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[Column] General: GW2 and Rift - More Social or Just Different?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,583MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Back in the old days, being social in an MMO wasn't merely for fun but was a necessity. Then things changed. But the pendulum swings yet again and MMOs are becoming increasingly social out of need. In today's Social Hub, we take a look at Guild Wars 2 and Rift, two games that are bringing back old school social gaming. Check it out and then head to the comments.

To get at the question, however, we have to go back. Once upon a time, MMORPGs were limited as far as game choice went. I’m sure many of us vets remember the wide-eyed, caffeinated gamers we were when someone or something introduced us to the concept of whole little worlds out there that we could share and inhabit. Games that could be played with others – no more solo grinding in your RPGs, because now you could share the experience and the load. Or what about your first play session or two? If it was anything like mine, then you walked in and stumbled, fell flat on your face for a bit until things became familiar. Of course, I made the brilliant choice of starting my first ever character, a Druid, on the account of the friend that introduced me to MMOs, leaving me initially without anyone to play with. Attempting to solo got me very quickly taken down by some tiny, innocuous looking river creatures straight off.

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's The Social Hub: GW2 and Rift - More Social or Just Different?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • Eir_SEir_S Argyle, NYPosts: 4,623Member
    Great post.  I agree that one of the big bonuses of new systems is how they allow for newer players to join the fun, and isn't that what it's about?  Too many people act like MMOs are their personal property or the plaything of elitist jerks who only care who yells the loudest on Vent.  The fact that there is no mob-tagging does not cancel out the ability to group up, just the need to.  I've been in plenty of world map groups in GW2 just because it's fun to have a goal and meet that goal, but whenI felt like playing alone, I could do it just as fluidly and without sacrificing xp or fun.
  • bliss14bliss14 eleva, WIPosts: 565Member
    I pretty much only social map chat when I'm drunk.  But maybe that's just a reflection on me :)
  • RohnRohn Saint Peters, MOPosts: 3,740Member Uncommon

    These games have the appearance of being more social, but it's nothing more than that.  It's very different from the actual social interaction and player interrelationships that were required in older games.

    GW2 and RIFT are games that you play AROUND other players, not WITH other players.  There's a big difference.

    Hell hath no fury like an MMORPG player scorned.

  • Kinh021Kinh021 Rio de JaneiroPosts: 27Member
    Great text.
  • LordSneergLordSneerg Lorton, VAPosts: 119Member
    Originally posted by Rohn

    These games have the appearance of being more social, but it's nothing more than that.  It's very different from the actual social interaction and player interrelationships that were required in older games.

    GW2 and RIFT are games that you play AROUND other players, not WITH other players.  There's a big difference.

    I completely agree with Rohn.  I hate to say it but WOW was the last game I was actually social in. I don't see any of the recent games doing that.  

  • azmundaiazmundai St Louis, MOPosts: 1,417Member

    There is nothing wrong with games like these necessarily, but even Rift which I consider more social than GW2, had too much more solo content than group content.

    In the Rift betas the rifts were different than they were at release. They were a great way to level. In one of the later betas they added auto grouping. You would often end up grouping with other rifters (people who didn't really want to quest) and bouncing around to different rifts in the zone.

    Then at release they nerfed rifting to the point that it was horrible xp and horrible rewards and everyone returned to the centuries old boring ass quest hub zerg to endgame.

    The real issue though is that even if they hadn't nerfed rifting, that would have gotten old at some point and as such the game and all of the games released in the past 10 years or so are nowhere near equal parts grouping and solo. Its more along the lines of 10% grouping and 90% soloing, and 99% of that group content is tucked into instances.

    Then SWTOR came along and retuned small areas of their game to be about grouping. Maybe, and I stress MAYBE they got up to 20% group content .. but in the end the rewards were horrible, and the mobs were pretty much all duoable.

    All of this is fine. For a lot of people. Many people want a different kind of game though. You can call us jaded all you want if that label helps you look past the deficiencies in group content, but all we want is a game that doesn't cater 90% of their game to a playstyle we can just as easily get on a console game.

