and explore the world without fear for my virtual safety -- and find the game LESS and LESS FUN by the moment. I hate the grind, but it has its hooks in me; I want closure.

It was plenty of fun to use the game as an extra-fancy IM client at the beginning, but while I was busy screwing around my friends levelled and levelled until I couldn't even be in the same area as they were anymore. They were sunk in super-difficult instances which required all their attention, so they couldn't even chat.

The worst part is the strangers who are so sunk in the game that if you start having fun in some non-prescribed way, like holding a naked gnome marathon, or being non-combative in enemy territory, or being like Leeroy, they abuse you soundly. Even RPers take grief from killjoys like this. The other day on Maelstrom a bunch of us got to debating educational reform in the US, the most entertaining thing that's happened in-game for me in a while, and a handful of people started hollering for our removal.

Sure, we were breaking the magic circle, but who draws that circle? Is it any better to let Blizzard's coders draw the circle than it is to let unidirectional mass-media producers draw it? (The funny thing is you notice all these unpopulated spaces in the game -- empty rooms with chairs and tables, as if the developers expected people to come in and roleplay, and make something of their own out of those spaces. And yet you rarely see anyone in them.) Why are we so ready to give in?

Gary> most people who come to these forms of entertainment aren't the most creative or reflective people.

This is a question I've struggled with a lot. When I was younger I dismissed fanfic as uncreative -- why not come up with your own characters? What's wrong with you?! Since then, especially after reading Textual Poachers, I've begun to think of fanfic more like writing sonnets. But playing digital games still doesn't sit well with me. I'd much rather play 1000 Blank White Cards, or Eat Poop You Cat, or even Scrabble, or else write for my blog.

Andy>Imagine, for example, a WoW where (for example) guilds with X-number of players were alloted a chunk of land on which they could build their own guild hall.

The industry openly hates this idea, Andy... don't know if you were at DiGRA last year, but there was a panel on which a number of industry developers scoffed at all of the research we do on "player types," and complained that letting players produce content was likely to lead to some juvenile player scrawling poorly-drawn boobies all over everything. The basic message I took away from that panel was "you can have any color video game you want, as long as it's black." Thank you, virtual Fordism.

Posted Jan 7, 2006 9:32:56 PM | link

nate combs says:

Gary> Too much chaos, and the "center cannot hold." Too much order, and there is no opportunity for creativity and growth...

Imagine, for example, a WoW where (for example) guilds with X-number of players were alloted a chunk of land on which they could build their own guild hall. Where, when they reached a certain level of play they could research and create their own spells. Where they could elect governmental leaders. Where they could contribute to the back-story. Where they were, essentially, invited back-stage to participate in the next stage of development.


Does there necessarily need to be a trade-off between 'chaos' and 'order.' Which is to say i think one could design for player systems that are adaptive and within which one can change roles and have the freedom to explore w/out having to pull a Leroy Jenkins (bless his soul :).

As for player generated content - I think we need to be taking on case-by-case basis. Could one build a WoW based on the "crafting freedom" of a 2nd Life --- hmmm, ouch. Could one build a world where arguably most of the important content/purpose is from other players within a rules system (corp, trade, pvp) - Eve-Online is at least one case example.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 12:02:26 AM | link

nate combs says:

Franek>

Perhaps in more complex virtual worlds the ordinary becomes those roles that the player finds uninteresting and with which he does not compete. And if, from a particular player's perspective, the world is too simple to provide such a background, then they can never be out of the ordinary. They see themselves directly competing with every other player for the same prize.

Roles establish a template by which players know their place and expected activity. In some sense this can be seen as a measure of 'ordinariness' by which players are judged?

Posted Jan 8, 2006 12:26:51 AM | link

Charles Ferguson says:

This is a discussion I've already had with a few people and a few here have hit the main point. It's not just a question of when does the game become work but the fundamental different between MMOs that are Virtual Games and MMOs that are Virtual Worlds.

Virtual Games strive to have an order, give players a path they must follow, specific quests, etc. Basically, the game defines the player's roles. These games are usually content heavy and not very dynamic. They are generally based on a single aspect, Fighting and Crafting being the most popular, and improvement in those games are attached to this trait one way or another. Sure there are some MMOs that have multiple paths, but it boils down to perhaps 2 or 3 methods of play.

Virtual Worlds are the other end of the spectrum, trying to give players as much freedom as possible, having user created content, opening up multiple avenues of play. Their typical problem as Andy mentioned, is that these worlds are chaotic since as we've seen with Second Life, player content can be counter productive in some cases. Also, give someone too many options and they can't make up their mind on what they want to do.

So a Balance needs to be established between both each time a new MMO is made if we want to have worlds that we really become attached too. Virtual Games can lose their appeal due to the fact that we eventually figure out the entire stats system while Virtual Worlds lose their appeal due to the lack of a sense of accomplishment in general.

