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The MMOSide Chat - Are MMOs Really Less Social?

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  • AreteoAreteo Member UncommonPosts: 35
    This could only be a question for someone who never played an old-school MMO.
    Nilden
  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,175
    edited May 2
    Global chat channels are probably one of the least social things that happen in MMOs. They are little more than the MMO equivalent of twitch viewer chat with random people.

    How much people chat with others is also IMO, overblown as the definitive measure of MMO social engagement.

    I used to preferentially play in RP servers when MMOs had those - some still do, but not many. I played in the Guinevere server in DAoC, Landroval in LOTRO and Emerald Dream in WOW despite never really being into play acting scenes in public places. That's not necessary to enjoy an RP server and is something that only some of the more HC RPers do (and by the lack of quality I've often seen in those enactments it should probably be restricted to those few who can do it well :) )

    I went to those servers not looking for those scenes but rather to avoid as much as possible non-immersive out of character chat. Less Chuck Norris chat and more simple game related stuff about what we were doing in the game. Even meta-gaming chat about things like builds, classes etc. was kept to a minimum. In the real old, old days most went out of their way to preface anything not directly related to the game world with "(ooc)" and it was kept to a minimum even in private, guild chat channels.

    But those chats, RP-friendly or otherwise, were not even the more important social aspect. It was the easy camaraderie of playing with the same people often or even just seeing the same players you didn't play with frequently everywhere you went. In order to have that happen in your MMO you need to keep your servers on the small side. Megaservers, which are nothing more than merging all servers into one, may be a good solution for never having dead servers or the need to merge them, but they kill that casual social aspect that comes simply from seeing each other in the game world often.

    Another simple thing that encourages socializing is having distinct factions with conflict built in between them. There are very few things that pull people together - even those who don't particularly like each other - than having a common enemy.

    The best social experiences I've ever had in MMOs happened in Dark Age of Camelot. Not only were we in a smallish server, we were also subdivided into one of the three factions that you had to pick at character creation. If you were in Albion you only played with others there and you only ever played against those who were in Midgard or Hibernia. You literally got to know everyone in your faction over time.

    The open world design also contributed. You might go into your favorite spot in a dungeon with your group but on the way there you passed by other groups grinding in their chosen spot. Even if you didn't stop to chat with friends and acquaintances along your way, they were still in your awareness much like everyone in a small village is aware of each other IRL.

    Before ESO launched, the development team had some awareness of what they were about to do with their megaserver tech. Their early original plans called for the different instances of the same zone in their servers to match like-minded individuals, friends and guilds. They even went so far as describing how they would have a questionnaire to help make good matches.

    But that got cut along the way and the end result was PvE with strangers. And the play only with those in your faction part? That was also dumped eventually due to fan demand. I like to think that the ES fans who always hated faction separation didn't really have a clue how much damage they were doing to the social aspect of the game by lobbying to get rid of it. They just seemed to hate it because it was not a TES thing or didn't want any of that Matt Firor DAoC crap in their game.

    Do ESO players chat in that game? Yeah. About everything and anything other than the game. And when they do talk about the game it's usually just the meta-gaming stuff: which gear is best for which build; where is the best spot to grind for a rare resource that sells well; and so on.

    So yeah color me skeptical that chatting = the measure of MMO socialization.


    Po_ggTuor7
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  • ScotScot Member LegendaryPosts: 12,883
    I find it hard to see why this is a question, of course MMO's are less social now. Where players differ is on how important that is and if they do care, what can be done about it?

    I think social mechanisms could be put into place to encourage social activity. Difficulty was one of the reasons we stuck together, implemented in the right areas that would work. But not overall difficulty as players only expect carrot now not stick, they expect to see games getting ever easier as they have done for twenty years. The carrot route would work better, give people a bonus for being social, hanging out in taverns or public plazas could reduce "combat fatigue". You could have titles for how many people you have sent a tell too or been in a group with.

    There are ways it is just that social activity is not something developers prioritize just about every other aspect of game design seems to come first.
    Po_gg

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  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 28,266
    Iselin said:
    I like to think that the ES fans who always hated faction separation didn't really have a clue how much damage they were doing to the social aspect of the game by lobbying to get rid of it. They just seemed to hate it because it was not a TES thing or didn't want any of that Matt Firor DAoC crap in their game.





