I Refuse Mediocrity: A Response to Darkmoor Critics

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I tried to post this in the forum, but the thread I replied to was moderated, and my comment didn't appear.

x puts on teacher hat x

Wizard 101 has always held great educational value for its target audience, children and families. Especially for children, the orderly structure of the game and the motivation to complete tasks teach valuable lessons in time management, organization, and pride in a job well done. Yes, I just said JOB. Gaming is work, satisfying work, but it IS work, as any devoted, seasoned, accomplished gamer will agree. Gamers thrive on challenging work that yields immediate rewards AND long term rewards. Kings Isle knows this, as the company hires highly educated people with game design backgrounds and experience. Play/Game theory (which mirrors modern educational theory) is everything in a successful game; it's the force that shapes the design and flow of a good game.

Novelty, fiero, flow: These are the trinity of motivational factors that push a gamer to progress in game-play.

Bored gamers are unmotivated, unhappy gamers, gamers who go to different games to satisfy their need for novelty, fiero, and flow.

High end players (some are hard core, some are not) require ample resources of novelty, fiero, and flow to stay engaged in game. Kings Isle knows this, and thus provides wizards with ample opportunities to achieve ^^^^^ these pleasures. This is how Kings Isle makes money, money that goes into producing even more moments of novelty, fiero, and flow, and thus the high end player is kept happy.

No, Kings Isle seems to be teaching all of us yet another valuable set of lessons/skills: In the world, just like in the high end content of the Spiral, there are three key components of success: Cooperation, Collaboration, Innovation. These three essential soft skills are most highly sought after by successful institutions and businesses around the world. People who don't possess these skills generally are unsuccessful in the world, especially in the new information-rich world. I mention this in the context of education because I appreciate that Kings Isle has provided me yet another opportunity to encourage my children to learn from their game play. I find it gratifying that Kings Isle cares enough about their players to press us with a good learning curve, a challenge, a motivation to achieve success.

Thinking of the player base for Wizard101 yielded an interesting observation: The original players of this game, the children who inhabited the spiral years ago, are now 6 years older. A 6 year old then is a 12 year old now. A ten year old grew into a 16 year old. A 16 year old matured into a 22 year old. Many of them have become high end players. These players require more sophisticated content to hold their interest and to hone their (probably) exceptional gaming skills. If Kings' Isle wants to keep these players, the company will provide novelty, fiero, and flow at regular intervals.

I see Kings Isle applying a long term business plan similar to that of Nintendo, the success of which is build on the concept of pleasing all members of a family, regardless of age, with plenty of opportunities to achieve novelty, fiero, and flow. I think the Legend of Zelda progression is a good example of how Nintendo has upped the challenge to keep abreast of the every-aging player base. Nintendo is wildly successful in that particular enterprise.

x puts on player hat x

I don't like the direction complaints about Darkmoor are traveling, because the theme seems to be a desire for Kings Isle to level out the difficulty to serve mediocrity. Yes, I said it. Mediocrity. Not everyone develops the skill to complete Darkmoor, whether it be focus, motivation, or deck building expertise. Yet all of these components of a successful run are readily available, if the individual will accept the challenge. I don't like mediocrity, and most high end gamers don't either. What's the point of gearing up for a new dungeon if new strategies aren't required? Where's the motivation?

The essential grievance is that the dungeon takes too much time. However, many of us have succeeded in completing Darkmoor instances within an hour and a half, which is well within Kings Isle design style. What's different is the level of cooperation, collaboration, and innovation that is required of each wizard on the sigil. This IS a new element, but it isn't a negative. New is not bad, it is simply unknown at the moment. The unknown does sometimes generate fear and anger in wizards, and thus we have these long debate threads.

A second complaint is that children will find Darkmoor too difficult. While I agree that not all children are accomplished gamers, most of the children I know IRL and in game ARE capable of running Darkmoor instances successfully. Heck, these kids run circles around me in the Spiral, and I am a high end player with 6 years of experience. Kids are amazingly adaptable, innovative, social. I'm old, and I am also adaptable, innovative, and social, which is how I've learned to be a decent gamer.

A third complaint is that the bosses cheat too much. I disagree, as I don't view the bosses' strategies as cheats. I see them as rules to be followed or, just like IRL, I will fail. Not only will I fail if I don't follow the rules of the boss, I will be pounded unto my wizard's death, I will also let my team down, and we might all fail. Nothing is worse than failing because I didn't follow the rules; such failure is my own fault.

A fourth complaint lies in the inaccessibility of gear from high end content. Some players never seem to get a drop, and some players simply don't want to work for the drop. Thus some people ask for this gear as a cash option. This would further serve mediocrity, as such an offering would certainly decrease the motivation of previously hard-working wizards to gain the items by their skills, and thus would reward mediocrity. High end players would be aggrieved and insulted to find the items for which they/we worked so hard suddenly available in the crown shop.

A fifth, and highly contentious, complaint is that soloists are unable to complete the instances alone. Well, that's because 1) the instances are optional, and 2) the instances are designed for high end players to team up and cooperate. Again, I feel this complaint serves the theme of mediocrity, as irate soloists are essentially asking for Kings Isle to nerf difficult content for a small subset of less-than-social wizards, people who have chosen to play an MMO knowing it's essential environment is profoundly social and rather opposite their solitary preference.

As a professor and a high end player, I loath mediocrity. What is the point of average, after all? I don't wish to see Darkmoor nerfed to a level where I can waltz in there alone and run an instance in a few minutes, just because some wizards refuse to match the learning curve. Such a scenario does not generate novelty, fiero, and flow in this wizard.

****High end player: A casual or hard core gamer who is persistent and willing to learn all of the skills necessary to succeed in increasingly-difficult and complex game play. A player who requires ever-increasing challenges to achieve satisfaction in game play, and who thrives on failure a learning tool. ****

x puts on flame retardant asbestos suit x

Who wants to run Malistaire?


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Updated 12-9-14 at 7:32:02 PM by IridianShadowweaver



  1. IridianShadowweaver's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ReddVelvet
    I agreed!!!! nice read!
    Thanks for reading Share if you wish.