How Massive Multiplayer Should Work

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All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

In my opinion, the best form of multiplayer is formed out of communication. The WoW group finder threw that concept out of the window.

Irridium:
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?!

Holy shit... thats sounds awesome. Now I gotta try GW2.

Nimcha:
All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

In my opinion, the best form of multiplayer is formed out of communication. The WoW group finder threw that concept out of the window.

My thoughts exactly. I feel that while GW2 ditched much of what was wrong with groups in MMOs, it removed the good as well. I don't need game mechanics to tell me to help people, and playing in a mob doesn't do anything for me if I'm playing exactly as I would by myself. I like planning groups and encounters. I like discussing strategy. Most of all I need synergy! Also, some of the best moments in my MMO life were born out of things completely unrelated to gameplay. Sometimes it's nice to sit down in the middle of a burning inferno to talk about the weather. Or is that just me?

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.

you forget about the Task/Strike Forces, you needed a team for those

but even then there's a LOT of leeway with the team builds you could get away with and win.

OT:yeah, i noticed that about GW2 in the short time i had with it, its neat, but, untill they start doing that in games i actually WANT to play VS the one that just 'ok' but ridiculously over hyped, I'll keep on soloing

I have to agree with everything Shamus said,
I think it was Justin in his review who said that it felt as if GW2 is the next step in MMORPG evolution. Back than I thought thats a bit much (and was confused since usually justin is pretty realistic about his assesments) but having played the game since headstart all I can say.
my hats of to arena net -
YES there are still bugs and not having a way to properly trade with people for the first 2 weeks sucked
BUT at this stage its nothing but fun.

anyway i cant waste anymore time here i gotta go PLOOOYYYY!!!

The last game that encouraged grouping was City of Heroes, which not coincidentally was the last time an MMO really managed to reel me in. The little moments of ad-hoc co-operation absolutely make this game.

DCUO is weird because in the open world it for the most part works exactly like this with ad hoc grouping and not really any penalties for jumping right into stuff, so people join up and help out all the time if they're in the same general area, but for anything instanced it requires manually forming a group ahead of time, and all loot in instances is split between the members of the group. It's very strange that half the game directly encourages free-form play and spontaneous/dynamic joining and splitting of groups with the same sort of indirect but very real rewards for doing so, while the other half of the game has the traditional "sit around and waste a bunch of time looking for people to play with, then fight over who gets the loot" model.

Nimcha:
All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

When it comes even to open-world play, in higher level areas, the meta-events like storming the temples in Orr, or the volcano even in Mt. Maelstrom are not something you can just walk into without any idea what to do. Dungeons, especially explorable? Good luck trying to WoW your way through.

Is GW2 the perfect MMO? No, of course it isn't. Have I been actually put off by the hype? Why, yes, I have. Was I about to actually get it? No, not really, couldn't afford it with all the other expenses I had piled up.

Then, a good friend of mine bought it for me, and since it's free to play, I said, hey, why not. Is my experience entirely positive? No. Some places are still infuriatingly buggy. Some areas are just a trudge through hordes of the same boring undead mombs. Some bosses just have too much health, yet not enough variety to them, so instead of "epic" they become "tedious". I don't mind fighting a boss for 20 minutes, but if the entirety of those 20 minutes consists of circle-strafing while unloading my pistols at it (with an occasional dodge), that's a bit of a drag.

So yes, I have my complaints. But hey. It did so many things right that I'm pretty glad to swallow my complaints and just go explore the world and fend off what it throws at me.

Weird thought time:

Is it just me, or does the image on the second page of this article look remarkably like the "concept art" for just-starting-development Guardians of the Galaxy movie?

See:

http://www.thereelbits.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_film_concept_Art2012.jpeg

I mean, there's the giant tree-looking dude, tiny "raccoon" character, tough armored male & female characters... and OK, I guess the white-haired lady matches up with the green-skinned guy.

But STILL... the images are even in the same "style"...

I feel bad that Shamus didn't make the cut for the Expo.

*Bump

OT: The draw for getting people to play with other people, is to be 'attractive enough' to draw others into your company.

Got Draw?

It never bothered me to group with people in City of Heroes. Of course, I always had friends to play with. Anyway, GW2 put me to sleep.

Nimcha:
All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

In my opinion, the best form of multiplayer is formed out of communication. The WoW group finder threw that concept out of the window.

