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JoeBoris

Theory: players don't know what they want

72 posts in this topic

[quote name='Sir Demon' timestamp='1333898433' post='4929331']
So now you're not arguing anymore that players don't know what they want, just that they want different things than you?
[/quote]


When were we ever arguing about players not knowing what they want? And when were we even arguing? I'm just responding to comments on my posts and explaining what I meant because he seemed confused. Also, do you have anything useful and on-topic to contribute?
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With respect to the title of the thread I think it would be more accurate to say that the vast majority of players "know what they want". Herein is where the problem lies - each player will have their own opinion as to things they like and don't like about the game. Give them a public forum and the ability to post about what they want (or don't want) and they will find like-minded individuals as well naysayers to their posts.

Now sometimes an argument (point) that is arisen through these threads can be extra-ordinarily helpful to the game developers and a patch will be implemented into the game enhancing the game. Sometimes the arguments made will be egregiously stupid. The hard part for the game developer is learning to determine the value of those arguments put forward; that on the surface hold a validity that would enhance game play but will, if implemented, contribute to an overall decline in the "game experience". This is not so simple to do especially in MMO's where evolution of the game model takes place in conjunction with the game being actively played, also a poor implementation of a good idea can also lead to battering of reputation eg: the introduction of voice communication in WoW.

The problem is, as a business entity you do actively search for customer feedback as you want to maintain existing clients as well attract new clients. This means that the forums filled with so many players "knowing" what they want effectively become lobby groups and ideas that shouldn't necessarily see the light of day will get adopted despite every sane person going NOOOO!. But it should also be noted that occasionally suggestions that on every interpretation might seem ridiculously stupid can turn out to be game enhancers whereas other ideas that seem to adress existing issues with a good fix turn out to be detrimental.

Using WoW as an example in keeping with previous posts, There is no doubt that WoW has introduced (as a result of feedback) a lot of things to enhance the game experience as well things that turned out to be less effective or even detrimental, there is also no doubt to some of the older peoples that many positive aspects of DAoC and Everquest were adopted into WoW. Introducing new ideas is not easy, you can sit there and think that you have thought of everything to make a brilliant coup de tat with your change and then suddenly realise RealID or the introduction of new modding policies has in fact burnt your player community into a fiery rage. The fact that players "know what they want" and indeed "know what they don't want" is not just limited to them, game developers also have similar issues. Faced with feature creep can be one sign of a minor disaster in the making.

At the end of the day you want to make a game that is successful (somewhat an assumption I know), that people will like to play, and that will bring a certain amount of recompense to your company or person. This means when you have a game idea you might ask around for feedback, suggestions, etc. The hardest part of all is finding that middle ground where you bring your game design into a real form that is in keeping with your idea and incorporating helpful feedback that contributes to a well-designed game.

So at the end of the day -- Players know what they want, and sometimes what they want is valid and many times what they want is not.
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Players know when they are having fun, as someone above stated.

In many instances, players have ideas (as anyone does), but what distinguishes the designer from the player is the perspective and insight they have into a game -- a designer is more fine tuned to how the game works, can predict what certain upgrades will do and if they are feasible. A player will have only his experience (subjective) of the game to work with, and in his opinion his ideas are spot on.

Money is another factor that spoils the artistic value of games. Customers dictate what they want, so games become either silly boats that rock back and forth between the highest bidders or are geared towards a certain population. WoW is a great example of the latter -- since yesterday's teens are today's adults, it is natural they have more money and are inclined to play the game -- yet, they have less time. The upgrades that reduce the amount of time spent on, let's call it, artistic value (sight seeing, random encounters, slow grinding while just talking) allows said players to keep churning money away.

To counter somewhat the above, well established companies such as Valve or Bioware have the luxury of a loyal fan base that knows that whatever they do, it will be good. Even if it is just some blind faith mixed with fanboism, it generates much better products that are accepted the way they are. Thanks to that we have Dragon Age, Half-Life, Diablo, all the good titles that we can call classic.

Given the above, it is more a case of how deep do we want to (or have to) dig into the gamer's pocket. There will always be at least one person who disagrees with something, or thinks has a better way of doing something (such is the human nature).
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[quote name='Zethariel' timestamp='1334053023' post='4929848']
WoW is a great example of the latter -- since yesterday's teens are today's adults, it is natural they have more money and are inclined to play the game -- yet, they have less time.

[/quote]

There is nothing wrong with making games accessible to busy working adults. Nor does it necessarily diminish the "artistic" value.

By default, whenever we make a game, we're targeting a specific audience. It is probably not a good idea to try and make every game equally appealing to both middle aged women and high school boys.

