How Massive Multiplayer Should Work

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How Massive Multiplayer Should Work

There may be other players around, but most MMOs make you feel like it's best to play alone.

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That exactly how Guildwars 1 worked (ok there where henchmen but they sucked) but by the time you got mid to late game you needed human players and back to the same old grind of getting the right classes with a decent build.

Also farming was very common in GW1 and build did exits to solo certain areas but there was none of the whole kill stealing because of the instance setup.

This is so true. One of the most amazing things about Realm of the Mad God is how much they encourage you to group with other people. You get XP if anything dies, whilst _on the same screen_ as you, so the only time you'd ever not try and meet up with people and kill lots of stuff is if you hate being given money and XP. It makes playing as healers and the like feel good too, because you're still being rewarded for doing your work, rather than having to focus on killing stuff

It's just the way these should work. There's absolutely no reason to be tight about giving loot and XP to players, it's not like it costs the devs anything and if players are getting too much, you just dial the global settings down a bit. There is absolutely no reason to make people fight for XP and loot

Funnily enough LOTRO is also going down that route with Riders of Rohan. The penalty for having someone hit your mob will be gone and the newest zone will use the 'everybody hits mob, everybody gets loot' mechanic in the landscape and public dungeons.

However, it's not quite fair to blame the old system's longevity on developers alone. The announced changes I described have resulted in a number of people complaining about 'interfering', leeching and griefers. Whether this is just resistance to change or not is a matter of opinion I suppose.

IMO, this kind of thing should be made the standard for all MMOs, but you're not going to find everyone cheering for it.

MUDs. Those are still a thing that exist.

I'm playing one in another window right now. I'm grouped with three other people. One of them I've met offline, and I count her as a good friend. The other two are good friends I have a laugh with. When the playerbase is smaller, friendships are more likely, and even when we're in competition for XP I will move into a room to see that these guys have taken the big-XP hotspot before I got there; I'll swear at them in a good-natured fashion and move on. Later, we may group together to take down that very same hotspot.

Competition exists, but with a much smaller playerbase (usually only 100-150 players online) it's easier to form personal relationships and get to be friends with your rivals.

THIS is why GW2 will revolutionize the industry: Not the combat, the cinematics, the on-and-off gameplay; The mechanics of letting players play together. I played quite a few MMOs in my time, MUDs too, and none of them got this right. Guild Wars 2 got it right.

Always nice to see more Shamus.

OT: This. So much this. Now someone show this to Gear Box. I hate having to fight for loot with friends in Borderlands 2.

City of Heroes didn't force you to team till the Incarnate trials (read: RAIDS) came along. And it had the most robust chat system.

Which is why I love it. Sadly, years and years of MMO's have drilled into player's minds that others are your rivals. There's plenty of times when I'm questing and reviving NPC's, and people will walk by and revive another one. I always end up getting up, going to where they are, and help them revive that one. Then we go back and revive the one I already worked on.

Same with fighting. I'll be fighting something, a guy doing the same quest will attack a separate monster. I'll then lead mine into his, and make it a group thing so we both get the xp/loot/quest reward.

In other MMO's, all players are rivals. Even those in the same faction. In Guild Wars 2, everyone is an ally. And I love it.

Also what's great about the game, you can level up wherever you want. From the start you can go to any starting area, and level there. And since the game de-levels you when you go into a lower-level zone, there's no high-level players griefing people by killing everything. The mechanics of the game make griefing a very hard thing to do, if not outright impossible. Oh, and when de-leveled, if you fight in a low-level zone, you still get the same amount of experience you would if leveling in a zone equal to your level. This means you're always leveling where you want to level, and not where the game tells you to level. It's also great if a friend just starts. Since you'll be de-leveled, you and him can quest together wherever he wants and it won't be a "sit back while the high level guy kills everything" deal.

