Skip to content

But is it fun?

October 21, 2010

We play this game. It’s called World of Warcraft. The clue is in the word “game”. We play it because it is fun. The question that the game designers have to answer is “what makes the game fun”. But it is also a question that we all have to answer for ourselves.

I enjoy raiding, I enjoy random killing sprees while chatting with friends. I enjoy quickly running through a heroic in 20 minutes while waiting to do something else. I enjoy working out a way to make more gold that I spend and seeing the profits accumulate. All of these things are “fun” from my point of view.

But I may not be the average person playing this game. In fact, I won’t be as there is no such thing in reality. We are all different and we all have different desires and needs. I have relatively little spare time after working and socialising and all the time I put into WoW, I want to be productive. I literally cannot conceive of saying “I am bored of just sitting in Dalaran doing nothing.” If I was bored when playing WoW, I’d read a book, or watch a dvd, or bake a cake, or clean the house. Or hell, just sleep a bit more which I’d love to do.

If I am in WoW, it will be because I have something to do in it. It may not be saving the world, but it will be positive action and it will have a purpose.

On a tangent, this is why I resent faff in raids. I have better things to do than wait ages for other people. I really wish I could have a teleport to raid instance button and the ability to quest while in a raid group! It would make me so happy.

When it comes down to it, I spend a slightly scary amount of my free time in WoW. But I am a swing voter, Blizzard has my vote for now because I have time committed to them, I have built up resources of experience, characters, gold and friends there. But I am very excited by the idea of a Vampire: The Masquerade MMORPG and would love to play that. I could switch, I may switch.

But only if I enjoy it.

A lot of the messaging around the changes in Patch 4.0.1 is that they are designed to make a “better game”. Why is it harder to aoe tank now? “To make a better game.” Why should healers run out of mana? “To make a better game.” Why should we use crowd control more? “To make a better game.”

Actually the last one I agree with.

I think of myself as a tank but I have raided in all three roles. I enjoy tanking because it is slightly more difficult and has more responsibility than DPS. I enjoy it more than healing because I like being proactive rather than reactive (also why I prefer druid healing to paladin or shaman healing).

If we take the three points above, all of them up the difficulty of the game but one is adding an extra dimension to the game and the others are just making life difficult.

Fun is not about difficulty and frustration. Fun can be about satisfaction that a difficult task has been surmounted. But not if the difficulties feel too artificial.

Obviously WoW is artificial. But it tries not to feel it. And I cooperate. I fight Arthas, I don’t try to type a long list of key strokes in order to be told that I’ve solved a puzzle. But it is harder to have this feeling of a real world when the basic laws of how it works change. I can buy that my fellow death knights have learned how to create a new spell. But why have I forgotten how to drive a man into fit of hysterical strength? Why has boiling the blood in someone’s veins suddenly got more lethal?

Oh, right, Deathwing did it.

Actually, a mad Deathwing did it.

See, it makes sense now.

Take aoe tanking. I like doing this. I enjoy the fact that my death knight can raise his two handed axe and dare a hundred mobs to attack him all at once. It’s fun. It feels heroic.

It is less fun if they then run straight at the mage.

Similarly, when I heal I take intense satisfaction in the feeling that those whose life I safeguard are unhurt. Not that they are just about alive and my skills in triage are stopping them from collapsing, unhurt! If I see damage, I want to abolish it. If I see disease or poison, I want to remove it. I don’t want to have to say, “Oh, but it is only a dps, he can survive without a heal because I only have mana for two more spells and the tank will need those”.

This has been a long-winded way of saying I’m not sure about Cataclysm. I was excited when Wrath came out. All the classes I played at the time felt as if they had been improved dramatically. The game became faster and more amusing. Now, the best I can say is that some have not got worse.

I tanked in Icecrown Citadel yesterday and for the first time since the patch managed to stay online for the evening. The mechanics changes did not make it impossible. But I did not really enjoy myself all that much.

A better game? I’m not a judge of that. But so far, the mechanics changes have not been “fun”.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: