In-game guidance, hello?

The current MMORPG’s are such huge vats of different information, starting from the basic stats and disciplines of the characters to the lore and content of the world on which the gameplay is staged. The further the character develops, the more imminent comes the fact that there is a better -or even the best- way to set your specifications and find the best possible gear to overcome the challenges the games developers have staged.

I had the idea for this post for sometime now, but it was actually the post by ruffin in the blog Confessions of a Part-time Panzerkin which set me off to write this up. In the post he calls out an in-game primer for selecting the best gear available for a specific talent build in WoW. Instead of having any real in-game information for the gear or for the gemming/enchanting of the gear, he had to rely on other internet resources for the ‘possibly best build’ there is.

The main question I have is, how far can the developers stretch the cap between the information needed in the game and the availability of the information in the game?

In WoW, from which the earlier example was, the situation is already such that you automatically seek more information from an outside website for actually quite basic things. I guess it started from the guest and gear guides, but now almost all concepts from levelling to gearing to talent builds are covered in outside websites.

Why isn’t this information readily available in the game itself?

As if it wasn’t enough, the quests are evolving too into a meaningless pulp of “yeah, yeah, whatever, Questhelper knows it already”, of which Melmoth of KIASA wrote an excellent post. The sense of adventure is gone from the most important part of a MMORPG for good, and it’s only the hardcore roleplayers who run WoW without any sort of quest helping addon… no, wait, no-one can do that anymore as Blizzard included it’s own quest helping system in-game!

This seems to be pervasive to the whole genre of MMO’s: the more information and guides there are outside the game, the more readily ‘available’ the game seems to be to the players. The more help the player gets on her/his journeys in the fantastic worlds, the happier s/he is. Players are looking for answers to issues they find in-game, instead of searching for the answers from the game. Is this the symptom or a faulty in the game?

Or are we just becoming so lazy and comfort seeking not to bother with playing an adventure game as one?

And why is every darn MMO subjected to the hellish min-maxing grind real world hardly ever is?

Could someone provide some in-game guidance to this thing called life, too?

Posted on January 18, 2010, in General. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. To take the words of someone else that I was talking to, I think that allowing 3rd party sites to have all of this information rather then it constantly being in game, fosters community, and adds an extra level of complexity to the game outside of the game. Without that, the fan community is weaker and diminished. Plus, I’d be out of a job.

  2. Does it really strengthen and foster community, when the extra information is mainly conglomerated to corporate sites (Allakhazam, WoWhead, Curse etc.), instead of ‘community sites’ ran by players?

    And how much frustration would we lose if the generic guidance of the games were just a bit more helpful on the basic -but crucial- issues we face, like gearing (which really is a big bad mess in WotLK)?

    Sure, leaving the number crunching outside of the game instances adds more complexity, but playing without this knowledge shouldn’t gimp your experience to the point where it currently is.

    So, how far can the designers and games stretch this gap inbetween the information needed in the game (to play even adequately) and the information offered by outside sources? Blizzard has already taken some steps to tie this gap smaller by adding quest help system within the game, formulating the Armoury to more helpful in tweaking and so on. Who knows what outside information we will see in Cataclysm added into the game to be available to the players on the spot.

    C out

  3. All of those sites are still run by players, I know some of them quite well. Being involved in most of them to the level that I am, yes, it fosters community and strengthens it. Especially taking a look at some forums. It gives people jobs, inspires others to start up their own information building web sites. I don’t think any game is ‘gimped’ to the point where you MUST USE outside sources in order to play, there’s lots of games where I never bother. Leaving it outside of the game, where it’s an *option* for players to have their hands held instead of forcing them (and thus making an easy game even easier) is fine by me. 🙂

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