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ArenaNet Dev on Measuring Fun and Success in Guild Wars 2
How do you measure the success of an MMO? This is a question that many players and game developers would have their own opinions. Lead Content Developer Colin Johanson has posted an update to the ArenaNet blog and discussed that question. The post delves into the merits of subscription and non-subscription models and some of the company's philosophy they insist to design Guild Wars 2 from the early stage.
When your game systems are designed to achieve the prime motivation of a subscription-based MMO, you run the risk of sacrificing quality to get as much content in as possible to fill that time. You get leveling systems that take insane amounts of grind to gain a level, loot drop systems that require doing a dungeon with a tiny chance the item you want can drop at the end, raid systems that need huge numbers of people online simultaneously to organize and play, thousands of wash/repeat item-collection or kill-mob quests or dailies with flavor text support, the best stat gear requiring crazy amounts of time to earn, etc.
But what if your business model isn't based on a subscription? What if your content-design motivations Guild Wars 2 Gold aren't driven by the need to create mechanics that keep people playing as long as possible? When looking at content design for Guild Wars 2, we've tried to ask the question: What if the development of the game was based on…wait for it…fun?
If we chose fun as our main metric for tracking success, can we flip the core paradigm and make design decisions based on what we'd like to play as game players? Can we focus our time on making meaningful and impactful content, rather than filler content meant to draw out the experience? Can we make something so much fun you might want to play it multiple times because it's fun, rather than making you do it because the game says you have to? It's how we played games while growing up. I can't tell you how many times I played Quest for Glory; the game didn't give me 25 daily quests I needed to log in and do - I played it multiple times because it was fun!