I wasn’t going to make a post about this, but then the ancient relic known as Blogger ate yet another of my comments, and well, here we are. Tobold first had a post about how the cross-server dungeon finder is pure awesome for an MMO, and followed it up with how Rift is basically the same game in terms of community because people don’t have pleasant conversation when grouping to close a rift. Basically.
The cross-server thing has been covered, but just to quickly summarize; auto-queuing for a group activity and receiving increased anonymity is basically taking the GIFT and turning it up to 11. Add in other socially awesome changes like gearscore, solo-everything gameplay, and loot>all, and surprise, you turn people into complete trolls. If you don’t see the issue with that, well, I’m not sure what to say honestly. If anyone thinks WoW had the server community it has now back in 2004, god help you. And if you think that the decline in that community has nothing to do with Blizzard, you are beyond even god’s help.
Moving on, what DO people expect from social interaction in an MMO? If I told you that in my MMO of choice every random group starts and ends with a pleasant conversation, would you really see that as a plus? Because to me, those random conversations are about as awesome as a random conversation in an elevator with a stranger. “Yes, it is cold you. I know, crazy. Yup, Spring is coming soon. Have a good day” /end. If I never have that conversation again, +1, both in-game and out.
And really, public grouping in Rift simply removes the tedious step of /whisper invite, followed by /invite X. Are we really gutting social interaction with such a removal? Because if you want to have that pleasant conversation once you hit the Join button, you still can, and I’ll still respond curtly or ignore you based on how my day is going. Either way, I don’t feel I’ve lost some great social gem. We don’t need to have a conversation about how we are here to knock out this rift, or stop this invasion; it’s pretty damn obvious.
I did encounter what some would consider a gem last night, though this is somewhat common in Rift. It went like this; fly into Stillmoor, see someone putting together a raid to knock out a raid quest and farm some elite mobs in the area. Accompany the 19 other strangers to the start of the elite area, inform raid leader that I’m a tank, healers know to target me, and I start to chain pull like a madman. Healers keep me up, DPS knocks stuff down, progress is quick. We get to the raid boss, we gather everyone, quick strat overview, boss goes down, “good job everyone”, we stick around to continue farming the elites. Whenever someone goes down we rez them, people stick with the group, we don’t have randoms pulling, chasing resource nodes, or causing trouble. After about an hour or so we wrap up, everyone leaves the raid. I check my bag and have a few green items that I rolled greed on. Good times.
Feel free to share a similar experience you had in WoW in the last year. Wait what, you’re still in the queue? Hmmm. Oh and you roll ‘need’ on everything because it’s a PUG? Odd. And you are shocked that everyone did not split as soon as the main boss went down? Ok. Wait you don’t visit zones anymore, you’re at the cap? I see. But hey, um, you can random PUG dungeons easier now. That’s nice.
As for those pleasant conversations? I have those in vent with my guild, who are not strangers, who I do know something about, and who I do want to play with regularly. But them, I’m in a guild with people, not gearscores. I recommend you try it, it’s pretty cool, adds a lot to the MMO experience. Plus it really reduces our ‘queue’ time when running a dungeon, and we don’t get many ninja looters (not that anything but Cleric stuff drops anyway, F you Allerion). Which is not to say we have not gained guild members from random stuff on our server; we have. When people see gods-gift to tank (me, duh), they want to be a part of that.
Plus being in a guild with someone who is ‘kind of a big deal’ on the internet makes people feel better about themselves, and as I’m a fan of the little people, I let them tag along. I’m nice like that.