Competetive Gamers VS Developers

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#1 Tue, 06/12/2012 - 15:06
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Competetive Gamers VS Developers

All right guys, don't shoot the messenger.

This guy's blog does reflect some of my beliefs too but remember, it is all just opinion.

I still believe in the importance of ultra-competitive and Pro-ish community as pertains to Halo's future. I just don't 100% agree it will happen their way.

 

Competitive vs Casual: Developers Don't Care!

By gunn3r11
 
 
- Posted 2 hours ago
This article is part 2 of a series about The Halo communities "Cold War"



by gunn3r11

We know that video game companies are in the business of creating wonderfully, imaginative worlds where teens, dads, and your English teacher can run around in multiplayer online murdering and teabagging one another. We also know that companies like 343 Industries don't get paid in fairy dust, friendship bracelets, or jailhouse cigarettes. They do it for the money. And now I'll explain why a competitive shooter tailor-made for Arena-style competitions with balanced weapons/load-outs, skill-based ranking systems, and all the MLG Pro considerations are NOT a priority for 343.

(all research for this article was done using google...the next university)

Games like World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty series have proven something to the industry. Instead of making the perfect, balanced, competitive, and glitch-free game that gamers will critically claim to be the video game of a generation, they are making games so addicting that you will compulsively play it even when you're not enjoying it anymore.


Call of Duty Modern Warfare proved that the skinner box design behind Blizzard's World of Warcraft could be applied to a First Person Shooter with unprecedented results. Were you watching when Black Ops and MW3 set industry records with first day and first month sales. You can bet your ass that Microsoft noticed. And they didn't have to go too far to find someone with the How-To book (maniacal laugh). The guy in question was already in their building.

Meet John Hopson. He was clever enough to figure out a way to design video games so that once played, the gamer would trade breakfast and boobies for more playing time. He called it Behavioral Game Design.

Ok, so you're not interested in reading some sciencey, word-a-graph about yada yada yada. I'll take you through the steps by comparing what MLG Pros and Posers are demanding from 343 and what Microsoft is most likely implementing.

#1 Skill-based ranking system vs The Box

Fans of MLG and the self-described competitive players are clamoring for a return of the 1-50 ranking system. Whether it returns in Halo 4 or not, I'll tell you why 343 doesn't see it as a benefit.

Those hardcore Halo players see the 1-50 system as a true indicator of their skill and it gives them a reason to continue playing the game. But the industry already has a blueprint for achieving this kind of result. They put you in a box and make you press a lever for food pellets. OK, that's the skinner box blue print. Here's how it works in the game.

"Each contingency is an arrangement of time, activity, and reward, and there are an infinite number of ways these elements can be combined to produce the pattern of activity you want from your players." - John Hopson

If the competitive player reaches his goal of 50 or "greatest slayer ever", where's the drive to keep playing. With the skinner box approach, the developers can get you to keep playing the game by offering you rewards every time you play. We've already seen this in Reach in the form of daily and weekly challenges and commendation progression.

#2 Skill Gap vs Virtual Items

Again, competitive forums like the ones at The Halo Council are filled with posts demanding a greater increase in skill gap for the next Halo. These players are convinced that if the game were designed to be balanced, then more people would return to the game. A truly gifted Halo slayer wouldn't fall victim to a n00b that happens to spawn with an upgraded weapon.

Of course, by balance they mean the exclusion of CoD-esque features like custom loadouts, specialization options and classes, and weapon unlocks/upgrades. We've all heard them say that a Halo game means that everyone spawns with the same weapons. Here's why MLG fanboys need to learn how to throw a spiral instead of making youtube videos.

The game isn't a virtual sports arena. Instead, the game is a virtual game. And in order to keep you playing well past your bedtime, the developers know they have to give you rewards for playing. For everything you do in the game, you need to be instantly rewarded with virtual goodies like credits, and armor, and commendations and you get the idea. But they also need to make you desire these things as if they were real. (haunted helmet anyone?) Having some armor that only looks cool isn't enough anymore. Upgrading weapons and unlocking game features that affect your play will make all those late nights seem worthwhile.

#3 No Bloom/Armor Lock vs Pulling the Lever

I admit. Nothing is more frustrating that getting the reticule centered on some jerks face, pulling the trigger, and finding out that you are the one being teabagged and not the other way around. Even worse, you manage to pop his shields and just before you finish him off down he goes into sweet invincibility ala armor lock.

