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Why I like downtime (and other time consuming things) in an MMO

My first MMO was EQ1 which I started playing shortly after the Luclin expansion.  I tried a variety of classes because I wanted to test stuff out and figure out which class I enjoyed the most.  Early on I played a druid and a ranger, later moved to bard pretty much full time.

I got to experience a number of the more popular camps in crushbone, LOIO, Highkeep etc, as I leveled up through the game, mostly in PUGs.  I found a guild around level 10 but it was mostly max level, being an older server, so a large amount of leveling was done with groups of people I just met and joined up with or occasionally alts.

Downtime was a natural part of the game due to slow health/mana regen rates, and having experienced the alternative in games such as WoW, Rift, etc, I feel the slower approach was better.  The main reason for this is that it strongly encouraged and aided personal interaction.  In the current crop of no-downtime MMOs, the other members of the group are a necessary evil to completing a dungeon and should be interacted with as little as possible.  My experience has been that even when some members are more social and inclined to chat, there's an unspoken expectation to keep moving and clear the dungeon as quickly as possible.

The forced downtime of med'ing provides that space to engage in some social interaction without feeling as though you're holding up the group, and I found people generally more inclined to interact.  This increased social interaction is nothing but beneficial for the games' community and culture, and I suspect partly why various servers had far more of a community feel to them than more recent games.  The lack of cross-server groups and no LFG tool also helped, as you were at the very least, forced to interact in order to join a group, vs. the "click dungeon queue button and be dropped into a group" approach today.

The difficulty of soloing with many classes was something that also fed into this, as it to a degree funneled people into groups, setting you up for the opportunity to have some social interaction.

I'm not ignoring the negative aspects of these approaches to gameplay, as I leveled my ranger mostly solo and experienced many frustrating situations, partly because I'm a fairly shy person and not great at engaging with people, and partly because sometimes I just wanted to be able to level a bit solo.  But the static camps that you could almost always find a group or 2 at, and the advantages of working with a group provided me with a means to actually join some other people and be able to engage socially.

I also think that this downtime, which effectively slowed the leveling process, was also beneficial in making more of the content relevant.  There were consistently groups at lower levels in certain locations (e.g. LOIO, LGuk) and the gameplay was reasonably engaging in that group context, even where many classes didn't yet have their full toolkit.

I'd love to hear what fellow gamers who played through that period think.  Was there positive value in that downtime for you?

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Comments

  • page975page975 Scranton, PAPosts: 312Member

    +1

    I liked downtime your talking about too.  I fell in love with Vanella WoW for the same reasions your talking about for EQ.

    Playing was like a life, you had to play it like an mmo, not boring as people will say here.

  • SavageHorizonSavageHorizon ParisPosts: 2,060Member Uncommon
    +1

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  • CabalocCabaloc Fort Pierce, FLPosts: 116Member

    Back in 2002  I came across this little gem called Lineage also my first mmo,downtime was off the chart with mana and health regen and little xp to show for it, I loved it ! People would run by and throw a few pots my way, buffs etc and I loved it . Met people who would become my family for the next few years and well into Lineage 2 .

    We relied on eachother, we looked forward to it and even well known pkers,there was a sence of comradery, we loved it .Sadly since around 2006 or shortly after , I have made no friends, family to work together with nothing other then follow the little arrow on my map and claim my next epic piece of gear.........  I hate it

  • Jean-Luc_PicardJean-Luc_Picard La BarrePosts: 3,540Member Uncommon
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    Playing now: WoW, Landmark, GW2, The Crew, SotA

    Top 3 MMORPGs played: UO, AC1 and WoW

    Honorable mentions: AO, LotRO, SW:TOR and GW2.

    ----------------

    "The ability to speak doesn't make you intelligent" - Qui-gon Jinn. After many years of reading Internet forums, there's no doubt that neither does the ability to write.
    So if you notice that I'm no longer answering your nonsense, stop trying... because you just joined my block list.

  • MeowheadMeowhead New Carlisle, INPosts: 3,716Member

    I talk with people ALL the time.  While running dungeons, while doing PvE, while doing PvP.  All the time.  Enforced downtime just means I can't pick when I'm playing and when I have excess time to chat even more.

    If I wanted to talk more, I would stop moving and concentrate solely on that.  But usually even while playing a game... or two (I sometimes play two games at once), I can find time to keep up with people who are just standing around in some safe spot and chatting. :)

    So games without downtime cater more to me.  I prefer pacing things at my own pace.

  • immodiumimmodium ManchesterPosts: 1,572Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    +1

    I love playing games with(preferably against :))people and it is still real easy to find these people in todays MMO's.

