The land of lost content: Lum on the lifecycle of the MMO player

*coff* Is anyone still here? (I love you all!)  I thought I’d catch the Blaugust train before it completely left the station.

This is Lum’s masterful summary of the lifecycle of an MMO player. He’s just looking at the cycle in one MMO, not the part where you try to repeat the experience fruitlessly a few times and then wander off to find some other hobby.

 

collared dove

XL. Into my heart on air that kills

INTO my heart on air that kills

  From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

  What spires, what farms are those?


That is the land of lost content,

  I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

  And cannot come again.

 

Listening to Welcome to Nightvale.

In links we trust

  1. Can Gaming make a better world? Rick at /random writes about Jane McGonigals well reported speech at TED on this subject. But heck, we know how hard gamers work on problems like organising raids and killing raid bosses – which are social as well as mechanical puzzles. Would they be as interested in complex real world problems too? And here a local government blogger, inspired by the same TED talk, ponders World of Govcraft. Could people get more involved in local government and solving local issues if they pretended it was a virtual world?
  2. Scott Jennings writes at mmorpg.com about the hard numbers behind SW:TOR. How much money does this game need to make? How much has been poured into it so far? Is this model sustainable?
  3. Dusty shares some insights into social games. And particularly the mechanics that allow a player to progress by either inviting more people OR spending money. Paying to avoid socialising?
  4. Oh yeah, apparently some little Finnish guild killed the Lich King on hard mode. Awesome work, Paragon! Even now people are inspecting their lineup and preparing the inevitable whine posts if their favourite class/spec didn’t make the cut.
  5. Ravious finds that the way he sees his online community has changed. He feels more connected to other gamers (ie. bloggers, twitter community etc) than just to his guild in his game of choice.  And I’m going to twin this with a column in The Guardian where a journalist writes about the value of virtual communities – she’s comparing her son’s community in WoW with her favourite political bboard and concludes … that much of the experience is the same.
  6. Gevlon analyses why his undergeared project is floundering. His conclusions are on the button and won’t surprise any experienced guild or raid leader. People are shallow, fickle, and selfish. But that doesn’t mean it was wrong to try.
  7. Melmoth runs into some mobstacles in Moria. This is one of the big reasons why I was so delighted to escape to Lothlorien (it does get a lot better). Player vs Developer also describes why he thinks the LOTRO economy just isn’t working and the problem with emblems and multiple ‘currencies’.
  8. Fulugaris on Killing Em Slowly asks whether Burst DPS is More Fun?
  9. Brigwyn at The Hunter’s Lodge is calling time. It’s an awesome blog and he’ll be dearly missed, but as he says himself, “I’ve done pretty much everything in the game at least once.” Dwism also picked up on Whiny Post Day with a post about when you run out of fun (note: the tone of these whiny posts is of course whiny and does not reflect what the blogger is usually like ;) ).
  10. And the Big Bear Butt blogger gives some good and heartfelt advice to new bloggers. I don’t entirely agree that spelling and grammar aren’t important (some of your readers may not speak English as a first language and good spelling/grammar will help them) but it’s not something to fret about in your first draft.
  11. Finally, the press embargo on The Secret World was dropped this week. Ysharros is here with links to all the reports around the web from journalists who tried it at GDC.

Stranglethorn Vale: Hot or Not?

It isn’t often that you get a chance to see two notable professionals duke it out about the design of a WoW zone. But Stranglethorn Vale, the marmite of the Warcraft World (ie. you love it or you hate it) inspires strong emotions among players and pros alike.

Richard Bartle describes why he thinks it’s such a well designed zone.

He’s made good points. When I have levelled an alt from scratch, I’ve always breathed a sigh of relief when I got into Stranglethorn in the low 30s because it was such an easy, well laid out zone for levelling. I don’t agree with all of his points, in particular the flow is less good for Horde than Alliance, but he reminded me of all the fun I’d had working through quests there.

Aside from that, it’s an awesome article and worth reading for his musings on the theme of the zone and how he feels the quest and level design feeds into the whole experience. I don’t know if was mostly a happy accident with Stranglethorn or if this is the kind of thing MMO level designers think about all the time — I’d like to think it was the latter though.

Lum picks Stranglethorn apart and describes why it drives him nuts.

This isn’t as well executed an article or as persuasive an argument, but he’s right that the zone covers too wide a level range, and the jump between them is not smooth. The levelling guides always solved this by presenting it in two parts and sending you off round the world in the interrim. Not something you’d associate with smooth flow.