Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Does game over exist?

Once again my source of inspiration for a post is Gevlon. We tend to disagree most of the time and that’s very stimulating for my thinking abilities.

This time my rants takes off from a post were he was claiming that he’d rather clean public toilets than repeating content by clearing instances he’s already cleared grinding for reputation.

I replied that I felt the same thing about spending hours at AH – which hasn’t got any of the entertaining qualities I expect from a game. But I on the other hand I don’t mind doing heroic instances several times. I do it in order to optimize my gear, which is one of the driving forces in the game. (How sweet isn’t the exalted ring of Argent Crusade?) But above all I’m having fun doing it, because instances are never the same, depending on the group and your own level of gear and skill. And with the achievements as a new spice, you can always push yourself a bit further, getting new challenges to overcome, making the instance runs more fun.

Gevlon's answer to that took me a bit by surprise:

Of course you can go to instances many times for your amusement, but considering the storyline, it's not needed. The story of the game is to defeat Arthas and his minions to protect Azeroth. If you defeat HC Malygos, you completed the game for this patch.
Actually I’ve never thought about the game this way. Ever. To me WoW isn’t a something with a beginning and an end. It isn’t like playing flipper, where you’re supposed to get passed a lot of obstacles and then you reach the end and then it’s over and you go do something else.

But even if it was, what is there that says that defeating Arthas is the end of the game? Couldn’t it as well be to level a toon of each class to maximum level? Or to collect every single non combat pet there is? It’s all personal, what we see as our ultimate goal.

If you ask me I don’t see any end at all. OK, there is some guy called Arthas and I guess it will be kind of hard to beat him at some time in the future. But even if I will it doesn’t mean I’m done with WoW. When I play WoW I’m entering another world, another existence. I’m taking the portal to a dimension where I have other friends, where I’m allowed to show and express other sides of myself than I do normally. Playing WoW is a way of life. And it’s an escape, of course. There’s no final goal in it that will make me leave the game once I’m there. I guess that’s part of the explanation to why it’s so addictive.

Honestly, how many of the bulk of casual players do you think are aware about the existence of Arthas and the meaning of killing him? Not many. They keep questing or PvPing or roleplaying or crafting, whatever gives them pleasure, without thinking much about the end of the world, only enjoying their gaming experience in the present. I dare to say that to the majority of the players there is no game over and they’ve got only vague ideas about a storyline – if any at all. And there’s nothing bad about that.


David said...

It's easy to get absorbed in numbers and quantify your success/enjoyment of the game by your stats and item levels. Gevlon is right that you can buy boe almost a full set of epics off of the AH and never need to set foot in a heroic more than once, to just to check them out.

The Penny Arcade guys more than once compared WoW to a glorified chat room where they hang with their friends. Can you see where this is going? Tada! Different people play the game for different reasons. And one reason is not necessarily superior over another.

Personally I like running dungeons. I like the group dynamic with spells whizzing back and forth and the tank up front, and everyone working together. Sure, some PUGs go to crap quickly, but when it works, it works really well as a spectacle and as a participatory social experience. I also like loot and its fun to get new stuff.

I could get similar (and in many cases, better) gear through the AH with less time (I wouldn't say less effort, I would probably be clicking my mouse the same number of times). I could also get rich in the process apparently. But its not fun for me to work the AH. I made maybe 2,500 gold in one day selling a store of herbs when inscription was released, but apart from that its a grind of buying and selling, buying and selling, buying and selling. I can't see how that 'grind' is clearly better than my 'grind'.

Anonymous said...

Great food for thought. I always liked to think of WoW as the "everyone game"...there's a game inside of it for each of us to play exactly how we want. You can be happy leveling all professions to 300 and now 450 and vwa-la! And at the end of that perhaps a new goal and a new game come out of it for you.

People tend to think of new challenges when one has been met. I think warcraft is the ultimate resource of endless possibilities and that's why I continue to play. I will never be playing a game I dislike. If I change up my playstyle (like how I play right now), I'm still happy whenever I log on. I'm never doing "that same old grind".

