Tag Archives: Nick Yee

Friday Bullet Points From the Empty House

Summer must be coming to an end because the new semester starts for my daughter next week.  She and my wife left Wednesday morning to drive up to Oregon to get her moved into the dorm and settled, while I stayed behind.  It took about a day before working from home and having nobody to sync up with on meals before all structure fell away from my existence and I began to live like the cats.

My wife will be back tomorrow to help return me to a more normal cycle, but until then it is time for another nap.  But before I snooze, a few items that came up of which I wanted to take note.

  • Designing Virtual Worlds

On Monday this week Richard Bartle announced on his personal blog that he had asked for the rights for his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds to be reverted to him and he has now made it available as a free download in PDF format.

Something like the book cover

I actually found out about this via a tweet from Raph Koster:

Naturally I grabbed a copy as soon as I could.  Even if you are not interested in the design aspects, the book includes a run down of the history of virtual worlds from MUD1 up into speculating about the launch of EVE Online.

As is noted constantly, the whole thing predates the launch of World of Warcraft, but is still remarkably relevant 18 years down the road.

  • Men Who Play Women

Nick Yee’s group, Quantic Foundry, emailed be about the release of a new publicly available report on the genders people choose to play when they have an in-game avatar.

home of gamer research

Among the findings were that while only 9% of women play male avatars, 29% of men play female avatars.

The report goes on to try and explain why men play female avatars and comes up with some good points.  But I suspect that the fact that so many games hyper-sexualize female avatars plays into it a lot as well.  The game designers are very much in on the objectifying of the female body.  I would be interested to see if there was any variation in the numbers between games that are all in on boob bounce physics and titles that don’t go down that path.

  • Esports in Asia

Niko Partners, which covers the video game trends in Asia, has a new report on the size and trends in esports across Asia, which makes up 54% of the global market.  While the full report will set you back $5K, the intro page has some tidbits about the market that you might find of interest.

  • EA Making Loot Boxes Suck Slightly Less

In their quarterly earnings call EA said that they were seeing more engagement and more spending when they let players peek at what was in a loot box via special “preview packs,” which you could open before committing to buy.  These were apparently received very well by the community and a lot of players who otherwise had not purchased loot boxes spent money on these new packs.

EA has literally discovered that if you tell people what you’re selling, more people are likely to actually buy.

  • More Bonus Skill Points in EVE Online

A quick one to slip in because it is time sensitive.  CCP has a skill point login event going on this weekend.  For Omegas that log in  and claim the rewards on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there is 50K skill points in it for you.  For Alphas, it is just 15K, but that is still better than nothing.

  • Reminiscing About EverQuest and EverQuest Next

Finally, last week aLovingRobot had Jeff Butler, one of the original EverQuest team members, on the show where they chatted about EverQuest Next, EverQuest, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the early days of SOE, and the MMORPG market.

aLovingRobot’s channel has more than a few videos dedicated to the history and lore of EverQuest and related titles, so if the subject interests you, then you can certainly find some more to watch.  There are a number of names from the past that appear in the series.

Hat tip to Feldon for finding this.

Returning Again to My Gamer Profile

I have done the gamer motivation profile thing over at Quadratic Foundry a few times at this point.  It is one of those things that comes up every now and then, often part of something like Blaugust.  So you can read about my past runs… and how they differ every time… if you so desire.

However, I received an email from them last week that said they had something new for their profiles now.  They now have an array of nine gamer types to go up against Bartle’s now ancient array of Explorer, Socializer, Achiever, and Killer quadrants.  They are:

The Nine Gamers to oppose the Nine Riders

They are, if you cannot read the chart:

  • Acrobat
  • Gardener
  • Slayer
  • Skirmisher
  • Gladiator
  • Ninja
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Architect
  • Bard

You can read about them in detail over on the page that describes them.

So naturally I wanted to see which type I was.  That meant going back and running through the quiz again, which is always the largest flaw in such and enterprise.  As I have said numerous times, the questions are a bit… squishy.  What I deem important can change depending upon the game or situation.  And, as such, my profile changes every time I re-do the quiz, as it did this time.

If you have an account, as I do, when you re-take the quiz you get to see your previous answers and the fact that I end up changing at least half of them every time is a pretty good indication that the question don’t have hard and fast answers.  At least not for me.

So I am apparently and Architect/Skirmisher this time around.

I am at war with myself

  • Architects are solo gamers that enjoy planning, decision-making, and progression. They prefer slow-paced, relaxing gameplay where they can plan and build something grand and enduring.

