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Design choices that encourage cooperative group play in MMORPGs... what are your favorite examples?

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  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 13,398
    H0urg1ass said:
    The two primary reasons that humans band together are for protection and procurement. 

    If you can replicate the need to protect one another and drastically increase the profitability of each player by procuring goods in a group, then you won't need to force grouping, it will happen naturally.  Instead of designing a 24 person raid, design a really tough monster, but that monster only has two eyeballs and his eyes are very valuable for making a specific item.  So players will get just enough people together to kill the monster, but right on the edge because they don't want to have to split the profits too many ways.

    It's much easier for a group of people to protect themselves against predators.  It's much easier for a group of people to cultivate land, herd animals, dig wells, sew furs together.  Rather than one person needing to be a jack of all trades, communities can have experts at a couple of things that serve the entire group.

    Start by designing a world where everything in it is player made.  Then make the ingredients to build things require a lengthy process of gathering, refining, producing basic building blocks which then are used for more advanced procedures.  Do this in such a way that no one character can possibly do it all themselves as the skills necessary would take years to train.  This allows a character to specialize in skills needed by the group.

    Then give the players a lot of space to live and build homes.  These homes are destructible by either other players or NPC monsters and must be protected, making it unwise to go it alone.  So now players start to gravitate towards each other and form communities because it's easier to do so and everyone benefits from everyone else.


    Good post.

    But I wasn't really thinking of something like sandbox (which EVE very much is) vs. themepark. Everything you said describes the community building aspects of the former which is very good when it works and it attracts enough players.

    But IMO, themeparks are the dominant type of MMORPG because they're more casually accessible to those who either can't or won't commit to the dedication that sandboxes require.

    But themeparks can also be improved with community building events and activities. Of all the themparks I've played I really think Rift did this best with the zone invasions that change the nature of a zone while they're active. Other themeparks have these events on an occasional basis but Rift tried to do it as a core regular feature of the game. Hell, if left unchecked, the hordes that they spawn will kill quest NPCs locking out many quests in a zone until the players have dealt with the invasion.

    The system isn't perfect but to me it shows a mentality that recognizes that MMOs are at their best when core features require large groups to deal with them. And being a themepark they also made it extremely easy to auto-join with no fuss simply by being near an open raid.

    Themeparks can do it too in their own themeparky way. 
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  • TorvalTorval Member LegendaryPosts: 19,934
    edited November 2016
    H0urg1ass said:
    The two primary reasons that humans band together are for protection and procurement. 

    If you can replicate the need to protect one another and drastically increase the profitability of each player by procuring goods in a group, then you won't need to force grouping, it will happen naturally.  Instead of designing a 24 person raid, design a really tough monster, but that monster only has two eyeballs and his eyes are very valuable for making a specific item.  So players will get just enough people together to kill the monster, but right on the edge because they don't want to have to split the profits too many ways.

    It's much easier for a group of people to protect themselves against predators.  It's much easier for a group of people to cultivate land, herd animals, dig wells, sew furs together.  Rather than one person needing to be a jack of all trades, communities can have experts at a couple of things that serve the entire group.

    Start by designing a world where everything in it is player made.  Then make the ingredients to build things require a lengthy process of gathering, refining, producing basic building blocks which then are used for more advanced procedures.  Do this in such a way that no one character can possibly do it all themselves as the skills necessary would take years to train.  This allows a character to specialize in skills needed by the group.

    Then give the players a lot of space to live and build homes.  These homes are destructible by either other players or NPC monsters and must be protected, making it unwise to go it alone.  So now players start to gravitate towards each other and form communities because it's easier to do so and everyone benefits from everyone else.
    This is sort of how Lineage was designed and why it has my favorite grouping mechanic ever. It did have player enhanced (not created) items, item scarcity and loss, but the key part of the grouping incentive was protection and procurement.

    In Lineage XP loss could be as devastating as a rare drop was a boon and it came around a lot more often than the rare drops. So if you could solo or duo then you would get more xp and not have to split the loot, but it was very dangerous and hard. The more people you added to the mix meant splitting xp and loot, but much safer faster progress. That doesn't even factor in the open pvp element and safety in numbers which was also present.

    It's an older cruder implementation of the structure EVE uses. I understand Asheron's Call was also like this in many ways.

    What was so memorable and awesome about this system is that it was so free and open. If your friends weren't on you could still work on your progression. Solo/duo wasn't this weird separate thing. If your friends were on they would hop over to your area or dungeon and help out.
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  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,736
    Territory Sovereignty - Any PvP based sandbox ever

    Territory ownership / sovereignty usually gives huge benefits to any group that pulls it off. Access to special facilities. A base to call their own, an HQ to work from.

    However building and defending these bases can almost never be done alone. It requires cooperation and the help of others. So people start naturally forming into groups in order to keep their territory safe. Then competing groups start clashing with each other. 

