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Many MMOs sacrifice “quality” with mechanics to keep you playing as long as possible, says ArenaNet

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:34 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

ArenaNet believes when a subscription MMO is more focused on making money by keeping players “chasing something in the game,” as long as possible, it not only ruins the experience but the fun as well.

According to Colin Johanson, lead content developer on Guild Wars 2, the prime motivation of many subscription MMOs “run the risk of sacrificing quality to get as much content,” into the game to fill up the players time.

“You get leveling systems that take insane amounts of grind to gain a level, loot drop systems that require doing a dungeon with a tiny chance the item you want can drop at the end, raid systems that need huge numbers of people online simultaneously to organize and play, thousands of wash/repeat item-collection or kill-mob quests or dailies with flavor text support, the best stat gear requiring crazy amounts of time to earn, etc,” he wrote.

Johanson said ArenaNet has tried to avoid this by basing development of Guild Wars 2 around fun instead.

“If we chose fun as our main metric for tracking success, can we flip the core paradigm and make design decisions based on what we’d like to play as game players?,” he asked. “Can we focus our time on making meaningful and impactful content, rather than filler content meant to draw out the experience? Can we make something so much fun you might want to play it multiple times because it’s fun, rather than making you do it because the game says you have to?

“If your key metric for success of your game is fun, how do you make content that fits that goal, and how do you know if you’re succeeding? It’s easy to tell if a subscription-based game is hitting its metric of success, you simply look at the number of subscriptions; fun is much harder to define. To accomplish this, we’ve had to fundamentally redefine our development process of content in Guild Wars 2 around this concept of fun, and it starts with asking a very simple question that surprisingly isn’t asked that often in game development: “Are you having fun?”

Early-on, content-related design decisions made for Guild Wars 2 revolved around how “fun” impacts the gameplay. Loot collection was used as just one example: the rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, therefore players do not need them to be “the best.”

“If our model was subscription based, we might be spending all this time racing to add as much filler content as possible to keep players chasing the carrot,” Johanson continued. “Instead, as content designers with the goal of creating fun, we get to spend this time refining our content and making it amazing.”

You can read the entire blog post through the link, where Johanson explains ArenaNet’s design philosophy a bit more.

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15 Comments

  1. GrimRita

    Odd this because Guild Wars 2 in most parts is just a grind. Although I didnt always feel like I was. However, some of the nearby events are nothing more than shit – go and fetch some apples, kill spiders, rinse/repeat for 20 minutes, collect LOOT.

    During most of the events and quests I did, I dont think I rated one above 3/5 for fun.

    Since WoW, the genre in general has lost its way by believing that copying this format will bring instant success. WRONG.

    Games like Eve, albeit smaller in numbers, is one of the few MMOs thats actually growing because players can decided what they want to do without any limitations(within reason).

    #1 3 years ago
  2. roadkill

    Too right M. Johanson! You guys rock on every level!

    @1 Yes WoW is the best. Douche-bag!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Kalain

    @1
    I agree. It is grind just in disguise. In fact, I’d probably go as far as to say that it’s more of a grind than WoW is when leveling up.

    Several of the events/quests were completely forgettable and I just thought I was going through the same routine as every other fantasy MMO I’ve played. I just didn’t want to do the quests or the events, there was nothing there to make me go, woah. SWTOR’s leveling was so much more enjoyable than this, until I hit the magical 40 then it went a bit downhill.

    I’ll play this since I’ve already pre-bought it, but I don’t think I’ll be putting as much time into it as I’ve done in Lotro or even swtor.

    I would like a more open world, player driven fantasy game like EvE. One where you can make a difference instead of just being player number #434534.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    The fact that progression takes so long is one of the major draws. No one likes to simply farm stuff, but if you make dungeons that are actually varied and fun, then it’s not really a problem running through it.

    At least that was what kept me going. Fun, coordinated encounters leading to the possibility of fat loot. People would be holding their breath every time if there was an item that would really complete their setup.

    I reckon this is just about talking the competition down, so the stuff that’s missing in GW2 will seem like a refinement and a deliberate choice.

    They’re not even close to being the first the focus on mechanics though. Champions Online was all about letting people fight in their own way. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it would make balancing hell for any kind of endgame.