Gevlon said...

Dear Larísa,

At first I'll be very evil: "(How sweet isn’t the exalted ring of Argent Dawn?)"
Well, compared to the Signet of Kirin Tor, it's:
-7 stamina
+16 intellect
+8 haste rating
-36 crit strike rating
-1 spell power
-free Hearthstone

There must be some point, there must be some aim. As I followed the adventures of Larísa I saw it was leaving your comfort zones, doing something challenging, perform something you have not done before. Instances, rep grind is NOT challenging.

I found ONLY ONE of your posts about 5 mans: Unprepared and utterly happy. It was about the thrill of going into the unknown, improvising and winning. You can never ever feel the same in Halls of Stones! You could feel the same in Naxx or Malygos if they were not shamefully nerfed.

If grinding rep and instances is so good, why don't you post about them more? Share your joy with us!

Anonymous said...

@David: You're right. WoW is sort of designed to be about grinding - in a social environment. Some kind of grind is pretty much inevitable. The thing is to find the kind of grind you like most, which gives you pleasure and doesn't feel like a job.

@One among many: Yes, I can't understand how people can run out of things to do and become bored...with so many things around to try out. The game is endless, even for people who play a lot. But if you only want to explore one single aspect of the game I guess you can run out of things to do pretty quickly.

@Gevlon: just because I don't post about my instance grinding it doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. I think writing about normal instance runs in a way that is remotely interesting to others is pretty hard. But I can assure you it's great fun (most of the times, not always). Maybe you're right. Maybe I should make an effort ad share more of my adventures in Azeroth and not just write those ranting opinion posts in the typical feel-good-genre I seem to have fallen into. I'll pay attention to it and see if I find an opportunity.

Anonymous said...

To answer the question "Does game over exist?" I would have to say no. David's post pretty much took the words out of my mouth.

People play the game to get away from reality. Not everyone is after beating the "boss" of the current expansion.

During Vanilla WoW, I knew that I wasn't going to see anything pasted BWL. During TBC, I knew that there was no way that I would ever kill Illdian. Did I still have fun? Hell yes and most importantly I had fun.

Everyone has their own reason why we play this each its own I say.

Good read

Chris said...

I ground OS last night, then I ground VoA (gotta love a server with no horde, Winterspring when ever you want it).

OS we got a poor group, led by a ninja, and it only worked due to having too many healers (bad RL decision turned good).

VoA I made a party, and we spent longer getting to Winterspring than raiding.

I grind heroics for fun, I take a sub-par group, a random selection, no healer, 4 tanks etc and we make it work.I used to run SSC and similar Pugs with the "whoever replies comes" resulting in some interesting runs. You don't tend to mention these things simply because they are common place, same way you don't really mention Auctioneer or how you keep track of stuff in your sales pitches.

The simple fact is that when you can hit 1 emblem per 5 mins or less (inc travel time for the full 45 badges / day) a Heroic or normal isn't an event its something you mess up to make it more fun. Simply the whole game is about grinding, you grind money, people ground illidan, we will grind T8 and T9 to get gear. No one will write about it because it isn't the grinding thats interesting, but the company you do it in.

Anonymous said...

Certainly in some single-player games, when you have beaten the end boss and the credits roll, you don't want to play that game any more.
Then there are other games where you carry on playing, either because it is just fun, or you have certain targets to fulfill of your own or perhaps exist in the game.
For example, I played Halo through and finished it. I then played it with my nephew, and we finished it together.
I then played it through on Legendary mode, and (finally) beat it on that too.
I then played it through on easy mode, with the proviso that I was not allowed to die once, from start to finish (harder than you might think!).

Other games like Resident Evil, in its various incarnations, I played until I killed the last bad guy, watched the final cut-scene, and then that was it, they went back in their boxes and I took them down to the games shop and exchanged them for something else.
I didn't bother to play them again with different characters or unlockable weapons etc.
So, I think Game Over is very situational, and varies not only from person to person, but also depends on the game you are playing.

