Investment and an Interest in Difficulty

I’ve been trying to get back into Hearthstone lately and am having  a hard time. I went through the new pvp wings on easy, log on for a few dailies, and still try getting my Shaman deck up on the arena ladder but there just isn’t much motivation anymore to do much else, and even most of that.

It’s usually a few matches of whatever before I lose interest and then log out when before, I would go for hours playing. I spent even more time fiddling with my decks and looking at cards and even read a number of posts on deck building and strategy. I thought trying the new hard mode boss fight would get me back and interested but even that has failed. I’ve tried, logged in for them occasionally but no concentrated effort on beating them.

Now usually I love facing off against a certain challenge or at least getting to the point where I have tried a lot and done a bit of my best. I optimise my decks to a points, a read forums and posts about it and spend a fair bit of time practicing. Now that’s nowhere near as much as some people but enough effort that I can achieve my own personal goals. That’s usually how I play and it ends up so I don’t play that many games but I do tend to get a bit deeper into the ones I do. Once I lose interest in a title though that’s pretty much it, I move on to the next and if I do play it’s nowhere near as serious.

My original goal was to beat these hardcore wings but not anymore. The level of difficulty is too high considering the amount of effort that I want to put in and then, thinking about this I had a mini epiphany… No, not just about how to kidnap Jensen Akles to hide in the garage but more about how the amount of difficulty that is acceptable to me really relates to ‘my level of investment. The more I’m invested in a game the more I will go to extreme lengths in order to achieve something or complete it.

In the mmo’s I’ve played I can see in the ones I was invested in for a time that I did spend a lot of time trying out the harder content. I read about classes and gearing strategies, I grinded for gear and other facets, watched the scenarios on YouTube to learn the encounters and generally just practices play. It wasn’t so much that all this was boring but that it was necessary to reach my goal. I haven’t done this in quite a while though.

Lately I just haven’t felt that invested. A few games like Don’t starve have seen me researching different facets but the other games just haven’t had that. The encounters for Wildstar which I guess are easy if you understand them, your class and interrupt patterns are too difficult for me to bother with. For ESO I almost immediately dropped the game after facing that insurmountable hill called veteran ranks and never came back… It looks like many made that same decision too. I remember for Guild wars 2 I just lose my investment enough that all the grind for difficult to achieve items turned me away as well.

For the industry this seems to be a concern lately. I’ve been complaining about the lack of challenge and ease of design in these titles but it seems that’s all that’s sustainable in an industry that’s lost investment from its customers. In the face of difficulty you just move on to the next game but then you face easy, non-committal style content in the next and that really doesn’t help you get invested either. The question is, how do you build back that investment? What needs to change within design and how the appeal and encourage players and to be honest, I have no idea.

Is it just me that has to maybe sink into a game rather than enjoying my flights of fancy… I don’t think so considering I can spend several hundred hours in Terraria just messing around, grinding pets and other cosmetics and crafting an armory. Social is of course an important part for me yet in those games that do involve pre-established groups I’ve seen them disintegrate and leave just as quickly and this seems to mess with your investment even more.

I think, like a lot of things, it is those first impressions that really count. But what exactly should that first impression be and what elements should support that?

#Investment #Difficulty #Blaugust

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15 thoughts on “Investment and an Interest in Difficulty

  1. Intuitiveness + familiarity + challenge + newness + lack of similar competition

    Oddly enough, I have a background in Change Management due to projects I’ve run. Those are the main factors I’ve used to measure a product’s acceptance. By most accounts, it’s near impossible to achieve.

    • haha, the formula just made me think why all these games like shovel knight are so popular lately
      familiarity from the past, punishing in gameplay, modern gameplay intuitiveness and no one else has been doing them.

      it seems the main thing in that too is just not trying to compete as much within the same marketplace. Where to differentiate though. Definitely not the 4th pillar…yeesh

      • Well, to SWTOR’s credit, it makes for a hell of a good mutliplayer KOTOR3 :)

        But ya, the competition aspect is the real killer in MMOs. Too much of the same and you then lack innovation.