    Content.
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,314
    So, Vanilla LotRO had by far the best PvE grouping of any MMO I've played. SWG comes close in terms of amount of time spent in a group, so I'll touch on that as well. Anyways, things I believe helped grouping:

    1) Setting Expectations / Forced Grouping
    If your goal is to get people grouping up, by far the easiest method is to force people into groups. There are associated problems with this, but it works. 

    Main thing about this point is you want to set player expectations early but also get them grouping up early. In LotRO, you had your first group quest at lvl3, about 20minutes into the game. Just group up to kill a big spider. There were then group quests and group dungeons all the way through the game. It was still 80% solo at launch, but you couldn't avoid that last 20% unless you wanted to grind mobs for days. 

    Whilst some may have hated grouping, all players were used to it early on. Each new dungeon was slightly harder than the last, so we all progressed on this steady learning curve, both solo and group wise. By the time you reached endgame, nearly everyone knew how to play their class. Grouping was normal and relaxed. Compare to most MMOs where you solo til cap then get chucked in the deep end of group content. It becomes a very jarring and unpleasant experience for many, hence low participation numbers. 


    2) Group Composition
    This point is based on the assumption that tanks and healers are rare. 

    SW:TOR had a group size of 4, so 50% of your group was made up of rare classes. 
    WoW has a group size of 5, so 40% of your group was made up of rare classes
    LotRO has a group size of 6, so 33% of your group was made up of rare classes

    We know that some roles will always be less popular, particularly healers. So, don't make your group content so reliant on it! In SW:TOR, it basically forced 25% of the population to be healers. That was never going to happen! Design your group size around typical playstyles of the population. 


    3) Voice Chat
    There comes a point in all group content where typing out commands becomes too slow. You need voice chat for difficult content. Within a guild situation this is fine, but for pugs? LotRO had voice chat built into it's grouping system and whilst low quality audio, it did make it so easy to communicate. The hardest raids in the game were beaten by pugs and this is only possible due to voice chat. Same with pvp in the game - pug raids could compete against premades but only because they could communicate properly. 


    4) Deep Combat Systems
    LotRO had a deep combat system. Every class had tons of situational abilities as well as group-focused abilities. This meant each class became more enjoyable to play in a group situation, there was more to learn and more to master. The support classes in particular (captain, loremaster, burg) came alive in a group situation. I actually got to the point with my captain where I hated soloing so much because every fight was just executing the same 5-skill rotation, compared to using all 40 skills in a group situation. 

    I compare this to something like SW:TOR. The combat there was really shallow, so playing your class in a group situation was almost identical to a solo situation. There was nothing to look forwards to. 


    5) Make some of it easy
    This comes from both LotRO and SWG. In SWG, when you grouped up you could get higher level quests with more monetary rewards. I used to level up in "squill" groups on Tattooine. You'd get together in a raid of 20 people, each of you would grab 2 squill quests, then we'd all head off into the desert and grind the quests. It was just killing shit, nothing difficult at all, rarely would anyone die. Same sort of thing with LotRO's Skirmish system which you could do solo / duo / trio / 6m / 12m / 24m. Really easy content. 

    With both of these systems, it was less about the content and more about just having some mindless fun. You didn't have to concentrate, you could just relax and socialise with the people you played with. It was still rewarding (in terms of XP and loot) but the fact it was so easy meant socialisation increased. Guild members who would never do 6man dungeons or raids would quite happily do skirmishes. 


    6) Search Tool
    Admittedly, I've never seen one of these work properly so there must be tons of room for improvement. Most people are sheep. They don't want to lead groups, they just want to follow someone else. This is why I hate automatic group finders and don't think they're the right solution. 

    The game should have a solid search tool to aid with putting together groups. In LotRO, we just used to use chat channels - local zone chat plus player made "global looking for fellowship" channel. The global LFF channel was best for endgame groups whilst zone chat was best for leveling groups. 

    I am a leader myself, so I'd like a tool where a player just marks themselves as "looking for group". Leaders like me can then search everyone looking for group and can filter on quests or dungeons. So, if I wanted to do Fornost (lvl35-40 dungeon in lotro), I could open the tool and see all players looking for a group in the 35-40 level range, then filter by who had quests in the dungeon. 


    7) Shorter Sessions
    I personally love 3hr+ dungeons and raids but I know most people don't. The game should offer group content ranging from 15minutes up to 3hrs+. LotRO's skirmishes did this, as well as all the revamps of old dungeons. Wasn't to my liking, but overall participation went up. 


    Think that's it really. 

  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 6,486
    Dev run world events, which have become very rare. 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Member EpicPosts: 4,022
    Interdendence.  You need to be reliant on other players to get things done.  This is largley based on gear and combat in MMORPG these days.  I think SWG was on the right track with this where everything was connected.
  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,067
    edited November 2016
    replayable contents and low power gap is key for good group play . You only need 2 of them to bring players together .

