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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Make Friends & Influence People in MMOs

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Novice Member

Joined: 12/23/06
Posts: 8

6/22/14 4:23:59 AM#21

Great article Mark, I like your ideas, but I'd like to point out kinda funny phenomenon I've been observing in Firefall.


Firefall was social "by mistake", by bugs, can you even believe that?


Thumping: You'd invite into squad everyone around because there weren't any drawbacks and you could do larger thumpers. Made lots of friends before it got "fixed" so resources thumper pulled from the node got parted, so more people in your squad = less resources for you from the node. And so from friendly, share-with-everyone, it become competitive for spots and desired to be done solo.


ARES missions: Rewards were given to all squad members whether they were present at mission location or not. So people just grouped together to increase reward frequency by splitting up into different missions. Made lots of friends that way, before it got "fixed" and then before you even got to mission it got completed by someone random who you'd become mad at. No need to be in squad as they were incredibly easy.


Other bugs (XP vallery, watchtower defense, Diamond head ARES): Everyone would naturally flock to anything that gave lots of rewards as fast as possible and just by standing around waiting for easy rewards people got to socialize, that was the only sure way you could get to know people from inside the game. Before all that got "fixed" too.


Otherwise there was NOTHING, squad finding feature never worked and nobody gave a damn even tho I pointed it out numerous times, not that it would help because there was nothing you'd want to even do as a squad anymore. Forced group events like BWA or Invasions were more rewarding if you multiboxed them, you playing with yourself times 5. Armies were nothing more than a nametag and a chat channel.


I don't blame you or anyone particular, but this is what I'd call worst MMO job ever in terms of socialization. And it should be used as an example, how things should never be done.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/22/14 9:03:23 AM#22

I completely agree. I created the concept of Thumpers and original ARES missions, but implementation and design went through many hands after I did the initial ideas. One of my favorites was when there was a version with more of a pause between waves where you had time to set up defenses and turrets, etc. That gave people time for socialization.

XP valley was very cool. We should have explored what made it fun and formalized it as a system in the game.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/22/14
Posts: 86

6/22/14 10:54:32 AM#23


The article has good ideas from the perspective of a player who advocates group play and socialization.  While there is certainly a good point to be made regarding MMO's being all about socializing with others, the reality is that even the most social of us do not want to be social all the time.  So yes, by all means, go ahead and have at it with the implementation of all of these group play activities such as raids and forced grouping treadmill functions.  While doing so, however, you would be remiss to disregard the need that many in the player base have to be able to solo play from time to time.  Developers understand this and that is why social functions are so easy to advocate for in articles like these yet so difficult to implement in live MMO's.

The preferences in game play in the MMO industry now days is so vast that it is guaranteed that no game will ever satisfy even a 51% majority.  A quick perusal through recent threads in this forum alone produces dozens of threads  with posters expressing their different game play preferences and rarely is there ever universal agreement about how a game should be developed.  Instead of accepting a game for what it is, everyone wants what they want in an MMO and very few are ever willing to compromise.  So they flood game forums and unleash an onslaught of bashing, trolling and criticizing simply because a game does not cater to their personal preferences.

Why can't we have options?  Yes, group play is good, but solo play is OK also.  So why not implement content that can be played solo as well as in groups but when played in groups the contents difficulty and reward escalates accordingly.  That doesn't sound like rocket science, does it?  It has been done before.  If I remember correctly, DDO did this very well.  Their dungeons could be played solo as well as in groups. 

In closing I'd like to propose a novel concept.  How about we just accept games for what they are and play the games we like, and leave the ones we don't for those who like them. 


The game you are looking for requiring no PvE completion and where you can just jump in and start mindlessly shooting at people is that way - >>>>

... it's called an FPS.

Quit ruining the MMORPG genre with your constant "PvE grind" whines.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/18/12
Posts: 3

6/22/14 2:09:54 PM#24

Most of what you are saying with the exception, oddly enough, of being able to asynchronously receive PMs exists in a game called "Warframe". A clan has their own instance called a Dojo, in which they can invite other players from alliances, other clans and well just about anyone, and to which all players can contribute in terms of construction of the rooms and decor.


While a nice system, I, from a personal, now quite deep experience with it, can not say that building something is necessarily a thing that bonds people. It's not integrated enough for people to care. Maybe there's just not enough of it or maybe it's the lack of leaving your mark on a piece of decor that makes this just a gimmick. But it doesn't really help.


