What Destiny 2 could’ve learned about community puzzle gating… from Star Wars Galaxies

    
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Say you’re the developer of an online shooter, but you really want to add something that challenges the players in a world where they can basically solo a raid and are hungry for community activities… like group puzzles they can’t just brute-force. Oh, and you want to really incentivize people to do that puzzle, so you you lock a bunch of content behind it, effectively gating it. And you put a timer on it, just to make everyone really hyped. And then you make it insanely hard, just so they can’t beat it too quickly.

Yeah, actually maybe don’t do that. Learn Bungie’s lesson: That’s what it did with Destiny2’s Bergusia Forge and its associated Niobe Labs puzzle. And most people found it all so hard that nobody actually solved it. Oops. Anyhow, Bungie’s rectifying all that.

“While coming together as a community to solve puzzles can be fun, setting this puzzle up as a gate between you and new content that you want to play has not been an ideal experience,” Bungie writes. “As such, we will be decoupling the puzzle from the final offering of the Black Armory. All Annual Pass owners will be able to experience the Bergusia Forge when the puzzle is solved or when the deadline expires – whichever happens first. We realize that many of you have been working hard to solve the puzzle of the Niobe Labs. Whatever the outcome, it will remain open for Annual Pass owners who still want to test their problem solving skills. There is a Ghost and an Emblem to earn as evidence that you completed the challenge.”

All right, so that’s solved. But really, it’s not as if Bungie was experimenting in uncharted territory here. As veteran MMORPG developer Raph Koster noted on Twitter, this is nothing new in the MMO industry at all; he says similar mechanics were attempted in now-dead 2003 MMO Star Wars Galaxies and deemed problematic.

“We experimented with this sort of thing on SWG,” he tweeted. “It had similar issues: only a tiny subset of players can work on solving the challenge; not bc of level but bc of skill required & access to a guildful of collaborators. We had tasks for everyone in the game, with alternate rewards, but many still complained. The puzzle was solved in less than 48 hours, though; best practice in ARG design does seem to be ‘make it WAY harder than you think you need’ so it’s interesting to see a ‘too hard’ case! I think it still has huge potential, just there needs to be some understanding of/with the audience. Use it as an alternate way to play; don’t have one playstyle gate another’s play; provide many ways to play the game. Basically, classic old MUD/MMO lessons.”

Free lessons for anybody paying attention, there for the taking.

Source: Bungie, Koster, Kotaku. Thanks, CapnLan!
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Braveliltoasterx

Anyone remember the secret world puzzles? Where you have to amazon a book for the identifying code above the barcode?

Now those were hard ass puzzles.

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Schmidt.Capela

Hard puzzles for a solo player, not for the community. Meaning players that like puzzles can have fun solving it, while players that dislike them can just google the answer. This, IMHO, is the best approach for mainstream games.

(BTW, one of the most interesting bits I’ve seen about TSW/SWL online guides is that they often come with spoiler tags, hiding puzzle answers unless the player specifically wants to see them. The best ones even offer a number of hints in spoiler tags so players can get some guidance without having the puzzle solved for them.)

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Armsbend

There is another thing they could learn: shutting down.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Allegedly I play games for fun

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Randy Savage

Speaking of Destiny 2, Bungie just announced they are separating from Activision and are now publishing on their own.

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Greaterdivinity

https://kotaku.com/bungie-splits-with-activision-1831651740

Was about to post, about that, here’s some sauce for anyone interested. I’ll reserve comments for the article on it (which I imagine will come given the significance of the news).

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Eliandal

. . . and to give a little more time for hilarious “challenged” people to comment on this. MMO-C is already deluged with smart comments that Blizzard needs to do this too!

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Greaterdivinity

Oh hello fellow MMO-C person! I’m reading that thread too : 3

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Ironwu

Sounds like another round of the developers pandering to the mythical “HARDCORE” ‘crowd’ of game players. With the same predictable results of complete failure of the design and its intentions.

No points for even trying this on. The ultimate result should have been obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the history of MMOs. Waste of time and resources.

You know who got this kind of thing right? World of Warcraft. Opening up A.Q. , Argent Tournament, and other similar events where entire servers would have to contribute to the opening up of content. Really great stuff since, once opened, they were available to everyone. And everyone could contribute in some way, large or small, newbie or min/max veteran.

Please, developers, learn from the successes and not the failures!

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Bruno Brito

I really don’t think WoW got Hardcore raiding right at the start. WoW just looked better and ran better than EQ2, EQ1, had way more hype and a great company and IP behind it and options were limited. So people remember fondly of stuff they wouldn’t enjoy today because it doesn’t make sense.

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Greaterdivinity

Bit of a deep cut for developers, but given that Bungie seems actively averse to learning lessons from MMO’s/online games that came before Destiny also not surprising.

That being said, I don’t think this is a bad thing for them. They tried to do something different (for them, and more modern games) to make fans happy, it didn’t work as they’d hoped, so they’re opening it up while still preserving the challenge for the dedicated puzzle solvers.

Hopefully they learn from this for Destiny 3.