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Is casual grouping (eg Rift, GW2) really that awesome and THE solution?

cutthecrapcutthecrap nobusinessofyoursPosts: 600Member

Both GW2 and Rift will use a form of casual grouping. And While I think it's a good solution and a step up, I also wonder: will it really offer everything that some people are pinning all their hopes on it to be?

I've played Rift for a while, and while it was true that casual grouping happened a lot and was less of a fuss than grouping in other MMO's, there was a hell of a lot of times that I casually grouped up, and that there was no talk at all, people left and joined, as much of strangers to eachother as they were before. It certainly didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in the early MMO's like EQ or DAoC.

Heck, even the grouping on the classic EQ servers that were started last year and a few years back didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in EQ a decade ago, and the people joining those EQ progression servers were EQ enthusiasts.

 

Which makes me somewhat sceptic about it: sure, casual grouping in GW2 will be fun too, but will it really be the savior of community on servers that some think it'll be, or will it be like I csaw happen in Rift?

To me, it looks like the MMORPG community has changed from what it was, and that's the main problem these days: maybe it was because everyone was new to MMORPG's and more openminded and accepting towards things, or maybe the demography of MMO gamers of those early years is different from the current MMO demography, more roleplay and RPG enthusiasts and people who were more flexible in many ways, or MMO gamers having become jaded where before in the beginning they were fresh and eager to play in an MMORPG.

I don't know what the reason exactly is; but I do know that MMO gamers back then managed to cope with a lot more stuff and still have fun than now, where as now the majority of MMO gamers have less tolerance, patience and flexibility to handle those.

Things that MMO gamers dealt with in early MMO's - forced grouping, XP death penalty, item loss - would have the current average MMO gamer running for the hills screaming 'fire'.

 

So, will casual grouping like in GW2 be the savior for server community? I sure hope so, but how MMO community is these days, I'm kinda sceptic about it. I know I'll think thrice before I pick my definitive server.

 

edit: a picture that I think describes very well this difference between MMO gamers back then and now is this one

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Comments

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 18,020Member Uncommon

    i don't think it is the solution but it is a step in the right direction at least.

    MMO communities used to be really tight but now you usually only socialize with your guild if even that. 

    For MMOs to get awesome communities again we need more social stuff but you have to start somewhere.

  • TorikTorik London, ONPosts: 2,343Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by cutthecrap

    Both GW2 and Rift will use a form of casual grouping. And While I think it's a good solution and a step up, I also wonder: will it really offer everything that some people are pinning all their hopes on it to be?

    I've played Rift for a while, and while it was true that casual grouping happened a lot and was less of a fuss than grouping in other MMO's, there was a hell of a lot of times that I casually grouped up, and that there was no talk at all, people left and joined, as much of strangers to eachother as they were before. It certainly didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in the early MMO's like EQ or DAoC.

    Heck, even the grouping on the classic EQ servers that were started last year and a few years back didn't resemble the group bonding that happened in EQ a decade ago, and the people joining those EQ progression servers were EQ enthusiasts.

     

    Which makes me somewhat sceptic about it: sure, casual grouping in GW2 will be fun too, but will it really be the savior of community on servers that some think it'll be, or will it be like I csaw happen in Rift?

    To me, it looks like the MMORPG community has changed from what it was, and that's the main problem these days: maybe it was because everyone was new to MMORPG's and more openminded and accepting towards things, or maybe the demography of MMO gamers of those early years is different from the current MMO demography, more roleplay and RPG enthusiasts and people who were more flexible in many ways, or MMO gamers having become jaded where before in the beginning they were fresh and eager to play in an MMORPG.

    I don't know what the reason exactly is; but I do know that MMO gamers back then managed to cope with a lot more stuff and still have fun than now, where as now the majority of MMO gamers have less tolerance, patience and flexibility to handle those.

    Things that MMO gamers dealt with in early MMO's - forced grouping, XP death penalty, item loss - would have the current average MMO gamer running for the hills screaming 'fire'.

