They put the multiplayer part out of the MMO. That’s what they- meaning us- say. Is it true, though, or is it just us who go about differently nowadays than we did 10 years ago in the time when MMORPGs rose to fame?
I was thinking about The Secret World quite a lot, recently. For one, in my opinion it was the big hit in 2012. Unapreciated, underrated and with a release date too close to GW2 to make an impact. But it is just such a bold move from Funcom- they really tried- and in many ways succeeded- to bring change to a tired themepark formula. With many great additions in this game, there’s one part that i think gets overlooked a lot: it’s just so group-friendly, without tossing soloability aside. Maybe it is my build, but the time-to-kill in TSW is considerably higher than in most other MMORPGs- and this is where a group comes in handy, especially when it’s a small group of 2-3 players. With 5, it can go too fast, but it’s still very much enjoyable.
And yet, you don’t see small groups running around the zones, at least i don’t. There aren’t many requests for grouping up besides going for dungeons. This is one reason why i think it’s more “us” – the players- than “them”, the developers, who are going solo nowadays. With my newfound focus here in the blog as well as when playing MMORPGs, let’s take a look at 5 ways to make one’s experience in MMORPGs more social.
1. Be your nice self
Yeah, it’s obvious, right? No, it isn’t. I know many nice players who think all other players in MMORPGs, besides those on their friendslist or in their guild, of course, are asshats. They steal loot and resources and act like a jerk when you are new to a dungeon or the game itself and make mistakes in group content because of that. When those players use the dungeon finder equivalent in their game, they stay silent- but what we should do instead is the opposite- be friendly, communicate with others, offer advice (instead of criticism) and add loads of people to our friends- and blacklist (won’t go into that very much, this should be a positive posting).
How many times was your gaming experience ruined by some kind of jerk? I’d guess at least on some occasions this happened, and you took notice. But there are many times when your gaming experience has been enhanced, as well. That one guy or girl who helped you with your quest? Or the group member who took his or her time to explain an encounter in a dungeon? Yeah, they’re there. Next time, try to be that guy.
And if you think “i have to rush to those resources to get them, because everybody else is so rough and will just steal it”- stop that line of thinking, now. Because if you walk into this mindset, the next time you rush to a named mob or resource node, you’ll be the asshat “stealing” someone else’s stuff. Instead: invite to party, group up, chat, ask, tell, add to friendlist, be social.
2. Open your eyes
Now the first part is mostly valid in dungeons while this one concerns our behaviour in the world. When you see someone having trouble, give them a hand- i know this used to be troublesome and sometimes it still is. Once, i was in a group in Lotro and we saw a single player challenging the named mob we wanted to attack next. We decided to lend im a hand when it happened: before he tagged the named mob (the player was busy with adds), that mob attacked one of our groupmates and got tagged by us. This was not our intention and we waited around with the other player to lend them a hand when the mobs respawned, but it was still unfortunate. Nowadays, things like this don’t tend to happen anymore. When you play a game from 2012/2013, the mob tagging system has become different- usually, you won’t steal anyones XP or quest progress.
So help others out.
3. Fill your friendslist
It’s easy to assume that you won’t meet anyone again in the game. That’s how we perceive this nowadays, we are used to filling our contact list from the guild we’re in- but those guys you meet in the world? They’re at the same stage in game as you are. If you’d be like me and everyone else is much farther into the game than you are, maybe you’ll meet someone on your travels whose pace is closer to yours. So when you meet someone who acts kind- either following points one and two of this list or reacting positively when you do so, add them.
4. Group up
Don’t wait for others to ask- and don’t ask if anyone “needs help” in Zone or guild chat- ask if anyone is willing to group up to do x, y or z. Offering help is nice and all, but with the soloability of games nowadays, few people will actually respond.
If you’re in a guild, no matter what rank you possess in this guild, pay attention and don’t always group up with the same people. Cliques in a guild are a problem on many levels, but when you’re playing with the same people all the time and your group is full, you isolate yourself and/or others. Especially newcomers to your guild will feel left out.
If your game supports on-the-fly public grouping, whether in a official way (Rift, parties are formed) or inofficially (GW2, no groups are actually formed, but you play together with others), the temptation is high to just think of the other players as “content”. They’re not. They’re people. Say something. Or at least emote after the fact. Don’t ignore other players.
5. Find or form a guild and stick with it
Guilds have been changing recently. GW2 and FF14 allow you to join multiple guilds or guild-like structures. You shouldn’t really do this, though. The key is to find one guild that fits to you and where you can blend or even step in. If you’ve got a lot of time, you might be able to do that in more than one guild, but if you’re like me, that won’t really be possible.
Now, joining a guild can be achieved in different ways- i think the most promising approach is to just play the game, join group content / group up in the world, filling your friendslist and finally joining the guild of one of your friends. The upside to this approach is that you already know at least one member of your new guild.
Another way of doing things is to find a guild in the forums. It is a somewhat good approach, since you can sort out which guild advert suits you in terms of concept, language and playstyle. Still, i think if you have the time, you should go with the first approach, it is indeed more promising. While i have joined good guilds in this way, i’ve found the guilds either founded or joined out of friendship to other members have more longevity and fun.
There’s a new way- Massively started a new column to fit players to guilds. I welcome the idea behind that, so i’d like to encourage players and guilds to join the activity there.