Achievers. Explorers. Socializers. Killers. Everyone gets something different out of the game, and yet we are all rewarded in the same ways. Why?
Over in Weekend of the Rings, a discussion came about as to why players are already burning out on it. Some folks say there’s not enough stuff there for Achiever-types. Other folks say the game is almost entirely for achievers and not for explorers or killers.
I, personally, burned out on LotRO because it was almost exactly like WoW in terms of gameplay. The one thing that kept me in for the few weeks that it did was the more robust exploration.
I wonder what will happen when some clever game designer realizes that people might want different aspects of the game, but don’t want them to be dependent upon each other? For example, I like exploration, and will do it for days on end in a new game. However, I will eventually hit the “this area is too big for you” wall that requires me to tap into my inner achiever if I want to explore anymore without having to do the constant-rez dance. It’s not that I don’t like both gameplay styles, it’s that I don’t want one inherently tied to the other. I especially don’t want my explorer rewards to feed into achievement gameplay instead of explorer. Given that I’m not a socializer, and only marginally a killer, I don’t really want those gameplay styles intruding on my time much, either.
I think it would have been great if, instead of giving me +10 hit points or +1% poison resistance or whatever, the early explorer rewards in LotRO had made me less apt to get attacked by certain mobs. Perhaps a “Diplomat” award to make goblins and orcs less likely to attack me, “Brother of the Road” to reduce the chance that bandits would attack, or “Friend to the Animals” for a similar animal-based effect. If the player attacked those types, the effect could be broken for 15 minutes or longer, to avoid as much abuse by achievers. It could still be made entertainingly dangerous by having perhaps one or two rare types of monsters with no “safety” badge, but still reasonably safe and enjoyable for even a level 5 character to explore in a level 40 area.
There’s usually some of this type of thing done for killer players. In WoW, PvP (killer) gear is separated from PvE (achievement) gear by the predominant stats and bonuses on it. Certain powersets in City of Heroes/Villains are much more highly valued in PvE than PvP, and vice versa, but getting to a point where PvP powersets are useful in PvP means engaging in a bunch of PvE achiever-style gameplay. I remember the great joy that the PvP players had when, in order to test the new level 40-50 PvP zone, the devs made it so that players could instantly level characters to 41 on the test server for a few days. There were a lot of players that wanted a dedicated PvP server that was tuned specifically for this, but given that part of the cash cow of CoX is the time to level, the devs said no.
Socializers are perhaps the most difficult player type to directly reward. Anything in-game is likely to be co-opted by achievers that want to improve their character in every possible way. Similarly, killers, at least the worst of them, will use in-game rewards as a way to mess with socializers if at all possible. Socializers are an especially tempting target to killers because they are, by nature, expressive and likely to give the negative attention that a peculiar subset of killers enjoys. I’m not sure if there’s any particular in-game reward that can be given to socializers, but then again, I’m not sure there’s any that needs to be. Socializing is a mini-game with fluid rules that are, possibly, too complex to be easily codified. Perhaps one of our clever readers will come up with something there.
So what say you, Ratkillers? What would you like to see, in terms of rewards for diferent play styles?