Time flies when you’re having fun

Time is a relative thing, especially in games. Specifically: if I’m enjoying something, it flies, and if I’m not, it crawls. This is true of most things in life, but it was brought home to me by some of the comments on yesterday’s post.

I probably wasn’t clear. The Fade/Circle of Magi thing isn’t taking me any longer to complete than any of the other long plot sections (if you’re OC about doing everything like I am). It just feels like it’s taking twice as long. That’s not helped by the fact that, knowing I still have a node boss to slaughter and buddies to free, I really can’t be arsed to fire the game up and slog my way through it.

(If anyone thought I was ranting generally about Dragon Age yesterday, this should set the record straight. I am finding the Circle of Magi bit in the Fade to be excessively long to play. I do believe a few design ideas were overused, which increases this impression of painful repetition, but that doesn’t equate to a sudden “Dragon Age sucks!” ruling.)

In games, a slog is bad. A romp is good, but can easily become so rapid you stop experiencing the game and end up merely experiencing the speed of your progress. The trick is pacing a game so that the player still feels as though they’re romping but is also going slowly enough to feel like they’re experiencing a LOT of stuff. This applies to MMOs just as much as it applies to single player games. I expect most MMO players have had at least one conversation with another player where content was experienced entirely differently by each (“zomg so SLOW and BORING!” vs “wow, that went by so fast I almost wish I could do it again”).

An added design problem is that pacing differs for each individual. We don’t all play at the same rate, do all the same things, or spend the same amount of time admiring scenery and dungeon art. It takes work to provide a smorgasbord of content that the content locusts can NOM NOM NOM their blind hungry way through, but that the … let’s call them content slugs can enjoy much more slowly and completely.

Okay, Content Slug just doesn’t cut it, especially since I’m one of them. Will have to find a better term.