Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Vote for Your Spells

It's election day in the USA, proof that I rhyme when I've got the time. That said, I'm not dead, and to the voting booth I go to tell those politicians what I know.

A New Decision Making Paradigm
Imagine a game developing world where the players were given the right to vote on the different spells and talents that their favorite toon has. Wouldn't all Warriors want an attack that could one-shot all raid bosses and feel justified in receiving such a spell? Of course they would, Warriors are arrogant elitists, every single one of them, right? Alright, they are not all like that, but no doubt if Warriors or anyone else had a say in what spells they had every toon would be running around with 100 action bars with 12 spells on each totaling 1,200 spells/abilities/talents.

But if the voting process was highly regulated, like sports betting is in Las Vegas, could there be an instance where player voting could directly determine gameplay in a way that was beneficial? Let's assume that we're all Mages. In my limited experience in Magedom I recall that I got the Blizzard spell fairly early on, around level 20 or thereabouts. Now, Blizzard isn't available to Mages until level 52 (I think). What if this went up for a vote? When would a Mage want Blizzard?

The logical answer is I WANT EVERYTHING AT LEVEL 1. And if not logical then at least predictable. So let's add constraints to the voting equation. You may learn Blizzard at 20, but you will have to give up another damage spell until level 40, which are you willing to give up? Frost Bolt or Fire Bolt? Of course this is just an example, but if you give someone the option of gaining a spell at 20 or 30, I believe 100% will want it at 20. So, you make the voter make compromises, or choose to leave things how the developers want to reshape them. This may or may not work, I don't know exactly, it's just a thought.

Same principle applies to talents. 'At what level do you want Living Bomb'? Well, uh, let me think...LEVEL 1, duh! No, for talents we'll keep certain restrictions that devs place on them, but the option could be that a talent can be moved up higher in the talent tree only if it's accompanied by a nerf to the spell. The vote is yours, and if you choose to move the talent you must accept the consequences.

Interestingly this would create imbalances, and those would be the fault of the player. Despite that, however, players would still find ways to blame the devs for creating a system that gave them, the player, the right to make direct changes via their voting systems, thus the fault still lies with the devs for allowing stupid people to create the game instead of smarter people that it's fun to disagree with.

Voting in changes to spells and talents would be similar to real life voting. With everyone given the chance to vote, people both informed and ignorant, we accept a system that has consequences both good and bad. Then again, some of those consequences are relative, and I'm sure it would act the same in a game. Some people would like the changes, others would hate them. But all would have to accept them to a degree because the system would allow direct player input into the decisions.

How it is now can be useful. Smart people give quality feedback and the devs to their best with it. WoW, just as in RL politics, will always have proponents and opponents, people who like the resulting changes and others who hate them and call for all kinds of changes. I for one am glad I don't have a vote in direct spell or talent changes. But the reason isn't what you think it is. I'm glad because if we, the players, did have a say, I would be angry with some idiot who was able to get enough people fired up over something stupid and influenced them to vote in a direction that I would disagree with. But then that's sorta how I feel about real life voting. I'm glad everyone has the right in my country (over 18 years of age), but I wish that a few of those would just stay home. Not because I disagree with them, but because they are too stupid to know even the names of the people running for office. How I would hate it if trolls had a say in my talent tree.

The system may not be perfect, in life or WoW, but both serve their respective populations well. In WoW it's better to keep the players involved but not given direct control. In RL it's good to give everyone a voice, no matter how stupid or uninformed they are. You see, in a game it does not matter if there is a Big Brother, because that super power is not bent on destroying my will to choose. The devs really are trying to make a good game, whether we think it's good is another quesiton. They try because they love to make games, it's what they do. In life, if my voice was taken away and Big Brother established, making ALL my choices for me, my life would have little variety, no creativity and even less meaning. Both systems work well...well enough.

I vote to have no vote in the games I play! Give me a voice, but don't make it binding.

Political (Tangent)
Youngin' people 18-25 will only vote at a 30% clip this election season...if we're lucky. Young people just don't care, coupled with the fact that they don't know as much as they think they do. Oh, don't look at me that way, but the reality is that the longer you live two things can happen: 1) Biases become more biased, you become entrenched in traditions for the sake of tradition, or 2) Experience shows you the differences between rehtoric and reality. From that position we base our decisions and we vote accordingly. So even though young people are free to fight for what they believe, often they lack perspective of those who have actually lived through more years. That's what I think and I'm sticking to it.


Bronte said...

I think that concluding statement should be: "I vote to have no vote in the games I play! Give me a voice, but don't give me a choice!"

Bronte said...

I think that concluding statement should be: "I vote to have no vote in the games I play! Give me a voice, but don't give me a choice!"

Gronthe said...

@ Bronte: Yeah, I like how you say it. Thanks!