     

    So, will casual grouping like in GW2 be the savior for server community? I sure hope so, but how MMO community is these days, I'm kinda sceptic about it. I know I'll think thrice before I pick my definitive server.

     

    edit: a picture that I think describes very well this difference between MMO gamers back then and now is this one

     

    I will admit that I am way more jaded and cynical than I was when I first started playing MMORPGs.   I played EVE as my second MMORPG and that game burned a lot of idealism out of me. 

    This cynicism is also a big reason why I no longer put up with things like forced grouping, harsh death penalties or item loss.  In the 'old days' I was naive enough to think that putting up with all this inane stuff would give access to special parts of the game that would make the game experience even better.  After a while I realized that that was a big lie.  If a game had those grindy elements, it was becaue the devs wanted to keep me playing and paying.  All I had to look to was more of the same forever. 

    One thing I noticed about that cartoon.  The game portrayed does not seem to have changed at all over the years.  The player seems to be grinding the same crab mobs as he was years before.

  • ElderRatElderRat Syracuse, NYPosts: 899Member

    I cannot speak to GW2 because I have no experience playing it. I have played Rift and the casual grouping that you mention is, to me, more like solo play in a group. For me being in a group should mean some communication... never noticed much of that in Rift.  If this is the future single player games will be my choice.

    Currently bored with MMO's.

  • gladosrev2gladosrev2 BialystokPosts: 203Member

    The issue with the old grouping system was the tagging of mobs. In short it led to making every player you meet an enemy, competition, something annoying. That's as asocial as you can get, clearly going against the creed of MMO's being 'social games'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can still group in GW2, you can stay and play together, in a way more natural, and unbound way.

    Speaking of how bad tagging of mobs is, I have jsut installed AoC, to kill time until GW2, and found a player killing my mobs in the questing area. I don't really feel like inviting him and chatting right now, but the game forces me to if I want the kills shared. So, I just logged out, and will continue later once the spot is free. If this were GW2 I could just join the killing and pretend I'm alone and it would not interfere with either of us.

    The old systems are just badly designed. So yes, GW2 should cleave the path and fix many of the mistakes the former games made.

    My Guild Wars 2 First Beta Weekend "reviewette" : http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/4944570/thread/349125#4944570

  • SephastusSephastus New Brunswick, NJPosts: 448Member Uncommon

    MMO's, just like any other multiplayer game, is much more fun when played with friends. There lies the problem. When most of us started playing an MMO (particularly our first one), it was because we did it with a friend(s). Even the most boring and tedius of tasks becomes much more engaging and fun when done with like-minded individuals.

    Alot of the MMOs coming out now are doing the "solo game with grouping and raiding as an addition." And unfortunately, due to WoW's success in doing this, most gaming companies believe this is the only way to go to make money. The true joy of playing with your friends and forced to have interactions with strangers (for better or worse) has been removed.

    In EQ, and many of the first MMOs, were all about getting a group to complete objectives, and this was what gave them that spark of life. Now, its a sad solo existance where you solo to gain levels, and group to gain equipment.

    FFXI, while concidered "hardcore" was a step in the right direction (imo) that was unfortunately not imitated. If grouping was required to gain levels, not just casual grouping, this genre would not be so fickle and, some would even go as far as to say, dying.

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    You can't force people to join and then delegate certain people to specific roles and call it "open" grouping.

    They should have probably called it "hot-join" grouping or something.

    Even "public groups" is a fair term to use.

    The only thing WAR and Rift did differently in regards to "open grouping" was create a proximity based one-click way to join the exact same rigid group structure as all the other MMOs before it.

     

    But I think you and many others truly underestimate the impact of having no set group roles (holy trinity) and placing no restrictions on cooperation.

  • cutthecrapcutthecrap nobusinessofyoursPosts: 600Member

    Originally posted by Torik

    One thing I noticed about that cartoon.  The game portrayed does not seem to have changed at all over the years.  The player seems to be grinding the same crab mobs as he was years before.