    I find most of todays MMO gamer's just like the idea of playing a game in a virtual world where other people are there. It's comforting and not as lonely as a single player game.

    IMO playing a SP game with TS/Vent/chat box is a lot more fun than playing a SP game without.

     

    image
  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,423Member Uncommon

    You are 100% correct OP as i have been involved in every aspect of gaming from the super slow downtime to the super fast spamming game play and i got to see how it affects players and community and interaction.Downtime also gives a way more realistic feel to a game,it means you actually took damage and have to partake in some recovery time.We are suppose to be role playing living players in a living world,we are not suppose  to be robots that never stop,never eat,no mana,no hit points,no thinking,robots simply act like computer code,they do what you tell them ,nothing more,how boring.

    I remember after trying other RPG's after FFXI that i was in shock at how lame the dungeon designs were.I remember doing EQ2 runs and there was no thinking involved,you body run into the first mob and the whole room literally links and attacks,how dumb is that?In FFXI i would smartly move in between mobs to get a safe pull of ONE mob,one link was dangerous for the group and more than that could be certain death.

    There was a lot that went on during my downtime or even in between pulls,i could write 3 more paragraphs explaining what was going on during that time.So it was not all about just social chatting,although i love that too.If a game has downtime,it tells me the game probably has a more realistic feel to the combat and there is some actual thinking,planning and team work involved,instead of zerg fests and spamming.

     


    Samoan Diamond

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    What prevents players from socializing in the middle of activities? Don't you use voice-chat?

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • MeowheadMeowhead New Carlisle, INPosts: 3,716Member
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    What prevents players from socializing in the middle of activities? Don't you use voice-chat?

    I use the 'typing hella fast' method. :)

    Though it means that with some friends, I can't actually socialize with them AS I'm playing content with them.  So I play the game with them and socialize with other friends in the game who are taking breaks. :)

    Sometimes I use voice chat, but it's actually to talk to other friends who are not in the games I am playing.  One of my friends pointed out that I can hold two conversations at once as I was once typing away merrily while talking to him... UNTIL he pointed out what I was doing.

    Then I couldn't do it.  It's something I can only do when I'm not actually thinking 'holy crap I'm talking to two people simultaneously and holding two conversation threads, saying one thing and typing another'.  DARN MY FRIEND.  I still sometimes will be doing it and realize 'what the hell am I doing how do I do this?' and start fumbling.  I blame him. :(

  • LauraFrostLauraFrost New York, NYPosts: 95Member

     

    I agree with you OP.

    Slower Health/Mana (resources) regeneration also promotes socializing and encourage grouping.

    It also adds more depth to "progressing" your character. It gives more meaning to +regeneration buffs or items. You do FEEL your power slowly getting better with very little upgrades.

     

  • curacura WarsawPosts: 950Member Uncommon
    I really liked SWGs capms, cantinas, shuttles etc. Sitting there, chatting or not, always gave me that feeling of really being there. Constant killing things bore me very fast as it is sooo repetitive and stupefying. 
  • AnhvarielAnhvariel SydneyPosts: 6Member
    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    I would venture to suggest you're in the minority in that regard (this is not a criticism but a compliment on your abilities to socialise well).  Unfortunately my experience has been that the majority of gamers take the path of least resistance to their perceived goal, which is generally speaking, gaining max level and best gear.

    Optimising that process means speed running heroic mode dungeons with the minimum required interaction with other players (time wasted chatting is time better spent farming tokens).  Games that tailor the experience towards that approach will naturally attract gamers with that mentality.  

    Now perhaps the majority of gamers prefer that style of gameplay?  I'm not sure really, but I feel as though that approach takes away the amazing social aspect that first drew me to these games, which is part of my point.  Games which provide opportunities and structures for encouraging social interaction and discouraging the "wham bam thankyou ma'am" dungeon runs have a better community for it.  Maybe it's simply the demographic that a more social game style attracts?

  • AnhvarielAnhvariel SydneyPosts: 6Member
    Originally posted by immodium

    I find most of todays MMO gamer's just like the idea of playing a game in a virtual world where other people are there. It's comforting and not as lonely as a single player game.

    IMO playing a SP game with TS/Vent/chat box is a lot more fun than playing a SP game without.

     

    I'd agree with that assessment of current generation MMOs and players.  I personally preferred the deeper social experience of engaging a bit more with a handful of people you worked towards a common goal with.

    Realistically, I didn't friend every group member I spent 5 minutes chatting with, but we did engage in a bit civil conversation.  I guess you can still do that in modern MMOs via general chat, and I've had some good discussions with people that way, but it feels at more of a superficial level since you aren't really working towards anything together as you are with group mates.

