Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

Innovation vs Nostalgia in the Gamer Psyche

Posted by Stropp on March 9, 2013

That title sounds like a university PHD project doesn’t it?

Don’t worry. It’s not. It’s just the rambling of this old gamer.

Wilhelm at TAGN, has titled his latest post Innovate! Is The Mating Call Of The Lazy Gamer. While the content of his post is something I can agree with, I don’t agree that it is necessarily a lazy gamer who is always calling for innovation in games. Wilhelm’s conclusion:

If you are complaining about no innovation and ignoring them, then you didn’t really want any innovation in the first place I guess.  Heaven forbid you get off your ass and go find something new.

Well, we do keep hearing calls for innovation, but if we examine the evidence on Kickstarter it is quite plain to see that the projects that get the most funding the quickest are the ones that are built on nostalgia. I have no stats, and have done no research here, but I have an opinion. Surprise!

For an example look no further than Wasteland 2 and the latest project by InXile, Torment, which has raised nearly 2.2 million dollars with 27 days left to go. Incidentally, the total raised for Wasteland 2 was 2.9 million over the full Kickstarter period.

Both predecessors for these games were well loved fan favorites. The original Wasteland spawned the Fallout series, and Planescape: Torment was an RPG touted by many as one of the greatest of all time. Lots of players have fond memories of their time playing these games. Some still do play them today.

I’d be interested if someone did a breakdown of the Kickstarter success, failure, and way-over-the-top-success numbers; what the actual stats showed. My guess is the bulk of the failures would be indies that put up tiny Kickstarters with new & innovative ideas. I’d also hazard a guess that many weren’t all that well presented and run, leading to their failure.

Well then how about the difference between successful and wildly successful, and by that I mean making more than 1.5 times the original goal?

Again, just a guess, but for game projects I reckon that it would be the nostalgia based campaigns that do the best.

Wilhelm says that this is because of laziness. I think it is more the case that the gamer who calls for innovation is a tad confused. Why?

After all most people know what they like, and don’t like what they don’t know. Despite calls for innovation, someone is more likely to invest in a game that they have experience before, and have liked.

Game developers on the other hand, have to eat. They’re in the same boat, indie and AAA. This means that they need to go where the money is, and the same rules apply. Players are more likely to buy a game with which they have some familiarity or nostalgic bias. That innovative new game is likely to get overlooked, not to mention that indie studios have less money to promote their games while the AAA publishers have such large development budgets they can’t take a risk on anything innovative. We’re less likely to see innovation in games.

What we will see is innovation within features. Blizzard for example took a fairly minor aspect of MMORPG gameplay, the quest, and made it into the foundation of World of Warcraft gameplay. That’s not to say that Blizzard invented quests, or that they weren’t major gameplay elements of single player games; they were. But quests were the side dishes of most MMO gameplay of that era. In order to advance you simply ground through mobs. You quested as a diversion from that. In some cases a quest didn’t even give XP. Blizzard changed all that.

Now every new MMO has the quest as the central feature of gameplay. And perhaps now it is too much, too overdone.

So, having said all that. When a gamer says they want innovation really what they are saying is that they want the same thing that they’ve played before, but gussied up with a new feature or two, and perhaps with a few gameplay elements modified a tad. For some, an old game with sparkling new graphics is enough.

For others it might be the modification or removal of an aspect of gameplay that didn’t make sense or was too hard, or that spoiled their enjoyment of the game. Permadeath or corpse runs for example. And even others might want those elements brought back.

So, laziness? Well no. I don’t think so. It’s just the way that people see the world. From bias and nostalgia. People have a fundamental need to keep moving forward. The desire for progress drives invention and the call for innovation. Nostalgia provides an emotional and sometime real safety net. It’s a strong, evolutionary imperative to keep us safe. There’s a constant tension between the two; so we say we want innovation, but fall back on security.

What do you think?




A Bit Of Running Around And A Rematch

Posted by Stropp on February 19, 2011

Lunch time beckons so I’m taking a short break from Everquest to satisfy the foodish cravings. At one time I recall playing games, so focussed that I forgot to eat. That would be great these days as I need to lose a few kilos, but the reduced ability to play through is only one of the things affected by age. But I digress.

Last night when I left off, I had made it about 40% of the way to level 4. A couple of hours play this morning has seen that goal acheived.

I did a little exploring, had a look inside Blackburrow, but it wa’s bit harsh for a level 3, probably even a level 4. I might head in at level 5 or 6.

I spent my time mostly in the Qeynos Hills area. Unfortunately, QH seems to be far less populated with spawns than the Commonlands, and there were a few players there. Made it somewhat less interesting than Commonlands, but now I’ve leveled we’ll see if that improves.

I also ran into an old friend.

Fippy Darkpaw

My Old Mate Fippy

Time for a rematch. This time there was no competition so I went at him. Although technically he attacked me first. Shortly afterwards the result was known.

Fippy Is Dead

There Can Be Only One

Nothing dropped this time. The last time I scored Fippys Paw which conveniently placed itself in my ranged slot. It’s not much, but improves a couple of stats, and can also be placed in my house if ever I get one.

Fippys Paw

Give Me A Hand Please

Hopefully when I get back this arvo, I’ll be able to add another level or two. At that time I’ll see about hitting Blackburrow.

Stay tuned.

Oops. I Did It Again.

Posted by Stropp on February 19, 2011

No. Not Britany Spears. I succumbed to the addiction of altaholism.

It’s getting quite late, it’s coming up on 1:30am, so I’ll be quick.

