Hi, My Name Is Stropp And I Have G.A.D.D

This is another in my Blaugust series of posts. For the others, you can find them at the tag page here.

G.A.D.D.

Fellow Gaddites. I haz it. You might too.

It’s the sense that the grass is greener on the other server. It’s thinking that another race/class combination will be better. It’s about logging into one game only to sigh, log out, and try something else.

As you might have guessed I am talking about Gaming Attention Deficit Disorder.

Is there a support group for this malady, or am I condemned to forever be distracted by the next shiny game that’s come on the scene?

To be honest, most of the time it doesn’t really bother me that much. I’m happy to flit between games as I feel like it.

I reckon a lot of that is just me. I’ve always been distractable, always been someone taken by a new idea, thought, or daydream.

I think too, the games themselves are partly to blame for this.

There’s been a few posts recently, spurred by a comment about Project: Gorgon, where it’s stated that Blizzard and by extension most post-WoW MMORPGs have optimized their game to the point where every 15 seconds a player kills a monster, and every 15 minutes the player hands in a quest. It’s a treadmill that moves in only one direction. And rather than extending the game horizontally, the game experience is being hyper-optimized to keep the player on the road to the end-game, which in most cases is raiding.

This I think has changed the dynamic in most MMORPGs. I’ve read articles by other bloggers over the last couple of years that conclude that most games these days have changed the need to form a relationship via grouping to grouping up with a minimum of communication. I think many of us have grouped with other players in a dungeon who haven’t typed a word in chat. I may as well have been grouping with a bunch of bots.

The conclusion of these bloggers has generally been to make grouping mandatory, and they’ve lauded the attempts to bring back mandatory Everquest style grouping. This, I think, is doomed to failure.

Our games already mandate group content. There’s no way to complete an at-level dungeon or instance in many games without forming a group, and that’s been the case for years. In fact, if anything it’s easier than ever to find a group, what with LFD, LFR, and cross server groups, there’s no reason not to quickly find a group. And if you want to raid, well you’ll need at the very least to be geared up for a LFR and that means you’ll need to be running with raid groups. I think the idea to make even usually solo-able content require a group won’t make players keep playing and coming back.

Because what keeps me coming back to a game is community.Every game I have ever stuck with for a long period: Asheron’s Call, Everquest 2, Anarchy Online, and World of Warcraft, what has kept me logging in is the people that I form relationships with. The games that tend to be a flash in the pan are ones where I’m just running around by myself. It’s not even soloing vs grouping. Certainly getting into groups opens up relationships, but just being a member of a guild and listening or reading guild chat makes a world seem more social. Far more than general chat.

In fact forcing me to group would drive me away from a game. I don’t mind helping other players out, and I’d help out guild-mates in a minute if asked. But sometimes I just need time to do something on my own. On my own and in a community. There’s a bit of a paradox there isn’t there?

Ultimately, I think that the biggest problem is that Blizzard (specifically. Other devs have followed their lead) has optimized WoW so much that there is no need for players to communicate anymore, and that’s not just to group. It’s all the other aspects of the game. Crafting doesn’t need interaction, just an auction house, so the trading that happened back in the days of Asheron’s Call no longer bring players together. (Remember that? When you’d barter items with other players for something that they needed, not necessarily in-game currency?)

These days there’s no dependency on other players to craft or to do anything much more than raid because that’s the end-game.

This is one of the things I’m wondering about Project: Gorgon. There seems to be a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement about this game. Is the buzz due to the old school mechanics, or is it due to the prospect that once again a game will be emphasizing community?