This weeks Community Spotlight focuses on a bit of a necro thread started in August by user cybertrucker. Normally, I wouldn’t spotlight a necro thread, but it appears it just randomly came back to life and continued the previous (and still relevant) discussion, no harm there! The thread is entitled “The BEST and WORST community you have experienced,” whereby cybertrucker polls the MMORPG.com community for what they feel were their best and worst community experiences in an MMOG.
Cybertrucker starts out with himself:
“For me it would probably be like this.
BEST: Vanguard or EQ1..Why? Because People came to help each other and it wasnt always about just themselves. The open world dungeons I think lended to this and also the games were designed around group play in mind. Sure you could solo in them but the best content was designed for groups..
Worst: Would probably have to WOW.. and no Im not a WOW hater.. I actually enjoyed the game.. However I think it was the game to really breed the ME ME ME mentality.. Yes it was there in some people before WOW.. But WOW encouraged it.. IT was the first game that I played where PUGs were looked down upon. In every game up to WOW i grouped with random people all the time. Sure I ran with friends on a regular basis but didnt mind picking up groups either.”
While some of the users in this thread simply used it as a soapbox to attack one community or another, many did share their best and worst experiences in detail and are worth mentioning here.
A testament to how diverse our community is, the first reply, by user BigDavo, cites World of Warcraft as his choice for best community (the direct opposite of Cybertrucker’s experience):
“Best - WoW, I think I may have gotten lucky with my server, on the whole it was mature (to an extent lol), very friendly and very social. Don't think I'll ever seen anything like it again. It was called Icecrown if that's familiar to anyone.
Worst - Probably WAR, very boring community, very little chat, everyone just did their own thing with as little interaction as they could.”
Not too far fetched, given how many servers World of Warcraft has I’m sure the communities are diverse enough to have good and bad apples.
Bonobotheory cites City of Heroes as his best community experience:
“Best: City of Heroes. Probably because of the casual nature of the game, nobody takes things too seriously or gets bent out of shape when things don't go their way.
Worst: World fo Warcraft. I don't know what it is about that game, but it seems to attract the dregs of humanity. When I switched to EQ2 and CoH, I was surprised to find that the people were completely different, and grouping with strangers could be a pleasant experience.”
Having played City of Heroes for over four years I’d definitely have to disagree about no one taking things too seriously. I found it almost ironic how people were able to take things seriously in a game that didn’t really have the typical things to fight over. Instead, people fought over power specs, or how to play your “class,” even though the game was easy enough for it to not really matter.
DoktorTeufel (who has since apparently “retired” from all three games he cites as having the best communites) picks EVE, SWG, and Ryzom as his best experiences and World of Warcraft (surprise!) and WAR as his worst:
“Best community: Three-way tie between EVE, SWG and Ryzom.
EVE had (and surely still has) plenty of morons, asshats and lowlifes, but there are also just as many skilled, intelligent, helpful, and just plain awesome to be around people in EVE's community. Even people who are your in-game enemies could be "worthy opponents" and enrich your gaming experience, playing cat-and-mouse with them in-game and then reliving the good times on the official forums. EVE has it all, that's why even the bad parts of the community are good: Without them the game would feel incomplete.
SWG had a great community (pre-NGE anyway, not sure about now) because of the interdependence of characters. Since you had to rely on other characters for various crafting materials, crafted items, buffs, services, and certain other unique skills, and because you couldn't do everything with your own main character and alts, everyone had a niche and it really brought the community together in many wonderful ways. There was even plenty of factional patriotism to be found. The sandbox nature of the world also catered to many different types of players, so there were always new friends to meet and different activities to engage in.
Ryzom... well, I don't know why it has (had?) such a good community, but it does. There were lots of international players, and everyone was friendly, welcoming and helpful. Sadly, I started playing Ryzom a month before the game's servers were shut down (it's been up and running again for a while now), and I haven't been back since, so that's all I can say about it.
Worst community: Tie between WoW and WAR.
I don't have to explain WoW, everyone knows the crap-stained dregs of humanity populate its servers. WAR's community is better in general, but no one ever talked to anyone else outside of their guild for the two months I was playing (I started in open beta), and it just seemed devoid of meaningful interaction.
That said, in both WoW and WAR, if you find a really good and active guild the community will seem much better, but the general communities were terrible in my experience.”