I guess.  Certainly that describes my Minecraft style.

  • Skirmishers want fast-paced team arenas that are accessible and easy to jump into. They are highly spontaneous gamers who dislike games that require thinking and planning.

And that sounds like the polar opposite of architect.  So I like relaxed solo, fast paced team games, and I enjoy planning but dislike thinking and planning.  I am also a by the book cop who is a loose cannon who breaks all the rules or something.

My adjectives this time around were: Aggressive, Spontaneous, Driven, Gregarious, and Immersed.

That is kind of a lot, while my graph, which I have posted with each of these was:

Where my motivations lay

And, as usual, once you have the profile the site tries to recommend games.  My top ten matches (for PC and Nintendo Switch) were:

  1. Animal Crossing (series)
  2. Starbound
  3. Diablo (series)
  4. No Man’s Sky
  5. Stardew Valley
  6. Elite: Dangerous
  7. The Sims 3
  8. ARK: Survival Evolved
  9. Fallout Shelter
  10. Borderlands (series)

I own games from half that list, but never really got into them save for Diablo.  The first game I have really invested time in on the list is Minecraft, which made it on page three of the recommendations.

Of course, judging from the Massively OP post where they did their surveys, an MMO player needs to be a Bard.  If I read the description for Bard, that sounds a bit like me too.  Maybe less on the social interaction, but certainly the bit about being a part of a grand story.  So I probably answered the questions badly yet again.  But if you go back and take the quiz knowing what you want the result to be, is it any more or less valid?

I went back and changed very little… slightly more emphasis on one thing, a little less on others, but no answer moved by more than one position… and ended up with Bard/Bounty Hunter.

Bard yes, but a Bounty Hunter?

  • Bards are team players who want to chat and interact with other players in game worlds that are rich with lore, stories, discovery, and customization. For them, the game is a grand story that emerges from a community of players.

That is sort of me.  I am less of a chatter and more interested in interacting with the world.  Being part of a grand story that emerges from a community of players pretty much pegs why I play EVE Online the way I do, but not WoW or many other MMORPGs… largely because the grand story is scripted and has little or nothing to do with the community of players in those games.

  • Bounty Hunters are solo, action-oriented explorers who want game worlds that they can make their own through customization and discovery. They also enjoy power progression and unleashing mayhem.

I think the questions about explosives and being an agent of chaos are more influential than one might suspect.  That is the only thing I can imagine would get me on the Bounty Hunter type.  I am not really at “action oriented” explorer by my own measure.  Look how low my action score is both times.

At the root those small changes altered my motivations a lot more significantly than I would have guessed.

Are my motivations a lie?

That also changed my adjectives to:  Aggressive, Spontaneous, Completionist, Gregarious, Deeply Immersed, and Creative.

You can see my current profile in detail here.

With the change of profile, my game recommendations changed… a bit.

  1. City of Heroes
  2. Slime Rancher
  3. Animal Crossing (series)
  4. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  5. The Elder Scrolls Online
  6. Fallout Shelter
  7. The Sims 3
  8. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  9. The Elder Scrolls (series)
  10. Dragon Age (series)

I guess I should be happy some MMORPGs made the first page this time, though I have to question City of Heroes being a recommendation.  You cannot legally play it currently, as it is only available via private/pirate servers.  Also, like the other MMORPGs that made the top ten, it was never a game I could get into really.  Not my thing.  And, of course, WoW and EVE Online appear nowhere on either recommendation list.

So there we go.  Am I what the first pass through the quiz said I was or the second?  Should I go take it again until it gets me right?

A Flawed Profile in Gamer Motivation

Another set of shared posts started in the Blapril Discord channel around the Nick Yee/Quadratic Foundry gamer motivation profile quiz, and I was going to simply give it a pass.  After all, I had done that back in 2015 and then again as part of Blaugust last year.

But then I read the post from Bhagpuss on the whole thing and decided that I needed to take the quiz again right then and there if only to prove a point or two.  So I opened up a fresh Chrome session in privacy mode and ran off to take the quiz.  I already have a profile there but didn’t want to be tainted by anything I had done in the past.

One quiz later and the results were mine.  I am “Aggressive, Spontaneous, Gregarious, and Grounded” according to my answers.

My profile summary graph – May 2020

Just eight months back during Blaugust I was “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded,” and had this chart.

My profile summary graph – August 2019

And about four years earlier, back in June 2015, I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded,” according to my answers, with the following graph.