In my humble opinion, its not just "players don't know what they want". There is just no formula or rules dictating what a good game should be. I have spoken to people with PhDs in Art, and they say there is no consensus on "what is art", much less "what is good art". In other words, "nobody knows what they want".
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1333808716' post='4929037']
J03_b, on 06 April 2012 - 05:18 PM, said:
So that's why I suggest that if you want a game that's more about queuing for short sessions with other players, then why play something with miles and miles of landscape that you never use or even see? Do you just have to play something called an MMORPG?

Because I like playing MMORPGs, the fun parts, without all the time wasting.
[/quote]

If the landscape is fun to travel into, I would play it (of course). The traveling facility is (or should be) a choice: if I want to enter the dungeon on the other side of the world, it's good to avoid wasting time traveling (because it doesn't matter if the landscape is so fun: I'm not interested into it because what I want is the dungeon).
The worst situation is when you MUST travel for tens of minutes to get where you need to go to have fun. There's no fun in moving and moving and moving, even with the most beautiful digital landscapes: after the tenth time you do it you want to eat your monitor.
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I guess it was a bad example to mention conveniences in WoW, because a lot of people like them. But there are better examples like armor abilities and bloom in halo. I'm sure everyone thought they were a good idea but they ended up taking away from the game. Same thing with the ranking system but (I hope) nobody asked for that, that was all the devs
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[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334210213' post='4930492']
But there are better examples like armor abilities and bloom in halo. I'm sure everyone thought they were a good idea but they ended up taking away from the game.
[/quote]

How do we judge that bloom takes away from the game? Do we refer to other player's negative comments about bloom? But then "players don't know what they want" right? So do we listen to them and conclude bloom is bad, or do we say "bloom is good, those complaining players just don't know what they want".

I think in the end, its all about your target audience. The Countstrike community will probably go nuts if you tell them you're removing "bloom" (the recoil system) from Counterstrike. On the other hand, the Halo community go nuts when bloom was introduced.
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334231499' post='4930546']
How do we judge that bloom takes away from the game? Do we refer to other player's negative comments about bloom? But then "players don't know what they want" right? So do we listen to them and conclude bloom is bad, or do we say "bloom is good, those complaining players just don't know what they want".

I think in the end, its all about your target audience. The Countstrike community will probably go nuts if you tell them you're removing "bloom" (the recoil system) from Counterstrike. On the other hand, the Halo community go nuts when bloom was introduced.
[/quote]


I think the consensus was that player's don't know what they [i]want[/i] but they do know what they [i]don't want.[/i] Considering most halo players asked for bloom then most halo players hated it
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[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334284631' post='4930811']
I think the consensus was that player's don't know what they [i]want[/i] but they do know what they [i]don't want.[/i] Considering most halo players asked for bloom then most halo players hated it
[/quote]

But there isn't really any difference between "want" and "don't want". When we "want" something to be changed in a game, we're are essentially saying we "don't want" the present system.

You could say that players [i]don't want [/i]the old Halo recoil-less system, and hence the implementation of "bloom" is good.

Another example: you could say World of Warcraft players [i]don't want [/i]inconveniences. And they know what they [i]don't want[/i].
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[b]To the OP:[/b]
Your first mistake is that you went to a [i]forum[/i] to figure out whether players know what they want or not, which is a major misstep. In fact, it's a horrendous one (no offence). Forums are actually a rather useless medium of analysing players (unless you're using it purely to see what a majority of people [i]don't[/i] like - which typically boils to the top and can then be figured out quasi-statistically):


[b]1) The written language:[/b]
Communicating through text is probably the least effective method of communication after symbolism. You don't hear the forumer's voice, nor do you see his body language. The only thing you can take at face value is facts presented - which we all can agree, I think, are rather absent with most forumers.


[b]2) Players != forumers:[/b]
Forumers are most often players (of any game), but players (of that specific game) are most often [i]not[/i] forumers. Even those who are forumers, more often do [i]not[/i] participate actively in discussions. Long story short, you are given the impression that most players don't know what they want because most forumers who actively participate in forums, don't know what they want. You're making a classical [b][url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_argument"]inductive argument[/url][/b].


[b]3) Internet introspection:[/b]
As a social part of the internet, forums suffer from the same problems as any other internet communications media in which people are effectively anonymous (or act as if they are). People will more often speak out from their guts rather than with reasoning, sometimes quite rigorously and randomly without any logic whatsoever - even though they may be very reasonable people otherwise. They're sooner to ridicule anyone that disagrees, than to look at the arguments and question their own logic. I'd go as far as to say that [i]"the internet is where introspection goes to die"[/i]. And you may quote me on that, haha. ;)


Anyways, I probably got more points, but I'll leave it at this. Cheers.
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[b]Also, I'd like to add one concrete thing:[/b]
Imagine a player who tells you that he hates a given feature. Well, does he know about all the various permutations of that feature to know perfectly whether he truly likes it or not? All that the player really tells you is that he essentially hates [i]that[/i] specific permutation of that feature or group of features. But if that permutation is the only possible implementation of the feature that he knows about, then he's obviously going to say that he hates the feature and not the permutation of it.