    I agree with most of the post but not this bit.

    It was more about the freedom. I think if they were free to go wherever they wanted but that there were hostile areas that "could" have worked.

    But hard segregating the world because of 3 faction pvp isn't what a good amount of Elder Scrolls fans were looking for.

    Exploration and freedom is what they were looking for.

    Essentially they were looking for <insert their favorite Elder Scrolls Game> online and that you could play with friends/others.

    That's it. And that's not really what we got.





  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,175
    Sovrath said:
    Iselin said:
    I like to think that the ES fans who always hated faction separation didn't really have a clue how much damage they were doing to the social aspect of the game by lobbying to get rid of it. They just seemed to hate it because it was not a TES thing or didn't want any of that Matt Firor DAoC crap in their game.





    I agree with most of the post but not this bit.

    It was more about the freedom. I think if they were free to go wherever they wanted but that there were hostile areas that "could" have worked.

    But hard segregating the world because of 3 faction pvp isn't what a good amount of Elder Scrolls fans were looking for.

    Exploration and freedom is what they were looking for.

    Essentially they were looking for <insert their favorite Elder Scrolls Game> online and that you could play with friends/others.

    That's it. And that's not really what we got.


    I understand that but along with that freedom came essentially triple the megaserver size for PvE and like I said, server size is one of the factors that plays into socialization - the  bigger they are the more anonymous you are.

    Sure you can huddle together in a guild with a group of friends and socialize that way but that's what all MMOs, old or new, have always had and I've never considered that to be the factor that makes an MMO more or less sociable.
    “Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” 
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    __ Wizardry, 2020
  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,743
    I do not know about MMOs but I think I have become less sociable. Over time and finding groups where people are mean I have begun to distance myself. Which is wholly on me I guess. I am less inclined to group when there was a time I never played without grouping. 

    I think that having come across things I don't want to deal with grouping has become one of the things I don't want to any more. Which is sad. I do think I have to make an effort and try to change that when I used to enjoy grouping so much in older games.
    Po_gg

  • McSleazMcSleaz Member UncommonPosts: 48




    The only thing I got out of old school MMo's is that I hate most people.



    It depended on the game.....UO and FFXI had terrible communities...One was a vicious gankfest and the other was a bunch of elite snobs that had no interest whatsoever in helping out new players....EQ though had a great community...The players were very helpful. Anarchy Online also had a great community when it came to helping others.



    You musta played on a shite server for FFXI. I played on Gilgamesh and the old school players always helped out the new players. Back then you could loan a stranger a set of +1 armour and they'd actually return it to you, Something like that would never happen today.
  • GatsuZerkGatsuZerk Member UncommonPosts: 33
    Well, here's an example. If you wanted a group in Dark Age of Camelot, you had to get in voice comms or you didn't get invited. Lineage 2, people lived in Ventrilo because PvP. Nowdays, you just click a button, join a queue and you've got a group. Take that as you will. Yes, the social aspects of MMO's have drastically changed over the years, whether you like it or not. Older MMO's needed certain classes to fill out groups, nowdays every class is a swiss army knife and able to solo most content. Those of you who are too young to remember the late 90's and early 00's of online gaming, just won't have a clue what it used to be like. Period.
  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 28,266
    Iselin said:
    Sovrath said:
    Iselin said:
    I like to think that the ES fans who always hated faction separation didn't really have a clue how much damage they were doing to the social aspect of the game by lobbying to get rid of it. They just seemed to hate it because it was not a TES thing or didn't want any of that Matt Firor DAoC crap in their game.





    I agree with most of the post but not this bit.

    It was more about the freedom. I think if they were free to go wherever they wanted but that there were hostile areas that "could" have worked.

    But hard segregating the world because of 3 faction pvp isn't what a good amount of Elder Scrolls fans were looking for.

    Exploration and freedom is what they were looking for.

    Essentially they were looking for <insert their favorite Elder Scrolls Game> online and that you could play with friends/others.

    That's it. And that's not really what we got.


    I understand that but along with that freedom came essentially triple the megaserver size for PvE and like I said, server size is one of the factors that plays into socialization - the  bigger they are the more anonymous you are.

    Sure you can huddle together in a guild with a group of friends and socialize that way but that's what all MMOs, old or new, have always had and I've never considered that to be the factor that makes an MMO more or less sociable.

