Greedy Goblin

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Is BDO an idle game?

Idle games became quite a sight on the gaming scene in the last years. These - typically - browser games "provide unchallenging distractions that fit easily into a person's daily routine, while using themes and aesthetics of more sophisticated games". The most successful one, Clicker Heroes became top 10 game on steam.

The typical "gameplay" of such games is being idle while the game plays itself. In Clicker Heroes you just AFK while your heroes farm monsters and from time to time you use the gold to upgrade or hire more heroes. While your decisions have some effect on the progress speed, the progress is continuous and even the dumbest possible player will defeat every monster after months of being AFK.

I don't have much time to actively play games, yet I'm #1-#2 in wealth on EU-Jordine. How? Because while I work, sleep or mind my real life issues, the game play itself: my workers farm raw materials, my avatar process them and more workers create crates. All I have to actively do is listing the unneeded raw materials on the marketplace, buy the needed ones, restart workers, restart processing and once a day walk to my residence and cook beer from my energy. Oh, and log to my Ancado alt and sell crates. Pretty much the gameplay of a browser idle game: no challenge, no risk, yet rewards come in surprising amount.

The question rises: is BDO designed to be played as an idle game and those who play actively do it wrong (progression-wise)? Did I find a niche in the game that most players don't like to do and the lack of competition makes me so rich?

I repeat: the problem isn't that I can progress with very little effort, that's common in modern MMOs to help newbies and hopeless M&S. The WoW garrison and the EVE skillpoint gain are typical examples. The problem is that I'm top rich with this trivial effort. If I'll have time to actually play, I just walk to the marketplace and then go to Valencia with 400 AP+DP, trivializing the PvE combat.

I'm afraid the devs simply overdid the "casual-friendly" mechanisms expecting only morons and slackers using them and in the hand of a competitive player they became more powerful than "proper" gameplay. If so, BDO is in trouble. I mean if they nerf the idle progression, they hurt the "casuals". If they leave it like it is, sooner or later competitive players will ask: why do I bother doing node wars when I could progress faster by not playing.


Anonymous said...

It's not that they overdid it per se, instead the "real game" is in the pvp elements so they don't give a damn about the other 90% of the game that comes before it. Likewise the competitive players don't care about progressing the world and plot, only gear progression. Those were the ones who were saying your guide was worthless because they can grind 10M in an hour. For free, of course.
Your niche isn't in the game. It's a social niche. Casuals can't or won't follow industrial guides, and competitive players would rather grind because it expresses the value of their gear. BDO will be fine as long as both those groups remain in the majority.

Phelps said...

Back when I played Clan Lord on the Mac in the late 90s, the devs half-jokingly said, "the ideal customer is the guy who pays his monthly fee and then never logs in." It was half-joking in that they wanted to make a game you played, but at the same time added features so you didn't feel like you were losing the game if you logged out. The reality is, though, that if you are paying either way, they save money if you rarely put load on the server.

So maybe BDO figure out that truth -- the best customer is someone who buys once a month, and never logs in.

Anonymous said...

you yourself found EvE players place zero value on game access.
and wow players only value iLvL but could actually down content in blue gear.

in the mmo meta, gamers seem to only value progression. and the min/maxers will tell them the easiest path to it.

playing for fun or personal challenge is not a valid play style. you must chase epics. you must fly titans. gear is not a tool to down bosses but a reward from doing so.

game designers should be making the players do the content the designer wants them to do and place easiest path to gear for that. shoehorning everyone into a garrison definitely killed of the 'world' of wow.

imagine if the rewards were instead given to people because they went out into the world. it would be a different game. perhaps Blizzard decided that would add to their server costs if everyone wanted to go out into the world?

Gevlon said...

@Anon: interesting. The niche is safe because grinders want to grind and "casuals" can't find it if it hits them on the head.

@Phelbs: BDO demands you to be logged in. It just rewards being AFK. You can't process and your workers don't work while logged out.

maxim said...

The niche itself is quite a narrow one. The people who want to feel good by successfully managing a complex system mostly play SP games, where you can have very complex systems without having to deal with 1000s of players constantly looking for ways to one-up each other within them.

Basically, MMO people want to play within the system and thus prefer strict and rigid systems like grinding over complex and fluid systems like markets, while you mostly look for ways to break the system.

