About long term goals in MMORPGs

As you know I’m currently busy building an Epheria Frigate in Black Desert Online. I think it’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on in an MMORPG.

Goals1
Much effort went into this already, yet there’s still a long way to go

Not that this deters me, I like having long term goals in the games I play. This wasn’t always the case though. At one point a couple of years ago I’d played mainly SW:TOR and The Secret World for quite some time. When I started to play ArcheAge afterwards I was a bit shocked and also disappointed by the large amount of resources necessary to build fairly basic things like a clipper or a small farm cart.

After a while I got used to things taking longer and learned to appreciate effort vs reward again, something I seemed to have lost while playing the aforementioned games.

Goals2
As a consequence I was pretty proud and happy to finally get this

Not all long term goals are created equal though. I’m not talking about the reward I get in the end, a purely cosmetic one like a really nice looking mount can motivate me just as much as a powerful item with actually measurable benefits. I’m talking about how much time and effort need to be invested, and how much restrictions or obstacles the game puts in my way.

To me it’s very important to be quite free in how I work on achieving my goals, and that doing so is actually fun and doesn’t feel like actual work too much.

The latter is obviously a very subjective thing, so developers won’t be able to please everyone in this regard no matter what they do.

Let’s have a look at the ‘how’ then. Imagine you have set your sight on a specific goal which requires you to invest, say, approximately 60 hours of play, and you’d like to achieve it within two months for some reason. So on average you’d need to work on it for about an hour each day.

Depending on how the game in question is designed this can leave you with a couple possible scenarios.

One: The maximum amount of progress you can make each day is pretty limited, for example because doing a handful of daily quests is the only way to progress. This means that you probably won’t be able to achieve your goal within two months no matter what you do. You’ll also likely feel forced to do these dailies each and every day so you don’t delay completion any further. I know I feel that way in these situations.

Two: The maximum amount of progress per day is still limited, but not quite as harshly. Here you’re able to reach your goal in your set timeframe and are probably ‘allowed’ to take a day off every now and then. You still need to play and work on your goal almost every day though.

Three: there’s a pretty high limit to progress per day, or none at all. Do one hour per day, two considerably longer sessions per week or each whole Sunday, it’s up to you.

Unfortunately (for my taste) many games fall into the first category. Most instanced dungeons, for example, have a lockout timer of 18 hours or so, meaning that I can do them and get rewards only once per day. Consequently, if I want to maximize my chances for the drops I need I have to run dungeons each and every day.

Another example. Back in SW:TOR I wanted to reach the highest reputation rank with the Gree to get this sweet mount:

IntPiPoMo_Mounts1
I can’t help it, if something looks like it’s taken straight out of TRON I have to have it

Unfortunately a bunch of daily quests were the only way to increase one’s reputation, and those weren’t much fun to me. My only options were to either do them anyway or forget about getting the mount. To make matters worse the Gree event was only ever available for a limited time before disappearing again for weeks or months, so I felt doubly pressured to do the dailies every day while the event was active.

I just don’t like that kind of design because it can lead to a spiral of constant repetition very quickly, especially with limited available playtime. You log into the game after work and know that you kind of ‘have’ to do a whole bunch of things first. If it doesn’t all go perfectly it might take even longer than anticipated, and before you know it your time’s up and you haven’t done anything other than your daily chores once again.

That’s why I’m really happy that I don’t feel forced to do any specific thing pretty much ever in BDO. The only task I’m kind of compelled to do regularly is brew beer before my workers have used it all up and stop working. Other than that I can do whatever I feel like and still make progress towards at least one of my goals.

For the Epheria Frigate there’s different kinds of gathering, processing, hauling stuff around, keeping production rolling and managing nodes and workers to be done. On some days I gather materials with two characters back to back until their respective energy pools are depleted, sometimes I only do a bit of processing or don’t work on the frigate at all while still making progress because my workers keep at it. If I didn’t like a specific kind of gathering at all I could even try to buy that stuff on the marketplace instead.

I really like that freedom and wish more games would handle it like this instead of forcing me to do the same stuff every day in order to reach specific goals.

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2 Replies to “About long term goals in MMORPGs”

  1. I agree with you on this topic. I never, ever liked dailies. To me they feel like chore and if I miss one day I feel like I “wasted” some progress or reward I could have earned. Even if it is something trivial or that won’t hurt me that much in the long run I just dislike the idea of wasting.

    I get it is an easy way for developers to entice players to login daily and hope they end up playing but I can’t also stop feeling like there might be some better ways to get players engaged with the game.

    Liked by 1 person

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