    PS : i forgot about bigger group member limit  , 5 is too little , 12 is the idea
  • AlbatroesAlbatroes Member LegendaryPosts: 6,941
    I honestly felt rift had the right idea in how to handle co-operative play. Allowing players to control the level they want to scale down (or up too I think they added?) and still have older content apply to higher level progression as long as the content is cleared on the correct level adds a lot of variety and still makes the game feel alive in older zones if done correctly. GW2 does the same sort of but it auto-scales which some people (myself included) are kind of put off by. WoW is doing alright with the idea by making it so that you just have to tag stuff and get full credit if you are of the same faction or if its an elite monster etc. Only thing wow doesn't do that rift is a little superior at in that regard is making it so your credit carries in case you get accepted into an instance while fighting something like an elite WQ or something. That would definitely make it more worth the time.
  • DreadToothDreadTooth Member UncommonPosts: 150
    Iselin said:
    How about you? What are your favorite examples of attempts to make MMORPG PVE overland gameplay more about "us" and less about "I"?

    Personally, from the only MMORPG I currently play (Puzzle Pirates), I enjoy how they encourage everyone to work together when doing anything with a boat. Whether it be pillaging, sea monster hunting, foraging, blockades, flag on flag wars, or treasure hunts, loot is accrued for each battle you win (or in foraging, for the more stuff you find, treasure hunts the more treasure you dig, etc.) however that doesn't mean that just hiding on a boat and not being planked (Awesome every time) will get you a share of that loot. The game automatically tracks who worked on the different stations (puzzles), how well they did, and a combination of both at various staging points. At the end of the battle, loot is divvied up based on how often you actually worked a boat station (sailing, carpentry(important after getting hit), bilging(important after getting hit), cannons(important while battling) etc.) and is either approved by the captain or is voted on by everyone. But the part that really gets me is, if you lose a battle, the enemy ship will plunder some of your stored loot.

    So, it is in everyone's best interest to work while sailing, work while ship battling, and do well and team up in the fighting puzzles when one ship hooks and boards another.

    Currently Playing:

    Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

    Puzzle Pirates (PC)
    Dreadtooth on Emerald Ocean

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  • DreadToothDreadTooth Member UncommonPosts: 150
    Mendel said:
    I think the first thing any multi-player game needs to do to help achieve grouping is: slow down.  The pace of games is too fast.  There's no time between combat to do anything.  The games move at a pace where normal conversation is impossible with text, and this community seems to abhor the idea of VoIP to replace it.  Even then, the human brain has limits on how fast it can process input.  Games are capable of  generating that input faster than the human see-interpret-react speeds.


    I strongly agree with this.  I've played games in which I grouped but even while grouped it felt more like I was solo because there was so little actual interaction with the other players.  It was constant combat spam so you never had a chance to actually interact.  It felt less like grouping and more like fighting solo alongside other players.


    I agree with both of these posts.

    In WoW, especially in the old 40-man raids, it was important for me to be sending raid-wide messages, raid group messages, guild messages, and tells to multiple people, while talking to my guild on Ventrilo. Now granted, I was a mage so that is partly why it was possible.

    Although it would've gone against the Super Carebear design of WoW, making raids more interaction needy or fast-paced would have resulted in everyone having less fun.

    Currently Playing:

    Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

    Puzzle Pirates (PC)
    Dreadtooth on Emerald Ocean

    "Dying's the easy way out. You won't catch me dying. They'll have to kill me before I die!"

  • Gyva02Gyva02 Member RarePosts: 484
    My favorite example, Classic Everquest. 


  • SteelhelmSteelhelm Member UncommonPosts: 330
    One thing that comes to mind is, which every mmo has, is creature difficulty.
    Put creatures in the game that take 1 player to kill, 2 players to kill, 3 players to kill and so on.
    Talking about games where thousands of players exist simultaneously in a single instance and mechanics related to such games.
  • DishwasherSafeDishwasherSafe Member UncommonPosts: 39
    3 Easy Steps:
    1. Take a carrot.
    2. Put it on a stick.
    3. Give it to a giant Ogre.

    Has worked for decades and will still work today. If you make it worthwhile the effort for everyone to group up then you got yourself a winner. But remember, it has to be worthwhile for everyone.

    [Citation Needed]
    "Play Style Matters" 
    - Warren Spector ( System Shock, Deus Ex ) 
  • Jean-Luc_PicardJean-Luc_Picard Member LegendaryPosts: 8,079
    edited November 2016
    Asheron's Call. Every month was a community event. Yet the game definitely didn't force grouping. Working together was natural, as it should be.
    "The ability to speak doesn't make you intelligent" - Qui-gon Jinn in Star Wars.
    After many years of reading Internet forums, there's no doubt that nor does the ability to write.
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  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,768
    Torval said:
    H0urg1ass said:
    The two primary reasons that humans band together are for protection and procurement. 