    LFD tools are great for cramming people into content, but quality > quantity.
    I am, usually on the sandbox .. more "hardcore" side of things, but I also do just want to have fun. So lighten up already :)

  • DamonVileDamonVile Vancouver, BCPosts: 4,818Member

    I don't see how removing the need to be social makes gw2 a social mmo. Standing next to someone killing the same thing isn't my idea of being social. They removed the need to group so everyone can get involved. They also removed the need to talk to each other and you could feel it when you play.

    You go from one event to the next and join the herd. you never, ever needed to talk to anyone for any reason.

    That may improve the game play for the antisocial player but I dont' think it improved the social aspect of mmos.

  • KareliaKarelia HeraklionPosts: 668Member
    Originally posted by LordSneerg
    Originally posted by Rohn

    These games have the appearance of being more social, but it's nothing more than that.  It's very different from the actual social interaction and player interrelationships that were required in older games.

    GW2 and RIFT are games that you play AROUND other players, not WITH other players.  There's a big difference.

    I completely agree with Rohn.  I hate to say it but WOW was the last game I was actually social in. I don't see any of the recent games doing that.  

     

    agree with both of you guys

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    I never felt any need to socialize in gw2. Given my playstyle was limited to wvwvw pvp only. In wvwvwpvp the onky thing you needed to do was follow the zerg and mash buttons. So when does this come to ps3 again?
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon

    Well-written column. I don't agree with the first part :) I'm a huge supporter of options, so I don't think the removal of forced grouping is / was a bad thing.

    I do agree with the second part though. Every playerbase is as much social as the individuals each in that playerbase needing it. It seems nowadays a big part of the current playerbase don't need the former social aspects of the games. And the solution is not to force them into grouping because back in the days we had fun that way.

    (on a sidenote I'm pretty sure it was more the lack of games and the hefty amount of free time at our side than forced grouping, simply the playerbase of the early games were more tied to the games and to the community. I personally had lots of buddies I've met only on global and not via forced grouping.)

    So I think Christina's right with the "differently social" part. While players can still socialize in today's games with rp or chat / voice, the games should adapt as well to help the new kind of players. Dynamic events, open tapping and stuff seem to work - in a way. Of course it's not the social level we saw years ago, but it's better than nothing. And the option is still there for forming guilds, holding player-run events, etc., veteran players could help in that area a lot if they take an active part at the community.

    Forced grouping is not some kinda secret weapon that devs should just pop back in games and with a flip everybody will be socializing again...

  • KareliaKarelia HeraklionPosts: 668Member

    I think there is a big mistake in the case of “socializing”.

    Most ppl thinks that in order to socialize you need to have hard quests or events that require more than one person to achieve something. Grouping or gathering too many ppl in a specific place is not enough reason to make you socialize with others. Anyway in most mmo’s you have tools like LFR/LFD/LFG that makes it for you. That’s not the point at all.

    In my opinion and in my experience, the socialization comes when a mmo is deep. When you have many choices to build classes. Choices that matters and not copy paste specs. When you spent hours with others chatting about your class and how it will perform better.

    Socialization comes also when you have sophisticated raids and bosses to encounter. When you gather with others, watching videos and talking about plans and ways to overcome the fight. Not just zerging like a bunch of fools, but like a skilled player who has a role and tries to fulfill it.

    Anyway that’s my opinion about socialization in a mmo.  I socialize when  I have to discuss something and not when I want just to group with others.

  • jesteralwaysjesteralways ChittagongPosts: 1,005Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by LordSneerg
    Originally posted by Rohn

    These games have the appearance of being more social, but it's nothing more than that.  It's very different from the actual social interaction and player interrelationships that were required in older games.

    GW2 and RIFT are games that you play AROUND other players, not WITH other players.  There's a big difference.

