Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Fine Art of Wasting Time

MMOs are kinda like murder mysteries.

Y'know how murder mysteries tease you along with like, five zillion hours of mindless foreplay until you finally get to the big "oh, so this whole ten million pages of buildup thing was all about getting to some sentence where they finally explain that Colonel Mustard killed some dude inna library with a candlestick? man! that's really profound! thx!" fizzling pfft of an ending.

"Oh yah, baby, I'm a great lover, and you are in for a special treat, but first let me read you some poetry and give you a foot massage and set the mood."

Its all about wasting your time.

That's why they always make you kill ten mllion billion spiders to get to the good part, y'know, they're hoping you die from old age before you get to the good part, because there is no good part.

Anyways with all the stuff they do to make us not figure it out, like making us kill ten million billion spiders, or making all the hallways ten feet longer, and making us run back and forth across the country-side delivering doo-dads to the next guy, it makes me wonder why they don't ever go any deeper into the finer arts of making people waste their time.

Y'know, 'cause if you are really trying to get people to waste time without noticing it, so they'll keep paying a subscription fee, there's plenty of super sneaky and awesome ways to do it that nobody ever talks about.

Like, for example, having some artist guy make something for the game that makes folks stop and look at it for a few seconds, just because its cool looking.

You gained like thirty seconds there!

And if you can actually write something entertaining in those quest dialogue boxes, folks may actually waste some time reading those too!

That's another thirty seconds or so!

Or let people find a "hole" in the wall of a zone, so they crawl all over the wrong side of a mountain for an hour, trying to figure out a way to exploit it heh.

Or how about erasing all the monster fighting football team crap and just doing mystery stories, like where you investigate some disaster that happened at some space colony, y'know?

Those guys that write mystery stories are masters of wasting people's time and explaining some dumb ass thing that happened a while back and doesn't even really matter to you really really slowly, y'know, like, one clue every fifty pages or something.

Folks walk around all slow looking for clues and thinking about 'em and suspecting stuff and avoiding traps and ya don't even have to waste any server resources having people fight ten million billion spiders or anything, y'know, 'cause nothing is actually happening.

That's what suspense is all about, man, a lot of nothing happening.

Plus it makes the spiders seem freakier when they only jump out at the end.

Seinfeld is also all about nothing happening, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with suspense.

I dunno, mebbe it does, I dunno, mebbe there is some kinda awesome awkward comedy suspense thing, I dunno, mebbe.

"What is up with all this suspense?"

Hahaha daaaamn I'm good.

Anyways, think about it, you get a lot more creeped out and slow down a lot more in these stupid games in any stretch of hallway where there doesn't seem to be any monsters around, y'know, 'cause you know something fishy is going on.

"wtf? is the server broke?"

And you have to read the stupid dialogue boxes when yer solving a mystery, so that's like a two-for-one right there heh.

Dude, make the players have to answer questions every once in a while, then they'll have to read the shit ahaha.

Heck, let me write some of it and then they'll always be reading it thoroughly just to see if they can catch me swearing and insulting women or some shit.

Or you could just say that maybe I wrote some of it, and then those people would waste more time with it, even though I didn't actually have to write any of it.

That's what I'd do.

"There might be a nudity toggle in this game."

See, there's advantages to maintaining that aura of unpredictability and mystery heh.

Plus yer getting money from wasting the time of a bunch of nasty cracker-ass halfwits, that's the best kinda money ahaha.

And you could always just let a lot of typos go to keep the grammer nazis busy and happy correcting you too (or should I say "to" AHAHAAHAHHA*cough*).

And there's all sorts of other little shit where you could gain another thirty seconds or so of wasted subscription time without resorting to some stupid monster-whacking grind, waiting for boat rides, taking griffin rides, graphics lag due to lots of leafy trees, "mysterious" game lockups that make people reboot, really slow auction houses, one-hour delays on mailing items, stuff that only happens at night, pit traps that you gotta spend thirty seconds climbing out of, swimming around in lakes really slowly, giving people emotes to play with and letting them dye themselves different colors, not giving people enough inventory space so that gotta dick around with their baggage.

But even though a lot of that shit flies under everybody's conscious radar, none of that stuff is really looked at as a positive thing, y'know, like the way that people look at the guys who waste their time with mystery stories, or dudes that make intriguing art that makes people just stand around and gawk at it like idiots.

Even though its the same goddam thing, really, from a technical perspective.

The great thing about mysteries and suspense is that they kindle people's imaginations with Red Herrings and shit, that's like getting your players to create six times as much content as you actually created for you, y'know?

That's what I always loved about Stephen King, not the endings and shit that he actually wrote, but the junk he just made me think about that he coulda wrote.

And you don't even gotta waste any of your time figuring out how to show the dude get his head hacked off and all the blood squirting out with special effects if you just say it happened off screen heh.

And people always say that that kinda crap is all artistic and good and shit!

C'mon, man, it don't get no better than that!

Mystery is good for another thing, if you can think of ways to get people PvPing against each other, Mystery Style, like they do on Big Brother, wasting all that time keeping secrets and gossiping secrets and trying to figure out what the other guy is planning, but that's a topic for a really Advanced Course on Time Wasting.

I really dunno why they don't just copy set-ups from Big Brother, y'know, throw yer ass in a room with six other players and then start fucking with y'all, the dudes that came up with that shit are game design geniuses heh.

I could never do that kinda junk without a lawyer or something to keep me from from figuring out ways to get people to kill themselves like that dude from the Saw movies ahaha.

Well, whatever, at least we're wasting time talking about wasting time thinking about wasting time better, y'know?

That's something heh.

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