Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is Time Holding You Back?

Right now, I've got more things I'd like to do than time in which to do them. There are literally half a dozen things I could be working on.
  • In WoW, I've got my Horde Warrior, who I'd like to get through to 80 before Cataclysm hits. I will also want to take my mage through the new 5-man dungeons sometime after patch 3.3 hits.
  • In EQ2, I've got various characters I could be working on. In particular, I'm looking forward to the forthcoming Frostfell holiday.
  • Allarond is nearing level 60 in LOTRO, though I do plan to park him for the rest of the month once he hits the current level cap - Mirkwood isn't adding that much geographic area to Middle Earth, and it might be very challenging to level in the new content on launch day, so I'm much better off having some unfinished business in Moria to work on.
  • I'd like to give Warhammer a re-trial at some point, though there is some real cause for uncertainty in the wake of the layoffs.
  • I'd like to take Runes of Magic for a spin, if for no other reason than to assess how the pure item shop business model is working in an era where most major games are going for both item shops and subscription fees.
  • Torchlight and Dragon's Age are both getting positive reviews around the blogs.
Currently, I'm working with maybe 10 hours/week of gaming time, with under an hour most nights. Giving Warhammer a re-trial would probably eat up most of a week. Test-driving new EQ2 alts to level 20 (the minimum to really figure out how the subclasses differ) is going to eat a bit over half a week for each alt. Completing the weekly Wintergrasp quests on my mage can easily consume 10-15% of my gaming week. A single play through game like Dragon's Age could kick everything else off my schedule for a month or more, even assuming I don't end up feeling compelled to follow Ysh's example and try all the opening sequences.

At the end of the day, the payoff for paying attention to my gaming expenses is that I don't need to say no to something solely because of the monetary cost. Unfortunately, there's no buying back the time. To some extent, it's making me very risk averse in my gaming decisions. Perhaps I could be having 20% more fun in game X over game Y, but I know game Y is a sure thing where the time won't be wasted. Maybe I shouldn't worry about picking the "right" character, but the cost in time of choosing wrong and realizing it weeks later makes me feel like I should try alternatives (burning more time in the process) to be more confident in my choice.

Many of these factors are beyond the developers' control; they don't set my schedule for me, and they can't design the game with fewer choices just to avoid confusing players like myself. On the other hand, the reality that I am crunched for time affects them, as it influences how likely I am to try or stick with their games. It's a crowded market right now, and I'm not the only gamer to run into similar problems.

First impressions may or may not be fair, but they're going to matter more and more. Helping players find the class that's right for them before they get to the point where they quit than re-roll matters. You can't give players more time to work with, but you can and you must optimize the tour that you give players with the time that they give you.

7 comments:

Stropp said...

I wouldn't worry about the time it takes to play through all the origin stories. I've done four of them so far, and the first time through and the Dwarf noble story took the longest at a bit under 90 minutes. The others took just over an hour iirc.

Dragon Age has been estimated at about a hundred hours of play. This seems to be accurate since after 15 hours on my D.N. the game is telling me I've completed about 15%. Six-ish hours on the origins stories are a drop in the bucket.

(Although... I suspect at least one origin story, the city elf, may be a little different depending on the selected gender.)

Jayedub said...

When I have multiple MMO's I end up not having much time for single player games because of the pressure I put on myself thinking that I need to play something I am subscribed to.

But you having such limited time to play atm, that makes it even tougher with all the choices you have.

Tesh said...

This is exactly why non-sub MMOs make sense; you can dabble in them however your schedule allows. Subscriptions demand exclusivity, or at least an inordinate amount of time. For some, that's fine, but it's not good for everyone, or even for those who do like subs but run into lots of other things like this.

I do find it interesting that RoM might become a poster child of how *not* to abuse your customers since it doesn't double or triple dip. Not too long ago, it was the villain of most "WoW clones are killing the genre and microtransactions are the devil" arguments.

Strange times.

Hunter said...

wow. RoM as an example of how NOT to abuse your players? you really haven't played RoM. If you're interested in anything close to end game, you could easily spend way more than any subscription fee. Even playing the lower level dungeons will probably cost you.

Carson 63000 said...

Couldn't agree with you more. In the last few weeks, Fallen Earth and Champions have both thrown free trials at me, I've been in the Alganon beta and now the Allods Online beta, plus LOTRO is now giving me another free "Welcome Back Week", on top of trying to check out Runes of Magic, and my WoW guild has finally reassembled after a great dispersion so I've been raiding for the first time in months (luckily ToC doesn't take very long!)

An abundance of riches!

Bronte said...

So many games so little time...

WoW
EvE Online
Champions Online
Dragon Age: Origins
Torchlight
Borderlands
Mass Effect (yes, my first playthrough)
Modern Warfare
Left 4 Dead 2
Assassin's Creed II

Sheesh...

Tesh said...

Hunter, I really don't care about "endgame" content or dungeon raiding. I just can't work up sympathy for the plight of those who intentionally choose to focus on that portion of the game and have to pay for doing so. I pay for what I do in the game. It seems an equitable arrangement.