Yesterday, Jeremy Gaffney commented in a thread on Wildstar Central regarding balance in the end game of casual vs. hardcore. Here is his input in that discussion:
Originally posted by Jeremy Gaffney (Source)
Here’s some quick philosophy on the subject (still in the office at 6pm Sunday so I’ll have to be brief):
We do believe in catering to the 1% (actually a few different 1%’s). We spend more than 1% of our time on them. Why?
Well, the 1% grew over time in the MMO market. It used to be that few people were at the end game stages of the MMOs, but of course as time passes the percentage of players there grows. And some who hated PVP as noobies learned they loved it, and some who struggled in dungeons took on veteran dungeons and learned to raid, etc. So that “1%” of people who do the hard end-game content has grown a bit (it’s still not pervasive per se; and the toughest raids are still only finished by a fraction of the playerbase).
Several factors apply:
1) The 1% are pretty vocal. If they report back to the 99% that the elder game sucks, guess what? Lots of people leave – why bother levelling up if no love was put into the very top content? (Well there actually answers to that, but I’ll leave it for brevity).
2) Over time, your “1%” content becomes easier – better loot drops, people get more skilled, level caps raise. So that percentage our of time spent actually over time does get utilized well.
3) We devs often ARE the 1%. If you make a game you don’t love, it’s pretty damn hard to make it good. We want a game we want to play too. There are a disproportionate amount of hardcore raiders/PVPers in the industry (and probably also in those passionate enough to post here or on other MMO sites for that matter).
4) There’s some magic involved. Picture a game with no nigh-inaccessible content. You can go anywhere the first month, there’s nothing left unseen. From one perspective, maybe that’s great – there’s no earning your way into Counterstrike maps, and that game’s pretty damn fun. But from another…I dunno, it’s pretty tough to have a mysterious, huge-feeling world when you can trivially do it all, and even in games I don’t want to or don’t have time to raid in I’d like to know there’s more out there. That’s arguable though.
So we focus a lot on elder games. We’re trying to have innovative answer for each major playstyles:
Soloers PVE’ers (IMO under-served in most MMOs oddly as they are 65+% of the playerbase in most western MMOs) get more than rep grinds and dailies by having solo story dungeons released regularly, dynamic PQ content (most to be revealed down the road), big frequent updates, housing stuff, good tradeskilling, and more.
PVPers: Warplots (40v40 player built city v city combat) and arenas (to oversummarize)
Group PVE’ers: Dynamic raid content, weekly competitions for legendary gear, and more (some to be revealed later)
Some of that stuff (especially the group stuff) needs to be damn hard. We want the best guilds capturing raid bosses in challenging ways, and pinning them down on their warplots to go beat the out of the other fortresses. Many noobie players may never experience that – but hopefully they hear about it and aspire to it.
We’re trying to make everyone useful, so the major guilds will end up with raiders, warplotters, and soloers contributing to the overall guild’s success, in roughly the proportions they naturally exist in the playerbase. We’ll see if we succeed at that (beta’s all about finishing implementation, then tuning tuning tuning to make sure it all plays well individually and together).
Anyhoo, there’s tons more on the subject, especially as we do more reveals later this year on elder games, deeper dives on features, etc. Maybe we’ll muck up some of the execution (don’t believe so at the moment, but there’s lots to do still. I don’t expect or desire any “gimmes” from the MMO communities as a whole; there’s been enough hype in recent years in the biz that the proof HAS to be in the pudding for us and future games).
But strategically we have a set of goals that we feel passionate about. Opinions welcome.