    But I think that's fine.

    I would offer that there is a certain desirability to get lost in the world and then, when you want to seek people out, you can.

    That's one of the greatest downsides of Elder Scrolls Online. There always a person around ALWAYS.

    It's so tiring.

    I almost think it should have been done like guild wars. A lot of people in the cities/towns/maby certain outlying lands, and then when you leave you have the area to you and your party.

    Obviously that's personal preference.



  • Ancient_ExileAncient_Exile Member RarePosts: 1,303
    No, people are less social. Even in games like FFXIV I see people all the time trying to initiate conversation during things but most just ignore them or give simple one word reply and that's that. There's no reason people couldn't be more social if they wanted to, but they don't. If EQ came out today it would be the same.

    But who wants to talk to a stranger while they're busy?  

    If people weren't social in EQ, they couldn't survive well or long.  With the exception of two classes I believe.
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  • Po_ggPo_gg Member EpicPosts: 5,156
    While there's a point in Kaji's and kitarad's notion (people are less social now), I believe that ain't the full answer, since it's general and applies everything not just on games.
    Could be a good topic on its own though, how social media and instant connection makes people actually less social...


    What I've found really interesting in the thread (and also in the OP) is how easily everyone accepts the premise of "social == grouping for content", and cite game mechanics, rewards, etc. as the root of the issue.

    The exception was camel, as usual he has good points from a broader angle.
    Group content aint equal social, it's only a mean to the end, just a tool to bring people together and give them a chance of socializing - if they want to.
    Removing the forced part of grouping doesn't kill off socializing, if the intent ain't there in the first place... and people indeed are less sociable now.


    When GW2 launched there was a similar article (from Shannon I believe?), about how the design choice (no need to group up) was a smart way because players of today won't see forced grouping as a chance to meet new people, just as an extra annoyance.

    And pretty much that's the case now, in most games. You don't have to group up, if you don't want to. Or, can find easy "pick and and the throw away" group through in-game tools when you're forced to group up.

    But, those changes didn't make the games less sociable... just made the life of the already less sociable players easier.


    The bottom line is, a game is only as sociable as its players are. And that's why I found it odd OP was using LotRO as one of the examples, it's maybe the most sociable MMORPGs out there... 

    Sure, maybe not in the aforementioned "social == group content" meaning (but group content is still actively played), nor the other common (and false imo) view of "combat is the core ascept of the game".

    As cameltosis said:
    That doesn't mean there aren;t other activities that can build social bonds. Combat isn't the only reason to group, or interact with others. Roleplaying, the player economy, player events and whatever else you can think of. 
    LotRO's community, especially on the RP servers, is always socializing, there's no week (usually) without community events. I'd take that as socializing over instances/raids any day - but maybe that's just me.
    cameltosisAncient_Exile
  • cheyanecheyane Member EpicPosts: 7,026
    I loved the way City of Heroes/Villains grouping worked. I enjoyed how you had so many different combination of classes and having 8 people in a group meant you could mix and match an insane amount and try and work things out and even when your group wasn't really optimal or even able to do the content if we worked together it really managed to come together albeit slowly.

    I didn't really enjoy the current private server because of how they allowed so much of the distinctive classes to cross over both Heroes and Villains. It worked so much better before when there were limitations and people were forced to work together with more thought and planning. It also killed the Villains side when they allowed all the unique classes to be played by Heroes.

    Grouping is an individual responsibility. You have to make an effort to make it work and be enjoyable. If it isn't walk away from the group. I often do it.

    I think that the way working together these days is structured mainly for the end game and certain dungeons for the loot the people playing them are more goal oriented and less about the people you are playing with. I prefer playing with  guild members but I miss meeting that random PUG that turned out great.

