Thank goodness we gained an hour over the weekend. I don’t think I would have woken up today without it. There’s an old saying that goes something like “you only get good at something once you stop”. The guys got together to make tourtieres (a french variant on meat pies) for the day and what originally seemed like disaster turned out really well in the last hour.
Games sort of follow this path don’t they? The last boss is typically such a crazy challenge that you would not have been able to win had you had to face them in the first 5 minutes. When a game hits that plateau of skill challenge and then drags on the rest of the game at that level can cause burnout. I’m not talking about the NES days of Contra or Ninja Gaiden either. They were difficult for other reasons. Dark Souls is great because the challenge is continuous. As soon as you clear one obstacle, another presents itself.
MMOs have this built in too – which is one reason PvP tends to make a game last longer. The challenge is continuous when you are against another person. PvE content is different though. I like playing a Monk in WoW because there’s a new challenge in learning the class and the new game mechanics. I hate playing my Rogue in WoW because he’s been the exact same thing since Lich King. Raids certainly present some challenges but they are often statistical rather than operational. You either have the DPS/Healing or you do not. Once they release a raid where your hit points mean nothing and you simply have to wait out the clock on a death ride, then I’ll give it a shot. Until then, there’s not a whole lot of difference between hitting a post with a pattern than hitting a boss with a pattern.
It’s certainly a conundrum for any MMO today. How do you add challenge to a genre that has been based on challenges for years? What’s left in the bag that can make players say “one more time and I got this?”