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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Where's the Social?

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86 posts found
  Roman291

Novice Member

Joined: 10/24/06
Posts: 109

3/29/13 5:33:48 PM#21

A lot of great points, gets me thinking of how many times I've blown off people who wanted to group while we were doing to the same quests. This is definitely an issue with MMO's nowadays.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11822

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

3/29/13 6:03:32 PM#22

A lot of it is in the design of the games themselves. Log into GW2, WOW, Rift, and the like, and you find the game is first and foremost about leveling. There is no reason to do anything else, partially because there are no mechanics to support doing anything else. Now look at games like Puzzle Pirates, Free Realms and UO. The biggest difference is that the second group has specific mechanics to support socializing and interacting outside of the guild unit - a unit that solely exists in the first group for the sake of levelling. In the three or four years I've played Free Realms, no one has ever asked me to group to level or grind content. I have joined plenty of groups however that existed solely to play games at the beach or party at a house. The same with Puzzle Pirates and UO - these games are designed with mechanics to support people getting together because they want to, as opposed to the first group where the reason to band together is because they need to.

Most of the newer games lack two things that are needed

There have been some efforts toward the latter, but for the msot part the former is ignored, as if developers think they are going to solve the problem of world peace in an anonymous, consequenceless, internet environment.

Social interaction is just very poorly supported in most of today's MMOs.

 

UO, DAoC, and EQ had a lot more player interaction than today's games. Partially because most of the players had very similar interests. It would be interesting to do a poll on that because I think a lot of the early MMO gamers were very interested in emulating the 'party of adventurers' experience from movies and table top games.

Now, while I abhor forced downtime, in the absence of social tools, EQ and DAoC created social environments in a rather crude way.  DAoC also had people banding together with common interests, as the game brought in many who may not have been high fantasy fans but were big on Arthurian lore and mythology.   UO actually put in the tools and staff (paid and volunteer) to support social gameplay because, well, Origin's UO was just plain awesome.

 

A certain portion of it rests on the players, and these forums are a classic example of that. Suggest that social gameplay is a third form of content (along with themepark and sandbox) and it is completely rejected. More glaring than that, is the fact that there are very few posts ever about social gameplay outside of "Where's the community?" As long as players only return feedback in the form of themepark/sandbox, devs will only create the two. As long as discussion of social features is regularly met with "I'm not looking for IRC with avatars" or waved off as cybersexing, no meaningful feedback can be generated to give the devs. That's not just these forums, but almost any MMO forum.

If players want more social features, they need to give that feedback to the devs. "We want more community" isn't feedback. Let them know what you want and how you want it.

 

 

 

 

  Vorthanion

Elite Member

Joined: 7/02/11
Posts: 1882

3/29/13 6:37:01 PM#23
I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous.  Create your own communities and stop depending on game mechanics to do it for you.  Every game has Guild features that make it incredibly easy to surround yourself with like minded players.  If that's not enough, then maybe the issue is with you and not everyone else.

  jtcgs

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/04
Posts: 1843

3/29/13 6:40:33 PM#24

Gawd...

There is no shortage of people talking in MMOs. Maybe its you?

“I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  MondoA2J

Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/13
Posts: 259

"You are mine, I'm yours, and if we die, we die. But first we'll live." Ygritte

3/29/13 6:57:01 PM#25

I completely agree with your article and feel exactly the same as you do but if you haven't noticed a trend in all these comments and even your article.

The answer I believe is clear..."My friends are playing other MMOs which don't suit my taste" or "My friends are playing console games etc etc"  I believe a large part of this is that the market is extremely over saturated with MMOs. There is more MMOs now then ice cream flavors!

My point? There is too many choies. In the good ol' days there was UO and Everquest or MUDs for the most part these we're your 3 choices. We played these games cause the genre was new and interesting, we wanted to partake in the concept of massive multiplayer online INCLUDING the role playing game part. Thrown together to band up against a common foe or simply just the pleasure of trade or exploration. These aspects mean nothing now.

