Gaming Massively

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gender and Learning Styles - from Austin GDC

There's a pretty interesting article up over at Massively about the panel held by Sheri Graner Ray on the topic of learning styles, gender, and MMOs. Actually, the description conflates two topics - one, that people have different learning styles, and two, that women tend to have a different style than men. This is then applied to, for example, how to introduce a new game to people - how they will learn the controls, whether they will even pick it up, etc.

It's interesting, because one of the things I've noticed in the betas I've played (almost all of them, actually), is that there is no 'starter island' - first off, there is no 'how to work your character' explanation, and often there is no 'what do I do now?' Whatever happened to F1 for help?

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

justify the grind

I was thinking about levelling in the context of rewards, and how players need positive feedback to keep them playing a game. And yet, real life doesn't have levels (heh - or does it?) but there's a sense of forward motion. How could one capture that to keep a game interesting without having to add levels every time you want to do a new expansion?

I think WAR may be onto one route, if what I've read about their combat system is correct. Making the combat a more skill-based system means that people can actually improve their combat skill (as opposed to just gaining skill points - I mean real hand-eye coordination type skill).

But then I got thinking about some of the other ways that we 'skill up', and how those skills require constant attention in order to maintain them.

For example: I have studied about six or so languages (not counting programming languages). Some of these (French, Japanese) I can operate in, with varying degrees of success. But the German I took in college, or the Greek I studied for a holiday? Those are gone. I might be able to get a cup of coffee or tell someone 'Good Morning!', but that is it.

If we envision this as skill points, it's very clear that when I was taking the class in German, my skill points were increasing rapidly. But as soon as I stopped using it, they started to go away.

Now, this is pretty basic stuff, and easy enough to implement in a game. If you were feeling a bit feistier, you could even have a second system that made your skills atrophy less quickly after you reach certain proficiency levels or after a long period of time (I doubt, for example, that I will ever lose my ability to speak French, whereas my Japanese, which I never really became comfortable in, requires constant attention).

You could also implement this in terms of physical skills (weightlifting, anyone?) and combat skills. More interesting might be various types of combat skills (versus, for example, Rodents of Unusual Size, and another against armed warriors).

An additional facet of this might be a variation on "Player Achievements". I had been thinking for a while that if you have earned the right to call yourself 'RoUS slayer' then shouldn't you be a mite bit better than the next guy at killing RoUSs? You know their wily ways, and you're ready for them when they leap at you from above in the fire swamp. This should grant combat bonuses. (on a side note, in the case of intelligent creatures who recognize you, they should either run away or call immediately for reinforcements).

This sort of system might also do away with the need for alts - your class is based on your education (heh - that's player class, not social class, though that's an awfully ironic mis-speak), so if you stop warrior-ing, and start wizarding, the change will happen organically. This would also allow Warriors who know a bit of magic, or wizards who carry a two-handed bastard sword, making every class individual (and making PvP a game of identifying what kind of enemy you're fighting during the fight.

Maybe there's already someone out there doing this. If not, I hope someone does!

Labels: , , , ,