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News & Features Discussion  » General: Does Size Matter?

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16241

OP  7/02/11 6:02:11 PM#1

The old adage is that bigger is better, that size indeed does matter, at least in some instances. In today's Guild's Eye View, Sean Stalzer puts that adage through its paces when it comes to raids, dungeons and the size of the groups required to beat them. Let us know what you think!

While there are a number of ways to have a shard experience in an MMORPG, this article focuses on Raid Size and specifically... how does the size of a raid affect personal relationships. At a very high level it seems logical to say that the larger the group that you defeat content with, the more personal relationships you can form. So larger is better, right? Perhaps… but if things are too large and people cannot form groups to defeat the content then they become excluded entirely from that content so larger is worse, right? Let’s explore both sides of the issue from a historical perspective...

Read more of Sean Stalzer's Guild's Eye View: Does Size Matter?

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/07
Posts: 234

7/06/11 10:23:43 AM#2

I think the real solution is going to be in better social networking integration.  I don't like everyone in my guildsl; in fact, I'm taking a hiatus from one game right now because I got fed up with some of the other guild members and didn't feel like putting up with their ... stuff ... right now.  The problem with guilds - indeed, the problem with all groupings in games - is that you're forced to spend time with people who you may not care for.  Now, to a certain extent, this is a good thing, as it teaches you to tolerate and put up with people whose personalities don't mesh well with your own, but sometimes even the limits of tolerance are tested and people begin to play political games to try to remove those they can't tolerate from the group.  This leads to drama and stress that none of us need.

Now, if we weren't restricted by the size of our groups or by the makeup of our guilds, games would be much more enjoyable. 

This can first be achieved through social networking tools.  Instead of a single guild, you could be a member of multiple guilds that involve circles of friends.  For instance, I had one friend who was a great healer and another who was a great tank.  I liked both of them, and they liked each other.  This made us a powerful 3-person team.  We had other people around our circle who all of us liked or at least tolerated, but who didn't play as often, so we could easily exchange them out.  There becomes a conceptual cloud of connections.

Now imagine that every single character you encounter gets logged in your system, and you could flag them for both skill and personality (a simple 3-choice option, defaulting to middle in each case: for skill, you can say "skilled, average, unskilled"; for personality, you can say "like, tolerate, dislike".  If you put someone on ignore, they automatically end up in your dislike list).  Now, any time you want to form a group, you're automatically shown all the people on your list whom you have set to "like" and "tolerate".  If you form a group with any of them, the group leader now sees a list of the combined scores (like = +1, dislike = -1, people unknown to anyone in the group are assumed to be "tolerate"), and can sort based on that score to invite people who are generally well-liked by the group. 

Next, imagine that group sizes for content weren't set in stone.  If you grouped with more people, you simply have a better chance of getting certain drops, but dungeons scaled with the size of the group.  So if you want to do a dungeon with only one person, it's extremely easy and not liable to drop anything.  If you do it with 20 people, it'll absolutely drop the stuff, and likely more than one of each... thus it's less grindy when you have more folks, but since it's hard to get those huge groups and be successful, some people will willingly choose to do smaller group sizes...

This would pretty much require that "healers" and "tanks" were removed from the game, possibly...

  User Deleted
7/06/11 10:35:07 AM#3

I think any more people than a dozen you start to lose a "close" connection with the other people... not that you can't have a great group of friends 20~30 people thick.. ive seen it in some games..


but there are always people you have a stronger "friendship" with..


I like content aimed for a group of 10 or less people.. not that there shouldn't be some stuff that requires 30, 50, 100 or a 1000 .. I just like to play with smaller more tight knit groups than the "horde" ' :o



inb4 debate over internet friendship.. really don't care ;p



Joined: 6/27/09
Posts: 1015

7/06/11 12:13:21 PM#4

i never want to join a guild that has more than 30 members ( not WoW )


but yeah, basically i love small coorporations.. like 20 mambers max

So What Now?


Novice Member

Joined: 6/05/06
Posts: 344

7/06/11 12:56:26 PM#5

Has more to do with FPS lag and desire for high-end graphics in games than anything else.  Today graphics are vitaly important to sell a game and get a good review.  As a result, it becomes unplayable to have high-end graphics with 70 people in the same area plus the NPC(s).   Hence, the content is made so that you can do it with smaller groups, but spruce up the graphics.  

I wish it really had something to do with deep thought on group/social dynamics, but it simply isn't the case. 