    I completely agree with Rohn.  I hate to say it but WOW was the last game I was actually social in. I don't see any of the recent games doing that.  

    agree with both of you guys. socializing means interacting with others and in rift or gw2 these open world events don't require such and no one interacts. they are not social at all. 

    i want an open world, no phasing, no instancing.i want meaningful owpvp.i want player driven economy.i want meaningful crafting.i want awesome exploration, a sense of thrill.i want ow housing with a meaningful effect on my entire gameplay experience, not just some instanced crap.i want all of these free of cost, i don't wanna pay you a cent, game devs can eat grass and continue developing game for me.
    Seems like that is the current consensus of western mmo players.

  • ScambugScambug TortugaPosts: 389Member

    All I can say is in older MMOs, even as a player that never joins guilds , I used to meet people and on occasion make lasting friendships. These days, nada.

    Is it because the group finding mechanics have changed? Is it because most of the content is soloable? Is it because the MMO player has changed? It's probably a mix of all three.

    Edit: I just thought of another possible explanation. Back in the early days of MMOs, the internet was still in its infancy. People still treated each other online the same way they did offline, with respect and courtesy (in most cases). Now the internet culture has evolved. People don't give a shit about being polite and respectful anymore, most "normal" social behaviours have been tossed out the window by now in the virtual world.

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member
    Originally posted by Pie_Rat

    All I can say is in older MMOs, even as a player that never joins guilds , I used to meet people and on occasion make lasting friendships. These days, nada.

    Is it because the group finding mechanics have changed? Is it because most of the content is soloable? Is it because the MMO player has changed? It's most probably a mix of all three.

    yea i'd say it's all three.. also the MMO market is HUGE compared to what it was a decade ago.. you had a much smaller more dedicated players overall.. nowadays there are just so many games i could never get locked into just a single game..

    As long as a game encourages playing with others I'm happy. I have no issues being social in any game so i don't need forced mechanics. I just really enjoy when pve is based more around cooperation instead of competition

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,192Member Uncommon

    First, stop giving a voice to "microscope of the jaded".  They have a loud enough voice as it is.

    You, and some others, remember forced grouping design as an original social concept in mmos, but that wasn't how games originally worked.  It started with EQ, but Lineage and  UO offered content that could be grouped or solo'd.  People grouped in those games for protection and a greater chance for survival.  People could also solo or duo in those games just as well.  Gear, spells, skills, and drops weren't segregated into "group/raid" and "solo".  There was just a game to play any way you wanted with a bonus, you had others to play with.  You were playing both along side of and with others.

    Fast forward to today and we have forced grouping as the default paradigm due mainly to the wild success of WoW where group instances and raiding were the focus of the game. 

    Rift tried to solve the problem with open grouping, which helped to an extent, but it still heavily relied on standard group mechanics for most content.  They have smoothed that out some with the way their zone events now function, but it's still heavily rooted in the old rote.

    GW2 actually broke that paradigm with open tapping and how loot and xp are distributed.  You can play alongside others, independent of their actions.  You can also play with them, supporting them, participating in combos, and using teamwork.  It's the players choice for once and it works great.

    When I see other players and mobs in GW2 I help them without a thought.  When I see other players in Tera, for example, I think, "Hey, I better be careful not to tap first." Or "Should I send them a group invite?  If I do that will I end up having to follow their quest chain.  Will they be one of those needy people that latches onto someone."  The interesting thing is that LotRO recently adopted an open tapping system and it has worked great.  No longer do I worry about ruining someones xp or drops, but I can also help them.  It's just a more friendly system.

    In all I've met some people over the last 12 years of online gaming that have become very close acquaintances or friends, but never has that been because of the forced grouping mechanic.  It's always been because we clicked while chatting in town or out adventuring, something I've been able to do in any mmo I've played.

    TL;DR:  Social interaction existed before forced grouping, and will continue to exist outside of it.  The desire to impose forced grouping lies outside of the desire for social, but that's a discussion for another day.

  • strangiato2112strangiato2112 Richmond, VAPosts: 1,538Member Common

    I found Rift to be one of the least social MMOs.

     

    Rifts, invasions, and IAs are soloing with people around you.  You see them, they are in your group, but they dont interact with you even if you try and are basically NPCs.

     

    However, this isnt all Rifts fault, a lot of it is the players.  You can try to strike up a conversation but good luck getting a reply.