My profile summary graph – June 2015

I guess there is a common theme in “grounded,” though that may be due to wearing a static strap while taking the quiz.  You cannot be too careful!

So what is going on here?  Is the quiz garbage?  Am I a liar, and an inconsistent one at that?

Maybe some of both?

That the quiz is garbage isn’t a hill I am willing to die on.  But I will stick with the idea that the quiz, like much in the realm of the social sciences, is trying to measure complex things via simple parameters.

And while I am demonstrably an unreliable narrator when I speak of my own motivations, I would contend that is because said motivations are not simple, but are often complicated, interdependent, and contextual.

So when I get a question like this about story absent any sort of context, there isn’t really any clear choice.

How important is this to me?

In a lot of games it isn’t important, or it is something that is organic to the game and develops over time.  There isn’t a whole lot of story in RimWorld or Civilzation V or Minecraft other than what you make.

In other games, like EverQuest II, there is a lot of rich story going on that I tend to skip pass.  I am at the quest giver saying, “Cool story bro, but just tell me who you need killed already.”  I honestly cannot tell you any of the big story arcs for any of the expansions in any but the most simple terms, if at all.

I am a little better in World of Warcraft, where I can at least tell you the major plot line of most of the expansions, but I still tend to read the quest objectives on the way rather than listening to any NPC tales.  Just give me the damn quest Anduin!

But in a game like Diablo III I am all about the story, which is part of why the post story seasons don’t do much for me.  Slaughter and levels upon levels and piles of gold don’t mean much as the context in which the really mattered has passed.

So if I am playing a Civ game, it is not important, if I am playing Diablo III it is extremely important, and if I am playing WoW or LOTRO is is somewhat important.  So what is my answer supposed to be then?  As with a lot of questions I went for the middle ground, which you can interpret as a shoulder shrug and append the phrase, “I guess” to the end.

And that is how I felt about a lot of the quiz.  Absent the anchor of a specific situation, my answer is always going to feel uncertain.  It is like asking me how important strawberries are to me.  I like strawberries, and they seem essential if we’re talking about a strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream, but maybe less so if we’re talking about nuclear proliferation or civil rights.

It is thus easy to argue yourself into the position that everything on the list is not important at all.  Nobody is going to die if the storyline of your game is insufficiently elaborate.

Without context the questions are meaningless, and the quiz is no fun if you you just wet blanket the whole thing, so what happens to me is that I start to think of context where the thing in question is more or less important to me.

But those are all thoughts of the moment, and if I took the quiz in another two weeks I bet I would come up with a different set of contexts that would alter my answers.  I took the quiz less than an hour ago and, as an example, I cannot remember what came to my mine around this question regarding being an agent of chaos.

Not an Agent of KAOS

Right now I can come up with context that get me to any of the response options, but I cannot even recall the answer I gave, which at least implies I did not weigh it heavily.  It was very much in the moment.  And given that the only common thread in my three results is being “grounded,” which sounds like the opposite of being an agent of chaos, I almost feel like there should be a slider for how serious an answer should be taken.

I think the only thing I picked as extremely important was about explosions and blowing things up, which was probably my most visceral response.  But I don’t know how much of an indicator it really is.  Blowing things up for me tends to apply mostly to EVE Online or maybe Minecraft when I have some dynamite.

At the end of the quiz, once you get your score, you can then go to the game recommendations page.  My theory is that if you have answered all the questions correctly… yeah, what does that even mean… the recommendation results should include at least a few games you know and like in the top results.  According to the site, the results are based on the favorite games of the 1,000 people whose answers were closest to your own, so it gets around the whole “is the quiz even valid” and gets straight to “garbage in, garbage out” for results.

For the last two sets of answers I got the following recommendations:

Balanced (2020 / 2019):

  1. Elite: Dangerous / No Man’s Sky
  2. Borderlands 3 / FTL: Faster Than Light
  3. Factorio / ARK: Survival Evolved
  4. Subnautica / Factorio
  5. Fallout Shelter / Cities: Skylines
  6. Kerbal Space Program / Subnautica
  7. Portal (series) / Terraria
  8. Civilization (series) / Portal (series)
  9. Rise of the Tomb Raider / RuneScape
  10. Half-Life 2 / The Sims (series)

Not completely off the mark I suppose.  I own a bunch of those games, and certainly Civilization would make the cut and I guess RuneScape is an MMORPG, but there is nothing on the list I am playing a lot of lately.

