Group Size

Star Wars Galaxies started out with a 20 person group as the default. Early on, this could mean a group of 20 people running around on a planet ganking alien beasts that would take several minutes to solo. Sometimes, this meant gathering outside a place with tough-mobs like Fort-Tusken and killing everything that came out of there. There were even multiple 20-person groups there sometimes. This made you feel like a small part of an army. But you know what? You felt powerful because the group is powerful. You were a very small part of a very powerful force.

Five years later, Jedi’s had a boss unique to them and them alone. In order to obtain the best cloak in the game, each Jedi was forced to face two bosses solo. Anyone could stand and watch the Jedi fight these bosses, but no one could help. Unless a player read strategies ahead of time, they would fail both fights. Even when someone knew of strategies that worked for fighting these bosses, it was still a difficult set of fights. Complaints from players on the forums about the absurd difficulty of the fights only served to make the eventual victory more sweet. You felt powerful because you knew you had become skilled as a player.

Feeling skilled and feeling powerful. Can these two feelings exist in the same combat scenario? To me it seems they are at odds. The larger the group becomes, the greater the diffusion of responsibility a player feels. Too big a group, with a role shared by too many others in the group (like DPS in a raid) and I feel as though I don’t matter at all.

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

5 thoughts on “Group Size”

  1. Hmm. I think they could, but it would require a discard of the tank&spank system. I feel the best way to accomplish this is to give a large offense bonus to any attacker that the defender is not targeting. Set the AI to always prefer defending itself to focusing fire. Players would need to do the same or they’d get picked off. With this in mind, throw 15-20 foes that would be challenging to solo at a small army of 20 players.

    Anyone who defeated their foe without help would feel skillful, and everyone still standing at the end would feel powerful.

  2. Adding NPC fodder to the mix I think helps in solo games. That way you can still feel like part of a massive army, but really it’s you who’s doing the majority of the killing (assuming the NPC’s aren’t uber demi-gods like the PC’s).

  3. Sometimes, it is fun to feel like a cog in a bigger machine. I wouldn’t want to do it all the time, but I always enjoyed the larger raids.

  4. The 20 man groups in SW:G were, well, interesting. They usually just ended up being a crazy pile up of bodies in the Tusken camp :)

    I think 5 or 6 people is the perfect size for a group. Any more and it’s too difficult to organise and bond with the other players.

  5. I don’t really have any skill as a player. I’m not a gamer and I have no interest in learning how to become one. It’s my characters that have all the moves, not me.

    My characters aren’t me. I don’t have an “avatar”. My characters are much more like a character in a movie. I’m the director and the computer is the actor. I tell it what I want and it does it. I don’t need to be able to do it myself, I just need to know what I want done.

    Consequently, the more that player skill is required, the further away I move. On the other hand, where player judgement is needed, that’s where I go. Judgement can come into play in all settings, from solo play to huge seiges. It’s not about how many of us there are, it’s about how much thinking there is versus how much reacting.

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