I’ve been following Lord of the Rings Online developer Orion’s blog pretty closely where every day he updates the masses as to his redesign of the Red Maid dungeon, Garth Agarwen. It is really interesting, and reading some of his mundane tasks really gives a good showing as to why design is slow.
One of his latest posts remarks on how Garth Agarwen is going to be re-released in bite-size form aimed at casual players, which is a hard “niche” of players to define:
It’s difficult to define the casual player, so I’m just going to go with the tried and true generalizations that may or may not be true of any given part of the player base: Casual players are those that value play time at a premium rather than a given; their time is precious and spent in many areas and as a result is parcelled in ways that make sense for their lifestyle, play style and life commitments. Casual players would prefer to have a fun bite-sized experience that is entertaining and challenging, but fits within schedule demands that other persons may not necessarily be beholden too. Casual players are not looking for the easiest path to fun, they just want a path to fun.
I have never nodded so much in reading a paragraph written by a game developer. Like I have noted before, casual vs. hardcore does not really denote the amount of time played anymore. I think, in line with Turbine’s devs (and hopefully many others), that casual vs. hardcore is based on the unquantifiable amount of fun per time played.
“Casual” like so many terms is becoming a misnomer for a way to define gamers, but the concept is simple. Does the game let the player actually play without significant hurdles to overcome? MMOs are a niche market partly because they are one of the few video gaming genres that requires hardcore play in the majority of gameplay. Console gamers and non-MMO PC gamers probably scratch their heads in wonder. After all, the point of playing video games it to actually play, right?
the majesty of my tower of hats