    @3 Funny, I’ve heard others say the same thing. It’s a little worrying. I was planning on making GW2 my next MMO, but if it doesn’t really go further than SWTOR, then fuck that.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. GrimRita

    @2 forgive me, where did I say WoW was ‘the best’ – pratt.

    @4 – have you played GW2 beta yet? Let me know if you want to. I am far from impressed with the grind since the last beta and the utterly shit auction house.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    @5 Nah I haven’t man. It wouldn’t feel right to buy a preorder just to get a demo of the game.

    You got an extra key laying around? :P

    #6 3 years ago
  7. GrimRita

    Not an extra key but yr welcome to have a bash at the next beta weekend.When it gets closer, remind me and we will discuss. The more I play, the more I am coming away thinking I wont like it :(

    Not because of the pvp etc but I dont like the combat skills, auction house, grind, quests and the art style tbh. Apart from that, its good! lol

    #7 3 years ago
  8. roadkill

    @5 You took WoW as the norm. You probably compare every MMO with WoW. It’s like comparing every shooter with CoD. That shows two things: you’re either clueless or you’re a fanboy. Or both.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Puggy

    Well, if you compare a game to another of the same genre, which one would you pick? The one with the most units sold (active Subs) or another one you decided to compare it to out of your own reasons?

    I for my part would stick with the one that makes most money, since obviously either people like it, or nobody knows how to cancel an active Subscription there. Either way, it is generating the most money.

    Actually I never doubted there to be grind in GW2, or in any game. To me it seems like some kind of ritual you have to pass in order to be acknowledged by the devs and community. If it is not hard (well, not hard, just… long and boring) most of the time to get there, people will complain. To say it with a certain Internet celebrities words: “It stops being boring and gets good after several hours into the game? Well thank you! Why don’t you hold your hand on a hot plate. The pain will be gone after some hours and you will start to feel good in a way too!”

    #9 3 years ago
  10. GrimRita

    @8 So by comparing this to WoW, that claim says I think WoW is the best one out there? Which shows two things – Clearly you’re an idiot, who cant read.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. roadkill

    @9 It’s easy. I would pick the best. And that’s not necessarily the one with the most subscriptions.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Puggy

    But who decides what is the best?

    #12 3 years ago
  13. roadkill

    Well I would say common sense but how do you measure that? Hmm.. I know, the average IQ of the players playing the game.

    edit: Grim you still haven’t denied loving the game, you’re just running around your tail so yeah I still think that you think that WoW is the best.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. GrimRita

    Ah assumptions. If you actually READ the story, its clear that Arena are aiming this at WoW(and almost every copy cat pile of shit that followed). WoW IS a pile of shit but when it arrived, it changed the face of MMO gaming by offering an easier way to play.

    Since then, almost every single paid 2 play MMO has tried to copy the WoW format. Its very stale. Hence why games like SWTOR has lost so many users – they dont want yet another WoW clone.

    Guild Wars 2 has lots of grinding dull generic quests from what I have played in beta, so Arena can promise all they want – who remembers WAR and the false claims they made? – Bioware said it wanted ‘heroic’ combat as it felt without the need for groups of heroes beating on a single enemy – when thats what they delivered.

    GW2 will end up the same in terms of grinding as every other MMO. I also believe that if Star Wars Galaxies was released today in its original form(pre-cu/nge) and offering a Sandbox approach to play, then it would probably do very well.

    It lasted 8 years as a paid 2 play game and was only shut down because EA didnt want it to compete with SWTOR.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. roadkill

    OK so you hate WoW. Then I don’t think that you’re a douche-bag anymore.

