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Loot Theory In Modern Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the where's-my-+1-rocket-launcher-in-quake dept.

Games 111

HDRL is running an analysis of loot systems in modern games. They talk about how in-game rewards, formerly the domain of RPGs and adventure games with powerups, have expanded to exist in every genre, as achievements and unlockable bonuses have become standard fare. "For the majority of gamers, once the novelty is gone, they move on. To keep players interested, rewards are required. ... The Diablo series is a perfect example of the theory in effect. Just as in the story of the donkey and the carrot, a game's rewards cannot be too frequent, nor can it be too infrequent. If rewards are too frequent, they lose value in the eyes of the player, and they lose interest. If the rewards are too infrequent, the player loses sight of the carrot, and likely loses motivation to keep playing."

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It really is true (5, Interesting)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998543)

On Newgrounds, many of the new flash games posted there have an achievements system, it's like they have to have it these days. And that is a good thing imho, I enjoy getting these too. The game will have more play value for me due to wanting to achieve these things. It's not like we're drones made to play games right? The achievements make it fun, and that's good. Right?

Re:It really is true (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999521)

I use to visit Newgrounds a lot several years ago. I was then introduced to Kongregate.com. They do something similar. Most of their flash games have some sort of achievement rewards which can award you with points and "cards". Said points then "level" your account.

It's an interesting system. And I enjoy their flash games. What I found, however, is that most of their flash games can equally be found on other sites, like Newgrounds. The more the merrier.

Re:It really is true (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999653)

Except for those people who cheat (boost, exploit dups, etc.) which cheapen related achievements.

But I agree that achievements have made games more valuable as they increase the playthroughs for the majority of people, and have lead me to explore the game more and find interesting things, more information about the plot, etc.

Re:It really is true (1)

PrinceBrightstar (757413) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999945)

1000 achievement points for FFXI. Uh...not all are like that.

Re:It really is true (1)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25000357)

I think you're right. Achievements can serve to help people suffer through the not-so-fun parts of games with the hope that this suffering will be worth it in the end (for the achievement). When the game becomes 90% about getting the next achievement, and not the gameplay in between achievements, then that's not cool. I remember playing Pokemon as a kid and sitting for hours (literally, 4h+) just walking through tall grass to level up my Pokemon. At no point was this fun, but I did it to get to that next level. There is something almost evil about this. Playing on some instinctive impulse of ours that makes us willing to waste hours of our lives for mediocre rewards. I think achievement based-games are great, but I think the minute you have to start "grinding" to get the achievements, the game has gone horribly wrong. I like Zelda games, because you basically just play the missions through, and get your achievements at the end of each mission. All the missions are fun, save a few frustrating bits. Games like Pokemon depend on you playing the game (quests and the like) for 1h, then grinding away (in the long grass) for 4h.

Re:It really is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25000827)

Sure, why not. I like strategy games a lot. Age of Empires III had an achievements system, every game you'd level your home town and get more upgrades and such. It made it more fun to play in the long run than AOEII.

Re:It really is true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25011163)

You are correct. Achievements are a way to give players motivation to excel at a game, to try things they would normally not bother, to see areas they would normally not reach. Until now, we had no reason to go into those empty back corners of games. Now we do. It adds more value to a game IMO.

Hot Booty Theory (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24998553)

In addition the Booty Theory also works, if your audience is male.

The way it works is: Add lots of hot women into your game.

You can mix the two, to get the Booty Loot Theory, in which the in-game character gets laid a lot.

Re:Hot Booty Theory (5, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998605)

That's called Leisure Suit Larry.

Re:Hot Booty Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24999255)

"The Witcher"

Re:Hot Booty Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25002241)

GET OUT OF MY HEAD. I was thinking those exact words.

Re:Hot Booty Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25005799)

EPIC FAIL on the 'gets laid a lot' front, otherwise spot on.

Wrong (2, Informative)

RichiH (749257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25006709)

If you think Larry gets laid a lot, you did not play the games :)

Re:Hot Booty Theory (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25007737)

It's been a while since I've played the game but, if I recall correctly, the ONLY time poor larry actually got laid, there was a big fat (wobbling) "censored" bar across the good bits (taking into account the graphics of that era).

Re:Hot Booty Theory (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 5 years ago | (#25010423)

Most modern Fighting Games have this in them: Its the achievement to unlock new costumes. The ones for the men will often have new weapon designs and maybe some armor changes.

But for the women, its all bout the Inverse Armor Law. They are the ones that get the thong fighting costumes or the dress that grants the player a panty-shot every time she does a high kick.

Loot? No Loot? (4, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998589)

I like using other peoples loot. I also like making my own loot.

Games like that are ones that allow hacking around with the game to make new mods and redesign the game.

Who here still lays Mechwarrior 3? Betcha not many. Now, how many play Total Annihilation? Knowing about the multitude of mod sites and Spring, quite a lot.

There's no unlockables in TA, other than mission mode and the tiers of technology, but that's expected in RTS'es. There's no hidden 3rd faction or hidden maps.

And trust me, loading a completely new mod on the network and playing 6 friends on a mod that we've never seen is crazy as hell in a great way.

Re:Loot? No Loot? (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998597)

Who here still lays Mechwarrior 3? Betcha not many.

Damned right. I had what you might call an "industrial accident" when I tried that.

Re:Loot? No Loot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25012725)

Who here still lays Mechwarrior 3? Betcha not many.

Damned right. I had what you might call an "industrial accident" when I tried that.

Did you accidentally a Mechwarrior 3?

