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  • The psychology of Total War gamming.

    The psychology of Total War gamming.

    An amateurs attempt.

    I would like to know if you agree or disagree with my observations and opinions, so please read the following statements carefully, and with that in mind.

    There will be a test


    Total War players basically polarize to either single or multiplayer self descriptions.

    A few are both, and some switch back and forth, but the camps are fairly well separated and distinct at any given time.

    I am writing this to explore the differences between the two, mainly to be able to make suggestions in game design that will be beneficial to both players and designers.

    Basic motivations for the two groups, at least at their extremes, are quite different.

    Single players play to win, multiplayers play to play.

    The SPs play against the machine at progressive levels, and to the end of learning how to, and then beating the game.

    This can be a great deal of fun, and is great interactive entertainment.

    The MPs play against other people, they too want to win, but their expectations are very different.

    Because of the nature of multiplayer, MPs can achieve winning only half the time, and still be comfortable with the game.

    In fact they might consider the game to be very well balanced, if their equally skilled opponents won half their games together.

    A SP might become discouraged winning only half the time, and there by unable to progress to total victory at some point.

    MPs might also become disinterested in the single-player game because of the imbalance of testing a person against a program, preferring their opponents to be at least equally people like them selves.

    SPs have an offline community of like-interest players, to compare progress and share tips and advice with.

    MPs play in an interactive real time community, that encourages natural gang groupings to both learn from and team together for multi-partner encounters.

    Most MPs at some point become community-aware.

    By that I mean that they begin to understand that teaching new players, forming clans, and participating in events, are necessary to maintain the community of multiplayers.

    New MPs are constantly arriving, but there is no guarantee that they will fit in the culture, and become integrated into the society of avid players.

    MP community needs to be maintained to keep a pool of qualified players active enough to provide challenging partners for games.

    What does this mean to game design?

    You can encourage SPs to participate in multiplayer, and the reverse, but their personalities will not be changed, and they will always gravitate back to their respective core groups.

    You can’t really mix the two, except those who already play both sides of the fence; it is like the apples and oranges comparison.

    The must-win orientation and accompanying aggressive attitude of the first-person-shooter SP, versus the “good luck and have fun” real-time-strategist community sustaining MP, are a bad mix.

    They aggravate each other, but are happy to coexist, if left to satisfy their own needs in their own games.

    Needs correction.
    Needs explanation.
    Or, I have a totally different understanding or view.

    Thanks in advance!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The psychology of Total War gamming. started by Tomisama View original post
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Kocmoc's Avatar
      Kocmoc -
      Well, in many points its true.
      Let me add some thoughts on this.

      SP are mostly people, who like to work out routines and make that routines perfect.
      You can see this in almost every SP game-forum, where people most work on quickest done or most amount of cash in a certain time.

      In TW the difference between the campaign and the MP-part is a lot bigger than in many other games.
      While SP many times dont like to play the battles them self and focus many times on the "strategie" building, moving, trading... all those campaign aspects, the MP just have the battle left.

      I played the campaign and also online, the problem with the campaign is the terrible KI.
      Till today i never found a game which gave me a hard time while playing offline, maybe a little bit in the first hours, but after you understood it....

      Playing vs. other humans is the only way to get some kind of challenge.
      I play online to get a high winratio, being better than other. Losing is hardly fun, all-though i wish other "have fun" at the start of the game, by saying this i assume that my opponent enjoy losing...

      The so called community is just possible within a smaller groups, there is a limit, a peak, where the community we speak about is breaking apart. It turns from a personal communication to a unpersonal communication.
      As example take huge games, like WoW, there is an arena System. There is also a community, while the community know other by name or from youtube, they dont really have any personal communication.
      Simply as there are too many around.
      In TW we had many years the luxury to play within a small group and many of us played 90% of all people who ever was online. Thats impossible once the amount of player get about a certain number.

      I also have my doubts about the clans and how the gaming did work.
      I remember many "closed" games, where just people got invited, who was "skilled" enough.
      That had many reason, let me bring up just a few.

      1. to get a game goin was too timeconsuming
      2. to get the game done took mostly too long - once your army was out, you had to watch or go out
      3. those "elitists" didnt want to waste their gametime with "noobs"

      What the clans brought us?
      In the early days, where a laddersystem forced many people into 1v1 and lovely defending and a happiness about some easy points by winning vs a new player. This changed completely as there was no honor to gain anymore from new player.
      The new honor you could earn was only reached by playing with the good player who gave you the credit you did want and the honor you did head for.