    #15 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Broken Age making of documentary Double Fine Adventure will be made available to all. When Double Fine turned to crowdfunding, changing the industry forever, it promised to give an unprecedented look behind the scenes with a professional documentary of the whole development process of Broken Age. That documentary was initially restricted to Kickstarter backers, but […]

  • Gone Home console ports cancelled following Midnight City difficulties

    Gone Home won’t be made available to the console masses after all. Indie hit Gone Home was announced for console release almost exactly one year ago, and we’ve heard absolutely nothing since then. Turns out, that’s because it’s not happening: developer the Fullbright Company confirmed to Eurogamer that the ports have been cancelled. “Our publishing […]

  • Microsoft rang Mojang the day Notch joked about selling

    Minecraft developer Mojang was sold because founder Markus “Notch” Persson made a joke on Twitter. Ever wondered how Minecraft came to be a Microsoft property? It’s actually a pretty great story. Remember when Notch tweeted this? Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for […]

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection matchmaking update rolling out

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been updated to help fix its tragic matchmaking. Again. Now almost four months old, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was still pretty broken as of this morning, with rubbish matchmaking and plenty of other issues to go around. 343 Industries is still trying to fix it, and has today […]

  • Nvidia unveils Shield, an Android 4K Smart TV set top box

    Nvidia has named yet another product “Shield” in an attempt to render us all hopelessly confused. The heart of Nvidia’s GDC 2015 press conference was the Shield, a $200 Android set top box launching in May. Apparently the “world’s first 4K Android TV”, the Shield supports 4K content encoded with h.265. The box runs on […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront footage shown behind closed doors

    Star Wars Battlefront is being shown to retailers. Now we want EA to show it to us. Star Wars Battlefront is expected sometime this year, so it’s about time EA gave us a look at DICE’s latest. It turns out that while press and gamers have had to twiddle their thumbs, EA is showing it […]

  • Dragon Age lead creative moves onto mysterious new BioWare project

    Dragon Age creator David Gaider is leaving his baby behind. Dragon Age is a team effort, but Gaider was one of the key creatives behind the franchise, creating the setting of Thedas (which, I was recently amused to learn, is an acronym: “THE Dragon Age Setting”). He was lead writer on all three games and […]

  • Unity 5 available for free with “no fucking around”

    Unity 5 looks amazing, and you can download and faff about with it for free right now. “We’re not nickel-and-diming people. When we say it’s free, it’s free. We’re not charging a royalty, which I think is akin to looking for whales.” Unity Technologies announced the release of the fifth version of its popular, simple, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 may be the end of the series

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 released yesterday, and many fans theorise that it marks the end of the series. Five Nights at Freddy’s developer Scott Cawthon has released a new teaser image on his website, but rather than pointing to a new game, many fans believe the teaser signals the end of the series. The […]

  • Source 2 announced, will also be free

    Valve has formally unveiled Source Engine 2, the third major engine to go free to developers at GDC 2015. Source 2 is the successor to the engine Valve has been using since Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2. Valve didn’t have much to say about the technicalities of this long-awaited release. It is apparently focused on […]

  • SteamVR: Valve’s Lighthouse tech allows you to walk around while playing

    SteamVR’s key differentiator is a piece of tech allowing headsets to connect with other devices for extra accurate, room-scale tracking. Valve has announced a new bit of technology called Lighthouse, which it is making freely available to any hardware manufacturer. Like the extra tracking LEDs on Sony’s updated Project Morpheus, Lighthouse improves the headset’s accuracy, […]

  • Steam Machines, Controller, streaming box to launch in November

    Steam Machines will finally become a reality before the end of the year. Valve’s living room PC systems will release in November, the company announced today. Well, I say Valve’s – the idea behind Steam Machines is that a number of manufacturers will offer variously priced systems. Alienware and Falcon Northwest are among the dozen […]

  • Telltale veterans form new team, announce teen thriller Oxenfree

    Oxenfree is a supernatural teen thriller from some of the team behind Telltale Games’ award-winning adventures. New indie Night School Studios unveiled Oxenfree at GDC 2015. It tells the story of a group of friends who accidentally open a “ghostly rift” at an overnight party on the coast. Night School, which is made up of […]

  • PS4 global sales now stand at over 20.2 million

    The PS4 has sold 20.2 million units worldwide. Sony announced the new PS4 sales milestone at GDC 2015 today. It’s a hell of an achievement and salt in the wounds for Microsoft, which hasn’t updated us on Xbox One sales since it shipped “almost” 10 million back in November last year, and has fallen back […]

  • PS4 VR headset Morpheus out in 2016, capable of 120 FPS – video

    Sony’s VR headset Project Morpheus has some impressive grunt. Virtual reality and Morpheus were the heart of Sony’s GDC 2015 presentation today, ahead of its newly announced first-half 2016 comemrcial launch. SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida detailed the headset’s impressive capabilities, notably the fact that it can handle 120 FPS VR games. The PS4 […]

