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[Column] General: Where's the Social?

13

Comments

  • sacredfoolsacredfool prague, TXPosts: 760Member Uncommon

    It's all about the change of pace. If a game has a slow pace then you have time to make friends. If it's all about "run here, run there", without any thinking involved - bah, not even giving you the TIME to think, then obviously no one will even mutter a word. 

    All dungeon finders, teleports and other gimmicks in games just cut down on time "downtime" between the rush of combat, making socialising hard. 

    I am not saying combat should be slow paced. I am saying it has to be either complex enough to force people to talk even if all they talk about is maximising DPS - alternatively it needs to give players a break and a chance to say "Hi!" and talk - for example by making them run together to another area.


    Originally posted by nethaniah

    Seriously Farmville? Yeah I think it's great. In a World where half our population is dying of hunger the more fortunate half is spending their time harvesting food that doesn't exist.


  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,680Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by rodingo    Other than Eve though, is there really now or have been in the past a game that wasn't designed around that as its core?

     I listed several in my previous posts, as well as answers to the other questions you present in this post, so it's possible we have a miscommunication thing going on here. If your profile is correct and you're here in GA, let me know if you're ever headed to an IGDA/GGDA meet or in the Stone Mountain area. We can get a group together and talk Community in MMOs.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • daltaniousdaltanious waPosts: 2,146Member Uncommon

    "I used to be really good at making friends on the Internet."

    Khm, wondering if OP knows what word friend mean. Games can be good for socializing, but not making friends.

  • MikeMossMikeMoss Ada, MIPosts: 62Member Uncommon

    The review pretty much mirrors my experience today.

     

    I started with Ultima Online and I remember when we would sit around in each others house and talk.

     

    I would comunicate with the same people over a period of a year or more, and we would adventure together, trade stuff, and generally act like we were friends in a real world.

     

    Now I don't do that anymore, but I do have a couple of real friends who play.

     

    With one friend in particular I've played many Online Games, from WOW to The Secret World, (our current game) and we talk on Skype while we play so we can talk without typing or looking at the chat window.

     

    It's a lot more fun, but it totally removes us from what other people are doing.

     

    I'm sure that many other people do this as well.

     

    I make the chat window as small and invisible as possible, only looking to see how much XP I got for something but never to see what other people are chating about anymore.

     

    Mike

     
     

    If you shoot a mime, do you have to use a silencer?

  • thecapitainethecapitaine West Chester, PAPosts: 401Member Uncommon

    I've always wondered why only a fraction of a game's playerbase ever bother with the official forums.  There are probably lots of reasons but I think one of the biggest is that people are content just to play the game and aren't interested in the metagame, balancing, min/maxing, etc that goes on.  If that's true then I think it applies to socializing in game as well.  A large portion of today's MMO gamers just want to log in and play.  They're not concerned about making friends (maybe they play with their own crew), their investment in the game only extends for as long as the game remains fun and interesting to them. 

     

    What for MMORPG.com might be consistently controversial-- LFG and autogrouping and instancing-- actually came about to improve the experience of people who simply login to blow off steam for an hour without worrying about making new friends, researching the best build, or getting a world's first kill.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  With so many vastly superior socialization tools than a fast-scrolling chatbox and blocky avatars, people can communicate and spend time with people they're far more likely to get along with than that cleric you need for a particular MMO dungeon. 

     

    I respect that people are longing for a return to more in-depth social experiences in these games of ours but saying it's just poor design without looking at how much players, tools, and the world has also changed doesn't adequately address the subject.

  • TithenonTithenon Fountain, COPosts: 109Member

    Poignant article, and I agree with you, Adam.  My only MMORPG, right now, is one not a lot of people really care all that much about, anymore, likely because of the mistakes made by the producers and continuing developers, Lord of the Rings Online.  I talked two of my cousins, and both of my sons into playin LotRO because I knew I wouldn't be able to make many new friends, and I was right.

     

    I am not an extremely social person in the first place and, quite frankly, I would play a tabletop RPG with a group of friends over playing an MMO, any day of the week and twice on Sunday, if I could find a group.  But, I guess, a lot of us are finding cause to be anti-social together.