The hardcore crowd likes to make the argument that these things reduce skill gap and extend the fight to ridiculous lengths. Here's why developers like it. For all the criticism of Reach being more "n00b" friendly and Call of Duty being the FPS equivalent to a hotpocket, it's not an accident by the team creating the games. By making it easier to survive battles and score a lucky kill it ensures that everyone gets to see sparkly medals pop up on their screen.

The commendation rewards system in Reach is designed to give you the rewards quickly and often in the begininng for doing things like toss a grenade. But have you seen the ridiculous requirements to earn an onyx commendation is say Firefight perfection. By slowly making it increasingly harder to earn those rewards, it keeps you playing longer and longer. Even the n00b feels like he has a chance at Onyx multikill commendations.

#4 Halo needs the MLG Pros vs 343 needs you to buy more stuff

We are finally getting to the core of this tangled argument. Pro gamers that have made money and carved out a nice hobby/career out of lining up headshots feel entitled. It's like Lebron demanding that Wilson make a new basketball for him and then demanding that the NBA use it. No one questions his talent and skill, but you are not the center of the basketball universe Lebron! Being slightly delusional allows these Pros to see the video game market in way that makes their very existence vital to a FPS title's success.

Of course, having your game played in front of thousands of people and reaping the benefit of free advertising on Twitch streams isn't something to ignore. But even our favorite Pros (yes even I have favorites, hello Dmaq wassup!) could be traded for a youtuber with a lot of red bull, zero self-awareness, and a great internet connection. 343 would still achieve the same kind of mass marketing success without all the condescending, skillosophy lectures. (I'm blogging. I get to make up new words)

Here's what the developers would rather do. They will give you a game that makes it so addictive, that you will feel like you are losing if you don't play it. The incredibly arduous social ranking system in Reach was not designed to ignore individual skill. It was designed so that you could keep track of your friends ranks and others online. If you stopped playing for a week, missed all the credit jackpots, or daily and weekly challenges you could fall behind your peers. By not playing, you are losing.

Now add in DLC with special playlists with even bigger jackpot payouts. Do you need a map and compass to see where this is headed. DLC in the form of weapon unlocks and armor upgrades that will affect gameplay is the next logical step. By not buying it, and not playing it, you will be losing. Now in what way is this a platform for sports?

#5 Halo is about competition vs Halo is about much more

What does Halo 4 need in order to claim the title of "Halo"? Is it about balance and multiplayer competition worthy of MLG mainstage? Or is it about a boy turned conscript at 7-years-old who becomes Rambo, Terminator, and Robocop all rolled into one. Oh, and he has a smoking hot hologram running around his skull all day and night.

The last piece of the skinner box game design is to make you feel better about yourself while you're in the game than when you're not. I'm sure all of you reading this have either gone to school in the past week, or to a job, or maybe you just had to make sure the old man's empty's were cleared off the front porch (at least those were the chores back in my day). In any case, it's not the most fun you could be having. You're not in control of your schedule, you're not being challenged to the best of your ability (unless you were my brother, he's an idiot), and you don't see any immediate acknowledgement of the work you are doing.

What 343, in my humble opinion, hopes to achieve with Halo 4 will be to incorporate all those gratifying, player-dictated, and customizable features you've seen in games like CoD with the mythology of the Halo universe.

Compare that to the MLG mantra being repeated on the interwebs, "Make Halo 4 so we, the MLG Pros, can dominate new players and collect our cash after an MLG televised event. Thank you and Fuck You!"



 

 

Tue, 06/12/2012 - 15:32
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#2 Skill Gap vs Virtual Items


Again, competitive forums like the ones at The Halo Council are filled with posts demanding a greater increase in skill gap for the next Halo. These players are convinced that if the game were designed to be balanced, then more people would return to the game. A truly gifted Halo slayer wouldn't fall victim to a n00b that happens to spawn with an upgraded weapon. 

Of course, by balance they mean the exclusion of CoD-esque features like custom loadouts, specialization options and classes, and weapon unlocks/upgrades. We've all heard them say that a Halo game means that everyone spawns with the same weapons. Here's why MLG fanboys need to learn how to throw a spiral instead of making youtube videos.

