I play, you play…so what’s the problem?

A conversation/debate/argument came up in a thread on Guild Wars 2 Guru recently about how people play video games, and MMOs in particular, and it’s gotten me thinking.

Basically, most gamers can be split into three types – those who play a game simply to play, and enjoy the journey above all else, those who play because they want the rewards they get at the end, and those who are a mix of the two – they like the journey and the goodies at the end. The argument that was being made was that playing for rewards is bad, and that people should be playing simply to play.

While I myself am a “journey > rewards” gamer, I’m not entirely sure I agree.

You all know you want to know what's in here.

When it comes down to it, does it really matter how someone likes to play a game? I don’t think it does. Guild Wars – and Guild Wars 2 – both will cater to both sides of the spectrum. If you like to play through the game and find the gameplay and story the biggest reward? Go for it. If you like to collect shiny things? Hey, you can do that too. And if you like both…perfect!

Sure, it’s not going to be like a traditional MMO. You won’t have to grind through dungeons a hundred times over to get a chance at that Shiny Staff of Awesome, with +100 Against Quaggan*. Completing events gains you Karma, which can be traded to NPCs for items. If you participate? You get something! No more of that “One good item and everyone rolls for it” nonsense.

Don’t forget the fact that what you get at the end of a dungeon or event is not necessarily, stat-wise, better than what you’ll have already picked up by other means. Grinding dungeons doesn’t mean you’ll be better off or equipped than someone who likes to explore and take everything in.

Which is how it should be. No one should be forced into a playstyle that they don’t like, because it’s the only way to get anywhere in the game. Everyone should be free to play in a way that they enjoy, so long as it doesn’t impede on anyone else’s fun in the game. And these differences in play should only matter if the game shifts to only favor one way of play. People can make the argument that GW1 has shifted to a “grind for rewards!” playstyle, but it hasn’t, really. It’s simply an aging game, and many people turn to speedclears and title hunting and the like as it’s something for them to do while they wait for Winds of Change to release. The game was not designed for that to be the only way to play; it’s simply that there’s a limited amount of content (a ton, to be fair, but it’s still finite) and there’s only so many times you can play through the same thing before you start to lose interest.

There may reach a point where GW2 is on the better side of a decade old, and all of the content’s been done repeatedly, and it’s a long wait for new stuff. That may not happen. But they’re trying to make the game so that it will have a little something for everyone. You have your own personal story…and your own playstyle. And that’s okay.

* Under the Pale Tree does not encourage nor endorse violence against quaggans. Please don’t hurt the quaggans, that makes everyone sad :(

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12 thoughts on “I play, you play…so what’s the problem?

  1. Same response I give all the solo vs. group pve vs. pvp: I don’t respond. I’m too busy playing. All this text gets generated because human beings like to talk and fight. That said, I’m done talking. Back to playing.

  2. @Jaebles And yet you do respond. And before you did, you could have actually read the text to know you’re response isn’t even to the point of this post.

    And no, I’m not trying to start a fight as every human being would, like you suggest. I’m just pointing out the flaw in your response. ;-)

    • He wasn’t saying this article was about solo vs. group or PvE vs. PvP, he was just saying he gives the journey-driven vs. reward-driven arguments the same general reply that he gives to those arguments, which is essentially “I don’t bother responding to the insanity because I’m too busy having fun playing”.

      As to the article itself… I think the main reason people from both sides are concerned about the people on the other side is because they’re worried the developers are going to listen to the other side more and make the game more about the journey (when you love the rewards) or more about the rewards (when all you want is a cool journey). So each side has to try to post more, yell louder, etc… so the devs know they are out there and don’t want their interests to be ignored.

      • That’s a good point. It is pretty well-known that the devs follow forums and like to read stuff that fans write about GW/GW2, though, so I’m sure they know that they have to make it appeal to both types. I think they’re doing a good job of it from what we’ve seen so far.

      • That’s pretty much what my thoughts on the matter are. GW1 started as a game where reward for grind was completely cosmetic, but from the release of Nightfall ArenaNet showed that they’d been listening to the grinders, which massively raised the stakes and created a feeling among the non-grinders that if they don’t make sure they’re heard, it’s just going to get worse. (The patched-on nature of reputation titles made it particularly obnoxious – it was a lot harder to quickly gain reputation points around the release of EOTN, making maxing any of these with any alacrity essentially a case of finding the most time-efficient means of doing them and grinding it over and over again. Now they’ve essentially pulled it back a bit by making it easier in response to the people who DIDN’T like it, but believe me, there were some suggestions floating around from the grinders around when EOTN was released that were absolutely horrific to anyone who didn’t fancy spending hours grinding Path to Revelations before setting foot in any elite area. At least conventional experience systems let you choose where you’re going to gain it.)

        In the case of Guild Wars 2, I’m fairly comfortable with what I’ve heard so far. The right compromise, in my mind, is when you have the content to support bringing your character up to full power without a lot of repetition, and that seems to be where ArenaNet is aiming GW2 to be, especially with getting rid of the importance of loot tables like in so many other MMOs. I’ll miss being able to take my level 20 character and being able to go practically anywhere and be suitable without being artificially kicked up or down in power to suit, however.

        Truth is, though, as Randomessa says, the styles of play really aren’t compatible beyond a point – the more the game is designed with players at one end of the scale in mind, the more it’s going to impact on the other. And while I’m not taking part in these discussions on forums any more, I can certainly see why it’s important for the journey-driven players that do – most MMOs are rewards-driven to the point that the journey-driven player is practically relegated to second-class citizenship in those games, and journey-driven players don’t want to see one of the few exceptions going down that path. As I said a lot when I WAS taking part in those – there are lots of other games that (the rewards-driven player) can play, but precious little else that I can play.