Re:Loot? No Loot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25011979)

I still play Mech3: Mercs ^_^

mods are fun. I still play Halo 1 on PC... turn off gravity and things get really fun.

Too Human knows this very well... (2, Interesting)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998699)

The game its self (story wise) can be ran through in a matter of hours... but then you can re-run the whole game over and over getting better equipment etc so you end up better/stronger/faster.

I know its a old idea, but its strange to see how well it still works. Also crazy how many people will just grind hours away going for one item which pops in huge rarities... (I remember spending weeks in parts of everquest trying to get said items off random bosses) and I'm pretty sure this must still happen in things like wow?

Really, where is this going to take us? I tend to wonder how this is going to change in the future, or will we always just be looking for the next great bit of loot? - Sounds like the other artical posted other day which basiclly said people grind for higher levels, when in reality i think better items are a far more lucritive reward.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (4, Interesting)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998951)

I'm pretty sure this must still happen in things like wow

The problem with such stuff in WoW and such games is that the really great loot drops when you're not around [penny-arcade.com] . You hear about how a friend of a friend recently got [insert awesome item] and drool. Even if you didn't get that item, the fact that you're reminded that it's around, and that OTHER people are finding it keeps your hopes up. We're like rats in a big room lever pressing for snacks. Other rats getting one is a "reward" of sorts for us, and keeps us working hard in the hopes of being similarily rewarded.

Skinner Box (4, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999151)

It's called this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber [wikipedia.org]

That's what many of those games are :)

Re:Skinner Box (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002153)

Thank you. I am a very frequent WoW player. I'm interested in how this game has me so affixed. After clicking that link, and seeing the picture, not even reading the article, I am going to cancel my account. You are my savior!

Skinner Box (1)

BooleanLobster (1077727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004973)

I was on a plane with an in-flight entertainment system recently. One gentlemen a row in front of me played a slot-machine game. I am quite certain he wasn't playing with real money (he was profitable), and it seems unlikely that it would be some system of redeemable points or miles.

So there you have it: nearly the most abstract Skinner Box conceivable. He had two buttons on the screen to press ("bet max" and "spin") and a display telling him he had been rewarded.

He played for something like three hours.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (4, Insightful)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998953)

Yeah, Chrono Trigger was like that too...

Actually, the loot system is simply old practices developped by casinos to keep their players gambling, but applied to video games.

Games like WoW are very similar to gambling. You invest time and money and you receive a big reward infrequently. No wonder some players get addicted...

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002487)

I would say that Final Fantasy XII is the worst (single player) offender of this nature.

In previous games in the Final Fantasy genre, the great rewards were predictable. A side quest would be handed to the player (or uncovered via exploration), a dungeon would be explored, some bonus plot would be uncovered, a boss would be fought, and a reward given. The plot in the side quests helped remind you that you were still advancing your main goal (to save X or fight Y) and worked as a needed tie-in to the main game. And, if you did everything right, your reward was guaranteed, even if difficult. Once you beat the boss or solved the puzzle or fetched the ingredient, you were done.

In Final Fantasy XII, the greatest rewards are dependent upon random chance. They are either rare drops, chests that only appear 1% of the time, or worse, bought in the market only after selling certain specific combinations of ultra-rare drops (Don't believe me? Think this is absurd? Read this guide to acquiring the "Tournesol" [gamefaqs.com] ). The side quests that lead to these chests/areas/bosses/etc. rarely have a tie-in with the main plot, and the reward only appears a small percentage of the time. But then on your 42nd try, you get the reward, and start rationalizing: "Oh, that wasn't so difficult. Maybe next time I'll be even luckier!".

Final Fantasy XII is the first FF game that I have not thoroughly completed (nobody counts XI), and I do not plan to. And, unlike the rest of the series, I never plan to go back and play it again. Its replay value, for me, is nonexistent. I can't un-purchase the game from Square, but this experience will make me think twice about ever going after FF XIII.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002953)

So, that means you found the Pink Tail item in FF2 (US)? I seem to remember it had a 1/64 chance of being dropped by a monster you'll only find in one room 1/64 battles or something absurd like that. I tried for a while and never got it myself.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003127)

My apologies, I never did play FF2... or any of the sequel games, either (X-2, those random 7 sequels, etc.). Any idea how one can find FF2 nowadays, anyways?

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004385)

Sorry, I meant Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo (It was Final Fantasy V or something in Japan). I don't know where you'd find a copy nowadays other than eBay - they seem to get a fair bit for them too.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004445)

Yeah. That one I've played (It was FF IV in Japan, though the Japanese version was actually notably more difficult than the US version... just some odd trivia). But that's easier to find than FF II ... ... I think there was one re-release as "Final Fantasy Origins" for the PS2 or something, but that's even harder to find.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008247)

I think there was one re-release as "Final Fantasy Origins" for the PS2 or something, but that's even harder to find.

For the PS1, actually. Of course, it can be played on a PS2. I have a copy :-), but it's not hard to find. It got a Greatest Hits rerelease and you can get it fairly cheap on Amazon. They did it again for the GBA and called it Dawn of Souls; that one I don't have, but it's still not all that hard to find.

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003269)

Wait a minute... do you mean Final Fantasy II for the Famicom or Final Fantasy 2/IV for the SNES? If the latter, I do believe I actually got the item, once (pure luck... I was killing time as a minimum-wage sysadmin/repair-guy waiting for trouble to pop up in the lab where I worked), but failed to realize that you were supposed to trade it for the Adamant armor. But even in this case it's only one suit of armor in the whole game, as opposed to the top 15 or so weapons and all the top level armors in FF XII. In FF XII, you often need to acquire ~10 items, each with 1/64 * 1/64 drop odds. *sheesh*

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003561)

FFII was similar. Check out the chances of getting the adamantium armor in that game. After hacking a controller to grind the pink puffs for me it still took over a month to get one.

