Unforced Grouping

There is a good post on socializing and not at Of Course I’ll Play It. Keep reading for the comments, which are also good. It starts in the context of social media games and addresses the age-old topic of forced grouping. I will not repeat what you can read there.

I want to group more than I do. A good group playing experience is far better than solo, but a bad group playing experience can be actively bad, not just worse than solo. Solo is reliable, subject only to the vagaries of the game itself. Solo is also low-investment. Putting a group together for X can take a long time, and it may never come together, and then I have the risk of its making my night worse than not playing at all.

Finding the right guild is a huge boon, because that gives you a reliable source of good group experiences. That is high investment, maybe less so for the extroverts. That is a better investment if you tend to play the same game for a long time or if you have a large, multi-game guild that will be consistently available in whatever game you play. (Of course, if the guild is that large, it may not be much different from a PUG with strangers.) Otherwise, you start fresh in a new game, trying to find a group that has the right social norms, has people in your level range/time zone, and is otherwise a good fit. There are many posts to be made on “finding the right guild for you.” I miss my City of Heroes supergroup, but we moved on in different directions over the years.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “Unforced Grouping”

  1. I think Warhammer was really onto something with their public quests in which people don’t have to formally group up in order to play together and form bonds. Actually, the open RvR in that game is similar.

    This is one of the big reasons that I’m looking forward to Rifts: Planes of Telara.

  2. “Rather, they rely on the fact that you don’t want to have to socialize to progress, and you’re willing to pay to avoid it.”

    That is a very perceptive post. This resonates a lot with me because in the past few months I’ve hit upon investing in a second account for certain MMOs (ATITD, GW) for the sole purpose of avoiding forced grouping bottlenecks. I might already be late to the party.

    Aion had forced grouping akin to the MMOs of yesteryear, and while I admit that it created some of the best stories and memories per group quest and instance, simply because of the sheer difficulty in coordinating a team to work through it together, the whole PUGing process was exceedingly painful.

    I wish someone smart would take a peek at what Steam and Valve are doing for co-op FPSes and try applying those systems to MMOs. Just click a few buttons and voila, automatically dropped into a team doing something, and the design of the game itself forces cooperation or failure.

    Instead of grouping players with low ping together, ie real geographical locations, perhaps bringing together players in nearby virtual locales might be an option, a la public quests & open groups.

    Also you have the Friends feature of Steam, wherein you can add players whom you’ve met on the random matchmaking function to a list to contact again for a higher quality game. They pretty much -push- the socializing along with little things, like allowing you to see which friend is playing a particular game and getting popups “So-and-so is playing Whatever game. Click _here_ to join them!”

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