      • I actually tend to think innovation (or an approximation of it haha) has been pretty ok.. you can chart a lot of new interesting changes to the genre with just about each mmo. It’s just that the foundation has always been so similar

  2. The thing that has most surprised me about the ever-increasing long, medium and short term grind content that ANet have been building into GW2 for about a year and a half out of the two year lifespan of the game is just how much players seem to appreciate it. Given that GW2 was promoted pre-launch as an MMO that would have no grinding whatsoever and, indeed, which had and still has mechanisms in place specifically designed to deter even voluntary repetitive play, it seems counter-intuitive but the evidence is there in every discussion that ever crops up in-game. GW2 players, or those who have stuck with the game, really like to grind.

    I can’t help thinking that if ANet had known what would end up being the glue that kept players stuck to their game they’d never have bothered with all that paradigm shift hoopla in the first place.

    • I think someone said it best, grind to some isn’t a grind to others. GW2 just happened to have grind which appeals to a of players. Whether it’s by design or not, who knows, but I’d like to think that a lot of how the game is constructed (dynamic events, collaborative open-world play) definitely contributes to it.

      I also wonder if the fact that a lot of the grindy stuff was added after the game launched had an impact on public perception. Most people see ascended as “optional” but wonder how public perception (never rational) would look like if it had been in at the start of the game.

      -Ursan

      • that’s very true, and I enjoy grind but it is very individual and I think everyone will grind and enjoy grinding depending on what you get how you get it and how much needs to be done.

        The thing with Gw2 now is that they seem to have a decent variety of grinding styles for a variety of items..they’ve done reasonably well with it. I tended to hate the heaping of randomness to it, grinding for bags and opening for items…was a bit silly. I’d rather just sit back and kill something for an hour, a day or longer knowing thats were i get it from.

  3. A bit off-topic, but I wish playing with friends in Hearthstone was more fun. It just seems like a … waste of time? I don’t even think that’s a very rational feeling, but that’s definitely how I feel. It likely has something to do with the lack of progress and how doing it doesn’t really move me toward more gold or cards, and only marginally improves my ability to play the game.

    I think the game needs an Arena-Versus mode where you can invite from 2 to 8 players and play an arena-style draft tournament. Perhaps a small gold reward for participants at the end too.

    • This. Arena vs. your friend, like best 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 7, winner gets bigger prize pot, loser still gets prizes based on amount of wins/consolation. And dailies still count.

      I realize playing against friends and getting progress would just encourage people to trade wins, so that’s why they don’t do it, but if you both have to pay 150g to get into an arena, why not?

      • Oh, you just gave me a brilliant idea: use the entry gold cost as the cap on gold awarded out. In other words, you just move it around, not add additional gold to the system. Other than trading just to trade (which would be really time consuming to do), you don’t have to worry about artificially inflating the system.

      • There would have to be some sort of balancing, because traditionally you pay 150 gold and depending on how you do you get a lot of gold/dust + cards + packs.

        I would still do a regular arena run over playing a friend if all I was going to get vs. my friend was 150g back. That sets things back to the way the vs. mode works now – no reward.

      • We ended up having a conversation about it over Steam yesterday, and decided it should be as follows:

        Same Arena, same rules, but having the ability to click “invite friend” or use the normal matchmaking. Then as long as your friend had paid for an Arena ticket, you could go ahead and play them with your Arena decks. You’d still both have only 3 losses to go, but who ever won would still be able to keep their Arena run going.

  4. I feel the same as you. The level of difficulty I’m willing to put up with is determined by how much time I have on my hands. That’s why I haven’t been able to finish Dark Souls even though I LOVE that game. It’s really hard, and satisfying. But I don’t have the time. It’s funny though that MMOs don’t strive for higher difficulty given that they expect players to hang around for at least a year.

    • It makes sense to have harder content if you want people for the long term but lately it seems like mmo’s are built for the short term, at least at release

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