SoTN (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998999)

SoTN had some ultra-rare items that almost never dropped. So if you got one, you were blown away - and you would play the game over and over again to see what ultra rare you would get on the next playthrough.

Re:SoTN (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999233)

Ah but in too human you keep all your drops, did SoTN do this?

Surely then you could run thru 2-3 times and be some "uber" person who no one would mess with?

Re:SoTN (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008921)

No, but you could put 50+ hours on the game trying to get all the drops. Not only that, but many of the weapons had hidden abilities...and then there were combinations of items that gave certain abilities. The number of items were staggering as well. Then you could challenge yourself to beat the game with certain items. Also, you could play back through the game with alternate characters that were unlockable.

SotN did it in a more addicting manner, imo. Too Human was like a "not as good" Diablo II in that sense, at least to me.

Re:SoTN (1)

crenshawsgc (1228894) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999293)

Your posts gain a lot more currency when you define your acronyms outright...

Re:SoTN (-1, Flamebait)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 5 years ago | (#25001337)

eh, if you know what SoTN is, then you care. If you don't know what it is... you don't care (and you probably live under a rock).

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999835)

"Really, where is this going to take us? I tend to wonder how this is going to change in the future, or will we always just be looking for the next great bit of loot?"

Loot theory taps into human greed, I mean come on this is exactly what happens in the real world - people trying to get rich and outcompete other people for wealth. Why would it not apply to games?

Re:Too Human knows this very well... (1)

archen (447353) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008983)

It's interesting that World of Warcraft seems to have directly copied the loot system from Everquest, but is very much trying to get away from it now. Run after run of the same dungeoun in order to get a certain item probably led to burn out of more than a few people. Blizzard then came up with a new system - they give you a sort of token which can be turned in for an item. That reduces the chances of always having caster items dropping when you are melee, now you just have the generic shoulder token that everyone has a chance to turn in. But then they went even farther and started up with the badges. Basically badges drop from bosses, and are a form of currency used to purchase uber loot (requiring for example 20 badges). This can also be seen in the form of crafting materials. When world of warcraft started you could farm for a LONG time in order to get a single "elemental fire". When the expansion hit, the new version was "primal fire", but instead of waiting a lot time for the single rare drop, you got a more common "mote of fire". Once you collect 10 you can combine them. This tends to eliminate the 30 minutes of killing stuff in hope for the drop because you tend to get the item in smaller increments so you can see results.

So what is to be learned here? Well first of all, no matter how rare you make it; some people will still sit there and camp the thing endlessly. For many it's just way too time consuming and tends to encourage unhealthy behavior. World of Warcraft seems to be working more and more to a "progression" system for its loot as apposed to one pure drop. I think the progressive system is good, but obviously there has to be an incentive to down dungeon bosses so the loot system will never totally go away. I have the feeling that whatever topples World of Warcraft will probably take in some of the better systems employed by Blizzard. The pure Everquest system of loot really just needs to go away.

phat lootz for the win! (2, Interesting)

Puffy Director Pants (1242492) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998837)

Total score!

Really, who didn't do things like try to land on the 3,6,9 timer for Super Mario Bros? Who needs a study for that?

WoW pretty much perfected it (4, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998881)

When I first started playing WoW about two years ago I was very curious about why so many of my friends were hooked into the game. I knew a lot of people who had been playing since beta. I had avoided it because I knew my own inclinations to spending lots of time plugged into a game on the internet. When I took the plunge, my perception was tuned into what about the game would make it so addictive. After about thirty minutes it was completely obvious. The quests themselves were small enough to be completed in short amounts of time. There were numerous quests grouped around the same area so you get the sense of accomplishing more than one thing at once. Among the common quests were larger "thread" quests with multiple parts that introduced you to other areas of the game. In addition to the quests, the talent system hooks in new players because they can customize their characters. Many of the quests have item rewards to make the character slightly more powerful.

Then the big hit of crack comes in... groups. All of a sudden things start going faster. With another person you're able to complete the quests more easily. You can tackle quests above your level with someone else that you would have had to wait to handle on your own. At that point the whole game world opens up. It isn't just about you fighting some monsters. It is all about you and whoever else you can make friends with getting things done together. Questing solo gets boring and you start looking forward to doing it with others. That becomes the biggest reward. The social dynamic enters into the game. The team work aspect enters into the game. That is the best loot of all... especially for gamers who might not have strong social lives to begin with. All of a sudden they belong and they have a purpose. I see it quite frequently in WoW. There will a young guy (usually) who will farm materials all day to make potions for the guild to use while raiding. That person will farm materials so that other guildies can make better items for themselves. That person dervives pleasure and a sense of belonging by contributing to the efforts of the guild.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25001899)

Sounds like they'd be perfect for a stereotypical office job. Serve others so that you can make them way more money than you're making, and can take four weeks of vacation a year while you sit at your desk and grind away those work units and look forward to your one week staycation because you can't afford gas for your '93 Oldsmobile with irregular paint.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (2, Funny)

g-san (93038) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002213)

Dude, you need to level up.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002507)

There's a huge difference to leveling up in the game, or ranking up in your guild, and being promoted in your job.

Companies have a limited amount of funds. Each employee needs to be paid, as do taxes, fees, etc.

