Sunday, 26 May 2013

It's Better To Have And Don't Need

As Don Covay would say.

Jeromai at Why I Game has some interesting observations on the value of virtual currency. Wilhelm at TAGN was musing on something similar recently. My "problem", if you can even call it that, is that in almost every MMO I find very little I want and even less that I need that I don't already get just by playing.

/em Does The Happy Homeowner Dance
That wasn't always the case. In the glory days of Everquest  I was forever desperately saving up for something or other; farming, playing the market, vendor diving, anything to raise the thousands of Plat (latterly tens or hundreds of thousands) for some supposedly vital purchase. I guess Psychochild would file that under "satisfaction". It never seems to happen any more, yet I still feel strangely satisfied all the same.

The last time I recall having to save up for something I really wanted was more than five years ago, in the very early days of Vanguard. Back then it was a ship and the bricks to build a house. In just three months I had them both but the lack of more things to buy didn't stop me going on to play Vanguard as my main MMO for the rest of that year and for several periods of multiple months thereafter.

One day...
That, of course, was largely in the days before cash shops. The things I was saving up for then came from within the game itself and I was paying for them with money made the same way. The more the makers of the games began to open their own storefronts funneling toys and trinkets from some supposed cornucopia beyond, the less I seemed to feel the need to buy anything at all.

Oddly, finding less and less use for the money my characters make has had no impact on how keen I am to send them out to get it. If anything, my love of making money in-game has increased. Now that I don't feel much need to spend the stuff I just like to see it mount up. I also love farming crafting materials, piling them high even for crafts I don't do and have no intention of starting. Watching the stacks of mats build up, seeing the coins safely banked, all those hoppers filled with orichalcum, the shimmering vats of ectos, it all brings so much more pleasure than spending ever could. I feel like some smug dragon sitting snug on my hoard.

...oh what the hell, have this one for free.
In GW2 since the loot changes I've spent most of my gametime farming chest events across
the world, most recently in Southsun, as well as gathering mats everywhere at every opportunity. Gradually most of my level 80s have cast off their Yellows and Greens and slipped into Exotics. Not all of them by any means, though, and not all the slots. Jewellery in particular tends to get overlooked. While some does get put to use, much of the loot from the never-ending event round just pours into my vaults along with the undrunk jugs of karma and mystic coins, just about all of which I've ever earned I still own, along with the laurels I so diligently gather every day and every month, none of which has ever left that little line along the bottom of my bags.

You do what with it? Nah! You're kidding me!
As for the Gem Shop, so far it's featured one single item I considered buying - the Mole Machine thing. That was only 150 gems and I would quite like to have one, yet I still haven't gotten around to doing anything about it. I'm not sure there's anything else in there I'd take on a bet.

Then there are the utilities. I've considered those a few times. There's the issue of storage and it is a bit of an issue too. Well it might be given the hoarding tendencies I've already mentioned. True, I'm still playing with just my default bank and bag slots and the idea of adding to those appeals, but since I currently have no bags larger than 15 slots on anyone (unless they got one as an event reward) and indeed most characters still get by on 10-slots (some, shamefully, on eights) any problems I have there could better be solved by buying bigger bags, at least for now. And of course by better inventory management. As for shared storage, our tiny guild expanded its vaults to the maximum total of 250 slots some while back and we never fill them all.

Deciding on who gets the dyes might be an idea...
Character slots then? With two accounts (and the best thing I ever did in GW2 was buy that second account) I have enough character slots for now. If I ever did want more I'd be minded to buy a third account rather than buy slots individually, especially with the recent price-drop. After all, if ANet are set on releasing all content free and never selling expansions, there's really no downside to having as many accounts as you fancy.

It'll all come in handy one day
The way things are trending it seems harder and harder for MMO developers to get their deserving hands on my real money. They seem ready to make games I enjoy playing as they stand, often giving them to me for free then continuing to add interesting, enjoyable content faster than I'm likely to use it up without bothering me for any kind of payment in return. The generosity is reaching such levels within the games themselves that it's not all that easy even for NPC merchants to get hold of my imaginary gold.

They probably all need to stop giving me more for free than I know what to do with and/or start offering me things in the Cash Shops that look like they might give me more pleasure  than I am already getting for nothing. Come up with something "aspirational" that I might actually aspire to, for example. That'd be a start.

Although I rather hope they never get around to doing either. The way things are it seems to me that I'm the one getting the sweet end of the deal.

5 comments:

  1. I think what you've hit on is the equivalent of taking gathering professions rather than crafting. :)

    The activities you seem to enjoy - farming dragon events and materials, map exploration and leveling with multiple alts - are amassing wealth, rather than losing it to GW2's goldsinks (WvW, crafting, waypointing and repairs, desiring shiny cosmetics, multiple armor sets, etc.)

    Which works out great for you! (That said, you have already supported Anet by buying two accounts from them, so they've benefited too.)

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    1. I think I'm fairly flexible in how I play various MMOs (although I could be fooling myself). I'll group, solo, craft, trade, quest, explore as the mood takes me or the game directs. Left to my own devices, though, I do tend to fall into a pattern very much as you describe and GW2 strongly encourages and facilitates that. I guess that's a big part of why I'm still playing it so heavily quite a while after I thought I might have been ready to move on.

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  2. *Swings around my Legendary*

    Yea, GW2 is a bit thin on things I want to spend money on. Ever since I've gotten my Legendary *Swings it in your face* I've literally run out of things to spend money on. I've set a new goal for myself to ascended-out all my alts, but that pursuit requires no money at all.

    I haven't spent any money outside my original purchase. I really haven't had to, because I just convert gold into gems. But I do hear the Gem Store has done very well for NCSoft, so here's to hoping the Living Story content coming out every 2 weeks.

    -Ursan

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    1. Grats on the Legendary! That's one thing I can guarantee no-one is ever going to be saying to me.

      This current, concentrated, snappy installment of the Living Story has worked much better than the slow burn of the last one in my opinion. I just hope it's a pointer to how things are going to be done from now on, not just more evidence of the fractured nature of a game produced by a number of disparate teams.

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  3. My big thinking point of the last day is the difference in playing for the intrinsic rewards versus playing for the extrinsic.

    You seem to be playing for an intrinsic gain of extrensic items.

    Extrinsic players adopt tactic X through content Y to get reward Z. Z is their goal. To wave it around, or use it to get into gated content AA.

    Intrinsic players don't care about 'Z', they are there for the content Y, and their 'X' involves slowing it down often to delay reaching Z.

    You're hoarding all the little pieces of 'X' one would get moving through 'Y' content and use to obtain 'Z' - with no desire to actually hit that 'Z' of external reward.

    But you don't seem to be there for the 'Y' either: the story, lore, and content. Not playing the game 'for the game', nor playing the game for the 'reward'. But to hoard all the shinies.

    That's an interesting different angle.

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