Anonymous said...

@ Larisa ...I wasn't really trying to say people run out of stuff to do and get bored...more so I was attempting to note that those bored people have a choice to either make a new challenge for themselves...or stay how they currently are. They can change it up and enjoy a new aspect of the game (new to them) or they can just keep doing the same old grind. It's what I love most about the game...its very versatile. If someone is bored playing this game, it's their own choice. They could easily try 100 new things they hadn't tried before...or gone for achievements or rep...or collecting things like pets!

At least that's how I feel. Who knows, after 4 years maybe there are people that have tried "everything" and are bored for that reason...

I can't imagine having tried it all though...but then again I don't have access to the game nearly as often as someone with more freetime. Working to pay bills FTL hehe

Still, do you know people that say they've done it all? Do you think hardcore raiders have done it all? Or just "hardcore players" that don't necessarily raid have "done it all"...

I smell a post idea inc....

Unknown said...

I think i mentioned game over screen too on your last post =P for some players it does exist.

People play this game for different reasons. For some it's amassing amounts of gold, getting all the available enchants in the game, getting world/server first, complete achievements, talk to friends online for hours etc.

I play the game mainly to raid. When not raiding and I don't feel like leveling an alt I tend to just log on for a few hours, make sure I got everything ready for the next raid and then call it a night.

Anonymous said...

Ive never really thought about it like that its more of an online world when i have a guy that live who i help grow up and progress LOL

Silly really.

Captain The First said...

achiever, killer, socializer, explorer... to each one the game is a different animal entirely and none of the borders are clearly defined.

Still... interesting posting material... I need to find me a blogger I vehemently disagree with as well, it'd be good for my posting averages hehe.

Anonymous said...

@Wtf Spaghetti: thanks!

@2ndNin: it's the first time I hear anyone advocating Pugging because it makes more interesting runs. I think you may have a point.

@Vlad: I haven't played any other games than WoW so I don't know how things work normally. Will really the credits start rolling when you kill the end boss as they do in the end of a movie? Would feel very strange if they started to do that in WoW.

@Herc: well, I think you're more hardcore and advanced player than I am, but I agree about you that raiding IS the most enjoyable and intersting perspective of the game. I've got the bug too. Still I don't think I'd feel the game would be over if I defeated the end boss. But what do I know, I've never done it yet so...

@Esdras: yeah, I think we've got about the same perspective. An online world there for you to enjoy and a character to fall in love with...

@Captain the First: a clarification. Even though I get material for posting and I from time to time disagree, I don't always disagree. I think Gevlon often has really good points and his posts always make me think. So he's an honored and appreciated guest.

Anonymous said...

If the game is over once that content has been experienced, what's the point of accumulating wealth afterward? What's the point of leveling alts through the same questlines? If this game was only meant to be played once through, why has it been going strong for four years? There is no "game over." As many others have said, different people play for different reasons. I don't even KNOW what my long term goals are for this game, but I love playing it.

Anonymous said...

A lot of great points all around...I guess the game can end for some people.

...but...why let WoW end?!

Anonymous said...

@ Gevlon - "Instances, rep grind is NOT challenging."

Oh, but they are! It's a challenge to keep doing it cuz after the umpteenth time to the nth degree it's so flipping boring!!! LOL!

Aurdon said...

Indeed a great post...I would agree with Larísa though, Gevlon makes good points but killing the boss of the expansion (or patch) is in no way the end of the game.

My guild just toppled Malygos 25 man last night for the first time and we're going raiding tomorrow...whats left to do? Take out Sartharion with 3 drakes up (we've done 1). After that? Heroic raiding achievements. Whats after that? Roll a new class the guild needs (Healer probably). Blizzard made extra sure there is always something to do. Blizzard has said it before...even after we kill every known lore boss...they'll just make more up. They can literally print money with this IP and there is no reason to say there is a "Game over".

Weather its raiding, pvp, achievements, AH meta game...whatever you like to do, Blizzard has made sure there will be content for your play style for months (years) to come.