Back when I was playing EQ, there was a woman who proudly described her guild as the kind that kills for the “wootah feeling,” as if this somehow made her playstyle more noble than others who might kill for, oh, I don’t know, the loot?!
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said before, I love MMOs because I enjoy the whole “team” thing and being a part of individual progress, which makes the guild improve as a whole. Weird, I know. Loot, to me, isn’t a status thing, or a representation of self worth, as much as it’s a means to the end – guild progress.
Above: New Tunaria in EQ2. Gorgeous zone, zero players.
Syncaine wrote a good piece lately about how Warhammer would be a better game if there were less content, since that would prevent the population from spreading out so much that RvR suffers. But he also criticizes the casual player, saying that they have a “sheep mentality,” not sophisticated enough to “get” the game. In comparison, he says that beta players stuck more to the “vision” of the game, and (apparently) because of their knowledge and expertise, they played the game the way it was intended and didn’t grind scenarios like the current live population does.
The beta observation is interesting, because it brings up a good question about the value of the beta testing process. But I’m not sure we can conclude that beta players played the game the “right way” because they are more sophisticated (and “right” is debatable but that’s a whole other blog entry). They most likely played that way because A) they took their beta job seriously and tried to test the content as thoroughly as possible or B) they didn’t grind scenarios because it “didn’t count,” meaning that since there would be a server wipe at the end, they didn’t worry so much about racing to the level cap and gearing up. I’m also going to assume there were some beta buff opportunities, so some beta players probably got to skip the level grind entirely, meaning scenario grinding wouldn’t have been an issue.
I’d be willing to wager that a lot of beta players are queuing up right behind the “sheep casuals” right now. Any time that you have a game with a structured level path, and you have a reward based game with the best rewards at the end of the line, people are going to take the path of least resistance to get there. Killing for the wootah feeling is fun like once, maybe. But as soon as that rush is over, and you look around and realize that in the time it took you to attain it, everyone else got 10 levels, 3 supahsweet pieces of gear, and can now kick your butt 10 times over (or they’re a friend of yours and now can’t group with you because you’re too far behind), that wootah feeling evaporates pretty quickly.
At the risk of using a tired analogy, it’s like the mouse in the maze. On one side of the maze is a glowing rainbow flower that twirls, spits glitter, and sings the best of Mylie Cyrus 24/7. On the other side is a plain, yellow, hunk of cheese. The mouse might bump into that flower and pause a second, having his “wootah” moment and wondering why the heck the flower sings Mylie Cyrus, but then he’s gonna go back to studying the path and grinding his way to the cheese.
So that’s why everyone right now is grinding scenarios in Warhammer. It’s why people would form lists in lower guk and wait for hours to get a chance at one of the camps in EQ, even though there were tons of other good dungeons around. It’s why no one groups to get to the level cap in WoW. Heck, I think there are tons of wootah moments in Vanguard, but no one stuck around to find out. And in a few weeks, as Tipa pointed out recently, it might be why the bulk of the EQ2 population will run the same 2 or 3 replayable dungeons in the Shadow Odyssey expansion, despite the fact that there will be about 15 to choose from.
That’s not the players fault. Give us some cheese that is shaped like a glowing rainbow flower that spits glitter and sings Mylie Cyrus, and maybe we’ll stop our rut-like tendencies.