Emphasize Community Content

My last post was all about de-emphasizing the role of guilds in content and gameplay.  I think in order for that dynamic to work, server communities must be given enormous power over how the content on the server is completed.  The best examples I can think of are from my past experiences with EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot.  In both of those games, early on before they were essentially ruined, content was completed by a group of people getting together and spreading the word that it would be fun to throw as many people as we can at a mob.

I remember when a handful of people — maybe 5 at most — were trusted leaders.  When Joe was leading a dragon run on Saturday night, everyone signed up because Joe was a well-known and talented leader.  The attendees represented dozens of guilds, and usually there were dozens to hundreds of players present.  Content was hard, required a lot of people, but it wasn’t instanced.  Dungeons were open, and anyone who entered could participate.  Heck, most of us weren’t even technically grouped at times.  We trusted the leader of our ‘raid’ (that term has lost all original meaning and become associated with contemporary raiding) leader to fairly hold a loot roll session after the raid was over.

These types of raids built server unity, created a community of players who worked together, and strengthened our bonds together when we weren’t even doing these PvE raid events.  In a game like DAoC, this made answering the call to battle more personal.  We were working alongside all of these players when our realm came under siege, and if Joe asked for help in RvR we were more than eager to jump out there.

I want devs to remove the emphasis on guilds and place it on the community instead. Bring back open-world dungeons.   Let the players once again have control and be able to create a more meaningful experience while at the same time reclaiming the original meaning and role of a guild.

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Cthreepo - April 20, 2013

I see now reason not to have both. You could have open world bosses and instanced dungeons. I dont know if it ever happened in EQ or DAOC, but other groups might go and steal your mob or whatever if everything is open. Plus, it seems…Well, maybe hard to balance if the players can just bring enough players to make the content easy mode. But even if you made big open world dungeons, that needed a 100 people to beat, the players nowadays would organise in bigger guilds, or maybe alliances of a number of guilds. It would just be easire and you can allways be certain that there’s a level of quality of the members.

But if the content is designed to be beatable by, say a 100 people. What would stop someone to bring 150 people? Sure, the loot would be split by more people, but it would go fast and easy.

I think open dungeons/raid bosses are a good idea, but I see no reason not to have instanced too, since its a different experience and the two are not mutually exclusive.

bhagpuss - April 21, 2013

I don’t disagree with the principle but you need to remember why all these things changed. It wasn’t through top-down, directive corporate revisionism. It was a long sequence of reactive changes driven by player demand.

Most, if not all, of the changes that “ruined” Everquest, to stick to the example I know best, were dragged out of a reluctant Verant/SOE in a years-long attritional battle of wills that the players eventually won. If you recall, the official Everquest forums became so toxic that they eventually had to be closed down and only re-opened after a long cooling-off period in very heavily moderated form. The general tone of the EQ playerbase was that just about everything about the game that we now look back on with affection was terrible and needed to go.

EQ2 was designed in such a way as to remove all of the things that had become such a thorn in the side of SOE and, particularly, their endlessly abused CS department. WoW was designed the way it was to avoid those same problems. Instancing, mob-tagging, fixed raid numbers, all that stuff came in either in response to player demands or to obviate untenable player abuse of the systems (or lack of them) that it replaced. Similarly, the increasingly hard, inflexible rules about how to divvy up the loot at the end of a raid were devised and driven into wide use by players unhappy with leaving loot allocation up to Joe and Joe’s pals.

Maybe there’s a way to keep that freedom and spontaneity and not have everyone abuse it or feel abused by it. But doesn’t that then take you all the way round to the open all-pile-on, all get loot systems of Rift and GW2? Or are you suggesting that we should have systems like that, only in dungeons as well as in the open world? Now that’s something I really would like to see!

John - April 21, 2013

As I said in your previous post that was a “magic MMO era” with a “magic community”. As you see from cthreepo, it is difficult now players think otherwise. Steal kill, easy/hard content, loot is the first things that come to mind of any player. The “romantic MMO era” has passed and is not coming back sadly. Back then when I logged in first time I was just following people to an unknown end…I was just happy to see people around and talk to them. Steal kill/loot/easy/hard was not even among the things I was thinking. And I wasn’t the only one, all people had the same mindset. But that is the past and I am afraid it cannot be done now.

If you put now an open dungeon, even before the game is out, we will have 10 sites with the loot of the dungeon, guides how to do it, what classes to bring, how many people to bring, e.t.c. and people will just organize in bigger guilds and others will quit because they can not solo those dungeons. Big dragons are not exciting any more, they are just big lootz…

if we could just switch the time and go back to that days..

Nathan - April 21, 2013

WoW did have a few of these community things, and they were really great even though they were both implemented incredibly poorly.

The gates of Ahn’Qiraj, and the Isle of Quel’Danas.

Both of these things had a community, not guild, focus. The entire server contributed toward opening these things and everyone loved it. Ahn’Qiraj was screwed up because ultimately only one player got the big reward, and Quel’Danas quickly turned into an infinite grindquest, but these were both issues of execution and not of idea.

I don’t think loose open-world dungeons that require hundreds of people are the way to go in MMOs. The quality of life for the average player is just not that high when that is your core dynamic. As bhagpuss pointed out, that was abandoned not because it was too hard or anything (that’s less overall content than themepark raids, after all!) but because it was open to rampant player abuse.

I completely agree that a focus on community as a whole rather than on guilds as the fundamental component of game progression is a good idea, but I don’t think you can then go back to using raids as the marker of that progression. I think that for real community feeling you have to have a player-driven sandbox with some amount of dynamic change in the MMO world.

Jaxi - April 21, 2013

I remember Wow during the betas and when it first started, I had a lot of expectations that the community experience that was so great in DAoC would exist in WoW too. When I looked at the zones in WoW I was expecting them to be contested and the Alliance or Horde would bond together as they fought to keep and protect the best ones.

There was a little bit of open world pvp at first but Blizzard didn’t seem to like it. I was okay with that, I figured there would be other types of community events once we all got to the end game.

Jim - April 21, 2013

Sorry Keen but with f2p I honestly want to be able to gate some of the content.

Keen - April 22, 2013

I agree that a focus on raids is the wrong focus. I should have emphasized events and a change of content altogether. I think I said it best when I wrote a while ago that raids should no longer be considered the metrics of content.

AQ in WoW is a great example. Early DAoC and EQ raids are another (keeping in mind that raids in those games are not what we think of as raids today).

Content in general, not necessarily raids, should shift off of guilds and onto the server as a whole.

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