    I found he interesting part of the cartoon was that it wasn't the game environment that was changed, but how the player perceived them had changed: before he played an MMORPG and everything looked magical and a big adventure, later on he plays an MMORPG and it has translated into win stats. Same environment, only the MMO player doesn't see some magical world anymore, just a game to beat.

     


    Originally posted by gladosrev2

    The issue with the old grouping system was the tagging of mobs. In short it led to making every player you meet an enemy, competition, something annoying. That's as asocial as you can get, clearly going against the creed of MMO's being 'social games'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can still group in GW2, you can stay and play together, in a way more natural, and unbound way.

    Speaking of how bad tagging of mobs is, I have jsut installed AoC, to kill time until GW2, and found a player killing my mobs in the questing area. I don't really feel like inviting him and chatting right now, but the game forces me to if I want the kills shared. So, I just logged out, and will continue later once the spot is free. If this were GW2 I could just join the killing and pretend I'm alone and it would not interfere with either of us.

    The old systems are just badly designed. So yes, GW2 should cleave the path and fix many of the mistakes the former games made.

    But that's the thing: in the old days players really grouped and bonded despite the bigger roadblocks and limitations like killsteals and camping happening. The hindrances were larger but players also still managed to overcome those obstacles and communities thrived despite of a less accomodating gaming environment - or maybe because of?

     

    You give an example of a player killing mobs in the questing area in AoC, and how you feel forced to invite or chat with him: the funny or maybe sad thing is that this is exactly  what happened in the older games: people were forced or encouraged to talk with strangers or invite them, so both could work together and gain your kills. This happened many, many times in those early years, and many times those former strangers became guildmates or ended up on your friends list and you grouped up with them often for great fun.

    Your behaviour how you handled the situation in AoC isn't unique, it's exactly what I think is wrong or different between MMO gamers back then and how the average MMO gamer is now: the same situation, only back then people ended up grouping and bonded and sometimes even became great guildies or friends, while now people just log out, or complain that they're forced to invite another player or group up and work with him.

    It's why I'm sceptic about community forming capacity of MMO gamers these days: it almost feels like the atmosphere isn't fertile for it anymore.

  • XzenXzen Los Alamos, NMPosts: 2,607Member Common

    I wouldn't call it casual grouping. It's just grouping with out the hastle of having to ask some one if they want to "date" you or not. If I'm going down the road in real life and I see a person being attacked by a pack of wild dogs should I have to ask them if we can "party up" before dealing with the wolves?

  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,229Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Torik

    This cynicism is also a big reason why I no longer put up with things like forced grouping, harsh death penalties or item loss.  In the 'old days' I was naive enough to think that putting up with all this inane stuff would give access to special parts of the game that would make the game experience even better.  After a while I realized that that was a big lie.  If a game had those grindy elements, it was becaue the devs wanted to keep me playing and paying.  All I had to look to was more of the same forever. 

    One thing I noticed about that cartoon.  The game portrayed does not seem to have changed at all over the years.  The player seems to be grinding the same crab mobs as he was years before.

     

    That's the funny thing about people. Perceptions counts for a lot. 

    If people see a guy with a big exclamation mark over his head saying, "Fetch 15 logs of wood" they will scoff and cry about how games are full of stupid fedex and kill 10 rats quests, and how they're just a grindy treadmill.

    But you take that player and put them into a sandbox, and say, "You can build a small hut if you want! Just collect 1500 logs and 423 pieces of string. And they'll eat it up as if it's the most amazing thing ever.  Just look at the success of minecraft. It's a fun game for a few minutes here and there, kinda like virtual legos. 

    If an NPC gave someone a quest to "break 75,000 blocks to create a castle" no one would want to do it and they would bash the game for horrible repetative game design. But put that player in a world with a pickaxe and say, "Hey you can break blocks to make a castle!" They will spend the next 3 weeks clicking on blocks.  Quite hilarious imho.

    Just like calculator the guy made in minecraft. Grats, you made a calculator . . . I mean, really?

