Tag: social

Learning from the past- what would a guild i founded look like?

Now, i (hopefully) won’t do that- i’m quite fickle, very casual and leading a guild didn’t work out for me in the past. Nonetheless, this has always been and still is a very large part of MMORPGs for me- guilds. I’m of the opinion that, being in a guild, if you don’t like anything you should take action and do something- suggest improvements to your officers, give feedback (i’ve found, as a guild leader, that getting feedback is both essential and rare, so i’m quite sure your guild leader/officers will appreciate it), plan guild activities and/or, if it really doesn’t work out, leave the guild.

To raise the chances that i don’t make the mistake of founding a guild again, i’ll try and post some thoughts in this regard here. For today, i’ll concentrate on stuff that i feel went wrong in earlier incarnations of guilds i (co-)lead.

It would be international

I always feel like missing out in german guilds- to be sure, there is some activity on german servers from time to time, but the main action takes place elsewhere. RP, community events, other bloggers- they’re all happening on different servers, unfortunately mostly on northamerican regional servers, which can be troublesome in regards to ping and/or timezone-differences.

Still, i think i’d make it international, this time. First of all, it raises the chances to find players who are like-minded, since usually, the community on these servers tend to be bigger as well as better organized. Second, it’s more interesting. I’m around germans all the time and one of the beauties of the internet, even if we tend to forget this nowadays because the internet is so common by now, is that we can stay in contact/befriend/get to know people from all over the world.

It would be invite-only

In every guild i lead, i tried to strike a balance between growth and being “tight-knit”. It never works out. First of all, i don’t really like forum applications- in my opinion, they don’t do much to get to know the person who’s applying, i’ve very rarely seen someone decline an application (and by myself, i only did it once)…in my opinion, forum applications are a waste of everyone’s time.

Also, if you go into a newly-released game, it doesn’t help to attract members in this way, because no matter how many you recruit, in my experience about 80% won’t stay longer than three months- in the game, not in the guild. And then you’ll have 100 members and 10 of them are online at any given time. Not exactly tight-knit, and not exactly active, either.

So i’d give members the option to invite people directly- since i’m also not a friend of giving this option to officers only (after a few months, you’ll have trouble to find an officer online). But i’ve also seen members inviting other people very….often- so i guess there’d need to be some kind of “soft-cap” to player invitations. One idea that has always been in the back of my mind would be to inject some kind of “mentoring” system- one incarnation would be that a member can only mentor one recruit at a time and would have to wait for “his/her” recruit to become a full member before recruiting another one.

This should help in keeping the roster both active and clear.

There’d be no voice chat

Seriously. I’d like to have an active guild chat and i can’t imagine typing being such a huge hindrance- also, it would help in making the guild have less cliques around. In dungeons, i’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t be necessary- strategies can be worked on via chat, or, if need be, in the forums. Voice chat is not necessary, and it shouldn’t be.

There’d be ranks

In a guild i’d lead, there’d be ranks inside the guild- i’d be the guild leader (oh heavens, no!), there’d be officers with appointed functions in the guild/game, like, for instance, a social/RP officer, the mentor’s mentor (kind of the “recruitment officer”), the progression officer, the crafting and economy officer. Of course, there’d be a need for people who are willing to take on these areas and would also have to be quite knowledgeable as well as “active” in terms of forum usage (for guides/assistance, something like that) and events.

I’d also like to have a veteran rank- some people don’t like to rise some members above others, but really, if there’s one member who’s in the guild a long time, is active and helpful in the forums, organizes events and provides feedback to the leadership- why shouldn’t this member be “better ranked” than a player who’s “tagging along” only?

For active mentors, i think, there’d need to be another rank, disabling the ability to invite new recruits. One would hope, of course, that this shouldn’t be necessary, but in my experience, it is. People tend to forget that they’re “not allowed” to do something or they just ignore it- yes, this happened in two of the guilds i lead.

Then, there’d be recruits and members, of course.

Drama free

And there’s only one solution to provide this- if someone has a personal problem with someone else, if there’s trouble in regards to loot or anything at all, and these people don’t find a solution by themselves (and maybe the social officer as objective party) and start to involve the leadership and/or other members in any way, you’ve got to get rid of both people. In my experience, people that cause drama will always do so, no matter the circumstances.


I’ve found that casual players are not a very homogenuous group- someone might label himself casual and still play 3 to 4 hours a day and he or her labels himself casual just because he/she doesn’t hurry/care for a wipe/care for loot. Others label themselves casual because of time restrictions or for a lack of will to commit to something.