And the skills... the game does away with normal skill trees and the whole "tank/healer/DPS" trinity. Everyone has a healing skill. Sure some are better at it than others, but everyone can be that supporting character if they want. And there aren't any skill-trees. Each weapon has its own skill-set and gameplay style. This means you can fight with the weapon you want.

So in Guild Wars 2, you're playing how you want, where you want, in a group where everyone benefits. It's just... why the hell did it take so long for something like this to happen?!

Rainboq:
Always nice to see more Shamus.

OT: This. So much this. Now someone show this to Gear Box. I hate having to fight for loot with friends in Borderlands 2.

And show them how Guild-Wars 2 handles level-scaling. It'd be awesome if a high-level friend came to help me and we actually fought together, instead of him/her killing everything instantly and getting no xp. If it used Guild Wars 2's system, your friend would still have all the skills/weapons and be strong, but not overpowered. You'd actually play together, and your friend would earn the same amount of experience if he/she were playing in the more high-level areas. And you wouldn't have to always only play together so one of you doesn't get too high leveled.

Seems kind of silly to say Borderlands 2, a shooter, should have a system like an MMO. But I feel it could be vastly improved.

I agree totally. I find that was a particularly bad problem in SW:TOR. So many of the fun games are group orientated. This meant if you didn't play in a Guild, you would miss out on a huge segment of the game.

GW2, I can play without relying on forming a team to play with. It almost has a Battlefield element to it. Encouraging group play to accomplish objectives.

As another posted alluded to, LOTRO made this problem worse by not only not giving any rewards to a person who helped you kill a monster, it actually penalized *you* by taking half of your xp. That resulted in a lot of watching someone struggling with a monster and trying to decide if they really were about to bite it before healing them or helping them kill the thing.

Glad it's going away, but the players there who haven't experienced GW2 are trying to imagine all kinds of ways that things are going to suck because of the change. Blah.

I'm curious to see if WoW picks up into this mode of thinking. They have no issues in ripping off other good ideas. Granted some aspects of WoW would't be overly supportive (like end game raids, high level PvP and even dungeons) but the basic leveling, zone quests and dailies could really benefit. (Actually I think wow has brought in a small version, some mobs like Problim in Tol Barad, give all players who smack it credit.)

Grouping can be amazing with the right people. When I was an everquest junkie I had a group of friends I would always go out with and do stuff outside of raids. It was so efficient and we made so much progress because everyone was a good player. Grouping with random retards can be frustrating.

Those systems of GW2 and older games like Rift or Warhammer Online does some things well. As you say they have the fun feeling of running in a pack. But they also miss out on some things that older MMOs did have. The practical obstacles involved with organizing groups helped or even forced people to get together, to chat it out and even make lasting friendships. That doesn't happen in a mob.

Discussing what restaurant to eat at is irrelvant to getting sustenance, but it can be a welcome opportunity for socializing and having a drink before dinner. People don't have time to talk while they nuke a boss, but they have plenty of time while they are waiting for the healer to buy mana potions. Sometimes an involuntary opportunity for socializing can be useful.

This kind of break in the action is one I miss in modern MMOs. It often feels like a bunch of people playing solo in the same spot even though mechanically they may be killing the same boss.

I prefer a happy medium where players have powerful tools to organize groups, but still are expected to take the initiative.

fmatthew5876:
Grouping can be amazing with the right people. When I was an everquest junkie I had a group of friends I would always go out with and do stuff outside of raids. It was so efficient and we made so much progress because everyone was a good player. Grouping with random retards can be frustrating.

Bostur:
Those systems of GW2 and older games like Rift or Warhammer Online does some things well. As you say they have the fun feeling of running in a pack. But they also miss out on some things that older MMOs did have. The practical obstacles involved with organizing groups helped or even forced people to get together, to chat it out and even make lasting friendships. That doesn't happen in a mob.