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    Grouping in particular touches on a lot of very individual motivations and differences between how introverted/extraverted people are.  More systems will mean more experiments to see what does and doesn't create fun environments.  Nothing is ever "THE" solution. 

  • taulutussitaulutussi dPosts: 37Member

    I don't think there's enough downtime in mmos these days to allow any sort of conversations to happen. Certainly it can be argued that downtime is bad design and is just standing between fun and you, but I think it's the only time you can even type to your party members without hampering your performance.

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Tolland, CTPosts: 1,614Member Uncommon

       Yea people are in a super rush today. Even DDO which or used to encourage grouping gets a bad rap because people want to rush through, which in ddo totally kills the dungeon experience.  The only game I truly enjoyed grouping was Shadowbane which was a sandbox world PvP game , you had to group to survive and once you were in a group you had to communicate to survive.  SWG had a social component as everyone met in the cantina to chat, chatting in the cantina was more fun than swg combat.  eq pretty much had forced grouping cause the mobs were hard to kill and people felt "well if I am forced to be in a group I might as well socialize".

  • MeleagarMeleagar Nunyadambidness, TXPosts: 407Member

    People tend to become what their environment fosters, and certain environments attract certain kinds of people, and repel others. Since GW2 is different from the ground up, I suggest that we have no idea, really, how the community will shape up, but based on the fundamental mechanisms of the game,I think that it will foster a community  that is more centered around fun and comraderie and less on one-upsmanship and exclusivity.

  • eddieg50eddieg50 Tolland, CTPosts: 1,614Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by taulutussi

    I don't think there's enough downtime in mmos these days to allow any sort of conversations to happen. Certainly it can be argued that downtime is bad design and is just standing between fun and you, but I think it's the only time you can even type to your party members without hampering your performance.

       This is true, everything is on super easy mode so who needs to group and you just continue cause there is no need to heal

  • StuporityStupority EspooPosts: 53Member

    I've had some great experiences with PUGs in many games as well as bad ones. Ok you probably won't take down the hardest boss ni the game or a premade group of e-sport teens in PvP with a random PUG but for the more casual purposes I'm still going to keep on joining pugs and trying to make the best out of them. I've noticed that an enjoyable PUG usually boils down to two things: a strong person taking the lead as an enlightened dictator and a little luck with the rest of the group not having too many asocial ignoramuses, "anarchists", plain stupid or just illiterate people,

    I've also been in some truly horrible guilds and thus guild groups/raids which were exactly as bad as bad pugs. So I've come to this order of how I play: 

                       good kin group > good pug > solo > bad kin group == bad pug

    Recently I've had so many consecutive disappointments in joining new guilds that I've almost given up (I actually don't know anybody else IRL who plays games like I do to hook up with in games except for my nephew who is an agnry griefer and a gankster with whom I'll have nothing to do inside games:).  

    What to add to the topic of  the decline (and soon the fall I fear) of social playstyle and considerate and respectful attitude towards your fellow players? Can't think of anything that hasn't been said before.  But it's obvious that this makes it harder and harder to find good kin groups and pugs and while you don't want to play in bad ones the only thing you can rely is playing solo. 

     

  • RelgyrosRelgyros Brownsville, PAPosts: 5Member

    I've only experienced Rift as a F2P, but in the instances for which they apply Casual grouping, I don't tend to view thas as 'awesome' or a great solution.  During the times I have joined a Rift event and ended up having a casual party form, everyone seems to be performing individually, with little to no attempt to communicate, and not even a resolving event /cheer or "Thanks all".

    I think one of the real problems people have with the social aspect is the frequency of which disrespectful conversation overwrites attempts at quality socializing.  How many times have you attempted to start up a conversation over a general chat in recent times where you didn't get trolled after the first or second sentence, regardless of topic?  It's a really sad state.  I think more and more people intentionally don't socialize just to hopefully reduce the amount of garbage they see on their screen.

