I talked the other day about making content for groups more engaging, but what about grouping in general? Graev and I feel MMOs have a lot of room to improve the fun players can have while grouped together. Accessing more difficult, dynamic, deep in scope content is one way to improve the fun, there are other obvious ways.
Class synergies would be a great start. I think Fellowship Maneuvers from Lord of the Rings Online are a great example of a very, very simple way to get classes working together. Bringing a Burglar along was always a treat because that class could initiate some really helpful group abilities to stun and knock down mobs. These abilities required group members to pay attention and even coordinate pressing buttons or activating skills.
More complex group synergies are needed. Imagine if a warrior could pick up a rogue and throw him behind the enemy, or a mage could teleport teammates into position. Mages should be able to cause archers to fire arrows — or even duplicate those arrows magically to give the DPS in your group a boost. Players these days only care about how good their DPS is compared to everyone else in the group, so most people just spam a rotation and watch a 2 inch box in the corner of their screen.
Clearly Defined Classes
Classes in general these days have homogenized way too much to the point where everyone can do everything. Grouping has become boring because everyone I group with can do the same things as me. Graev is constantly bringing up the Druid class from WoW (which can literally tank, heal, melee DPS, and ranged DPS) as an example of what not to do when creating a class.
Classes should have unique and clear roles. Grouping with a Bard and Enchanter in EverQuest was (and is to this day) a life-changing experience. Those two classes are so ridiculously different from any other class — again, even to this day — that having one in your group introduced you to new ways of accomplishing your goals. If there are 10 classes, and each one brings something totally unique, then chances are you’ll run into many different combinations and, when combined with player input, no two groups are alike.
A Reason to Group
We talk a lot about the importance of group content in MMOs and avoiding the single-player-syndrome. Yes, it makes an MMO an MMO, and I can ramble on about all the many ways in which grouping is just better ‘for the good of the game’… but ultimately grouping has to be fun or it doesn’t matter. Give me unique classes, awesome abilities and combinations I’ll only experience in a group, and lots of great content to explore in a group setting, and to me that’s a great start at making grouping a lot more fun.