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Are Games that Recycle Events Being Lazy?

When we play MMORPGs, we are looking for new and fresh content. The games only have so much you can do, and even if you are casual you are bound to hit the point where you have played through everything there is (or at the very least, all that you are interested in). One of the types of new content that games come out with are events for holidays (and sometimes even for off periods as well). But when an event is recycled for the next year, is that lazy development?

I have heard tons of complaints about this, as well as many people that are on the opposite fence. Different people look at this in different ways. The big thing to keep in mind is that if an event is an overwhelming success, making a change to it for the next year could have the opposite effect. What was once an awesome event that everyone loved could easily become a hated event, turning people away from even giving the next ones a chance. On the other hand, having the same event year after year with no (or minimal) changes can have the same effect. Once you have played through the event and gotten bored with it, do you really want to play the same exact thing again next year? It may give a little enjoyment at first, but it is bound to burn you out yet again.

Why is Content Recycled?

I think a big reason why players are against the content recycling is that they do not understand why it is happening. In the case of Rift, for example, there are many character models and zones that are recycled, though with minor changes within them. The reason for this is that it takes a lot of work to make new models, get them animated, and deal with everything else that is required to get them in the game. By doing fresh new content and models each time, they limit the real amount of content the game can get. I think the best way to look at it is like this: it takes multiple years to get the original release of a game out, and that is usually with little content and with bugs that still need to be ironed out. Imagine if every month the same things were experienced out in the world. The amount of content being added would be almost nonexistent and it would annoy the players. By recycling things with some changes here and there, it allows for a lot of new features to be added and to increase the size of the game. It is just not feasible (at least with the tools and technology that are available right now) to try and handle it any other way. It is more than possible that in the future a company will find some way to streamline the process even more, but it is also important to realize that MMORPGs are still evolving. What we are experiencing even today is still the baby version of something that can grow to be much, much bigger. As the size increases and more people get involved, the money flowing to developers is likely to help push for greater and greater breakthroughs.

How to Cope With Content Recycling

Considering that we, as players, have no control over a game's content release schedule or what is coming out, the best plan is to focus more on what we can control: our own feelings about everything. If you put yourself in to the mind set that the recycling is just a part of gaming right now, it is easy to get over it. If you feel the opposite, you just hinder your own views. To help compare things, look at the difference between NES, SNES, N64 and Wii games. Each of these was much greater than its predecessor, and they continue to become more and more great. We can expect the same thing to happen with our MMORPGs, but it is going to take time. While it could be a few years from now before we start to hit the point of truly live worlds and constant content releases, some games are already pushing for it. For example, we have RIFT and Guild Wars 2. Hands down, these two games have the fastest update release schedule that I have ever seen. RIFT really started off with it, rolling out updates every week (sometimes multiple) with real content releases every month or so. Guild Wars 2 then came along and started a similar schedule, at least with the monthly content releases. While both of these games do recycle some content (especially around holidays when it comes to events) and graphics, the fact is that they are working with what they can. And they both do a great job at it!

Rushing Game Updates

A large issue with the content recycling is due to the time lines that developers are put on. They are often put on the spot by their players, since we are always pressuring them to release more stuff more often. This brings us to some rushed work, and if the developers want to keep us happy they have to either lose a lot of money by bringing on many more developers or they just work with what they have. As it makes sense from a business perspective, they choose the latter. I strongly believe that if we could get people to allow developers to follow their own time line (based on what they are capable of, their resources, etc.) then I think things would go a lot more smooth. It always appears like the companies are being hounded by players trying to rush them in to releases and threatening to quit the game if they refuse, and it just does not help anything.

Conclusion

Content recycling is just a part of gaming, and players need to start accepting that. This expectation that each year will bring about completely new events is a little absurd, at least to what we can expect right now. It is more than possible that years down the road when technology has gotten even more progressed, this can happen. But as it is now, players are doing nothing but hurting both themselves and the games they love by trying to push things and speed them up. If you are interested in a couple games that do a great job at this balance and you have no tried them yet, be sure to hit up RIFT and Guild Wars 2. The former is completely free to play and the latter requires you to purchase the game itself but does not have any subscription fee. Both games are also easily followed in terms of their updates, so you can check out the dates on their websites to see how often they are updated. Now let us hope that others start to follow suit!

Games | Opinions


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