 

 

Not necessarily. I think most of the people were upset with the randomness bloom threw into the equation.  Allowing a dmr vs dmr battle that would win 9/10 times, only win 7/10 times can make for some unpleasant moments.  As long as the loadouts are balanced in terms of non-power weapons, I have no issue if Timmy wants to start with an AR and plasma rifle.  Likewise, I have no issue with someone starting with a DMR/BR combo.  I think the fairly intelligent realize that weapon success is based on not only accuracy, but a given situation.  A pistol should not lose to an AR if both people are at a relative distance.  However, a pistol should lose to an AR in cqc. But allowing randomness to determine some outcomes is not the answer.   

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 13:50
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I can vaguely see the author's point, but overall his ideas are just fluff.

He talks about the Skinner Box model, but from my personal perspective (and I'm just one person), I have very little motivation to play Reach. I don't care about armor, commendations or challenges. My rank is meaningless, so I have no desire to reach Inheritor. All of these things I did find interesting when I first started playing, but now it's just a grind and I'm not really the type to grind for stats/acheivements/unlocks/ranks. 

My only real motivation to play Reach would be my friends. I do still enjoy Reach (kind of) with friends, so THAT is what keeps me playing. Yeah, I'll check out the challenges - if, and that's a big IF, they interest me I might try for them, but usually I don't bother.

I can also say my friends kept me playing H3 as well, but the difference is that I actually enjoyed that game and played just for the fun of playing. I do not get the same feeling from Reach, even with its Skinner Box of goodies, I just find it hard to get excited about playing.

I would be curious to know how he would explain why the population for Reach is so bad when compared MW3. I mean if game mechanics and skill gaps are not important then shouldn't Reach see hundreds of thousands playing every night instead of just thousands? If people are now addicted to armor pieces, credits, challenges, commendations, rank, etc., then all of the playlists in Reach should be spilling over with players.

I would venture to say many people have moved away from Halo because Halo moved away from them first. The challenge Halo 4 faces is bringing back those players and giving us enough old Halo with enough new Halo to keep the series fresh. 

Granted, I'm not dense enough to think 343 is not concerned with sales and making big bucks, but if Halo 4 tanks, then it will be very difficult to restore consumer confidence and get people excited for Halo 5 and 6. Sure day one sales and first month sales will be strong, but what will the population of Halo 4 look like one year from launch? Will we still be excited to play or just grinding through another day of Halo?

 

 

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 15:53
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Yeah, a bit of the same for me.  I played the shit out of Halo 3 because I enjoyed it.  I simply don't have that same level of enjoyment with Reach.  Commendations and imaginary stickers/armor permutation mean nothing to me, and they didn't mean much to a very large portion of the community, because folks aren't playing the game.

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 16:34 (Reply to #4)
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Dixon_Tufar wrote:

Yeah, a bit of the same for me.  I played the shit out of Halo 3 because I enjoyed it.  I simply don't have that same level of enjoyment with Reach.  Commendations and imaginary stickers/armor permutation mean nothing to me, and they didn't mean much to a very large portion of the community, because folks aren't playing the game.

The bolded.

This isn't true without facts. REACH is still in #5 on the XBL charts. We don't know the value of that population but it's position relative to other titles has been consistent for almost a year. My guess is, that based on its XBL position and Frankie saying its population is static to increasing, that it is doing fine.

If you are simply saying your friends aren't playing, that's fine. The rest of REACH's population may be new or shifting from other games but it is still there.

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 21:59 (Reply to #5)
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#5 isn't number one or two or three.  A game that's supposed to be number one or two shouldn't settle for #5.  I'm fine with seeing things half full or being optimistic, but you're getting a little silly now.  The Halo: Reach beta attracted millions of people, and you're content for a much smaller piece of the pie.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 06:40 (Reply to #6)
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Dixon_Tufar wrote:

#5 isn't number one or two or three.  A game that's supposed to be number one or two shouldn't settle for #5.  I'm fine with seeing things half full or being optimistic, but you're getting a little silly now.  The Halo: Reach beta attracted millions of people, and you're content for a much smaller piece of the pie.

Content, no. I want Halo back to number one as bad as any fan and I won't be happy about this situation until a Halo title is once again a chart topper.

I am just not fond of statements similar to "nobody plays Halo REACH anymore" or "Halo REACH is dead". These types of statements are simply untrue and they send the wrong message to readers who don't follow such issues. It was the driving force behind my getting into collecting population data starting with Halo 3. It was incredible how many people would say Halo was dead when Halo 3 rebounded to XBL #1 and stayed there for the best part of a year.

A lot of people think they know millions of people did this or millions of people did that, but they don't have anything to back up their statements.

