Information Overload

Leukos comments:

for someone completely new to MMORPGs, picking up the game and getting through all the new customizations is a bigger issue. I have many first time players in my guild, and as they leveled up there was a clear knowledge gap apparent between what they knew from learning in game, and what I knew from my outside reading even about classes I had never played. Increasingly complex customizations are required to be successful in the game, especially if you are looking at the pvp game.

I have no idea how a casual City of Heroes player would know to look for all the task forces or hidden contacts. As an experienced gamer, I no longer expect the game to guide me much beyond a basic tutorial, and I do not trust the tutorial to guide me towards good decisions because of the gap between the designers’ original vision and what is actually effective in the game.

In our guild, you ask Adam or I about rules specifics, and you ask whoever specializes in that class for guidance on big decisions. If you are not tapped into the information network, how very lost are you?

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Information Overload”

  1. I think it varies from game to game. I’ve seen people with gimptastic builds well into the 20s on CoH, and they do okay. I’m not saying they’re doing as well as the hyper-tweaked IOed build, but they’re doing okay, particularly in small teams where they’re doing enough to contribute in order to help the team and therefore aren’t forced to solo on a bad build. In terms of all the hidden contacts and everything else, I think it’s going to matter less with the Orouborous system coming in Issue 11. Missing contacts and badges will mean a lot less then.

    Over in WoW? Hahahahah I feel for the poor bastard that specced resto shaman and is trying to solo. I remember, after coming from CoH to WoW when it first started and going “2% chance to stun for two seconds? As a talent pick?” Still, even the worst build there will get to 60 eventually, and they’ll get enough “helpful” abrasive comments on their build and playstyle on the way up to respec at least halfway decently. Tabula Rasa seems to be similar; I’m playing a soldier over there, and it feels like I’ve made some okay choices, but I’m only at level 9, so who knows?

    And then you go right over the edge into the truly hardcore games, where you can gimp yourself within the first five levels and not survive long enough to get to a respec. I cannot see the attraction there, but some people like them. Those are also, usually, the ones that give the least handholding in terms of tutorials, etc.

  2. Tabula Rasa… it’s possible to screw up a build enough that you can’t really compare to a well-built one — a Sapper that focused on Crafting, Leech Guns, Crab Mines, and Motor Assist armor isn’t going to do well compared to someone with Firearms 5, Polarity Gun 5, Mech Armor 3+, and Shield Extender 5. On the other hand, you can solo up to the mid-30s with basic care with just Firearms 1 and Tools 1, so it probably isn’t too bad. The post-35 stuff is hard no matter what your build is, but it’s likely to undergo a revamp soon.

    Given that Tabula Rasa’s current information network consists of fan wikis and the /1 server-wide general chat, though, the average player tends to be fairly well connected.

    I think City of Heroes is uniquely bad for this sorta issue. It allows you to make unavailable certain, important powers (I’ve actually seen someone make it to 50 with a “Wet Ice”-less Ice Tanker, meaning she had no status protection at all). EQ2’s system would just automatically deliver it to the status tray, and WoW would. What’s worse is the difference in tactics between a starting player and an experienced one. My first CoH character was a Kinetics/Energy Defender (it gets worse), and after experience with other games, I wasn’t expecting multiple lower-level enhancers to be better than a single high level piece of equipment, or for powers to actually stack on themselves from the same caster.

    As you can guess, this didn’t end particularly well, especially given that I was also stuck on the concept of healing being teh awesome and snipe pulling being important.

    On the other side of capabilities, my current Storm/Dark Defender tends to herd together four or five spawns worth of Nemesis enemies, up to and including bosses, for yucks, while my revived Kineticist tends to have so many active buffs that it used to cause my old computer to crash.

    EQ2 does do some really screwed up stuff, though.

  3. I have been reading and enjoying this site for over a year now, so it was a pleasant surprise to see myself quoted. I made my point for complexity in WoW, which is one of the most casual games in the market. So I think it would definitely hold true for some of the more complex games on offer. I wonder why more of the information about how to succeed in the game isn’t available through the game company sites. It seems that third party sources are always better designed and written.

  4. Depending on what era of the game you were laying in a Wet Ice-less tanker… well, I’m not saying it was good, for damned sure. However, given that Wet Ice didn’t even stop sleep for a long time, it was only marginally useful. It was pretty much almost better to have a pocket empath for Clear Mind or, better yet, not take Ice Armor at all. However, Energy Absorption by itself could be counted on to shoulder the burden of defense anyways.

  5. Either late i5 or early i6, after Sleep was added. She didn’t tend to go looking for pocket Empaths or Storm Summoners, either; she just didn’t know that sort of capability was out there.

    As for why the information isn’t available, there are a few different reasons cited.

    There’s the Statesman viewpoint : that too many pure numbers just tend to confuse people rather than illuminate anything. I can kinda understand that. The first racial bonus on my Kerra in EverQuest 2 might as well have involved rolling a dice; +5 Wisdom really doesn’t mean much to the average player, and even those who do bother with the math rather than the RP quality probably would do just as well from a “increase resistances, healing, and priest mana”. Of course, there are just as many places that actual numbers are more important : choosing between “a fast attack” and a “strong attack” can vary a good deal, especially if choosing one means giving up the other.

    The next is that these sorta things tend to be very time-consuming to put together. Iakona spent months dealing with the data from City of Heroes, and while his and Red Tomax’s end result was amazing, it also wasn’t something I’d put up on a professional web page. Providing useful information in a readable format requires a boatload of design and art time, and no matter what the format, unless it can be made understandable and placed inside the game in an intuitive location, most players aren’t going to see it.

    Finally, nothing people in the industry try to make will match up to what gamers produce by standards set by other gamers. The two camps just think too differently; that’s why beta testing tends to find bugs that internal alpha testing would never notice. Game developers don’t think about players using repel to get a load of enemies in place for relatively small AoEs. People who work with them take “quick recovery as a replacement for stamina” at face value, instead of realizing that perhaps people might take both.

  6. When i first started CoX I was completely lost. I didn’t know where to go, how to get to other zones, I didn’t even know I had a bank! I was vendoring stuff because I had no room.

    The powers was the least problem, I could read the power desriptions and play around, and always make new changes. When i got invited to my first strike force, I spent 5 minutes asking questions about what a strike force was. CoX is probably the best since it’s easy to start over, unlike games where you collect a ton of gear. Oh wait they changed that too in 9! :) You can get a respec, but they don’t tell you how.

  7. CoH added a lot more guidance on the trainers. I don’t know if it is useful, since I already know everything on there. I’ve never tried to blank my knowledge and see if the game tells me enough.

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