On another note, as part of the (in)famous Tex community, as well as another rather popular Warframe-only community called Ghost Alliance (which is specifically known for being a very friendly and helpful community, that's like the first things newcomers seem to notice when joining), I can offer some insight into what I observed to make people care:


The first and main thing is quite simple and ironic: egoism. We at Tex are a great and loyal to each other community because we have plenty of things which make us unique. Differ us from the rest. We have people who coded addons for Firefall. We have this IRC channel that we use to trash talk and sometimes discuss programming questions and other topics. We have forums that our member set up himself for us to organize events and have special discussions.


We have a specific common style of playing: powergaming. Some more some less, but most of us like to Powergame like insane (hence our former ridiculousness in Firefall). We have a unique for a clan "horizontal" hierarchy system. That kind of stuff, logos, common themes. Stuff that makes you able to say "Yeah I am Tex-an. We do X and Y the Z way and we like to Powergame", is what people care about. What differentiates them from the others as part of a group with unique easily identifiable attributes.


Same with Ghost Alliance: it has it's unique attributes. It has a LOT of very old and rich players, however the way it was set up the ones which liked the constant competitive activities have left for other alliances. In short we ended up with a lot of people who enjoyed helping each other and new players out. That attracted more players with that kind of attitude. In the end we ended up with a community known for players that like to carry newbies around endgame content, give free stuff, and just generally be less serious about stuff and more "fun and games" sort of attitude - different to most other alliances in the game. We also have one of the biggest amount of clans in this alliance.


There's a reason I am telling you all this: these things can be directly linked to the gameplay and demonstrated to others. Programming can be linked to creating addons and searching for "Texploits". Powergaming can be linked to mass hoarding and searching for the most effective methods to get the "most stuff". "Noob friendly community" can be linked to trading system and giving mods and parts to fellow alliance members for free for them to play with these items to have a different gameplay - gameplay "marked" with these social... umm... attributes.


So you can see sort of a link. You enter a community >> You see some of it's defining features >> You demonstrate these to non-members in gameplay >> They say "WOW that's ceeeewl!" >> You say "Yep that's how we roll" thinking "Oh stahp it, you!".


Say you have some sort of thing in your community like, say, "Everyone says a dick joke to other community members every day". Yeah ok I could dig that. But it's not something I can present to other players in the game I'm playing as a defining feature of the community. Not because it's immature. Because it's in no way related to gameplay. HOWEVER - if there was a stupid clan item that emitted a pink cloud above a characters' head every time he typed "dick" in chat as long as he was a part of that clan and that item was unique - no other clans could get it, then it WOULD work. And it would contribute towards guild loyalty of that member.


So given your context the most appropriate social features in a game with social aspects like MMO or some coop game with MMO elements like clans would be ones which let clans differ themselves from each other in unique and gameplay-related way. Not in some complex things like fighting and weapons, but just in something that lets members tell others  "That's how we roll". And have random players recognize the presence of that clan in a gameplay activity based on those attributes.


This can include persistent event-based territory control, for example an event that frees up some space on the map and then lets clans claim it for a time. At the end of the event whichever clans still own parts of it, will have the ability to, say, create their own quest "decorations" for EVERYONE in the game to participate in - like Warframe dark sectors with more integration. For instance a dungeon on Tex-owned land has a quest that requires players to fetch an item from within.


As being part of Tex I may alter quest's phases to have messages like "Retrieve Optii's shittalk dictionary before the dragon learns all of his insults!" and I can elect to put a giant dildo on the quest terminal board. I can also elect to give the player who does the quest a reward in form of a stat-wise good weapon with a very offensive description. Then other Texans can alter the other Tex-owned quests in this manner, creating a certain theme. Players who dig it will say "LOL Tex should own more land their quests are funny". Players who don't can say "Fucking immature bitches, how the hell did they beat VitisMyYTChannel clan?!".


Addons marked by clan and various in-game visitable areas with "Clan achievement halls" where people can inspect what the clan has done, being it addons created, fan art contest wins, YT videos or streams, all that would also help. If it is visible in game easily. If it is visible to all.


You are right. Facebook integration doesn't do shit for clans and for strong social bonds. Neither does Twitter or Mobile Apps or even leaderboards. But internal facility construction doesn't either. For something truly strong in terms of social aspect, the players must work together to differ themselves from the others. They must have an opportunity to "Own" their own little part of the game and own it in a big way. In a way that makes others nod their head and say "Hey! I remember those guys! They are the ones that killed Baneclaw with just the Dragonfly abilities without a single shot!". We had a member record it and post it on YT and forums for that. A game that wanted to improve social aspect of itself would make sure this feat reaches all players upon the next login in some sort of "Impressive feats feed" terminal inside player hub.