“Balanced” refers to the relative popularity of a given title in people’s lists overall.  You can also see just “Popular” games or you can open it up to “Niche” games.  Going with “Popular” makes the list less likely for me. The Fallout series dominates as individual titles.

Going with “Niche” does get my Lord of the Rings Online on one list, and RimWorld makes the other, but it puts Cookie Clicker at the top of one of them and WTF is that doing on any list of mine?

Now I am curious to know what answers would get me to EVE Online or World of Warcraft as a top ten recommendation, even in the “Niche” category.  I want to reverse engineer this, to figure out which buttons I need to click to get an answer that matches a game I am currently playing and then evaluate whether those answers really fit me, even if it is only in the context of a specific game.

All of which seems to make this quiz and its results a good conversation piece or a starting point for some self-reflection, but it doesn’t seem to provide anything that one might qualify as a solid answer

Anyway, if you want to see the results and responses from other bloggers, Jeromai over at Why I Game has the list of links you are looking for.

My Gamer Motivation Profile Once Again

I was tagged for something for Blaugust, and right at the last minute too, so I am going to have to squeeze in just one more post in the month.

Angie at Backlog Crusader did the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile survey and then tagged some other bloggers to give it a try.  I’m game… so to speak… but here is the thing.  I’ve done this before, back in 2015 when the survey was new.  Still, I figured I could go through the questions again.  The test itself is built around some assumptions about gamer behavior.

The Motivation Model Overview

As I said previously, it reminds me of the Bartle model, with a few more dimensions.  It does rely on the common personality test dynamic of paired behaviors that are placed as poles in a given motivation.

I had even made a profile back in 2015, so was able to log in and go through the test again.  It remembered my answers from back then, though a couple more questions had been added.  I also changed some of my answers, ending up with a chart that looks like this:

My profile summary graph – 2019

You can compare that to the last time around.

My profile summary graph – 2015

In 2015 there were only five factors, now there are six.  If you want to see how the test has changed you can compare my 2015 post, where I wrote about each of the factors, and my 2019 results available here.

In 2015 I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded.”

In 2019 I am “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded.”

The problem I have with this sort of test is the somewhat generic set of questions asking how important certain things are to me.  I sit there and read the question and think, “Well, this is important to me under specific circumstances, but at other times I could care less.”  So the strength of my answers is not very strong at all.  I went through and changed a good chunk of them as I passed through the quiz once again, but never by more than one notch either direction.

Basically, my mood at the moment could alter many of my answers at least somewhat, to the point that I am pretty sure if you wiped all my answers and had me take the survey again in a week, the results would change some.

But for an afternoon in August, that was how I was feeling.

And at the end of the survey the site offers up some games that might appeal to you based on what other people taking it who scored similarly to you ranked as their favorite games.  My top game was No Man’s Sky.

Seems appropriate.  I actually own it, having picked it up in a Steam sale.  Couldn’t get past the forever loading screens though.  Maybe that has gotten better.

The game recommendations come in three levels.  To get an MMO result I had to select “niche” as a parameter, because MMOs remain a niche genre.

Anyway, if you want to take the survey as well, you can find it here on the Quantic Lab site.

Quadratic Foundry Character Name Generator

In the grand tradition of the old WoW Guild Name Generator from Nick Yee, his organization, Quadratic Foundry, has created a Character Name Generator.

Rather than being completely random, the generator lets you specify a starting letter, an ending letter, or a string of letters you would like the name to contain.

Starts with ‘W’ and ends with ‘M’ gets you…

And it even gives you variants on the name with special characters if you simply must have a specific name but find that it has already been taken.

As with the WoW Guild Name Generator, the core of this was based on previous research done on World of Warcraft and the names harvested as part of that.

Anyway, if you’re stuck for a name you now have a new place to try.

Who Says I am Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded?

Nick Yee says that about me… sort of.

Nick Yee, famous… for specific, internet definitions of fame… getting a Reddit AMA counts for something… his studies of gamers, and MMO gamers in particular, through such ventures as the The Daedalus Project and PARC PlayOn Group (as well as that WoW guild name generator) has a new research venture going on.  A note in my inbox yesterday included this announcement:

I’ve got some exciting news to share! Our game analytics consulting practice is now officially “Quantic Foundry”. And the gamer research project is now officially “The Quantic Lab”. Apart from running surveys and sharing the findings, we have also created a Gamer Motivation Profile that produces a customized report of your gaming motivations.

Check out the blog posts, take the new surveys, and try the Gamer Motivation Profile at: https://apps.quanticfoundry.com

A new survey!

