Just struck by a passing thought. (It hurt, yes, as always.) I just happened to see WowEquip at Curse. I immediately thought a couple things. 1) when I was playing heavily I would have loved this; 2) A lot of work must have gone into this standalone tool. It's not an addon. It's an independent program.
So I started thinking about all that effort for something as trivial as picking out the right equipment based on stats. Then I started thinking about all the work I do for equally trivial game elements. Then I started thinking about all the work all of us addon coders do to modify some small element of the game. Then I started thinking about all the work everyone does outside of playing the game. Guild management, talent calculators, web sites to host such things.
This is a far cry from my days of playing on my Atari 2600. Back then, there was nothing other than the game. All effort expended on the game was in playing the game.
When did management of our entertainment become entertainment?
I suppose this is why I like City of Heroes so much and why I've gotten back into it lately. It is mostly just about the fun, there aren't even any wars over weapons/armour because there is no weapons or armour! It's more about fun than Warcraft is. I think the problem with Warcraft is that it was posed to us as much of a variant as 'The Sims' as it was an MMO. We ended up having to micromanage every aspect of our entertainment. This would've been nasty if it had been via an interface but for a time they let us freely create our own micromanagement, this in its own way echoed the freedoms of our own lives. This is why I frequently rebelled against Blizzard's cutting back when I was playing but I digress. The management of gaming is little more than filling out tax returns before going out for a night on the town. However, sometimes the tax returns become so important that the night on the town is brushed aside, that's a bad thing.
As the Greeks might tell us, everything in moderation.
I think it was fun to us as builders though to be able to build our own sense of freedom and that's where the entertainment came from, a sense of unparalleled freedom, at least at first. I did it because I enjoyed making my game, my game. Now I code primarily because I like to code and I wouldn't leave gamers out in the cold. I don't micromanage in City of Heroes, I don't need to. I just get in there and play.
I think primarily the real reason that managing our entertainment became so interesting and possibly even fun was that because for the first time (without being game developers), we actually saw our code having an effect on a changing World and groups of other people within that World, either through us or through them using our works too. There was an unending sense of growth and contribution there and everything that was changed helped make the game a little different for each player.
There are some entities that like to be individual.
That's all I can say really. Though I find this question echoes an older, more prominent question in my mind; Why was Barbie Fashion Designer so popular?
The answers to both would probably be very similar.
I agree that, in my experience, MMORPG's have become more time intensive experiences. But I take a different prespective on it.
I believe that all types of addons create an edge. Some might say that having such an edge is unfair to those without the same advantage. I would state that this is the whole purpose behind such addon inventions. These addons offer an advantage for both competitive purposes ans ease of playing. The more of these you have, the easier your experience is (therefore more enjoyable) as well as easier to compete for a common goal.
However, even the person without addons still does a fair amount of stategy and planning (for example, as you mentioned -> talent points). Having a well planned strategy for a goal is just as powerful as the person with no plans and 90 addons running seeking that same goal. Perhaps that's a strech of an example, but it shows the core purpose of most addons - easier function of the game.
RE:CoH - I played CoH from the time I quit EQ, until WoW came out. If I could justify the costs to my my budget, I would indeed still have a CoH account, as I loved that game. I mention this because modifications to that UI are not supported by the creators, nor allowed (to my knowldge). Yet the game is still sucessful because of it's premise. Does it require some outside-of-game planning? You betcha. Ones abilities need to be planned out, or you'll be wasting valuable influence on things that you don't want.
Could EQ have survived the test of time without such modifications allowed? I'm not so sure. It was more complex in the details of what must be done to achieve the status of end-game encounters. Knowledge of what items to carry around, different types of equipment in your bank for different encounters, etc. Careful planning had to be taken into account before venturing off to Dragon_01, or it would result in a quick slaughter.
But I equally feel that the creation of addons offers the creator himself a sense of 'pride of ownership'. If you see people in game talking about your mod, then you would feel proud of what you've accomplished, having knowledge of how many other mods there are out there to choose from. Perhaps this creates that sense of entertainment you speak of.
I'm not sure I agree with you there, Kayde. There're no weapons and armour so the system is entirely dumbed down, all one has to worry about are the abilities they power up (which doesn't take influence, you get so many abilities per level) and the enhancements or items they buy, which do. Enhancements can be wasted but from what I've seen, one gets really good enhancements by battling mobs that are even to them anyway. So I can buy 15 enhancements right now but I'm getting 12s and 13s off mobs anyway. Basically, the ones one buys are only marginally better than the pickups, just toys for people with lots of influence. That means that there's lots of room to play around and really, the thinking on abilities is less than one would find in even most single-player CRPGs.
About influence, I'm not sure how it was when you were playing but on my server (Triumph), there's a help channel and there are these high levels that are ludicrously generous. There are people that randomly fly around and give people free influence (no catch22, either). One of my characters (level 12) has over 100,000 influence because people will not stop giving him free influence! I don't know whether he's just that cool or what the reason is but if this keeps up, I'll never be short of influence.
I have more than I know what to do with.
Another point about it (which removes bragging points, something I love) is that the strategy can also be taken from a simple standpoint. A tank is a tank, different tanks have different toys to be sure but all one really needs is a tank and having read Sharkey's piece on City of Heroes, I see this holds up well for high-levels, too. There's a little bit of planning but there's no real need to pick out people with specific abilities. I've seen kiddy RTS games that require more strategy than City of Heroes does.