This probably fits the size of it's own article, but you have good ideas, Kern, I felt that it was worth the effort. Shame that not all your ideas come to life, but whatever murky things might have happened behind the scenes of Red5 one thing is evident for me and hasn't really been disproved: you do know what makes games tick. The trouble is in getting down to the details of implementation from the concepts of creation.


Advanced Member

Joined: 7/15/07
Posts: 18

6/22/14 6:23:57 PM#25

I agree with the asynchrounous communication ideas, have a in game forum would be pretty neat, a lot of gamers specially mmo players really do miss out on friendship bonding through the games forum, and having a community moderated forum in game, would be a great idea, as that also works well with the idea of asynchronous communication.


But when you started to talk about guilds you also stopped talking about how to make friendship in mmo's the way we used to make friendship is mmo's.

I might come off as wrong here, what I mean is that guild activities isn't something new, even the ideas you wrote down. 

However I cannot really mention a game where I have created long lasting friendship, in an mmo without a lot of downtime.. 

Maplestory is the game that I bonded with existing friends and new friend for majority of my teen life, and that all happened becuase the exp per hour ratio was about 10%/h for the majority of the time, and grinding levels was not something someone did for a whole day, some of the day would always go towards socializing and such. 

But I can understand that is not a desirable way to design modern mmo's just to have that social aspect in the game. 



Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 8:31:57 AM#26

Megakoresh I believe that what a guild builds together has to serve the competitive nature of players, even PvE players in a PvE world. The cities that they build together would have to give them more gameplay abilities (for whatever type of game they are playing) and not just be house decorating. Cities should also compete with each other, and in PvP, go to war with each other.

It would be interesting to see a little RTS and Clash of Clans creep into the MMO space, for instance.

Thank you for taking the time to respond here. I really appreciate how much thought you put into it.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 8:33:25 AM#27
Yes, the solution here is not enough. We need a way to make friendships by playing together as individuals having adventures together. Working on some ideas for those for the next article.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 8:36:10 AM#28

Thanks for the comment!

I'm not advocating forced group play or elimination of solo play. I'm just proposing alternate ways for players to socialize that might be better than what we have now. The reason for doing so is to bring some of the friendship back to MMOs in a modern manner.

There are two ways to address the playstyle issue. The first, as you said, is to try to accomodate all players. This makes a game very big and expensive to make and harder to design. Another is to make a bunch of littler MMOs that cater to niche. EvE is one example of this.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 8:38:10 AM#29

I disagree that the genre is in good shape. I've seen too many friends and too many studios laid off from large MMOs to agree.

I'm also not advocating going back to the old ways of making MMOs. What I'm writing about is how to bring back the special flavors that we've lost, but only in ways that are meaningful and fun for current mass MMO players.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Advanced Member

Joined: 6/11/14
Posts: 91

6/23/14 8:51:34 AM#30

 To the OP, we had no social problems in MMO's back in the 90's.  It all started going down hill with the release of WoW.  WoW was really the first MMO where groups would ditch someone for someone better and with that, started a domino effect.  It's a real shame, because unless you got real life friends to play with, you can forget playing a MMORPG with random people, barely no interaction, if the group sucks, they leave. Sure you can join a guild, but then you need to be on team speak, be active, follow the rules. Jesus Christ man, I just want to play the game like we used to back in the 90's. Camping boss rooms or high exp areas for hours at a time with some buds scattered around the globe while sharing cooking recipes.   Such a shame.   


  On a side note, FF14 : ARR is a great game if you're lucky as I was with finding a great guild that didn't cared if it took 200 tries to finish a instance.  Only reason I left FF14 was for the same reasons my guild mates left.  After the amazing story line FF14 offers, the game gets boring really quick.  I could maybe give it another shot since I haven't played for 7 months. But I'm having way too much fun on Borderlands 2 and Planetary Annihilation was 66% off on Steam yesterday which grants Beta access. So yeah, really busy with my new goodies. :)


Novice Member

Joined: 8/05/11
Posts: 221

6/23/14 9:28:01 AM#31

Thank you very much for your thoughts and ideas, Mark.


I have got a different opinion on this topic. I doubt that an asynchronous show-off of achievements or contributions helps to make friends. The only thing it does is to offer information. Information is always good and helps to create topics to talk about, but in some cases players might dislike such a feature. It creates unnecessary competition between clan members related to how beneficial they are to their guild.


Some of your ideas regarding asynchronous communication or guild systems already exist. Dark Age of Camelot had a social panel for the guil section. There you found information about guild and alliance members and their progress in-game (levels and realm ranks). 


