Wanna Be My Friendster?

Wanna Be My Friendster?
The Contrarian: Growing Out of the Stone Age

John Scott Tynes | 28 Feb 2006 11:04
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Blog Cameras: Pick a waypoint and let viewers of the blog look through a camera to see that location. Drop one on a famous loot drop spawn and visitors can check the current status of the queue to fight the bad guy, or just check out the amazing view you found. Mountain climbers can drop a cam at the top of the summit; the rest of us can enjoy it.

Blog Screenshots: Besides dumping screenshots to your hard drive, they can also be added to your in-game photo album. Then, you can easily select one and add it to a blog entry without uploading files. Adding coordinates as metadata to all screenshots allows any screenshot to offer a waypoint or a live feed from the point where it was taken.

With features like these, players will launch the client just to keep up with the blogs. As long as you keep the blog server separate from the game server, players can do this without taking up valuable slots in the live game. But if they're already in and playing, they can be checking out their friends' blogs or updating their own while suffering through endless travel times.

Imagine you meet another player in game. She's 30th level, a druid, and she has some sweet gear. "Where'd you get that?" you might ask. She responds by opening her blog to you, and there you find the entry where she records the sweet loot drop she got. There's a waypoint there you can grab, and you can check out the live camera for that site to see if it's crawling with Horde scumbags. As long as you're reading her blog, you can see she's working through a big quest you're doing, too, so you ask her for some advice and offer to tag along while you both work on it. For that matter, you can add a comment to her blog entry and post a thumbs-up/thumbs-down review of her blog in general, which affects her standing in the blog stats and can lead to more traffic to her write-ups.

Competing for better blog stats becomes a metagame. Links from blog to blog introduce you to players you would never otherwise meet. Players with popular blogs become celebrities, attracting useful group mates, twinkers and friends aplenty. If you're looking for group mates, you can scan someone's blog and see if they sound like crap or not. You can flag an entry as public, for friends only or for guildmates only. If your blog is all about cybering with trolls, you can keep that stuff to yourself.

So, blogs are one thing online games could do to help players find each other and make more meaningful connections. What else is there?

Privacy: You know what would be a great thing to do with local/global chat? Turn it the heck off. Unless you want to hear 16 gajillion players screeching, "THIEF 3 LFG!!!!!" you shouldn't have to participate in that particular "feature" of persistent worlds. I know diehards scream about issues like instancing and whether it's really a shared world if I can ignore your annoying ass. Let me just make that call for you: Yeah, it is. It's still a shared world if my friends and me, who have opted to hang out on my island of sanity, can pretend you and the 2,000 other motards who pollute this server with your constant stream of shouts and come-ons simply don't exist. We still have our guild, we can meet people when we need to, and when something big is going down I'll need all the help I can get. But the rest of the time? Leave me alone. I realize there's a mythical fantasy in which we're all heroes striving for glory, but the reality of MMOGs is most of you are shills for the Home Shopping Network and what I really want is a mute button.

If you want to talk to me, you can /tell or /whisper me. Otherwise, let me tune you out in favor of my buddy list, group mates and guildmates, in the hopes that you won't stomp all over my fun. And if you are looking for a group, the game darn well better provide you with a good feature for making that happen rather than relying on constant spamming of chat channels.

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