     

    The trend towards games where you are constantly in motion or hitting an ability or dodging an attack has really crippled socilaizing.  you cant afford to chat.  Since downtime is long gone so is most socializing among strangers.

  • WellzyCWellzyC Stillwater, MNPosts: 557Member Uncommon

     

    I think when people use the term "forced grouping",  they dont mean games that  make you group in order to accomplish anything,.

     

    What it means to me is :  Content that requires organization and communication should always yeild more and better rewards than content that can be completed solo.

     

    Grouping should always be the best exp, and the best loot. You can have solo content, but that content should only allow your character to sustain it;s sefl and should bever be the fastest path to completion.

     

    Allow players to come together on their own when they are faced with challenges that they cannot complete by them selfs, or temp them with rewards that require you to team up with others to complete..

     

    Simple solution .. older games did it just fine, new games have lost sight of it.

    The way mmo's were: Community, Exploration, Character Development, Conquest.

    The way mmo's are now : Cut-Scenes,Cut-Scenes, solo Questing, Cut-Scenes...


    www.CeaselessGuild.com

  • rodingorodingo Posts: 2,346Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

     The interesting thing is that LotRO recently adopted an open tapping system and it has worked great.  No longer do I worry about ruining someones xp or drops, but I can also help them.  It's just a more friendly system.

    Yhe I just noticed that about Lotro too since I have gone back to the game recently.  I found that interesting and I wonder when and why they decided to put that in.  I also can't stand Tera's tap system of whoever does the most damage, or it's something along those lines.  There has been a couple of times where I was solo'ing a BAM with my warrior and some random caster type would start beating on the same BAM as me which throws me off of the rhythm of the fight becuase the BAM would change it's facing and attacks to react to teh new person.  This of course has gotten me killed a couple of times and then they just finish off the BAM that I already took a nice chunk out of.  

    Some games I wish they either go all or nothing with their tap system

    "If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    The interesting thing is that LotRO recently adopted an open tapping system and it has worked great.  No longer do I worry about ruining someones xp or drops, but I can also help them.  It's just a more friendly system.

    In all I've met some people over the last 12 years of online gaming that have become very close acquaintances or friends, but never has that been because of the forced grouping mechanic.  It's always been because we clicked while chatting in town or out adventuring, something I've been able to do in any mmo I've played.

    /salute.

    My thoughts exactly. That was the most alienating thing in LotRO for years... Once I rode through Angmar and saw a player with a wrong pull, only seconds from defeat so I hopped off, healed him and pull off 2 adds. After they're gone he cursed at me for why interfering, he got less xp... After that (until this late open tapping change with Rohan) I never helped anybody random unless it was explicitly asked. Open tapping is a nice addition and makes the in-game world a much friendlier place.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,192Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by strangiato2112

    I found Rift to be one of the least social MMOs.

    Rifts, invasions, and IAs are soloing with people around you.  You see them, they are in your group, but they dont interact with you even if you try and are basically NPCs.

    However, this isnt all Rifts fault, a lot of it is the players.  You can try to strike up a conversation but good luck getting a reply.

    The trend towards games where you are constantly in motion or hitting an ability or dodging an attack has really crippled socilaizing.  you cant afford to chat.  Since downtime is long gone so is most socializing among strangers.

    Why exactly do I want to chat it up with you?  Why is there this unwritten expectation that we need to try and form some sort of BFF thing?  We're there to kill things (since 99% of the content is about killing stuff) and get loot.

    Do you walk into your local coffee house, sit down at a strangers table, and start chatting them?  I don't.  I also don't appreciate when strangers come up and try that.  Why would I do that in a game?

    We're all different but I tend to take time getting to know people.  People come and go so often in life that I wait to reserve that sort of investment for those who stick around.  If I see you out a lot while adventuring I'll probably see if you want to group up, or I might say hi again and toss you some buffs.  Eventually, if that happens a lot and I like you, then I'll ask to send a friend invite and look for you to adventure with.