I am sure I sound like an old man but the genre has grown old and slightly bitter. We focus on innovation and shiny new features more then what it was all about to begin with...Community.

These days most players have become locusts moving from the next big thing to the next. I feel your pain and find myself not really all that excited about MMO's in general.

One could argue though that World of Warcraft had millions of players and there have been plenty of times I felt I was playing a single player game there as well. So in the end maybe its not the games that have changed but we as players.

Your social life is what you make of it but it feels like we are sitting on the side of a marathoin trying to have a conversation with the runners sometimes.

MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  rodingo

Elite Member

Joined: 1/18/07
Posts: 1625

3/29/13 8:52:49 PM#26

It's beginning to be much more of a trend to blame game design on the lack of social gameplay.  Sure older games forced you to be more social by making you have to group and/or spam chat for more group members, but I wouldn't say that was so much a design decision as to it being more of a lack of design experience for Devs and their player bases.  The devs simply didn't think about or even know how to deliver content otherwise other than spawning mobs that take a group to kill.  Things change and evolve.  Games are no different and neither are people. 

The first car only went a couple of miles an hour and the first television was black and white.  They are different now due to technology, trial and error, and consumer demand.  So no, it's not game design.  Speccially when your keyboard is right there at your fingertips the whole time you are playing the game.  Just learn to type "hello" again.  If another player doesn't respond, is it really the game's fault?  Believe it or not saying "hello" in the real world is how the majority of friendships actually begin. 

"If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11822

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

3/29/13 9:31:39 PM#27
Originally posted by rodingo

It's beginning to be much more of a trend to blame game design on the lack of social gameplay.  Sure older games forced you to be more social by making you have to group and/or spam chat for more group members, but I wouldn't say that was so much a design decision as to it being more of a lack of design experience for Devs and their player bases.  The devs simply didn't think about or even know how to deliver content otherwise other than spawning mobs that take a group to kill.  Things change and evolve.  Games are no different and neither are people. 

Downtime was the result of technical reasons, not lack of design experience or lack of knowledge of how to deliver content, as many of the early MMO leads had extensive backgrounds in MUDs/MOOs.

Keep in mind EQ isn't "older games" it's just one, and much of what you list there is rather exclusive to that game, as they were less of an issue or non-existent in UO, AC, SWG, EVE, ATITD, There, Puzzle Pirates, Project Entropia, and most other early MMOs. EQ isn't "the old days' it's simply EQ.

Most of the mainstream MMOs have the same design - kill stuff to level to kill bigger stuff to level to kill bigger stuff. Even the progression, classes, theme, and manner of killing stuff is the relatively same. Content outside that has little or no bearing on progression, if it even exists at all. As a result, these games are solely about leveling. Combine that with the extreme level disparity and you have games where even when you are part of a guild/clan, you can easily end up outside of the group's activities simply by mssing a few days of gameplay. When the only thing to do is level, stopping to do anything else is simply counter productive, not just in advancement, but socially, as well.

A good portion of the blame does fall squarely on the shoulder of the devs as the newer games do not have social tools and are unbelievably linear. The games that do have social tools have far more interaction. Log into Puzzle Pirates or Free Realms and you see people gathering just to hang out together. You will meet people that are just congregating at a person's house to play various games and chat. They can do that in those games because the tools are there to support social activities and if they don't go leveling for a few days, they aren't 'falling behind'.

Many devs create duct tape solutions to these problems in the form of sidekick and mentor features, but that doesn't add to interaction and social activities, it just (barely) fixes the part they've broken.

 

 

  Jagarid

Novice Member

Joined: 8/01/09
Posts: 413

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

3/29/13 10:19:36 PM#28

I think the problem is that these type of games have become popular.   More people playing (a whole lot more people) means a lot more assholes.  

 I know the reason I am much more hesitant to reach out to befriend folks now then I was 10-15 years ago is because 9 out of 10 times when I do, the person is a self-centered, egomaniacal, ass-hat.   10-15 years ago it was the opposite, 9 out of 10 people were decent and friendly.

