Areas of “meaningful activity”

Mystic Chicanery had a real interesting post  yesterday.  About how she doesn’t get to return to areas she’s leveled past, and as such her in-game world is really a much smaller place than you’d expect.  She related that to real life and how our real world is actually a lot bigger, because you have folks of all levels around you.  You don’t “out level” the corner coffee shop, if you will.  Your world is filled with people of all “levels.”

Our lives in Real Life aren’t confined to the boardroom where we’d otherwise only be surrounded by like level people.   I go to work, and I’m surrounded by people with similar educational backgrounds, and we work on similar facets of our product.  In “game terms” everyone is about the same level.  Our “quests” are all “appropriate for our level”.  And so on. 

You could say our “meaningful activity” in Real Life is confined to the boardroom, where we earn our salary. 

Much like our “meaningful activity” in the game, at the end-game, or at the level we’re at in the game, is confined to the areas where the quests are appropriate for us, where the mats we need are found, where the experience earned by our efforts pays off.

In Real Life, however, we interact with more areas than we do in-game.  Why?  Because the bookstore we frequent, with the ice coffee and the latest books, isn’t in the boardroom where I work.  I can’t get books where I work, so the world I interact with is made larger.  And when I want some chinese fast food I’ll go to the mall, yet another area where I’m not earning a salary yet I want to be in.  And if I plan a trip down south to see family, I also get to see some wonderful beaches.  And if I were to head north, it would be into forests and then mountains.  I really get nothing for being there, and yet it’s all “meaningful” for me.

As Nibuca says you can really tell you’re just in a game at that point.  When your “meaningful” area is just a small patch of the total area available to you.  You have no reason to return to Westfall once you’ve made Shattrath City your home.

I’ll differ with that though.  Is your life simply defined by where you earn your living, and little more?  Blizzard has addressed this point as well, and to a pretty good extent, I think.  They have made more areas “meaningful,”  making their game a little broader than they had to.  All the Seasonal events they have.  Searching for Ancestor Coins across the map.  Stealing fires from enemy cities.  Visiting the monuments to heroes of the past.  You’ve got to leave Shattrath to return to all those old places to accomplish “fluff” things like getting a Snowman Costume, or getting “for show only” glowy shoulders and helm.

None of those are a permanent features, calling for, or allowing, permanent visititation.  You aren’t always having to do them though.  Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t, they’re seasonal.  Much like my vacations down south aren’t a continuous feature of my life either.

But could they broaden the game experience?  Give us a reason for visiting Westfall when we’re level 70 raiders?

I think they could.  Why can’t Westfall have big, non-aggressive, beasts like the Clefthoofs of Nagrand.  Make them level 65 Buffalo if you will.  Non-aggressive, so no biggy, but still level 65.  (Make it so guards don’t aggro upon their attacking someone.  Make it so the guards laugh at the poor idiots dilemna for aggroing that mother trucking Buffalo!)  Make Buffalo hide a feature in high-level, Tauren only, leatherworking recipes.  (You Draenei can just stick to silver polyester or whatever your spacesuits are made out of.)

How about fish in the waters off Westfall that can only be caught when fishing is Level 350+.  Make this fish (Westfall Sturgeon) drop a component in a special buff food (Caviar of Excessive Spellpower).

Put another instance below The Stockades in Stormwind City.  Make this where the *really* bad people are incarcerated.  Level 60-64.

But, I’m going down the wrong path now, aren’t I?  I see I’ve fallen into the trap where “meaningful” must mean “loot” and “gold” and “experience towards getting a level”.

I guess what I was really trying for was  “meaningful” without “farmable” or “gameable.”

Put a Library of Lore in the library in Stormwind City.  Provide lots of books to be found on shelves which players could peruse and read all the stories out there.  (Otherwise these stories are just strewn across the globe here and there.  Random fluff in a world and too easily overlooked.  Provide them in a library.)  Make it a complete source of as much lore as is out there.  (Heck, incorporate the novels already written in the real world in there as well.)  People would come from miles to check it out.  (Put Human history in a library outside of Goldshire.  Night Elf history outside of Dolanar.  Put Gnome history *inside* Gnomeregan and let folks peruse the history of the little people in the Clean Room.)

Put a pet store somewhere.  Gizzlock’s Pet Emporium.  Put it in Stranglethorn Vale.  Have the pets all out.  Not just icons in a sellers sale window.  Let people move through them, checking them out.  Make it a zoo, and don’t sell any.  Have people look in wonder at the parrot you get from the pirates.  Check out the … WHAT THE HECK IS THAT??? … How do I get one of my own??

It’s not easy coming up with ideas like this.  And they certainly aren’t “gaming” considerations.  But would the game be better having them included?  And ideas like them?

Do any of you have more ideas about “meaningful activity” that could be incorporated into the game to get people out of Shattrath and back into the world?

About Kinless

Gamer. Engineer. Lived lots of places.
This entry was posted in Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Areas of “meaningful activity”

  1. Nibuca says:

    This was tried to a limited extent.. one of the best leatherworking hats required Zhevra leather.. a uncommon drop from Zhebra’s in the Barrens. A friend was making a tidy profit by farming these low-level mobs for their leather.

    In 2.3 they removed the Zhevra requirement. Honestly I think that’s the wrong way to go.

    I was always puzzled why none of the higher level alchemy recipes didn’t require any of the low level herbs. On my first alchemist I keep all of my Peacebloom for a very long time.. until I figured out I wasn’t going to need it. Again.. too bad.

    Requiring lower level mats would boost the earning potential of lower level toons.. As it is the only use for lower level mats is when high level toons take up a new tradeskill.


  2. dmosbon says:

    Nice thoughts Kinless…gaming is becoming more & more about opinions, just look at the amount of gaming blogs there are now.

    It reminds me of sports to some extent…so many opinions on games & players based on your own preferences. It keeps things fresh but as in sport I don’t think you can expect a team/online game to give you everything all the time…thats why we always go back…human natures hope for the best things.

  3. Doeg says:

    Good thoughts!

    That is exactly why I enjoyed the “Orphan Week” quests – they took me to places that I didn’t really have a reason to go to anymore, or made me stop and look at something that I’d been running past. I still have the pet and thank-you letter.

    Though the problem is that Blizzard fills your bags and banks with so much soulbound and quest stuff that eventually you can’t hold it all.

    I would like to see a special space for vanity pets that is like the keychain.
    And I would like to see things like the Valentine’s vanity costumes be a “use” item that takes up one slot and gives you an appearance; rather than forcing you to un-equip your armor. (Actually, I almost didn’t finish the Skettis quest where I got the Arakkoa costume – that was easily the most fun and cool ‘costume’ I’ve ever worn).

  4. Saylah says:

    Great ideas. I’ve pondered some on my blog over the years I’ve played WOW. Every time I get to that point where I’m thinking, geez, haven’t I been here before?

    EQ2 has added the Legends of Norrath into the game. I always thought WOW could have done a card game or gambling on the boats, Inns or in STV. The library idea is another one I wish they’d explore. There are many opportunities to place interactive lore content into WOW. AC2 had readable scrolls you could loot or interact with where they were found, and my favorite where the in-game cut scenes at the ends of the vaults (instances).

    What gets WOW over without doing these things to keep players going back into lower level areas, other than forcing us back for the AH is that it has sooooooooooooo many players, no where is every completely empty. Well except the TBC starter zone cities. Why on earth did they make them so big??? They had to have known they’d be ghost towns.

  5. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » MMOon on a stick.

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