    I'm not sure where that puts the majority of the onus, unfortunately.  I feel like the game developers can facilitate it, but at what cost?  I feel like the general gamers can facilitate it, but will they stop spamming a button and running long enough to /wave?  I feel like guilds and groups could be more open to people seeking a positive environment...

    We create our communities.

  • cali59cali59 B, NYPosts: 1,634Member

    I think (hope) that some of the design features of GW2 beyond just the casual grouping are what brings the community together.

     

    It's not just being able to kill mobs without tagging, it's that everyone gets full xp and loot rights for helping kill mobs.  It's that dynamic events scale up with more people.  More mobs spawning means more xp and loot.  The game passively incentivizes you to stay around other people.

    Dynamic events chain together to give you a natural reason to stick together as well.  Instead of people just scattering, you're going to naturally continue on to the next event.  There's no reason not to.

    There's going to be as little griefing and competition as possible.  Not only does everyone get a whack at every gathering node, everyone has every gathering profession.  They want people to not even feel like they're holding other people up if they go off to mine something.

    There's also cross profession combos and everyone can rez anyone in order to give people a natural way to work together and perhaps start a conversation.

    Even things like not having endgame raiding.  In other games, leveling an alt is a chore you don't want to do.  You just want to be max level already so you're looking for the quickest way.  With GW2, you don't have to play one game before you play another game.  You can enjoy the world at your own pace.

    The game also automatically sidekicks you down when you do lower level content.  If you see someone on your friends list and you're now 20 levels above him, you can immediately teleport somewhere and go play with them instead of other games where you just unfriend because you're never going to group again.

    You can do a dungeon with any 5 professions, so you can play with whoever you want and not have to wait for certain classes.

     

    It's all these things combined which I think are going to make GW2 all about community.  It's not just one feature, it's the whole game designed from the ground up to encourage it or at least remove all barriers to socializing.

    "Gamers will no longer buy the argument that every MMO requires a subscription fee to offset server and bandwidth costs. It's not true – you know it, and they know it." -Jeff Strain, co-founder of ArenaNet, 2007

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon

    I don't think grouping will ever be THE solution to this problem. Having more open / easier grouping does help, but you need to have a plethora of ingame mechanics that encourage socializing, and not many MMOs do this. So far, it seems like GW2 has a number of things that will help, but it's really hard to say what (if anything) will give us a more tightly knit community ala when MMOs were first being made.

    To be honest, I think the general mentality of MMO gamers has changed / warped so much that it might not even be possible to have a game like that nowadays. The closest I've seen recently would be LotRO, and even then it only happened in pockets of the game. Perhaps once people are able to start focusing on the fun aspect of games, instead of equating fun with min-maxing / powerlvling, we will start to see a bit of a paradigm shift.

  • romanator0romanator0 Glendora, CAPosts: 2,382Member

    Simply removing mob-tagging and kill-stealling and not penalizing people for being near each other in the open world will go a long way in in bringing people together and possibly improving the community. Forcing people to compete with each and every person around them for no reason at all does nothing but drive them away from each other.

    image

  • ComafComaf Chicago, ILPosts: 1,154Member Common

    It's the solution for people with busy schedules because as many of us have spammed elsewhere, games like GW2, Rift, heck I can say WoW due to dungeon finder and instancing in general, aren't requiring community building and in depth get to know you mmo RPG experiences.  I'll never enjoy a game like GW2 as much as a real mmorpg that takes real investment in time and personality, but I will enjoy it for what it is: a quick fix taste of pvp.

     

     But, as I've said elsewhere, if I didn't have such a heavy schedule, I'd go play an old school mmorpg (since there aren't any real mmorpgs on the market recently).  Something where there aren't any instances or cross server strangers that you'll never care about or see again.

     

    I'd probably play Dark Age of Camelot.  I loved 44 classes and 24 races dividied between three separate realms.  Each realm felt like a different mmorpg.  None of this cross questline crap to promote bad pvp.  When we pvp'd it meant something.  We took territory and those territories spelled out to benefits for your entire realm.  If you were a success on the battlefield with your guild, everyone knew it because your guild name was on the castle banners. 