Online gaming has gone from being a small market with a tight-knit community to a mass-market filled with the common folks.   And the simple fact is that common folks are selfish and mean.

  rodingo

Elite Member

Joined: 1/18/07
Posts: 1625

3/29/13 10:37:59 PM#29
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by rodingo

It's beginning to be much more of a trend to blame game design on the lack of social gameplay.  Sure older games forced you to be more social by making you have to group and/or spam chat for more group members, but I wouldn't say that was so much a design decision as to it being more of a lack of design experience for Devs and their player bases.  The devs simply didn't think about or even know how to deliver content otherwise other than spawning mobs that take a group to kill.  Things change and evolve.  Games are no different and neither are people. 

Downtime was the result of technical reasons, not lack of design experience or lack of knowledge of how to deliver content, as many of the early MMO leads had extensive backgrounds in MUDs/MOOs.

Keep in mind EQ isn't "older games" it's just one, and much of what you list there is rather exclusive to that game, as they were less of an issue or non-existent in UO, AC, SWG, EVE, ATITD, There, Puzzle Pirates, Project Entropia, and most other early MMOs. EQ isn't "the old days' it's simply EQ.

Most of the mainstream MMOs have the same design - kill stuff to level to kill bigger stuff to level to kill bigger stuff. Even the progression, classes, theme, and manner of killing stuff is the relatively same. Content outside that has little or no bearing on progression, if it even exists at all. As a result, these games are solely about leveling. Combine that with the extreme level disparity and you have games where even when you are part of a guild/clan, you can easily end up outside of the group's activities simply by mssing a few days of gameplay. When the only thing to do is level, stopping to do anything else is simply counter productive, not just in advancement, but socially, as well.

A good portion of the blame does fall squarely on the shoulder of the devs as the newer games do not have social tools and are unbelievably linear. The games that do have social tools have far more interaction. Log into Puzzle Pirates or Free Realms and you see people gathering just to hang out together. You will meet people that are just congregating at a person's house to play various games and chat. They can do that in those games because the tools are there to support social activities and if they don't go leveling for a few days, they aren't 'falling behind'.

Many devs create duct tape solutions to these problems in the form of sidekick and mentor features, but that doesn't add to interaction and social activities, it just (barely) fixes the part they've broken.

 

 

I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player.   Not everyone logs into games and hits the ground running non-stop to max level.  In SWG or Neocron I didn't need speccially made dev tools to socialize.  I just used my keyboard which is what I also use now.  Are extra events and tools a nice addition to a game?  You bet.  Lotro used to have good turn outs for their seasonal festivals. Not sure now though since I have not played during a festival in a few years.  However,  those things or something similar shouldn't be used so much as a crutch. 

 

"If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  Snakex

Novice Member

Joined: 7/10/08
Posts: 249

Unfortunately, killing is just one of those things that gets easier the more you do it.

3/29/13 11:11:36 PM#30
This article is great. Sadly iv seen that now we must go to those under developed games now to obtain social interactions such as Darkfall
  Terranah

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/03/04
Posts: 3612

3/29/13 11:13:16 PM#31

A lot of gamers have moved into the mmo arena and they have brought with them their antisocial behaviors. 

 

But there are still some that roleplay, it just seems hard to find them.  I have no interest in competing with anyone other than myself.  I just want to enjoy my online friends and have a good time.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11822

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

3/29/13 11:40:01 PM#32
Originally posted by rodingo

I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player. 

I did think about it, which is why I presented the significant design differences not only between the older MMOs and newer ones, but between the more social newer ones and the less social newer ones. Is it that you do not accept those differences or that you do not see them?

 

  rodingo

Elite Member

Joined: 1/18/07
Posts: 1625

3/30/13 12:36:31 AM#33
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by rodingo

I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player. 

I did think about it, which is why I presented the significant design differences not only between the older MMOs and newer ones, but between the more social newer ones and the less social newer ones. Is it that you do not accept those differences or that you do not see them?