If we look at our favorite books or movies, the heroes are usually not one dimensional characters, they have their regular lives, they might learn to fight as a necessity, but they don't spend all the book in a dungeon crawl. It's this “living” aspect that is missing in most games. Giving players a reason to go out and fight, knowing that your town is in danger, but once the danger pass, give them a chance to see life return to normal. Those that seek thrills will go looking for battles, those that want to establish a community will build up their town, those that want to adventure will go explore searching for treasures, but they'll all be ready to leave their usual life to accomplish something great or at least break away from their routine.

In the end isn't that what we are trying to do by playing MMOs? Trying to break our own routine in our lives by living another? Who really wants to get stuck in a similar cycle in a virtual world? Single player games have an ending, so their cycle entertains players, but MMOs go from being fun to being a chore since you're stuck in a loop and don't want to abandon all the hard work you've already done. If player's can't break the cycle in game, they simply burn out on MMOs and cannot see the magic beyond the stats.

Well that's my 2 cents.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 5:17:41 AM | link

Charles Ferguson says:

Nate >

Roles establish a template by which players know their place and expected activity. In some sense this can be seen as a measure of 'ordinariness' by which players are judged?

The problem is that the roles are “forced” on players though. Players don't really come into those roles by their actions, they begin and follow the path to those roles.

Taking an open skill concept like UO (minus the classes), if instead of choosing the classes you want to play and then improving your skills, if you chose the skills you wanted to develop and as you advance, your class title changed to fit your character, then you still can still have this measure of purpose while being the one to actually deciding what your goals will be.

Before someone mentions SWG, classes shouldn't pigeon hole you into a role. Instead, class, titles and accomplishments should permit other players to know what type of person they are interacting with and create a form of recognition for players to differentiate themselves from others. If it say Stan the Bold Warrior, they can bet he loves a good confrontation and is the one to rush into the fray while Kirk the Adventurer is someone who's been places and is an explorer in search of fortunes.

Of course that would mean a lot of work to figuring out a bunch of titles, a bunch of prefix and suffix to these titles, having history of actions and so forth. Class would change depending on what the player has been doing recently while still remembering past accomplishments. A hero that returns to his hometown to return to his baking job will take a while before people call him Joe the Baker again without referring to his

Well I'm trailing off, I'll end here.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 5:36:06 AM | link

lewy says:

"In the end isn't that what we are trying to do by playing MMOs? Trying to break our own routine in our lives by living another?"

I think that there are probably a lot of reasons why individual players play online games. I would break down motivation along a demarcation between escapist and entertainment oriented motives. You're describing the escapist motivation, but what about that segment which is only looking to relax for a few hours after hard day at work?

Me personally I play online games with a group of friends from college who have scattered to the four corners of the earth. Games provide an excellent means for staying in touch, but we never play one game for long. I cancelled my account in WoW last summer because my friends had gotten bored with it and it was time to move on. Our current game isn't even in the same genre as WoW--it's the new Special Forces expansion pack for Battlefield 2.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 9:00:34 AM | link

Franek says:

Nate asks:

”Roles establish a template by which players know their place and expected activity. In some sense this can be seen as a measure of 'ordinariness' by which players are judged?”
And Charles, talking about many game-oriented MMOs notes that :
“They are generally based on a single aspect, Fighting and Crafting being the most popular, and improvement in those games are attached to this trait one way or another.”
And goes on to contrast them with virtual worlds where players have less defined rolls and make up their own goals.

Charles illustrates the two dimensions I’ve been using to think about this: number of goals and number of mechanisms for achieving them.

It seems that any game/virtual world sits in some place along those dimensions and they can be applied at multiple levels of game mechanics. Each player makes a judgment about that virtual world. They decide there are “enough” different goals and different ways to attain them that the goal and mechanism they choose is special (heroic?) and the others they know about are “ordinary”.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 11:22:02 AM | link

Charles Ferguson says:

Lewy,

I shouldn't have mentioned MMOs exclusively since I actually didn't mean the motivational factors why people play MMOs, but just in general why we play any type of game or seek entertainment. In a sense, wanting to relax can be focusing your mind on something else to give yourself a break from other daily thoughts (job, finance, stress, etc.) same end goal for blowing off steam. The point is though that we don't always do the same thing for entertainment, we switch around, we try different things and we do what we're most comfortable with yet not always that. People who like to socialize sometimes feel anti-social, people that enjoy adrenalin rushes sometimes prefer to sit down and think, etc.

