[MUD-Dev] Methods to Foster Relationships?

Jeff Lindsey Jeff at nextelligence.com
Tue Jun 11 09:17:52 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Nick Yee wrote:

> I come from a psych background, so my question is whether there
> are accepted methods used in the industry to foster these
> relationships in MMORPG's. What are constructs you can build into
> an MMORPG that encourage meaningful relationships to form? What
> has and hasn't worked in the past?
> Ones that come to mind in comparing EQ with DAOC are:
>   - Have enough downtime between battles: Even though players are
>   together in a group and inclined to talk to each other, they
>   can't really develop meaningful relationships easily if there's
>   not enough time to talk. The little downtime in DAOC battles
>   might thus be a bad thing in the long run.
>   - Make players more dependent on other players: Force players to
>   interact with each other in non-grouping scenarios. A lot of
>   times in EQ, you meet someone new by asking for a bind, a
>   clarity, a SoW, a teleport, or an Invis etc. The more people you
>   meet and talk to, the more likely you'll form a
>   relationship. Whereas in DAOC, binding is something you can do
>   by yourself, public horses take the place of teleports, and many
>   utility spells like SoW cannot be cast on non-group members.
>   - Make it easy for players to help each other: Buffs and utility
>   spells that can be meaningfully cast on others allow random acts
>   of kindness that don't revolve around money or items, which are
>   more costly for the giver. Random acts of kindness build trust
>   at the community level, so the more ways to help others the
>   better. The other thing is that because battles go by so quickly
>   in DAOC, it is often impossible to save a stranger from being
>   killed by a mob, whereas this happens much more often in EQ.
>   - Create high-trust actions: Allowing your corpse to be dragged
>   is one of those high-trust events that can instantaneously
>   create a solid relationship. In contract, DAOC feels very safe -
>   dying is relatively inexpensive, everything is a horse-ride
>   away, resurrection is a low-level spell that several classes
>   have etc.

I think a lot of it just comes down to the rift between convenience
and immersion. There are players who want a drive-thru style game
with no interest in forming lasting bonds (regardless of whether
that ends up happening anyways), there are those who want the
relationships and don't mind the mechanisms used to foster them, and
then there are players who want something in between. EQ was/is
notorious for people griping about downtime and hassles, and I think
in a way DAoC was a knee-jerk reaction, in that it made things
overly convenient. Not that convenience is a bad thing, it benefits
the genre as a whole by introducing new casual and short-term
players who might see games like EQ as too committing. It will be
interesting to see if MMOGs try to keep everyone happy or continue
to divide along the rift.

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