So then the question comes up: Should you [b](1)[/b] remove the feature alltogether or [b](2)[/b] just implement it differently?

Just some food for thought. ;)
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334314005' post='4930917']
But there isn't really any difference between "want" and "don't want". When we "want" something to be changed in a game, we're are essentially saying we "don't want" the present system.
[/quote]

There's a huge difference. They know what they don't like [i]when they see/play it[/i]. They often don't know what they want in abstract terms, e.g. "sure it sounds cool in theory" followed by "eww, that feature sucks!". Designers also can't foresee the consequences of all ideas, but they spend longer than many players thinking it through, and often prototype it roughly to see if it works. Many players wouldn't want to deal with a prototyped feature, they'd say it sucked because it lacked polish, not because it was a bad feature.
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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1334362615' post='4931097']
There's a huge difference. They know what they don't like [i]when they see/play it[/i].
[/quote]

"I don't want feature X" is essentially the same as "I want a game without feature X" or "I want the old feature back".
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334405339' post='4931170']
"I don't want feature X" is essentially the same as "I want a game without feature X" or "I want the old feature back".[/quote]

Saying that I want the game to be different doesn't say anything about what specifically you want to see in the game.
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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1334409819' post='4931183']

Saying that I want the game to be different doesn't say anything about what specifically you want to see in the game.
[/quote]

I don't think players would "want" a game to be different without specifics. It is usually the case where they want something over another.

E.g. players who hate bloom in Halo wants the old system back. players who love bloom in Halo wants bloom and doesn't want the old system back.

Does anyone have an example of how "want" can be different from "don't want"?
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Everybody seems to be missing my italicised statement. WHEN THEY SEE IT. Gamers can easily say they like it/hate it when they see a feature fully implemented and polished in a game. Most are clueless if you ask them about an abstract concept or show them a mockup of how a feature would work.
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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1334335751' post='4930986']
[b]To the OP:[/b]
Your first mistake is that you went to a [i]forum[/i] to figure out whether players know what they want or not, which is a major misstep. In fact, it's a horrendous one (no offence). Forums are actually a rather useless medium of analysing players (unless you're using it purely to see what a majority of people [i]don't[/i] like - which typically boils to the top and can then be figured out quasi-statistically):
[/quote]

First of all I don't want to come off as a dick

Anyway I'm not really sure what you mean as a whole because your points aren't exactly all relative to my post. Are you saying that I shouldn't assume that players don't know what they want just because of what I read in the game forums? Well I was thinking that long before I even read the forums, that was just an example. Players wanted AAs, bloom and a progressive ranking system in Reach, and I'm pretty sure that all of those things contribute to Reach's low level of success (compared to halo 3).
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[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334465369' post='4931345']Reach's low level of success (compared to halo 3).
[/quote]

According to the official stats ([url="http://www.bungie.net/stats/reach/online.aspx"]http://www.bungie.net/stats/reach/online.aspx[/url]), 263 million Halo Reach matchmaking games are played a month, compared to 221 million for Halo 3 + ODST combined.
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334480348' post='4931385']
[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334465369' post='4931345']Reach's low level of success (compared to halo 3).
[/quote]

According to the official stats ([url="http://www.bungie.net/stats/reach/online.aspx"]http://www.bungie.ne...ach/online.aspx[/url]), 263 million Halo Reach matchmaking games are played a month, compared to 221 million for Halo 3 + ODST combined.
[/quote]


lol, halo 3 is a 5 year old game, reach is only 2
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I have noticed something which could be attributed to players not knowing what they want, although in this case I think it may be players not really understanding the nature of said game/genre. The most recent example of which was the comments made about a news post on the subject of the MMORPG TERA. The discussion went something like this:

Player 1: "Played it for a couple of hours, its awful."

Player 2: "You have to play it to 20 (about 8+ hours in) before it gets good."

Player 1: "The game should always be fun, I'm paying for it."

Now in most other cases, say a 8 hour FPS, that would be a perfectly valid argument. Against an MMORPG I can't help but feel it isn't. Yes it's a weakness of the genre as a whole, but in a game that you can easily put in several hundred hours of play into there will inevitably be a portion of that which will be nothing more than a slogfest. The point is the rest of the game makes up for this. To level this accusation against the game makes me think that those commenting just don't understand the genre, let alone the game, and by extension don't honestly know what they want (or the consequences of wanting it at least).