That's why people play multiple single player games and don't stick to just one or why they seek other forms of amusement, there is no holy grail of entertainment out there. Virtual Worlds on the other hand try to appeal to a broader spectrum of entertainment modes in order to keep clients or else they might as well just go off and purchase a few other titles or do real life activities and get their desires fulfilled that way. They are trying to become a grail in their own sense. Heck even players motivational factors evolve or change overtime and from day to day. You have your general guideline of what you enjoy, but how your day went will sometimes change the reason why you're logging in. If an MMO is concentrated to much on a single aspect, then players who login aren't doing so as a form of entertainment, but as a commitment or responsibility to their friends or to their virtual persona.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 1:56:05 PM | link

lewy says:

"I shouldn't have mentioned MMOs exclusively since I actually didn't mean the motivational factors why people play MMOs, but just in general why we play any type of game or seek entertainment. In a sense, wanting to relax can be focusing your mind on something else to give yourself a break from other daily thoughts (job, finance, stress, etc.) same end goal for blowing off steam. The point is though that we don't always do the same thing for entertainment, we switch around, we try different things and we do what we're most comfortable with yet not always that."

I would agree. As soon as I hit the post button it occured to me that a broad range of motivations apply not only to populations but also to individuals. At least that applies to me.

"Virtual Worlds on the other hand try to appeal to a broader spectrum of entertainment modes in order to keep clients or else they might as well just go off and purchase a few other titles or do real life activities and get their desires fulfilled that way."

Again, I agree but I have a couple of observations. Certainly a game like WoW tries to appeal to a broad range of players and motives--that makes the best financial sense. How successful the game is is a separate issue. True story--I quit EQ because I wanted to play more Grand Theft Auto and the time demands of EQ were ridiculous. I really can't conceive of a single game that would satisfy the different parts of my brain that those two games satisfied.

Posted Jan 8, 2006 9:54:10 PM | link

dmyers says:

The problem with Flutie's drop kick was that he had to ask permission to do it. Others haven't been quite so worried about remaining in the good graces of the guild.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/l/leebi03.shtml

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/McMaJi00.htm

Posted Jan 9, 2006 2:41:38 PM | link

Brett says:

Interesting discussion, but I admit I had a different thought when I saw this story. How many football computer games will allow you attempt a drop kick? Does Madden? That is the binding problem with all computer games, much as I love them, you are always trapped in the programmers boundries. In MMOGs when someone tries a drop kick, they are called exploiters and banned. That isn't to justify people using true exploits, cheating sucks don't do drugs etc, but you simply can't be creative in most games. We have a long way to go before you get to true holodeck style immersion.

Posted Jan 11, 2006 2:39:49 PM | link

Lanky says:

My Comments as Addendum to:
The counter-argument, which Abalieno has made many times, is that freedom of choice also implies confusion; that linearity is accessibility. I think this can be conquered, though.

Now... where somebody will make some *serious* dough (like WoW isn't already...) is when they figure out how to graft the truly creative (i.e., flexible/chaotic) tools of old-school, pen-and-paper roll-playing fun onto a system like WoW and allow the players to do some SL-style stuff in a game-world that has a few more "rules."

The recipe for success when brewing up a MMO Game/World (The / is important there) would then include:

Enough "Order" (Thanks Donaldson) to satiate the human desire for measurment, achievment, and personal improvment.

Enough "Chaos" to satiate the human desire for the random, the inspired / creative, and the personal, permanent imprint.

Tie this together with a comprehensive backdrop, a player infused/modified storyline (perhaps ongoing), and a strong and flexible backend system.


You do not get WoW as the end result, but perhaps so many people play WoW because if it does not provide all of what I have tentatively listed above, it instead offers a semblance of these qualities, and a new level of streamlining.

I really enjoy reading this blog by the way.
Lanky.

Posted Jan 13, 2006 4:30:31 PM | link

Stara Swift says:

This seems like a really longwinded way to say 'bring back precasting.'

Of course MMOs need ways to allow more player creativity/spontaniety in use of abilities and less 'spam this one button all night or your raid dies.'

Posted Jan 14, 2006 1:17:53 AM | link

Aeco says:

Pardon the posting on a five month old discussion, but EVE doesn't get alot of attention.

It is important to note a key difference between EVE and other MMO's, that being the time-based skill system. To advance in ability (in any of 200+ specifc skills), one must acquire the skilbook and then wait for it to train. Training can take anywhere from several minutes to months or more depending on the raw difficulty of the skill, the level one is seeking to attain, and one's attributes.

The important aspect for this discussion is that little one does in game can speed the process along very much. One can invest in-game currency into "implants" to enhance attributes, but these are limited in impact, destroyable in combat, and (the best ones are) uncommon. There are serious diminishing returns to attributes anyway. Skill training takes time, rather than grinding.

Some of the satisfaction (some) peple get from playing MMO's stems from the sense of accomplishment they derive from advancing in skills, power, etc. In Eve, all paths are open to all people all of the time, but they take time, clock/calendar time, not in-game time. Whether a person spends all day in combat in-game, or all day at the (RL) office working, the progress toward one's skill goals is almost entirely the same.

Grinding still takes place in EVE, for in-game currency or other secondary pursuits, but not for character advancement. A player sets the skill training and waits. The separation of advancement and "playing" in EVE makes "playing" more like playing. Just a thought.

-Aeco

Posted Jun 12, 2006 4:15:20 PM | link