This means that you can only employ a limited number of people. A company is a balancing act between staffing, production, and profit. In a company that seldom ever changes, many people will not get promoted but once every few years. Its common for people to work 5+ years in an entry level position, unless they clearly and obviously stand out.

Most employees have to deal with a glass ceiling, as well. If you make it up to middle management, you will NOT make it up to upper management without a college degree, in most cases.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003521)

That is why you take your experience and run. I have never stayed in a job past 2 years without a promotion. Once I see that coming, I start looking for the promotion elsewhere.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25002373)

You Americans really should try visiting any other first-world country some time.

Hint: your gas prices are cheap.

Everquest was the first to perfect it (2, Insightful)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003887)

WoW copied all the Everquest ideas you mentioned above - quick quests, many quests, group quests. Everquest launched many years before WoW. WoW just had a much better marketing system with the success of the Warcraft line. But they didn't do anything groundbreaking.

Re:Everquest was the first to perfect it (2, Informative)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004655)

I dunno what version of EverQuest you were playing, but when I played it around the time Luclin came out, the quest system was a royal pain in the rear. There was nothing quick about it. No quest log, no clear indication of what NPCs were offering quests, and on several occasions, I was given a quest that characters ten levels higher than me had no hope to complete.

Re:Everquest was the first to perfect it (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008179)

But they didn't do anything groundbreaking.

Blizzard rarely does (Diablo was Blizzard North). They just put in the time and expertise to do it better than anybody else has done it.

Re:Everquest was the first to perfect it (2, Insightful)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25010431)

The implication of your parenthetical statement seems to be that Diablo was groundbreaking but doesn't count as it was developed by Blizzard North. That is misleading.

Diablo wasn't particularly groundbreaking, plenty of other Dungeon crawlers existed prior. Like every other Blizzard game Diablo was simply better.

I'm confused about the second implication. Blizzard North was no more separate from Blizzard than Will Wright is from EA.

Perhaps I simply read into your statements, but I felt clarification was necessary.

Re:WoW pretty much perfected it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25011377)

Not for me and thousands like me, who love to solo. I am not part of the shabby masses who need help getting their quests done. When I die, I die for my failure, no one else's. When I see a drop, it's mine. I do not wait for AFKs, BRBs, bios, or other forms of delay by people who do not have their shit together. Groups? No. For the most capable players, groups are a liability, unless you are one of the millions just looking for a chat room with occasional game elements.

Pussy Nazi Sez (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24998887)

No pussy for YOU!

Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24998917)

Has you heard of UO?

Re:Ultima Online (4, Funny)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999017)

No online graphical game has come close to UO in my opinion. No character classes, tons of items, a cool magic system with ingredients, nice summons, building ownership, good economy, scary PvP like it must have been in the medieval age...

It wasn't flawless though. The wilderness had more houses than the big cities since the developpers hadn't thought that players would have be interested in houses. Also, players were never able to create a good mercenary guild to protect the innocents so it was a world of crime. Yet, I never had so much fun with other games.

I mean, UO was a game were you could beg for a teleport stone and accept the stone from that complete stranger... only to find out it brought you to a lost rock in the middle of the sea with no way of getting back from there.

How cool is that?

:D

Re:Ultima Online (2, Funny)

toad3k (882007) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999107)

So it was you!

EVE Online (2, Informative)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999177)

EVE has everything you liked about UO, but it is based on a modern scientific world rather than medieval magic. No character classes, just ancestry, specialization and career. Any character can do anything it wants with no limitations. No grind system either. Skills are trained in real time even if you are logged off. You won't be able to max out your skills in this game! PvP is inherent in this game - because the economy is so realistic, you can't do anything without affecting other players. They offer a free 14 day trial but be warned - this is no WoW.

Re:EVE Online (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999219)

Another Omen...

I keep getting Eve thrown at me on the net. Even on facebook I have this Eve ad that keeps nagging me.

I might actually try it then :)

My only obstacle is my time management. I need to organize myself better to have more free time...

Thanks.

Re:EVE Online (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999269)

EVE is very time friendly. I have many members in my corp that log on for a couple minutes a day to change skill training or start production/research jobs. Everything takes place in real time regardless of what you are doing in real life. :) Knowing the CEO of a mining corp is a good first step at being successful in EVE. :)

Re:EVE Online (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002395)

No grind system either. Skills are trained in real time even if you are logged off. You won't be able to max out your skills in this game!

So, what you're saying is, if I join EVE today then (a) my character will be weaker than every single other person in the galaxy, and (b) it is absolutely guaranteed that I will never catch up?

Boy, with incentives like that, how could I possibly resist?

Re:EVE Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25003065)

No grind system either. Skills are trained in real time even if you are logged off. You won't be able to max out your skills in this game!

So, what you're saying is, if I join EVE today then (a) my character will be weaker than every single other person in the galaxy, and (b) it is absolutely guaranteed that I will never catch up?

Boy, with incentives like that, how could I possibly resist?

One thing you will be able to do, if you have the willpower, is to *focus* your training. You may not be able to attain the breadth of training that someone who has been playing for 3 or 4 years has but you would be able to attain a depth of training in some areas that rivals that of the long time player.

You may not be able to fly as many types of ships but you can focus on specific types of ships and fly them almost as well as a long term player in terms of skill points invested. (Actual skill using the ship in PvP combat is another matter entirely.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that a 50 million skill point player is not using all of his skill points at any given time. In combat none of his industrial skill points matter at all. You're only contending with a subset of his skill points, albeit probably a more formidable set than yours.

Re:EVE Online (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25007373)

EVE has a skill system such that each skill goes from 0 to 5. Level 5 takes some 80% of the training time, but once you're there, that's it. No more improvements to be had.

