Thursday, February 08, 2007

The role of da lewt: Part 2

So I'm wrapped my head around more of this loot stuff...dear God, I spelled "loot" WRONG! First off, I did stick my head into WoW two nights ago to help my wife with getting into Uldamon. Why in God's name would Blizzard put an enchanting trainer in an instance...I'll never know. While there, I chatted up with one of my good online friends regarding his experiences in WoW so far. He is honestly having a really good time playing. He's hit level 70, is gearing up and keying up as he goes on to hit bigger and bigger challenges. He is the "stop to smell the roses" type of player in my experience and, like me, loot is the byproduct of playing WoW for him...its not the sole purpose of playing. The whole conversation kinda made me question my conclusions on WoW. Is it about the enjoyment of the game or is it only about the loot? I'm not a fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination, so if my impressions are wrong...I gotta know. So, examination of the role of loot continues.

I heard a very apt description of what WoW has turned "arms race". Not only are people racing to get to 70, but they are doing so solely for the purpose of getting new equipment that is a) better than what they got now, and more importantly, b) better than the other guy's. Now, there are lots of people like my friend who are not like that. They look at the sights...they go "holy cow" when they see those eerie steps in Blood Furnace, however; I propose that they are the minority. Most of the "holy cows" are the "holy cow, look a this new sword"...and it drives me crazy. we all know how I feel about what WoW has turned into. What about EQ2...what has it turned into since in came into being in 2004? One thought is that EQ2 has transformed itself into a better game since 2004. When I am playing EQ2, my thoughts are not on the new bow or sword that I get, but the environment that I'm playing in. I love the story arcs, the quests. And the corner of my mind, that's a better game. Loot in EQ2 is kinda like music in a never really notice it, but it always enhances the experience. Bob left a very good comment regarding his take on this whole thing:

I think I know why you find EQ2 so much more relaxed than WoW. It's that EQ2 offers many forms of alternate progression. You mentioned tradeskills as one of them. Some folks spend months obsessing over their homes. Some people really monitor their quest counts. Some people are fiends for completing collections. The list goes on and one.

...and he's correct. In EQ2 there are so many more things to do than to just obsess over loot. Of course, I'm sure there are people that do, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the percentage is less than what you find in WoW. I see this as being the case for Vanguard as well. You have questing, crafting, diplomacy, housing, shipbuilding etc etc etc. Now, WoW may change this dynamic and introduce a bit more depth to their gameplay with the introduction of player housing. This would shift some of the focus away from loot onto something else. A lot more is needed, but its a start. One way or the other, like in EQ2, WoW has got to give players more to strive for.

In part 1, I said that I didn't see as much "prep work" in EQ2 or Eve before major expansions. Shortee was the first to comment on this and left this note regarding my perception:

Just as an aside, technically in EQ2 people did prep for the expansion. They just didn't prep in quite the same way since there wasn't a level cap increase. But believe me when I say the price of low level goods (for both fae twinks and transmuting) went sky high. There was a lot of extra harvesting going on as well for the tinkering gear up.

Thats something I didn't think about. There was the introduction of Tinkering in EoF, so yeah, I can see how people would horde up mats. Also, the twinking issue would come up for the new Fae race as well. What I did see in WoW was a huge PvP push to gear up for BC. I'm not sure that people in EQ2 where putting any extra effort to gear up for EoF...and that was the point I was trying to get to. Since WoW is gear centric, it would make sense that this would be a priority for most level 60s...EQ2, not so much.

So, I'm going to keep thinking about this topic as I head into Vanguard for review. I only got to play for about an hour last night, due to a patch...surprise. So far, its very much in the category of EQ2 when it comes to focus of game play.

D out.


Tami "Cuppycake" said...

Another reason that loot is sort of a 'side thought' in EQ2 is because of how they make gear effect you. Unless things have changed in the last 2 months or so - gear upgrades are so minimal and really change very little and have a tiny effect if any on leveling. In EQ2 I never really get excited about getting a gear upgrade. In WoW they have crit chances to improve, +dmg and +healing that are tallyed for you, and it makes a noticeable difference. Really they just cater to two different types of gamers. Those who game to advance and compare themselves to others - and those who play to immerse themselves in the fantasy world and explore.

Orestus, 70 Druid said...

The "huge PvP push" you saw in WoW pre-expansion actually had alot more to do with changes to the PvP system than the incoming expansion. WoW's big, pre-expansion content patch completely changed the way you earn PvP rewards, changing it from a ranking system to a points system. Instead of having to grind PvP and raise your rank for a minimum of 3 months to get epic weapons, you could PvP whenever you wanted, save your points, and buy whatever gear you wanted. Suddenly a solid 24 hours of play time would earn you enough points for a weapon as good as almost anything in the game, the stuff that previously required 10+ hours a day for 3 months.

This got opened to everyone right before Christmas, and suddenly everyone took it as an opportunity to gear up. Casual players PvP'd and got weapons and armor that were totally out of reach before, and hardcore players rounded out their sets or geared their alts.

There was a great deal of preparing for the expansion in terms of gathering mats for the new profession, or saving up gold for a flying mount, but the mad PvP rush for better gear was more a function of it being newly availalbe than just rushing for the expansion. Most big raiding guilds tapered off their raiding as December and January came, the opposite of what you'd expect if they were trying to gear to level as quickly as possible.

darrenl said...

Hey Orestus,

Thanks for the well thought out comment.

You are correct that the changes to the PvP system did contribute to more people PvPing. However, and I'll meet you half way on this; I don't think it was the sole reason why we saw a sudden increase in PvP.

When the PvP change did come, this just gave raiding guilds and casual players an easier way to better their gear. Like water around rocks..path of least resistance. Most big raiding guild stopped raiding, not just because PvP was new, but because it had a better time/reward ratio than raiding did. I honestly think that the PvP change was a Blizzard strategy to get players equalized going into BC...but hey, i also wear a tin-foil hat, so what do I know.

We also have got to consider the fact that the perception out there was that those with better gear would have a easier time going through the BC content. If anything, this was the main driver behind everyone gearing in PvP.

But yeah, it may be a combination of both the newness of the PvP system and BC.

Again...thanks for the comment and for making me think :)


Saylah said...

As much as I dislike the loot whorishness of WOW, it's easy to get caught up in it, because as it's been mentioned, the stats on the gear can greatly affect your game-play. Even if you're casual or never raid, who wants to be banged up by mobs and other players while trying to make your way across the world.

I like nice gear. I'll work for nice gear. I just won't sell my soul over it. The scenary and progression in WOW has been much shallower than EQ2 so, there isn't as much do to and getting to max level is so straight forward that peoeple ding in rather short order. So the hunt for phat loot becomes your post leveling past time.

For me TBC is bringing back some of the reasons I'm in MMOs and that's to explore and adventure. Every zone I've entered in TBC has been more amazing than the one before it and there's SO much visual diversity.

But as you noted, I'm probably in the minority for taking such pleasure in the sights and sounds. However, the time invested in the visual in TBC has certainly made my experience richer.