Another excellent class resource that covered the basis of game burnout was this Gamasutra article which was, interestingly enough, loosely based on Raph Koster’s Theory of Fun. Starting with the theory that the fun in games comes from learning, it was an easy logical jump how this related to each aspect of the interface, and by the end of the article it’s easy to see how learning how to make Mario jump effectively carries a certain pleasure of learning.
The simplicity of this article causes me to suspect it’s not all-inclusive. If learning new skills alone was a fantastically satisfying experience, we’d be pounding down the doors of schools as if learning Trigonometry the slow and easy way was the meaning of life. Instead, it seems we rush though school in order to reap the rewards of hopefully better employment. The author of the Gamasutra article himself admits, as a point of vital importance, that what he describes is Alchemy, a precursor to true Chemistry, because Game Design is still a relatively new frontier. Still, it’s a good article to read because the logic seems sound.
I didn’t open this Blog entry to discuss game design but rather to briefly talk about my EverQuest 2 progress. (I also had a half hour to burn.) I’m fairly satisfied with my return to EQ2. World of Warcraft might have a smoother interface, but EQ2 is much more regularly improved. Final Fantasy XI might be a more solid feeling experience, but EQ2 is a whole lot more casual friendly. EQ2 is more technically advanced than either game and, when the sum of the collective parts come together, it’s quite possible that EQ2 is the best fantasy MMORPG currently released. (This is even though it’s only a medium performer in terms of overall subscriptions – quality, unfortunately, does not automatically lead to popularity.)
That said, thanks in part of the developers being real content-producing maniacs, I have to level a sideways critique that EverQuest 2 has a real glut of quests. I could say that there’s no such thing as too many quests, as the more quests you give players to do the greater variety of activities they have. However, from an individual’s perspective, there’s so many quests that it’s inevitable to out-level them. I’m currently stuck trying to figure out which ones I want to get rid of, and which ones I want to keep, with regular use of external quest resources in my haste to empty my quest palette.
Part of the problem is that the older quests are inferior, most notably the ones that require me to hunt more of a certain kind of foe that are ever spawned at any one time. In my opinion, those quests either need to be revised or removed, and the ones I bug reported at Gallente’s urges remain unresolved to this day. However, thanks to the massive quest variety, I’ve the option to delete them and find other quests to do instead. To these ends, my current goal in EverQuest 2 is to take my established Erudite Illusionist and get him to the Faydark continent, where (theoretically) there’s a lot less of these old quests. In order to make any progress towards this goal, I’ve refused to take any more Antonican continent quests.
Unfortunately, at this rate, it’ll be days until I reach the point in which I can leave Antonica. To an extent, maybe this is a good thing: Having so many quests to do and struggling to complete them makes the game world feel tangible. If I finished them all in an hour then they’d seem artificial. So long as I’m having fun, that’s all that really matters in the end, and even mopping up these cobwebs off my quest journal is reasonably entertaining.