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The Space Between

Gaming and Life, Rants and Raves, now with 30% more loot!

Author: TesterNGS

Socialization = Difficulty

Posted by TesterNGS Saturday December 15 2007 at 7:30AM
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Socialization = Difficulty

MMORPGs are easy games. Typically, all you need to do to get ahead is spend time playing. Most games lead you to max level along a fairly linear path, punishing you with the death of your character if you stray off course. And really, all a death means in a MMORPG is that you need to spend more time getting back to where you were before the death. Most MMOs are carefully crafted so that the solo player always experiences content suited to their relative power level. As long as you can click buttons in a certain order, you win.
MMORPGs have to be easy thanks to their business model. Successful subscribers are happy subscribers. No one would pay $15 per month to have their virtual ass continually handed to them by a Large Spider. Well, some players might, but that's a topic for another blog entry. If players are always gaining wealth, power, levels, or items, then they are happy. If a game is difficult, then they get rewarded less often and thus aren't happy, so they unsubscribe.
But there has to be something in the game for players who want a challenge. There has to be awesome rewards that set you apart from other players. This is where the game forces you into socialization. Want to finish that Elite quest? Get a group. Want to go raiding? Form a guild. Want to stand a chance in large scale PvP? You'd better have some friends. The biggest challenges and biggest rewards a game offers requires that you socialize with other players, and that socialization is often more difficult than the baddest boss the game can throw at you.
Face it, some people just don't work well in groups. They don't pay attention, they don't follow rules or tactics. They don't do the work required to fill their role in a raid. They don't listen to TeamSpeak and they're constantly AFK. We've all suffered these kinds of fools. How many of you have thought, "This would be SO much easier if everyone would get here on time and pay attention."
PvP teams in Guild Wars are more successful if PEOPLE communicate.
Bosses in WoW go down faster if PEOPLE pay attention and fill their roles well.
Corporations in EVE simply cannot prosper if PEOPLE don't contribute.
Perma-parties in FFXI level much faster because the PEOPLE in the party have a vested interest in getting ahead.
So in the end, when a game developer wants to add challenge to their game, they create situations that require players to work together, to socialize. Naturally they can create bosses with more hit points and other such things to make them more challenging, but  bosses have to be able to be killed and PEOPLE are often more challenging than the boss itself.

Do I think that MMO developers should ban group content because its sometime difficult to find good people with whom to group? No, of course not. I just find it interesting that other players can be just as big an obstacle to success as the meanest dragon or toughest grind.


Drolletje writes:

exactly! That's the main reason for me why I play mmo's, to play together with my friends and other people.

Sat Dec 15 2007 8:23AM Report
t0nyd writes:

I agree with you on, a majority of MMOrpgs are easy and the only measure of difficulty is TIME spent playing. The main problem with MMOrpgs is that a lot of player do not want much skill involved, they prefer time based games over skill based. Usually this is because, anyone with time can compete in a time based game, with skill either you have or you gain it or you suffer...


Sat Dec 15 2007 8:26AM Report
Meltdown writes:

I agree, its a good business model. Even the "hardcore" games like the original EQ or UO followed this basic premise. You could do stuff by yourself (although limited in EQ) but the best results are obtained in groups. I "partly" hate that about WoW and newer MMO's that allow for the fastest leveling to be done solo and grouping is only for gear upgrades.

Even though Asian MMO's have their flaws I would say a lot of them have really good grouping strategies. Most of the time you have a decent xp bonus when you are grouped, or sometimes the xp isn't even split up.

Then again, I don't have the free time like I did in the EQ days. Do I really want to spend the time looking for a group when I only have an hour or two on week-nights? It's a dilemma, but I definately think that the reward of greater experience has been missing recently as a social reward.

Sat Dec 15 2007 10:07AM Report
qombi writes:

Meltdown, actually it doesn't take long to find a group if everyone has to as well. If no one can solo, guess how many groups you will find .. plenty.


In the "new" MMORPGs today like WoW classes that benefit from grouping more than others such as Tanks and Healers are hindered a little for being socially group oriented major group roles which is absolutely moronic. WoW favors dps classes because of their stupid single player mentality when it comes to their MMORPG.


Soloing to the top also produces sorry people to group with and allows players that are obnoxious to be at the finish line of the game, annoying everyone else. MMORPGs are about socializing, why else do you want to play a game with millions of other players? These games need to make each other rely on each other to promote socialization, it builds such a better community as the morons are weeded out fast. I believe it also produces a over all satisfying fun experience when you are higher levels and most people are fun to group with.


I also believe the "end game" focus is absolutely retarded for an online persistant world that suppose to be a lasting experience. Levels should be long long long and bosses, dungeons and castles to pillage at most levels. The end game doesn't have to be the only fun part of a game. If that is the case, why even have levels? I really don't see how a shallow game such as WoW has gotten so popular, unless just as shallow pop music gets popular .. people like sheep flock to it because Billy did.


Sat Dec 15 2007 2:21PM Report
rscott6666 writes:

Grouping does add a snag, and i think the idea of groups needs to be reworked.  Right now groups are fairly static, you have to wait around, invite a person in, try to have the right level, right skillset, or class. You could hang out and do nothing for half an hour just trying to get it right. 

EQ overdid it.  To do most things required you have 5 other people attached at the hip.  Half my playtime was involved in getting a group together.

I think the next game that does away with the 'group' will be the
next revolutionary step.

Sat Dec 22 2007 8:18AM Report writes:
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