Released in 2004, Lineage 2 offered a deep clan system that allowed players to enhance their clans. Advancing to certain clan levels the clan members had to finish clan quests. For some of them you had to gather quite a big bunch of players. Also, the rewards were interesting. Levels 0-3 added basic enhancements such as clan chat, clan warehouse, clan halls, clan emblems and the possibility to declare a war. The more challenging levels 4-7 allowed to participate in castle sieges, to claim castles, clan skills or to recruit stronger guards for your castle.


The features you listed are "nice to haves" but not ground breaking when it comes to creating friendships in-game. If you compare both of the above mentioned MMOs, DAoC and Lineage 2, a strong similarity can be found.


Both games allow the player to progress solo or in a group. The interesting thing is that the class synergy in both games is extraordinary strong while maintaining a dependence between the classes when it comes to endgame content. You simply want class A to be in your group due to abilities X, Y and Z.


In DAoC for example, a Shaman can buff a Warrior to a point that enables the Warrior to quickly defeat much stronger opponents. Adding a Healer to the group, the Warrior becomes able to defeat even stronger opponents due to additional attack speed buffs. Throwing in classes with AoE damage, the Warrior plays the puller gathering hoards of monsters for the 2 AoE classes which then "bomb" the monsters into nirvana. The same goes for Lineage 2, a MMO which actually has an even stronger synergy and dependence between classes. BuffType1 class + BuffType2 class + Dances + Songs enables a polearm swinging Orc Destroyer to pull and kill huge mob packs.



A friendship can not be incentivized by "nice to have"-features. Most friendships in MMOs are based upon teamplay and a journey travelled together. As long as you allow players to travel alone or do not make it beneficial by design to team up, you will maintain to have isolated players.



Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 10:10:20 AM#32

Good points, and thanks for pointing out the games that had these features have existed before. I don't think that the nice-to-have features I listed is *the* solution, just a part of it. I think the real key is adventuring together "you gotta sweat together to get together." Er, wait, now that sounds really NSFW. But you get my drift.

Next article I'm going to talk about some ways to enhance synchronous play.


Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/04/13
Posts: 809

6/23/14 1:35:48 PM#33

People easy become friends when they have things to share with other.

If you look at all the news game , the players base get cut apart by many difference.

Level difference , quests difference , and instances.


Look back to the early age , we share many things with other ,

from hunting spot to loots.

Few level difference but we can party and share our time with other.

Boss hard and take long time to re spawn so we share the item we get from raid.

Together protect the castle from the siege.


Without things to share with , there are no friendship

I doubt games with quest hubs , instances and gear treadmill end game are good game to make some new friends.



Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

6/23/14 4:01:13 PM#34
Yes, that's why I am advocating new mechanics that you can do together that are not part of the regular quest hub design. Fast leveling also makes it hard to stay friends.

Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Novice Member

Joined: 10/31/06
Posts: 6

6/24/14 5:58:59 PM#35

First I want to stress that the proposed show off features has got also their downsides-at least imho-, because such a show off feature can become easily an immersion breaker. Imagine a mmorpg with a medieval setting where you can watch videos of your friends adventuring the game world. This would totally destroy any immersion, because video streaming was not invented in the middle ages. In a game with a modern day scenario or science fiction one the problem is not so big, but if the video featuring your friend or guild mate pops out of nowhere and you can watch it in a separate window on your pc screen it is still an immersion breaker. You need in such cases a well and carefully crafted in fiction feature like a news channel broadcasting a program showing your friends' adventures. Immersion are not well handled in many mmorpg these days. Of course there are noteworthy exception of the rule, but I truly think, that immersion should be more carefully treated during the game's development process.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/20/15
Posts: 5

7/21/15 5:28:18 AM#36
My ideas on the future of MMORPGs

I think whether or not gloom and doom are

near does not really matter.

What should be focused more on is what

gamers really want in the present and near

future from their devs,community and over

all gaming experience.

I personally would like to see NPCs die a

painful death. I would like to see devs

find a way to have call center style firms

filled with people working to interact

with players during the game. Each one

having a specific role but with the

ability to alter it abit. Instead of

seeing multiple choice questions and

answers we could type a question and get

an answer. Maybe this could be intuitive

AI or a real person. Either way the

experience would be different.

I used to enjoy static NPC characters but

now it is getting boring.

I would like to have the option to level

up, max out and then become an in game


Maybe there could be some salary involved

with that. Maybe there is a quest that

requires you to get an item or have a

conversation with an NPC. They need to be

online at the same time as you.

That would require time management and the

ability to sync with others which is not

currently required for completing most


What do you think about this ?
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