Monday, July 20, 2009

B r o a d c o n t e n t vs. Narrowcontent

I don't know what's gotten into me lately here . . . I'm feeling all ranty. whoa.


As Professor Drake's message today indicated, the developers at KingsIsle decided to change their minds about how Grizzleheim would be released. They had plans to add additional levels and spells to have characters move beyond the Grandmaster (what's beyond a Grandmaster anyway? Supreme leader?), but they decided instead to make Grizzleheim--a world that ran alongside the current world.

Was it smart?

There are arguments that perhaps KingsIsle will lose customers because the level 50 Grandmasters will get "bored" now and quit for MMOs where they can feel that sense of advancement again. (The monster-in-law excels at telling my children that people who are "bored" are really just "boring people" btw.) And then there are those who don't necessarily argue against the way Grizzleheim was released and instead maintain a general feeling that, hey, this was a good thing . . . more content! awesome!

Yes, but was it smart?

I don't know. Before Grizzleheim, the Wizard101 world was more narrow and you could only snake your way through the maze one way, so to speak. And, still, you really do have to finish the main world quests in that same particular order to get to the cheese at the end of the maze, right? (It is cheese you're after, right?)


Now let's look at THEE MMO. You know which one I'm talking about, it's the MMO that shall not be named. We don't speak this MMO's name in the presence of our young. They are too gentle to understand its atrocities. But to give you a quick clue, this is the statue that part of my monthly subscription for a couple years helped build outside of their offices:

Now this MMO that shall not be named has a lot of races in it. Car races you ask? No no, that's freerealms (the other spawn of the other devil); I'm talking races races . . . like elves, dwarfs, humans, gnomes, cows, trolls, lions, tigers, bears, circus clowns, and aliens . . . in Wizard101 we have one race: the tween human. In the other MMO you have many many different starting areas, one to match each race (almost). In Wizard101 you have one starting area. One.

Broad vs. Narrow.

In this other MMO, you can jump around to a few different lands while leveling your character up to "grandmaster," but in Wizard101 (until the magic of Grizzleheim), you run one direction. (Of course, most people in that other MMO only run one direction anyway since they like to use Chinese power leveling guides $$6!!)

In this other MMO, when you get to the top, you discover that there isn't really one big evil thing like Malistaire, you instead discover there are a number of wicked things going on in the war-torn world that will net equally wicked rewards for your hero. Um . . . and there were wicked things that used to be wicked four years ago that no one cares about since they don't yield as wicked rewards anymore (dude, why would you raid ZG with some noobs when you can just go to HF and get better gear in like two seconds from some lame quest). In Wizard101, there's Malistaire and his robes. (dude, why farm the Jade Oni for that sword when you can just go kill the hoarder and get her better sword in like two seconds.)

Broad vs. Narrow.

You know what would be cool in Wizard101? Six more schools of magic with 5 more worlds that level you from 1-50. Imagine if you could choose between leveling in Marleybone (which some have a large disdain for) or some other world you've never quested before and fight against magics that are brand new to you with all new battle animations. It would be like building the game again from the ground up and wrapping it into the big gordito of Wizard101. OH THE CHOICES! THAT'D BROADEN THINGS UP A TON! (Todd Coleman rolls his eyes and says, "Excuse me Mr. Necromancer, does anyone have an extra three years to make that suggestion a reality?") Or maybe . . . just maybe . . .

Yes, yes, I know I know. They are two entirely different games and KingsIsle didn't even LOOK at that game when making their MMO. Yes, yes, I'm comparing apples and oranges.

Or maybe . . . just maybe . . . you're absolutely correct. I AM comparing apples and oranges.

Broad vs. Narrow
Apples vs. Oranges

Maybe Wizard101 should just stay an orange . . . you know? You can't escape it anyway since it's just the way the game works, and I think I kind of like the taste of oranges anyway . . . no matter how it's packaged. Give me a good storyline any day of the week.

Then again, some say the lasting power of the apple is in the fact that it is so broad and feels like you're playing a new game (at least at the lower levels /shiver at the Barrens) every time you make a new character of a different race.

