Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lessons from the Theme Park

I didn't get to play or blog much over the weekend due to an offline vacation that included a trip to an actual real life theme park.  How does the theme park MMO compare to the actual theme park?

Newbie Zone Needed
Our party had a hard time actually finding the entrance to a ride as we entered the park.  Once we actually found the line for the first event, there was a relatively logical geographic progression - back into line to repeat the same ride, or on to the next ride (usually within sight).  It took us a while to get to that first ride, though, and we ended up walking in a big circle around several water slides for no good reason.  You might think that this was a ploy to make us walk past various microtransaction vendors in an effort to get us to buy stuff, but there wasn't even anything for sale on the dead end path we wandered down. 

Nickle and Diming... er, $5 and $10'ing
The ticket to get into the park for the day cost $30.  Parking cost $10.  Fair enough, I suppose.  Then you go to rent a locker and they want $15 for that.  Really, that little locker is deserving of a fee half as high as the entire rest of the park?  The other impressive fee was literally $100 to rent a "cabana" tent by the wave pool.  I guess they're thinking that it never hurts to ask? 

Resist Gear Checks
The lockers in question were somewhat necessary because about half of the encounters in the park required water resist gear, along with towels for drying off afterwards.  (Our party opted to use consumable sun resist potions rather than tying up gear slots on suntan resistance.)  Fortunately, these encounters were mostly clustered in the "wet side" of the park.  We simply declared a bio AFK and hearthed out to change into our normal gear before returning to clear the dry side on a follow-up run. 

Non-instanced Content Off-Peak
Because we ran the park on a Monday, we basically never waited more than a minute or two on respawns.  The entire park was non-instanced/contested, and the park developers clearly put a lot of time and thought into preparing areas for players to wait while camping for their turn at each encounter during peak times.  Obviously, this arrangement worked out well for us, but I feel bad for anyone waiting 30+ minutes in 90 degree heat during the coming holiday weekend.

No Progression, No Problem
Technically speaking, all of the content in the park was rated with a "thrill rating" of 1 to 5.  In practical terms, this scale was not very informative, as even the Ferris Wheel somehow rated a 2, almost all of the roller coasters and water slides rated the maximum 5.  There also was no apparent progression path, other than going after the next nearest encounter after surviving the current one, as none of the encounters were designed to require gear or experience from previous encounters in the park.

All tongue in cheek aside, this is one area where the Theme Park MMO could learn from the actual Theme Park.  Want to repeat the same ride?  No problem.  Want to do each ride once and call it a day?  No problem.  Want to split your group or add more people?  No problem.  It would be nice to have that kind of flexibility in an MMORPG.


Klepsacovic said...

We do, just all the incentives are against us. Then again, I suppose if I'm going to argue that we can do anything if we ignore incentives, then theft is perfectly legal.

Bronte said...

Lessons NOT to learn from a Theme Park:

* Micro-transactions for lockers that hold your raid consumables due to severely limited inventory space
* Being unable to leave a raid even when you wanted to because the raid broke down
* Having to go to the raid with your grandparents who care less for strategy and conquering content and a lot more about taking pictures and squeezing the living crap out of your cheeks

Koal said...

Be careful what you wish for. The real theme park can support all those things you yearn for because the rides are self completing. You wait in line, get on, and the ride goes from start to completion with no interaction required, or sometimes even possible, from you the player.

MMO's have been moving in that direction, making encounters easier and easier, slowly approaching the day when players can just wait in line for the 'rides' which will play out as canned cut scenes in which no participation on the part of the player is actually necessary to 'beat the ride'.

Video Game Philosopher said...

To continue Koal's point; they should also show you the loot that you want, but you have to pay extra for it (like those pictures off the log flume)...

And people who pay for a special piece of gear get to skip to the front of the line.

++rep for Bronte, I'd love to leave the themepark raid when my wife starts to get cranky...unfortunately they removed the leave group command.

Anonymous said...

Great article I just can't believe you didn't mention the titles for height.

Yeebo said...

I enjoyed the hell out of this post. Well done sir!