So strictly speaking, it's true - I have played a long time, you will never have as many skillpoints as me.

However the fact remains that it's only ever a proportion of my skillpoints that are in use in a given ship, and once those are maxed (or near maxed - I haven't maxed most of mine, even 4 years in) then it's close enough as makes no difference.

An old character can fly more stuff, but not specifically any given thing particuarly better than a younger, specialised character. You'll never be able to fly as many ships as I can, but you will be able to kick my arse with a given ship class quite soon.

The other balance factor is, of course, that EVE 'level' doesn't have that much of a skew on 'awesome'. A super ultra veteran who really knows his stuff and is flying an expensive ship/fit can _maybe_ take on 2:1 odds. Perhaps longer, if the opposition is clueless, but they're taking a massive gamble at that point. If they lose, they die and their 'more expensive' is destroyed/dropped as loot.

So all in all, the skill advancement system isn't something I've a problem with - I really like it, because at 20 years or so of skill training time (yes, really) it's all about what you want to advance next, not about 'getting to max level'.

Re:EVE Online (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008405)

I started playing EVE about a month ago. I love the system however missions seem to be the same thing over and over except with a different explanation as to why you are killing more pirates.

If they could make it so that events happen in real-time and the decisions of other players and of the NPCs affect the game world in general (not just faction/corporation interactions) and the story revolves around everyone in the game so there's more depth to what you are doing, then EVE would be perfect. Oh, and add some puzzle missions where I have to figure out clues etc instead of just "bring this item to this station for me" and "there's pirates doing stuff, go stop them" missions. I have only done level 1 missions as I haven't been playing too long and only solo, but it doesn't look like it's going to change...

Re:EVE Online (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25009169)

Rumor has it this winter they are introducing more Everquest type quests - not simple go here kill this. Also, everything you do in the game DOES affect everyone around you. I run a small mining corp, but already I've started to manipulate the market and been in a couple corporation wars. Solo missions get boring after a while.

Re:Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24999271)

"How cool is that?"

If it's so cool then how come nobody plays it anymore?

Re:Ultima Online (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999429)

The graphics of course. Not many people are playing Nethack either nor is anyone remembering A Mind Forever Voyaging. These games are not from my generation but I tried Nethack, even Zork I and no graphical game comes close to what games like these were in term of immersion. I wasn't able to try A Mind Forever Voyaging because I needed to setup an emulator or a virtual machine of some sort though...

But yeah, it's all about the graphics.

They are trying to improve the game from what i read but...

Compare these two games http://www.aiononline.com/us/media/screens/ [aiononline.com] to this http://www.uoherald.com/kingdomreborn/screens.php [uoherald.com] .

Which one do you think the kid will ask for?

Re:Ultima Online (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999961)

The graphics of course.

I don't think it's because of the graphics. I don't play anymore because EA destroyed almost every one of the UO qualities you mentioned.

Re:Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25004551)

Although BOTH screen shot pages took a while to load, I would bet that since the AION Tower game's girl had bigger brests...the kid is going for that one.

Re:Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25004587)

Both the pages of screen shots took forever to load, but since the AION Tower games girl has a larger chest, The kid is going for that one...

Re:Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24999415)

Stop that. I miss UO. I wish it hadn't been slowly but surely killed by the developers.

Or maybe if David Allen had been allowed to produce his original design for Horizons. Instead, he got kicked out, Horizons turned into a pile of crap, and Allen is now working on a MMORPG that sounds extremely dull and has a silly name (Alganon).

I want my Horizons, with a huge world, a powerful player housing/city system, and a completely interactive and dynamic war against an army of the undead.

Re:Ultima Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25003605)

Tons of items? Not compared to WoW or EQ2, or even to the original EQ.

No, UO wasn't all that you make it out to be, or it wouldn't have died the death it died. It was hemorraging customers before the move to light/dark shards that everyone says killed the game.

Look, when you have a game that has fairly unrestricted PvP, once the game is more than a few months old, the cost of entry becomes too high. And by cost, I mean that the time needed to play, and the number of "friends" needed to survive, means that the new player frequently gives up before they become of worth to the community. So, you lose customers at a fairly normal rate for MMOs, but you don't gain/retain new ones, and membership drops.

Well, UO was losing members badly to EQ, both due to graphics AND due to the suck-ass gameplay that only the hard core PvP'ers liked. The casual gamer is where the money is at, as WoW has shown. So, they tried a move that was WAY too late to solve anything, by making it so PvP was something players not interested could avoid. And that chased off most of the PvP crown.

Note that the "dark" shard was basically a ghost town on most of the servers after the change, as all the supposedly hardcore folks were playing on the light side, as well. Some hard core they were.

For every person that thought UO was the greatest game ever (and still does) there were 10 people that thought it sucked, and couldn't wait for something better (EQ) to come along.

GLADOS Knows This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24998919)

That's why there are so many promises of cake... test subjects... err, players... require rewards to stay motivated.

I have so many achievables (4, Funny)

Ghworg (177484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24998965)

Bleep bloop [youtube.com]

There are players who avoid these type games (2, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24999509)

While I grant you that games like WOW are extremely popular, even to the point of adiction, there are some players who avoid such games. I'm one and I want to say why I hope this "all games must have this" approach does not, in fact, come to pass.