      One key-goal has to be, to give new player games, to give them practice.
      A laddersystem was a good working way. A Matchupsystem can be another good way, if this is well made.

      Thats another point... Matchmaking... great thing, if you look at SC or WC3. All you need is a good amount of player to hold the waitingtime low. I doubt, that TW will ever have enough player for such a system.

      SP and MP in TW is just totally different, yes your right with this point. Impossible to mix.

      I dont think that we are responsible for keeping good player active.
      The tactic and the playstyle did evolve from day one, i was here and brought a lot of new ideas and things into the game, same as many other oldtimer. We kinda created most of the things which are used today by everyone.
      If it wasnt us, other would have brought it into the game sooner or later.

      The skill of the player is always dependable from the current game, if the game is good and offer the possibility to create many different ways to win - some call it balance - the more skilled player will rise and show up.
      This game dont need oldtimer, new player will come and also increase their skill and with time they are just same as good as people who played it for years... no, we dont need good active player.

      All we need is a good balanced game, the rest will come alone.

      The must-win orientation is human nature, everyone go out and wants to win. Some more and some less, but till today i never found anyone who love to lose all the day... well, maybe Elmo... but hes an old man and not really himself at all. ;)
    1. The Stranger's Avatar
      The Stranger -
      single players play to play - mp players play to win.
    1. ytghazal's Avatar
      ytghazal -
      I really like this, As someone who plays both MP and SP, (i love playing against humans who talk so if you playing against me PLEASE CHAT, but i also love conquering the world) i think it is possible to integrate the communities. One way is when a obvious noob gets on MP, the more experienced player rather than crushing them should give them some pointers and tips tell them what they did wrong etc. So the experienced MP player still wins but teaches the newer noob what to do. I am still a noob and im sure most MP players havent heard about me, ive played a little on Medieval 2 online but the problem being is that first off only about 10 ppl are online at any given time and that half of the games on line are locked the other 2 are a guy who spams cavalry or someone who exploits bugs. Boring. Mp players maybe into a SP gameplay if there was a online Map. Not like the shogun 2 style, but more like Everyone sits at a computer, Maximum turn time is 1-2 minuteson real map, ppl do their stuff at the end of the turn you do all your battles, battles by default have a time limit of sorts. ppl can get a several turns done. Save game agree to meet up later, continue game.

      Anyways theres my 2 cents
    1. vartan's Avatar
      vartan -
      I love the myriad assumptions made in the article and the overall pervasive tone of a generally presumed and inherent truth to the article's claims. From my personal experience, after 6 years of my life in Total War (that's a third of my life), I can safely say that the dichotomy and assumption of mutually exclusive single and multiplayer experiences is a false one. That is to say, there needless to say is a built-in binary of two game modes, but this need not and indeed does not translate into two mutually exclusive gaming experiences. The experience one receives playing against a computer and playing against another person certainly aren't one and the same, but they have more than a few pieces in common, and as of this writing, these lie in the battle map and not the campaign map (as Total War has yet to offer multiplayer campaigning in their games, at least a real-time version). That said, my ideal Total War game would be entirely real-time, offer seamless, real-time transitioning and scaling from large scale maps to battlefields, and include damage calculation that is based on physics, not probability (think Sins of a Solar Empire).
    1. Viking Prince's Avatar
      Viking Prince -
      Two things to consider:

      1) On line game experiences include exploits of the game software as well as the SP mode. The differences, are well differences. Unfortunately the exploits in a MP affect the other players.

      2) Cheating exists in both SP and MP. Again the difference is a matter of details, but in the end a MP cheat hurts others.

      What I am saying is one reason to prefer the SP mode may have a great deal to do with some of the people involved in the MP community. The old phrase of one bad apple... If the MP wants to encourage greater participation to improve the chances of getting on line games statrted, the aspect of gaming the software and out right cheating needs to be more seriously addressed.

      Also, do not discount the value of role playing in the SP mode. Not all play to 'win' by simply accumulating cash and territory at any cost. That would truly explain how some do drop a game as being boring.
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