Anyway, i found casual players to level wildly different in MMORPGs- some of them will reach the level cap in two weeks, others never. To provide an environment for these people to be happy in the guild, know the other members and do something together, there’d need to be organized events, like a monthly guild meeting, a regular levelling group, a crafter’s fair and so on. There should be at least 2 level-agnostic events every month, and they can’t be organized by the same people every time, so one would have to look carefully who to recruit.

It wouldn’t recruit everybody

This is one of the hardest parts in leading a guild, in my opinion. It’s very tough to tell someone that maybe they should look for a better fitting guild- but still, guild leaders/recruitment officers who care for the social fabric of their guild would do well to do just that. I know how hard it is, because people tend to take it personal- it kind of is, but there’s nothing wrong with finding out that it just doesn’t fit- it shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of devaluation of the person who is declined, chances are there really is a better fit for someone who doesn’t really fit into the current guild.

See, i couldn’t do this on so many levels- it’s still nice to think/write about it.

4 million accounts and a free weekend

So apparently there are 4 million registered accounts for Final Fantasy XIV- i think you can call this a success, even more so considering the V1.0 disaster. There’s a free weekend coming, although i think there’s a typo in the newspost– it’s stating the dates from 02/27 to 03/09, which would be more than a week. Now, i don’t want to complain, but i always think that these weekends should be free to subscribers, as well. Of course i can understand the desire to get old accounts reactivated, but i also feel that companies should do good on their existent customers, as well.

4 million accounts

This is interesting. Of course we don’t know subscription numbers, but my guess is that FF14 has proven itself as a success, which begs the question why this game seems to be doing just fine with a subscription model. I think there might be a few factors at play here.

Cultural reasons

Well, this is an uninformed opinion, but i read somewhere that FF14 is basically the MMORPG in Japan. I don’t know if this is true, especially since it seems like the most populated servers are in NA/EU. Still, it could be a reason.


The delivery of meaty content additions is always stated as a reason for Final Fantasy XIV’s success, and this is surely true and one of the most important reasons for it doing so good for itself. It seems there’s always something substantial coming in patches- since i’ve been keeping an eye on the game again, there’s been housing, 2 new classes/jobs and of course the Gold Saucer. And that’s not even factoring in new dungeons, the continuation of the main storyline, new dungeon modes, quests and so on, which are mostly taking place in endgame. Endgame is not in sight for me, so i tend to skip those content additions. But as you can see, there’s always something coming even for low-level or inactive players. Next up is the expansion, i think. And if we’re still thinking in roughly 3-month-spans, it seems to be coming in may (which is good for me, maybe i’ll be able to prepare in this time).


The “social” momentum, i think, is one of the main reasons for WoW’s success. And it seems FF14 has gained the critical mass of players necessary to benefit from this factor, as well, and it’s a factor not many MMOs have going for them- mostly new launches, but they lose traction fast. FF14 is in its second year, and it’s growing. Just look at how many bloggers are in this game now, having a good time, and to me it looks like there are always bloggers and people coming back/trying it.

It’s slow

Let’s use the phrase “designed downtime” here. Actually, there’s none of that in Final Fantasy XIV, since you don’t have to wait for boats/ferries/airships, but FF14 is a slow game. It is relaxing. It enables the players to form, build and maintain social relationships. There are also systems that encourage asynchronuous social play (like tending the garden in the guild house) or socializing in game, like the newer additions of Triple Triad and Chocobo Racing. Since housing is semi-instanced, you might also get to know your neighbors in the district your house is in.

It “gets” and gets the MMORPG audience

All of this leads to FF14 catering to MMORPG players instead of gamers in general, a mistake some of the newer MMORPGs made. MMORPG players are happy in FF14, and they should be- it offers almost everything the subgenre (Themepark MMO) has to offer- in spades, at that. Now, themeparks may not be your thing and you want an MMORPG with huge, open zones, few instances, a completely player driven economy and stuff like that? I agree, i’d like to see that, as well. But there’s only EVE doing that. And FF14 offers enough “virtual world” stuff that it earns its place, in my opinion, of course, as the best currently available MMORPG- it’s a complete, broad experience, and i’m savoring it right now, taking my time, making use of all the systems and i try to resist the urge to race to 50 in preparation for Heavensward while still keeping an eye on this goal.

I tried to express this a few times already, but i’ll just repeat: i think, with the lack of high profile releases in this year, many MMORPG players are going to “settle” in 2015. There’s no game coming out that “does everything right this time, really”, so we’ll be playing what suits us best instead of looking for the perfect game. It’ll come and if you’re truly unhappy with the genre, i hope one of the more focused titles coming out will be for you.