  User Deleted
7/06/11 1:35:53 PM#6

In my experience bigger is better as it results in more choices as to what can you do and when. Getting even 5 people to play when and how you want is impossible. But logging in to see 20 people doing different things allows you to choose one of those things or to try to convince them to join you.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/03/05
Posts: 345

7/06/11 1:56:34 PM#7

just have content for solo, challenges for 2-3 player groups, 5-10 player groups and 20+ groups

i guess the majority of players for more of their time fall into the solo to 5-10 player group though so developers design to cover that


sure it takes more resources to build a varity of combinations, but thats the best answer, there is no right and wrong size - simply giving as many of your players as many choices as possible is what is best

  User Deleted
7/06/11 2:10:56 PM#8
Originally posted by delta9

just have content for solo, challenges for 2-3 player groups, 5-10 player groups and 20+ groups

i guess the majority of players for more of their time fall into the solo to 5-10 player group though so developers design to cover that


sure it takes more resources to build a varity of combinations, but thats the best answer, there is no right and wrong size - simply giving as many of your players as many choices as possible is what is best



I think the point is most games reward size over difficulty


If a competent group of 6 was only given the option to fight a "6" person instance.. and get a lesser reward


then a hap-hazard 30 person group using zerg tactics who ends up with the best reward.. I can see fault with a system like that.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 6/15/09
Posts: 448

7/06/11 2:56:58 PM#9

As with all things: Size doesn't matter as long as it's doing what it's supposed to in a satisfactory way.

Choice is always the ultimate goal if a company wants to hang on to player populations. The moment you pidgeon-hole people into one type of experience, you loose out on the rest that are not for that particular way of doing things. Also, if the rewards do not scale with "apparent" increase in difficulty (which some people believe erroneously means more people), then you loose out on a certain population as well.

Tiered and progressive content both in quantity and quality is what has to be aimed for. Keep the solo, group and raids, but also add some "unlimited members" encounters, and keep these rewards on par with the raid content, or even higher. Lag will have to be something to attempt to counter, however, with good planning, even this might be surmountable.

Choice = Good


Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 7201

7/06/11 3:02:57 PM#10

Yep size makes a big difference.  Coordinating a large group, like a 40 man raid is hard, very hard.  Not only do you have to put up with getting a large number of people to do the right thing at the right time, you have to put up with all the drama that goes with it.  The more people the more drama.

One of the reasons I and many others quit Wow was the 40 man raids.  Even the 25 man raids are just too big IMO.

The big reason people raid are for the rewards, the bigger the raid the more times you have to do them to get everyone a reward.   Spend six hours a night for a couple of nights for no reward and see how you feel.   Many find it is just not worth it.


Advanced Member

Joined: 2/28/04
Posts: 4744

7/06/11 3:24:08 PM#11

Nice memories.............I love the EQ screenshots.

I don't know if size matters, but I have to say that the games that had no limits in raid numbers were the most enjoyable.

EQ raids are still the bests PvE raid experience in my MMO player career, while the massive Darkfall sieges is the bests PVP raids ever (of course if the server didn't melt down under the heavy load)


The fact that you are not subject to "DPS meters" or a "Gear Score" makes you enjoy the game much more.

Even if you "sucked" you were welcome to the raid as a mascotte to supply a bit of entertainment, it wouldn't really matter if your DPS or Healing wasn't the best, in the end you were an extra number, unless you did something stupid like pulling the boss when no one was ready, everyone was welcome.

It was nice because no one was excluded, and for that reason the community was much better.

I remember in the old EQ days I was a lvl 40 Paladin and my GM would bring me at the Raids with the lvl 60, we had fun and we still managed to kill most of the raid bosses of Norrath

I really miss EQ


Novice Member

Joined: 6/21/06
Posts: 182

7/06/11 4:37:17 PM#12

My worst experiences in MMORPGs was in the massive groups.  I've had SO much more fun with small man content.

One excellent friend is better than a million okay friends.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 563

7/06/11 5:45:47 PM#13

   I understand what your getting at by auto-scaling content to group size, but there will be issues with that.  The biggest one would be that people would exploit(work around) the size option to repeat the content faster, easier, and/or more reliably.  Because every time scaling has been introduced even if the difficulty level is comparable the time factor never is, or the reverse is true or some other factor will apply.  Add that to the fact that most modern mmo's are gear driven , it could add a penitential hole, consider:


  For the most part raids are gear driven, meaning if you want the wakizashi of epicness+1 you gotta do the raid.  Raid loot rewards also tend to be RMT based(or some token mark base), meaning your unlikely to win the roll on the reward your first run-through so ya gotta do it again.  Simple law of averages says that when dealing with the one armed bandit the more times your able to pull the arm within a given time period the more likely you are to "win".


