Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thoughts on WoW Cognitive Fatigue

I dont know the game but Cyn picked a lovely picture.
Cynwise wrote a really excellent article about Cognitive Fatigue (here).  I just had to add my own thoughts.

I've been studying game design for a while now as a passionate hobbyist.  UI design and execution is one of the things that has majorly changed since MUDs begain them.

Everquest gave us our first graphical interface for an MMO and Warcraft took much of its inspiration from that source.

This is one reason I haven't been playing WoW as much lately.  After some stressful things I just feel drained by most of the gameplay I do.  Add to that the drain of class revamps and I end up not even knowing were to begin.  I will log to a character I intend to play.  Start sorting through the ability book, trying to figure things out, and after wasting a fair amount of time log off.

I managed to bungle my troll priest to 90 but I was close to bad for healing and DPS.  I ended up taking on a new priest in order to learn how to priest again.  With less abilities and simpler play I can have more fun but even then its just broken and weird in many ways.  Spells that used to be early additions to your kit just don't exist till later in the game for no reason I can find..

At one point I tried to move renew from where I have it under my mousewheel to another button.  I coudln't do it.  Just couldn't learn its someplace else.  8 some odd years of muscle memory fought me every time and you need that memory because the game is too complex to be taking in every bit of information and consciously deciding how to respond.

My UI is relatively simple, but it can be so swamped with information I cant reduce the screen size if I wasn't to see anything going on.  Especially if I'm doing Archiology.  The game itself exhausts me in ways other games don't because it lacks a pause button.

heck Logging in I have to worry about it throwing up my authenticator window and forcing me to find the thing, hope I enter the numbers right in only a couple of attempts.

On my main I have dailies I 'should" do, grinding to do, skill grinding/selling, farming, raiding, lore seeking...I cant organize it into any kind of coherent plan.  So I log in, do a little of it.  Feel like Im wasting time cause I should be doing Y not X go do Y but then I'm ignoring Z.  So I end up ignoring it all because the mountain of things really does seem totally impassable.  Heck they even revamped the stupid pet battle system and keep dicking around with pet abilities.

One fix of course is contextual buttons.  But that takes work and planning.  A more basic response would be to just reduce the number of abilities.  why do shadow priests need 3 Dot timers to manage?  How about one?  Use similar ideas to make the buttons at least down to 7 core with a few situational ones to hit 12.

Thanks so much to Cynwise and Kathy for their wise thoughts on this.  As Kathy said (Here);

"Help them conserve and manage their scarce, precious, easily-depleted cognitive resources for what really matters. To them. And don't forget to take care of your own. Think of the kids. Think of Sparky."

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