Monday, March 19, 2012

Game environment

Over on Potshot's blog the interesting question is discussed of "how much (developer created) environment is needed or desirable to make a game enjoyable?". Was Everquest better than modern MMORPGs because the game environment was relatively rudimentary and we filled the gaps with our imagination?

I wonder how much the enjoyment of a game environment has to do with our expectations. Many blogs recently complained about the ending of Mass Effect 3, and one player even filed an official FTC complaint against EA Bioware over that ending constituting "false advertising". People expect certain things, sometimes impossible things, and then get unhappy if their expectations aren't met. My theory is that we liked the Everquest game environment because we didn't have too high expectations against which to measure the game. Compare that to the mountain of expectations a new game like Star Wars: The Old Republic has to measure up against, and it is easy to see how Everquest had it easier to satisfy people. I can already predict the comments about Guild Wars 2 not living up to the hype, because frankly I think the hype level for that game is already well in the impossible expectations region.

But I can only encourage the mentioned solution of creating your own game environment and playing a pen & paper roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons. At least one person, the Dungeon Master, gets exactly the game environment he wants and expects, because it is him who creates it. And if the Dungeon Master is any good and knows his audience, he'll create a game environment which is enjoyable to his players. Which is a lot easier if you have an audience of 6 or less instead of hundreds of thousands or even millions of players.

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