*Dusts off his soapbox.* Ahhem.
Are you people crazy?!
I just about spewed my morning Diet Coke all over my desk when I opened up the latest EQ Next poll. Surely the people wanting to play the ‘next’ EverQuest game know this will be a sandbox. Surely they are mostly fans of the original EverQuest and EverQuest II, and have been brought up in this industry as sensible, wise, and sane people. Surely they aren’t the type looking for dungeon finders, cross-server queues, zero social infrastructure, and absolutely no reason to communicate with anyone or have any sort of accountability. I guess I was wrong?
Part of me wants to smack the person who put the poll up in the first place. The other half REALLY wants to smack them. Don’t even entertain the idea of a dungeon finder or matching system in EverQuest Next. Now you have to have Omeed get up there in the video and do his marketing thing by explaining the rationale behind why a certain type of player wants the ability to log in and instantly be whisked away into a dungeon group while the seasoned developer on the other side explains why that type of crap breaks this type of game.
Let’s look at what some of the messages posted for the SoE team. These are the logical responses:
“I haven’t had much fun with matching systems. Players tend to play dungeon and disperse. No connections. Prefer friends.” – David Georgeson
“I think that options are important, but matching can be problematic!” – Jeffrey Buttler
“I prefer the social bonds that form when players form their own groups.” – Darrin McPherson
And these are the ones that make absolutely no sense to me in the context of this poll.
“Grouping should be accessible for both those with lots of friends and more occasional players.” – Steven Klug
“I generally play with friends but would love a system to find people doing similar things when necessary!” – Terry Michaels
“In this area, options are best. I want to play with family and friends or group up with random strangers. It’s how you make friends…or so my family has told me.” – Michael Mann
You guys realize that you can group with strangers without a dungeon finder, right? It’s called “Looking for Group.” That’s how you meet new people, make friends on your server, and start to build the types of social interactions that actually make the MMORPG genre different from Call of Duty.
I like knowing that I can find the same players I enjoyed grouping with previously. I like that feeling when I find the perfect puller and add that person to my friends list. I like knowing that if I find a player who doesn’t match my playstyle I can avoid grouping with him ever again. This is the stuff Darrin McPherson is alluding to.
My fun in MMORPGs has actually gone down CONSIDERABLY since I started only playing with my close circle of friends. I stopped meeting new people. Every group became the same. I lost the ability to type to my group and take on the personality of my character. I weakened the immersion factor.
In a themepark world where the whole point is to play through content and get gear — a dungeon finder works. In a sandbox, or pseudo-sandbox like the original EverQuest, I stand firm: Keep that filth far, far away.