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Reader Comments (14)

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 1:14PM (Unverified) said

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Welcome to 1999. Go take a look at Asheron's Call.

It's important to note that AC is very very different in terms of combat to modern MMO's. You take things on at about 8 at a time and kill things really fast, so the XP flows quite fast.

First: Guilds. In AC you have a Monarchy instead of a guild. Basically, you "swear" allegiance to someone. Based on your patrons leadership skill and your loyalty skill, XP is double counted and some of it goes to your patron, in theory for advice or items. You have a dedicated chat channel to your patron, and from your patron to his vassals, of which he can have 12. As you can see, this creates huge chains of people, the person on the top being the monarch. When you assess a character you see that persons patron and monarch. This creates exponential XP passup for lots of XP for anyone, and a huge incentive to take people on as your vassals.

2. Fellowships: Basically, the more people in the fellowship, the more XP the monster is worth. I.E. 2 people 120%, and on.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 2:44PM Scopique said

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You forgot to mention the latest CoH/CoV addition, the Leveling Pact. Any characters under level 5 can form this pact, which allows an offline character to get XP gained by his or her fellow pact member who IS online. The amount receivde, however, is a percentage less then what they'd get while online, but the idea is to allow new characters to stay roughly in-line with one another despite differing schedules.

I've always taken issue with the ONLY reason to play MMOs is for the social interaction. Maybe it's because I started before there were these consentual PvP flags in, and, hence, were surrounded by asshats who just wanted to gank one another, but I have always personally played MMOs because of the size of the worlds, the relatively non-linear design, and the fact that new content is always added on. But I digress.

I have never been one to join PUGs, but I've found that the RvR in Warhammer Online has changed that because the biggest PUG of all -- the realm defense -- is a jump-in/jump-out system. The Open Party system allows anyone to join a party in the area, so when the regional channel announces that someone has a warband heading out to take a keep or battlefield objectives, you only have to type /join LEADER_NAME to get into the action if that's what you into.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 1:52PM Mabuti said

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I think that this a problem that is plauging ORvR for Warhammer, incentives.

Although you are playing a MMO your comments about wanting to play at your own possible pace is a key ingredient. Without it, games for average players become frustrating.

The group XP is the main ingredient that I would like to see changed. When I group, give me the XP that I would normally receive when killing a mob. This could pose alot of other issues but IMO many of these issues have been resolved in the efforts to squash mob camping.

Grouping is essential to the full experience but when there are drawbacks, it is difficult to swallow.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 2:01PM (Unverified) said

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The best time I had in WoW was when I played a lot with someone who happened to have the same level and playtimes as I had. We were in sync for at least 35 levels, but he got a few levels ahead by then, which made it impossible to group anymore :(

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 10:32PM (Unverified) said

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City of Heroes/Villains also has the brilliant concept of scaling the difficulty of the missions according to how many people (and what difficultly level the mission is set to) are involved. So the more people in the group, the more enemies you fight and the stronger the enemies are, so the more reward you have. You can solo nearly all content in CoH/V, but the rewards and fun increase the more people you have in the group. Between that and the Sidekicking/Exemplar system it's incredibly easy to get groups going in that game, and I think it's the best example out there that I've played when it comes to grouping and communication between the players.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 3:27PM charlieromeobravo said

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A lot of good suggestions in this article. When I came to this game a few years ago from City of Heroes I was shocked to find the LFG tool was non existent for all intents and purposes and found grouping to (mostly) be a pain in the ass. City of Heroes has a fantastic LFG tool and they give you an XP bonus for grouping. It's something like X amount of XP for the kill divided by the number of group members + Y% increasing for the number of members in the group. That formula tipped the XP yields in favor of grouping but not massively so. Blizzard revamped the LFG tool and made it too automated and too inflexible far too long after players has already grown used to playing in a certain way that compensated for the difficulty of finding an impromptu group. Given that groups are still hard to find, the XP yield while a part of a group is usually less than soloing, and dealing with strangers in a PUG is always a roll of the dice it's no surprise that people only group friends and guildmates that they can contact directly. Try sending someone a /whisper asking if they'd like to group for a particular quest (or just for the hell of it) and the responses can be downright hostile sometimes.

Blizz does promote grouping with friends and guildmates by setting up things like raids and the recruit-a-friend system. It would be nice to see them do something like the XP bonus to promote grouping generally. At this point, I think doing that might meaning having to convince the players to leave behind old playing habits and biases.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 3:32PM Dlangar said

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I still think CoH does one of the best jobs of providing incentive to group (while leveling) of any major MMO I've played. There are two key reasons for this. (1) The content scales with the size of the group, and therefore so does the rate of xp gain. That is, while you can solo in CoH all the way to the end of the game if you like, your XP gain is actually far more efficient when you group. So the doesn't prevent you from soloing, but it certainly encourages you to group.

