Friday, April 1

Guild Wars as an MMO-without-the-suck

Gamasutra is carrying an interview with one of the Guild Wars designers (free registration required; it's worth it, though, if you're at all interested in game design). It's a friendly interview -- no hard-hitting questions or uncomfortable silences here. That said, there might very well be some discomfort at some other developers, though.

The point of the article is that the Guild Wars guys have put together a Massively Multiplayer Online Game that you keep coming back to because it's fun, rather than because it's addictive. Now, we've all heard of 'addictive games' -- people talk about Tetris, and Diamond Mine (aka Bejeweled), and Civilization in all its incarnations, as addictive games. But in each of those games, you want to keep playing because you want to keep getting better at it, or because you want to find out what happens next. You're interested in playing the game. With the MMOGs currently on the market, Guild Wars being the notable exception, the addiction has a different character.

With current MMOGs, you want to keep playing not because the game is really fun to play (though it sometimes is), but because
  • you're paying a subscription fee for the month, so frugality demands you make maximum usage of the system
  • you want to advance in the game, because really it's a race with your peers to the top of the ladder
  • you were playing for a good three hours before you finally hooked up with 4 or 5 people you can stand to fight beside, and you want that experience to last as long as possible, sleep be damned.
Note that those three reasons aren't directly related to the gameplay itself or to the player's skill. They're meta-reasons. And (trust me!) it's way, way harder to justify to someone who isn't addicted why it is you're spending $15 a month on something that you mostly don't enjoy. Heck, it's hard to justify to yourself!

The thing is, before Guild Wars, there weren't any games out there that let me roleplay a wizard with arcane powers, or kill fantasy creatures in a 3D setting with my real-life friends, that didn't require a subscription. And I like roleplaying a wizard. I like slaughtering relatively realistic orcs and zombies and fairy queens. I just don't like the sucky parts that, up until Guild Wars, came along with that.

I think I'll go buy the game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you think bird flu is going to be a problem ?

I heard it would hit USA & Canada this fall.

Is there anything to the bird flu panic ?