If you haven’t tried FF14, you really should. I can’t even compare it to another MMORPG- i mean, the WoW comparison was used, but i don’t think they have that much in common- maybe the dungeon/raid-type endgame progression, but there’s more than that in this game. And i’m kind of looking forward to what they’ll be adding content- and more importantly system-wise after Heavensward released, because, really, i can’t think of much that’s still missing in FF14.

Gold Saucer first impressions

Actually, it’s more like a second glance. Yesterday, i visited the Gold Saucer two times- the first time i was very, very enthusiastic about what the Gold Saucer offers, even commenting here that it might be the “end of my levelling”. I went in a second time, and while i’m still enthusiastic about it, i have regained some hope in still bringing my character up in levels. First things first, though.

Overall impression

The Manderville Gold Saucer looks just like what one would expect a casino to look like in a fantasy world like Eorzea. It’s kind of loud, right now very overpopulated, flashy, colourful and there seem to be things to do everywhere.

The info counter
The info counter. Notice how my carbuncle stopped being the most flashy/annoying thing on screen.

The Gold Saucer is designed like most things in FF XIV – it’s somewhat big, but also compact in the sense that there are quite narrow corridors to pass when you go from one attraction to the other. As usual, there’s also a lift- in this case, it’s being used to access the chocobo racing.


So far, i’ve managed to do three activities more than once- Triple Triad Challenges, Chocobo Racing and the Mini Cactpot. All three are fun in their own ways, but to be honest, i think maybe the most involving game to be found here is Triple Triad, the collectible card game.

Triple Triad

Now this game has quite the potential- first of all, it’s about collectible cards. Then, it is a very easy to understand game- two opponents face each other on a 3×3 grid on which to place their cards. The cards are divided in decks of five, one deck is provided for you after getting access to the card game. Each of these cards has four numbers written at the bottom of the card- the four numbers represent a “value” given to each direction- up, down, left and right. You place the cards and “flip” cards of your opponent that have a lower value on the corresponding side. After all cards but one are placed, the player who “owns” the most cards wins. Easy enough, right?

This can be a huge (and enjoyable) time sink.
This can be a huge (and enjoyable) time sink.

You can challenge NPCs as well as other players- more on the NPCs in the next paragraph, but let’s think about challenging other players- this opens up so much in terms of social gameplay- see, first, it offers a great opportunity for roleplayers. They can sit in a bar, play and roleplay. I’m not really a huge fan of roleplaying around game systems or ignoring lore, game mechanics and other things and prefer RP when it makes use of the ingame systems, complementing them with just enough made-up-stuff that’s necessary to make it work. So this card game is right up my alley in terms of RP. But even if you ignore RP- i’ll just say “Guild Triple Triad Tournaments” or even “Open Triple Triad Tournaments” for the community- i wrote about how a guild needs level-agnostic activities planned and scheduled every once and again, so here’s a game system that makes meeting, talking, playing around and getting to know each other so very attractive.

You can challenge other players in these locations:

  • The Manderville Gold Saucer
  • Limsa Lominsa – Upper Decks, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:11)
  • New Gridania, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:13)
  • Ul’dah – Steps of Nald, Adventurer’s Guild (X:11 Y:9)
  • Eastern La Noscea, Costa de Sol (X: 33 Y:31)
  • South Shroud, Buscarron’s Druthers (X:17 Y:19)
  • Central Thanalan, The Coffer & Coffin (X:19, Y:20)
  • Coerthas, The Observatorium (X:26, 28)
  • Mor Dhona, Seventh Heaven (X:21, Y:8)

To the NPCs- they’re scattered around the landscape, not only in the Gold Saucer, so you can meet and challenge them all over the world, at least theoretically (haven’t looked out in the game world yet). Although i have to say, with the starter deck i couldn’t really manage to beat all of the NPCs in the Gold Saucer- only one, to be exact, and maybe having a shot at another one. The two remaining NPCs seem to be off limits with the starter deck. So you’ll need to get additional cards.

New cards can be obtained through MGP (the Gold Saucer currency), by winning matches against NPCs or participating/winning in tournaments that are held in the Gold Saucer. Right now there are 80 cards and different rulesets in the games.

Conclusion: this is longterm-happiness-stuff. Of course, since it’s the latest patch, right now everyone is in the Gold Saucer and playing around with these things. But when the dust settles, i think the card game will hold itself very good and for a long time- the devs can add cards, NPCs, rulesets, locations and so on. Also of note: it’s great to see how enjoyable such a system is when it isn’t tied to a cash shop- in f2p games, stuff like this will be monetized- while i don’t take real issue with this, i still think it’s very relaxing to have such a system without having the feeling to miss out somewhat if you’re not spending money.

