How to fix in-game events

Or, “Why in-game events don’t do it for me.” Enjoy!

I’m not one of these guys that rails against in-game events. But, really, they don’t do much for me. Granted, I’ll usually poke my nose around and see what’s going on, but after a quest or two, and sometimes less, I’m out. Usually, I don’t bother looking back again.

This whole topic comes to the forefront of my mind now more than ever, as our games are inundated with their “Not Christmas” Christmas events. WoW has the Feast of Winter’s Veil, LotRO the Yule Festival, and Fallen Earth is celebrating its first First Night. Each of these option gives players some quests, a couple of activities, and maybe some little extra to send them on their way.  Plus, the events mean new (or slightly less seen) content, and we all love that.

So what’s the matter? My issue, and I’d bet a lot of other players who feel the same, stems from these three suggestions I have for MMO companies wanting to incorporate a live event into their game.

Be Bite Sized

This is huge. When I’m logging in, I usually have a goal. That’s the nature of the beast. I don’t want to have to set my goals to the side for a day, or even an hour, to ride a horse, find a cookie, or trick-or-treat.  There are exceptions, but a good rule of thumb is to give me options to experience pieces of your event and get a good feel for it in an in-and-out fashion.

Don’t make the festival compete with my main goal. It won’t win. Make it something I can do in my downtime, or before I head out, and I’m a lot more likely to take part in the fun.

Be Unique

Another biggie. The event has to offer something that I can’t find in my normal questing/dungeon running routine. Maybe it’s a unique activity with a new mechanic. Maybe it’s some big (or at least actively progressing) story event. If I can see the same thing elsewhere, I need a reward, quick and easy, otherwise, where’s the draw?

On that same token, adding new things each year is always good. If it’s fun enough for me to want to join in the first time, I’ll probably be there again the next year. But, if there’s something new and exciting on top of what I enjoy, I’ll for sure be there the next year.

Be Rewarding, Without Being Demanding

This ties in with my first suggestion. Don’t make your event  compete with the main game. The bulk of an MMO is made to give the player a rewarding experience.  To win out against the actual game, the event has to give a unique reward, while also requiring less from the player.

Sound backwards? It is, if we’re talking about the normal MMO. Here’s how I see it, these events are like clouds: light, fluffy, and gone before you know it.  Players like getting rewards, so give them to them without making players jump through a bunch of hoops.  That’s what the main game is for. If players want to do more, make sure they’re getting something extra without making the average joe feel shortchanged.

Take WoW’s Winter Veil, for example. This is by far my favorite in-game holiday because, on Christmas Day, I know I’ll be logging in to a couple of lighthearted presents, and probably a fun vanity pet. I like that. It makes the event optional, while still including everyone. Likewise, the people who want to do more get better rewards for it. That’s the way to endear the majority of players to an event.

The main reason why most of they don’t hit home with me is because they ask too much. The unique-fun-reward factor has to be dialed up to get the community stirring, so I know it’s worth my time to even travel out there. Once I’m there, I need a quick hook to get me in, and quick fun to keep me going. Delivery quests aren’t it unless there’s an immediate rainbow at the end of the tunnel (Rainbow? Light? Weasel?). And that rainbow needs to be bright. No +2% chance to parry cookies please.

Overall, I love that so many games put on these little events. They’re all just “extra” and anytime a company does that, I see them going above and beyond what they really need to do. That’s awesome and, a lot of times, I think I can see a little bit of the developer’s love for the game shine through. You can tell they have fun putting these things together and that feeling makes it all the better.

Whether or not I take part in all of them, I hope developers keep cranking these events out for years to come. They’re worth the time and certainly worth the smiles.

Until next time!

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