     

    Or I'd play Asheron's Call.  Horribly dated graphics but what an amazing community and some of the most fun questing/mob grinding I've ever seen.  It wasn't processed and boring like SW:ToR where I slammed the space bar to death to get through the endless chatter about quests and storylines that put me to sleep (I read George R.R. Martin, Steven King, Koontz, Tad Williams, etc., so I do have higher expectations).

     

    I'd play Shadowbane if that were still around.  Best pvp I've ever experienced - of course I'd be on the culturally divided server. 

     

    But these games take investment and time.  You have to help (you should rather) build and contribute to the community.  You don't have processed instancing for pve or pvp so what you do matters.  You have a reputation to uphold.

    image
  • garretthgarretth Chandler, AZPosts: 316Member

    Originally posted by Loke666

    i don't think it is the solution but it is a step in the right direction at least.

    MMO communities used to be really tight but now you usually only socialize with your guild if even that. 

    For MMOs to get awesome communities again we need more social stuff but you have to start somewhere.

    I agree...to get a great community, the dev's have to build the tools for us to do 'social things'.  

    When we are all running around focusing on leveling then we don't pay much attention to other players.

    I'm hoping for a great GW2 community...but that will only happen if we take the time to be 'social'.

     

    Believe it or not, but WOW does have some social tools...that little campfire is one.   When someone builds one, I just want to sit down and chat with them, and maybe cook a little too.

    In AC2 there was music...if you found an instrument, then you could play it with others...again there was a big bonfire that folks like to hang around and play.

     

  • KellerKeller UtrechtPosts: 254Member

    The casual grouping was in some other games. Basicly when something was happening at an outdoor location, people would join forces. Most of the time you didn't need class x or class y. It was just about numbers and play your class. With instanced dungeons, groups would have a limit of how many players could join, class x was a requirement, you could not walk into said group, because you did not share the same instance.

    Casual groups or dynamic groups are what a true MMORPG should be and not doing some pre-made instanced dungeon, limited to only those in the group.

  • evilastroevilastro EdinburghPosts: 4,270Member

    For the purpose of leveling, I think its great. Having nice big dynamic events that get everyone working together, but without the hassle of arranging a perfect group setup. There are still dungeons in both games while leveling, its not like they have been removed from the equation.

    If anything, its taken the solo to max level mentality and made it more social, especially in Guild Wars where you can help rally your fallen comrades. Its nice knowing someone has your back while you are taking on a common foe. And it doesnt exclude people from content by having respawn timers on cool bosses throughout the landscape, everyone is free to contribute without hurting someone elses reward.

    I know some people like full dungeon crawlers from start to finish, but we have already seen how popular those have turned out to be. EQ2 had forced grouping at launch and it got steamrolled by the more casual WoW. Vanguard, while buggy, was still very playable at launch, but people hated that you couldnt progress much past level 20 without a group.

    Dont get me wrong, I like doing dungeons while leveling, I do it in every game I play. But given the choice between solo content and dynamic group content (which aside from a few niche games, is all the choice there will be from this point onwards) I would gladly take the latter.

    I would be disappointed if they removed all organised dungeons in favour of dynamic events, but this hasnt been the case yet.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,752Member Uncommon

          Hahaha it still cracks me up when people think Rift introduced casual grouping to the genre......Basically they took the same exact principle that they used in Warhammer's public quests.....Don't give RIft the credit when they just stole the idea.

  • natuxatunatuxatu Denver, COPosts: 1,371Member

    Guild Wars 2 is different in that there are epic battles in the persistant world that clearly require some communication, unlike Rift.

    Also, I think it is the solution for the main pve content.. If you dont' have any friends to party with... you'll just be doing the content alone in most MMOs.. this brings people together so you don't feel so lonely.

    Plus there are still dungeons in GW2 that require major team work and will be were good groups come into play.

    image

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