Chocobo Racing

I’ve run two races in Chocobo Racing. To be able to participate in the races, you’ll have to:

  • talk to the NPC at Chocobo Square in the Gold Saucer
  • travel to the black shroud and talk to an npc there
  • talk to that same npc again (don’t miss this or you’ll have to travel back and forth again….not that this happened to me or something)
  • go back to the Gold Saucer, register your racing chocobo and finish the training course

On the track, the chocobos run by themselves. You have the option to accelerate your chocobo, but it might get depleted (?), so you’ll have to take a break in acceleration. Using acceleration will also make use of the stamina of your chocobo and if you reach 0%, you’ll not be able to accelerate anymore. You can also steer the chocobo to the left and right of the track, thereby making use of an “ideal track” or to reach bonuses/abilities that spawn on the track. There’s speed boosts as well as some “skills” to debuff the other participants of the race.

It’s too early to come to a real conclusion here- it seems to have some potential, and if you could access the races as a group- well, see above. Guild Racing Events would be a nice thing, too. There’s also the breeding aspect, where you can look for a good partner for your chocobo and let them breed a new racing chocobo. But i’ll have to look into this part of the minigame later.

Mini Cactpot

Oh, this is easy. But this is also something one could do each and every day, in the beginning or in the end of a session. It’s simple: you buy a card containing a 3×3 grid of numbers. One number is visible to you and you can select three other numbers to display. Based on what you see, you can make a guess and select one row (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) and your prize is determined by the sum of the numbers in your selected row. Simple enough, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s fun in being a combination of riddle and luck.

All in all, great fun and great opportunities arise with all that stuff that is available through this patch. I’m really looking forward to trying it some more, but i think some levelling will come first- of course, excluding one trip to the Gold Saucer just to play Mini Cactpot 😉

Oh dear, Manderville Gold Saucer arrives today

I’m not a Final Fantasy fan in particular. I bought FF13 for the PS3 just to see what all the hype is about with this IP and couldn’t really get into it. So i don’t know about the Gold Saucer in FF7, but oh boy, why are they doing this?

Now, don’t misunderstand- i love the idea. Adding even more systems and ways to spend a session is a great thing. It’s just that i can’t seem to focus on something as it is and it looks like the Gold Saucer is going to be another time sink and another distraction for me. The last week hasn’t seen me much in game- with first our son being sick and then both parents- but i managed to get some things done.

What i’ve been up to

I levelled Ermina a little bit- up to level 6 in the Archer class. I tried adding some of the people who commented on her birth-post to my friendlist, but alas, one has to be online to be sent a request. Also, i noticed that the ingame mail works only for friends, so i couldn’t contact Belghast with a request to join the FC that has been built there. I’m not so sure they’ll have me, so i wanted to talk to him in the least intrusive way possible. Anyway, maybe i’ll be able to join that FC at a later point.

Starting out
Starting out

I’ve been playing Deidra, my main, as well. She’s quite all over the place now, but i’m catching up on the main story questline and some crafting jobs, as well. The Botanist is level 21, the Carpenter is level 10, the Weaver is still 19, but still making progress as i finish delivery orders for my Grand Company, the Arcanist is level 24 and the main story questline is now at 23. So i’m getting there, slowly.

Looking forward, i might bring a second class up in levels- it dawned on me that it might be a good way of solving the main story quest-problem where you outlevel it quickly if you do a dungeon, or side quests, or anything at all. The Conjurer is a safe bet, of course. I think Deidra is level 6 there, needs to be brought to level 15, anyway, to get the Scholar class, and if i level it a little bit more- say, to level 23, i can continue the main story quest using the Conjurer while the Arcanist can then level in a “normal” way and at a faster pace.

The hunting log is next for the Arcanist- Deidra’s standing close to Skull Valley, anyway, and it’s there i’ll be able to find 3 of the 4 mobs still missing for the current tier in the log.

These days, i'm listening to Peter F. Hamiltons Commonwealth saga. Nice coincidence to meet Sylphs in FF14, as well.
These days, i’m listening to Peter F. Hamiltons Commonwealth saga. Nice coincidence to meet Sylphs in FF14, as well.

I’ve also found another goal to achieve with both my characters- i want to grow a friendslist. I’m not so sure yet how to do that, but i’ll be on the lookout for ways and will talk about my ideas and how they work out here.