I get a different type of achievement out of playing on-line games. I build my skill. I enjoy playing First Person Shooter games like Quake 3, Unreal, and other similar FPS games. But as long as I'm not playing against cheaters (and there definitely cheaters on-line), I can start any individual game on a fair footing against my opponents, the only factor that will influence who wins and who loses is player skill, not stupid repetitive tasks to build up some in-game form of currency that is then used to unbalance players. Even worse (IMHO) are the games that will sell players an edge for hard cash, making everyone who doesn't cough up money their licking boy. I see this as little more than a ligitimized and sanctioned cheat. I'm not going to buy the super weapon from some game supplier to over power the other players, and I'm not going to play in a game against people who do.

In a sense, even games like WOW sell the player better weapons or tools, they just do it by a rewards system (called loot here) that doles the advantages out over time. Thus the stupid requirements of repeditive tasks, "kill 1000 chipmunks and tan their pelts". So while the rich and vast world of WOW greatly appeals to me in eye candy value, I completely have no interest in playing it based on it's Hammurabi economy type of play. I neither wish to be some one's cannon fodder nor to be given what I consider an unfair advantage against others just because I completed some (usually extremely repetitive and boring) tasks.

I could see a loot system in games appeal to me, but it would have to be a system that doesn't affect overall game play, and as yet I have not seen such a system in play. In a game like Unreal, such a system could acknowledge players accomplishments with eye candy rewards that don't affect the actual game is any significant way. Perhaps extra and special skins granted to players for special acchevements (hopefully none that give an edge in being harder to see though, like all back ninja suits) or special flame paint jobs for a character' vehicles. Or a noble title added to a player's name (obviously not to be permitted when the name is first created). Granted, these type of things are harder to come up with than just "leveling up" a player to a level 95 Knight Elf Mohawk, or giving him a sword that has a +23 kick ass factor, but they prevent the games from favoring the players who have played the longest rather than favoring the better players (usually related but certainly not always). Loot systems have unfortunately come to replace the gaining of actual skill in the game play, and for that reason I hope that the prediction that is made in this article, while obviously a growing trend, does not come to completely dominate gaming.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (2, Informative)

Genericnumber1 (1046454) | more than 5 years ago | (#25000135)

Even FPSes are implementing achievement systems that do not affect game play, or minimally affect it. For instance, in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 you get an achievement for carrying a garden gnome around for a long time and eventually launching it off in a rocket. Does this need to be done? No. Does it give you anything other than an "achievement achieved" message and the right to brag about doing it? No. Do people still do it? Absolutely.

Let me give another example. In Team Fortress 2 you can earn achievements and you even get other weapons for getting more achievements, but these weapons are not necessarily better than the weapons they replace. (Eg, You get a new weapon that slows someone on hit, but it does less damage). Without getting into whether or not all the weapons are equal in power to the weapons they replace, that is the goal of the system.

Addressing your World of Warcraft example, yes, a lot of rewards are based upon time over skill and DO affect gameplay, but not all do. There are many eye-candy, prestige rewards, such as rare mounts (that are no better than other mounts), vanity pets, tabards, titles, etc. Some people take to trying to collect all of the vanity pets in the game, and while it has no affect on gameplay, they do get some sense of accomplishment out of it.

While I agree some systems reward people for doing non-skilled, repetitive tasks, I do not agree with you when you say...

[a loot system] would have to be a system that doesn't affect overall game play, and as yet I have not seen such a system in play.

That isn't to say you didn't have some very viable points, and I do also acknowledge that you likely were referring to whole-loot systems, instead of sub-systems, but I feel that many of my points still stand.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25000717)

Thank for the feedback and insight. Please note that, as you quoted, I said that I had not seen such systems, not that they didn't exist. Unfortunately, since WOW does indeed have a major emphasis of the game focused around repetitive tasks and "building up" the character, I've avoided it and still will avoid it, so that they have also included some non-impacting rewards becomes a non-issue for me.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004693)

My main character has currently collected 62 out of 75 available[1] vanity pets in WoW - she will get probably another 5 when 3.0 goes live (bag space constraints).

[1] - I haven't yet obtained any pets which require real work money to acquire.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25009363)

But giving gameplay-affecting rewards to people for doing skill-requiring things just serves to vastly widen the gulf of ability between beginners and veterans.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25001717)

It's funny that you mention Quake 3 since it had those medals you got for some actions before archievements were commonplace.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25002185)

Yea, but they didn't affect game play, at least not in a positive way (a bug in the game would keep the award around even when the rest of the player was invisible!!!) And Unreal can give out some extra point awards for many things, like "first blood", "revenge" or killing sprees. I wouldn't object to such awards that spanned rounds of the game (those that you speak of only persist in the instance of a single round AFAIK), but I simply have no interest in games where awards build up your character, or as I think of it, an in-game economy exists that is used to build up the power of the character rather than expecting the players to actually increase the skill as they play.

It would be kind of like if PacMan could tell how many quarters you spent and after so many hundred quarters it gave you a super weapon to kill the ghosts or gave your character more speed. To me that would diminish the game, not make it more interesting.

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25006459)

AFAIK most archievements on XBox Live don't affect the game either, they're just stamps you get for completing some extra challenges

Re:There are players who avoid these type games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25012687)

Check out one example that is Soul Calibur 4. Certain things int he game are locked until you get X achievements in the game.

What about no loot (4, Insightful)

neostorm (462848) | more than 5 years ago | (#25000305)

This is something that's been bugging me for a while, I could care less about loot. One of the things that keeps me from playing online RPGs is that the only thing they have to offer is "more loot". Warcraft players just talk about the loot they've gotten, or will get, and I'm playing Lord of the Rings Online right now and it's much more of the same.