 

I think we actually agree more on certain points than we disagree.  Like you said in an earlier post about how the older games like UO, DAoC and EQ were more social becuase "... most of the players had very similar interests."  I agree completely.  I also agree that most mainstream MMO's follow the same design of to kill stuff in order to be able to kill bigger stuff.  Other than Eve though, is there really now or have been in the past a game that wasn't designed around that as its core?  I also think you are being a little extreme about how if you do something outside leveling, that you are being counter- productive.  Sure some guilds are all about world firsts or power progression and will leave you behind, but those guilds don't represent the majority.  The design of the game is not at fault for that, but rather the guild's leadership (players).  EDIT: Pretty much every MMO allows guilds to be formed so it's well in your power and ability to join or form one.  In fact I can't think of an MMO off the bat that doesn't allow for guilds. If someone plays the game solo and gets "left behind", then guess what?  It was that player's fault for playing solo (aka, not being social), not the fault of game design. People often complain about how games today hold the player's hand with the level of difficulty and what-not, but they still want the game to hold their hand and socialize for them.

I also agree that mentoring or sidekicking doesn't provide socializing, however I don't think it was meant to.  I believe that was more of a simple face value tool for friends to be able to play with each other who were actually at different levels.  In that case, the social bond of players was already there to begin with.

I'm honestly interested in what your solution is to this problem of socialization.  My solution simply starts with the player to determine when to socialize.  Like you said, if the players have similar interest the socialization will be there.  Heck even the insane power leveling guilds are still socializing by discussing builds, strategies, and dungeon/raid forming and meeting times.  And they are even doing this outside of game with teamspeak, ventrillo, and their own websites.   That is nothing new and they will continue to do so even with the newer MMOs that have yet to be released wether they are sandbox, thempark, or whatever.

So in all honesty, let me hear what you have to say about a way to fix, change or enhance the current situation.  You say "tools".  Ok, but in the form of what?

"If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  cconroy11

Novice Member

Joined: 2/08/11
Posts: 14

3/30/13 12:56:50 AM#34

I think its a lot of these "tools" that kill the social aspect.

Perception is our window into reality, an mmo attempts to take you into this new world, filled with creatures, and your supposed to "feel" your character you create. I cant tell you how many hours Ive spent trying to find that perfect name, or making the character look and feel just right.

These tools take away from that perception... Back in the day you used to have to manually find a group... as would someone if they really lived in the said game world. Things like the LFG tool, take away from what makes the reality of the game plausable.

You used to have to manually find a group, then you would all have to find each other, then, you would all ahve to make your way too said questing,leveling,raiding spot....While this was all happening you were all communicating, getting to know each other, and BAM thats were the magic happens!

Back then mmos were fun, they were thrilling, you didnt want your character to die, you wanted glory! I remember my heart pounding going through deadmines the first time... I dont care if you find that funny or cheesy, but it is a memory I have and probobly always will, thanks to the conditions I listed above.

  Hedeon

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/05
Posts: 904

3/30/13 2:34:37 AM#35

I do miss "social" in MMOs, but my main problem with it is I hardly see the point in doing so, usually I dont even buy the MMO after a "beta", so I spend so little time in a MMO that I dont care to look for people I care to chat with, there is simply so many that are busy trying to belittle other people, to be able to indirectly brag about their own uberness....it is simply sickning behavior to me. 

overall the way most people behave make me wonder why they even play online games, as it seems like other people is just an annoying part of an otherwise, to me, boring game - Ive yet to play a MMO that I found really fun, if it werent for the social part, compared to singleplayer games.

it is what makes it hard to find a new group of players, for me, am too used to how my old EQ2 guild were....which happend to be mainly old EQ1 players...

  UsualSuspect

Elite Member

Joined: 11/01/04
Posts: 1211

3/30/13 3:28:15 AM#36

I see it more as a result of the current social environment. I'm 42 so I've seen a few things come and go, none more so than the way people have become more insular over the years. When I was a kid people left their doors open all day so the neighbours could pop in, kids would be left to play out in the street, there'd be chats across the back gardens and children would often go for long journeys alone, riding bikes or investigating the local woods.