I’ve got to say one thing, though: the longer i’m playing FF14, the more it becomes the “one” MMORPG i play- i have almost no desire in launching something else, these days. I’m not forcing myself, there’s no need to, because first it doesn’t work, anyway and second there’s always something to do and/or achieve. Sometimes, though, i’m not so sure what i can do when i don’t have much time- so to say i’m looking forward to today’s patch is somewhat of an understatement. I’m glad i renewed my sub, this game is shaping up in very good ways (although i still think it’s far from perfect).

The Gold Saucer

When i didn’t know about Heavensward, the Gold Saucer was a reason to get back into Final Fantasy XIV- well, that, and housing. Now housing is a more long-term-goal, which is fine, but i was also worried that the Gold Saucer might be something where you need to be level 50 or something- i’m glad it isn’t so.

Reading the Patch notes, there’s the Quest “It could happen to you” in Ul’dah, Steps of Nald (X:9 Y:9) that grants access to the Gold Saucer. You’ll need to be level 15 and have completed the “Envoy” quest of the main story questline to be able to accept this quest. This will, it seems, grant you access to the Gold Saucer. Arriving there, it seems you’ll have to take a quest for every activity that is to be found there.

I went in and it was great.
I went in and it was great.

It’s funny, FF14, while being very popular (at least that’s my impression), is a game where it’s quite hard to find information on systems, guides, or something that is a little bit deeper than just stating that something is there. These are the activities i found right now:

  • Chocobo Racing – a racing mini-game with a seperate progression path for your racing chocobo and elements of popular cart-games
  • Triple Triad – a collectible card game in FF14 (oh boy)
  • Cactpot – a daily/weekly lottery style game
  • GATES – a series of live events, ranging, i think, from jumping puzzle style events to dancing and fighting
  • Minigames – some games you might find at funfairs

By the way, this is a patch from V2.5 to V2.51 – i’m really looking forward to see what they’ll be doing with a whole expansion. Also, can’t wait to log in!

How blogging and gaming feed each other

In the short time since i started blogging regularly, big things happened. First of all, i didn’t expect to be connecting quite so fast as it happened now. Even when i restarted writing more regularly in the end of 2014, after the news broke that Massively would shut down, i doubled down on that. My goal right now is to publish something every day, although i have to confess that this might not be the best of ideas- see yesterday’s post for reasons why. While i liked the topic and stand by the argument, i had to hurry somewhat and the post developed from one topic to the other. And now it’s quite a mess, but that’s ok.

I started following more blogs via WordPress and Twitter gave me new blogs to see, as well. Furthermore, i wasn’t alone in this line of thinking- Ironweakness’ Blog exists because of the impending shutdown (and, reading it, one has to wonder why he didn’t start earlier). Right now my following of blogs is a mess- some of them are only in the WordPress reader i don’t use, some of them are only on Twitter and despite the fact that this is an MMO-exclusive account the stream runs by very fast. And then there’s Feedly, where i do read and i’m slowly migrating everyone over there.

So, the social connecting thing works in this regard. I’ll also have to thank many of the “real bloggers” for that. You really visit my blog from time to time, comment, like, write posts answering some of the posts i made or even link to me. This is a great experience, and i’d really like to thank you for being such an inclusive breed of gamers!

Playing and Writing

Of course, these connections make me want to write even more. But then there’s another thing: i found that my writing and gaming feed each other. Sometimes i’d think about a topic for a post and realize that i should go and play something, focussing the attention during the session on the topic i want to write about. And sometimes it’s the other way round- i play something and a topic opens up.

As someone who is, sometimes literally, playing a different game each day, this connection between writing and playing has given me a focus i didn’t achieve before. Yes, i’d resolve myself to play “just this one” MMO for some time, but it never lasts- and why should it? When you don’t have strong social ties in a game and are playing solo, mostly, why should you be “faithful” to one or two games? There are reasons, of course. Social ties, for instance, grow while staying in one game- it’s more difficult if you switch every other week.

Rift Dragon
I wanted to stay in Rift until ArcheAge released. Didn’t quite work out.

But now? I want to write about things- and i want to experience things in the games. I also found out that i look at games differently- even when not thinking about making something a topic, i feel like i experience these games more intense. Right now, inspired also by comments here and some blog posts in other places, there are a few quite focussed projects i’d like to take on. We’ll see how it goes, because time is still limited.

