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Welcome to the second in an ongoing series dedicated to me rambling on about various things that I either despire or can’t get enough of.  Chances are I’ll be doing much more of the former than the latter.

Today’s Rantable is not about breast implants or penis pumps, as you might think about when you see the title (you pervs).  No.  Today’s Rantable is about a quality in an ever-growing number of video games over the past few years.  Developers have this idea htat if you artificially inflate the length of the game, then the players will be having more fun, because longer completion times = more fun, right?

WRONG.

I reailze this has been going on since nearly the beginning of the video game industry.  One of the first (and finest) examples of this strategy has been the Megaman series.  Ever since the very first Megaman game, there has been a part where, after defeating each of the robot bosses Dr. Wily tosses in front of you, you must fight all of them AGAIN whilst deep in the bowels of Wily’s lair.  All eight (or six in the first game), all in a row, with nothing to recharge your weapons with.  That isn’t always fun, you know, especially if you’re running low on certain key weapons (like the ones that can actually harm Wily in the final level).  Megaman 3 brought about a whole new layer to this artificial inflation, when they made you fight the eight bosses, then go back to four of those eight levels and fight all eight bosses from Megaman 2!  Then, of course, you had to go back through Wily’s castle and fight all eight bosses AGAIN.  So that’s 24 robot bosses in one game!

Aonther aspect of this that is fairly rampant is the use of multiple stages of the final boss.  You know what I’m talking about.  You fight the (always difficult) final boss, struggling to stay alive and have enough power to defeat him, and finally strike the killing blow with just enough health of your own left over, only to find that there’s a second form, which is even more difficult and proceeds to destroy you in mere seconds.  Castlevania was and still is a huge user of this strategy.  Making us fight two or three final bosses in a row with one lifebar is not fun.  It’s torture.  It’s possibly a leading cause of controller breakage among players everywhere (along with shitty camera and brick-wall-style difficulty curves).

One last quality I’ll mention for now that screams ARTIFICIAL INFLATION is mostly limited to MMORPGs, and that is, of course, the lengthening of quests by having enemies not drop necessary quest items.  While I have no thad much experience personally with other MMORPGs, I can say for a fact that this is one of the most frustrating aspects in all of World of WarCraft, which I will likely be quitting for the third time soon.  It seems that in that game, approximately 90% of all creatures in the game are made out of tofu, because the quest items they drop are much rarer than one might think they’d be in any normal universe.  There are boars without livers, spiders without legs, and various creatures without heads!  One quest I remember being particularly frustrating because the drop rate was approximately 33%…and I was getting heads!  Murloc heads!  So, by that logic, 2/3 of all murlocs roaming the world are operating without heads.  I know this is a silly statement, but come on!  If the quest would at least say something like “Bring 10 Intact Murloc Heads to Professor Jonesworth” or whatever, it’d make the fact that you have to kill roughly 30 of them to get 10 heads a little easier to swallow.  Not by much, though.  It’s still ridiculous that I have to kill usually about four times as many of whatever creatures I need to kill in order to get the required number of items for a quest.  Of course, sometimes (rarely) the drop rate is better and it’s relatively painless.  Other times it’s downright infuriating.  I remember another quest where I had to kill some big ugly elementals to grab a scroll or a book or something, and I think I probably had to kill somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 in order for the one damn thing to drop.  Making us kill 50 creatures to get one lousy stinkin’ item to drop is not fun, Blizzard!  It’s ludicrous.  It’s actually the reason I stopped playing tonight.  I had to kill these rare-spawning undead creatures in order to harvest their skulls so I can use an item to make them into a different type of skull, and I’ve killed 13 so far and gotten three out of five necessary skulls.  DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM, BLIZZARD?  It’s not fun.  It’s fucking irritating, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m likely going to quit the game very soon.

Okay, I’m done for now.  If anyone’s reading this, feel free to share your thoughts on any other types of artificial inflation you’ve found in video games, and whether you think it’s good for the game or a waste of your time.  Until next time…

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2 Comments

  1. Well you say it’s not fun, but you keep on doing it, yeah? That’s why they put it in. Because they get paid monthly, so letting people beat the game in one month wouldn’t make any financial sense.

    It’s a psychological concept I remember only the basics of. Intermittant reinforcement is actually a more effective conditioner than constant reinforcement. A rat that can push a switch and get food from it SOMETIMES becomes trained to use that switch much faster than a rat that can push a switch to get food all the time.

    I mean, even if it seems like a complete waste of time to you, you’re still doing exactly what Blizzard wants you to by continuing to pump your quarters into their game, see?

    I bet they’ve got a panel of psychologists to figure this stuff out.

  2. Then I quit. I’m sick of having to do the same repetitive task hundreds of times over for no true reward. It’s all just virtual rewards, no real life rewards. Yeah, I’m ending my subscription today.


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