  • Papo & Yo developer making a VR game about dinosaurs

    Some days you write a headline and it makes you so happy that that you have to do a little chair dance, you know what I mean? Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, whom I would personally go to the wall for after they cut out my heart and stomped on it via the medium […]

  • Wasteland 2, Shovel Knight and more in big ole bunch of indies coming to Xbox One

    Xbox One owners are about to receive a pile of great new indie games. At GDC 2015, Microsoft revealed a list of new indie games headed to Xbox One. Some of these titles have already released on other platforms, so it looks like Microsoft has really relaxed the parity clause of ID@Xbox – or perhaps […]

  • Here’s an indie VR game made with Unreal Engine 4

    GDC 2015 is blowing up with indie games, VR and Unreal Engine 4, so here’s a video combining all three. Loading Human is a virtual reality adventure from indie developer Untold Games. It’s in the works for Mac and PC, and Sony has given an early green light for Project Morpheus, too, so expect it […]

  • GTA Online: Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode coming next week

    Heists aren’t the only thing coming to GTA Online next week: players can also expect Adversary Modes, new Daily Objectives and other Freemode activities. GTA Online’s Adversary Modes are new PvP modes which feature a range of competitive challenges and will unlock as players progress through Heists. Here’s a rundown straight from Rockstar: Come Out […]

  • Syndicate is the latest free game download on Origin

    The latest free title to be added to EA’s Origin service is 1993′s Syndicate. For a limited time, you can download the game for free and keep it, much like previous titles such as Theme Hospital. The isometric, real-time, tactical-action game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in June 1993. It is a favorite […]

  • Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen now available

    The Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will run you $7.99 and builds upon the existing lore, characters, and storyline. Have a look at some new screenshots in the gallery below.

  • Shadowrun Online gets a name change and release date

    Shadowrun Online developer Cliffhanger Productions has announced the game’s name has been changed to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown and a release date for April has been set. The new title was formed via the developer and its Kickstarter backers, with the goal being to let those unfamiliar with the game know by the title alone […]

  • Amazon hosting Rockstar and 2K Games sale

    Amazon is hosting a Rockstar Games and 2K Games sale with discounts Max Payne titles, Bully and more. Here’s just some of the offerings listed: Manhunt 2 PC Download $3.00 Max Payne 3 PC Download $4.00 Bully: Scholarship Edition PC Download $3.00 LA Noire Xbox 360 $2.95 L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition PC Download $6.00 […]

  • Destiny weekly reset video shows off Inferno Crucible gameplay

    We have a gameplay video featuring Inferno Crucible gameplay featured in the Destiny weekly reset for you. In it, Arekkz Gaming gives you a look at Inferno Crucible and goes over the various intricacies. You can read up on the weekly reset through the links.

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 2 available from today

    Episode 2 for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is now available. If you’ve purchased the Complete Season, you’ll be able to download Episode 2 on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One. Steam players should see the episode go live around 9-10pm PST, and Xbox 360 owners should be able to download very early tomorrow morning, per Capcom […]

  • Here’s a sneak peek video for Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

    Fatshark Games has released a sneak peek video for its upcoming Games Workshop title, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. Vermintide is a FPS, co-op action title coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and its set during the End Times of the Warhammer universe in the city of Ubersreik. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video shows Ascendance DLC early access weapon

    As you know, Xbox Season Pass holders now have early access to the Ascendance DLC Pack bonus weapons for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now you can watch a trailer for the weapon. The OHM directed energy hybrid weapon can switch between an LMG and Shotgun “on the fly,” and it also includes the OHM-Werewolf […]

  • March PS Plus games include OlliOlli 2, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, more

    March PlayStation Plus titles have popped up on the PS Plus page. Noticed by NeoGAF user skynidas, the titles include: OlliOlli2 (PS4/VITA) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (PS4) Counterspy (PS4/PS3) Papo & Yo (PS3) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment (PS3) A notice has also been posted on the EU PS […]

  • Sci-fi horror game Caffeine will release on Xbox One, PS4 alongside PC – new trailer

    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]