Lord of the Rings

As i’ve mentioned, i fear a little bit for Lotro. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll last longer than 2017. I might be wrong here, and i do hope i am, but when the gates close on this one, we’ll lose access to the best realized Middle Earth in MMOs and maybe games in general. I don’t like that to happen. I planned to visit Vanguard when i had a “bad feeling” about it in the beginning of last year only to sadly be right and have the world yanked from us. When you don’t have lots of time to play, a project like “visiting the world” can take months, even years. So when i begin this now, there might be a chance that i’ll get to see the Middle Earth of Lotro before it shuts down.

Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle
Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle

My plan here is quite like something a tourist guide writer would do- see the places, know some things about them (i’m not going to graduate in Middleearthology) and present them here.

Final Fantasy XIV


This is a game where a second, third or fourth look on crafting and economy is going to be interesting. I’ve read several times now that there’s kind of a barrier in the mid-30-levels, and i’m quite interested to see how it goes. I’ve experienced similar things, mostly in Lotro, where i always seemed to be stuck in the mid-30s.

So it’s going to be crafting/economy for Final Fantasy XIV, but also general gameplay experience. I guess i’ll continue to cover this for all the games i play, but if the last two weeks are any indication, it seems as though FF14 is my favourite game, for now. And it should be – it is good, after all, and i’d like to be ready for Heavensward without hurrying along.

Everquest 2

Not much focus here. I also stopped playing it outside of my guild group, because my guild group character progresses much faster than my other character and i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle when the guild project is over. But there’s something about EQ2 that’s really great- and from time to time, you’ll read about how it has so many features, how it is almost a sandbox in themepark’s clothing- i’d like to flesh that out a bit and look at the different features.


This has been a topic here for quite some time- how to connect to other players- what can we, as players, do to make our gameplay experience more social? What can developers do? I’d like to take a look into that and also want to make my personal gameplay experience more social. You’d like to do that, as well? Goody, just head on over to Group up and give me a /tell.

So this is it- in the two months since i restarted blogging here i found that writing enhances gameplay experience, and you’ll get to know/talk to/discuss with great, like minded people…or not so like-minded. Doesn’t matter as long as discussion is civil.

Encouraging social play: venues

From time to time, i think possible ways to make MMORPGs more social (again). I believe that this topic is an important one, that the highs and lows of the genre are connected to this topic, but i also think that this is not something we can only blame the developers for. When WoW launched, the internet was fairly new (at least in these parts; i had access to it since about ~1999) and there was still the wonder of a place where humans from all over the world can gather, chat, work and play games together. Even if your area had access to the internet longer than i did, i personally think that the behaviour of players in Everquest 1 was different to today’s just because the whole experience was new.

The city
The city

When you think about World of Warcraft, again, there is something in its success that gets mentioned often: the social ties. Everybody and his/her grandma play WoW, sometimes literally. Even if they unsubscribed, they’ll return for an expansion. I’ve read countless reports of mmo playing friends that they tried to find a new place with a guild and couldn’t agree on the game to play. So WoW’s expansion cycle is like a bi-yearly “class of 2004” event.

Social ties are important- they make the games so much more than just games. I am not really involved in many things, don’t have so many ingame friends, but my wife still teases me from time to time that i’m in an “expensive 3D chat room” while playing.

Now we have social ties on different levels: the bigger MMORPG community, the communities on sites like Massively Overpowered, the ingame community, the Twitter community (i’m slowly getting the hang of it), the blogging community, guilds, friends and real-life friends. These levels are one reason why i like the genre so much.

So why is it that the games we love, themselves, seem unable to tie these bonds? Generally speaking, the communities in Lord of the Rings Online, Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2 seem to be quite good and friendly. This has been connected to the fact that there isn’t any competition in these games between players. I think that there’s something else at work, as well.


We need places to meet, and this in such a way that we really feel like we’re meeting other players and not NPCs. If you look at the list of communities above, they all have their venues: Massively Overpowered is one by definition, as is Twitter, the blogging community has their own ways of connecting, guilds have forums and so on. Ingame communities need places to meet up, as well.


One possibility would be to add “real” places into the worlds we visit where we can meet other people. But this will not suffice- if you look at some of the newer games, they mostly deal with one “central hub”- in SWTOR you have the fleet, in Rift there are capital cities for each faction/expansion, in GW2 as well, so an effort has been made to centralize the players in cities on the map. But all we really do is just stand there.

One-off grouping isn't enough
One-off grouping isn’t enough

I think these places should be smaller and directed to a smaller audience. It isn’t enough to create one “social hub” place where everybody…just is. I don’t think someone would argue that it’s more social to live in, say, New York than it is to live in some village in Maine.