     

    I think one of the problems I have is, like you, I will go through an instance, or team up with someone to solve twenty or thirty tasks, and then we'll go our own way.  Oh, by then I will have added you as a friend, but we will not have said much to one another over the two hours or so and, at the end, you and I consider one-another someone we can call on, acquaintances, but not friends.  I will have said hello in the beginning, and we might converse about what to do next, and I will say fair journey when we part, but there is no substance in-between.  No talking about March Madness, or the insanity of North Korea's leader, or Mahmoud Imanutjob, or the price of gas, or how our families are doing.  I don't think it has anything to do with the games, the new structures, mechanics, and goals within the game; rather, I can't see your face, I don't have the first fraggin' clue who you are, and I'm not willing to give you infomation until you give me some.

     

    This is all as a result of having been socialized due to our present socio-political-economic environment; I'm poor and can't seem to get my math score in my continuing college very high, for whatever reason, and I'm depressed because I'm a Bosnia vet, and our government has us living in a climate of fear, scared of terrorists and a 2nd American Revolution, and NONE of our news is positive, and we don't have GREAT music artists and actors like we used to, to inspire us to find more and better in ourselves.

     

    This translates into the game.

     

    I had made friends, a couple of brothers from Macedonia, in LotRO, a couple of great guys, but one was having to kill himself solely for work so he could support himself, his college-bound younger brother -who was also working overtime while attending university- and their mother, as they all continued to live in the same house.  Unfortunately, when their three-week version of Spring Break ended, about three weeks ago, that was it for them.  I haven't seen them, since.  Of course, they went from 0 to 60 in that three-week span, and I'm still working on 52 after nearly three years of playing the game, so that might be contributing to the lack of communication, as well.

     

    People are depressed and, in general, uncertain about the next moves in the world, they're weary of playing through more of the same that we've had for the past decade or so, weary of gaining new friends in a game where no one ever sees one-another and the climate of trust we used to have is eroded to dust, and there's one more factor that's fairly important, here...

     

    There are so many raids, large-group areas and dungeons, Small and large Fellowship tasks, that completing the game without being forced to join others is wearing pretty damn thin.  Now, I've joined several groups of folks, whether I had a task to complete, or not, simply to help them, not because I was forced to, but because I was given a choice to.  I, for one, am desperately sick and tired of being REQUIRED to join or group, or die in the execution of the game.  This group-or-die mentality strangles the choice players SHOULD have as to whether or not they will join a group and complete a task, or the several that might automatically feed onto your character when you enter an instance, and it needs to be removed!  How...?

     

    How tough can it be to write an algorithm that takes into account the varied stats the dungeon might call for, total or average those out, by level and power, and then build the opposition within a dungeon to match, or slightly exceed, that number, so players, whether solo, grouped, or in a raid, can take on that dungeon and have a challenge and a good time, getting through it, without wiping a thousand times (I'm looking at you, WoW) or running into creatures several levels below you, when you're completely spec'd out based on research you shouldn't HAVE to do to play the game, and a spec you don't want for YOUR character, and have your butt handed to you, anyway (LotRO, this one's for you)!

     

    For my tabletop game, I built an Excel file which does this.  I put in the party member's names, their important statistics, and I have three ratings that glean from these statistics to determine their survivability: Offensive, Defensive, and Arcane.  I then decided which monster type, or monsters, I wanted to put into the game -some of them include bosses and champions, but many of them do not- and I build up the number of these until the comparison ratio I also have built into the file reads one-to-one, or perhaps a little tougher for the party to have a real challenge.  I do this for every single encounter my players fight in.  The functional rows number 7, only four of which hold formula's, and then each character and each creature gets their own row.  The functional columns number 18, where their stats come in.  So, what's the problem with having a party when, on entering the instance the statistics that are important to that instance are calculated, totaled, averaged, and then opposition equal to or somewhat in excess of their power level is slammed against them, PER ENCOUNTER, so there is a challenge to be had?

     

    Oh, and as for the Looking-for-Group finder, for raids or instances, I would be willing to bet you that less than 10% of folks ever use the thing.  I've tried to use it, as an experiment, over a dozen times in LotRO to find a group, and everyone's too busy using the LFG channel to look into using the finder.  I don't think non-communication is the problem, there.

     

    Adam, I don't believe this is a problem with the game so much as it is the people, and developers, I believe, need to work around this to make it happen where solo players are rewarded appropriately for their play and are not left out of small and large groups, and raids, simply because the player isn't keen to join those and, thus, can't level properly, and then several other incentives need to be given to allow players to make the choice whether or not they will group, rather than group-or-die.

