Unconventional Gameplay in MMO’s

Unconventional gameplay is on the rise in MMO’s, and so far I’m a fan.  What do I mean by unconventional?  I’m talking about The Secret World’s mysteries, Guild Wars 2’s jump puzzles, and stuff that isn’t focused on leveling, gear, crafting, or the traditional MMORPG activities.

The Secret World’s first area was extremely unique.  Everything felt like I was a detective unraveling some story.  The entire gameplay was shrouded in mystery and it took serious thought, utilizing real-world tools, and out-of-the-box thinking to progress.  I wrote about having to decipher Morse code and having to study the sound waves because I had no idea what beep dot beepity doobop meant.

I’ve spent more time in Guild Wars 2 trying to find ways to reach vistas, jump puzzles, and looking to find that last point of interest than I have leveling.  GW2 offers all sorts of meta-game opportunities to explore and do a lot of weird jumping tricks to get on top of buildings or ledges you might have otherwise deemed as nothing but atmosphere.  Seriously, if I would just stop trying to find Waldo I might actually level up.

Perhaps this is how MMORPG’s are going to begin differentiating themselves.  Granted, it’s a bit of an odd approach; I mean really — jumping puzzles?  It works, though.  They detract from the “grind” and change up the gameplay just enough so that you start to miss slaying centaurs… if that’s possible.

So despite being a little goofy, I think this type of gameplay is here to stay (in themparks), and will only continue to grow.

  • This is a step on the right path to the way mmorpg used to be.
    Where not long ago it was just about the itemgrind and powerlvling.

    Really taking my time in GW2. Slow pace, discovering and taking it all in.
    No rush at all. After seeing all these modern MMO before it, playing for fun might be an odd concept in a mmo, yet it works.

    off topic:

    How about an updated article about the gemshop in GW2.
    They want 10$ for just 1 character slot? wtf…
    Someone remind them what “micro”transactions are.

  • You should try keg brawl out. Really fun mini game.

    @Zyler

    $10 is what they charged in GW1 too. It’s really not a lot considering they already give you enough slots for one of each race. And if you are really interested in playing a 6th class then your getting 32 plus hours of gameplay (however long it takes you to 80) for 10 bucks on top of the gameplay you already got out of the game.

    Not a lot in the long run really. You’re getting a lot for your money. More then you would out of a 20 dollar mount on top of a monthly fee anyway.

  • SWTOR also had jumping puzzles, although those were more obscure and I think harder.

    This is not a new idea though, you can make an argument that EQ2 in-game trading card game is a variation of a similar concept — a mini game intended to brake up a pace and offer a diversion.

  • One thing I noticed about GW2, is that it “reminds” me that i haven’t completed a zone. There is something about zoning/logging in and seeing the number of quests I haven’t completed, areas of interest i haven’t found, and vistas I haven’t explored, that makes me want to go complete them. If it wasn’t visually tracked and displayed to the player, i wouldn’t even care.

  • Does Everquest /gems count?

    Finding holocrons in SWTOR was my favorite thing about that game. That’s probably why I didn’t play beyond the 30 days that came with the box.

  • Can anyone comment on Dynamic events? i find i’m always late to the party, miss the start or nothing is happening in at all, very frustrating,
    and there is record of the ones you have done as far as i know

    K

  • @Kengg – you need to keep a look out on your map for the orange circles – the DE description tells u how close they are to finishing so it’s not worth bothering if they are far away and nearly complete. Also, because the areas are quite densely packed at the moment many of the events can’t scale up to match the numbers, so they just get overpowered very quickly. Arenanet definitely need to do a lot of tweaking on DEs though, I reckon.

    Another thing to bear in mind about DEs is that many of them are chained together (in chains that get longer as you progress) with e.g. a start where centaurs are in control of an area and an end where the players are in control. So a problem is that with so many players in the zones they are keeping the event chains right at their end; the result is that you never get to see the earlier parts of the chains with the centaurs in control – they just don’t have a chance.

  • @Kenng: Also, go off the beaten path, I have a found and started a lot of the dynamic events by doing this. This is one thing I love about GW2, the fact that someone has to actually do something to start the events. Such as in one of the starting zones, if you see certain champion mobs… attack them and usually an event to kill it will start.

    Some I think do start randomly but a lot of them can be started by player actions as well.

  • Thanks for the responses what i meant to say is there isn’t a list of DE’s to tick off like there is renown hearts, also i heard that some people who skip some DEs
    have trouble keeping up in level, but i find collecting and crafting makes up for it, just don’t want to miss out 🙂

  • Many of you are bringing up that some games had jumping puzzles before GW2. That is true. But GW2 is the first game I have played that seems to actually integrate them into an aspect of ‘completing’ the game.

  • GW2 does do an excellent job of encouraging the player to really dig into the world they’ve created.

    Have you done the Cow Catapult Vista in Diessa Plateau yet? Better yet, the dynamic event that occurs at the Cow Catapult? The Charr could rival the Asura in Mad Science.

  • Good article and discussion! Jumping puzzles have been maybe my third favorite “new-ish feature” of GW2 so far – right behind the little NPC conversations that happen in the world (whether players are around to see them or not), and the way the game rewards working with other players in ad hoc groups.

    I disagree strongly with the idea that jumping puzzles are just another distraction in the theme park – I think they speak strongly about exploration and adventurous feats of fortitude and will, which are huge components of mythic quests and fantasy narratives. I also think it’s extremely important that they (and other non combat activities like crafting) are rewarded with similar or better XP than simply murdering mobs for no reason.

  • […] Keen notes that many MMOs these days focus on “unconventional gameplay”, and he names TSW’s investigation missions and GW2′s jumping puzzles as examples. In the comments, some people say that MMOs are returning to how they used to be and how they should be, while others point out the inevitable “but X did that, too”, which, in this case however, is an important note: it tells us that probably these things were never fully gone from games. […]

  • What I like about the GW2 jump puzzles is that they are not all just jump puzzles. Some make you kill certain mobs, or use items to open gates and doors. There are also hidden dungeons that are filled with traps and mobs as well.

    If you take the time there are typically 2 big puzzles on a map, a dungeon / jump + mini jump puzzles for some of the POI’s or Vistas.

    They often also have story or narrative components if you talk to nearby NPC’s, read nearby books, or pay attention to random npc chatter. The loot chests also re-spawn. So you can go back and do a puzzle again to get another reward.

    Its not like Rift, of SWTOR didn’t have any puzzles, heck even WAR had it’s lairs. It’s just the sheer amount and quality of them, that make them great.

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