    Simple human nature and group dynamics shows that, eventually, people will find the path of least resistance and/or most efficient gain.   Depending on how this mythical scaling would be implemented, eventually the community would find the "sweet" spot in regards to group size vs time it takes to do the content, the difficulty of completing the content, and the reliability of doing it over and over. 

    Once that "sweet" spots found you now have a new "unoficial" raid size which most will gravitate too.  At that point, raid centric guilds would then scale in regards to the content.  Even if time/diffuculty/reliability matched perfectly across the entire spectrum of possible group sizes, you then run into the reason raid content started scaling down in the first place.  That reason was the accessability of smaller groups of players being able to participate within the content. So while I like your idea in concept, ultimately it won't really change anything.


EDIT: spelling


Novice Member

Joined: 4/28/10
Posts: 262

7/06/11 7:33:01 PM#14

I agree with you about the conclusion that the success of a guild in a game has everything to do about the content of the game. In this particular case, the quantity of people in Guild is completelly connected to the quantity of people needed to play most of the content in the respective game.


I'm gonna tell my experience in Guilds. I played in a fairly amount of small guilds, and some big guilds too.

Smaller Guilds might work better than some people think because they can be friendly players that even when there's drama between they always care more for each other or for the better of the guild and it comes back to normal. What's important is to have something in common between all the guild members. Wether it's their country, beeing a role-player, playing in small PVP, in dungeons or in little raids, what's important is to have a thing that makes the players feel connected between themselves, even when there's drama.

It's true that in smaller Guilds a little drama can make the guild disband, but the same happens with a lot of bigger Guilds. One of the reasons why there are so many smaller Guilds is because the player base start, at some point, gathering in bigger guilds to have competition between themselves, but later there's always some drama that makes the Guild members to break apart into smaller guilds because they didn't agree with some of the decisions or opinions of the previous Guild.

Why there are so many small guilds beeing disbanded in games? IMO, there can be 3 major reasons: players are very few and/or have completely different schedules; players get sick of doing the same old boring things and stop playing the game or go to a bigger guild to do other things that might be more interesting; because the leader(s) get sick of playing the game, gave up and disbanded the guild himself. But one thing i'm sure: if the game had a lot ov variety in content, mechanics, features and gameplay to make players entertainned (with fun, not a "job"-like feature) whatever the quantity of players needed, smaller guilds would be disbanded for only 1 reason: drama!

Bigger Guilds are a different situation. As I said before, it's because of drama that a lot of big guilds end up breaking apart into smaller guilds. But that's not the only bad thing. Big Guilds usually have A LOT of people inactive UNLESS they only accept determined roles, classes and or levels that must be active. Making a fun feature like playing a game with others to be more like a job, breaks almost the fun you wanna have with a game at the first place. This gives us 2 conclusions: it will end up, at some point, into a drama between members that don't agree with some of the leader(s) opinions and it might end in breaking the guild apart; and the fact the bigger Guilds need to stay alive is completely connected to the kind and amount of content, mechanics and features the game has, forcing the bigger guild into be more like a jobs than a fun social feature.

But, Big Guilds sure have their own positive points. Like the author of the article said, having more people in the same place makes it possible to establish more relations with other people and turn everything in the game more easy and fun to play. IMO, in bigger guilds there's always a lot of events made by the leader(s) or someone in the higher rankings, it's possible to have someone to play with you when you need it (playing with others shouldn't be a necessity though), you always have someone to talk with in the chat and the guild is never "dead", and it usually has more organization than smaller guilds.


If the content of a game has a lot of features to work for any amount of players (solo, team, dozens/hundreds/thousands) that fulfill the tastes of the players (different types of PVP and PVE, other fun features like crafting, exploring the world,  GOOD storytelling mechanic, entertainning features in cities) and without flaws we are used to (specific and required roles to team up, PK, KS, different level force players into separated experiences, kill-10-rats individual (or should I say lonely) quests, etc.), than it's very much possible that the experience of beeing in a Guild, whether it's small or big, is much more worth it than it's now.