Discussing what restaurant to eat at is irrelvant to getting sustenance, but it can be a welcome opportunity for socializing and having a drink before dinner. People don't have time to talk while they nuke a boss, but they have plenty of time while they are waiting for the healer to buy mana potions. Sometimes an involuntary opportunity for socializing can be useful.

This kind of break in the action is one I miss in modern MMOs. It often feels like a bunch of people playing solo in the same spot even though mechanically they may be killing the same boss.

I prefer a happy medium where players have powerful tools to organize groups, but still are expected to take the initiative.

None of this stuff has to go away though, as fmatthew points out in his quote, it's still quite a bit more efficient doing things with a good group and if you have decent raids and dungeons then there's still a lot of advantage of hanging around in a good group. Which there are systems in place for and will give the time for the socialising and organising.

But this helps you reach that stage, because strangers aren't an enemy (even if you're with a group, extra strangers will only ever help you earn XP and loot faster) it's easier to casually meet people, casually make friendships and start talking to them and if you've hung out with them a bit and you like their company/you work well together, then you're naturally going to want to arrange to meet up again and then this is where the load gets handed back to the old guild system.

Except better! Because loot drops are sorted out, you don't get stupid drama breaking up friendships, because they don't punish you for being in a guild, it's more fun to be in one.

That's what happens in places like Realm of the Mad God which has systems like this (albeit a very different sort of MMO)

Another good system that's been out for a while is ddo. THe whole game is instance based, which for many detracts from the experience but they've been doing the loot and xp sharing for years.

BrotherRool:

fmatthew5876:
Grouping can be amazing with the right people. When I was an everquest junkie I had a group of friends I would always go out with and do stuff outside of raids. It was so efficient and we made so much progress because everyone was a good player. Grouping with random retards can be frustrating.

Bostur:
Those systems of GW2 and older games like Rift or Warhammer Online does some things well. As you say they have the fun feeling of running in a pack. But they also miss out on some things that older MMOs did have. The practical obstacles involved with organizing groups helped or even forced people to get together, to chat it out and even make lasting friendships. That doesn't happen in a mob.

Discussing what restaurant to eat at is irrelvant to getting sustenance, but it can be a welcome opportunity for socializing and having a drink before dinner. People don't have time to talk while they nuke a boss, but they have plenty of time while they are waiting for the healer to buy mana potions. Sometimes an involuntary opportunity for socializing can be useful.

This kind of break in the action is one I miss in modern MMOs. It often feels like a bunch of people playing solo in the same spot even though mechanically they may be killing the same boss.

I prefer a happy medium where players have powerful tools to organize groups, but still are expected to take the initiative.

None of this stuff has to go away though, as fmatthew points out in his quote, it's still quite a bit more efficient doing things with a good group and if you have decent raids and dungeons then there's still a lot of advantage of hanging around in a good group. Which there are systems in place for and will give the time for the socialising and organising.

But this helps you reach that stage, because strangers aren't an enemy (even if you're with a group, extra strangers will only ever help you earn XP and loot faster) it's easier to casually meet people, casually make friendships and start talking to them and if you've hung out with them a bit and you like their company/you work well together, then you're naturally going to want to arrange to meet up again and then this is where the load gets handed back to the old guild system.

Except better! Because loot drops are sorted out, you don't get stupid drama breaking up friendships, because they don't punish you for being in a guild, it's more fun to be in one.

That's what happens in places like Realm of the Mad God which has systems like this (albeit a very different sort of MMO)

It can still happen of course. I think Warhammer was better at turning ad hoc groups into organized groups, because that game encouraged communication and had formal groups. Groups were easier to make and join in Warhammer than WoW for instance.

But I don't think it happens because of the efficient infrastructure, I think it happens in spite of it. In my experience people are naturally shy, and if given a chance to be anonymous most will remain anonymous. Downtime can be an important element not only for socializing but for emergent gameplay in general.

Modern MMOs starts feeling more like traditional multiplayer games like shooters or RTS games. Games that have only gameplay and lobby. I liked that MMOs used to have a more organic way for people to play together, they added some variety that seems to be going away.