I agree with this. It is made even worse when you add in things like instanced loot and such. You just end up with no reason whatsoever to talk or interact with anyone in your group. This isn't just in MMORPGs. A lot of games suffer from this. Of course, that is partly why I tend to play with friends instead of strangers.

TheRocketeer:
Guild Wars 2 is an intrinsically free-to-play

Eh? I looked into trying out Guild Wars 2 and it was 50 or something for a digital copy.

Fuck.That.

GoaThief:

TheRocketeer:
Guild Wars 2 is an intrinsically free-to-play

Eh? I looked into trying out Guild Wars 2 and it was 50 or something for a digital copy.

Once you buy the game you don't have to pay a subscription like other mmo's, in that is a free to play.

stranamente:

GoaThief:

TheRocketeer:
Guild Wars 2 is an intrinsically free-to-play

Eh? I looked into trying out Guild Wars 2 and it was 50 or something for a digital copy.

Once you buy the game you don't have to pay a subscription like other mmo's, in that is a free to play.

No, that doesn't make it free to play at all, it makes it non-subscription based.

When you see fans being that disingenuous (I'm being generous) one has to wonder if they're continuing that trend regarding other aspects of the game.

Nimcha:
All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

In my opinion, the best form of multiplayer is formed out of communication. The WoW group finder threw that concept out of the window.

Somebody hasn't played Journey.

But this fix is exactly what I have always hated about group content...

If I am one of 50 people beating up on some mob I don't feel like a goddam hero I feel like some cowardly shitbag, and I certainly don't want to be rewarded for it!

Killing Hogger by myself at level 10 without a bunch of twink gear was a source of genuine pride, and that and other similar events are among some of my most cherished memories from when I played WoW. Likewise that mentality of rivalry with other players led to some great world pvp and griefing (I say that as someone who was occasionally a dick to other players, but who also experienced the other side of it frequently).

That's where the challenge and the sense of reward was.

I hated Raids because even if I they are hard and you beat some epic boss and get great loot, so what? Oh, yeah, I am the mighty hero who saved the world from the Big Bad... along with literally an entire army...

LAME.

2xDouble:

Nimcha:
All of this sounds nice, until you come to the point where you realize that while you're playing with other people, you're not actually talking with them. The best thing about teamwork in games is coming up with a strategy and executing it. That requires communication In GW2 that's hardly possible since you basically play the same as you would on your own, except the monster you're hitting is being hit by a few other people as well. Maybe you heal someone once in a while.

In my opinion, the best form of multiplayer is formed out of communication. The WoW group finder threw that concept out of the window.

Somebody hasn't played Journey.

I don't have a PS3!

you should take a look at final fantasy xi then. it's been out a long time and it definitely promoted grouping. it's was essential to leveling in 99% of cases.

I mean I love the idea since I'm a huge 'power in numbers' kind of gal, but how do they establish the economy? Surely if everyone can get everything just by tickling a monster or node... It's just a simple cointoss as to who gets the super rare items right? Eventually people will run out of things that require trading. Long term GW2 hasn't quite sold itself to me, I hear alot of ho's and hums for those sitting at the pinnacle.

Excuse my ignorance I'm too poor to pick up a new game at the moment and GW2 IS still firmly at the top of my list. But I don't buy into the 'flawless MMO' yelling, ever. Not even WoW. There's always something that will sew a seed of doubt in my mind and making a character I'm invested in is a HUGE deal to me.

I always pick them up and always have a great deal of fun with them but it hasn't quite convinced me that I'll be in it for the years rather than the months.

90% of what you listed, Shamus, was not an issue with City of Heroes, which is another reason why shutting it down makes no sense.

It was solo-friendly for the majority of the gameplay, you could easily find and team with your friends no matter what level they were with the sidekick/exemplar system, and changes to that system made it so that you gained XP no matter what you were doing or how low a level you were playing at. There was never having to choose who gets what drops, and during peak play times there was never a shortage of people doing what you wanted to do. Starting large groups was even easier with newer tech that was added recently.

The beauty of the MMO system is that, with little effort, you can almost always find someone playing at the same pace you are, doing the same thing you are, or flexible enough to drop what they're doing and join you. You can also create guilds/groups that have similar interests, which makes forming teams even faster. In my experience, games that have a weak traveling system and a weak chat system create a bigger timesink than standing around forming up groups. City of Heroes suffered from neither malady.

