And so today marks the final single-digit entry into the series on Vanilla Preservation. Today’s post is largely a review of the project thus far, with game design considerations.
Brought To You By Frank A. Clark
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
I’ve noticed that during my time frequenting the emu scene of WoW v1.0 a very, very recurring theme. It’s perfectly possible that I’ve been conditioned to notice certain statements vs others, but when you are simply observing outspokenness, I’d like to believe objectivity is guarded and bias doesn’t influence.
I hear outspokenness about how finding/making groups for Wailing Caverns isn’t immediate and thus frustrating. The woes of no xrealm connections? I hear about someone making their 5th corpse run in a run from Crossroads to the Sludge Fen as they repeatedly try to tame Takk.. only to decide to try again instead at level 20. This isn’t a month of NR farming for HuHu we’re talking here. This are the lowbie woes of leveling which are bound to be repeated for the next 40+ levels, if the individual doesn’t leave altogether and return to live.
But those were the interjections, the exclamations, the outbursts. These parts of language are denoted with passion. What we witness is the cause, verbalized. If we stop here, we easily come to our own conclusions, but these are meaningless. The conclusions of importance are those belonging to the individual in question. Being the embedded investigative reporter that I am (lol), I ask what this means to them.. and the conclusions rain down like a tired, echo’ing chorus, a broken-record of sweet music: this. is. fun.
Let’s Mathemize It
Ch + Fr F
where Ch is challenge, Fr is frustration, F is fun.
The value on how these influence the fun that someone is having are different for everyone, but the proportion isn’t. Something can only be fun if it is first challenging. Challenge will have an associated component of frustration. Stress buildup is required for stress release. The better the wind-up, the better the follow-through. The more fun you are having. Not rocket science, and I know a little on that subject!
Isolating What’s Important
The takeaway here is obvious, but there is an important piece that should be included as a package deal. Examine, if we wish, the hunter’s plea on taming rare and exotic pets. Unless someone, in this game, severely overgears or overlevels a target, completion of an elite quest or taming of a rare spawn… are most likely met with initial failure.
It’s so fundamentally important that game designers allow content attempts well below a ‘suggested’ tuning point. Any 2bit gaming monkey can spout out that they want to be engaged, but let’s take this up a notch and describe how that is achieved.
In the example of the hunter, the are able to seek a pet at lv19. Now, if they attempt, they will very likely fail solo as the math behind the attack values of the potential pet and the defensive values of the potential master result in a time of battle well beneath the required time to tame. So there are two legitimate choices here: get more people involved, or return at a later date. Well, there is also a third choice, and that is creative use of mechanics, but this doesn’t always work.
Initially the thought might be: why even make content for a level that is clearly not defeatable? Because it challenges, it frustrates… and holds the potential to see some very creative solutions, even if 95% of the solutions you could predict as a designer. By allowing a gamer to attempt content well outside the norms of success, you allow them to put a peg on their gaming radar. A target. A goal. A carrot, self-defined. This is the reason, and boy is it huge.
The Play Session
I had previously attempted to complete a quest in Pyrewood Village, but it was obvious I wasn’t going to be successful. While continuing to chip away at other quests as well as professions, my diligent ‘waiting’ proves fruitful with more quests for the area, more herbs, and.. success!
Death Count: (+1) 7
I am beginning to feel overworked. I push hard, harder to fulfill the tasks before me, with ever less reward. I don’t know what drives me so. My longing to be purged from undeath? My slain family returned to me? The dark whisperer? My benevolence misplaced for the Sepulcherians? My desire to appease the Dark Lady?
Regardless, I grow stronger, and that is the ultimate measuring stick on Azeroth. Slay, or be slain. If I want to do good, I must be prepared to do bad. And the best bad is done by those who are bad. I must be bad then. It’s for a greater good.
I have been diligently practicing the mystic art of herbalism, to great results. Today, the flora was abundant, and I; grateful. There is rumor of more powerful concoctions in distant lands. I await my arrival to these far-reaching places with much anticipation. For now, however, I must mop up the mess here in Silverpine Forest that they Sepulcherians have permitted to grow.
I wandered into the home of Arugal, the father of these wolfmen I see hovering near the Mageroyal plant in Silverpine. It is well guarded, his keep, with more wolfmen of a very elite nature. I plant to return.. soon. It is time this Arugal meets his.. unmaker.
The Shadowfang Keep overlooks Pyrewood Village. What appear to be humans during the day, turn into savage wolfmen at night. There is a plague here, unseen by casual eyes. While once before I visited this location and was unsuccessful, today a different conclusion was met. Apothocary Berard- traitor to his kind- faring well in battle, managed to dispose of Kal and sent me back to the dirt, but not before his secret was exposed. Heh, our disagreement was so intense, we needed to take our fight outside.
I found a stray cat today. This black tabby was hiding in the Ambermill Keep. She feels very dark, very powerful but her face looks so innocent, so serene. It reminds me of my lost Eleanor, bless her soul. I have not realized the pain of her loss until laying eye on this cat.
Let my sorrows, my pangs fuel my anger. Let me become ever-more bad. Power will be mine and the shadows will rain terror on my foes. Woe to those who cross the path of Tabby, my attachment to Eleanor, for I will be the vengeance that meets them.
Series: Vanilla Preservation Project