Believe the hype!

Guild Wars has gotten a lot of it, and it's true. It slices, it dices, it cleanses and shines. This is not a WoW clone. I repeat: ArenaNet has, in fact, done more than rearrange the buttons and promise you a new experience. This is a new experience, created by re-evaluating what an MMO should do for its players, and designing an experience from the ground up based on those assumptions.

Guild Wars 2 is an intrinsically free-to-play, interesting, dynamic, fresh, fun, and staggeringly beautiful game. If you have ever felt like an MMO was wasting your time, trying to copy a different game, or if you just claim not to like the kind of gameplay that MMO's tend to offer, give this game a chance. Even if it's not your cup of tea, it is living proof that progress can be and is being made with the massively-multiplayer model, and even that by itself is an answer to a question the gaming community has been asking for around a decade now.

Its clearly the best motherfucking mmo around. If you disagree you simply dont get it TRICK!!!! :0

just in case i have too. Im joking dont debate me.lol

fmatthew5876:
Grouping can be amazing with the right people. When I was an everquest junkie I had a group of friends I would always go out with and do stuff outside of raids. It was so efficient and we made so much progress because everyone was a good player. Grouping with random retards can be frustrating.

That's kind of the point being made. Here, in GW2, the grouping with random retards is still better than not grouping. Maybe they won't help much, but they're still helping, and there's not really any way that they can accidentally hurt, short of ... well, doing *nothing at all*. Or maybe running around and collecting a train of critters and leading them into you. But that almost takes deliberation.

Rainboq:
Always nice to see more Shamus.

OT: This. So much this. Now someone show this to Gear Box. I hate having to fight for loot with friends in Borderlands 2.

YES.

I hate having "that guy" pick up all the crap, too.

hellsop:

fmatthew5876:
Grouping can be amazing with the right people. When I was an everquest junkie I had a group of friends I would always go out with and do stuff outside of raids. It was so efficient and we made so much progress because everyone was a good player. Grouping with random retards can be frustrating.

That's kind of the point being made. Here, in GW2, the grouping with random retards is still better than not grouping. Maybe they won't help much, but they're still helping, and there's not really any way that they can accidentally hurt, short of ... well, doing *nothing at all*. Or maybe running around and collecting a train of critters and leading them into you. But that almost takes deliberation.

Is it even better to group with sequential retards?
Or a set of retards?
How do you establish the level of retardness? Anyone that is not you?

Shamus Young:
How Massive Multiplayer Should Work

There may be other players around, but most MMOs make you feel like it's best to play alone.

Read Full Article

Good to see you back! And I'm in total agreement.

We've been adding a lot more competitive flavor even to our ostensibly cooperative gameplay. That kind of competition turns fun into a limited resource, and you're racing to make sure you get more of it than the next guy. Even when you're "cooperating" with your raid group, the nature of the gameplay makes us highly intolerant of mistakes or inexperience in our party members -- their mistakes cost us time/money/etc.

While more and more MMOs push the focus to PvP or RvR gameplay (hypercompetitive play), I feel like MMOs need to be doing almost exactly the opposite. Competition motivates the top 10% of any group, but cooperation brings in many, many more. Not just allowing but encouraging cooperative play can bring back the "massive" part of our MMO experience.

Wow.
This sort of thing is only happening now? How long have these games been around for again?

I love RPGs and MMORPGs, but after reading this it feels really weird that we tend to only criticise shooters for apparent stagnation and lack of innovation.

IBlackKiteI:
Wow.
This sort of thing is only happening now? How long have these games been around for again?

I love RPGs and MMORPGs, but after reading this it feels really weird that we tend to only criticise shooters for apparent stagnation and lack of innovation.

Oh ppl have been criticizing the mmo industry for years. You just don't hear about it because mainstream mmos dont get released several times each year like mainstream shooters. Gotta love GW2!