Which do you want? Both? THAT'S JUST SILLY! WHAT A FRUIT BASKET! Well, over time, I think that's exactly what we'll get. A little more broad, and then a little more narrow, a little more broad, and then a little more narrow. Hey, we'll be a WoW clone yet! (GASP! THE NAME HAS BEEN SPOKEN! FLEE!)

Happy Dueling!


The Evil Theurgists said...

For a succesfull company and MMO you need both oranges and apples you gotta have both and if someone would just do that they would have the best MMO on the market but do not forget KI second project it could be an orange...

Victoria Silver said...

It seems to me that the easiest option in terms of development time would be to continue to bring out more content like Grizzleheim - wide open areas. That way, over time, you would always have the existing "track" of worlds but you'd have an increasing number of options at any point along that track.

As a part of that, of course, they could choose whether to add higher level content, increase levels, etc.

Victoria Silver said...

Just a further note, as far as I understand it (I haven't explored much of it yet) Grizzleheim runs from basically level 20 to level 50. So if a further "expansion" of the game was set to run from say, level 1 to level 20, and then also from level 50-60, you'd have a complete separate track to choose from at any time.

Spongly said...

I like Wizard precisely *because* it isn't like the game that shall not be named (That make WoW like Voldemort?)

Been there done that on the treadmill that is Warcraft / LoTRO / Warhammer etc etc.

I like W101's casual pickup-n-play qualities. You can have fun without worrying about raid schedules. Is it my main game? No, not really, but I personally like the slot it occupies in my gaming schedule very much.

JediRex said...

Yes. Hmmm... My --------- has taken up game making maby he might be able to make a succsess full MM0 (Are you talking about ----- -- --------?)

Valerian Nightbringer said...

As a Grandmaster facing point-less ("point"-less) GH you'll probably find me in arena for the most part until points are fixed.

adam said...

With several GM wizards already, I was personally disappointed with GH's "parallel world" status. From a business standpoint, however (and let's not kid ourselves -the ongoing creation of W101 is NOT an act of altruism), I think it was very smart. I don't know this for sure, but it seems to me that the level structure of any MMO will always be bottom-heavy (i.e. far more novices than grandmasters). Thus, there is far more profit potential in enriching and diversifying the lower-level playing experience, because it increases the recruitment of new subscribers. Will I be happy when a new, sequential (non-parallel) world is released and I can level up again? You bet. But if KI continues to develop lateral content instead, I will understand and respect that choice. It's smart business.

Tesh said...

I like that GH is an alternate path. I like the main path, to be sure, but it's nice to have choices in games.

That said, I'm an Access Pass player, and I'm not ponying up for GH passes. I'd like to look around, sure, but I'm cheap. ;)

(And tangentially, I keep wondering when they will offer Crown discounts again, or bonus Crowns in their packages, or reduce the Access Pass prices. Well, that, or install a dual currency crown-gold exchange between players, like Puzzle Pirates' doubloon-PoE exchange.)

Autumn Duskhunter said...

I think another point , that hasn't really been addressed, is that, especially wtih GH added, there are TONS of doors "currently" unconnected. Any of which, could be be added "as we go" to modular content. Why wait for whole worlds, when we can add new, um, streets?

Rock and roll blogging, Friendly!

L. R. Jonté said...

More than apples and oranges, it's also story fiends and power gamers. Story fiends (such as myself)are perfectly happy with side pockets like GH because they only add to the overall world. For us, it's about character, plot and setting. Yes, the chance to level up further would be great, but not absolutely necessary to our enjoyment of the game.

Power gamers, however, need continued progression, goals that yield advancement, in order to feel that they're not just spinning their wheels. For power gamers, (and those that aspire to be) storyline is gravy, but not the meat of the experience. And most of them will remain dissatisfied so long as they can't continue to level up.

desmetguy11 said...

Oh my gosh, this was sooooooo funny!!! But anyway we will be a Game-that-cannot-be-spoken's clone (Hmm, Harry Potter now?)