     

    Finally, MMORPGs are supposed to be for role-playing, but we have quest hubs, and we have merchants, but there's no real place, as there is in role-playing, for players to sit their characters down with one-another, share a virtual drink and a meal, and just talk... can we have that, please?

     
  • XanitraXanitra MOLDEPosts: 26Member
    Agree 100% as well. I miss the good old mmo experience where the game forced you to be social. Very good article, enjoyed it very much, and explains on a whole why I have given up the mmo genre.  Thank you .
  • rodingorodingo Posts: 2,346Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by rodingo    Other than Eve though, is there really now or have been in the past a game that wasn't designed around that as its core?

     I listed several in my previous posts, as well as answers to the other questions you present in this post, so it's possible we have a miscommunication thing going on here. If your profile is correct and you're here in GA, let me know if you're ever headed to an IGDA/GGDA meet or in the Stone Mountain area. We can get a group together and talk Community in MMOs.

     

    I didn't know about IGDA or GGDA until I just now googled it.  The only game studios I knew about in the Atlanta area were Hi-Rez and CCP.  I do know that Atlanta is trying to bring more of that type of business into the state much like what Austin has been doing over the last several years.  But yeh, that sounds like fun. The last time I was in Atlanta was about 6 months ago to take my son to the aquarium there.  I'll take any excuse to get out of Augusta.  The only things to do here are golf and going out to eat.

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

  • MyronAveryMyronAvery Fayetteville, NCPosts: 1Member

    Wow, what an outstanding article. I also agree 100%. As an old gammer, I'm talking all the way back to the days of pen and paper D&D and then early days of Ever Quest. I must say that I do miss in game friendships with other PCs ( Player Character, thats old school for toon). One thing I hate in the games today is how people will not take the time to be friendly, but they sure will to be rude.

    Once again, Outstanding article.

    The Old School Gamer

  • Jerek_Jerek_ tulsa, OKPosts: 409Member

    Great article, but for me personally, I think the social issues with current MMOs aren't as simple as it makes it sound.  The MMOs where I had real friendships and felt like a part of a community were UO, Shadowbane, and SWG.  The MMOs were I had acquaintances and never felt a real connection were WoW, Rift, and SWTOR.

    The first group has a few things in common.  Creating and leveling your character was a relatively minor part of the game.  It determined your playstyle and gave some personality to your character, but it wasn't the focus of the game.  They all had non instanced player owned assets that tied you to the game and server.  I never set out to make friends or be social or even to engage in group activity, I meet people while i was checking out player owned vendors, exploring, or banding together with strangers to fight back against pkers and hostile guilds.

    I played the game and made friends and enemies- this is an important and totally ignored part of being social.  There were players and guilds I absolutely couldn't stand, and not because they made some faction choice at character creation.  It was much more personal than that.

    In the second group of games, developing your character is the whole game, from lvl 1 to the hardest raid.  Nothing physical ties you to the world or server, your home is orgrimmar or stormwind just like the rest of your faction, nobody knows you on sight as a member of that guild from stranglethorn vale or something.  There is no drive to stick around to defend your guild or destroy your enemies because its so impersonal, and you can't ever actually win or lose. 

    These are fundamental design differences that have changed everything about being social in MMOs for me more than LFG tools and saying Hi to strangers ever could.

  • JorendoJorendo EdePosts: 263Member

    Well go play on RP servers. I can't judge other servers as im a RPer. Not saying all RPers are the most friendly people, far from it even. But in general there still is a lot more grouping among RPers. I still play SWToR with the same people i met almost a year ago in the guild that i joined. Met some amazing people with who i build up a great friendship. And that all started by just randomly talking with people.

     

    But in general i agree with this article. Sadly i don't think anything will change. Look at the game industry at a whole. A lot of genre's have been made easy to satisfy the mainstream gamer. The biggest group of gamers and the only group of gamers publishers seem to care about (well Paradox still cares for the niche but they don't fund MMO's as far as i know). Tactical shooters like Rainbow Six...made insanely easy and full of hollywood action to please the mainstream gamer. RTS games.....all made squad based strategy games cause those work better on a console. Same is happening to the MMORPG's, they are made easyer so the mainstream gamer feels better about itself, a challange hardly excists anymore in most games, sure there are some here and there but most games don't require more then following the giant yellow arrow.

     

    Let's just hope that the game industry will change again, that kickstarter produces some old school MMO's again where you need to group up, where MMORPG doesn't mean you play a singleplayer game with thousands of others at the same time. But untill then, this is what we get. Just say hi to the strangers and who know's maybe someone will say hi back.