Charli:
snippy snip

so Im just gonna say up front that i was one of the people touting this game about as amazing before it even came out. Unfortunately, people were kinda overhyping. the game most definitely doesnt live up to all the hype around saying it will be a reimagining of the mmo and things along those lines. However, gw2 is a solid game, it's fun to play, and it doesn't require you to pay a subscription.
Having clocked well over 200 hours in the last month, I can tell you that I have never once gotten bored. I also continuously think about legendary weapons, and how much time they will require to obtain. I can see them taking an individual around 1000 hours to get just one. The people giving ho's and hum's at lvl 80 are the ppl who think that lvl 80 is the end of a game, when in reality gw2 was never about achieving max level in the first place. I can see how that could be a turn off for a lot of ppl tho, so take it how you will. Dungeons are all kinds of fun, and my personal favorites are the explorable modes of Crucible of Eternity.
There are a whole boatload of good things about this game, but again it was just not possible to live up to all the hype generated around it. It is correct to think that items are just a coin toss, but the true gems of weapons and armor are given as rewards for dungeon tokens.

This is a true article. I can speak from personal experience.

I didn't even have to ask for anyone's help. I come into an area, I see foes, I go kill them. I see someone looking like he's got trouble, I go help. I see a big powerful whatsit that everyone's gathering to destroy, I help destroy it. Sometimes I get rewarded for being in the vicinity of things. This is not a problem. The idea that nobody is left out, that I randomly get help and grant help without anyone asking makes it good. Now, I haven't played in a while because I'm not the best MMO player, but it doesn't matter because it's fun and worth playing.

I agree. GW2 threw out some fairness by not having you split earnings if you team up against a monster, but it was only a 'fairness' with the underlying mechanics or the total amount of loot and xp in the world. And those are just lines of code, why should we care about being fair to them? And in return, we got more fairness and far more natural cooperation between players. My only concern is that since you don't need to spend much time grouping and you just follow whomever is going your way, I find it hard to form online friendships. You don't need to talk to people to get the help you need, and you don't really need to call them over to help you later since there's plenty of people who'll help you.

By the way Shamus, would you consider doing another Shamus Plays with GW2? I always enjoyed your takes on MMO worlds from the perspective of a character in it. The Asura are probably the best choice, as like the hobbits from LOTR their quests are intentionally ridiculous.

Shamus Young:
most MMOs make you feel like it's best to play alone.

I think you're missing an important point here. Multiplayer != co-op. A game in which other players are your rivals is just as much multiplayer, massive or not, as one in which they're your allies. The important thing is not cooperation, but interaction. If you're competing with another player for a resource, that's multiplayer. It matters that the other player is there and makes it a experience different experience than if they weren't.

It only becomes a problem if you're neither cooperating or competing with them. Problems finding groups and being actively encouraged to ignore other players are real problems for an MMO because it may as well just be a single player game. But things like competing for resources and loot are very much multiplayer. They may not be the type of multiplayer that everyone likes, but not everyone likes constantly enforced co-op either. There's a very big difference between something that is inherently a problem for multiplayer games, and something that is simply not the kind of game you enjoy.

It's also worth noting that many of the solutions come with their own problems. GW2 is not the first game to have public group quests and rewards for helping random players. But the problem with those is that while they can encourage people to play together, they don't encourage socialising at all. If a game forces you to find a small group that needs to stick together and coordinate to get something done, even if you don't become friends and never see each other again you've at least spent some time playing with real people. But in games like WAR and Rift where you can just drop in and out of public quests, I don't recall a single person ever talking to me at all. Technically I was playing with other people, but they may as well have just been NPCs. Encouraging people to play in the same place at the same time does not necessarily encourage them to play together.

^_^ Miss you Shamus!

This is also interesting enough to make me investigate GW2.

Ah, the increasingly rare Shamus article.

I liked this feature a lot when I heard about it a few months before GW2 release. But after jumping on Tera for the combat, it becomes apparent that MMOs in general are losing momentum. WoW has the largest playerbase and most refined game. Tera has pseudo action combat. Star Wars has... lightsabers, er story. Aion has wings. TSW has horror. Without a decent community the model of the MMO (ie Grindfest) is inferior to other games coming out.

So despite minor advances like combat in Tera or this teamster GW2 stuff, I find myself drawn to other things.

Nimcha:

2xDouble:
Somebody hasn't played Journey.

I don't have a PS3!

My condolences. I'm sure Steam will finagle a PC port soon enough. Until then, the stuff Susan talks about there can apply to GW2 as well... if you don't want to have/join a guild.

