Virtus Gaming is an upcoming brand new social media platform for MMO gamers and developers. We caught up with the network's founder Drew Duncan, to chat about what makes Virtus different from the seemingly endless also rans, and why he thinks Virtus will succeed where others failed.
MMORPG: We've seen a lot of MMO and Online Gaming social networks. From Anook to ZergID, it doesn't seem any have stuck. What makes Virtus Gaming different?
Drew Duncan: It's true, we've definitely seen enough of these, "social networks for gamers". Thankfully Virtus Gaming is not another social network, in fact, we cringe at the thought.
In short, Virtus Gaming provides online tools that are designed to unite gamers, guilds, developers, and streamers like never before. While that might come off as vague at first, it's important for us to note that we're not building another social network.
The Community module:
Our goal is to replace ALL the tools that modern guilds are bending to their will with what we call the Community module. As a loose example, no longer would a guild need to use Enjin/Shivtr, and Facebook, and Steam, and Slack and Twitter. The current situation is chaotic, overly complicated, and trying to convince guild members to use these services is like pulling teeth.
Through Virtus Gaming a user can quickly establish a guild, add the chapters they are playing, share an simple invite link, enable recruiting for each title, forge chapter based alliances with other guilds, and schedule chapter specific events.
With the share of a simple link, a guild leader can invite their entire roster to join a community on Virtus Gaming. To sign up, users can quickly tie a username to a Facebook/Google profile or create a new account.
Each guild is managed in a hierarchy:
- The guild leader can assign a lead or several leaders for each chapter.
- Leaders can then assign officer roles within their specific chapters.
Each chapter also has the ability pick from a list of features that they require because the needs of an PVP chapter will be different from the needs of a PVE chapter.
We also want to innovate on other guild hosting sites by allowing guilds to merge with other guilds and establish alliances (neutral, friendly, hostile).
Mergers have long been a fact of MMO life. They happen all the time and it's generally impossible to move an entire community under another.
Our merger system will allow two or more guild leaders to establish an agreement and move all parties into one guild (under a current name, or even a new name)
This merger system will be reversible so that any unhappy party can split to become independent again at a moments notice.
The alliance system would allow for guilds to display to their members what guilds they trust (or don't trust) in each chapter. When one guild is allied with another, both guilds alliance rosters becomes one so all parties know what guilds are friendly, kill on site, and who is neutral. This is important to distinguish at the chapter level because the guilds you're allies with in Albion are not the same guilds you're allied with in Crowfall.
A unique side-effect to this system is that it will keep track of all titles you have played over time, under certain guilds and alliances, making it easier to connect with long lost players in the future.
TL:DR; What we want to do at Virtus Gaming is create a single location, with a single sign-in, that doesn't require the use of any other services to maintain an entire guild/community.
MMORPG: The look of your proof of concepts on the blog is fabulous. Does your team have a background in web design, any sites we'd know?
DD: Thank you, we really appreciate it!
We're designing the site with performance and simplicity in mind because we want users to get in, grab the information they need, and get back to gaming.
Our web designer Tu Pham has been in the business of creating websites for over 15 years. Most of her work has been with eCommerce sites but her specialty has always been on providing a clean intuitive interface.
You can find some examples of her work on sideproject.com.
MMORPG: What made you decide to make a social network for MMO gamers?
DD: I've been playing MMORPGs since 2003 and I've been the leader of a guild since 2011. Throughout the years we have had access to all sorts of tools and resources to help manage our guild/community. However, with each new service comes some form of compromise. I've used enough of these tools to gain an understanding on what's missing and I been playing MMORPGs long enough to know what guilds need to function with greater efficiency.
At the end of the day, after an entire year of brainstorming, we came up with the idea to make a tool that we ourselves would want to use.
MMORPG: Where do you see the genre headed in the coming years?
DD: Oh, that's a very good question.
I personally feel like we're just now starting to see a resurgence towards single-server based, community driven emergent gameplay. Both Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and Saga of Lucimia are pushing hard to create group-based gameplay experiences that we haven't seen since the days of Asheron's Call and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
In terms of scale, even with the affordability of modern game engines and cloud hosting, it's still too costly and/or risky for developers to produce MMO's on the scale that they used to. Outside of Star Citizen, I've yet to come across any $100+ million-dollar project in the last few years but I remain hopeful that someone will rise to the challenge eventually.
As for technology, I'm pretty damn excited for the use of voxels in titles like Crowfall, Forsaken Legends, and Worlds Adrift. Having a large persistent world that can be dynamically altered by the actions of players, especially during large-scale combat and sieges, sounds very compelling.
I'm also really intrigued by SpatialOS. Chronicles of Elyria, Forsaken Legends, and Worlds Adrift have all chosen to integrate this distributed computing platform in order to create these large, living, breathing, persistent universes.
On paper it sounds amazing, like it's going to help developers pick up where Storybricks left off, so I really hope they can pull it off.
MMORPG: What sorts of things will make being a member of Virtus Gaming worthwhile for someone who is already a member of a million other social networks?
DD: Well, for starters we're definitely not another social network. So hopefully that alone with help us win over our target audience.
Gamers that use our tool will only ever see information that is relevant to their interests (the events/games they have on follow) instead of the fluff that others post. Over the last two years we have watched ZergID devolve into an anime/meme sharing platform and this is an issue we plan to avoid and hopefully capitalize on.
We're trying to create an inclusive online platform where all gamers can quickly organize ways to work/play together without it feeling like a time suck or an obligation- like an online companion for gamers.
We're trying to break down these "cliquish" barriers that these other tools have created by providing an experience that is easy to use whether you desire to play solo, with others players, or with your close friends.
In terms of features, we have quite a few unique/exclusive features that we're keeping close to our chest in order to prevent the competition from taking any of our ideas. However, since you asked I will throw MMORPG.com a bone; we're going to offer a chapter based "Call to Arms" feature that we're very excited for- we'll discuss more about that in the future.
We feel confident that gamers will find a lot of value in our tool set over what's being offered elsewhere.
MMORPG: Will integration with those networks be a goal?
DD: Our integration with social networks will stop at the account creation process as well as offering the ability to share news.
Ultimately, it's our goal to try and prevent gamers, guilds, developers, and streamers from relying on non-game related mediums to grow their respective communities. We want to provide better tools that are specifically catered to their needs, on a website consisting entirely of their target audience, that helps to provide ample opportunities for growth.
MMORPG: What about someone averse to social networks? How to you propose to get them on board?
DD: As you might have noticed, we're a little averse to social networks too so we're doing our part to create better tools to win our audience over. - If a guild has a chapter with 100 members playing, we will provide the chapter leader(s) with metrics that help them understand how interested the guild remains in that title over time. This will allow them to seek feedback, enable recruiting, or shake things up a bit to help retain the interest of their members. - If a chapter leader hosts regularly scheduled events, we will provide them with metrics so they know when users have grown tired of that event and are ready to move on.
If a gamer seeks to join a medium sized guild, that is online when they are, that also enjoys role playing in MMORPGs, we want to make those types of guilds easier to find. This is just a small taste for how Virtus Gaming wants to provide better tools for the job and we're hopeful that the features will really speak for themselves when we enter beta in the fall of 2017. Huge thanks to MMORPG.com and Bill Murphy for taking the time to ask us a few questions, we really appreciate it. To our audience, we hope that you like what you're seeing so far and if you have any feedback, please let us know: [[email protected]] To learn more about Virtus Gaming and to follow our development, please check out our blog here: http://blog.virtusgaming.com/ Reserve your username (temporary placeholder) for a chance to win a $100 Steam Gift card here: https://www.virtusgaming.com/