    Based on my own experience I'd say it is really less social but I am very old school so take that with a grain of salt.
    Ancient_ExileTuor7
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  • chukekle1chukekle1 Member UncommonPosts: 33
    They are still social but no were near as social as back in early everquest days, in those days your reputation actually mattered and if you were an asshole you didnt find groups and most content was group based unless you were a couple classes. WoW came along and made MMO easy mode gaming with instant gratification, you didnt even need to talk to your group for dungeons just speed run through it for your insta loot and peace out, you could even solo to endgame on any character so there was no need to group or socialize and reputation meant nothing so the toxic levels rouse to astonishing levels (there was toxicity back in those days to but nothing like today). Todays MMO are all EZ mode basically, unfortunately the generation of MMO today want that ez loot and gratification, they want to be max lvl in a couple days then bitch that there is nothing to do, hell i remember grinding for 6 hours getting 3 bubs of experience and feeling like it was a good day, specially seeing as one death would completely wipe all that exp out if i couldnt find a REZ (rezzes werent 100% either so dying still had consequences). Unfortunately EQ today has changed as well to cater to the EZ mode generation, my outlook on mmorpg today are not good for now.
    Ancient_ExileTuor7
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member RarePosts: 4,113
    When people start talking about "social" in MMORPGs, why is it that all they think about is the grouping? 

    For social interaction, players need more than that. 
    Because players need to know other players better. 
    What MMORPGs need is more social interaction outside of that. 

    You group, then it's done. You may never see those other players again. 

    What these games need is player interaction in trade and other community style actions. 
    It's unfortunate that players only think of the dungeon runs and quests when they think of playing an MMORPG. 
    It's a total waste of that "massively" part. 
    Ancient_ExileTuor7

    Once upon a time....

  • VorthanionVorthanion Member RarePosts: 2,684
    edited May 19
    What I have noticed is that action combat and faster paced gameplay has made it more difficult to be social while adventuring, especially for gamers like me who do not want to use voice chat. Instancing and phasing also play a big role in separating players and keeping them from interacting with each other while adventuring. Placing much if not most of the rewards in a cash shop removes an important incentive to adventure in general and certainly makes grouping much less worth the hassle.

    I like a good mix of solo and group content, but with slower paced gameplay and an open world with public areas, public dungeons and dynamic events. Being able to buff and heal strangers as I pass by or adventure around them. Grouping on demand when I'm in an area that is more difficult and gathering with other adventurers organically in those areas for dynamic events. Being rewarded with the entire range of gold, magic items, consumables, crafting items, special item graphics and effects and lore for playing the game counts toward not only the enjoyment, but also to the community of players. Cash shops dilute if not completely remove this personal and communal incentive.
    Post edited by Vorthanion on
    Ancient_ExileTuor7

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  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 8,059
    Zone/World/OOC chat in any MMO has been a mess since 1999. Only thing that'd devolved has been the people. People's attention spam has been getting shorter and less patient. Fortnight is a good example of this. All content is short with happy quick rewards. Tictoc is the same thing, being social means something different for this generation. 
    Ancient_Exile
  • OdenathusOdenathus Member UncommonPosts: 605
    You can see I don't post. Mostly I don't need to, whats another opinion supporting an already stated opinion?!

    Xatsh said it first in his comments.
    Blizzard revolutionized the market when they figured out how to simplify the system to suck in console gamers. This shot their subs sky high! And it worked. Then they kept going with this concept. To the point that today you have Retail World of Warcraft.

    A game where you can log in and in under 5 minutes be in the center of some action and advancing your character goals, whatever they might be. You want to craft? You want to quest? You want to do a dungeon? Or maybe raid? In under 5 minutes you can be actively pursuing your goal.

    Early MMO's didn't have the mechanics to provide you with all these fancy features; that removed the social aspect from the game. AO, UO and EQ didn't even have "raid groups", in the beginning. You had to walk up hill, in the snow, both ways to raid! 40 man groups were 8 groups of 5 folks in unlinked groups taking on raid content. If you didn't chat, you didn't progress.

    You logged in and if you weren't part of an active guild you spent your next 20 minutes (minimum) looking for a group that was willing to do what content you were working on. You also needed specific classes to do that! Classes were specialized to do one thing well and anything else poorly. Sure you could solo content with your healer, but expect to put in some serious time. You needed the holy trinity, back then; Tank, Healer, DPS. CC was always cream on top, and actually meant something.

    And there was a cost to your actions! If you died, you lost exp. This cost more than anything else forced the player base into a community. You didn't want to pay this cost, so you grouped, but to group you had to find players. And if you found someone who sucked or screwed you over, you shared this with the "community". Folks could and were shunned and forced off servers by bad social behavior. "Social Behavior".

    All said and done, I will not go back. I admit it. Blizzard has spoiled me. I play classic because I can't stand Retail. But I play classic. I won't go back to AO, UO or EQ. Blizzard did this to the MMO industry and to me.
    Tuor7

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  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 11,949
    Yes and no.

