A really good post just went up on Zen of Design about how to avoid misusing Bartle’s Four (Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers) in online world design.
The most interesting to me is number eight:
8. Don’t make features for just one quadrant. Features that are designed for just one of the player types tends to feel odd and tacked on to the other three player types (I’m looking at you, Blood Type Comparison in Star Wars Galaxies). Strong features appeal to multiple player types simultaneously. Consider, for example, Raiding in EQ and WoW (a feature oft-maligned by armchair designers):
- Achievers enjoy the loot, which provides a sense of progress and increased power.
- Explorers enjoy seeing new and interesting locales, and being forced to innovate in terms of solving the ‘puzzle’ that is beating a difficult boss encounter with their own party’s mix of capabilities.
- Socializers enjoy having an activity that not only encourages, but mandates, extensive teamplay, coordination and communication (as well as an excuse to be in close proximity to their guildmates.
- Killers have a metagame to appreciate. Yes, it’s not as visceral as laying the smackdown directly, but there was undoubtedly a bit of the competitive juices when my guild got the server first kill on Hydross a mere 2 minutes after our competitors wiped on him.
This is not to say that raiding appeals to everyone – it clearly doesn’t. However, for the people that do enjoy it, it is firing on multiple pistons at once.
So when designing features it will help to look at which members of the Four the features appeal to and whether there are ways to broaden the appeal to more of them…