The Fizzle And Pop

I’m probably going go piss a lot of people off when I say this but, I don’t care about game mechanics.

Here’s a caveat though, I don’t care about them as long as they work and are fun.  But even then, if I’m not having fun (see Starcraft 1 & 2) then I’m more likely to just not play it than I am to dissect and discuss the specific mechanics that make me feel that way.

During the wait for Guild Wars 2 I often hear complaints about lore articles.  Cries of “Give us something of substance!  Lore doesn’t matter, I want to know about mechanics.”  Frankly that attitude just leaves me scratching my head.

Guild Wars 2 is not ready yet.  We haven’t even been given a release date.  Under the specter of not seeing a living game until 2012 or even *gasp* the idea that it might be simply vaporware, the hunger for ‘hard facts’ is understandable.

Hard facts bore me, however.  To combat burnout I focus on lore.  At the end of the day, the idea of jumping over a Guardian’s ward by launching myself from the top of a cliff isn’t that interesting when the cliff, ward, Guardian, and the jumping itself are only hypothetical.

I see you in the back there /jump, I’m not talking about you.

Lore though, is a different matter altogether.  What is lore? It’s stories.  I absolutely love stories.  I love books, and plays, and movies, and games, and even gossip and forum drama if it’s a good story.  Worst case scenario, Guild Wars 2 is vaporware and never sees the light of day:  All my blogging and podcasting and artwork and ‘fanfic’ (god how I hate that word) will have been for nothing right?

Nope!  Because I focus on the lore.  I enjoy the good story and derive inspiration from the artists.  Everything I do, I do selfishly.  Everything I do I try to find a way to use it to better myself.  I blog to get my thoughts out and express myself.  I draw and paint because it’s good practice and because I must (any other artist will understand that drive, sorry I can’t explain it).  Every artistic piece I create is an opportunity to try something new.  I write little Guild Wars 2 stories to keep my creativity limber and as a warmup for my real writing projects (I’m currently pursuing publication for a short story, did you know that?).

Perspective, that’s what’s really important.  Writing ‘fanfic’, drawing fanart and discussing the minutia of a game that does not yet exist (for the everyday gamer at least) is not a waste of my time because everything I do feeds into my goals and dreams.  That’s just the way I operate.  And I don’t care about mechanics because I have little interest in game design.  Art though? Stories?  That’s another matter entirely.

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  • Comments (7)
  1. I agree so thoroughly (more or less) (go go contradictory statements!)! I mean, once the game’s out, I will happily talk the mechanics of it to death. But they’re still not…crucial to me. Especially not now. Maybe its my way of thinking, but even if they DID release a bunch of hard facts about mechanics, it wouldn’t really matter to me until I could see it in play. But lore and ideas are /always/ applicable.

    Bravo on a splendid post.

    • ShaunNox
    • April 25th, 2011

    I take the absolute opposite view. Lore, appearance, story are just a skin, what really matters is how I interact with the game and other players.

    • Yarr
    • April 26th, 2011

    Cliff Jumping

    GW1: /jump /ponder /aion /ponder /fistshake /pout /sigh

    GW2: autorun jump plummet rez repeat


    • ArcherAvatar
    • April 27th, 2011

    Bludgeoning something’s head in is only a part of the enjoyment… personally, I like to know WHY I’m bludgeoning their head in.

    I have friends on both side of this fence. My best friend is a dyed-in-the-wool min/maxer who could not possibly care less about ‘pointless trivia’ as he refers to it.

    Another of my friends has absolutely no use for numbers… she is only interested in ‘how pretty it all is’ and what kind of appearance her characters have. (Mind you, she still manages to play her class fairly well – she just won’t play a class or race that isn’t asthetically appealling to her.)

    For me, one without the other equals FAIL. Bottom line, the mechanics HAVE to be right… I cannot abide technical issues in a game, and I want the ‘advantage’ that comes from a deeper understanding of the number crunching… but my true appreaciation for a game only comes about from not just the ‘look’ of the game, but from truly inspirational vistas and landscapes that cry out to me to explore them. (I suffer from a terminal case of whatsoverthereism in MMOs especially, and I’m constantly seeking out new ‘hidden’ places in the world to add to my mental scrapbook.)

    However, at this stage of development, I have to agree with Tigerfeet… videos of skills are great from an inspirational sort of viewpoint, but mostly I’m interested learning the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of where we will be playing out our character’s adventures. There will be plenty of time closer to launch for the numbers and min/maxing strategy to be done. So, the lore articles on various species/locations in game are much more interesting to me at this point.

      • ShaunNox
      • April 27th, 2011

      I have never done anything like min/maxing. I select skills that let me play a certain way. And while some are happy to look at pretty environments and read detailed lore, I learn about weapons and skills so that I can imagine what it would be like to play, and what race/profession/weapons I want to play. To me it is interesting if Shield of Deflection knocks back, the applications of ground effects, how important critical/glancing/miss are, and It’s good to see the variety of traits they are coming up with to let me play in my unique way.

      My interest in equipment mechanics and leveling is wholly based on my hatred of grind. If I need to grind to be competitive then GW2 is not a game for me. It’s still too early to tell.

      Of course art is important, else I’d be playing a stick figure in a grey void,

        • ArcherAvatar
        • April 27th, 2011

        Hrm… perhaps it’s simply a difference in definition of terms, however, what you’re describing there is most definitely a min/maxer viewpoint. A rose by any other name…?

        Regardless, the mechanics you’re describing wanting to know more about are still being formulated, and will absolutely be subject to change during beta testing – therefore, doesn’t do us much good to know about them now (especially if they do change, since then we actually have to ‘unlearn’ instead of simply getting up to speed on what has made it into the launch version of the game.)

        Also, on your final point regarding grinding/power leveling… It’s been confirmed already that GW2 will use a ‘flat’ experience/level curve after the initial first ten levels. Just in case that’s not clear, what that means is that the time it will take you to go from level 22 to 23 will be roughly identical to the time it will take you to progress from level 76 to 77… ie; no ‘hell’ levels or anything like a progressively more and more difficult leveling experience as has been seen in numerous previous games.

        In addition to that fact, the DEVs have also already stated that equipment will plateau at regular intervals including at level cap. Essentially eliminating ‘gear grind’ from the game. Also, players can acquire the top end gear through numerous sources (although the appearance of the gear will differ depending on where/how you acquired it, the stats will be the same.)

        Bottom line; no level grind, no gear grind… player knowledge of and skill with the game are primary factors for success… and not much point in fretting about class skills that are still being sorted out at this time.

  2. I’m heavily in to art and heavily in to game design… so I’m a mix of both.

    I really enjoy good art direction, but it’s just a pretty shell without the mechanics. I mean, look at Final Fantasy XIV. It has some of the most beautiful graphics out of any MMO I’ve ever seen, very rich lore… but the game itself is god awful. The UI is slow, combat is clunky and unbalanced, the marketing system is horrendous, there’s barely anything to do, crafting is tedious, there are missing races/genders even though they’re in the lore and gathering materials in environments is almost nonsensical. Poor game design is definitely a gigantic factor with MMOs. MMOs are pretty much nothing without good mechanics. There’s also the flip side… a really decent / great game with shoddy, muddy graphics… or ugly, brightly colored ones (coughwowcough).

    Essentially, to me, mechanics and lore/art direction are like Yin and Yang. They balance each other out. They become harmonious when done correctly… disastrous when one becomes unbalanced.

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