Friday, February 20, 2009

AVGM (retrospective)

So its been a few weeks so i felt enough time has passed to talk a little about AVGM.


AVGM was a joke, no one was actually meant to play it at all. The flicking of a light switch to unlock stuff or "level up" is an example of what Tyler and i view as Abusive Video Game Manipulation (what the game stands for :P).

Its a tactic that's used in all MMORPGS, its a horrible and abusive way to get people hook on your game and an incredibly lame thing to do. The upsides of this tactic are obvious, its easy to get people hooked on your game and pay for it, and as long as you string them along with more expansions of the same situation you can basically bleed people dry while giving them nothing in return.

Now don't get me wrong, i understand its fun to play with people online, ive played battlefield 2 for years, but its strange to me that so many people fall into the horrible design of MMORPGS even knowing what they are doing the whole time. The level grind is a horrible and boring thing.. and what do you get from it? a more powerful character you can PK with? why not just play an online multiplayer game where everyone starts out at the same level? why should someone with less of a life then you have an equipment advantage? why are people ok with being rewarded with meaningless and empty digital icons for time spent clicking a button?

well its a simple and easy formula, and here's the break down of AVGM.

AVGM has 41 unlockable items that appear on screen and you click a button, the more items on screen the more clicks it takes for the next item to appear. Once all 41 items are unlocked they start to become colored, nothing else happens.

To finish the game you have to sit there and click the button 10,000 times. and here are the stats on how many people did this.

http://www.mochibot.com/shared/shared_trafficreport.html?key=cf99275a4769339e539571558d174da8

As of feb. 20th, 337 people have clicked AVGM 10,000 times each.
The whole thing gets even more pathetic when you know that only 8,000 people played it. That's what? 5% of people who played AVGM sat through 10,000 clicks....

Granted quite a few used auto clickers to finish it.. but the point is they still went out of their way to download an auto clicker to do so.

Its funny how small digital rewards can keep people playing something for hours, then again ill be buying Diablo 3 when it comes out, so who am i to talk.

just thought some of you might find this interesting :)

PLAY AVGM NOW!
(or just go outside for a change)
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61 comments:

Evgeni said...

That was very interesting post! I did not know that such thing had a name, and even such a nice name :)
I think that there is a very thin line between grinding and "having fun leveling". Most mmorpg-s nowadays try to address the "grinding being not fun" while some prefer to keep it "grinding is deferred reward" (Lineage 2). My first mmorpg was Lineage2 and I really got hooked up as I remember but at some point "I saw through it" and realized it all just grind fest. It is what most mmorpg designers try to do, try to make people "not see through it" as making it as "fun" as possible.

Tom Sennett said...

You raise some good points, but I believe many of them can be applied to all types of games. You said:

"Why are people ok with being rewarded with meaningless and empty digital icons for time spent clicking a button?"

Why not go one step further and ask: Why do we waste our time sitting in front of a screen pressing buttons in the first place?

The answer, of course, is context; Super Mario Bros. is fun because you get to run around and jump on enemies and, well, be Mario. It's up to the designer and the player to instill meaning in what's happening on screen and the buttons being pressed.

So a game like World of Warcraft isn't just clicking a button over and over a million times for no material purpose. It's the adventures of your character in the fantastical world of Azeroth, where heroes endure rigorous trials (aka click a button over and over) for wonderous spoils. (aka worthless digital icons)

Yes, it is irrational and silly. But so is painting and playing the guitar. We do lots of things that don't make any sense just because we want to.

And if millions of people want to click your button over and over, I wouldn't call that anything but a successfully designed game. (If only 5% of people want to click it, maybe not so much... :)

This was a great post Edmund, and it's got my brain all a-hummin' now. And for the record, I liked AVGM.

Edmund said...

see personally i see problem solving games, and fast action games to be rewarding mentally. The point i was trying to make about MMORPGS is that the reward feels empty. This is something ive obsessed over for a while and something i try hard to put in my own work, i want the player to feel emotionally rewarded when they do something right or just stimulated in some way mentally.

When you beat a game back in the nes days you felt fucking happy, because games were very hard then. it gave you a real feeling of accomplishment when you finished them, in the same way it makes you feel smart when you solve a logic puzzle in an adventure game. Doing something by yourself, figuring it out without going online and looking up cheats, or besting the computer for the 1st time is emotionally rewarding.

most MMORPGS dont have this at all.. they are extremely formulaic and once you know the details of the things your fighting and % chance of dropped items you might as well be home along rolling a dice trying to get a yahtzee.

now im not saying the click for reward design isnt well done, its obviously amazing from a business standpoint but personally i think its games like these that are shitting all over games that are designed well, from a game play stand point.

IE.
Street Fighter
Mario Brothers
Advanced Wars
Magic The Gathering
Zelda
Battlefield 2
Professor Layton
(the list goes on)

Id just love it if the industry got away from manipulating people into thinking they are having fun, when they are just addicted.

Tom Sennett said...

I think it's just a matter of tastes. I've played my fair share of WoW, but generally speaking, I'm on your side - I prefer a skill-based competition to a how-much-of-my-life-can-I-sink-into-this competition.

But there are obviously people out there who prefer the latter, otherwise MMORPGs wouldn't be as popular as they are. And I don't think it's fair to tell them they're not having fun. I think some people can derive the same level of accomplishment from downing a boss after months of grinding and preparation as you or I might from beating Battle Toads back in the day.

Yes, it's a brilliant business plan, and so was having lives in arcade games. But lives also worked well as a gameplay device for most players. Maybe the time sink model, too is actually compelling to a lot of players. (Or maybe not - another brilliant business plan to keep in mind is paid DLC, bane of the modern gamer.)

All I'm saying is that people like all different kinds of games, and that's something to be embraced. After all, ultimately what matters is how fun players - not the game design community - judge a game to be.

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Paula Alexa said...

I am so glad I only have to be afraid of the brave souls that finished the game, and not the developer. (No, I actually am afraid of anyone combining a blow-up doll and dead critters, I'm sorry.)
As for the actual point, I must say that what got me to 3500 clicks was curiosity. I like art games, and it was listed as such, because I like stories and don't care which medium is used to convey them. At first I thought it was the most retarded thing I've ever seen, but as more and more random items appeared on screen, I became more and more curious as to what in the Hell was the link between them. What was the story? What's with the cute stuffed creature? What's with the bird?
What I'm trying to say in so, so many irrelevant words is that it's not the trivial rewards like a new sword or advancing a level that push some of us to grind, but the curiosity of seeing the story unfold. That desire to see what happens next. Will the hero save the world? Will the actual villain prove to be the one who has helped the hero all along? How will the (usually much more enticing) tragedies in the side quests unfold? That's what keeps people going outside the desire to validate their existence by ranking higher in virtual worlds.
Or, you know, just the whole "ranking above others" thing.
Now, would you mind telling me what was the story? What's the ending? What is with that room? Is the main character dead? Because I am so not clicking that damn button 10000+ times only to find this out.

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