Monday, 23 May 2011

Epic... handbags?

I do enjoy my debates with Sven, and readers of both this blog and FailPug may have noticed that recently, he's written a string of posts centering on game design.  Some of his points I've agreed with, some I haven't.  His recent post about removing the cap sparked debate via Tobold and MMO Melting Pot (no I'm clearly not jealous - my eyes have always been this shade of... green).  His most recent post echoes one of his previous posts, both of which have caused me to comment and then write a post in response.

Please take a moment (if you haven't already) to read them and then come back and we'll talk handbags.

Both of these are handbags.  So why do I want the one on the left and not the one on the right?
A while back, I tried to give up smoking.  I went to my GP, got the miracle medication, felt sick as a dog for a fortnight whilst my body adjusted (the only time, I might add, that I bailed out half way through raids - the room would literally spin so hard that I'd have to lie on the floor and hold on) and then I stopped smoking.  And, as many of the 'how to quit smoking successfully' theories will tell you, I religiously put the money I would have spent on cigarettes into my Paddington Jar.  Eventually, I'd have saved enough money to go to Selfridges and buy my dream handbag (for the un-initiated amongst you, that's a Chloe Paddington.)  And not because non-entity celeb whoever had one, just because I adore them.  And they (along with anything vaguely 'designer'-y) was (and remains) firmly out of my financial reach - the only way I was going to get one was to overcome the obstacles (not going back to smoking) and then I'd be rewarded for my effort. I didn't want someone to buy me one.  I didn't want a Primark knock-off.  I wanted to have 'earnt' one myself.    It was symbolic of the 'struggle' I'd gone through in beating an addiction.  I never got one, by the way.  I started smoking again long before I'd saved up enough so my dream handbag remains that.  Just a dream. 

Ok, so I've than perpetuated a girly stereotype of handbag obsession, but what does this have to do with the recent discussions about removing the raid number cap?  Quite a lot actually.  Because for me, trying to separate out the 'raiding for challenge' and 'raiding for epics' mentality is well-nigh impossible.  When I raided I loved my epics because I felt that I'd 'earnt' them, from showing persistence, team-work, commitment etc but I also felt a personal sense of triumph when we downed a boss.  Would I have raided if there was no tangible 'reward'?  Raided 'just to see content'?  I might have done, I'll never know for sure.  But I know that a visible reward for the effort I had applied helped.  For me, it was probably 50/50.  Loot helped, personal satisfaction helped.  I'm not sure one without the other would have worked.

My Chloe handbag would have been symbolic of the effort I had made in quitting smoking.  It would have been 'more' than  a handbag to me.  But to others I might have just been swanking around with a designer label bag ( flexing my...handbag-peen...?)  Is this how we view epics?  How we view raiders?  Is the reason for not removing a cap on raid numbers really as straightforward as the 'elite' wanting to stay that way?  Or is it because that our shiny purples are symbolic of something else, obstacles overcome, challenges met and because simply being able to zerg it wouldn't be as satisfying?  Wanting a tangible reward does not make you a bad person.  But nor does the view that as many people as possible should be able to see content. 

So how do we reconcile this?  I'm not sure we do.  It's very easy to sit on one or other side of the fence and become entrenched in our view.  It's harder to have that view challenged and try to make a coherent, rational argument for continuing to hold it.  One of the most commonly mooted answers is 'easy' and 'hard' mode.  Does this help though?  Another answer is the one Sven proposed - remove the number limit and leave the loot table the same.  The smaller your (skilled) team, the faster you gear up.  And maybe, this is the middle ground.  It's not ground that sits well with me, but maybe it's the least bad of the options.

And another question - people keep citing Rift to me as an example of how Trion do it differently.  I'm playing Rift.  As far as I'm aware, Rift instances have a number limit.  Maybe they don't... but I keep seeing people asking for 2 more for RotF, or 1 more for DD or whatever. I think maybe instanced content does have a number cap, it's only the 'rifts' themselves that are zerg-able...  

1 comment:

  1. the way ffxi does their endgame content these days is to have 9 non-instanced endgame zones with limited time constraints containing bosses and minions of various difficulties. One has to collect a varying number of items to spawn bosses each time. Endgame currencies and buff items are limited to use in these zones.

    the relevance to your post is that there's stuff you can do solo, stuff you can do in a small party and stuff that requires a full alliance. As long as you have a few key jobs, if half your guild is RL busy there's always something that can be done. It's the same As Sven proposed more people = more competition on drops.

    Due to the complexity of endgame armour, we spend much time on the same bosses making sure everyone gets the bits they need.