Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Legion's Gameplay Loop: Intro

First of all, I have to apologize for publishing nothing at all over the last few weeks due to playing a lot up to and after the release of Legion. It turned out to have enough gameplay (that I personally found compelling) to keep me focused on the client for hours on end. To be fair, this has happened to me with pretty much every expansion release, so it's not a great excuse, but during my foray into the Broken Isles, I came up with an article series that may be appropriate to publish in the wake of articles such as my criticism of time-gated content. After fighting my way through the new Blogger Dashboard interface to get the appropriate drafts prepared, I can safely say I have several articles lined up to review a large amount of the content in the Legion expansion. As the title of this article and its tags imply, however, the approach will be very different from something like Wowhead guides or news articles.

A key concept of the aforementioned article on time gating that I didn't directly mention was the gameplay loop. I instead spoke around the concept, pointing out that forcing a player to wait for excessive periods of time as part of the gameplay loop itself can be detrimental for a variety of reasons. For example, forcing a player to wait means that the game literally rendered the player unable to do anything related to the activity, which is essentially content drought and can lead to poor player retention. This in itself is contradictory to the interactive component that is typical of gaming, since player input won't do anything related to the gameplay during the waiting period. These points and more are why I think scrutinizing the gameplay loops associated with Legion's content is very important.

There's some good news to be had here though. Near the end of the article I linked above I had some optimism regarding Legion's content, especially its world quests. I considered world quests to be an evolution of previous time-gated content like dailies to the point that waiting to do more content associated with it is nearly removed from the equation and thus the gameplay loop. After doing the content for nearly two weeks, this optimism turned out to be founded and there turned out to be a surprising amount of comparables to past suggestions (though to be fair a lot of them weren't original to begin with). That said, not all of the criticism I have for Legion's content is positive and there's some improvements I would like to see.

Finally, an important aspect to consider when evaluating gameplay is to look at the reward system, even if the reward for certain content is deriving enjoyment from the gameplay itself. To put it another way, an incentive can be an important driving force behind content consumption by players. This is especially important for games like WoW since a lot of its content is subject to repetition and other methods of improving replayability aren't guaranteed to keep players engrossed.

So far, I plan to review the following content and reward systems, which will be hyperlinked when the article in question is completed:
Note that the above is subject to change since new patches may bring new content and rewards. However, updates to existing content and rewards will probably not be addressed in this particular article series and instead remain unaltered (except to fix issues not caught during editing such as spelling and grammar) for the sake of posterity.

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