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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:31PM Evilgm said

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Very interesting read.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:32PM (Unverified) said

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I don't really like when categories are made about types of people. People are too diverse to fit into them. I get why they're brought up though; in this case to explain why people opt out of social group interactions.

Personally, I've turned into a solo-player in the MMO universe due to a mix of the aforementioned reasons in the article. It's easy to become jaded to negative social experiences and avoid those people altogether. I can see why it's hard for designers to get someone like me back into those social circles, not that I don't want to get back into them.

Still, I'd have liked to see Schubert's insight into solutions for the problem. Maybe more information from Bioware will spell that out. It's been suggested that group dialogue will help immerse players in a group setting so that's one idea right there.

Posted: Mar 8th 2011 10:08PM Space Cobra said

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@(Unverified)

I myself tend to notice I am a mix of many of these things. While labelling and pigeon-holing people doesn't work, it doesn't bother me that I see myself falling into several different categories, and those can change with my mood or RL things going on.

I also try to be outgoing, but it can be hard to find people and a group, in general, even though others proclaim that it is a "must".
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:38PM Dunraven said

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Granted I haven't had my first cup o Joe yet, but all that really seem to say is we recognize all the different type of loner gamers...and we have a plan that will cajole, force or even trick them into playing the way we want them to play.
Here is a thought...stop making Mazes for the rats the run through and start making true dynamic virtual adventures. The sad fact of the matter is people don't socialize in most MMO's because acting like a douche is not only fostered it is sometimes even rewarded.
Take away the asshattery and more people will start to socialize, make the game we are playing more fun than the forum drama and folks will start to socialize. A friend of mine who tried MMo’s for the first time last week put it best. “It’s like an episode of mean girls” Every single MMO on the market today is more or less the same game, and that game is all about getting the next tier of gear, no one gives a damn about the lame lore that is thrown in as a prop to collect the next set of angry Kobold teeth.
Another issue is the basic mechanic of mmo’s. When developers wake up and stop using archaic pen and paper rpg principles to virtual worlds and actually give people a reason other than uber gear people will actually build communities all on their own..it really is that simple. I just wonder ho much venture capital went into this study and how much it will actually benefit the game in the long run.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 4:32PM Alex Oglitchkin said

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@Dunraven Here is another thought. Just shut up and play the game THEY made if you want. If you don't like how every single game has the rat and cheese then sorry for you, but it's how it works.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:48PM PrimeSynergy said

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And I thought Dr. Ray and Dr. Greg were captivating to listen to. This was an extremely interesting read to say the least.

I must admit, I'm a loner in most MMORPGs unless I have a group of people I actually know to play with. I probably fall into each category a bit. I really like how he noticed A LOT of the problems I also see.

I like the comment about lack of great tanks too. It was literally impossible for me to learn how to tank in WoW. If you told someone you weren't sure what to do, they might leave. You wipe once, even after explaining you're trying to learn, someone might leave. You wipe again, everyone leaves or you get kicked. It was frustrating. You were almost always getting yelled at. Ultimately, I gave up tanking and just switched to DPS because I didn't have to talk to anyone while in a dungeon. I could just get in and get out.

Contrast that to LotRO. I stumbled upon an amazing kinship (and the playerbase is just friendlier in general) and I was able to learn a lot even as a new player. As a captain, you're expected to switch roles often and I would go from tank, to dps, to healer in different dungeons. Luckily they were more than willing to teach me so it was a piece of cake and now I find it extremely boring to be alone. While not perfect, I believe Turbine is at least trying to solve the loner issue a bit. The group finer is something you don't see a lot. It lists every available group in the area I think. It tells you what quests they're doing, their lvl, etc. Like I said though, it's not perfect, but it's something.

Let me stop rambling on though. Lovin the article Jef! Keep up the good work.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:52PM Sorithal said

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I'm usually a mix of loner types... currently more the "Too busy to play for too long"/"Not really wanting to make commitments" loners.

Not that I don't like being in guilds and whatnot. Like on RIFT I'm in a guild, it's just that I can't really get into anything big yet due to having other priorities IRL.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 1:53PM RogerRoger said

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I think in the past, MMO designers wanted to get players in groups because of the mistaken belief that if a player is in a guild or plays with friends, they are more likely to keep playing and keep paying that subscription fee.

The negative side of that philosophy is that when a guild/group becomes disenchanted with a game or when a shiny new game grabs their attention, then you have a large number of people leaving your game all at once.

Personally, I stay with an MMO because of the content. When the content is no longer interesting or it's no longer fun to play, that's when I move on.

I could be wrong but I think most players are hybrids, solo when they want to be and social when it suits them.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 2:05PM Gildas said

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Maybe they shouldn't act like the "multiplayer" aspect of an MMO itself is problem and more so the implementation of that second M. The party system is in need of a revamp, how about they start with that instead of diminishing a key aspect of the genre in favor of catering to the many "loner" types that were contrived for the presentation (because we know in all honesty that the dev team doesn't have that list on their desk as they go through designing content).

How about a second level of "partying" like a meta-party so that everyone is part of a dynamic "party" of the players around them that you don't have to join into. How about a system so that you can see what quests people around you are working on and seamless join in with the people who are working on the same content just by being around them. How about making it actually easy to start up a party if you wanted to group up the traditional, closed way. Maybe a menu with the players around your level, the different classes, ones in the area, ones working on similar content, or a list of friends who you can warp directly to.

