Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trivializing Content

Still my favorite flying mount
So there was a big hubbub over the weekend about the (lack of) flying mounts in Warlords of Draenor. I guess there is a vocal contingent of folks that would (really, really) like them, but Blizzard devs have staunchly (and rudely) refused to consider the matter, given their experiences with  previous expansions. I personally don't have a dog in that fight, but I noticed something last night that dovetails with Belghast's take on the subject.

So Scooter and I are playing through the Republic planet quests in SWTOR, even though we could skip them entirely due to the 12x XP for story quests currently in place. The thing is, by the time we left Taris (the third world) for Nar Shaddaa, we were a high enough level to tackle Tatooine (the fifth planet). Last night, I noticed that I was only getting about 6 XP for turning in the regular planet quests. We were actually getting more for (some) individual kills than we were for completing entire quest chains.

Needless to say, the questing is easy and we are enjoying the place. Nar Shaddaa has an awesome East Asian neon vibe, and I decided to buy my stronghold there. Right now, even though we can't fly like in WoW, we can easily slip past mobs we don't need to kill. But I can't help wondering if or when we should start skipping content completely in order to find a challenge.
Don't laugh, they're paid for.
The same thing happened to us in WoW. When I first introduced Scooter to the game during Cataclysm, we had the recruit-a-friend XP boost. Even though we could have skipped the Ghostlands (playing BElfs) I though we should play through, but then we started skipping whole zones because we'd out-leveled them before even arriving.

GamerLady thinks all that content (what can be flown over) is senseless anyway. To some extent, I can agree. But during the course of my playing of WoW, I went from feeling completely immersed in the unflyable world of Azeroth to being fairly disconnected from it. In SWTOR, I pushed through to the end of the second chapter of my old Sith Assassin, skipping all the planet quests on two or three planets. Even though I went through it a few years ago, I have little clue what is happening there.

In TSW, the mobs are never fully trivial, no matter what Quality Level the player's gear is. And there is no good way to bypass them. On the other hand, the XP for going through lower level content never diminishes; rather, XP for higher content is simply greater.

To what extent does the "senseless" content add to the "reality" of an MMO? And how much do we lose when we are able to bypass it in pursuit of our story?
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  1. I've long believed that the stories that players tell in MMOs is far more important than the developer's story. I believe that devs should facilitate player stories, rather than try to shoehorn them into The One Path that they want to tell stories in. Look at all the hubbub about the linearity of FFXIII, for instance. Players *like* freedom. That's the nature of games.

    1. FFVIII? You mean XIV? I have no idea how linear it is, but it seems very popular. I think there are different games for different people. I agree, though, that for me, more flexibility in creating my own stories is better than less.

    2. I meant XIII. Sorry, typing too fast. I've heard XIV is linear, too.

    3. Oh, y'know, I was the one who typoed that one. My confusion came from your discussing linearity in MMOs, then mentioning a non-MMO. How do you feel about titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age?

  2. I have to agree with the feeling of being disconnected from the world on one hand; however, having a birds eye view of it can sometimes make an MMO world feel more vast to me. It would be kind of cool to see random trash mobs implemented in such a way that I found interacting with them enjoyable. As it is now, random trash mobs tend to be implemented in a lot of MMOs in ways that make very little sense to me. The density of them, the random placement, the "speedbump" quality of them is what leaves me feeling like they are senseless bits of content. I get even more frustrated when I out-level a zone, but the stupid trash mobs still manage to knock me off my ride due to the demons of RNG.
    If you saw a whole cluster of carrion eaters and knew they were clustered around a corpse you could loot, that might make more sense. But then we would run into the situation of having to share those clusters and corpses with everyone else in the zone, so that isn't a perfect solution either.

    P.S. If you'd like to return some of the challenge to SWTOR, grab the White Acute Module and turn off 12 times XP when you are doing all of the planetary quests.

    1. Therein lies the dilemma, I don't want to turn off 12x when doing the story missions (and Scooter and I are each two different story mission at the same time), and the 12x is not in effect for the planetary quests anyway. Let's face it, SWTOR was never super challenging anyway. But the only way to to continue at a semi-challenging rate is turn off the 12 completely for everything, or skip the planet quests and just do the class storyline.

      As far as the annoying speed-bumpy-ness of trash mobs, no argument there. Much like vendor trash, as you pointed out on Twitter, they seem to be a relic of D&D dungeon crawls, where they probably didn't make much sense either, but at least the DM could make it interesting.