Edit: I have to say that I have my hopes up for Guild Wars 2 on having most of the traditional mmorpg flaws fixed! If we could at least know something more about the Guild system. But everything we know about the Guilds is very exciting, specially in WxWxW.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 957

7/06/11 7:42:27 PM#15

Personally I think 12 players is a manageable sized party for say PvE & Raiding. 24 which seems to be the norm in games for Raiding is just stupid, too many people means sitting around waiting around for everyone to turn up, then you are guaranteed someone isnt ready or someone will AFK or whatever. IF you must have 12+ player group sizes for any endeavour then your game should have integrated ingame VOIP, and if you add this then you need to implement a "guild only" voip channel as well as group VOIP channel.

Normal group size of 4-6 is good for instanced group content especially if your game has integrated VOIP, 12 man is a nice size for raiding IMO.

Some of this can be alleviated by having public groups like on WAR (PvE warbands were great) but again it helps to have VOIP especially in PvP. The problem with public groups like in WAR is they then dumb down the challenge of the raid dungeons to allow for a less co-ordinated effort.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/19/10
Posts: 106

7/06/11 9:22:10 PM#16

Originally posted by ste2000

Nice memories.............I love the EQ screenshots.

I don't know if size matters, but I have to say that the games that had no limits in raid numbers were the most enjoyable.

EQ raids are still the bests PvE raid experience in my MMO player career, while the massive Darkfall sieges is the bests PVP raids ever (of course if the server didn't melt down under the heavy load)


The fact that you are not subject to "DPS meters" or a "Gear Score" makes you enjoy the game much more.

Even if you "sucked" you were welcome to the raid as a mascotte to supply a bit of entertainment, it wouldn't really matter if your DPS or Healing wasn't the best, in the end you were an extra number, unless you did something stupid like pulling the boss when no one was ready, everyone was welcome.

It was nice because no one was excluded, and for that reason the community was much better.

I remember in the old EQ days I was a lvl 40 Paladin and my GM would bring me at the Raids with the lvl 60, we had fun and we still managed to kill most of the raid bosses of Norrath

I really miss EQ


Yep, you have valid points... EQ was way much more social friendly with the usual "u can come if u don't f00kup" policy... few levels below the raid? No problem, u can heal (or Mend with bandages) or cast beneficial spells on the raid... not geared enough? no problem, there is no DPS meters... u pull agro, you die and pay the penalty for being a DPSHEAD...


Nowdays ppl won't even want to look in yer general direction if u aren't fully Epix geared for a dungeon well below you gear :p


In some guilds even admiting that you had injured your hand in the previous days will put you out of the raiding rotation because you won't be as effective as normal, thus lowering the DPS of the raid :p


Novice Member

Joined: 6/03/11
Posts: 130

7/06/11 11:56:20 PM#17

I personaly avoid large guilds as the chance of douchebaggery is multiplied for every so many members. Back in the day though, I loved large guilds. Large guilds  now are just aweful to be a part of.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/19/08
Posts: 2137

7/07/11 4:23:35 AM#18

In short ... there should be no raid beyond 10 players in normal MMO. Period. Rest is just a mess.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/01/10
Posts: 800

7/07/11 4:32:51 AM#19

it's sad that people consider "raid sizes" smaller then a CoD match:D    it's even more sad that people consider "guild sizes" smaller then a CoD match:D

how much interaction do you have when there are only 10 people in your guild?   half of the guild arent even logged on when you play:D   if you log on at odd hours?  say hello to han solo cuz you might as well not be in the guild:D  NOBODY is logged on in your timezone:D

LARGE encounters force guilds to recruit from various walks of life.  many would have the same timezones, and promote unity within the guild.  

smaller guild/group promote douche behavior because your reputation are limited to smaller groups of people.  when you are a douche to someone in a LARGE guild,  your name gets passed around pretty quickly and soon you are "ungroupable" since everybody knows you are a douche. 

look at the "post WoW" generation of MMO gamers and you'll see that the "quality" of gamers has been downgraded from professional attitude to your avg 12 yr old mentality.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/08/08
Posts: 3068

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

7/07/11 7:04:44 AM#20

Well currently in eq2 you have the following groupings   24 man raids for x4 boss fights,  12 man raids for x2 boss fights,  6 man groups for heroic content.     Each different group size has different rewards for each type of encounter.

What I would like to see added for grouping is instances scaled to 2 person content.  Sometimes a guy and his wife after a long day would just like to go somewhere and do something without having to be in a large group of screaming whiny folks all crying about why they did not get the magic doodad that dropped.

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