So the other day I took the Bartle Test. Created way back in 1978, it’s still relevant (more than many would think) in designing MMORPG’s (World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc).
In an overarching format, it does well describing why some games “win” and “lose” in the market. Games targeted to “Killers”, such as Ultima Online, Shadowbane, and Asheron’s Call 2, tend to die off. The problem is, if you populate with Killers and design around them, then the vast majority of players who are not primarily “Killers” will get tired of being picked on and leave the game. An all-Killer game will drive off enough players to not be financially sustainable.
The longest-running game I’ve ever played, MMORPG-wise, is City of Heroes. The nice thing about CoH is that the “Killer” mechanic almost completely vanishes. Player-vs-Player combat is only in certain non-storyline areas against “City of Villains” players (the “other side” of the game), or in the “Arena”, in exhibition matches where no penalty for losing exists in the main game. Meanwhile, CoH has a tremendous amount of room for exploration and the enjoyment of various storylines, quests, and options to try out. The end of my CoH play came when the “social attitude”, by which I mean a personality-based falling out with a guild leader, left me with the option of either shutting down my account, or paying way too much money to move my characters to new servers to avoid this “socially powerful” griefer’s behavior.
For those wondering, by the Bartle test I come up as an ESAK, with a mere 7% “Killer” score:
It’s not so much the wandering around and poking about, but that euphoric eureka moment the Explorer strives for. The joys of discovery do not necessarily involve geography, real or virtual. They may derive from the mental road less traveled, the uncovering of esoteric or hidden knowledge and it’s creative application. Explorers make great theory crafters. The most infinitesimal bit of newness can deliver the most delicious zing to an Explorer.
Explorer Socializers are the glue of the online world. Not only do they like to delve in to find all the cool stuff, but they also enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. Explorer socializers power the wikis, maps, forums and theory craft sites of the gamer world.