Another consideration is that your strategy - while possibly optimal for people with limited time to play - may not be the fastest way to progress for someone willing to no-life the game. At least, if i was designing an interaction between grinding and economy, that's the way i'd make it.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: even a no-life grinder can't play more than 14 hours a day as he has to sleep, eat and do minimal housework. That leaves 10 hours for AFK processing. Sure, he should forget crates due to channel shift waiting, but managing workers and vendoring ingots of cheap materials is faster silver per hour than any crazy grinder can dream of.

maxim said...

From what i read so far, it seems setting up your afk empire requires quite a bit of sunk investment (including time). It seems the immediate gratification of grinding is winning over the delayed gratification of afk-money.

Another factor not considered here is the extent to which "skill" is a relevant factor in BDO. From what i read so far, it appears that it is respected as a concept, but people have little idea of what it actually constitutes. In games in which skill is respected, people will often view more game practice being more important than any amount of in-game gold-making. This is especially true for games in which skill is also something not very concrete, as people don't really understand how to get skilled and view doing more actual in-game combat as the only way to do it.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: and they somehow expect that grinding the same Sausans again and again will make them "skilled"?

maxim said...

In the absense of understanding of other ways of getting skilled, yes
This is not completely without merit, either. Even the most powerful kung fu master needs to do his basic excercises.

Jim L said...

Two thoughts:

1. You are using gold as a measure of success which doesn't make sense for everyone. Gold is just a tool to use to access other parts of the game.

2. I have never played BDO, but the way you describe the way you play makes it sound like a terrible game. It sounds like you spend all of your game time managing people and filling out paperwork (placing market orders). Managing people and filling out paperwork is what many people do at their jobs. When they play a video game they are looking to get away from work and relax. If they played like you played they would be better off just working more hours because at least they get paid for that. Instead they play a video game to get away from real life. Going out and killing stuff is a way to escape.

seanas said...

@Jim L: In BDO, gear is not bound, so the best gear in the game *can* be bought on the auction house - there is currently a TET Kzarka Longbow for sale on Croxus, literally the best weapon existing in game at the moment, for 1.03B. If you could afford that, you would instantly have a weapon stronger than anyone else.

BDO has a level gap, meaning that lower levels can find it harder to hit higher levels - but that can be mitigated by gear, assuming you can afford to buy it (and have the patience to wait maybe one whole day to find it for sale). So: with enough silver in your storage, you can become the strongest/ highest DPS player in the game. With *enough* silver, of course - but the point remains, investing in nodes and workers makes you stronger at end-game.

BDO is a proper world, not just a game - and like all good MMO worlds, it allows you to set your own goals. It's not friendly to achievement-oriented players; they're the ones crying about 'the grind' (because no level cap means no 'I've reached the end' achievement) and about 'P2W' (because someone playing smarter - or paying more, but that isn't necessary) can trump their 'achievements'. For me, being able to ride my trading wagon around the world is relaxing - after a long day at work, killing mobs and other players is not *for me* relaxing. For some people it is, and they do that. BDO's great strength is that it allows you to set your own goals. It's weakness is that people who don't *like* setting their own goals, who want to follow the themepark ride to the end, don't know what to do and complain about it.

@maxim: one the question of skill: yes, you need to fight on your character to develop the muscle memory nneded to execute the most powerful attack combinations in PVP - however, the combinations you use when grinding are *not* those PVP combos. So yes: you need to play your character to get 'skilled' in it - but the skill that matters, the PVP skill (PVE is trivial) isn't learnt by grinding, because PVE is trivial.

The person who wants to be skilled in this sense (the only sense where the word has any meaning) needs to be spending all their time in arena training and in red battlefield, NOT grinding at Sausans.

And finally, ironically: one of the largest PVP guilds on Croxus is now recruiting 'nine active life skill players' because it turns out, to be able to win node wars, you need lots of workers and crafting resources to make all the necessary defences :) . They lost their fortress over the weekend - even though they're the largest, most PVP active guild - because none of them have enough crafting resources or workers to build their defence towers....

Shivaro said...

1) the 400/apdp you can get with your silver is fine for grinding. its on the lower side in the higher tier of PVP currently (territory siege)- the end game of BDO where you need some skill...i think you vastly overestimate your silver totals in the game - the ranking is just purely for silver in warehouse, not for gear or item value. Most people have most of the value invested in gear and in expensive preorder, so the wealth ranking don't tell much.

2) a lot of people have some some sort of passive income and make few tens mil a day actively on top of that.

3)As BDO is somewhat open ended i suggest you find a goal beside piling silver in the warehouse.