  • calranthecalranthe stoke on trentPosts: 356Member

    EvE is the only mmo I play that really engages you on the social side, it is still very deadly, loss costs and people group together in ways I have not seen for a long time, I now spend my time in a corp of hundreds part of an alliance of thousands and coalition of who knows how many,  made friends who I class as part of my real life and people I can count on.

     

  • coldandnumbcoldandnumb Gilbertsville, PAPosts: 90Member
    I couldn't have wrote it better myself you basically describe my experience in every mmo that I've played in the last 5 years. It's the main reason why I never stick to any game anymore.

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  • steelheartxsteelheartx Biloxi, MSPosts: 432Member Uncommon

    The bottomline is that there's no need to socilize with your fellow players.  Most of the older games forced players to rely upon each other to achomplish various goals in the game.  Be it raiding, grouping, or just camping a mob spawn for that rare piece of loot.

     

    Now days players can solo through the game without ever having to even talk to other players at all.  So instead of having 1000s of players playing and working together, you have 1000s of soloers (no offense if you prefer to solo play) playing along side 1000s of other soloers.

     

    It's actaully debateable* whether these are true MMOs at all, and future games like Star Citizen and Shroud of the Avatar support this theory with their play alone, play on your own server, or play on our server philosophy.  It's only natural that players (at least many of the older ones) who do wish to socialize find themselves migrating to multi-gaming organizations or mega guilds where they can at least get the community feel that they desperately need.

     

    I still believe in the MMO industry, and still also believe that they are one of the few things that can still bring people from all walks of life together in common interest of the game that they are playing.  think about it, what other form of anything can bring together so many diverse people into one common enviornment?  Nothing that i know of.

     

    Looking for a family that you can game with for life? Check out Grievance at https://www.grievancegaming.org !

  • neve1272neve1272 danville, ILPosts: 43Member Uncommon
    totally feel the same these last several years
  • badgererbadgerer ChchPosts: 90Member

    I'd say that auction houses have been a far greater blow to social interaction than the tools mainly cited here like group finders.

    The benefits for finding good crafters in older games - most of my experience was in Earth & Beyond - were huge, and the discussions which led to a happy transaction were full of the stuff that made the genre so worthy.

    Auction houses have done away entirely with a myriad realm of social interaction. Sourcing, bargaining, reputation & pride, and a reason to meet up for something other than combat . 

    The conveniences of auction houses are an absurdity in a social game. Why not let players rent bots to kill mobs while you're at it?

  • s4ndm4n2006s4ndm4n2006 Baltimore, MDPosts: 54Member
    I don't think the social aspect of mmos has anything to do with the way games are designed.  I think that it's the nature of people.  if you force people to group together they'll create pugs, do their thing and go if they dont' want social interaction and if they do they might make friends from groups.  It's about the people playing more than anything and it wouldn't change by game design.  People were all newer to mmos in the early days so there was more comeraderie to socialize around and now people being familiar with the games they revert back to their real ways.  If they aren't playing to socialize aint nothing in game design that's gonna make them do so.  I never have a problem meeting people and making friends and I am one that has to meet people in game because I don't have real life friends that game.  TBH if I join in on the conversation in my guild on GW2, there's plenty of socializing going on, if  I don't, then there's not.  Nothing wrong with MMOs and their design today IMO.  I think if anything the improvements far outweigh the negatives. 
  • aceofmmosaceofmmos BeogradPosts: 17Member
    Excellent article. Unfortunately, the social aspect of MMOs has faded, and it will take some evolution in MMORPGs generally to restore it.
  • MalcanisMalcanis LondonPosts: 3,191Member

    It's worth thinking about what's required to become "friends" with another human you've never met in real life, only communicated with via text or maybe voice comms.

    How does one generate that emotional linkage?

    Give me liberty or give me lasers

  • MalcanisMalcanis LondonPosts: 3,191Member
    Originally posted by badgerer

    I'd say that auction houses have been a far greater blow to social interaction than the tools mainly cited here like group finders.

    The benefits for finding good crafters in older games - most of my experience was in Earth & Beyond - were huge, and the discussions which led to a happy transaction were full of the stuff that made the genre so worthy.

    Auction houses have done away entirely with a myriad realm of social interaction. Sourcing, bargaining, reputation & pride, and a reason to meet up for something other than combat . 

