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Anti-Aliased: My first 30 levels with AFK... er... Jade Dynasty pt. 2


So that's why it's called AFK Dynasty...

When I finally found a new area to level in as my awesome level 30 self, I actually found that the quests had surprisingly become more tedious. Now it was kill 30 of a monster, or collect 10 to 15 of an item that would only drop once every 7 monsters. This is when I began to make crazy use of the invigorate feature, where I'd press the "kill stuff" button and my character would go off killing whatever she pleased.

Was I worried about dying? Pfft, no! Using my wonderous cash shop gold I got a health and mana battery! These two items carried 700,000 HP and 700,000 SP inside of them, and would use enough of their charges to bring my character back up to full HP and SP when I dropped below 10% in a category. I had absolutely nothing to fear now all because my character was basically on a potion IV drip. Everything in my path was easily slaughtered, and I didn't have to be present for any of it.

It scared me.

Is this what an MMO is?

Other games try to hide it with cutscenes, story, diversions, and other tactics. Jade Dynasty is the full, unabashed version of what a MMO is -- grindy grindy grind. But when the game becomes so advanced that it can play itself, then I need to ask an important question What the heck is the point?

"Jade Dynasty is the full, unabashed version of what a MMO is -- grindy grindy grind."

A better designer than I once said, "Making video games for a living comes down to one cold, hard truth -- you're making pushing buttons fun. Your job is making an extremely mundane task into an experience with impact." The fact that a game like Jade Dynasty exists is a scary proposition for our industry as a whole. It means we're walking the path of making timesinks, not games. It's like one of those old addages -- "How can we have fun playing a game when we're not playing the game?"

I sound like a broken record, but this is a very strong reason why I preach about the necessity of storyline and impact in a game. While gameplay is very, very important, any repetitive activity will become boring unless it is spiced up with enough change to keep it engaging. We use to have a strong grasp of making worlds with engaging content. That grasp, however, has diminished since the dawn of the EverQuest and the rise of "kill X to level" quests.

How do I know that we've lost our path regarding storyline? Well because Bioware is touting storyline as a new feature in The Old Republic. When we've gotten to the point that storyline is a "on-the-box" feature for a game, then we've done something horribly wrong in our designing.

Our original designs focused on the adventure in the world, not the quick grind sessions to max level and the repetition of raids. I wish we could re-find those designs.

My final note to you all for this week: if you want to play a game of numbers without playing the game, I have a recommendation for you. It's a "game" that runs on anyone's computer thanks to low graphical requirements and provides all of the same action and features that Jade Dynasty provides. It's called Progress Quest, it's equivolent to Jade Dynasty, and it's 100% free. Try it, you'll love it.

Colin Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who is totally level 45 in Jade Dynasty by only playing it for an hour. When he's not writing here for Massively, he's rambling on his personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at colin.brennan AT weblogsinc DOT com. You can also follow him on Twitter through Massively, or through his personal feed.

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