    If you can replicate the need to protect one another and drastically increase the profitability of each player by procuring goods in a group, then you won't need to force grouping, it will happen naturally.  Instead of designing a 24 person raid, design a really tough monster, but that monster only has two eyeballs and his eyes are very valuable for making a specific item.  So players will get just enough people together to kill the monster, but right on the edge because they don't want to have to split the profits too many ways.

    It's much easier for a group of people to protect themselves against predators.  It's much easier for a group of people to cultivate land, herd animals, dig wells, sew furs together.  Rather than one person needing to be a jack of all trades, communities can have experts at a couple of things that serve the entire group.

    Start by designing a world where everything in it is player made.  Then make the ingredients to build things require a lengthy process of gathering, refining, producing basic building blocks which then are used for more advanced procedures.  Do this in such a way that no one character can possibly do it all themselves as the skills necessary would take years to train.  This allows a character to specialize in skills needed by the group.

    Then give the players a lot of space to live and build homes.  These homes are destructible by either other players or NPC monsters and must be protected, making it unwise to go it alone.  So now players start to gravitate towards each other and form communities because it's easier to do so and everyone benefits from everyone else.
    This is sort of how Lineage was designed and why it has my favorite grouping mechanic ever. It did have player enhanced (not created) items, item scarcity and loss, but the key part of the grouping incentive was protection and procurement.

    In Lineage XP loss could be as devastating as a rare drop was a boon and it came around a lot more often than the rare drops. So if you could solo or duo then you would get more xp and not have to split the loot, but it was very dangerous and hard. The more people you added to the mix meant splitting xp and loot, but much safer faster progress. That doesn't even factor in the open pvp element and safety in numbers which was also present.

    It's an older cruder implementation of the structure EVE uses. I understand Asheron's Call was also like this in many ways.

    What was so memorable and awesome about this system is that it was so free and open. If your friends weren't on you could still work on your progression. Solo/duo wasn't this weird separate thing. If your friends were on they would hop over to your area or dungeon and help out.

    City of Heroes felt like that from a solo/grouping point of view.  It didn't have crafting at release.  But the playerbase has changed.

    The aforementioned protection and procurement seems to be moot.  The old death penalties have been minimized or removed.  Procurement is often solo or cash shop.  So, both protection and procurement reasons for grouping have been affected.

    http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2010/QBlog190810A.html  

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    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

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  • Andel_SkaarAndel_Skaar Member UncommonPosts: 401
    waynejr2 said:
    Kyleran said:
    Well I recall when AQ40 was introduced in WOW so long ago the entire server had to work together to open the gates by donating the resources or something like that.

    Another WOW example, I think it was at Cata launch there was some kick arse dragon that would burn towns, npcs and even players in them. (my newly created warrior was definitely a victim of this a few times).

     I think this occurred until someone on the server managed to beat him the first time.  (only played for a month, so not sure of accuracy of this)

    I loved the war effort.  Made thousands of gold which was a ton of money back then.

    How about a faction wide efforts into building bridges or towers with portals to distant lands that are both major undertakings. 
    You are talking about archeage?

    There literally exists a rainbow bridge and grand faction hall that can be constructed by community.
    One of community improvements.
    Not to mention the very possibility of large scale guild housing.
    Also events.

    Taking upon world bosses that demand an entire faction to attend for it to be even remotely possible.
    yeah, and guess twice what happens if enemy faction appears, epic battles
  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,768
    waynejr2 said:
    Kyleran said:
    Well I recall when AQ40 was introduced in WOW so long ago the entire server had to work together to open the gates by donating the resources or something like that.

    Another WOW example, I think it was at Cata launch there was some kick arse dragon that would burn towns, npcs and even players in them. (my newly created warrior was definitely a victim of this a few times).

     I think this occurred until someone on the server managed to beat him the first time.  (only played for a month, so not sure of accuracy of this)

    I loved the war effort.  Made thousands of gold which was a ton of money back then.

    How about a faction wide efforts into building bridges or towers with portals to distant lands that are both major undertakings. 
    You are talking about archeage?

    ha ha NO.  It was what we call a generalization.
    http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2010/QBlog190810A.html  

    Epic Music:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAigCvelkhQ&list=PLo9FRw1AkDuQLEz7Gvvaz3ideB2NpFtT1

    https://archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_msdos?&sort=-downloads&page=1

    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

    John Henry Newman: "A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."

    FreddyNoNose:  "A good game needs no defense; a bad game has no defense." "Easily digested content is just as easily forgotten."

    LacedOpium: "So the question that begs to be asked is, if you are not interested in the game mechanics that define the MMORPG genre, then why are you playing an MMORPG?"




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