    What has happened is that they have shifted towards being online chat rooms that people use to communicate while they move through their solo game.  So some aspects of communication and socialization are greater.  At a high/surface level.

    What has lessened is the more intimate socialization. The one where you have a static group of people that you bond with through the trials and tribulations of gameplay.  To be sure you can still find that, but overall the genre has shifted to the former.


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  • WallisHallWallisHall Member UncommonPosts: 15
    We'll see when Pantheon releases just how well an old school MMO will do today pushing the social side.
    Personally I like Guild Ward 2 and thats about it as most other MMOs have lost even the passive social interaction that GW2 has kept.
  • free2playfree2play Member UncommonPosts: 2,029
    My first MMO was SWG back in 2003 and for the first 3 months, I never talked to a single person. Once I got in to the social side of things, started buying Doc and Ent buffs, actively joined a guild and became part of that ecosystem, the game became larger for me but no, the games back then were just as insulated as they are now. It's a choice people need to make. Forced social scenarios will fail. Add the mechanics, see what happens. It's all Devs can do.
  • Ancient_ExileAncient_Exile Member RarePosts: 1,303
    edited May 4
    A Note on activities in MMORPGs or other games which may have some sort of apparently or possible Forced Socializing. 

    Aren't there things in Real Life that can sometimes force us (or at least attempt) to force us to socialize?

    Families/Family Gatherings
    School
    Work
    Sports

    Of course, things like Religious Gatherings, Military Service, Clubs, and other such Social Groups/Activities are usually entirely optional in this day and age.
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  • ChildoftheShadowsChildoftheShadows Member EpicPosts: 1,816
    edited May 4
    free2play said:
    My first MMO was SWG back in 2003 and for the first 3 months, I never talked to a single person. Once I got in to the social side of things, started buying Doc and Ent buffs, actively joined a guild and became part of that ecosystem, the game became larger for me but no, the games back then were just as insulated as they are now. It's a choice people need to make. Forced social scenarios will fail. Add the mechanics, see what happens. It's all Devs can do.
    Some people might argue that SWG had forced social scenarios. You mention that the game became bigger once you began to open up and communicate. That to me shows that that a large portion of the game "requires" social interaction. 

    I did the same thing in EQ. I played most of my 6 years solo and never had a bad time playing it, though it is more often than not the primary example of a "forced" social game.

    I just believe in these scenarios, you in SWG and me in EQ, it's just us playing the game the way we want and the game actually allowing it. It's not as "forced" as people tend to believe, but the bigger more prominent features of the game would lead you to expanding and being more social in order to access it.

    I'm curious how you feel about modern games because of this. For me they pose no challenge and are rather boring. I hate plowing through content without any challenge and if others who thought EQ as forced grouping don't like how easy the modern games are it's no wonder I don't.
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  • tordurbartordurbar Member UncommonPosts: 421
    No, no, no. Yes a social MMO will be popular but it is solo play that keeps it alive. EVERYONE plays an MMO solo at some point. I tied WOW because the other two major MMO at the time DEMANDED grouping to level (Everquest and Lineage II). Being a polite care bear was anathema (and still is in most) in these games and, heaven forbid, if you tell people that is what you are. I went to Wow and could group whenever I wanted but play solo to endgame and stayed for 13 years. MMO's ARE declining BECAUSE more and more are demanding social grouping.
    Ancient_ExileTuor7
  • Ancient_ExileAncient_Exile Member RarePosts: 1,303
    tordurbar said:
    No, no, no. Yes a social MMO will be popular but it is solo play that keeps it alive. EVERYONE plays an MMO solo at some point. I tied WOW because the other two major MMO at the time DEMANDED grouping to level (Everquest and Lineage II). Being a polite care bear was anathema (and still is in most) in these games and, heaven forbid, if you tell people that is what you are. I went to Wow and could group whenever I wanted but play solo to endgame and stayed for 13 years. MMO's ARE declining BECAUSE more and more are demanding social grouping.

    Which ones are "demanding social grouping"?
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  • UtinniUtinni Member EpicPosts: 1,871
    MMOs aren't less social, people are. This forum is a great example. Instead of conversation it's just divisive rhetoric on every single topic.


    botrytis
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