    The conveniences of auction houses are an absurdity in a social game. Why not let players rent bots to kill mobs while you're at it?

     

    EVE has an incredibly sophisticated player market, and no lack of community. I don't think you're on the right track here.

     

    Give me liberty or give me lasers

  • TkyleTkyle Lebanon, OHPosts: 32Member Uncommon

      I feel it's a combination of game design and the people now days. I don't want to say it's the younger crowd like some but people are not the same as they once was, in game or in rl. I also think the games have just become so busy and set with the single minded idea of just getting from this quest hub to the next as fast as you can.

      Years ago the games might have been more harsh, or tough but they was more relaxed. You could have conversations with others, rp or whatever your fun was. Use Rift for example, the games are just so busy that you are more worried about watching out for this new hated phrase, Dynamic Events to sit back and enjoy conversation or the scenery of the game or god forbid, just go afk for a minute. lol

      Anyhow, I'm guessing this is the way gaming are heading for the future but if so I'm really thinking it'll be hard to keep people for more than a few months.

     

  • BossalinieBossalinie Hattiesburg, MSPosts: 683Member Uncommon
    You can't old school methods to prevail in current games when everything has evolved around the games. Is it the games fault why we no longer have to meet in game to discuss moves/strategies? It's not the devs fault that ventrilo/team speak gave raiders/groupers the ability to remove typing downtime. It's the modernization of our internet driven ideas, and quite frankly, old school mmo concepts fail in this age. I read somewhere a person refused to use a voice program because he didn't want the voice to ruin his perception of the character. He's in for a long road, because every idea around gaming is leaving that notion in the dust.
  • VodunVodun North Bay, ONPosts: 77Member
    Originally posted by Iczer

    I agree fully, my enjoyment of mmo's lately has also waned largely due to friends playing other games that dont fit my taste. Sure I can still get missions or quests and run them but it all feels very empty.

    Over the years I have met a lot of fun and interesting people (sme even IRL as a result) who at one point or another shared my love for the game we were playing. I even enjoyed my co-op sessions in Guild Wars 1 back in the day with random strangers. Without that social element its exactly like playing a SPOG (Single Player Offline Game).

     

    My favorite MMO moment was playing GW1 faction PvP battles with a random group and we had the greatest time together. we meshed so well together that at one point we decided to play "naked" it was my greatest social moment in a game.

    I believe the best online games are ones where you are "forced" to group to achieve your gaming goals. When you are forced to work as a team to overcome the mission/quest, you can then take pride in your contibution to the success of the team. Solo achievements are quick to fade but a group win is long lasting and more meaningful because it was done with other people.

    See you in the world, I now play GW2 WvW mostly and will be playing Defiance starting tomorrow on Xbox.

     
  • VodunVodun North Bay, ONPosts: 77Member

    My favorite MMO moment was playing GW1 faction PvP battles with a random group and we had the greatest time together. we meshed so well together that at one point we decided to play "naked" it was my greatest social moment in a game.

    I believe the best online games are ones where you are "forced" to group to achieve your gaming goals. When you are forced to work as a team to overcome the mission/quest, you can then take pride in your contibution to the success of the team. Solo achievements are quick to fade but a group win is long lasting and more meaningful because it was done with other people.

    See you in the world, I now play GW2 WvW mostly and will be playing Defiance starting tomorrow on Xbox.

  • kostantiskostantis ThessalonikiPosts: 29Member

    2 things:

    1. The introduction of terms like "Downtime" in games where socialization was supposed to be the main attaraction. There is no downtime, only time for socializing while you are doing something else.

    2. Mass market appeal and the mentality of "I want to enjoy the game my way" - i.e. MMORPGs loosing focus of what they are and going for the big bucks!. Where mmoRPGs are treated like single-player action-rush to end-don't care whether those jumping things around me are bots or players-games. Where mmoRPGs are expected to be solo-friendly/exclusive just because someone likes them that way -> they are not the same game...

    But, but! you might say, what is wrong about enjoying the game my way???? Well, I answer, nothing... but of course I do also enjoy a good game of basketball where I have the ball all the time, there are no fouls, no traveling, I am in a swimming pool and using a racket to score home-runs, you know, the way basketball is played.

    THAT is the problem: people wanting their own rules like spoiled children and an industry willing to give it to them just so they can get their (parents') money. If you notice this also in other genres in the gaming industry... you are right (see convergeance and combined/simplified gameplay in FPSs, spRPGs etc.).

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