Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inaccessible Content

For many players, raids are inaccessible content.  They were for me all through classic WoW and, while I wasn't particularly happy about the fact that I still hadn't gotten past the first few trash mobs in Molten Core when Burning Crusade came out, I still loved the game as a whole.

Now that MMOs have become rather mainstream, inaccessible content is verboten.   In my last post, I toyed with the idea of a new type of content which would probably be inaccessible to some -- especially if such content were randomly generated each time, thus eliminating the possibility of looking up the answer.  And I'm certain that the forum-rage would be significant if some foolish developer went forward with the idea.

But, in my opinion, it is not in any player's best interest to rebel against such things.  Would anyone really wish to live in a world where any activity that was inaccessible to the mainstream was banned?  I think existence in such a world would be terribly depressing.  What's the point in attempting new things if success is guaranteed from the outset?  And doesn't such a philosophy completely ignore the fact that our abilities and desires change over time?

Raids were inaccessible content to me at one point.  They are no longer.  I don't particularly enjoy them, but that's a different topic entirely.  I'm glad I was able to experience the journey that took me from wishing I could raid to finally being part of a raiding guild.  And if I had never experienced raiding?  Well then it would still be something that I could work towards.  I don't think a sense of entitlement towards all things is healthy.  I think immediate gratification of all our desires is destructive, and I wish developers would start showing us some tough love.

Sadly, I have the feeling that we're already screwed.  Perhaps five or six years ago a company could have developed a successful MMO where there were dozens of types of activities which were mostly inaccessible to players.   If our expectations had been managed early on and if we had been taught to appreciate games in which we couldn't really hope to ever master all things, I suspect fewer people would be burning out on the MMO genre today.


  1. The thing with inaccessibility is that it retains mystery and scale. as long as not everything has been discovered, everything is still possible.

    The mapping of the world is a nice analogy for this; you know, how they say the world seemed such a giant place in the olden days, when adventurers set sail into the unknown. the moment the last border on the map is drawn, the world becomes smaller. it's finite now. and there's something oddly depressing about such an achievement, a complete discovery. also a bit like reading a really great book and then feeling horribly sad after the last page (I reread my favorite books once a year but the pain and gloominess is still there every time I finish).

    we always want everything until we have it. but then there's nothing to wish for anymore.

    and developers should always listen to the players and then do what's better for them, imo. players often don't know what's best for them, especially longterm. devs on the other hand, should have every intention to hook everyone longterm - which is why I cannot understand they wouldnt see to things better.

  2. By "inaccessible", I was intending to mean something slightly different than unknown, but my post was perhaps a bit murky.

    I meant inaccessibility in the sense that playing professional football is inaccessible to me in real life. No-one expects to or is able to enjoy every possible activity in the real world. But that fact (by itself) doesn't make us unhappy, or make us whine to God to nerf reality so that we can experience all the content.

    On the other hand, I completely agree with your observation regarding the importance of the unknown.

    p.s. I'm jealous that you can re-read your favorite books every year. My slow pace of reading means that the list of new books that I want to read grows faster than I can read them -- so I feel like I'd be wasting precious time if I went back and re-read one.