Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is the Game Too Difficult?

For a new player, just starting on his first day of World of QuestQuest Online II, is the game too difficult? Is the sheer complexity of understanding simply the basic rules going to drive him to throw his mouse on the wall in anger? Today, I will attempt to imagine what a beginner's first login in WoQQO2 would look like.

First, after a seamless install and no patching needed at all (After all, the game WAS perfect from the release day, wasn't it?), the prospecting player is presented with a character creation page. He then chooses his race, if appropriate, character gender and then appearance. Then comes the first road bump, the choosing or building of a class.

If he is new to the game, he will not attempt to create his own class. Classes that are already defined cover a wide variety of play styles, and contain various degrees of definition to help the player choose a class that he thinks he will like, based on his skills and prior experiences. This is no easy feat, of course, since just about every class looks so darn fun, but the player finally eenie meenie minie moes his way through and can enter the final character creation step and choose his (perhaps temporary) hometown. Various settlements have basic description, but of course he will forgo them and join the town his friends told him to join.

Then he can finally enter the game and, with his luck, his friends haren't online yet (In his friends' defence, it IS 10 AM on a Sunday morning, and they were up all night raiding Onyxia in WoW). The new player then does the wise thing and decides to go adventuring on his own (He picked an adventuring class, of course).

Readying his weapon of choice, he goes on in Newbie Woods and spots a rabbit, but is all surprised when the rabbit runs away instead of fighting back with teeth and, huh, feet. Rabbits flee, another player informs him; if he wants to kill one, he has to use ranged weapons and sneak on it, and no, I will not give you gold.

Disapointed with what he thought was an easy first kill, our beginner player spots and attacks a rat which, much to mister beginner's satisfaction, fights back, with its tiny-but-sharp teeth and total absence of intelligence. Not knowing any scavenging skill, and not knowing what 'loot' is anyway, our now proud beginner hurriedly jumps to the next rat. Then the next. And so on, until he fails to notice his rapidly dropping hit points. So the seventh rat gets the better of him, and he is defeated. At least he learned to watch his hit points, right?

Well, after a few moments of contemplating his mistakes, mister beginner's character gets back up; what happened? Well, a rat being a rather weak and stupid creature, it didn't quite as much killed him as just knocked him down, so now he's getting back up with his slowly increasing one hit point. Fortunately for him, someone hears his numerously repeated pleas and comes to heal him, so he is back in the game.

Knowing that rats are weak creatures, mister begginer jumps to the next target and attacks a giant rat. Not having any subtlety skills, he fails to have any sort of a plan. So what had to happen happens, and the giant rat kills him. For good, this time. At least, he learned a little, and his next character will do bett...

With a flash of light, or maybe the screen turning black-and-white or looking like limbo or something, the player becomes a ghost. A pop-over explains the basic steps to be taken to come back to life, which mister beginner proceeds to take. He is then back alive again, with only minimal hit points and a temporary debuff which makes him quite useless at the moment. Again, the player asks for healing...

"Why don't you read the manual?", asks another player.
Manuals are for wussies, of course.
"Well, at least wussies get to do the beginner quests.

Ho... Beginner quests... Those things that explain new players how to play the game. Of course, those, he knew, he was just, huh, exploring. Yeah, he's a great explorer alright.

So mister beginner picks the manual and starts playing the game correctly.

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