Uplink Analysis: Casual vs. Progressive

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on July 27, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (@CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and @CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

This week's topic was contributed by @jleithart, one of our active community members. The topic was:

Should everyone (meaning both "casual" and "progressive" players), be able to experience all the content in an MMO?

We know going in that people would have strong opinions on this topic, but we walked away extremely impressed by the community's ability to discuss and debate it constructively:

QuantumQuasars: Of course! Diff. tiers of content is the best solution to this. Bottom tier too easy, go up a few! Top tier too hard, try a lower.
jleithart: IMO there is no harm in requiring that to experience some aspects of the game, the player has to make a commitment to the game.
qn2Quid: End-game bosses/instances should be hard at first, but over time i think all content should be available for all players
medalink7: Players should experience what they can (gear checks/skill sets), not what the developers have allowed them too.
nohelixws: Mandatory raiding to get the -end- of a story is no fun. But there should still be some story for raids - just independent.
bbrown2k: while I don't feel that you should have to put in solid blocks of playtime in one go, overall working towards a goal is a must.
Geekcheck: I will answer with this: What is the point of creating content if most of your players will never see it?
Salvat511: not at the same time. Casual should see all content, but only if the competitive part is outgrown.
Kitchingham: If you can't limit progressive players' access to casual content, why limit casuals' access to progressive?
BigDamn_Heroes: yes, BUT not on the same time table. Progressive sees it while it's current, everyone else can see it after xpac
Xintia12: All? No. Most? Yes. There should be a very small portion of content set aside for the so-called "hardcore."
Lehtality_mmo: I think it's ok for some content to be "unattainable" to some, as it builds motivation in the community. Players will aspire. In the same breath, there should always be ways for players who don't do the content to stay competitive with their character.

Why is there this great divide between casual and progressive players? Jleithart gave his thoughts:

jleithart: The problem arises where progressive players end up feeling like their time is wasted if everyone can do it. As the great Syndrome says, "If everyone is special... no one is special."
CRB_Scooter: First, +5 points for The Incredibles reference. Second: Any ideas how to solve that problem?
jleithart: depends on the checks on elite content. If it's gear, allowing for gear to be sold is one, after content is passed.

Loic wanted to add an additional stipulation to the topic:

CRB_Atreid: I guess I would add a parameter to this question...Should this content require an effort on player side?
nohelixws: _Effort_ should be required but NOT top/end game gear.
CRB_Atreid: so you mean an effort of time commitment and organization more than a "step by step check" (level>gear>quest access)
bbrown2k: definitely. I'm sick of the spoonfed attitude I'm seeing in mmos these days!
mykindoftwit: As a casual player I say no. I go in assuming there'll will be content that I'll never get to see.
Xintia12: The problem with that is if part of the game's story is told in that content. Story should be for everyone.
Souperfan: I think content that is harder to get into gives players something to look forward to. It should be conquerable tho

Team_WildStar: A number of you say progressives should see content first, while casuals can see it after progression has moved on. Thoughts?
delnileppez: Yes. I dont grudge the progressives their world firsts. Casuals should see same content at their own pace.
veeedad: Sure. As a casual player, i don't wan't dumbed down content; just access even if it takes longer to get there.
medalink7: That just diminishes the value of the reward, oh I got this cool item but in a month so will everyone.
QuantumQuasars: Why can't both happen at the same time? Easy/Medium/Hard content and let the player choose which fits their lifestyle best.

Finally, one of the contributors made an excellent point about casual players: Just because they play casually doesn't mean they don't want a challenge.

nohelixws: I think its important to say that casual != easy. I have RL and so can only play evenings but I hate too easy.
nohelixws: _Effort_ should be required but NOT top/end game gear.
CRB_Scooter: That is a GREAT point. We're not talking about difficulty here... just accessibility.
QuantumQuasars: Right, but easy automatically makes things more accessible.
nohelixws: No 'easy' is the easy way to make accessible, there are other better ways.

It was really fun to jump into a topic we knew would be controversial, and we want to thank the entire community for their help in creating a healthy conversation about the topic. Thanks to everyone who joined in with this week's WildStar Uplink! Make sure you follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Have a great weekend!

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