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Why games have treadmills.
Aziphirael
post Apr 26 2007, 11:18 AM
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Rather interesting viewpoint about why games have treadmills etc...

http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/04/23/the-g...out-treadmills/
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Noggin
post Apr 26 2007, 01:49 PM
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Nice find there Aziph. I've heard that terminology before, and I think that term applies more to the modern MMORPG than anything else.

EU is your classic 'treadmill', although it goes beyond that. A high professional standing in EU shows both devotion of time AND money.

Completing repetetive tasks is all well and good, but it's not a real measure of skill, because you're not really doing anything skillful. The only real element of skill in EU is the ability to make money, and even then, you're at the mercy of MA and other players constantly.

Personally, I find having to do things over and over quite tedious. I think others share my frustration. This is why game makers make multiple 'treadmills' within the same game.

There are plenty of ways to show devotion and dedication without making people jump through hoops, it's just a matter of implementing them in a balanced and fair way. This is the real art. I guess it's just easier to run that loop over and over :)
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Svetlana
post Apr 26 2007, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE
Skill-based games lock the door against most players, precisely because they demand real skill. Skill is something that is a rare commodity...
This gets worse when you’re dealing with a multi-player scenario. Picture a group of six people in a multiplayer game. One of them is 10% better than the others. He therefore wins. His win record is now 1-0, and everyone else’s is 0-1. He’ll continue to win most of the time — though not all — and his win-loss record will be tilted towards the wins side — say, 8-2. But most people in the group will have 0-10 records, and a couple might have 1-9. A small margin of skill is enough to make a cumulative record look devastating. In competitive arenas like this, most people lose most of the time...
For all the publicity noise around pro gaming and the like, the fact is that there’s a reason why most multiplayer games include a single-player campaign, and why most users never play multiplayer and when they do they mstly play on LANs or with friends only, and not in the wider Internet.


Nice quotes there and something to think about for the gaming industry.

QUOTE
Treadmills exist because they address these issues to some degree. They are a hypertrophied version of basic incentives. The reasons why people hate them are also their strength:

Anyone can climb the ladder. This makes for an accessible experience
You always know what to do next, which also makes for greater accessibility.


The flip side is that they are frequently designed in such a way that they do not present variegated challenges nor truly new ways to interact with the model. This is why players get so annoyed at “Fireball VI”: that’s not a new stick to poke the beehive with, it’s just a bigger stick with exactly the same properties and responses. It doesn’t keep the user learning. Where the learning stops, the fun does.


Again, something interesting to ponder. Pertaining to EU, can it easily be categorized as a treadmill game? Certainly aspects of it (ie hunting, mining, crafting) ARE skill and reward-based, and thus would be considered 'treadmill'. Yet other aspects are clearly better defined under the experiential category (ie running or operating a business/shop/hangar), allowing users to choose what to do and when to do it.


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"The future is here, it's just not widely distributed yet." - William Gibson
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Dino
post Apr 26 2007, 05:38 PM
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QUOTE
Picture a group of six people in a multiplayer game. One of them is 10% better than the others. He therefore wins. His win record is now 1-0, and everyone else’s is 0-1. He’ll continue to win most of the time — though not all — and his win-loss record will be tilted towards the wins side — say, 8-2. But most people in the group will have 0-10 records, and a couple might have 1-9. A small margin of skill is enough to make a cumulative record look devastating. In competitive arenas like this, most people lose most of the time...

Huh? Get this guy a basic statistics book. If one player is 10% then her record will be 10% better. She won't be 8-2 when some bloke that is only 10% worse is 0-10. That's crazy math. If there are only six players and she's 9-1 then she's WAY better than 10% better than the other losers.
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Erasmus
post Apr 26 2007, 05:51 PM
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QUOTE (Dino @ Apr 26 2007, 01:38 PM) *
QUOTE
Picture a group of six people in a multiplayer game. One of them is 10% better than the others. He therefore wins. His win record is now 1-0, and everyone else's is 0-1. He'll continue to win most of the time — though not all — and his win-loss record will be tilted towards the wins side — say, 8-2. But most people in the group will have 0-10 records, and a couple might have 1-9. A small margin of skill is enough to make a cumulative record look devastating. In competitive arenas like this, most people lose most of the time...

Huh? Get this guy a basic statistics book. If one player is 10% then her record will be 10% better. She won't be 8-2 when some bloke that is only 10% worse is 0-10. That's crazy math. If there are only six players and she's 9-1 then she's WAY better than 10% better than the other losers.


Naah, not quite. As it is unlikely that all 9 others have exactly the same skill level, you get deviation which causes dispersion ... which either diminishes or accentuate the range of the results.