There are examples, even within the bigger social hubs. Think about the Prancing Pony in Bree- i guess it also has the lore going for it, but it is a nice inn in a larger, nice city. Roleplayers and other types of players go there to meet up- i even went there in the early days to get a group going for the group content that existed back then.

For instance, the world could be designed in such a way that, say, housing afficionados gather in one place, metalsmiths in another and so on. There could still be big cities where everything is possible, but then you’d have to get rid of fast-travel, to avoid all players being there all the time.

I think there need to be more places in the world(s) where small groups meet each other.


We also need reasons for visiting different places. Maybe there are certain resources that can only be gathered at special places, or rare loot drops in some open world area. I mentioned this in another post, but an open world area filled with stronger mobs that drop something worthwhile would help, as well. There’s a reason people flock all over GW2’s maps to get the named mobs and group up to do this. Things like this also happen in FF14.

We’ll also have to have reasons for higher level characters to be in lower level areas- again, i think crafting is the key here: if you don’t make early resources obsolete in later crafting levels, there’s a reason to visit. Or maybe there’s an NPC vendor that sells special housing items, or a special workbench as the only place to craft certain items- and so on.


I mentioned the stages, the theater of TSW would be another thing and Lord of the Rings Online does a great job at hosting seasonal events outside of the bigger hubs. Lotro also caters strongly to roleplayers- there’s really only this game where something like Weatherstock happens.

The open world

Whenever i think about this topic, the open world gets mentioned a lot. I think instanced dungeons and dungeon finders are not the way to go for MMORPGs- not that they shouldn’t be done, but maybe, instead of offering bonuses, why not do it the other way around and give the bonus to people who didn’t use it to enter the dungeon? I know, queue times, but still.

In my opinion, the open world(s) need places where smaller groups of people gather- not people who coincidentally do the same quests or small areas with a few quests that require small groups- it should be bigger areas, maybe even whole zones (like Craglorn, maybe?) and there need to be reasons to visit as well as a bonus for venturing forth in a group- there are many ways to do this, mechanically.

For instance, Vanguard had a system that applied bonuses when you were gathering resources in a group. Combine that with an area with rare materials and tough mobs (that give out good loot), and you may just have given a small group made of a few crafters and adventurers something to do together- and tell something more than “Hello” and maybe, even create social ties.



Resolutions for 2015

Well, only the MMORPG-related, of course.

Spend less

2014 was an expensive year for me in MMORPGs. Developers monetize the feeling of missing out i always get when there’s some kind of early access/beta or even expansion and new releases very well nowadays. Others may dislike the chaos that are the first days in an MMO, but i like how everybody’s interested and sets foot in a new (part of the) world of a particular MMO. That’s why i’m always inclined to join as early as possible. So in 2014, i “preordered” Landmark, ArcheAge, the Repopulation, Elder Scrolls Online, Galactic Strongholds (actually, i only subbed to get it, but still), Wildstar and Elite: Dangerous. I also stocked up store credits in Rift when the new expansion came. That’s some serious money for games i play in a (very) casual manner. In case of ArcheAge, it was a total waste. I don’t know, this one makes me sad, because i like the crafting/economy part of this game but feel it is totally borked.

So in 2015, i’d like to spend less on that stuff, although i know that Everquest Next, should they release a founder pack with alpha access will probably make it on my list, and there’s at least one expansion that’s beckoning me, Heavenswarth for Final Fantasy XIV. But even so, i hope to be more careful this year.

Be ready when they come

I’m sure this’ll be a moot point for EQ2, because that game’s too big for me to get to the “end” of the available content before the new expansion hits, but in general terms, i’d like to be where the fun starts with a new expansion. Right now i can think of SWTOR and Final Fantasy XIV where i’ll want to at least be level-capped when new content hits. EQ2 would be a bonus, but as i said, there’s not much hope.

Also, this isn’t new. Last year, i was hoping to get settled into one, and only one MMORPG. I was quite sure that by this time of the year, i’d live happily ever after with ArcheAge, but it wasn’t to be. So this year, i’d like to be at least a little more focussed and try to ignore those who most likely won’t expand this year. I could add Lotro here, but i’m so far behind the curve in that one and don’t really like Moria that i don’t think i’ll even try.

Don’t forget this blog

Yeah, i posted very infrequently since i started this blog and i’d like to change that. I can’t write every day like others do, but still, i want to keep it active. Also, more pictures please.