We absolutely have to find a better reason to play than "loot". What about the joy of playing? What about the story? Are these things no longer important to us? Do we need that kind of reward to keep us in the game? I swear, games are becoming a sick reflection of our materialistic society in some ways.

Re:What about no loot (2, Interesting)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25003679)

You should play City of Heroes. The core gameplay isn't centered around loot per se (though some of the recent expansions have introduced a system of optimizing your character with "salvage"), but is more of the kind of story you'd expect from being a super hero - fly around and bring righteous justice upon the criminal element. On top of that, there is a fairly good story system, where you make contacts who take you on story arcs where you ferret out conspiracies, do hostage rescues, timed bomb disarm missions, etc. The accomplishments are in earning medals and badges for completing some of the larger task force missions or other similar tasks. I found COH a lot more fun when WOW in that WOW people aren't in it to enjoy themselves it seems, it's all about leveling up to get to a high enough level to do raids to get the good loot. When my WOW characters were low level (under 20), I found that nobody was interested in grouping to do the missions from the starting towns ("Does anybody want to do the mission to kill the troll chieftain?" "Go to hell noob"). When I posed the question of how to go about getting small pick up groups on the WOW message boards, I was basically told that unless you're in a guild, nobody will want to team with you, and that I should just grind my character up to level 25 so I could start doing some of the upper level raiding. COH seemed much better for casual gaming and to do pick up groups, and there's no greifing or fighting over loot.

Re:What about no loot (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#25009623)

City of Heroes seems to have gotten more loot-centered. In the beginning Influence (money) flowed so freely and there were so few money-sinks that you could get your characters maxed-out enhancements by 30th level and keep them there with little effort. With the additions of prestige and the invention system things have gotten much more complicated, to the detriment of the game, I think.

Re:What about no loot (1)

Jim_Maryland (718224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25011499)

"When I posed the question of how to go about getting small pick up groups on the WOW message boards, I was basically told that unless you're in a guild, nobody will want to team with you, and that I should just grind my character up to level 25 so I could start doing some of the upper level raiding."

To some extent, this is true. You just need to realize that at the lower levels, you have two categories of players:

- Other new players
- Experienced players leveling an alternate character

At the lowest levels of the game, the "new player" folks won't necessarily understand the concept of grouping up to complete quest or run the low level instances. Those running an "alt" (especially if they have multiple "alts") will understand the advantage of running as a group and will often do so with other guild members. They will almost certainly only run with those guild members since they can do this only when online together so they can complete quest and quest chains without having to redo them for a person a stage behind on a quest.

Having reached a point where I am leveling multiple "alts", I do try to do a bit of both approaches. I have 3 alternate characters that I'm leveling (mainly to do most of it on "rested experience"). The first is one that the only guild help was a few run throughs of particular instances to get the good item drops for my class. Outside of that, all questing was done either solo or with groups of people that were random finds in the game. I've also mostly done "on level" dungeon raids to ensure I really do know how to play the class (a priest in this case). Now my second "alt" is a character that I'm leveling exclusively with my wife (and eventually my daughter when we catch up to her "alt" character level). We only work on these characters when we both have time online. We'll group with other random people, but when people ask if we can join up the next day to continue questing, we explain our plans for leveling together and most find it "sweet". My other "alt" is still very low and I'm just working them slowly. I may do the same thing with them and another of my wife or daughters characters.

So I guess the short answer is that yes, being in a guild will make teaming up easier, but no, it isn't entirely accurate. You can find low level guilds or leveling guilds if you look around. You may also find that if you play a certain time of day regularly or get lucky to find a lot of players that understand the "looking for group" system, you can get decent groups to accomplish the tasks (especially those annoying grind quest of "kill x ", since everyone in the group gets credit for the kill).

"it's all about leveling up to get to a high enough level to do raids to get the good loot"

This is mostly true, but you can also find people that "twink" their characters at a lower level to focus on PvP battlegrounds. Of course this does tend to be easier if you have "high level help", but it can be done even without it (just have to be careful about not gaining experience unless it leads to that "better item). Personally I'm not a big fan of this strategy since it creates a major imbalance in the battlegrounds but I don't know of a good strategy (other than causing each battleground to slowly provide experience to force a player up to the next bracket).

Re:What about no loot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25011765)

What about using the English language accurately? Is this no longer important to you? I'm sure you meant to convey the idea that you couldn't care less about loot, not that you could. If you can't care less then you're already at the minimum amount of care. See? Just think it through. You actually said "I care about loot".

Re:What about no loot (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25012439)

Huh? Wow is too social-oriented. We are just playing it to pass the time until Diablo 3 comes out.

Where's the paper? (2, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25000371)

HDRL is running an analysis of loot systems in modern games.

I am looking for the analysis, not just a blog comment. Can someone provide a link?

Put more thinking into it (3, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25001879)

That's what I hate about CoD4. When you start, not only it's hard to fight more experienced player, but on top of that they have better weapons, perks and all that. So what happens is that you're really widening the gap between experienced players, which means the "noobs" get "pwned" a lot more than they naturally should. I think that sort of system is pretty weak, and it calls for a rethinking of it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about removing that sort of promotion, or even reversing it. No, rather, I think it has to be approached differently. I won't solve the problem in 5 minutes of thinking time, but an idea could be instead of giving you an edge that makes you an even more deadly killing machine than you already were, you could gain access to new skills, no responsibilities, new capabilities that wouldn't make you more deadly a soldier but nevertheless achieve new things by gaining strategical advantages, i.e. you could gain some sort of intelligence and leadership others don't get so you could turn into a sort of leader. If you look at it, in CoD4 as you climb the rank ladder all you get is better guns and such. They could at least get some inspiration from reality, when you become a colonel in the Marines they don't reward you with an AK-47 and better ammo.