    I would agree that the standard quest system detracts from that because if I'm on a quest line and you're on a different one then I have little incentive to group up or chat with you.  GW2 was a huge step in the right direction with that regard because, outside of the story line, I'm not tied into doing anything in particular.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,192Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Po_gg
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    The interesting thing is that LotRO recently adopted an open tapping system and it has worked great.  No longer do I worry about ruining someones xp or drops, but I can also help them.  It's just a more friendly system.

    In all I've met some people over the last 12 years of online gaming that have become very close acquaintances or friends, but never has that been because of the forced grouping mechanic.  It's always been because we clicked while chatting in town or out adventuring, something I've been able to do in any mmo I've played.

    /salute.

    My thoughts exactly. That was the most alienating thing in LotRO for years... Once I rode through Angmar and saw a player with a wrong pull, only seconds from defeat so I hopped off, healed him and pull off 2 adds. After they're gone he cursed at me for why interfering, he got less xp... After that (until this late open tapping change with Rohan) I never helped anybody random unless it was explicitly asked. Open tapping is a nice addition and makes the in-game world a much friendlier place.

    Thanks Po_gg.  I had exactly the same experience and have even been on the receiving end of a griefer who followed just to screw with my xp and drops.  The new system has transformed the game in a good way.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,714Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    I had exactly the same experience and have even been on the receiving end of a griefer who followed just to screw with my xp and drops.  The new system has transformed the game in a good way.

    I think I can beat that :) (it's only funny in retrospect, back then I even reported his a*s)

    Probably I wrote the story before, with my first rk I got tailed by a hunter, who kept shotting my targets... Fiery ridicule is a common opener at low-level rk's because of the DoT (not to mention because of the slow activation time it's not much useful during combat).

    So I looked around (bastard was always stealthed), started Fiery ridicule, and before it fired off he shot the mob from stealth. Then my attack went off, turned the mob on me, I had to kill it, he got the xp, he got the loot, he got the laughs. It went on for about 20 minutes, then I reported and switched to an another toon... (if I started with a quicker spell, he just shot the mob anyways for reducing my xp...)

    It was a very bad and pointless mechanic - Turbine said it was for reducing powerlevel and exploits, but the side-effects were much worse (and it didn't prevent powerleveling either)

  • rafalex007rafalex007 dubaiPosts: 244Member
    Originally posted by KingofHartz
    I never felt any need to socialize in gw2. Given my playstyle was limited to wvwvw pvp only. In wvwvwpvp the onky thing you needed to do was follow the zerg and mash buttons. So when does this come to ps3 again?

    okay at first i had a flaming post for you, but hey instaed here is an advice:

    in WvW ask for Ts informion (mostly every server has a main Ts channle, there you will find most off people that are playing in you map, (plans and tactic {at least that is how things are in my server})

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,266Member Uncommon

    "People do sometimes go in and fight alongside one another without actually talking to each other. I’ve done it myself a couple of times."

     

    Only a couple huh?

     

     

     

  • VesaviusVesavius BristolPosts: 7,641Member Uncommon

    In my experience, if you don't have forced grouping then you have, as a result of an ever decreasing circle of players to draw from because it gets ever more frustrating to build a group when everyone starts to roll soloable classes because they can't get a group, you have forced soloing.

     

    Why should you be forced to group in a game, I hear some ask... Well, why should I be forced to solo? I mean, you at least can go play single player games to solo, but if these games are aimed at the lone player then where do I go as a grouper?

     

    How many times have I looked for a group in a solocentric game, not found one, and been forced to solo? A lot. How many times has a group floundered because everyone has opted to take soloable classes over actual needed ones in solocentric games? A Lot, a lot more in my experience than back in EQ with it's forced grouping.

     

    And when they *are* finally forced into a group in solocentric games, to run a dungeon or some such, has the focus on solo play created better more communicative players? I think not. A lack of forced grouping and other inter dependent play also detracts from peer policing via reputation, which as ofc helped bring us to the toxic communities of many games.

     

    I agree with the people here saying that GW2 isn't a social game at all and that playing alongside other people isn't the same as playing with them in the slightest. That game just offers the illusion of social play, mainly.

     
     
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