Mostly, I just go in there and have fun with it. It seems a lot more light-hearted than most games and I'm always rich! I suppose this is why I keep playing City of Heroes and I don't play other games anymore. I admit, I actually gave up on World of Warcraft early, I never got a character to level 40 (what's the point?) and I only stuck around for the coding. City of Heroes is another story entirely. I was playing it before World of Warcraft got stale and annoying and now I'm playing it again.
I just don't think that the micromagerial nature of most games exists in City of Heroes, at least not to a really discernable level that interrupts the fun. Mostly it's just roleplaying. Even for low levels it's just roleplaying. I love that. You get to the Hollows really early on and lots of groups have to be formed and there can be quite a bit of roleplaying if one finds a good group and due to the lack of PKing, there're always good groups. One finds stupid people more easily in PvP/PK games than not, I won't cast aspersions upon or as to why this is.
Heh, I suppose I should try a different server or something, perhaps being rich all the time would make a difference. ;p
I'll have to try CoH one of these days. Alas, with college starting, it may be quite some time. :(
I wasn't exactly lamenting this trend towards managing the game/interface. The sense of power/control is probably the high that appeals to most people. We all love influencing our own environments, making it ours and no one else's. It just struck me as interesting. So now it's entertaining to me that it has become entertaining to manage our entertainment. Isn't that entertaining?
This type of management started for me with DAOC. I literally spent hours combing the boards and using talent calculators to get the "perfect" character template. Now in WoW (that rhymes and you know it rhymes) I have the added layers of managing my game interface and also managing how I manage my game interface (Ace).
*shrugs* I guess I sometimes find convolution fascinating, except in code. Never in code.
LOL, I had several people on my server just dumping influence on me. I cannot remember the sever I was on at that time, but it did indeed happen quite often there, even as young as the game was then.
I may have, after all this time, mistook the use of influence in the game, but you must admit to sitting at the character creation screen (which was equally as fun for me as playing the actual game) and studing and deciding the skill base that you wanted to go with.
Turan - you should see the character creation process. Thousands of combinations could be created.
In thinking back (your right Turan - damn that hurts the brain), I recall that experience the most. I made a short/huge all yellow character named Rubber Duckie wearing a gas mask (for the beak) and nothing but spandex (don't question my manhood) with a huge "D" on his chest. He was my bathroom buddy. When in groups, someone would undoubtably say, "You're the one!" -- which would trigger the song (not ACTUALLY trigger, but trigger ME to start the song) being played via several macros that I had set up outside of game. All laugher was had by all.
The time I spent researching for the exact words for the song, as well as the set-up time for the macros used *could* fall into the category of outside-of-game work. All the cheesy hero lines were another of my favorites, specifically designed for each of my 8 heros. This also falls into the planning of a character: the way you are going to roleplay them (or "equip" them) for whatever purpose you hope to serve in game.
To relate this to what Turan is talking about; even something as simple as the "little rubber ducky" song ended up casuing me hours of planning and structuring for the character role that I sought to play. Other quips of genious via attack macros and such were equally laborous.
Believe me, Kayde, I have already stopped questioning your manhood. :lol:
That is pretty funny, though. That's yet another element of this pre-game management. In fact, it does remind me that pre-planning is not as new as I had thought. It's perhaps new (to me) in video games, but I have been doing it with D&D for... um... a long time. :)
Being the DM, of course, always meant planning, but even just as a player there was building the character just the way you wanted, drawing a picture of him in many cases, and even writing up his history and personality and whatnot.
So perhaps MMOs are just starting to catch up to table-based RPGing.
Ah but if only it were IronClaw it were catching up with instead of Dungeons and Dragons. *Cough.*
Anyway, I can't help but agree with that and what Kayde said about setting up the first character, I can't deny this at all. There's a hell of a lot of micromanagement involved as every last detail can be decided. Even down to the battlecry. I recently created a character whom I call Ancient Gorsch, it was a hard time deciding whether I wanted him to be a tanker or a scrapper and getting his look down in a character-appearance editor that's even more complicated than the Sims was hell.
Even then one has to write up a description for that character (but I had that readily prepared) and a battlecry. In fact, I love his description (minor digression here) as he's basically an only android guard from some ancient civilization that was dug up. Some coder reprogrammed it and tried to make it marketable as a home-owned personal God, the hero for the masses. However, his attempts at business went balls-up, said robot got away and made its place in the World whilst admittedly being a confused as hell. It talks in the third person, frequently has OS prompts and deals with any questions it can't answer with canned current-day hero quotes.
I love the fact that his battlecry is [call $battlecry].
I think the reason this never seemed like work to me though is because City of Heroes is good at dressing things up as fun instead of swamping people down in anal details. It does a lot of stuff in the background and it makes the stuff that the player has to manage as much fun and entertaining as possible. Basically it makes the micromanagement a mini-game in itself rather than something that feels like work, work, work.
This reminds me of other recent pen & paper games over D&D and I think that's why I like it. I think that's what I prefer of a game when they keep as much micromanagement in the game as possible and then make the rest of it a mini-game or at least fun and entertaining. From this I can only surmise that what each person considers to be fun is down to them. As I said, some find the macromanagement/micromanagement of Masters of Orion a good time. I don't personally but some do.
I don't think micro/macromanagement is so bad, actually. I just think it's all down to how it's introduced. They need to make it fun for the gamers and open for the developers. They really need to think it out before they do it. Now if Blizzard had as fun a player-end management-system as City of Heroes does and they actually bothered to think about the rules for their developers rather than taking parts of the API away in a crying sulk whenever they felt like it then World of Warcraft would be one hell of a game, instead of just work, work, work as we clean up Blizzard's mess.