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When the tough gets grinding…

So I had one of the more frightening dreams last night…

Oh dear, not another post about dreams. But I guess this one’s more relevant. Back to the topic, I don’t think I have dreamt of such a scary thing for a long while. No, I didn’t dream of headless ghosts or flesh-eating monsters, that’s too grade school.

I dreamt that I was playing the piano.

Now before you say “Oooh, scaaare-rey!”, I assure you that I spent the subsequent afternoon and evening in a troubled state, because I can’t seem to get that dream off my mind. So I was sitting in front of the piano (the same one I have in my house), and there’s this score in front of me. I can’t really remember what happened when I started playing, but I eventually reached this part with a lot of complicated chords. As I struggled along, the meaning of the piece somehow became more and more evident in my mind. In fact, I think there was a small printed footnote about the meaning of the piece.

The piece was about the end of the world.

Now the tune gets weirder and weirder as I slog through the bars, I still remember this part where my right hand had to go C-D#-C-D# for half a minute. The whole piece was chaotic and depressing. I was about to quit playing (and wake up, I guess), when I took a glimpse of another footnote in the next page. “Peace and happiness”, it said. After all this weird crap, I get to play something light-hearted, I told myself. So I was compelled to continue on, C-D#-C-D#-ing all the way, and I woke up before I ever reached the next page.

How many of you readers find games like this?

I haven’t done the statistics, but a lot of games seem to be fun at the beginning, then the fun just suddenly gives way to dreary grinding. While some players would stop playing at the first hint of boredom, most continue their arduous trek to the final destination, in hopes of getting their well-deserved reward of a satisfying ending…

…Or is there one? Unfortunately, as computer gaming slowly shifts its cumbersome rear onto the web in the form of MMORPGs, there just seem to be no end for the players to sit back and pat themselves on the back for a game well concluded. Well duh, what happens when a player finished a game? He uninstalls it! The relationship opportunity for publishers to milk players of their money is over! So the players grind on day after day so they have bigger numbers in their statuses, until they decide that all this is just a waste of time and dump the game.

I was chatting with Roshan over dinner, and we eventually talked about Maple Story. Now Maple Story is one of the few games which I installed and uninstalled on the same day. Roshan complained about how his girlfriend could just sit in front of her computer and press ‘C’ (the key for attacking) the whole day just to gain one level for reasons unknown to him. I remember Iris saying the same thing about her younger brother and Maple Story. And as far as my experience with the game goes, it’s all about walking around and pressing ‘C’.

I know you Maple Story fans out there will be saying “But MS is also for the community!” Well, why bother playing a game, which is supposed to be fun, when the fun doesn’t come from the game itself? Why not join an IRC channel, or even better, get out and start socializing? It leaves me dumbfounded that people actually spend real cash to buy an item that allows you to gain more experience points! A game that capitalizes on how boring it is? Count me out.

It seems like I’m not really talking abont Encephalon here, and I could say that I’m not. It’s just a rant that came from a dream.

Here’s to smart people playing smart games.

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January 18, 2007 - Posted by | Drama, Game Design


  1. Yes, I need to stop my brother from playing it. He played like a zombie… and that’s why I luked a copy of WarCraft III from Slade’s house and give it to my brother… haha

    Comment by Iris | January 18, 2007 | Reply

  2. Come to think of it, I’m also puzzled at the thought of people who can sit in front of their PCs and go levelling whole day long. I tried doing the same thing before, and after one day, I felt like something inside me just died and started to rot, which urges me to stop playing the game (and that was exactly what happened to me when I played Maple Story). Sometimes I don’t know whether to respect those people who does that, or to worry about them.

    And what really drives them to continue playing ? Is it that freaking high level kickarse equipment whom you need to spend half a month of levelling to get it? Or is it that they only have a very limited level of self-satisfactory in life – so limited that they are already content with their gaming lives when they go idle-levelling (mindlessly levelling, I mean) ? Or are there other factors – other than the 2 I suggested – that drive these people into doing the pattern of repeating ?

    Oh well, this really calls for a research into such kind of gamers.

    Comment by Jad [Alt] Kaizer | January 18, 2007 | Reply

  3. There are many factors that makes a game like Maple Story addictive. Customizability, collectibility, easy-to-download, art-style, easy learning curve, relevant updates, etc. And ultimately its because they had a very clearly defined target market – and then did everything for that target market. They researched, executed and stay focused. Everything worked well together for them.

    Also, this has to do with the broader issue of Fun – which is Mastery of mentally challenging problems or learning. Everybody possess different type of intelligence, therefore will require different games to challenge & satisfy their minds. Which is learning which translate to “fun”. So perhaps, besides Maple Story, these grinders have not seen anything better suited for them yet.

    I am not trying to side grinding MMOGs that aint fun. But we gotta humble ourselves, see the truth before we kick their ass.

    Comment by Slade | January 19, 2007 | Reply

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