Thursday, February 17, 2011

The CGI Trailer

             With the rapid advancement of graphics technology, computer generated imagery (CGI for short) is becoming common place. Nearly every blockbuster film being released has received a face lift via CGI effects. Games are not foreign to a CGI touch up at all, personally I remember loading up Diablo and being awe struck by the opening cinematic. Naturally however I was disappointed when I loaded my game up and it was merely a 2.5D development (I was little and did not expect different). Before the release of every MMO it is always big news when they decide to release their opening cut-scene/cinematic to masses, or in SWOTR’s case, their many CGI trailers. Obviously, over the years of playing games I understand that what I see in these trailers is not based off of gameplay, some are even kind enough to include a ‘Not Actual Gameplay’ tag when screening them. 

            Well more questions, yes I like asking questions.

            Have you ever confirmed your purchase based off a CGI trailer?

            Do you see a point in CGI?

            Do you enjoy CGI?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Carrot and Stick

                The idea of a Carrot and Stick mechanic is a simple incentive process. Should you be baited with a reward you may be willing to do something you may have no done before. With this mechanic the conflict between monotony and reward can easily be subdued. The satisfaction of gain no matter how meager the reward in relation to the task can be blinding. At what point are Carrot and Stick mechanics conducive to fun an interesting game play, and at what point is it detrimental. 

                In any of your ‘Theme-Park’ MMOs the leveling process is entirely Carrot and Stick. Achieving the next level brings you the next skill, the next zone, the next instance, in some cases even the ever wanted mount. From the instant you enter the world you are charged with advancing the tiers/levels of the game in your attempt to reach God status. Upon approaching ‘end-game’ the incentive for you to continue playing does not lose its steam, in fact, many argue that is where the real game begins. Now you are faced with raids of ‘epic’ proportion, or even the task of picking flowers to receive that oh so reverent title of Master Gardner.

                There are major problems that arise from these mechanics, mainly which is the separation of the ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ crowd. Carrot and Stick mechanics reward time spent in game which in many MMO’s results in a - those who have and those who don’t in regards to gear. When gear becomes an issue progression becomes and issue for your ‘casual’ player. They are left behind and are simply not able to experience the content they pay for. However, there are two sides of this argument; how is subscription retention effected when you do not put out adequate content for the proclaimed ‘hardcore’ crowd.

                Amongst all the negatives of these mechanics there are most certainly positives. The same tier separation of gear that is capable of destroying the balance of power between the ‘casual’ and the ‘hardcore’ also creates a competitive environment amongst raiders. Creates a linear progression system that makes ease of use and allows for new comers to quickly learn. It keeps you looking for the next best thing which further encourages exploration. Simply put, the desired product of the Carrot and Stick mechanic is realized at the end when you have a feeling, sometimes fleeting at best, but nevertheless the feeling of accomplishment.

                In MMOs the Carrot and Stick mechanic has been long entrenched in game play development. It has become the backbone, the driving force, behind the ‘entertainment’ of an MMO. The reason I challenge as to whether we are being entertained or not is for the multitude of downfalls to this Carrot and Stick system. Are the rewards honestly rewards, is there true enjoyment behind doing the repetition?

To close I again petition you to answer a few question:

                Do you notice the Carrot and Stick mechanic at work in the MMO that you frequent?
                Do you enjoy this mechanic?
                Is it over-used?
                Are there better alternatives?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The MMO market

The MMO market is undoubtedly growing with each and every year. The market posts record breaking numbers each quarter even in the face of economic disaster. This growth is recognized with the magnitude of releases each year and the endorsements of these products by larger company’s (Rift’s funding) and even states (38 Studios). With every release more and more attempts at innovative features are put in place, whether it is a persistent world, a player against players focus, or a more in-depth story telling experience. The expanding market is doing away with niche games and as new titans emerge in an attempt to topple those who came before they broaden their scope consuming the ideas of their predecessor and expounding upon them.

Which is where I purpose my first questions to you.

 What is the source of your interest in a game?

Has there been change in the basics of the MMO format?

Is change warranted?


Welcome to Game Theory, a blog devoted to approaching the methods created by developers to attract you, the gamers. I will keep the first entry short and attempt to convey the overall goal of this blog (This is not to say that we won’t deviate from the path every now and again, you know, keep things fresh).  The goal is to assess what lures players to a game, what makes them stay, and how gaming development is changing. I’m an amateur, by no means a professional, so posts will not be lengthy reports full of filler and nonsensical (I’ve wanted to use this for some time now) dribble. There will be many occasions where I will ask you, the reader, to give me your input in an attempt to cover more accurately my topics. I appreciate your visit and feel free to comment and do what readers do.