In one of my favorite analogue RPG’s, Nobilis, there is a heaven and hell. Heaven is a place of stark, clean beauty. Rarely are souls allowed in heaven because most are not banally pure. Hell is a place of dirt and passion. Everybody is allowed! It’s the Jackson Pollock blender of creation. Of course, the dilemma in the game is which is better.
It’s a bit waxing, in a poetic and philosophical sense, to bring this high ideal to the living document of MMO’s and online games, but the pale reflection appeared to gleam a bit more this weekend. Would you rather have cold, perfect beauty or dynamic imperfection?
Azuriel recounts an earlier position on the brilliance of randomization in Hearthstone when apparently Blizzard jumped the shark from randomized, barely controlled fun to “blind, lingering RNG”. Hearthstone went from Yahtzee to d100 Craps.
The Tavern Brawl even in Hearthstone gave 15 neutral cards and 15 class cards, all completely random. Players could even get up to 3 legendary cards. The opening hand could be so bad that a player would have to redraw… and amazingly get something worse. Randomness unto unplayability.
Bhagpuss writes about the Guild Wars 2 WvW event where golems were supercharged. They didn’t cost supply, had +100% boosts in speed and damage, and rampaged around the battlefields. He recounts how his server decided to take up defense against a monstrous golem attack and had great fun. He also posits about how on many servers it was likely just a train of kicking in doors with fresh golem feet.
That would be accurate for my WvW weekend play. I only killed a handful of players who were roaming. I never met up with another zerg. It was just our herd of golems heading to the next keep. I read that apparently there is a bug where players would keep +100% damage against other players even after ejecting from a golem suit. It turned the whole event very ugly, very quickly. Our server basically left the playing field because one of our opponent’s was really exploiting the bug.
Here’s the thing though. I had fun for a couple of hours. It was different. It wasn’t “better”, but the better, static, stark WvW gameplay would not have drawn me to the battlefields this weekend. How many more players joined in on WvW just to rampage around in a golem suit to see something different? I’m sure there were a good amount of “hardcore” WvW players who walked away from the game this weekend as well.
Just like, I figure there were plenty of Hearthstone players who likely refused to touch Tavern Brawl after a single play of ultimate randomness.
I would personally much rather have imperfect, temporary change in an MMO to create “events”. It’s exciting for me to see the change. To see the new interactions. New systems of play. Plus, I feel it really pushes feedback from experience. “I liked [this temporary event because…], but not [this temporary event in contrast]”, I feel, would be pretty valuable feedback.
Then again waiting for Heart of Thorns in Guild Wars 2 content starved state, just about anything sounds good.