The biggest suggestion being to actually design the content with that second M in mind, give players incentive to play together instead of deciding how they play for them. Maybe something like the lbp philosophy; there is certain content that you can access through the work of multiple players. Part of the reason why MMOs have such impact is because players have specific roles and builds within the world which have context and meaning; the last thing you want to do is diminish that.

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 2:22PM Irem said

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@Gildas
I think the grouping-without-partying stuff that RIFT has and that GW2 is planning is a step in the right direction. As someone who needed to be dragged bodily, kicking and screaming, into any sort of group content in any other game, I really enjoyed public grouping in the RIFT beta. Like, to the point where I was actually meeting people and talking, and running up to every rift I saw to participate. Something about not having to actually make a commitment to the group did away with most of my performance anxiety, and I was free to just move around and play proactively. To my shock, I even ended up mostly healing in the groups I was in, and that's a role I always actively avoided because of the stress level. For once, I didn't feel like I needed permission and approval from the rest of the group to use any skills at my disposal, and I felt like I had a better idea of what I actually -could- do, as opposed to thinking, "What will people be expecting me to do right now?" and worrying about making the wrong choice. It was a blast, and if I had the extra money to spend, that alone would have sold me on the game.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 3:14PM Liltawen said

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@Gildas
Rift grouping is a real advance in this area. Being with 10 or 20 others to stop an invasion and then helping others on a few quests after is great fun that I just haven't seen elsewhere.
I like grouping well enough but not Guilds so much because they can be run by some real psychos ("Blondie,Tuco,and Angel Eyes were a Raid group-why not us?").
Real interesting read-first time I've liked what a Star Wars TOR Dev has had to say. Was there more to his speech than just this?
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 4:46PM Jef Reahard said

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@Liltawen

This was the meat and potatoes of the presentation. It was about 50 minutes long and he had a few other humorous anecdotes and asides. I originally started with a straight transcription of the entire speech, but it would've run upwards of 5000 words and I'd still be editing it a week from now.

So, no, not the entire speech, but all of the relevant bits.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 8:26PM Transientmind said

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@Irem

I think the real genius of the rift grouping system is that non-committal aspect and the fact that you can fill an entire raid impromptu if you need to. ...Or start a second one. There's no hard, fixed rule that there needs to be 1 tank, 2 heals, and 7 DPS or whatever variant your encounter demands.

The soul system is incredibly varied and if you want to try out a new blend, the best thing to do is to jump into sealing rifts and play with it. If you come up with a new spec and want to run some field tests, dungeons have that performance anxiety - you're wasting four other people's time if you screwed up your spec and haven't figured out how those shiny new skills interact with each other yet. Rifts... No-one cares!
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 2:07PM Irem said

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Really interesting stuff. As a loner type myself, though (sort of a cross between the Introvert and the Daria), I think that's a pretty hefty goal they've set for themselves. If playing with other people is the problem, how do you go about making solo players want to play with other people? I can usually find ways to contribute on my own in an MMO (as long as the game supports it), usually by crafting/gathering and selling. But that requires very little direct interaction with people, if any.

The part about how some gamers prefer not to learn in a public environment was particularly interesting to me, because it hits really close to home. Trying to learn something while other people are watching me ranks somewhere above "tied to a red ant hill and left for dead" on my list of worst nightmares, -especially- if those people are strangers. Unfortunately, that results in its own kind of anxiety, too--I may have figured out how to play, but I've done it without any feedback from my fellow players and unless I spend hours reading forums I'm still not sure if my playstyle is acceptable.

Really, I think as long as you make games that are primarily goal-oriented and encourage maximum efficiency to reach those goals, you're going to have a hard time getting solo gamers (at least, introverts like me) into group play. There are plenty of players in every MMO who ostensibly enjoy grouping and do group content to the exclusion of almost everything else, but who have about as much interest in actual social interaction as the person who just wants to be left alone. They don't want to talk. They don't want to joke around. They don't want to know your name, or spend time exploring. They don't care about which drops you want or if you have a quest to do. They treat other players as NPCs to fill the other slots in their group, and when those players don't act exactly the way they'd like, they get very upset and often abusive. There's a clash of anxieties between the person who feels the need to micromanage other players because they're unable to deal with even the threat of a negative impact on their game experience, and the people who are unwilling to put up with the stress of running into someone like that.


Posted: Mar 7th 2011 2:35PM Lenn said

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Interesting read, yes. But am I the only one who is a little disappointed that yet another game designer apparently views raids as the ultimate in community building?

Posted: Mar 7th 2011 3:20PM (Unverified) said

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@Lenn
No, you're not the only one disappointed. Ultimately Mr. Schubert still views loners as a problem. He says that "It was something where we all collectively changed our mind and said we were wrong before." but I don't buy it. When I see the write-up about different types of group-oriented players and how they can be manipulated by game design then I'll believe they've changed their mind.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 3:59PM Lenn said

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@(Unverified) It's high time game developers started looking at other ways of creating group content. The social aspect of an MMO isn't just about grouping up to beat some scripted dungeon; in fact, there doesn't seem to be too much socialising going on in those groups anyway.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 4:20PM Lenn said

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@(Unverified) "Ultimately Mr. Schubert still views loners as a problem."

Given your statement it's a little apt I initially read the title as "designing for losers".
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 4:39PM Alex Oglitchkin said

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@Lenn Because that is how it should be in a game. You have to fight the end type boss in a game/expansion that requires more than 1 or 2 people. If you could solo or kill it with very few people then the boss doesn't seem worthy enough to have caused all the terror and destruction.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2011 4:56PM Randomessa said

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@Alex Oglitchkin

That's not how Smaug met his end.
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