Playing for Breadth

I’ve been playing Warframe with a bunch of friends lately, and it’s been interesting to me to see how each of us has approached the game. While not open-world, it’s nonetheless a very open game as far as experience goes, and you can work towards various things and move various directions, none of which appear to be wasteful. You can focus on frames, mods, weapons, research, pets, and all sorts of other things that take time and resources to work towards.

Playing for Breadth

Playing with my friends, I’ve been fascinated at the differences in what motivates me versus what seems to motivate others. Bel, for example, has been playing Excalibur and seems to prefer it to the point of playing it nearly exclusively. I get the impression he’s going for total mastery of Excalibur and leaving other frames for other people. Ash has a handful of weapons and frames, but virtually everything he’s got is max rank– he picks a new thing and deep-dives until he understands it thoroughly, then moves on. I, on the other hand, have gone for breadth. I’ve got 12 Warframes, with 3 more building as of the time of this post. It’s about double what anyone else in the clan has, but I also have far fewer maxed out frames and weapons.

I do the same kind of thing in Infinity. I don’t have a full collection of any of the factions I play, but I play nearly every faction in the game to some extent– enough to know what they do and how to pull it off, even if I’m not an expert at it. I play a different list that’s doing a different thing every time I play, often flitting between factions and playstyles extremely rapidly. When I start a new faction in Infinity, or a new Warframe, I generally try to pair it with an entire new suite of weapons. It varies my playstyle as much as possible from the get-go, showing me how different the game can get from what I was previously doing.

Playing for Breadth

I admire the folks who pick a single class, a single weapon, or a single playstyle and play it to the exclusion of all else until they’ve mastered it completely. It’s not for me. I generally favor seeing the game as a whole, which tends to mean that I rarely master any one thing, but I’m capable with a huge variety. In World of Warcraft, most people knew me as a Rogue player. I was a fairly capable Rogue, but I knew people who’d put in the effort to master the class; I picked a niche that I could fill and stuck with it. What I did know, however, was how Mages, Hunters, DPS Warriors, Priests, Druids, and Warlocks worked, and actively worked on understanding Paladins and even Shaman, despite us playing Alliance. When Death Knights came out, I switched pretty much full time to that class, and the Monk was the only reason I resubscribed for that expansion.

For me, seeing the entire game is my motivation. I want to know about the secrets, and the different approaches that most people don’t realize. It’s the high-level strategist in me; it’s not enough for me to know the ins and outs of one particular approach, I want to know how that approach stacks up against another one, what the pros and cons are, and how I’d work them together. Being stuck playing only one thing bores me; my excitement about Infinity is because compared to other games, I can try every faction. I could never really do that in Warmachine, and the concept is laughable in a game like 40k, where you’re looking at an $800-$1000 investment just to start your first army. With that kind of investment in Infinity, I could put together workable list pairings for four or five factions at least. That’s super compelling to me.

Playing for Breadth

I think this motivation is a big part of what makes me a good designer– I want to build things with lots of approaches and let players pick the one they like best. When I write tabletop campaigns, I like to imagine all the twists and turns my players might go down, and I write them out at least enough to entertain them as ideas. I’m thrilled when I’m presented (as I was in a recent session) with a situation I didn’t predict, because that’s another twist to explore and one I didn’t think of. When I’m designing scenarios in video games, or talking about how to build things, I like to know as much about what options are available so that I can make informed comments– a boss that is flatly immune to fire damage is not a great idea, no matter how much the story supports it, if a primary path a player might take involves dealing fire damage to the exclusion of all else… unless I’m trying to encourage some other kind of thing.

This extends to other parts of my life, too. I like to pick up new skills as much as possible, and try lots of new things. There’s an immensely broad world out there, and I want to understand as much of it as I can, even if it’s unrealistic to experience it all personally. I love change, because change is something new to try out, like that new faction or new warframe. It’s what keeps me going.

What motivates you in a new game? Is it different from what motivates you outside of the game?

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