Wildstar paths and Bartle types
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2014, 4:12 am
In 1996 Dr. Richard Bartle published "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs", describing what came to be known as the "Bartle types" of killer, achiever, explorer, and socializer.  Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey later turned that idea into the "Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology", an online test where by answering some questions you could find out which type you tended towards,which made these player types very well known in the MMORPG community. So it wasn't surprising that many people who wrote about Wildstar tried to explain the "paths" concept in that game as representing the four Bartle types, even on Wikipedia (until somebody edits that out). Which is utter nonsense.

If you put the Bartle types on a graph, it shows that achievers and explorers want to interact with the world / game, while the socializers and killers want to interact with other players. The other axis is whether the interaction is competitive (achievers, killers) or not (socializers, explorers). Now if you look at the four path of Wildstar: Soldier, Explorer, Settler, and Scientist, they are all about an interaction with the world / game. The Settler path has a tiny social component in it insofar as the buff stations you erect can be used by other players; but to do the Settler missions you do not need other players, you only interact with game elements. All four Wildstar paths would better be described as appealing to explorers and achievers, while they won't appeal much to killers (defined as player killers, not monster killers) or socializers.

In fact as far as Bartle types go, the four paths are pretty much the same: You get a list of things to do in each zone (achievers like to complete that sort of stuff) and you need to go to various points on the map and click on things (explorer stuff). The differences are in details that can't be expressed on the two axes of player/world and competitive/non-competitive interaction.

The Wildstar Explorer path is for people who like jumping puzzles and good views. Plays pretty much like the vistas in Guild Wars 2. Curiously there isn't much exploring to do, except of exploring how to best jump on to a high place. But the locations you need to visit are clearly marked on your map.

The Settler path ends up having more exploration elements than the Explorer path, because you need to gather extra resources to power up those buffing stations. As the resources aren't marked on your map, you actually need to explore to find them. Well, to some degree at least. Of course you run across plenty of them while you just do normal questing.

The Soldier path is all about killing monsters (not players). You go to marked locations on the map where either you have to kill a specific semi-boss type NPC, or hold a position against waves of monsters.

The Scientist path allows you to scan wildlife with your drone, which gives some minor buffs sometimes, but mostly provides you with more text windows to read. If you are interested in lore, and the type of player who read every book in Skyrim, this is the path for you.

I do like the idea of paths. The different paths will appeal to the preferences of different players. You just can't force these different preferences into the corset of the Bartle types.
Tobold's Blog



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