This is one of several responses that mentioned WAR due to a lack of interaction between players, and I can honestly say I felt the same way when playing. Outside of getting together for a war council meeting and planning out a T4 campaign with alliance guilds, most players just seemed like they ran about quietly, or if you were on Dark Crag, you were treated to general chat that seemed like 24/7 Barrens chat.
User Torak makes some excellent points about communities in general while sharing some of his own best and worst experiences:
“There a few MMO's that the communities really stood out for me (in MY experience and this no way reflects on the total community)
Asherons Call - My first MMO. I played with a bunch of people for over a year and someof us still talk every once in a while. The moment that sticks out for me is my guild helping me recover a corpse from an acid pit...lol...hours of fun!
Lineage 2 - truely a game filled with the noblest (ingame) heroes and some the most evil pricks I ever met! It made the game a joy to play. I still have contact with a lot of them.
DAoC - played with a bunch of RL friends & ingame friends and never had a better time. (to bad WAR fell through for us)
Guild Wars - again because I played with my RL friends.
WAR - again because I played with my RL friends and my wife and ingame friends. It was a blast while it lasted.
The WORST communities I have experience are the ones I didn't take the time to get to know anyone. A lot of MMO's I am pretty indifferent about. WoW didn't bother me to much. I don't know why people hammer on the game so much.
I think many people confuse those general chat channels for the "community" lol...those are usually filled with the people that no one wants around. If you really look at them, its the same handful of people making a spectical of themselves because they are
obnoxious attention whores and probably get kicked from every decent group of people they run across....which is why they vomit their nonsense on the general channels.
I think what a lot of players need to keep in mind is you are able to build your own community in any game. You can talk your gaming friends into joining you, you can talk to people ingame and look for like minded people. You can ignore people who are idiots and report them if they harass you. No one forces you to read the general chat, you can shut it off, no one is saying anything worth reading anyway.”
I agree with Torak in that for the most part you can make your own community, but some game’s or particular servers at least are just a lost cause. There are many more examples throughout the rest of this thread, but I will end this weeks blog with a few of my own best and worst experiences.
My best experience in an MMOG community was Star Wars Galaxies up to before the Holocron craziness occurred. I have always felt that the Holocron system is what caused the once helpful and colorful community to simply cannibalize itself, and I feel to this day that the system’s introduction had a far worse impact on the game than the NGE. By the time the NGE rolled around the writing was already on the wall.
Prior to the Holocron system, however, I still remember my first time logging into the game and some player offering to teach me the game’s languages so I could understand other players. He also informed me how to turn my personal light on and some provided some other helpful tips. This was really the beginning of many good experiences I had with the game. Players in general were friendly and appreciative, and most people were simply adventure seeking and loved to get together to try out crazy things.
I'd like to share my favorite example with you. If you were on the Starsider server at launch you might recall this experience. Within the first two weeks of launch or so many still newbie players with crap gear and worse skills got together, at least 50+ of us and went to Endor in search of adventure and good experience. What resulted was absolute hilarity. We ran amok through the wilderness of Endor and got slaughtered by rival Ewok tribes and other dangerous creatures, though we managed to also make a good amount of XP by winning some battles through sheer numbers. I could go on and on about Star Wars Galaxies, but I will leave you with that as far as my good experiences go.
For my worst community experience I would have to say Age of Conan. I cannot speak for any other server but playing on the Cimmeria server, I’ve never in my life seen a larger congregation of douchebags. Some of them were simply war mongering, some of them totally immature, and some for no reason at all.
Of course, there was a plus side to all this: it made for great killing! Some jerk stole my spawn? Kill him! The fact they were such big jerks about it made the revenge all the more sweet. Of course, I’ll never forget the simple act of passing through Conall’s Valley as a low level player. The area was highly trafficked by higher level players who were passing through to the Field of the Dead, and I can’t tell you how many times I was casually whacked with a sword or a polearm by a mounted level 60+ player and killed instantly (and casually) as he rode by. It didn’t help that the zone was entirely narrow and linear either.
Of course, I participated in my own douchebaggery, I think the game brought out the worst in all of us. I can't tell you how many people I hunted on White Sands Island in Tortage, for no reason at all other than the pleasure of the kill.
So what are your best and worst community experiences in an MMOG? Let us know in the comments below!