If I could only remember where that old stats book is burried, I could quote the page. This curiosity is a favorite for lobbyists pitching marginal interests. That is how you can show, for example, how deadly ball-point pens really are in the US (IMG:http://virtualmindhive.com/forum/style_emoticons/default/shok.gif) ... they should banned or at least heavily regulated. LOL
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Sirhc
post Apr 26 2007, 07:08 PM
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Wow Nice article.

First time I have heard the term "treadmill" when used with games I guess I just use the old "rinse and repeat" term more lol.

EU is definitely a treadmill in many aspects and we do get a lot of items, which are basically carbon copies of other items with a new name and a tweek here and there, but they lend very little to understanding EU, the skills, and just what they exactly mean.

I have been harping on MA in the forums for a long time about adding another dimension to EU in the form of information on skills and equipment even on mobs and such. I don't think it would be hard to implement a reward type system based wholly on information and have it directly impact your avatar.

Basically whether it be based on actual time in EU or skills or achievements unlock able information would not only help out participants but it would give something else for people to strive for. OK here is a quick example, you reach 2 years into the game (or some overall skill based avg) as a milestone you receive an actual (fact) about certain aspects we only theorize about now. Now this info must somehow only then affect your avatar and even though others maybe know what it says it cannot affect theirs until they reach that milestone. Skill unlocks are sort of like this but their descriptions can be very vague and getting commando really tells you nothing other than you reached a point in skills where it unlocks, what does commando actually do? Who knows? That is the information that is valuable and worth working towards.

I think that is learning experience that EU is severely lacking we all need closure in a sense so we can move on to the next task at hand and then the "treadmill" isn't so monotonous after all.

I am not sure if other MMOs have this level of depth and maybe I am asking for to much. I just think it would make EU a more immersive experience and less like an interactive slot machine at times.

This post has been edited by Sirhc: Apr 26 2007, 07:12 PM
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Epictetus
post Apr 26 2007, 09:19 PM
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I agree with the quote from the article about skill. I thought I was gonna be a very good Halo 2 player until I got destroyed day after day on Xbox Live and cursed out by 12 year olds. It was a blow to the ego.

So if I have no intention of quitting a game, I guess I would rather jump on the treadmill then get repeatedly punched in the face.


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He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

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Deathifier
post Apr 28 2007, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (Dino @ Apr 27 2007, 03:38 AM) *
QUOTE
Picture a group of six people in a multiplayer game. One of them is 10% better than the others. He therefore wins. His win record is now 1-0, and everyone else’s is 0-1. He’ll continue to win most of the time — though not all — and his win-loss record will be tilted towards the wins side — say, 8-2. But most people in the group will have 0-10 records, and a couple might have 1-9. A small margin of skill is enough to make a cumulative record look devastating. In competitive arenas like this, most people lose most of the time...

Huh? Get this guy a basic statistics book. If one player is 10% then her record will be 10% better. She won't be 8-2 when some bloke that is only 10% worse is 0-10. That's crazy math. If there are only six players and she's 9-1 then she's WAY better than 10% better than the other losers.


"10% better equals 10% more wins" does not really work out when applied to games.

Why?
Well it depends how that 10% is applied, and to what game it is applied to.

For example in shooter games (similar to what you do when hunting) that 10% can lead to you grabbing a big gun first (due to better map knowledge), then it can lead to getting the first one or two hits in with that gun (due to better reactions) which is usually sufficient to kill someone.

If that was in a 1v1 game the person with the advantage would have a 1-0 lead and had taken very little damage. Over the rest of the round it will balance out a bit, although the person who is better is quite capable of obtaining and holding a strong advantage that magnifies their 10% into something much larger.

If they are in a six player game as in the original scenario that 10% could help the player stay out of big fights, letting them sweep in after everyone is already heavily injured and scoring several easy kills. Do that 2-3 times and victory can be pretty close at hand.

This has actually been backed up by my own research, which showed that of a group of people I played with the person who was generally regarded as "best" was not all that much better when their performance was measured against a few criteria (some similar to stats, and some not).

Unfortunately I forget the actual numbers but on average it would have been anything from 5-20% higher scores for the best player vs. the average of the group.
In 1v1 play vs. me they thrashed me and won by several points, and I'm somewhere just above average in the group :)
In group play I could close the gap (and come out with the occasional win) due to the dynamics of having 4 more players in the mix, but the best player still won much more often than not.

All this applies to most other types of games. A player of Real Time Strategy who is 10% better could score some early crippling blows on their opponents economy, or sieze of a strong strategic position first. A player 10% better at a racing game could make one less major mistake, putting them quite far ahead of their opponent.

In Entropia almost all of the above is irrelevant though. Weapons, armour and other equipment are a much larger factor in your ability to kill a mob and even another player. In effect you can use cash to boost your skill.

In almost every other MMOG a players skill matters even less.
Time becomes the dominant factor of success - you have enough time, you can reach the highest levels and you can get the best gear.

Games are quite fun to research! :)

- Deathifier
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