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Oxon Hill, MDPosts: 1,147Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Anhvariel

    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    I would venture to suggest you're in the minority in that regard (this is not a criticism but a compliment on your abilities to socialise well).  Unfortunately my experience has been that the majority of gamers take the path of least resistance to their perceived goal, which is generally speaking, gaining max level and best gear.

    Optimising that process means speed running heroic mode dungeons with the minimum required interaction with other players (time wasted chatting is time better spent farming tokens).  Games that tailor the experience towards that approach will naturally attract gamers with that mentality.  

    Now perhaps the majority of gamers prefer that style of gameplay?  I'm not sure really, but I feel as though that approach takes away the amazing social aspect that first drew me to these games, which is part of my point.  Games which provide opportunities and structures for encouraging social interaction and discouraging the "wham bam thankyou ma'am" dungeon runs have a better community for it.  Maybe it's simply the demographic that a more social game style attracts?

     

    But its not entirely true because you were forced to interact in many ways in UO number one being PKing,and thieving. But the game also allowed for more socializing. Modern MMOs pretty much promote grinding quest, dungeons for levels and gear.
  • thecapitainethecapitaine West Chester, PAPosts: 402Member Uncommon

    Downtime and other time wasters was a tool devised to keep people playing (and paying) longer; the boon that it had to socializing is a pleasant side-effect.  However, I never was a fan of sitting around to restore mana, sitting around waiting for a shuttle to arrive, or sitting around waiting for a spawn to pop-- that's "dead" time and there's only so much chit-chatting with random strangers that can make up for it.

     

    Today's gamers have an enormous potential for socializing that have nothing to do with downtime.  Every major MMO I've played has had the same guild chatter as in the good old days.  We have a far more personable communications medium in voice chat that allows people to talk even across games no matter what they're doing in-game.  We have guild sites, facebook, skype, IM, reddit and countless other ways to meet and discuss the particulars of our hobby.  I don't miss downtime at all and I suspect the real change is that both designers and a large slice of the playerbase understand that people have far better ways of getting their "socialization fix" than through a clumsy, unfun mechanic.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member

    I've always found contrived downtime annoying. But then I've never needed an excuse to talk to people when I felt like it in games. At the same time, I've never felt like I needed to talk to anyone in games. The point of the games I've played has always been to play the games.

    This, combined with the several far better ways to socialize on the internet than sit watching my character eat food leads me to think it unsurprising that people aren't interested in spending time chatting while they wait for something to happen in the games they play.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • TibernicuspaTibernicuspa Amherest, MAPosts: 1,198Member
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    I've always found contrived downtime annoying. But then I've never needed an excuse to talk to people when I felt like it in games. At the same time, I've never felt like I needed to talk to anyone in games. The point of the games I've played has always been to play the games.

    This, combined with the several far better ways to socialize on the internet than sit watching my character eat food leads me to think it unsurprising that people aren't interested in spending time chatting while they wait for something to happen in the games they play.

    Not everyone is like you, some people need a push to start socializing.

    There are books written on this subject, both for game theory and the study of human social patterns.

    What this means in MMOs is, if no one is encouraged at any point to rely on others, or cross paths with others (like say, a game that requires you go to a specific area to train, go to a tavern to heal, go to a bank to get items, its all more convenient not to have these things, but it gets people to cross paths and socialize), then a social fabric does not form.

    When an MMO has no real socializing, then people are much more prone to leave. They treat it like a singleplayer game, burn through the content, and go.

    A little bit of downtime is benefitial to the life of a game, as well as the social experiences of the players. PACING is an important thing.

  • TibernicuspaTibernicuspa Amherest, MAPosts: 1,198Member
    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    Yeah, I talk just as much as I did back in 2001 too, but the difference is now no one talks back.

  • iixviiiixiixviiiix GSPosts: 832Member Uncommon

    Like OP said

    What ever you like it or not , break time always have good effect .

    I enjoy break time /downtime because long combat with group always tired for tank and healer , though solo players may not like have a break.

  • nerovipus32nerovipus32 dublinPosts: 2,735Member
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    What prevents players from socializing in the middle of activities? Don't you use voice-chat?

    The carrot that's constantly dangled in front of their face.

  • TibernicuspaTibernicuspa Amherest, MAPosts: 1,198Member
    Originally posted by nerovipus32
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    What prevents players from socializing in the middle of activities? Don't you use voice-chat?

    The carrot that's constantly dangled in front of their face.

    That, and why would you be in voice chat with total strangers?

    Oh that's right, in modern MMOs  games actively discourage you to group, and when you DO group, its with a pre established clique of people. Symptoms of MMOs being so singleplayer centric now.