I have had the same experiences and it's so refreshing. And such simple fixes for these issues--it's really great and only makes me wonder what the hell took so long!

Just letting people know that Guild Wars 2 WASN'T made by Jesus himself, it definitely has it's own list of issues and concerns. For the amount of mind-blowing fun that I've received (and still receiving) for $60 I would still rate it no less than 9.5/10, also the visuals are nothing short of breathtaking. I could amost compare the draw distances, water effects and beach views to what I saw in Crysis (might be exaggerating a bit here but you get the idea). The game genuinely rewards you for teamplay and exploration, and for the first time I've actually WANTED to find out what's just over that hill or inside that cave because I know for sure it will reward me with fun and experience to boot!

As for grouping - even though you're automatically grouped with others and get to run around as a sleek team of 2-3 players or an army of 20+ players (the events/bosses scale dynamically!) the actual COMMUNICATION needed is almost zero. You'll often hear the word "zerg" pop up when it comes to escort/champion events, and that's what they are really, zerg events where you get to fight waves (like they're ants) or champions who have silly amounts of health (to the point where it took our group of 30+ players almost 10 minutes to kill 1 fucking champion, no skill or dodging, just everyone spamming all their buttons till their fingers bled).

Also for 5 man dungeons (which reward you some decent gear) still require manually forming groups on your own and hoping that nobody in your team is fucking terrible, especially on explorable mode. Because this game has no designated healers/tanks, one person can't pick up the slack for another person (e.g. in WoW you could have 1-2 shit DPS in a 5man and still be totally fine as long as the tank+healer were decent), everyone has to actively mitigate/avoid their own damage AND toss out AoE heals/boons to help the group survive, because everyone has support utilities (there are no "pure" classes).

But I'm just being extremely picky here because overall as a game, it does far more to encourage grouping than any MMO has done. The fights are genuinely hard and encourage proactive and reactive movement/use of abilities.

And again, the amount of fun I've had for $60 really puts every game I have played in the last DECADE (no seriously) to shame. Multiply Skyrim x 100 in terms of content and variety, then do it again as a completely different class.

Don't even get me started on PvP - arena tournament-style maps where you get scaled to max level (and given all talent/trait points), handed out a standard set of PvP gear (which everyone must use, no more "gear > skill" crap!) but you can still customize colors and stuff, and PvP away to glory! You get rewarded with more sexy-looking gear but it's all cosmetics (and trust me, you will LOVE the cosmetics in this game). You can literally make fashion statements with the amount of customizability that exists with armor, no two people I have come across in the game have looked exactly the same.

Buy GW2. Buy it now.

IBlackKiteI:
Wow.
This sort of thing is only happening now? How long have these games been around for again?

I love RPGs and MMORPGs, but after reading this it feels really weird that we tend to only criticise shooters for apparent stagnation and lack of innovation.

Well because MMORPG's are drastically more complicated and generally "bigger" than shooters in most cases, so each one tends to offer something noticeably different even if it has blatantly copy-pasted off Everquest/Lineage/WoW/whatever.

PsiMatrix:
City of Heroes didn't force you to team till the Incarnate trials (read: RAIDS) came along. And it had the most robust chat system.

Doing things right didn't stop the game from being shut down.

Hmmm, well Shamus the problem with your article is that it the narrow focus means that the opinion you express isn't really relevent.

The thing to understand is that what supports a game IS the endgame and what people do at level cap, the rest of the stuff is just filler to get to that point. In the end if people just play their way to max level a few times the game dies, it's the endgame that keeps people re-upping subscriptions or spending money and is the focus of any successful MMO, thinking the wrong way is actually responsible for the decline of the genere (but this is an entirely differant discussion). In most cases making things too easy or cooperative actually means the casual players leave too quickly, which is part of why a lot of things are designed competitively. Make things too easy accessible and that content is depleted and burned out far more quickly.

