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DESIGNING PAST UBER: CORE DEMOGRAPHIC ENCOUNTERS [Author: Lum the Mad]

Taken from <a href=”

http://boards.station.sony.com/everquest/Forum2/HTML/070432.html”>these posts:

1) The “average” playstyle, as per Verant’s own statements and as per the mechanics of the game, is the 4-6 person group with 2-3 hours to play.

2) This would make the “core demographic encounter” the 6-person group with 2-3 hours to play. This doesn’t necessarily relate to how MOST people SPECIFICALLY play the game; it is a “best model” based upon current, relevant information about how most people are actually playing Everquest. It is the most reasonable generalization based upon current facts.

3) The core demographic encounter is what Everquest should be structured around. What this means is NOT that ****every single thing in the game*** can be done by this CDE (core demographic encounter), but that there isn’t anything IN the game that any other playstyle can achieve that is exclusively superior to that which the CDE can achieve.

4) The ramification of this is that nothing is designed as reward in the game that cannot, at least over time and repeated effort, be achieved by the CDE. Verant may be able to design content that allows UBERS to achieve such reward quicker via more challenging tasks; and it might be able to design content that allows soloers such reward after much greater time and personal effort in the game. The central issue is that you design everything AROUND the CDE, and then extrapolate from that design if you can in order to be as inclusive as possible of the fringe groups you wish to retain as customers.

5) The REASON you design around your CDE is because this is how you best satisfy the greatest number of players. They play a certain way, have a certain amount of time to play. You design game content around that. This is only good business and common sense.

6) When creating content for fringe groups which do not match the CDE, a company should make certain that none of that content can be viewed as EXCLUSIVELY SUPERIOR to the content designed for the CDE. Why? Because it is pandering to a special interest group, and NOTHING should be done to alienate the company’s core demographic, or make their playstyle not just “second best”, but completely unable to achieve what is widely perceived as the “top content” or “end game” rewards.

I, and several others, have made many suggestions as to how diverse content could be put into the game in order to acheive at least the balance of having top reward also available via the CDE. Mini-zones, scaled content, real-time based quests, et cetera.

The idea that this would become the preferred means by which the “Ubers” would attain end-game content as well doesn’t matter. It can be coded in a way that presents as much challenge as the largest Uber-encounter, although scaled down to a 6-person group over a greater period of smaller investments of at-a-sitting time.

The argument that the ubers would “hog” all of this content as well is an ad-hoc, specious point .. they have all of that content NOW and it is utterly unavailable for even an ATTEMPT by the CDE. The only difference would be that at least more people have the POSSIBILITY of attaining that content. I have also put forth ideas that prevent such “hogging” of content.

I’m sure the talented programmers at Verant could CERTAINLY come up with a variety of mini-zone, scaled, or real-time based quests and finely tuned encounters limited to 6-person groups (so they can’t be trivialized by a 36-person brigade) so that their core demographic has a means by which they can accomplish the entire breadth of the game. Sure, the Ubers might attain it faster, and with greater ease and by taking on encounters that they the CDE will never be able to do. Maybe one Trak encounter drops the equivalent of a month and a half of CDE mini-zone quest encounters with finely tuned, very difficult challenges that are limited to ONLY a single group being able to attempt it.

Any reasonable person can see that this is a fair, logical system. If you want to keep your core demographic happy, you simply CANNOT offer exclusive, superior reward to a fringe group such as the ubers when everyone is paying the exact same amount. If a fringe group paid more for the service, then perhaps Verant would have a logical argument to support the idea that that particular segment of the player base deserves exclusive, superior reward, as well as an extra investment of coding resources TO design them exclusive content. If that fringe group even represented the vast majority of the playerbase, then perhaps this current system could be justified. However unless a certain group pays more, or represents the EXTREME majority of your player base, there simply is NO reasonable justification for offering them exclusive, superior game reward and untoward investments of coding resource.

It is, of course, fair and reasonable that the uber encounter would drop more, and more often. It is reasonable that an Uber-encounter should maximize the speed at which certain goals or rewards are attained in the game. However, it simiply is not reasonable, or logical, by any rationale, nor has any compelling argument been posited, that an Uber encounter **NEEDS** to provide exclusive, superior reward. This, specifically, has not even addressed by those attempting to counter this argument. Why does an Uber encounter ***NEED*** to provide reward that is both EXCLUSIVE and SUPERIOR to anything the CDE can obtain? Why not just more, faster, and with greater certainty?

Why indeed. And if Verant isn’t learning this lesson, evidence is coming in that others are…