  • TibernicuspaTibernicuspa Amherest, MAPosts: 1,198Member
    Originally posted by iixviiiix

    Like OP said

    What ever you like it or not , break time always have good effect .

    I enjoy break time /downtime because long combat with group always tired for tank and healer , though solo players may not like have a break.

    That's always been the tough issue... I love downtime with a group. I disliked downtime when solo. But if there wasn't ever any downtime when you played solo, and there was when you grouped, why would you ever group?

    Perhaps someone can come up with some kind of mechanic/side/minigame you can do when you're soloing to help you recover faster.

     

    Or maybe it can be that, with a group, your recovery speed is faster than solo, through buffs from other players. But once those buffs run out, you need to take a knee for a bit to recharge it?

  • Nurf3dukNurf3duk LondonPosts: 35Member

    I miss the old EQ days it was difficult, can't say I really remember logging in and "doing nothing because of no groups" was ever a factor, even on my warrior I had tools in my bag(ToD, SoW potions, SS BP) that help me solo until a slot opened up for me in a group. Through grouping I found it boosted my reputation as a good tank and that got me into spots in other groups and introduced to other people and thus the wheel kept turning.

    If you didn't want to group then you could of always played a Necro, Bard, Druid or  Wizard who were all good at soloing and also ment you didn't have to interact with others apart from a "Camp check" when you entered a zone or in the case of Druid or Wizard bother a Ench for Clarity.

    On the other hand if you were known as being as an ass, then chances of finding a group did diminish but then you only have yourself to blame at the end of the day for acting in a way that had obviously given you such a bad rep. I can remember plenty of times people in /ooc were LFG in the zone and no one would  take them, but that was because of who they were nothing to do with game mechanics.

    Was also alot more respect for your fellow player back then, generally camps were observered, the community made Cleric epic lists and such, if you got put on a list you could be sure when a spot opened you would get a /w and even when you trained you generally let people in the zone know...and if you were trained accidently then normally the person would help CR you if they could. Then again was there drama back then? of course but it got sorted out by people speaking and not resorting to todays "l2p nub" attitude.

     

  • ArclanArclan Chicago, ILPosts: 1,494Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Anhvariel
    In the current crop of no-downtime MMOs, the other members of the group are a necessary evil to completing a dungeon and should be interacted with as little as possible. My experience has been that even when some members are more social and inclined to chat, there's an unspoken expectation to keep moving and clear the dungeon as quickly as possible.


    Loved your post, and I think this part merits special attention.

    Someone mentioned vent; maybe the younger generation likes vent, but I personally found it broke immersion for me when forced to use Vent in Planetside 1. Ya'll just sound goofy on the phone.



    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

    I am always skeptical when I hear this. How many new friends have you made, and in which games? Describe one recent experience how you made a lasting MMO friend. Where did you meet him/her; how did the conversation start; how many times after your initial meeting did you chat together?



    Originally posted by Tibernicuspa
    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.
    Yeah, I talk just as much as I did back in 2001 too, but the difference is now no one talks back.

    Exactly my point!

    Nurf3duk had some great points too!

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • Jean-Luc_PicardJean-Luc_Picard La BarrePosts: 3,540Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Arclan
    Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
    I play MMOs since UO beta and I never needed game mechanics to force me to engage in social interactions... I socialize just as well in today's MMOs than in those 15 years ago.

     

    I am always skeptical when I hear this. How many new friends have you made, and in which games? Describe one recent experience how you made a lasting MMO friend. Where did you meet him/her; how did the conversation start; how many times after your initial meeting did you chat together?

    Call me a liar while you're at it, that will make it more simple for you.

    I won't count the hundreds of people who joined my guilds in those two games, but only those I can call "close MMO friends". In just SW:TOR and GW2, there is a core group of 16 new people I can call "MMO friends" now, and we fully intend to play the upcoming games (EQN, TESO, etc...) together. Even when some of us are "between two games", we stay in contact on our forum. That isn't counting the many other friends (among which several who became real life friends) I made in previous games, and with whom I stay in contact using other social medias and more direct ways like letters and phone calls. One is even born the same day than me (albeit he is many years younger, lucky guy), so I always send him a birthday present.

    Some people need games to force them to interact. Others don't. I'm glad to be part of the second group.

    Playing now: WoW, Landmark, GW2, The Crew, SotA

    Top 3 MMORPGs played: UO, AC1 and WoW

    Honorable mentions: AO, LotRO, SW:TOR and GW2.

    ----------------

    "The ability to speak doesn't make you intelligent" - Qui-gon Jinn. After many years of reading Internet forums, there's no doubt that neither does the ability to write.
    So if you notice that I'm no longer answering your nonsense, stop trying... because you just joined my block list.

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