      • I was just saying that if you are too busy playing and don’t want to respond, then don’t respond. Yet he did respond, saying that he doesn’t want to respond.

  3. In my view, the conflict comes about not because each side wishes to eradicate a mode of play, but because (IMV) these modes of play are not entirely compatible with one another. Oh, they are if the rewards-driven player is satisfied with the purely cosmetic gear that GW and GW2 purport to provide, but if the player in question desires incremental power increases as their reward (as in other gear-driven MMOs; let’s call this the “gear-driven” player, a subset of the reward-driven player) this is an unacceptable model.

    On the other hand, the “journey-driven” player becomes worried that the reward-driven players will influence ArenaNet to change their reward structure to provide the power increases the reward-driven players demand, which would ruin the journey-driven gameplay (since it would then become necessary to acquire the gear before the journey can even be undertaken at each tier of power).

    I don’t really see a way to satisfy both the gear-driven player and the journey-driven player. Eventually I suspect the gear-driven players will drift back to more familiar and traditional MMOs, and GW2 will be left with the reward-driven and journey-driven, as GW1 was before it.

    • I’d think it really depends on the game, and the players. In GW1, rare weapons and the like were purely cosmetic, so people do dungeon runs to get a certain skin simply because the skin itself is rare and they like it. Or there are people who like chest-running in Cantha because not only are skins like Bo and Dragon Staves rare, but you can’t add an inscription so getting one with good mods is that .001% chance.

      In GW2 I’m assuming that you’ll still get access to better gear as you level up, since the cap is 80 this time around and you can start dungeons at level 35. So people will still do dungeons to get something better than what they have now; there’ll just be some alternate way of getting those stats as well.

      Plus you can exchange the karma you get for transmutation stones as well, which is another thing people will probably run dungeons and events for, so they can get all of their stuff matching or whatever.

      So, I dunno. I’d say that of any MMO, GW2 will be the best for satisfying all types with this.

      • @Verene
        I have to disagree… GW2 won’t appeal to the “reward-driven” players as much because ArenaNet have already stated two things;
        1 – They are attempting to eliminate “gear-grind” from the game, and are providing multiple avenues by which players can acquire gear of equally high value. Reward-driven players want the best gear to made exclusive by isolating it behind excessive grinds and within “raid” content only.
        2 – ArenaNet have stated they are very consciously placing stable plateaus for what is considered the “best” gear in the game that are readily accessible, and ArenaNet have stated they would prefer player-skill to be more influential in combat than character-gear. Reward-driven players hate it when the best gear is readily accessible, and the mere suggestion of player skill factoring more heavily than gear, essentially balanced and fair fights, is so abhorent to the reward-driven player that it makes them break out in hives.

        @Randomessa
        An excellent assessment of the situation Randomessa. I would just add that the “journey-driven” player only becomes worried about the influence of the reward-driven players because that influence has been repeatedly proven to lead to “power-creep” and runaway “gear-inflation” in past games, which in turn leads to the “gating off” of large sections of content to players who are not interested in participating in the mind-numbing, soul-crushing grind that is inevitably attached to the gear-inflation.

        In addition, any game favoring the reward-driven player is also antithetical to the “skill-driven” player (yet another subset of player which was not included in the OP article or in the subsequent comments that I’ve read.) The skill-driven player would like to think that the players themselves actually have some determining affect on the outcome of encounters in the game (hopelessly optimistic of them… I know…) and that success or failure is not completely determined by how much boring crap you can put up with, and therefore what your “gearscore” is.

        I enjoy exploring in a game… and moreover, I find that the enthusiasm for exploration exhibited by other players in no way impacts negatively on my enjoyment of the game, nor on my capabilities in the game. However, in games where the reward-driven style of playing is given precedence, I find that it VERY MUCH impacts on my enjoment of the game, and even more egregiously negatively affects my relative capabilities in the game.

        For example, it is entirely possible for a drooling nit-wit, who has a naturally occuring resistance to the mind-numbing properties of endlessly boring crap, (since his/her mind comes to the game “pre-numbed” as it were) to successfully gather more than enough “purple” (high quality) gear to compensate for the fact that they are incapable of performing a three skill sequence of moves without hitting themselves in the forehead with the keyboard, and thus, be able to defeat an otherwise normally competent player who has not subjected themselves to the grind necessary to gather the correct equipment.

        Bit of a rant here (apologies for that) but the short version is; Skill > Gear… please… and throw in as much exploration stuff as possible so the “journey-driven” players are happy too please… and thank-you.

  4. I totally agree with you Verene, a lot of people don’t realise that you don’t need to grind to play GW1. There is only one point in the story where you need to grind to progress (before moving onto the Consulate docks mission where you need to be a certain sunspear lvl). Otherwise it is perfectly reasonable to play through the game however you want!

    I’m one of the peeps who is doing a bit of mindless grinding whilst waiting for WoC. Ill play both ways depending upon how I feel.

    • The only character I had to actually grind any Sunspear points on was the ele my sister made, because she never remembered to pick up bounties while doing stuff on Istan. So even that was barely grind and more “do all the quests and pick up bounties and you’ll be fine”.

      I’m also doing a bit of title grinding while waiting for WoC. I’m mostly a “story > grind” person, but I’ll turn to vanquishing or chest running or what not when I’ve run out of story to play!

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