Re:Put more thinking into it (2, Insightful)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004299)

My sentiments exactly

The most broken things are
- Airstrike and Helo kills stacking. Once you get an Airstrike you're almost guaranteed a Helo. Support kills should not count same as normal kills
- Grenade perk is overpowered

But being multiplayer its pretty hard to think of leadership/intel perks as all the other players are human, and they're not going to be inclined to take orders ;)

Still a level 1 player in COD4 is on a far more level playing field than any MMORPG confrontation between people of varying levels. A headshot is a headshot and even starting out you have the tools to do that ;)

Re:Put more thinking into it (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008677)

And there's something particularly annoying regarding grenades and airstrikes, it's that on most servers there's 2 or 3 times more people than the map was designed for, so these make your life expectancy so short your life is only worth as much as the grenade you'd have the time to throw away, and you won't always have enough time to do that anyways. The problem being that most of these upgrades you get are meant to make the average overall life expectancy much shorter, which is an awful thing to do, because when you die every 20 seconds a game quickly becomes rather dull, whereas if you can get to live 5 minutes it becomes exciting and immersing.

I think they should have gone with perks such as heroes have in Warcraft III, i.e. activate a perk that gives all friendly units within a certain radius more protection, stealth, etc... It would have interesting consequences, in that someone with such a perk, due to the interest there would be in following him around, could become de facto a leader, and use strategy to coordinate an action. See, that's what the CoD4 game designers should have thought about, it only took me little thinking to come up with that. Hence the title of my original post.

Re:Put more thinking into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25005411)

Oddly enough I had a very different reaction to CoD4. When I started I thought, if I'm running with these higher level players so closely, the rewards must be really underpowered. After leveling a bit, I decided that the balance was actually pretty good. The later guns are decent and open some interesting strategies that aren't available to the newbie, but you can get by just fine with one of the early assault rifles once you get the red-dot.

It's not that the experienced players have unbeatable advantages, they just have more play styles open to them. I would argue that none of their options are all that much better then "Medium Range headshot burst".

Re:Put more thinking into it (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25008351)

I thought the same thing for COD4. My brother had gotten the game and wanted me to play online with him. He was explaining the experience system and how cool it was.

The first thing that came to mind was exactly that, the people who have been playing a while will just make it that much harder to catch up. It's like the cheaters vs. non-cheaters except it's sanctioned by the game. Really, the upgrades my brother was talking about did sound cool, but it seemed like it would detract from new players wanting to start up or those who aren't all that good to begin with.

What I thought would be a good idea is do the exact opposite. Keep a rank for each player based on how well they do and levy a handicap on them. This would even out playing between the "uber" players and the "noobs" so that everyone can have fun. Which is what I think the point of it all should be about anyway.

Re:Put more thinking into it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25011425)

I think there were some great points in the entire thread. After decades of online gaming, loving both FPS and RPG (D&D) type games.

Personally, I will advise my son to avoide games that levels is a major component of the game - which drives the quest for power....the addiction. Having completed many grinds (ie winning the game) shows there is nothing at the end and ultimate dissapointment....like a book without an ending. (LOL do you still read the "wheel of time" series?).

I actually like COD4, I thought they got it right. Yes the perks give a slight advantage, but not that much, you can still kill everyone (unlike a lvl 70 in WOW vrs lvl 1). You get some main perks very fast and the overall time to get level all the perks takes a reaonable amount of time but not too much that you have to sacrifice your life to do it (for those who have families and work).

What I liked about COD4 is I didn't feel I had to grind it out all the time and stay caught up to evereyone else just to compete allowing me to do it on my own time. Besides learning to compete without perks just made you a better player.

good or bad (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25002135)

While yes it helps with the replay value it also creates a culture that is constantly looking for more frequent rewards in the game. I have seen the older game not really care either way over this new reward system; the one that grew up with out it. However, I have seen the younger gamers become overly obsessed with it to the point that they will not play games with out this reward system in the game. Good or bad, I guess time will tell.

All these WoW references, none for GTA.... (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 5 years ago | (#25004779)

Seriously, if you want a game where too much time is spent on side-missions, just try collecting all of the secrets in GTA3, Vice City, or San Andreas (or GTA4) without any guides to point you to where *insert objects* are. Hell, finding all of the oysters was pointless as hell in GTA:SA, yet plenty of people still did it

Now if you want a less-properly done example: Madden Cards in Madden 2002 (Sorry, I think that was the last Madden game I bought, maybe it was 2003). That was just frustrating.

stop it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25012375)

I long ago was sick of this, and it's getting worse and worse. Look at what's going on with Team Fortress 2, for example...

What's even worse, is the newer systems don't even have "Game Shark" like programs to unlock everything. I just want to have everything at my hands and play the game without having to jump through hoops to experience everything I already paid for!

Re:stop it (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25013401)

"We make our loot the old fashioned way. We eaaarn it!"

Evolution of rewards systems (1)

skorch (906936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25012787)

I see the newfound prominence of loot systems as being a standard progression of the gaming culture as it moves beyond the somewhat antiquated and abstract point-system. Very few games outside puzzle games (especially narrative games) can get away with using abstract points as a compelling measure of performance for players anymore. Tying those rewards to in-game mechanics seems to be a much more fluid and logical approach. It is much more common and intuitive for players to discuss their progress in a game in terms of the accomplishments they've achieved and subsequent loot they've acquired than to simply compare scores.
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