008Zulu:

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.

This is where it might be good to point out that City of Heroes is being shut down by NCSoft, the very same company that is publishing GW2.

Is it being shut down because it became unprofitable? Hardly; just last quarter it made $2.5 million. It's not WoW numbers, but it's a decent steady income for an 8 year old game. No, NCSoft decided to shut it down because they are an Asia-centric company, and the super hero themed game didn't fare well in the Asian markets. So basically it was decided to cut the game that was popular in NA/Europe in order to cover the costs of their other bad business decisions.

I'm not trying to derail the thread or anything, I just thought that people might want to keep NCSoft's treatment of their customers in mind when they consider picking up GW2. The game itself may be fantastic, but don't forget that there is a company attached to it; a company that is getting a lot of bad PR at the moment.

Great article. I completely agree. I've read a few of the comments and some people are on the fence about purchasing it. I say take the dive. It's well worth the money and, unlike other MMOs, you don't have to keep paying to prove you're a loyal fan. I played WoW quite a bit. Many days, I would play it just because I already paid for the subscription and it wasn't un-fun. However, with GW2, I find myself playing it because I have a good time (without any qualifiers).

"Online games reward pragmatism, selfishness, and minding your own business." Hmm, I wish all the MMOs I'd played before worked like that. Instead they gave out more XP for being in a group than you would have gotten on your own, & then punish you for soloing by not allowing you to enter any dungeons & cutting you out of quests. The worst offender was Holic, but that was just an all-around bad game.

I used to think I was the only person who played MMOs who refused to join a party; treating the game as a massive open world single player game. But there have been a few surveys saying that either by choice or by either being unable to find enough friendly same-level players, most MMO players spend more time soloing than partying. Does GW2 punish you for soloing?

"World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, and all the others worked so hard to make me play with others with forced-grouping quests, and it rarely worked." If you're saying LOTRO forces you to group, then no. If you're saying LOTRO, CO, & DCUO are so singleplayer oriented that grouping feels pointless, then I agree.

kyoodle:

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.

Well, the progression to the top level shouldn't be boring of course, but at the end of the day for an MMO to survive it's all about the endgame. Like it or not, the bottom line is people re-upping subscriptions. If the game is all about the journey and the progression rather than what you do when you finally cap out your advancement, it simply means people are going to run out of things to do and move on. Some might undertake the journey a few times, but in the end if there isn't anything to keep them developing their favorite characters (raids, PVP, etc...) they are inevitably going to leave. We've seen it time, and time again, where pretty much every game that has launched using your basic attitude has pretty much failed, excepting of course WoW, which pretty much represents the standard for what you need to have for an endgame. Granted WoW itself is starting to fail after all these years, but nothing is forever, it's showing it's age, and honestly when Blizzard is turning Pandareans into the topic of an entire expansion as opposed to some cool little thing to toss into the game (which is what the people asking for them generally wanted) it's pretty obvious they are out of ideas... but that's another subject entirely.

A good example of the problem can be found with "The Secret World". People hit the very limited endgame, got burned out fairly quickly, and people are leaving (above and beyond the other problems with the game). There is very little to do in it. The big point is that most are saying (the game is well received by it's players while playing actually) that they will be back when Funcom finally releases Tokyo and there is more to do. Something that happens with a few games. The whole "locust" mentality where the players only drop by and pay when there is new content to devour, when it's gone, if nothing is there to hold their attention, they leave. The problem is that a game needs a constant, paying, subscriber base to justify financing new content. These quick locust bursts don't make enough money to be cost effective, hence the focus of a game has to be on providing enough endgame content via raids and entertaining long term objectives (a grind can be made enjoyable if it's done right) so people will keep paying a subscription.

I'll also go so far as to say that games DO need to face lift themselves once in a while as well, though we rarely see that happen. Way back in the day Everquest 1 re-did and updated it's graphics and models, something I haven't seen any other game do on the same scale. For a while EQ1 gave you the option of using old models or new models or even selecting which races would use which models in your display for purposes of performance for those with (then) older rigs. Funcom has been talking bunk about doing this with Anarchy Online for years, and honestly I think (as sort of mentioned above) part of WoW's recent problems is that it's showing it's age. Blizzard probably would have done better to re-do their entire graphics/art engine then add the Panda continent (though the Pandas and Monk Class themselves are fine, as are the inclusion of new raids and dungeons).

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