Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Anticipation is the killer

Maybe this post is going to be some psychoanalysts dream, but is there anyone else out there who finds that once a goal is achieved in a game such as an MMO for instance, then that game loses a lot of its thrill ?

A good example is hitting the 8.0 standings to use jump clones with a corp - you spend weeks and weeks with a goal, focused on getting it, and once you do finally reach it, you get this gigantic anticlimactic 'meh' feeling as if theres nothing decent to do with your time now, and struggle to adjust to the 'nothing new to do' mentality.

I find it happens a lot with single player games, you go through to get the best gun, or whatever, and then all enthusiasm for a game drops off the map for me... I've got dozens of games out there that I just stopped playing, in fact I've only actually successfully completed about 5-10 games in my entire life from a catalogue of hundreds.

I know this sounds a bit strange with the whole 'goal related achievements mentality' thing but I usually find that theres something new came along that I want to try after I hit the 'wall' in one game and monotony has set in, so I very rarely see the end of it.

I suppose thats why I quite like MMOs too - theres no real goal to it other than constant improvement, so even if I do get a short term feeling of depression that I've achieved a goal, theres always other players/friends to spur me on and give me other suggestions for things to turn my hand to. In conjunction to there being no real 'end' of the game until the servers are switched off, its a good excuse to pop in and out as the interest waxes and wanes.


Rettic said...

I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I'd say it's a problem of mechanics, being that the focus is often on the prize instead of the journey in MMOs—who actually looks forward to the grind? Look at the opposite mechanic.. nobody plays Halo to grind for a new special gun, etc. There's no tangible reward for playing.. the reward IS playing.. which in all reality, seems to make a lot more sense when we're talking about games.

But on the other hand, I think this mechanic is important to MMOs, and a main driver in their appeal. It just needs some work. The rewards/stuff you aim to get kind of pulls the materialist out in all of us. We're collectors. The problem comes, like you said, when the thing we get in the end just doesn't live up to the hype.

I think that's a problem on the developer's end. If they're going to make us work our asses of to get the Heavensmasher Staff of Awesomeness, then dammit it should feel like I'm smashing heavens with that thing. I want to see a drastic difference from the Poking Stick of Awkwardness I had been using for 30 levels... but in the end, it's just a few numbers changing.

The reward should equal the work... and too often it doesn't.

Sorry to spill my beans but its' something I've thought much about myself. Thanks for posting this.

Karox Lominax said...

Fair comment. Nice to see I'm not necessarily the only one out there.

Hamno said...

Probably the thing that keeps me motivated in Eve is that there is always a new goal, and if you get bored with any one thing there are many new avenues to pursue.

What caused me to leave WOW(admit it, many of us have played WOW...) was that I lost interest in the end game. All that leveling just so I can do some raid for a piece of gear?

At one point my goal in eve was to fly a hulk, I never do anything like that now-a-days but kept me motivated at the time!

(please dont tell anyone I can fly a hulk)

Luc Sulla said...

I have to absolutely agree as well. I, too, have only totally completed a handful of games - and usually I only completed those because they were unusually short (to me at least). Gears of War springs to mind - finished that the day I got it, and was rather disappointed that is was over so fast. Then again, if it had gone much longer, I would likely have never finished it.

And as the people above me have said, the reason I keep playing Eve is that there is just so much to do. I thoroughly enjoy the PVP, but when that inevitably gets old, there are still literally hundreds of hours of gameplay that I haven't even touched yet.

That's the reason I don't play WoW any longer (yes, I used to play as well :P). Get 10 levels, raid, rinse and repeat got old fairly quickly.

Letrange said...

That's one of the reasons I like the FF series of games. The "end of the game" can actually sneak up on you and boom you finish way ahead of being able to do certain side quests. Sneaky bastards.