I didn’t get any time to play on Fippy yesterday. By the time I was ready to get on and do some old skool grinding (so old skool it’s spelt wrong) it was 9pm. I logged in and found the servers all locked. SOE had taken them all down to do an update about a minute earlier, and was saying that the downtime was going to be 5 hours. That put paid to that.

I’d already got Stropp the Mage to level four on Wednesday, and logged him in again today (Friday) and spent about 90 minutes this afternoon adding about 50 percent of the next level running about the Commonlands. I also experimented a bit with the different pets, Water, Fire, and Air. Air seems to be the winner, but he gets lost a lot.

Around 9pm I was ready to have another go, but this time as I said, I couldn’t resist and created the Paladin I was considering. She ended up being a Half-Elf called Stroppadin and started in South Qeynos. Man is that area confusing!

I moved out to the North Qeynos front yard and started the killing process from scratch, but this time it seemed a lot faster. I hit level 2 within an hour and a half, and three about the same time later. I was even close enough to a yellow Fippy Darkpaw when he started his assault and managed to both do the most damage and get the kill, giving me a bit of loot including Fippy’s Paw which adds to some stats. Nice.

This time I did a bit more exploring and tried to do one of the quests that the guildmasters give out.

And was that ever frustrating. I had to deliver a note into the Catacombs, and for the life of me I couldn’t find a clear path to the recipient. I ended up leaving the zone and found myself in a pool that I couldn’t get out of. So I drowned myself. There’s something wrong with that whole thing I reckon. It needs to be better.

Funny enough the actual grinding isn’t too bad. I’m still enjoying the process and even the occasional death isn’t that annoying.

After the Catacombs I headed back into the yard and resumed the grind, I ended up about 40 percent to level 4 when I logged.

As for tomorrow, it’s Saturday so it’s a good time to do some more ever questing, and not make any more alts!

Is The Experience Gain On Fippy Darkpaw Too Slow?

Posted by Stropp on February 17, 2011

It didn’t take very long at all did it?

Within a few hours of the new Everquest progression server, Fippy Darkpaw, going live this thread (EXP Too Slow On Fippy) appeared on the official forums. I guess it’s not unexpected.

There are two main points being made in this discussion.

  1. Experience gain is much slower than it was on the original classic servers, and I’m not happy.
  2. It’s fine; I’m happy; Don’t complain.

Personally, while I found it a lot slower than I’m used too, killing 50 mobs to get to level 2 is very slow, the amount didn’t bother me all that much. I think I would have prefered to level a tad faster in the first two levels, and I think it would have helped move players on from the newby area faster too, but overall I enjoyed the experience of being in an area with many other players.

I’m not there yet, but from what I’ve read the leveling speed will increase as the levels increase past the low levels. Over the years, the hell levels of Everquest have been eliminated as SOE has smoothed out the experience curve. This should see a much smoother progression than existed on the classic servers.

It’s also a possible reason for the slowness of the first two levels. Smoothing out curves tends to make the ‘fast’ levels slower while speeding up the ‘slow’ levels. It’s just the price to be paid for a better game experience later on.

Still, there’s a few players that think that leveling is too slow. What about you. What do you think?

Asheron’s Call – Ten Years Already?

Posted by Stropp on November 3, 2009

250px-Asheron's_Call_CoverartSometimes it’s hard to fathom how fast time seems to pass by.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I played my first FPS, System Shock I on my new 486 laptop (DX2 66 FTW!) It also doesn’t seem that long ago that I installed my first MMORPG on my PC.

That MMORPG happened to be Asheron’s Call, and it was only chance that it was AC being installed and not Everquest.

You see, I was in a bit of a gaming funk one evening around May or June of 2000 and finally decided to try out one of these MMORPG thing that I’d been hearing about. I’d previously dismissed the idea of a game (UO) where you had lots of players socializing along with playing. And the idea of a monthly subscription was ludicrous. It took a couple of years for me to come around to the idea. So when I finally got the urge to try a MMORPG, the only name I knew (aside from UO) was Everquest. I did a little research on the Internet, and headed out into the Autumn weather to a computer store.

When I got there, there was no Everquest on the shelf. Instead there was this box with a brownish artwork. It wasn’t Everquest, and to be honest that artwork wasn’t really that great. I was a bit dubious, so I studied the blurb on the box to make sure I was getting what I wanted, headed to the counter and bought the game and headed home to install it.

Of course, the best laid plans and all that. After I installed Asheron’s Call, I couldn’t log into the game. I’m taxing the old memory here, and can’t remember the exact reason (I suspect it was something to do with the Microsoft passport system), but I spent a while looking though the online FAQs and finally, disgusted, I logged a support ticket.

I was so disgusted in fact that I almost decided to write the whole thing off as a bad joke. However, a day or two later, support resolved the issue and I logged in to Dereth for the first time.

It really didn’t take very long to hook me.

It was incredible to have the freedom to run around and do whatever I wanted to do, which was die a lot early on. I spent the next few months happily playing my completely gimped jack of all trades, Axis, before I realized that it was important to properly choose my stats and skills early on and rerolling, and rerolling again. Hmmm. Maybe AC is to blame for my altitis? Nah.

And like a gateway drug, I have since gone from one MMORPG to the next. Sometimes spending a lot of time in the game, WoW had me for four years on or off, EQ2 probably the next longest stint.

Oh, and I did eventually get Everquest. It didn’t last as long as AC though. There’s something about a first game that imprints a set of expectations of game play that no other game can really ever wash away.

So yeah, all that seems like it didn’t happen all that long ago.

The 2nd of November, 2009 marks the tenth year that players have been tooling around Dereth, called by Asheron to help clean up his mess.

It’s been a good run, and I for one would be happy to see Asheron’s Call around for a few more years.