Continue my guild project

Well, i copied an idea from an international guild i was part of and brought it to a german multigaming guild. Basically, we move between f2p games every 3 months. We use a poll to determine which one it’s going to be and then meet up once a week to play that game together. Right now, we’re in Everquest 2. Reception of the idea was very good, with 15 players signing up. A couple of weeks later and we’re down to 4 players. Anyway, i think such a project is good to have in a multigaming guild, because it brings the players closer to each other and lets them play together for a while.

Be more social in game

I don’t really know how to do that. If in a guild, i’ll try and group up more often, or at least chat. Also, i’d really like to make use of a friends list again- the last one i used as intended was back in WoW, since then it’s mostly just prep-work to get a guild set up.

Don’t overstretch, focus (a little)

….please? For now, i’ve said goodbye to the idea of playing just one MMORPG at a time, it seems it just isn’t my style at the moment. But with my available time for gaming, it would really befit me to not have 5 MMORPGs to choose from every time i find myself having some time. Also, when i’m not focussed, i tend to sub to multiple MMOs and sometimes even forget a subscription (a few days ago i discovered my FF14-sub still being active). So, please, dear me, try and stay a while.

Encouraging group play / Friendlist minions

I’ll try and visit some possibilities to encourage group play in modern MMORPGs. I’ve given reasons for ultimately playing solo most of the times and still like playing in the genre. The thing is, i’d also like MMORPGs to be a social experience where one can chat with people you know and get to know new “players”.

I think, one reason for social networks being so successful in these days- or even messenger apps like WhatsApp- is their asynchronous nature. If i want to contact one of my friends, i can do so- it doesn’t matter if they’re working at that time, taking care of their child or whatever. When they are free to do so, they’ll read my message and reply.

So, one possibility to encourage social play in MMORPGs could be to give asynchronous options- i’m not the first one to mention this, of course, and i could point you to Mark Kerns column over at MMORPG.com, where he mentions this idea. The whole column is worth a read- even if you’re thinking “why didn’t he apply this to Firefall?” half of the time. He mentions an asynchronous communication method that could be implemented in the games. But as i sat here and tried to come up with my own ideas, one thing came to mind and wouldn’t let go, even if it probably has some problems and will be a rough idea- i’m no game designer, after all.

Let us be our minions!

The minion/follower system of Rift and World of Warcraft is liked by many. What if a game would allow you to give these tasks to friends and guildmates instead of NPCs/trading cards? The idea started small, but the more i think about it, the more possibilities come to mind. The easy way, of course, is to have 1-person tasks that could be handed out to friends and guildmates. But you’d also have to think about a reward. So how could it work?

Simple Tasks, rewards for both parties

The easiest way to do this, as mentioned, would be to give players the ability to assign tasks to friends or guildmates. These tasks could range from gathering resources, crafting of items to just killing mobs. If we’d take the easiest road, kill-quests would probably be it. You’d also have to have ingame rewards for people to use this system, and i think there are games that already have nice ideas.

Such as FFXIV and Wildstar. In FFXIV, after a dungeon run using their dungeon finder tool, you can give a recommendation to one player. They can later use these recommendations to get some rewards. In Wildstar there’s a similar currency, though i think it’s used more often there and it is gained by simply grouping up. Now that i think of it, SWTOR does have this system, as well, though i’m not so sure what players get out of it.

So, the player who’s assigned to a task gets this currency and also XP and loot from stuff he or she is killing. Since the currencies in Wildstar and SWTOR didn’t really encourage more group play, the rewards for doing these “Minion-Tasks” would have to be huge- maybe even as good as, say, raid loot.

The player who’s assigning these tasks could get XP, of course, and maybe ingame currency as well as the “social currency”…and maybe even get some kind of “Task Master XP” that allows him or her to assign bigger/harder/more rewarding tasks in the future.

I know this is themepark talk- i’d do it differently in sandboxes (more economical, less xp and special currency. Also, i wouldn’t provide a user interface tab but something like player vendors who stand in the open world).

Basically, this would be a player-to-player quest system.


Now throw in gathering, crafting, maybe searching something as well as the potential to use special tasks for certain character classes/professions and maybe even group tasks, and there should be a lot of possibilities.

The group tasks could be sequential, consosting of mutiple steps, with each step tailored to one class/profession or both. Or they could consist of only one step designed for more than one player. And here we are again, you’d need group areas in the open world for this. Suddenly, there’s the possibility to meet other people doing the same task, maybe socialize, expand the friendlist and so on.

What game could do something like that?

I really don’t know. Maybe those who already have the Minion/Follower system in place; World of Warcraft, Rift, maybe Star Trek Online and SWTOR. And i think it would be becoming in most sandboxes.

5 ways to make your gaming experience more social

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.