Now, I look out my front door and the streets are empty, all the doors locked tight, I look out my back garden and every house has fencing so high that nobody can see in. The kids are locked away like fragile little mice, parents afraid that someone might snatch them if they avert their gaze for even a second, teenagers are viewed as violent and dangerous, gangs that will beat you and take your mobile phone.. that's if they're not on their mobile phones, even together they're alone, tapping away to update Facebook or send a Twitter comment, ignoring the friends they're supposed to be hanging out with.

The news speaks of terrorists around every corner, paedophiles ready to snatch your children, knife crime and murders, missing persons, racial hatred, economic collapse, price increases, and it goes on and on. We used to be a race that could get along with each other, invite each other into our homes, now we've become increasingly insular, wary, suspicious of every stranger.

It's no wonder the social aspect has left gaming.. it's left everywhere else too.

  Ehliya

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/13/06
Posts: 174

3/30/13 3:29:52 AM#37

I agree 100 percent.  The MMORPG scene has developed towards a single-player style.  There are few real reasons to develop mutually supportive relationships since each avatar is created self-contained.  GW2 is the best example of this....you really have no need to engage with anyone to accomplish your tasks.  Combine this with the prevalence of theme park mechanics and you feel the genre is devolving.  The games are getting prettier but dumber. 

  Sevro

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/13
Posts: 1

3/30/13 3:37:41 AM#38
agree with OP 100%
  Ashoka14

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/20/13
Posts: 2

3/30/13 3:48:17 AM#39
I too miss the social part of the game I use to play swg and I played ent.Playing in the cantina and doing buffs was great way to talk to people I met slot good friends that way.
Sadly since swg is no more and some of the games I still play do not have any social to them and unfortunately some friend stop playing due rl things so game I play I am by myself No one to talk to.
I am in guild in eq2 but no one really talk in there it do sad even if your in guild sometimes you feel alone in there too.
I wish game developers would include in the game place to relax and talk to people or just get up and dance or whatever you wanted to do a break from questing and raiding.
But sadly I doubt if any game William have that I bought founder game for neverwinter when it comes out but I have feeling it won't have any social aspect to it either.
Maybe I am dying breed if gamer that miss the social fun of meeting people and making new friends
  Po_gg

Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 1951

3/30/13 4:16:29 AM#40

Deja vu... We had the same thread here a week ago (only Christina's column was more thorough :) )

To avoid going through the subject all over again, here it is in a nutshell: -forced methods suck, -back then there were less games and less players, -players with a shared interest of rpg or games, -since then the market got filled / even saturated with mmo's, -the player numbers were exploded, -biggest part of the playerbase now the casuals who just want to have fun, -socializing ways and methods are exploded as well.

Bottom line, it's not "missing" social or "less" social, just different social (as Christina wrote as well). And most importantly, it still up to the people to socialize, the game can't do it for the players.

 

Originally posted by rodingo

So no, it's not game design.  Speccially when your keyboard is right there at your fingertips the whole time you are playing the game.  Just learn to type "hello" again.  If another player doesn't respond, is it really the game's fault?  Believe it or not saying "hello" in the real world is how the majority of friendships actually begin. 

Agree. There are still rp servers and guilds in most games, social events (probably rodingo was who mentioned LotRO's festivals as well), devs can help with stuff like TSW's theatre and the club, etc. but in the end the choice is still in the player's hands.

I'm not happy either that a big chunk of players are exists in games only like hermits. But it's a change you can't turn back, the aged methods aren't working. I saw a kid once playing GW2, on ventrilo with buddies in-game, on the side skyped with friends outside the game and occasionally goofed around with his mobile (facebook / twitter / any other crap sites). You or the devs could say he isn't social in the game, or he should dedicate more into the game like we did in the old days. I bet he would only answer something mods would edit right away :) And that's how the majority of the playerbase looks today... Not rude I mean, only they don't need the game for socializing at all.

 

Edit: left out the answer... Where's the Social? It's still in-game, true nowadays much less players are interested in it. But you can find it, just look harder :)

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