Alex’s Analysis – Earning Our Updates

posted by on 27th March 2016, at 10:31pm

Earning our… hmm, hang on a sec … hey, Nuli, did I write about something like this before? … you know, back when the world events all came out? … no? You sure? … hm, alright then. Never mind.

Heyo. Would’ve liked to write about God Wars 2, since it’s such an exciting upcoming event. However, as a more casual player who hasn’t even touched Nex yet (except with Deathtouch Darts… no pun intended), I didn’t call dibs just because I know I wouldn’t be able to do the justice it deserves. The other, more avid boss-fighting writers could cough up better content in their REM sleep than I could with an advisor.

However, the God Wars 2 update isn’t just the opening of a new dungeon. It wasn’t just another Behind the Scenes video with cheesy jokes and not enough tea, and it wasn’t just an idea in the Behind the Scenes article that was getting postponed for months. It’s not just suddenly appearing… well, it kind of did. But very slowly.

That’s good. In fact, that’s more than good. If it was already opened, then what would be the game? Log on, know right off the bat there’s a new dungeon in the desert with four new bosses, grab our awesome gear, jump down, and start swording away. That’s not RPG. Barely even role-playing. That’s a chore.

It’s like being given a new transparent die for a game of Snakes and Ladders. Makes some neat light effects, but when it came down to it, you’re playing the same game. The novelty of the new die will wear off when the focus returns to the game itself, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s forgotten altogether.

The dungeon did suddenly appear in the middle of the desert, but we cannot enter it yet. Surprise! You know there is a war down there, but we weren’t given any context behind it. Instead, we were given a mini-quest to go around and find out the context for ourselves. We got some cutscenes… and nothing else. No dungeon. Couple rewards in preparation, but no dungeon.

That served a multitude of purposes.

First off, it gave the dungeon a reason for existing. When stuff just appears in the game whose explanation only comes from the news section on the website, that really takes you out of the game.

Second, it gave the bosses themselves some personality. When God Wars 1 came out, all we really had to go off of was to pick which Gods we liked and fought against those we didn’t. Then we found out Graardor was the easiest and started dog-piling him. They were just NPCs. Now, we’re actually picking sides not just because of the Gods. We’re seeing where these generals are coming from, and in some cases we even sympathize with them.

Third, it’s build-up. You know how lots of music starts off simple and subtle and builds up to the chorus by adding instruments one by one? Same thing with game content. If the dungeon was released all at once, it wouldn’t nearly have the sort of impact on us, the player, if we were building up our own anticipation toward it. It keeps us focused on the idea as time goes on, and lets our imaginations run wild in preparation. Like how knowing a jump-scare is coming makes it even more frightening.

That’s what the backstories were all about, but it didn’t stop there. The dungeon had been sealed up, and as the days progressed, we were given tasks to help disable the seal and open the dungeon for ourselves. This meant that we were actually becoming a part of the content’s creation (not code-wise, but RP wise). Like the stories, this was meant to help build hype toward the dungeon’s final release, as well as give players things to do as they waited that related to the dungeon. Keep them in the mindset, y’know.

There is one way this could’ve been made better, and this is something that Valve did with Portal 2. They had launched a campaign where players completed accomplishments in other little games to earn… potatoes. Yeah. When a potato was earned, it was added to a great big counter. The more potatoes filled the counter, the faster Portal 2 would be released by minutes at a time. This meant that players were actually able to force the release date earlier than intended by this activity.

Imagine that happening here. If the dungeon was actually ready to go once the portal was ready to be disassembled, which would happen in a set time (7 days, perhaps), then the players could all pool their efforts in to pull the portal away in real time, and make the dungeon come out earlier than intended. This would give them (or, at least, a few hyperactive live streamers) an incredible sense of accomplishment once the portal opens, as well as greatly heighten the appreciation of the dungeon itself because they know they actually contributed towards its release.

Nevertheless, what they did was fantastic, and I’m looking very forward to taking on some of these new bosses. Perhaps with some self-confidence, I’ll even try taking on Nex in the near future. Then maybe Nuli will stop prodding me with that annoying grin on his face.

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!

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