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People Make the Games More Fun

Looking back on those screenshots I shared the other day, I kept having these feelings of “that was fun” for both WAR and Darkfall. Then I thought back to more games like Aion, Allods Online, some older stays in WoW, etc., and those feelings return. But let’s face it, that wasn’t fun. Those games really sucked. The fun wasn’t the games — it was the people.

Playing with friends and community makes a huge difference. It fills in the gaps that would have otherwise been left feeling vacant and filled with awfulness. Friends makes the funny moments funnier, the epic moments more intense, the celebrations more joyous, and the memories more fond.

When I think back to Darkfall, I don’t remember all the times the hackers and macro-bots slaughtered us and took our stuff. I remember riding around with my friends.

When I think about WAR I don’t remember frustrating zergs and hours spent trying to find a good fight. I remember roaming the fields with friends.

When I think about Wrath of the Lich King raids I don’t think about hour spent dying to bosses that should have been killed easier. I remember beating the boss of that expansion with my friends.

In Everquest, I know it was boring to sit around waiting for spawns. What made it fun was playing with people — even when they weren’t my friends — and having conversations.

Those are now fond memories when they should have been horrible, and that’s because of good people.

That’s something to remember when playing games. Even the best games require good people, whether they be friends, in-game players, a larger community, or even family. Find that, and you’ll have the memories worth sharing.

During this time of year where we give thanks, I think it’s fitting to be thankful for all of these memories and the friends who share them with me.

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  • Sanz says:

    Agree. But most games don’t require us to form those bonds. Amazing assuming these people are professionals at game design. I’m an amateur hack and I get this concept that seems to allude most of them.

    • Keen says:

      Indeed it matters a whole lot more when a game is designed to incorporate those bonds between players. I think UO, SWG, EQ, DAOC, and those older games all did a great job at allowing players to make the experience so much better.

      But even games that weren’t designed well to help players come together can be made better with friends.

  • Bhagpuss says:

    You’re describing what it was like for you, which is as it should be, since it’s your blog. It’s not true to extend that to what it must have been like for everyone else, though. My first year in EverQuest was utterly, magically captivating and yet I knew no-one and spent all of my 40+ hours a week, every week mostly solo.

    I did meet people and have exciting – amazing – experiences because meeting people from the other side of the world in a fantasy online world was utterly new and strange, but none of those people became friends and it’s been a decade and more since I could remember any of their names.

    It was the games themselves, the worlds and the gameplay, that caught and held me and still does. As time went on and I moved into guilds and channels and formed social relationships another layer was added but I have every bit as many bad memories of that experience as I have good.

    A few years after that, when the success of WoW brought changes to the genre that made more of the games accessible with fewer players, the whole experience of playing MMOs was elevated. Much as I loved the gameplay of those early days I prefer today’s, hands down.

    The problem we have today is lack of choice. There need to be MMOs that encourage or even require the kind of social bonds you love as well as plenty that don’t. We should be able to select our games according to our preferred playstyles but there seems to be a dearth of imaginative developers able to create options that strike the necessary chord with a critical mass of players.

    I think Pantheon will manage it by design but whether the resources will ever be there to create the AAA experience today’s demanding audience insists upon I’m far less certain.

    • Keen says:

      The magic wears off, though. My first trip across Antonica was magical. I’ve told the story several times of hiding in barns across the Karanas thinking it meant we’d be safe from things like Griffons and monsters that came out at night. Obviously there’s magic that existed in earlier games because they were so new to our minds.

      When that magic wears off, and the negatives creep in, friends and people fill in the blanks.

  • Sanz says:

    Not many people in early EQ could solo to 40+. Were you a Druid? Or a necro?

    And even if you were, it doesn’t really disprove my point. Even kiting stuff as a Druid was hard. But you could still do it. And nobody else could. So you felt like a god, and of course you loved that.

    It all comes back to “hard” and risk reward. Even the god like Druid or necro who knew nobody wasn’t pullin loot solo out of lower guk.

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