What Are You Going to Do With It?

Your game has various sources of gear or whatever your unit of character advancement is (usually gear). You might get it from quests, crafting, events, PvP, single group dungeons, or raids. Of course, whatever sort of gameplay you favor is the one that should produce the best rewards or at least have a chance of eventually earning something comparable to the best. In games with raids, especially progressive raiding, raids usually produce the strongest gear. And I have always been pretty much okay with this, despite never being all that interested in online synchronized dance recitals.

Because what are you going to do with the best weapon in the game as a solo player? None of the solo content assumes that you are going to have an extra thousand DPS, so you will just blow through it even quicker. Of course, by the time you get the best weapon in the game (TV Tropes warning, happy Monday), you don’t need it, so it is even more of a cosmetic reward. You will probably enjoy solo content less if you have raid gear that trivializes it. You do not need raid gear unless you are raiding.

But I know we have some readers who do things with MMO content other than enjoy it, so perhaps you have your reasons.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “What Are You Going to Do With It?

  1. Curuniel

    This is why I didn’t get upset about ascended gear in GW2. I don’t see why I would particularly need it unless I was running Fractals, which would provide me with the materials to buy it anyway.

    1. jcSadOne

      Understand Your point, but still – I feel otherwise. Ascended was pushed before its time, without much logical explanation. In matter of fact it was like introducing gear trademill to a game, that was advertised as a game that doesn’t have gear trademill at all. No new gear tier introduced since then, but hey – it’s just the feeling. To be honest – they pushed ascended in time, that most gear trademill oriented MMOs doesn’t even prepare playesr for new g-tiers. In matter of fact – since then, GW2 made a lot of steps into direction I really don’t like. Ascended gear was just first memorable step… small step for Anet, great collapse on ass to a post-GW1 playerbase. And I still refer to all changes I don’t like, as a heirdom of this mistake (because really – it was mistake. Nothing in-game proves me otherwise. The more I dig it, the more it looks like unfinished Crystal Desert update being thrown into small fractal-dungy-thingy, to just make it work, make it fast, make it now. Barley).

      1. Curuniel

        I’m a pretty casual player so maybe I’m missing something, but I’m seeing my friends pass up ascended accessories in favour of exotic ones because they’d rather have the upgrade slot than the base stats of an ascended piece. Doesn’t really seem like a new gear tier to me, so much as a separate kind of gear.

        I totally understand the objections raised at the time because we all tend to assume MMOs will follow on the model of other MMOs, and most do. It was worrying. But I feel that GW2 is not GW1 and should be, and yet GW2 does have its own feel which – although closer to current MMO convention – is not just pandering to what most people seem to think games ‘have’ to do eventually. Time will tell but I have faith!

  2. Delurm

    The same can be said for the group player – the biggest and worst boss in the game has to be kill-able without the best sword in the game (by definition or he can’t be beat) – so what are you going to do with the best gear when you have it?

    Kill the same boss again but faster?

    So essentially it’s just a cosmetic reward at this point right?

    You do know that none of the raiding content *can* be made around the assumption that you have an extra 1000 dps right? It has to be by definition beatable without the best gear in the game.

    The odd thing is that when Burning Crusade was opened up to China – they had guilds that were able to clear through Black Temple still wearing mostly gear from basic WoW – because they moved through it *so* fast they didn’t have time to gear up.

    Most of the ‘gear up’ was due to guilds having nothing *else* to do at the endgame, while they waited on Blizzard to provide content.

    The only thing that the group gives me in an MMO is interaction – that’s why grouping worked fine in EQ – because the game had *so* many things that slowed the game down (‘medding’, spawn timers, the concept of ‘camping’ in a big shared dungeon, lfg that was mostly just a flag at the big shared dungeon entrance) you had time to chat with your groupmates.

    Outside of voice chat there is no time to chat in a modern MMO – everything is so fast and twitchy who has time to type?

    1. Zubon Post author

      See Wiping By Design for a discussion of that first takedown before you are geared up. And of course the consistent “world first” players are just really that good at execution, beyond the gear and numbers.

      1. Delurm

        No I’m aware of both those things – however that ‘first takedown’ (at least in my opinion) is the sign of a dev who either can’t figure out balance or is going for an intentional block to give them time to work on the ‘next’ area.

        My point still stands though – all the same arguments work for raiding as they do for solo play.

        The reason the solo guy wants the gear is because when he *does* group he gets thrown together with 4-5 other raiders and can’t keep up feeling like a scrub.

        If the raid gear made solo and non-raid play kinda boring due to how easy it becomes – then why do they still do it?

        Honestly if the ‘you suck because your dps isn’t good enough’ sentiment wasn’t strong in *every* game you wouldn’t really see the solo/non-raid crowd give a fig, except maybe jealousy. As it is though you are expected to compete in ‘small’ group content with people in raid gear and then held to an impossible standard by the same people and as such you get your non raid people wanting the ability to do raid dps.

        Other designs that avoid this would be ‘raid gear that does something other than dps’.

    2. SynCaine

      The China BT example is a bit flawed; they were able to advance that quickly because they had already learned the content on the US/EU servers using appropriate raid gear, and back then knowing the dance lowered the gear requirement significantly for anything other than gear-check bosses. If they had to do the learning stage in blues, the progress would have been pitifully slow.