Halo REACH is at #5 and I'm not happy about it. I also see it staying there, after all the troublels it's had, as a victory. Five months out from end-of-life, and REACH can be played anytime in MM and many friends are still playing it.

 Although I only have anecdotal evidence on how well REACH's population is holding up, I suspect it is about the same as at the beginning of 2012.

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 19:10
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I'm no rat. I play Halo because I like it. I don't care about the credits or extras you get for playing. I just feel that Halo games even Reach are the most competitive and have better gameplay depth than other games. I love to win in Halo and if I lose it sucks. I don't care if I win or lose that much in CoD or Battlefield.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 07:39
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Your Halo 3 comparison is faulty.  That's a game that was momentarily dethroned by Call Of Duty and took the number one position back.  Look at the top games of 2011, by UU if you want.  Reach is behind Blops, MW3 and MW2.  Let's see if that changes for 2012 when things are finalized, but I think you're accepting too low a level of "success" from a AAA title.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 08:44 (Reply to #9)
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Dixon_Tufar wrote:

Your Halo 3 comparison is faulty.  That's a game that was momentarily dethroned by Call Of Duty and took the number one position back.  Look at the top games of 2011, by UU if you want.  Reach is behind Blops, MW3 and MW2.  Let's see if that changes for 2012 when things are finalized, but I think you're accepting too low a level of "success" from a AAA title.

The Halo 3 reference was about people saying Halo 3 was dead when it patently wasn't. That was the reason I got into collecting population data.

You don't need to wait for end of year results for REACH. Major Nelson carries some data back into 2011. It's just chart positions though and not population counts.

I am not sure where you are going with your train of thought. I am not even sure what the measure is for a AAA title. Who says it is or isn't? What XBL position is considered a success. I.E. Is top ten a reasonable result for a AAA title?

Is Battlefield 3 a AAA title? It came out a year after REACH and REACH just pulled ahead of it on XBL. Does that mean Battlefield 3 is now a failure or even a disappointment? If it wasn't a failure one position ahead of REACH does that now mean REACH is once again a success? This stuff is all relative.

I would not disagree that REACH failed to achieve what its makers thought it would. The 360 install base during Halo 3's reign was only about 25% (or even less) of what it is today yet REACH only surpassed Halo 3's population momentarily. It was and still is a successful title but not nearly what had been expected by some people.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 09:51 (Reply to #10)
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DEEP_NNN wrote:

Dixon_Tufar wrote:

Your Halo 3 comparison is faulty.  That's a game that was momentarily dethroned by Call Of Duty and took the number one position back.  Look at the top games of 2011, by UU if you want.  Reach is behind Blops, MW3 and MW2.  Let's see if that changes for 2012 when things are finalized, but I think you're accepting too low a level of "success" from a AAA title.

The Halo 3 reference was about people saying Halo 3 was dead when it patently wasn't. That was the reason I got into collecting population data.

You don't need to wait for end of year results for REACH. Major Nelson carries some data back into 2011. It's just chart positions though and not population counts.

I am not sure where you are going with your train of thought. I am not even sure what the measure is for a AAA title. Who says it is or isn't? What XBL position is considered a success. I.E. Is top ten a reasonable result for a AAA title?

Is Battlefield 3 a AAA title? It came out a year after REACH and REACH just pulled ahead of it on XBL. Does that mean Battlefield 3 is now a failure or even a disappointment? If it wasn't a failure one position ahead of REACH does that now mean REACH is once again a success? This stuff is all relative.

I would not disagree that REACH failed to achieve what its makers thought it would. The 360 install base during Halo 3's reign was only about 25% (or even less) of what it is today yet REACH only surpassed Halo 3's population momentarily. It was and still is a successful title but not nearly what had been expected by some people.

 

That last part is pretty much what I'm driving at.  I'm not so concerned with what it made, as I am having it as a viable franchise and fun game.  Sometimes those two run into each other, and vocal communities discuss how compromise can be reached, like we sometimes do on these fora.

Thu, 06/14/2012 - 22:33
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There is no doubt that Reach misfired in alot of areas. Bloom, worst maps in Halo( well I think CE maps are terrible), flawed AAs, no visible rank system. blah blah blah, but people still love to play Reach. Not everything was bad. I fact Bungie did alot of good things in Reach. Even with all its flaws Reach is still a very good MP game and I really believe 343 will learn more from Reaches fails and success than anyother Halo game.

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