(2) Any person that participates in a mission gets the mission experience for that mission. One of the biggest detriments to grouping in WoW while levelling is quest out of sync. So many of the quest chains are long chains, and it's so easy to get out of sync with other players, you're actually discouraged from grouping because one or more of you can't gain from the quest rewards. Build a system in which everyone can benefit in some way from participating in the quest, and I guarantee you a lot more people will want to group.

Posted: Jan 8th 2009 4:00PM nevin said

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The group combo and the sidekick ideas you mention have been in EQ2 for years.
However, they diluted the combo idea over the years to make it easier to perform.

Posted: Jan 5th 2009 10:07PM (Unverified) said

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"Back in ye-olde Everquest days it was never that difficult to find a group of players to tackle a challenge. It didn't matter if it was a dungeon or open world (non-instanced) content – especially since the concept of instances didn't yet exist."

Are you high? I remember all too well the days of sitting for hours looking for a group in Everquest. Then you could find a group but you were missing an enchanter or a shaman to slow the mobs or a tank or an extra healer to keep the ranger alive. Gah! Grouping is fun when you want to do it and when you can do it on demand otherwise it can mean hours of boredom while you sit and wait around for others and then when you finally get the group started, they have to go because they're Mom just got home or !

Making MMORPG's group-intensive excludes a huge part of the population that wants to play these kinds of games but can't dedicate their real life to this virtual life.

In short, no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 10:34PM (Unverified) said

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Yep. I'm completely baked.
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Posted: Jan 6th 2009 8:00AM (Unverified) said

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To me grouping to do anything promotes interaction with others which is in essence one of the key ingredients of an MMORPG. The developers of Everquest realized this and made it prominent in the heart of the game by pretty much requiring grouping to level from the get go and is one of the reasons why people still play EQ today some 10 years after its release. Even though WOW, for an example, allowed soloing to complete one of the main tasks everyone does in the game, to level, it had such great dungeon design that required grouping so once again, grouping = interaction = success.

To me personally I met some of my best friends today some 10 years ago in Everquest by doing just that, grouping. It just so happened that about 10 people lived less than 20 minutes away from myself that played on the same server and we just randomly found out this one way or another. Lack of grouping causes relationships to not form, weather they be good or bad. This in turn adds incentive to log in and play the game because "hey that dude that I partied with last night might be on and we might be able to group again today", what a concept. It is so simple yet so overlooked by some of these new games coming out today *cough* WAR *cough*. Saddly WAR took a big blow in this category and is a reason I quit playing that game. I got near max level on 2 characters and then realized if i hadn't started playing with friends I knew in real life I probably wouldn't have made any friends in game period. To me that equals fail in mmorpg terms.

The simple ingredient is, take notes all you developers out there. Incentive to group = grouping = interaction with others = friendships = incentive to play your game. It's really as easy as that, the mmorpgs that are still around today got that formula right and the ones out the door are ones who have failed.

Posted: Jan 6th 2009 12:55PM Tom in VA said

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The number 1 impediment to grouping, imo, are flawed and broken LFG tools. I have noticed this again and again in the MMOs I've played: LotRO, WoW, GW, etc. Most have one or two nice features, but none that I have seen really gets it right.

LFG tools are simply NOT designed for the way people actually play. An ideal LFG tool would ...

.... Allow you to see LFG chat for whatever area(s) or player level ranges you wanted to hear.
.... Permit you to be transported instantly to the nearest hub once your group was assembled (the author of this article was right on the money about being able to teleport your friend(s) to your quest location. There should also be a way for said friend(s) to instantly teleport back to their original location once the quest or dungeon was completed.)
.... Allow you to post a standing LFF request, sortable by region, instance, quest, general area, level, etc., on an LFF "bulletin board" of some kind.

WoW made their LFF tool mind-numbingly complicated. LotRO limits you to hearing LFG chat only the region you're in, and Guild Wars effectively cuts off your ability to hear LFG channels if you're out questing -- forcing you to stand around and wait (and wait and wait) in various staging areas for a group to form. It sometimes seems as though the developers of these games never actually play their own games and so do NOT understand what players actually need.

LFG tools need to offer players ways to post their own LFG messages on a general message board (that works like a chat channel but doesn't "scroll away out of sight" the way chat does). Said message board should be sortable by general area, level, etc., etc. Groups formed should be allowed to transport/teleport directly to some location near the quest or dungeon site.

Finding and getting to groups just should not be as difficult as it is in most of these games.

Posted: Jan 7th 2009 10:46PM (Unverified) said

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Improving the LFG/LFF tool is an excellent idea. I'm glad most MMOGs have this tool, but I totally agree that they could use improvement. I don't think you'd see as many LFG requests in WoW's trade channels (for example), if the LFG tools were effective. Great suggestions.
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Posted: Jan 7th 2009 2:09AM (Unverified) said

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Hey Hey

Get ride of the Holy Trinity of Tank , Heals , DPS. Allow char to be played as diffrent roles, There are allways people looking for groups but you are looking for a specific class to play it. Make it so that smart players can play in a varitey of play styles. Give the players the option to think about an encouter.

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