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Let Me Die Already.

One of the many things that makes life so interesting is risk.  Whether it is an investment, a proposal, or just jumping off a bridge with a giant rubber band attached to your leg, it is risk that makes the blood start pumping.  For me, risk can be associated with some of the best and worst feelings of my life.  The bad rarely outweigh the good.

Gaming is an interesting hobby as the risks associated with such are usually pretty low.  When you wander through an enemy territory, you may get ganked.  The result?  A few added minutes while you collect your now beaten shell of a body.  Then you are back to normal. Some games try to provide more risk such as letting enemy players take loot from you or requiring you to get back to the place you died to retrieve your gear.  There are even options out there where death means character deletion.  Now that is something to think about before pulling more than you can chew.

A few days ago Massively wrote up a piece about a player in EVE online that lost around $1200 due to being scanned, and destroyed by enemy players while transporting a ridiculous amount of PLEX.  For those who are not familiar with PLEX, it is essentially the equivalent of in game play time currency.  EVE set up a system that allows players to buy game time with real money and sell it for in game money via PLEX.  It is an interesting system that seems to be working well.  A few weeks ago, EVE online started allowing players to transport PLEX via their ships cargo holds.  This led to the huge loss by the player massively mentioned.

Reading about the issue got me thinking about how awesome risk can make a game.  When the risks are high, the rewards are all the sweeter.  Risk has the ability to transform mindless mmo tasks into a decision of profit and loss, life and death.  You suddenly are much more aware of your surroundings, the way you pull mobs, the prep work to ensure your greatest chance at victory.  It can make the simple small everyday decisions feel much more important.

This obviously isn’t the type of environment we all like as gamers.  Not everyone likes taking risks that could mean the last few days of quests amount to nothing cause all your rewards were stolen.  Not everyone likes tip toeing around corners afraid that a surprise could mean character deletion.  For me, it makes me appreciate the small things more.  And for those who caught my write up on mmo atmosphere on Nomadic Gamer, you know that it is the small things that can really pull me into a game.

Im curious why more MMO’s don’t have the option of taking huge risks.  I for one would be all over having a Hardcore mode in World of Warcraft.  I would love to experience the game as an actual soldier of the war between alliance, horde and whatever third party is showing up in the latest expansion.  Something about knowing that a slip up could mean death is just… awesome!  I would never pull a murloc every again, but the exploration and gathering of crafting materials would be so much more exciting.

I don’t necessarily want a game fully dedicated to these risk style mechanics.  I do think it would be nice to have the option once in awhile.  Their are titles out there that provide it for their game, but I guess I am looking for it in my game.  At the end of the day when World of Warcraft has become just another meta grind, it would be nice to take the challenge to the next level and roll on a hardcore server.  Some place where courage, preparation, and intelligence dictate who will reign with a smile and die with tears.

What do you all think?

Thanks for reading

5 comments

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  1. Tramell

    Not sure what to say. I’m definitely in the category of people that just like to play without a lot risk. I’ll take a challenge with something that makes me sit down and ponder for a while or putting in significant time into to complete. When I play I just want to relax and relieve the stress and i don’t really care for playing in the hardcore scene.

  2. Chris

    Good article. I fall into both camps depending on what mood I’m in. There are times when I like the casual, arcade-like style of WoW. Othertimes, I like the excitement of running through Agon. I think something has been lost as risk has been gradually diminished on the AAA scene. It serves a purpose and doesn’t always have to be the “reset button” it is in a full-loot game like Darkfall. The best parts of WoW (dungeons and other group content) are predicated on the risk of failure. You can take that basic principal, combine it with what we know about the effectiveness of positive reinforcement, and voila, a high-risk, low impact, environment. As an example, the developer could increase the difficulty while also reward the player for not dying through an extra loot drop or vanity item.

    I’m rambling, but what I’m getting at is that risk is a wonderful gateway to fun. Its implementation lately has convinced players that it needs to be feared; that it will make you nervous even as you play. That doesn’t have to be the case. When a game comes along that applies positive reinforcement in tandem with a high risk/high reward scenario, you’ll have a fun encounter.

  3. Maxivik

    A lot of Starcraft 2 players that I know aren’t playing in the new 1v1 ladder system for free of reducing their placement ranking. Basically you play 5 games and they rank you into one of 5 leagues, bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond. A bunch of people that I know placed platinum, and are refusing to do any more 1v1′s because if they lose they get busted down to gold. Personally I keep playing to get better, and to move up to diamond league, but the fear of downgrade, and with that a kind of public humiliation, is keeping some players from playing.

    1. Maxivik

      sorry, there was a typo. Should be, “for fear of reducing their placement ranking”

  4. Yogi

    It can be argued either way. Some like the risk and others do not. It is a subjective view on whether or not risk improves game play for each individual. That is why I like options. I think back to Diablo 2 hardcore modes and remember never really making it that far in the game, but also really enjoying the challenge. Was it the only way I played D2? No. It was a nice alternative though after playing the normal game for awhile. It doesn’t have to implemented in a way that forces the entire player base to join in. It is why we have pve, pvp, and RP server selections for a lot of the top games. Options are good. I just want to see one that incorporates a bit more risk, bringing back that old school difficulty.

    Difficulty and character deletion type hard modes are not something to be feared. They are also not something you should take lightly. Their is a reason they are called Hardcore, Hard Mode, INSANITY! It really is a difficult challenge that can leave you in utter defeat.

    That is interesting Maxivik. I can see where they are coming from although I don’t really agree with the thinking. It reminds me of those old Counter Strike players that would reconnect to servers if their Kill:Death ratio started to go down. They did everything in their power to keep it up and perfect. In the end it just gives a stat page that reflects nothing but your progress at manipulating the system in order to make up for a lack of work/skill. At the end of the day, I personally would rather know I earned it. One game pushing you pushing you into the platinum ranking is not a rank for skill, its a rank for luck. To them I say prove it. Obviously they are not confident in their ability to hold that ranking if they refuse to play fearing to drop down a notch.

    Thanks for the comments.

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