A Treatise on Productive Uses of Time

If you have ever sat down and planned out how to make the most productive use of your time, then congratulations, you are hardcore! This is the defining trait of the hardcore, both in gaming and in real life; the desire to get the most done in the time available. The other defining trait is that they’re willing to rewrite the rules a bit in order to do it. It can mean being just that bit more brutal than everyone else, finding that much extra time over everyone else, or finding ways to beat the system that most people don’t try because they’re either not motivated enough or don’t like the risks.

In games, I really think it is just a different way to play. It doesn’t actually have to mean propping your eyelids open with matchsticks and never leaving the keyboard. It’s the difference between playing, and playing hardcore. And hardcore players will find ways to compete with each other, it’s what they do.

I remember this with Diablo II. I played mostly single player, and I played through the normal level a few times with different characters, I tried a few different builds, and so on. Don’t think I ever made it to the end of nightmare level, but I’d already played through the story so I never saw the point. I have more hardcore friends who only played on Battlenet, who tried to win the levelling ladders, who skipped bits of the story and spent hours rerunning the same boss fights to get the optimal loot drops. Neither of us understood how or why the other person played the way they did. All of us had fun. Key to this is … that we never tried to play together. It would have driven everyone nuts.

So I’m down with hardcore guilds trying to attract hardcore players. The best way to find a good guild is to start by looking for one with people who like to play the same way that you do. I’m not entirely sure how effective the ultra hardcore style is going to be in WAR, and I’m quite glad that being on a RP server, I likely won’t have to fight against guilds who think it’s great fun to keep a 24 hour watch on their keeps. (Even more glad I won’t have to be in one, even the hardcore can’t find that 3-4am shift where nothing ever happens to be any fun. And what do you do if something does happen? You’re still on your own.)

One of the issues for the hardcore in MMOs is that it’s not always obvious from the start how to be most optimally hardcore. I remember seeing hardcore guilds advertising for LOTRO when that came out and puzzling over that. Because it was a game without a raiding endgame. What did they think they were going to do exactly? What I saw then, and what I see now, is people assuming that what makes a hardcore guild in WoW is the same thing that makes a hardcore guild in WAR. And it may turn out that the most productive use of time is not especially to do with keeping 24 hour watches at all. I think it’ll be interesting to see in a few months time which the real hardcore guilds are and how they operate. And how many of the guilds advertising as hardcore now are in that number.

Speaking of uses of time, my WoW subscription lapsed a few weeks ago and since I’d been cooling on the game for awhile, I don’t miss it. But I thought these last couple of weeks would be a good time to try some free trials. The interesting thing about free trials is that you tend to play them as single player games. Partly because you’re not committed enough to bother finding a guild and partly also because some of them restrict communication from trial accounts to thwart gold sellers. Anyhow:

EVE: I’ve always been fascinated by this game. It’s like Elite if you never had to actually fly your ship (which was actually the fun part but never mind). And it’s huge. Space is big, really really big. I love it! I just don’t love it enough to play past the end of the trial.

I probably would be more inclined to try it if I had friends who played, because it feels large and expansive and like a breath of fresh air compared to the ‘on rails’ experiences of a lot of the other MMOs. And I love messing with in game economies. The flipside is, you spend a lot of time sitting around being bored. I was playing with my DS while I waited for the autopilot. Yahtzee has a few comments to make on EVE this week as well.

D&D Online: I was at GenCon UK last weekend and picked up the free 10 day trial of DDO from Codemasters. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it but it looks OK. I liked the little tutorial dungeon where the GM talks to you. I love the levers and barrels too, it had a very D&D feel so I can’t fault it there. My big (and illogical) issue is — I’d rather be playing 4th Ed. I’m sure it’s a perfectly adequate game, but I just got bored with WoW which is more than adequate. I’m not seeing anything from DDO that pulls me in.

Archlord: From GenCon also. I couldn’t play this for any length of time. I hated the look (I dislike fanservice anime girls quite a lot), I didn’t see anything interesting, and I hate the idea of a game where you pay real money to get keys to unlock chests. Truly, if I am paying real money I want to know what I’m buying. If I want to pay for a random chance at a reward I’ll play the lottery.


5 Responses

  1. If ever you fancy giving City of Heroes a whirl give me a shout!

  2. I almost picked up a free trial of WoW. I didn’t want to reactivate my accont. I figured WAR was 2 weeks away so I could wait.

  3. The mechanics of a game always change the mechanics of having to be hardcore, whether that is time spent, what people do, and what others are committed to doing. I’m sure you have seen the Nihilium WoW guild’s application and their requirements. Because WAR has a couple of differences in terms of what it means to “succeed”, you can only translate a couple things, 1-to-1, to that.

    14-hour raid days turn into 24-hour watch times.

    Can you imagine if job applications had hardcore guild raid requirements? I think people would run screaming. “Must be available from 8pm – 4am, you must attend, no excuses or you are docked your DKPay”…

  4. Can see Mythic bringing in, if its not already, only being able to take over other guilds keeps during certain hours. If not then if a guild can only have one keep at a time, wouldnt it be fun to sometimes lose it and have to battle over it to win it again ? 🙂 .
    Infact changing your own guild keep so you move from place to place could keep things fresh anyways imo

  5. I think that right now, it’s better for them to leave it and see how things unroll. Do people really want to leave guild members spread around keeps in quiet zones when the battle is raging at the doors of Altdorf/IC? If things end up being unfun then we can talk about tweaks but for now, I’d rather see it left in the hands of players.

    I agree with BC that we don’t really know what hardcore is going to mean. It may be that it’ll be left to the more casual friendly guilds to take and hold keeps while the crack hardcore teams organise the city assaults (something like that would probably be more fun for everyone involved, tbh).

    Whilst I think it’s rough for a guild to be demanding 35 hr minimum attendance a week, I’m still thinking that IF you were planning on doing that anyway, it makes sense to find a guild where everyone else is too.

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