Monday, September 07, 2009

Playing MMORPGs my way, part 3. What is your gaming alignment?

In Dungeons and Dragons terminology I have a "lawful alignment" when it comes to game playing. I generally accept the goals that developers set out for their games and I play the game the way it is intended to be played. In single player games I will make a genuine effort to complete the campaign without cheating and in multiplayer shooters I am the guy making repeated suicide runs at the flag when everyone else is upping their personal kill ratio with spawn camping.

This willingness to accept the path the developers set out for me does not suffice when it comes to mmorpgs. In many cases the official goals set out by the developer (perhaps to grind the best suit of armour or to top the pvp charts) are not something I can realistically achieve and in other cases the developer has created a huge list of inconsequential mini goals (such as achievements or titles). In EVE the developer doesn't even set goals which at least is a realistic approach. Given this environment the only rational choice I can see is to make my own goals.

I do try to follow a lawful alignment and abide by the rules in an mmorpg but the tendency of developers to make pointless hurdles and timesinks makes it harder to have respect for their rules. One method of dealing with this is to abandon goals that cannot be achieved in a manner and timescale I find reasonable. Another solution is to look for alternate ways of achieving my goals. I will not go against explicit rulings such as a ban on third party programs or a ban on rmt but I have no qualms about availing of loopholes that allow players to bypass timesinks in a manner that is legal but not what the developers intended. It is not just about saving time either. Sometimes tackling content in a manner other than the developers intended can take longer but can lead to great gaming experiences - for example soloing group content or tackling content that is well above your level.

So the design of mmorpgs has caused me to abandon my normal lawful gameplaying alignment and adopt a chaotic one. To quote from Wikipedia:

"Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them."

I think Green Armadillo hit the nail on the head when he named his mmorpg blog Player versus Developer.


Khan said...

I enjoyed your MMORPGs My Way series a lot! We have similar playstyles.

Like you, I'm hesitant to bend rules if the Devs obviously have something else in mind, but on the other hand, I have a life outside the game.

mbp said...

Thanks Khan. To be honest the series is a bit of a brain dump for my own benefit. I am a little conflicted at the moment between what I want to do and what I can realistically do in my gaming. This series is an attempt to hammer out some kind of personal compromise.