      That aside, in themeparks the BiS gear is often temporary, and is required once the bar is raised. MC gear was needed for BWL, and BWL gear was needed for AQ40. One did not walk into Nax40 with blues, etc.

      Of the few guilds that did reach the top in that era, they had BG like AV, where the gear helped but was not game-breaking because of the map design (WSG was a different story). That (and farming/selling runs) kept them entertained until the next raid tier was released.

      For everyone else raiding, they needed the better gear to do the same content due to a lower skill level. Back then ‘gearing up’ was how Blizzard controlled difficulty; now they just let everyone beat anything (or so I’ve heard).

      1. Delurm

        I respond to this with the following:

        http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2009/08/myth-of-gear.html

        So yeah – I’m sure in blue gear people already knew the fights and yadda yadda… the point being that it’s possible to do those zones without being ‘best in gear’ – the only thing that the gear gives you is an advantage and room for screw ups.

        Some raids have gear checks – for sure – but I find that I enjoy a raid that is more tolerant of mistakes than the kind where you either outgear it or ‘one mistake and you lose’

        So yeah ‘gearing up’ is fun for everyone – the post is about why a solo (which I really read as non-raider I suppose) player needs raid gear – and really if the two sides of the game didn’t collide it wouldn’t really be needed, when they do collide it’s *not fun* to be told you are a scrub because you didn’t raid.

  3. bhagpuss

    You might be dismissing both “doing the same stuff you can do already only faster” and “ripping through content that used to be hard as if it was tissue paper” too lightly, I think. For no small number of players, doing it faster and/or more easily *is* doing it better. They either have more fun that way or think they are going to, and anticipation can be 90% of the game. I like to take content at a very sedate pace the first two or three times through, but after a certain level of familiarity it does indeed become more entertaining the faster and more easily you rip through it. Given that I routinely play through the same content in MMOs I like many times over, that’s not an insignificant factor.

    Another point is that often one is using content for a secondary purpose. Let’s take Rift as an example. There was a time when I needed a really large amount of Spellspun Silk and its rare cousin, Witchweave. I would be going round and round the big fortress in front of Zareph’s Return for hour after hour killing everything that moved to collect silk.Upgrading my gear made that process faster and presumably moving to Raid gear would have made it faster still.

    I’m not suggesting it would be worth Raiding *just* to farm crafting mats more easily but on the the line between “this is the bare minimum I need to do solo content and survive” and “I’m wearing the best gear in the game” there are an awful lot of stopping off points.

    1. Delurm

      There is one other thing – many times the raid gear has really nifty toys that are enjoyable throughout the entire game experience.

      In WoW there were set bonuses that were cool – in EQ there were items that gave you cross class spells (avatar weapons were a huge one) – in DDO you can make raid gear with resurrection clickies and other valuable buffs you can’t self cast as a melee even if you have the skills to cast scrolls (because there is no scroll for the spell).

      There almost never is a non-raid analogue for these types of items – the only game that *really* had them was EQ where some of the coolest items had clickies and were even low level (circlet of shadows I am hugging you). Using EQ as the example you’d find high level people farming for these items because they are fun/cool to use – and when you put all that cool crap only in one side of your game – it’s just another avenue that makes people want to access the same kind of fun that is being had ‘over on that side of the fence’.

      Even if the numbers didn’t matter – if you design your cool crap for one group of players it will make people want to participate in a part of the game they might not otherwise care to – or they will feel disenfranchised and left out.

  4. Pyrthas

    I think my motivation is very different from yours in general. “You will probably enjoy solo content less if you have raid gear that trivializes it” isn’t really true for me. Or, rather, it’s true, but beside the point. One of the things I enjoy most with games is trying to trivialize them. If I succeed, then yes, I’m likely to get bored, because I only rarely enjoy playing trivial games, but I greatly enjoy trying to get games to that state. Put another way, I’m not interested in playing games once they’ve been broken, but I like trying to break them (through understanding the systems better, through acquiring better items, through practicing relevant skills, etc.).

    I want better gear in MMOs for the same reason I want better gear in single-player games (which, again, may of course have nothing to do with why anybody else wants better gear in either kind of game): it gets me closer to make the game so boring that I don’t want to play it.

    This isn’t the only thing I enjoy or care about in games. Story or storytelling can keep me playing a relatively trivial game, for instance. But one thing among many that makes a game great, for me, is not being trivializable. Maybe the best example of a game that didn’t fit this bill, again just for me, was Oblivion: after getting some lucky drops that made me go to a wiki and look up some specific stats, I realized that I could, with just a couple more items, run around completely invulnerable to everything but arrows. So I went out and got those items, played for another half hour or so, and uninstalled the game.

    1. Curuniel

      I once made an argument that there were two kinds of meta-game in an MMO: one to win at the game (best PvP builds for the current climate etc), and one to beat the developers at their own game – finding exploits and other advantages which may not have been intended as part of the game, but that the devs did not have the foresight to make impossible. I don’t mean to suggest that your strategies come under exploits or cheats, but it does sound like a similar mentality – you’ve beat the game not when you’ve finished the content, but when you’ve managed to get around whatever balance and challenge was intended and can thus pwn everything.

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