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Integration of Communities

By Lawrence Doolen on July 10, 2006 | Editorials | Comments

Integration of Communities
"Integration of Communities"

Editorial by Lawrence Doolen

Today's MMO games are losing depth with simplistic game play of having little to no regard for progressing an active in-game community. The closest experience the majority of MMORPGs offer as communities are force fed grouping options to fight over looting rights. These loot and group based gaming communities have little substance with their ultimate goal of ongoing item rewards.

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Giving players a reason to develop a community has immense value and isn't difficult to develop if they're given the right tools. Acquiring group status symbols and destroying them is a sample of situations. Bases or homes that are destroyable depend on organized communities to defend or attack. This sense of value creates pride and morale for those players to want to log-in and have others visibly be envious of. Non-combatants are also involved in community by denying services to opposing players, perhaps it affects their overall faction or guilds ability to progress; or secretly aiding the enemy for selfish financial benefits. Non-combatants need combatants and combatants are dependent on their goods and services. The dependency of combat classes to social and crafter classes should be balanced where character advancement will be deterred without the other. Forcing community relations to be used for both types of player to benefit is key.

Non-combatant players are essential for communities' longevity in lore and development. The gaming content that branches out from non-combatants gives MMOs depth. Situations like crafters requiring to harvest some elite materials, but are in fear of being attacked. Combatants have a purpose to protect or attack while the non-combatants service and create. This system idea generates symbiotic relationships that isn't directly related to combat for every situation and varies gameplay. Conditions eventually occur where the non-combatants are implementing varying content by requiring assistance for specific tasks. Simple events like, non-combatants hiring player protection is necessary so they make it safely from point A to B in long travel with valuable goods.

MMORPGs straying from integration of different player types are bland and generally have the feeling of expensive chat rooms. Take player vs player content for instance where it should be outside the obvious; faction A kills faction B shallowness. Why do I really want to kill this player and does my faction even mean anything to me? Give me faction points. Cool, I got the most faction points... now what? Give me exclusive PVP armor goals. Awesome, but now I'm bored. Boredom inevitibily leads to the subscribers looking for a new MMORPG to do it all over again.

Most games have two main conflicting factions actively competing for a common status. The game lore is supposed to support those factions concept and immerse; however, it means nothing to the player because he happened to get anxious and hit skip on the introduction cinematic. Allow the user to create his own sub-lore in the world and create a “faction” for himself to align with. When players create their own groups and support a common idea or goal together, it becomes more valuable to defend it and conquest others. Well organized groups of players are the glue of the community and should be nurtured as much as possible with options. Simple MMO games that are strictly faction based and disable cross-faction interactions are denying the players depth. Players having in-game enemies is player created content, that those games limit. Open ended community relationships promote social situations needed to keep players interested and evolving.

Griefing in a community MMO doesn't happen without reprisal or severe consequence. Griefing is a way someone is intentionally trying to ruin another persons enjoyment in the game; while PvP is the sole enjoyment of competition with another. Valuable player vs player content removes griefing from a game entirely. There is no such thing as griefing in a game where every fight means something and has a consequence. Player A decides to kill player Z; now player A is labeled as a murderer and denied services by player Z's alliances. This creates an infinite amount of content situations for the heroes and villains. Communities will form checks and balances within itself to prevent griefing and promoting integrity while developing player content accordingly.

MMORPGs with the community as priority will be the future of PvP, social, and trade systems. Developers can't possibly keep up with the content needed to satisfy monthly paying customers and keep them attached with in-game objects for long-term services. The addicting excitement in MMOs comes from new experiences players share with others, not an endless array of upgraded item loot tables. An MMO that allows a well developed community to flourish will attract a market of players that no other MMO is currently providing today and hold that customer base for years to come; with players and developers to benefit. Give the MMORPGs back to the players.


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Lawrence Doolen / Meridan 59 Ultima Online Everquest Star Wars Galaxies (I miss it dearly) City of Heroes World of Warcraft Guild Wars City of Villains Everquest 2 ....and countless free trials.