Busywork in games

In every PvE heavy game, the content and the pace comes in fits and starts. Some new content is patched in and playerbase collectively says, “Woohoo!” and rushes off to do all the exciting new patch-related things.

Some people rush through more quickly than others. But eventually, towards the end of the patch cycle, most players have gotten over the initial thrill and are settling back into their normal playing pattern.  That is, the default way they play a favourite MMO when there isn’t anything else to do. So that would include any regular events like weekly raids, or alt nights. It might include gathering, crafting, or auction house maintenance to keep the gold supplies up.

In the IT trade, we call this the null cycle or the idle loop – it’s what the CPU in your computer does when ticking over, waiting for a user interrupt, and trying to save energy.  I wonder how much having an actual default weekly/ monthly schedule in a game keeps people ticking over when the new content runs dry.

But the question is, do you start inventing new things to do when you’re in an idle loop so as to keep the hours played roughly similar? For example, are you more likely to play alts or start a new in-game project rather than just logging off or playing a different game? Do you look into particularly time consuming achievements because you want to spend the same amount of time in the game as when a new patch is out?


6 thoughts on “Busywork in games

  1. Unfortunately, I level so slowly that new and exciting patch content is never something I get to experience. I usually keep on keepin’ on with questing (which more often then not is still well below the content that’s touched by the patch).

  2. That’s actually one of the great advantages of playing more casually. You don’t get this strange start-stop rhythm, plus most of the bugs have been fixed by the time you get around to stuff.

  3. Alts, heirloom farming fer me alts, skilling up crafting on the alts, battlegrounds, alts, gettin’ that last glunkernuggin’ gold coin in the fountain (I curses you fer evers, Kael’thas!), loremaster, emblem farming fer me off-spec set, alts, runnin’ old world dungeons nekkid, holiday events, alts, farming ToC fer the dps trinket, runnin’ friends’ alts through old-world dungeons, farming CC and CE rep, farming rare drop recipes, runnin’ friends’ alts through old-world dungeons nekkid, farming mounts, alts, ….

    Wait, I’s supposed ta run outta interestings stuff fer ta do? Bugger, I guess I doin’ it wrong.

  4. I like computer games and fantasy/scifi novels. When I get bored, I play another game, and if there are no new games out there, I read a book.

    Some female gamers I know start grooming cats when they are bored. Even if the cats are not always happy about that. And no, I am not talking about you or arbitrary. Just a general observation. 🙂

  5. “Wait, I’s supposed ta run outta interestings stuff fer ta do? Bugger, I guess I doin’ it wrong.”


    I would love to do loremaster or some oldschool rep. farm one day but… I barely have time to level my new alt in between raiding on 2 chars, running daily heroic 4 times a day, doing seasonal achievements and few dailies here and there, crafting stuff for AH selling… If I had only 1 char then maybe, but only maybe I’d run out of things to do, but can’t confine myself to playing one class when so many are enjoyable.

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