Adjusting massively multiplayer online games to casual players has had a draining effect on the genre, according to Red 5 Studios founder and former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern.
In a guest blog on MMORPG.com, Kern writes about working to make World of Warcraft's user interface, quests and leveling easily understanding to new players.
"And it worked," Kern wrote. "Players came in droves, millions of them. But at what cost? Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done?' I think I know. I think we killed a genre."
According to Kern, lowering the difficulty curve affects the sense of achievement players will feel. Kern says that dropping the bar ultimately loses the journey in between that should make the experience fun and rewarding. In turn, this lowers the quality of work developers pump into their games as well.
"Since these quests are so easily and quickly accomplished," Kern wrote, "the developer is not motivated to spend any time creating rich quests or events for players, since they will only be done once and discarded in the blink of an eye. Developers have no choice but to rely on kill 10 rats, FedEx or escort for nearly every quest, and to do so with the least amount of work possible, lacking in depth or story. It's simply not worth it to do anything more."
Kern wrote that players should be more concerned with the journey of an MMO, rather than its ending, adding that Red 5's upcoming MMO Firefall will strive to achieve this.
"You should feel like you could live your whole life there, not by having infinite quests, but by having a living world that makes you feel good just for being in it and experiencing all it has to offer at your own pace," Kern wrote. "It's not about the competition to max out your character, it's about a way of life and a long term hobby with enduring friends."
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