Gamer Motivation Profile sounds suspiciously like the whole Bartle Test thing I suppose.  However, this new survey is at least functionally a bit different.  Where as the Bartle Test asks the taker to choose between pairs of behaviors to determine if you were an explorer, achiever, socializer, or killer, the Gamer Motivation Profile asks the taker to rank the importance to them of a series of aspects of gaming that range from “Blowing stuff up” to knowing the game’s story.

Different, but not necessarily better.  It is much easier to make choices between two behaviors than it is to rank the importance of a given aspect of gaming… at least it was for me.  You have to be a lot more in touch with what is important to you.

Anyway, once you take it you get your results and, if you sign up for an account, you also get a profile you can share with others.  Mine is here.  My basic summary is the title of this post, and the top level graph shows:

My profile summary graph

My profile summary graph

Nothing really dominates on that graph… not like Tipa’s graph, where immersion was sticking out prominently.  The results are percentiles, where I rank against other gamers.  Basically, 88% of gamers are more action oriented than I.

This probably results from me not pressing on things being at the “extremely important” end of the spectrum.  I picked that answer only once.

So Achievement and Social dominate, Immersion and Strategy are on par, and Action is way down the ladder for me.

Each of the groups is then broken out into sub-categories.  For Action there is Destruction and Excitement.

Action sub-categories

Action sub-categories

See, I do like to blow things up, I’m just not big on excitement.  I think my wife can confirm that.

For Strategy there is Mastery and Planning.

Strategy sub-categories

Strategy sub-categories

About equal on both of those.

For Achievement it is Completion and Power.

Achievement sub-categories

Achievement sub-categories

I could have told you I am far more about “doing all the things” than I am about power.

For Social there is Competition and Community.

Social sub-categories

Social sub-categories

I have been known to go on about community, right?  If somebody asks why, in EVE Online, I am in The Imperium with those horrible Goons, community is the answer.  For all you can say about them, they are pretty much dedicated to community and organizing groups that allow the individual to feel like a contributing part of that community.  My home is in Reavers, a group small enough that showing up really matters but large enough that I can’t really screw things up for the team, and I enjoy my time playing with that group.

And then, finally, there is that most illogical and fractious of terms, a word that has as many meanings as there are people who utter it, Immersion.  That actually breaks out into three, Customization, Fantasy, and Story.

Immersion cub-categories

Immersion cub-categories

Customization and Story… not so important to me I guess.  I actually have a half-finished post in my drafts folder about why story is important in MMORPGs, but how it shouldn’t override your own story.

And while I have shown some interest in customization… I use cosmetic gear slots all the time, I painted up all my cars in Need for Speed World, and I just spent a bunch of ISK on ship skins the other day in EVE Online… I tend to view that as a luxury as opposed to a necessity I suppose.

Fantasy, on the other hand… there things suddenly get important.  I will quote the summary for that sub-category:

Gamers who score high on Fantasy want their gaming experiences to allow them to become someone else, somewhere else. They enjoy the sense of being immersed in an alter ego in a believable alternate world, and enjoy exploring a game world just for the sake of exploring it. These gamers enjoy games like Skyrim, Fallout, and Mass Effect for their fully imagined alternate settings.

Except that I don’t enjoy those titles all that much… well, I only own Skyrim, but I would put Mass Effect in as a placehold for “BioWare games”  in general… because they lack the social and community aspect.  Online games have ruined me forever on a lot of solo games.

So there I am, a completionist and community (or at least group) focused player that wants to get lost in the games I play.

And while I suspect that my results might vary if I took the survey again in a few months… or next week… or tomorrow… or right now… I think that the same key points would likely shine through still.

Anyway, if you want to take the survey you can find the starting link over the Quantic Foundry Lab page.

Addendum: There is also a blog post on the site about how they created the survey.

Play On: Guild Name Generator

Over at Play On Quadratic Foundry, they have found through the research of data from World of Warcraft that 90% of guild names follow a specific set of patterns.  This has allowed them to create a Guild Name Generator that uses a weighted dictionary based on WoW guild names.  If you go to the page linked, it will create 10 guild names for you.  Hit refresh to see 10 more.

Some detail about how the name generator functions is on the Play On Quadratic Foundry site here.

The names generated certainly “feel” like WoW guild names.  I wonder how many of them end up being the names of actual guilds.

For now, I am going to run out and check on “Twinks of Samurai Tea Guard.”

Addendum Sep. 19, 2018: This article has been updated to point to the guild name generator’s new home at Quadratic Foundry.