Friday, September 27, 2019

My Life As A Gamer: It's About The Normies

Metro City Boys co-host and author Oliver Campbell, a long-time Monster Hunter fan, offered a Twitter thread on his disenchant of late with Monster Hunter World and its Iceborne expansion.

Which had this comment come in from Greyson Richards.

Between the two, Oliver's observation of World taking on the characteristic mood of a typical MMORPG such as World of Warcraft prompted me to write this post.

The release of World of Warcraft Classic, and with it the restoration of the end-of-vanilla state of the game, revealed that a number of things believed about the game to be correct.:

  • The game, in and of itself is not that hard, especially since all mechanics are now known.
  • The game's difficulty is actually due to the majority of players being unwilling to actually adapt to the mechanics and instead demand that the game--and other players--change to accomodate them.
  • Most players would sooner quit than Git Gud
  • Reason: Due to player populations being in the millions, most MMORPG players are NORMIES, and Normies don't Git Gud.

CONCLUSION: "Massively Multiplayer" was a mistake.

Virtual population dynamics are no different than real ones. Past a critical mass point, you lose any semblance of a tnit-knit community because it becomes impossible to maintain the cultural cohesion required. Why? Because populations that massive in realspace exist solely due to merchant--specifically financier--striving and not out of any organic desire for a nation to concentrate. The Greek city-state example shows what the organic concentration limit is.

Mercantile striving is all about patron-client relations, and that means keeping the purses happy enough to keep emptying it on you over the rest. This attitude induces and encourages r-strategist thinking over time.

Git Gud works when walking away isn't an option, or when you're K-select innately. In gaming, it's always an option which is why your Souls games are dreaded nightmares and the trend over time has to been to dumb and nerf things down- all in pursuit of the Normie purse.

The solution is simple and K-select: Accept your goddamn limitations, make virtues of them, and make peace with Normies shunning the game.

The course-correct for World is to remove the Normie-friendly changes, to Make Monster Hunter Great Again by restoring the information scarcity.

The reason is not that it will stay that way long-term. Once someone figures it out, and its confirmed, up goes the walkthrough/breakdown on the Wiki and the problem is solved until the devs invalidate it by changing the game.

That's a segue folks. Now I'm bringing my experience with WOW into this.

WOW has a serious issue with the meta. This meta is driven by a handful of world-elite guilds, and one in particular: Method, based out of Scotland. When new content comes out, Method and the handful of actual competing guilds race to see who can beat it first. Since they're the only players working with an information deficit, they are also the only ones who experience the game as if it were Monster Hunter; this small cohort are the sources of all the guides, walkthroughs, best-in-slot lists, etc. that form and inform the game's metagame- a meta that is enforced by the tryhards that follow this elite cohort because it produces reliable results, maximizing rewards for minimal cost in time and virtual resources.

The devs try to cope with this by changing the game on the regular. Some of this is unintended and organic; these are the actual bugs and so forth that they fix in short order. Some of this is not, and these are the long-running issues none of the players like because it interferes with the way they want to play the game. Hence "Working As Intended" as a mild insult.

The trap is that, being the most populated MMO for the longest time, most Normies who played MMOs at all played WOW. They are the ones who complained most about difficulty, most of which is due to their unwillingness to adapt to the mechanics in order to succeed, and as a collective--and pushed by the beancounters--they compelled a lot of changes that made the game normie-friendly over time. (The end result is that most players continue to be full of suck, blow, and ass by the way; what Preach Gaming covered a few years ago during Warlords of Draenor is still true now, including the removal of the then-current requirement to randomly queue for Heroic Dungeons.)

The Normie attitude towards games is always the same: "I play this game for entertainment. Entertainment is not meant to be challenging. If it is difficult, it is not working properly; fix it or I will find a substitute that works properly."

And by "not challenging", they mean across the board. They expect to just sit down at the table, pick up a controller, or sit at the computer and mindlessly partake of an exciting pasttime as if it were an '80s arcade game set on Easy Mode. At most they want to show off and peacock; this is why we have the obsession with the meta and numbers, as it is a clear measure of both effectiveness by their terms as well as time-based efficiency in dealing with what they don't want--challenge--out of playing the game.

The solution, for gaming across the board, is for devs to ramp up the information scarcity. Forbid datamining. No public testing; this includes livestreams and videos. No guides, no walkthroughs, no Wikis; use IP law to enforce this. Make things too hard for the Normies; make them quit. Identify and cater to the challenge-seekers and the community organizers; let them be the means by which information gets circulated, and force them to do so by actually playing the game. Your smaller client base will be far more loyal, will do your screening and gatekeeping for you, and--at the cost of lesser financial success--your game will remain vital and relevant for far longer than it otherwise would.

SIDE NOTE: Paperbacks are coming soon.

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