Guild Wars is a PVP focused game, I mean even the name tells you that, as a result the enviromental stuff is intended to be easy, to usher you through to the eventual max level end game where your presumably going to be thumping the crap out of your fellow players in whatever style floats your boat.

To be honest I *do* sort of feel your pain to an extent, but honestly I've noticed an opposite problem. With so few true "newbies" to the MMO genere anymore in most games people come into them with a pre-existing group of friends and social infrastructure. In a lot of games the reason why people don't seem to group up with strangers anymore is a mixture of elitism, not wanting to deal with the problems you mention, and simply having a preferred group of people to play in. Today when a new MMO launches you see guilds/peer groups discussing moving there in a pre-existing formation, rather than them showing up as individuals.

At any rate, in playing Guild Wars 2, ask yourself that for all of this great experience how many times are you going to want to level a character to max level without getting into gameplay that more or less encourages the opposite of what your talking about. Also consider that Guild Wars 2 is running without a subscription fee, or at least it's trying to, that means it doesn't have to worry as much about the time it takes for people to complete and move through content.

I also imagine Guild Wars 2 (which I own, but have only played a bit) will run into a similar problem that RIFT suffered. After a while less newbs will come into the game, the player base will be focused on whapping the crap out of each other in the intended endgame. This means that in trying to wander the world and play those "clever events" which are based around groups of players in many cases, your not going to be able to succeed. Sure some of them might be soloable at the intended level, but a lot of them will probably kill you off rather handily, all comments about adjusting difficulty aside. RIFT ran into this problem with it's "zone events" the RIFT phenomena itself, where lower level zones would be decimated due to not enough people playing in them to keep them under control, which could make starting a new character an exercise in masochism. They managed to fix this to an extent, but it sort of shows that Guild Wars 2 wasn't actually being *that* creative, and the likely problems it's going to face. Right now there are enough people running around newbie land where a zerg rush of 20 bandits every 30 seconds on a farm is no big deal, but imagine doing that alone when everyone else is running around world vs. world because they have advanced several characters, seen all the events dozens of times, and really have little left.

Therumancer:
The thing to understand is that what supports a game IS the endgame and what people do at level cap, the rest of the stuff is just filler to get to that point.

That is exactly the wrong way of looking at it, the whole game should be fun, not a slog to get to the endgame where things are suddenly interesting. Also the PvE isn't there just to usher you to the highest level as everyone goes into it at level 80.

I like what I'm hearing about GW2, but I've pretty much taken the stance that I don't like MMOs. I like the idea of them, but the reality is that I really just want a game that supports(not merely allows) role-playing because I usually find "the game" to be highly inferior to what I could be playing single player. So the only draw for me is the social in character aspect, and most MMOs I've played do nothing to facilitate that.

I may try GW2 if people are still raving about it in 6 months.

damn it shamus, im trying to save money here. BUT NOOOO! All you can do is talk about how awesome this game is, when my car is repossessed im blaming you...while in game

luckshot:
damn it shamus, im trying to save money here. BUT NOOOO! All you can do is talk about how awesome this game is, when my car is repossessed im blaming you...while in game

I'm having the same problem. I want to save money, but Shamus keeps going on and on about how awesome this game is. I hope you know, Shamus, that I'm holding you responsible for when I eventually have to sell all my belongings... Except for the PC and the games, of course.

Anyway, OT: This is one of the things that frustrated me the most with Champions Online. It's a game about superheroes, why should you be penalized for helping people? If anyone makes another superhero MMO with the mechanics of GW2, I'm selling my soul for a lifetime account.

Never thought I'd experience a MMORPG that I actually liked playing. I've played a few that were free and I tried WoW when they offered a free trial for some weeks. None of those were very enjoyable when compared to Guild Wars 2 though. Yes, I've encountered several bugs during my 300+ hours that I've played so far, but I still love this game. It's easily made it into my top 10 of all the games I've ever played. It's genuinely fun, something MMORPG has not been to me before.

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