So I went back to Istaria after a break in the form of a few days in Fallen Earth to curb my compulsiveness with all things dragon. And while FE was fantastic and I had a great time flailing around in the Great Wasteland, for me it's not a keeper as far as an MMO. Why you may ask? There's only one server and it has been drinking its own kool-aid. Which is a vague and ineffective way of saying that the dominant personalities on the server have warped the global community into this wierd mix of fierce independence and micromanagement that sorta matches the theme of the game itself. Creepy.
I'm one of those players that loves to roll a healer. I'm a touchy feely squishy player, one that tends to interact and gets involved in server wide stuff. I send in screenshots to contests, help new players, start non-guild associations for raids, and generally hang out on a global level. In case you have not noticed, I'm not shy :-). And so, the global community on a server is one of the 3 things that I look at when I check out a game.
I'll always find good in a game (even if I have to dig through muck and mire to find it) but I don't stick with games that don't have a global community, a solid level of tech that lets me play without excessive lag/bugs/crashes and a great concept that has me hooked. FE has a level of tech that will let me play, a fantastic concept that is truely fun to wander around in but the game fails for me as far as a global community. From what I understand, the devs themselves are the ones that don't want a global social network. Which is fine, but I'm not buying the whole it's armageddon so folks could not interact globally thing. Last time I checked there was no roleplay requirement to play FE.
So what is it that I need so badly in a global community that makes a game go into the Naaaaahhhh Not This One bin if it does not support one? Um.. well.. the community. And I don't mean guilds or kins - those are small groups of players that obsess over the same things. I want a server to interact with and folks that range from newblet to veteran all mixed up in one channel. I like server wide events, and plenty of watering holes/pubs/town centers to drop into and just mess around with people. I love running into someone in the game that I just talked with in global chat and being able to /bow or whatever to show respect if not agreement with their position.
I prefer a global community on a server. It gives me access to an enormous range of people and ideas and information that I can't get any other way. Creating a global community takes work though, and you have to have a global chat, places for folks to gather, and a strong community that directs trade and lff to the right channels and knows how to use their /ignore buttons.
Why a global chat channel? There's no time in the game to seek out and meet the other people ingame (at the same time I am) that like to interact. A global chat channel lets me instantly find the other cwazy folks that consider interacting with other players kind of a part of an MMO. (*cough ironic sarcasm done lightly there cough*).
Why places to gather? Because it's great to drop into a spot ingame and know that you'll find folks to mess around with and just talk. Playing an MMO is not just racing from quest to quest and leveling as fast as you can for everyone. For a lot of people it's about having fun with each other and finding friends ingame that you enjoy hanging out with.
Why a strong community? Because without one the chat can get ugly. AO and LOTRO have both shown that a strong community in the global chat can result in a self policing system that simply /ignores the barrens chat kids and redirects the folks that need a different channel. One of the flaws of FE is that the community itself in the one global help channel is dominated by the GM's and there's no chance for the players to actually step up and bounce the idiots out of the chat themselves.
I think that having global level interactions is a good thing in a game. If I am going to collect 87 thousand ant legs or even 10 pig intestines, I'd like to at least comment in global how rank pigs smell when you're pulling out innards from their still steaming corpses. Perhaps you feel differently and if so, please drop a line. I will say this though. Of all the games I've played and all the beta's I've run, the MMO's that have stayed with me and the ones that still get my sub money every month are those with a strong global community. Sheesh, I'm such a joiner.