Why do I think this occurs? In this case I think there are two broad reasons:

The player has never played/liked the genre and attempts to apply expectations developed for one genre to a completely different one.

or

The player has put in a large amount of time into another game of that genre and now expects to enter a new one at the same "level of play", while forgetting the initial (often much longer) grind they had to undertake to get to that position.

[i][The latter worries me slightly as these would also be the most obvious players to target when releasing a new MMORPG, but to attract and retain these players a game would need to provide almost instantaneous gratification from the offset. In a game that could potentially span years, I can only think this approach would be to its detriment later on.[/i]

[i]Additionally this isn't to say that TERA (although it there are excuses for it doing what it does at the pace it does), or in fact any MMORPG, could not pace the game better (and defiantly not require players to put up with an 8hour grind at the start), but that "the boring grind" is part and parcel of the genre. There are two cases, Age of Conan and Star Wars: The Old Republic, which manage to avoid this syndrome in the first few hours of play, but in bother cases they eventually suffer from it later on in the level process.][/i]
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[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334527219' post='4931555']
[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334480348' post='4931385']
[quote name='J03_b' timestamp='1334465369' post='4931345']Reach's low level of success (compared to halo 3).
[/quote]

According to the official stats ([url="http://www.bungie.net/stats/reach/online.aspx"]http://www.bungie.ne...ach/online.aspx[/url]), 263 million Halo Reach matchmaking games are played a month, compared to 221 million for Halo 3 + ODST combined.
[/quote]


lol, halo 3 is a 5 year old game, reach is only 2
[/quote]

So how can I determine that Reach as a "low level of success" when compared to Halo 3?

Edit: I think 263 million games played a month is a really high level of success for any fps game.
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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1334542383' post='4931609']
Now in most other cases, say a 8 hour FPS, that would be a perfectly valid argument.
[/quote]

What about FPSs that players spent hundreds of hours playing online with other people? Like Counterstrike or Quake?

[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1334542383' post='4931609']
in a game that you can easily put in several hundred hours of play into there will inevitably be a portion of that which will be nothing more than a slogfest.
[/quote]

I spent hundreds of hours playing Starcraft and Counterstrike, but haven't encountered a portion that is nothing more than a slogfest.

[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1334542383' post='4931609']
The point is the rest of the game makes up for this.
[/quote]

Why not just let players play the rest of the game from the start?

[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1334542383' post='4931609']
[i]but that "the boring grind" is part and parcel of the genre. There are two cases, Age of Conan and Star Wars: The Old Republic, which manage to avoid this syndrome in the first few hours of play, but in bother cases they eventually suffer from it later on in the level process.][/i]
[/quote]

What about Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, which are famous for their "no grind" system? Also, World of Warcraft can be soloed to max level in around 7 days of play time (7 x 24 hours), and it is the most popular MMORPG of all time.
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[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1334542383' post='4931609']
Player 1: "Played it for a couple of hours, its awful."

Player 2: "You have to play it to 20 (about 8+ hours in) before it gets good."

Player 1: "The game should always be fun, I'm paying for it."

Now in most other cases, say a 8 hour FPS, that would be a perfectly valid argument. Against an MMORPG I can't help but feel it isn't. Yes it's a weakness of the genre as a whole, but in a game that you can easily put in several hundred hours of play into there will inevitably be a portion of that which will be nothing more than a slogfest. The point is the rest of the game makes up for this. To level this accusation against the game makes me think that those commenting just don't understand the genre, let alone the game, and by extension don't honestly know what they want (or the consequences of wanting it at least).
[/quote]


I used to just accept the fact that you have to grind and quest to level up in mmo's but lately I've been thinking why does that [i]have[/i] to be a part of all games? Why don't they make it so you can level up and progress by doing whatever you feel like doing at the time. Wouldn't it be sweet if there were games like that? Balancing and other issues aside, it would be awesome if you could get good experience for stuff like battlegrounds, arenas, world pvp, raids, and maybe even stuff like crafting or exploring. Anyone know of a game like that?

(I know this is off-topic, who cares)
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1334604953' post='4931828']
So how can I determine that Reach as a "low level of success" when compared to Halo 3?

Edit: I think 263 million games played a month is a really high level of success for any fps game.
[/quote]

Among many reasons, including personal experience (neither I or my friends have fun playing Reach anymore), I think the fact that there are almost as many people playing a much older game pretty much speaks for itself. And I can garuntee you that 3 years from now there won't be nearly as many people playing Reach as there are playing Halo 3 now, unless 343 really blows it or halo 3 is taken offline like halo 2
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