[MUD-Dev] Concerning "Groups"

Sean Kelly sean at f4.ca
Wed May 4 10:40:45 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


On Thu, 28 Apr 2005, Jeff Gaskill wrote:

> Now I'll get to the point. I am both a player and observer of
> World of Warcraft. I've done an empirical study comparing group
> types and moods of players. I've found that casual groups tend to
> be the most friendly, whereas instance (dungeon/raid) groups and
> groups trying to take down elite quest monsters are increasingly
> unfriendly. These results are fairly obvious to the average WoW
> player, which is why I'm looking further into the reasons of why
> this happens.

>>From what I understand, EQ is much the same way.  Guilds tend to
camp spawns to corner the market on desirable goods.  Instancing in
WoW sought to alleviate this problem and it has for the most part,
though it's cropped up in relation to the non-instanced portions of
end-game quests.  The other obvious factor is power.  If I am the
leader of a large guild I can influence others by granting or
denying favors.  In WoW this often equates to raid invites, and I
imagine the Honor system will create similar methods of prestige and
resource control.

> Finally, the larger time investment of raid groups can create much
> crankier and easily upset players. What's more interesting is why
> players are willing to endure these periods of stress and
> uncertainty while they are playing a game for 'fun.' What exactly
> is 'fun' is of course, a very difficult topic, so allow me to move
> on.

One common vector for measuring prestige in MMORPGs is ownership of
difficult to attain items.  This shouldn't be surprising, as the
value of minerals in the Real World works exactly the same way.
Other factors are the often significant time investment just to
enter the instance (often from completing preliminary quests) and
the difficulty of completing the quest at all with a sub-optimal
raid group.

> What I want to know is: Since when has grouping become a
> necessity?  All MMOs I know of have it in some concrete form
> (except maybe A Tale in the Desert, I'm not sure) and at least all
> of the major MMOs do. I'm not sure of an text MUDs that had
> concrete grouping, that is, a hard-coded grouping implementation
> that gives some sort of benefit. Most groups implement experience
> bonus or at least shared experience for monster kills.

MMORPGs are 'social' games and it's not uncommon to design in
features to encourage social behavior.  Grouping is a rudimentary
form of this.  And it's much easier to make grouping a game mechanic
than to design a system to recognize cooperation :)

> If players wanted to group together, surely they would be
> friendlier with each other when they do so. My question is: Are
> groups doing what players and developers want them to do? Or are
> they just a consequence of the difficulty to track abstract
> concepts of 'achievement' through concrete computer-friendly
> means? Perhaps grouping could be saved somehow, the accomplishment
> of coming together and doing things bigger than just one person is
> exciting, but when group content is bypassed (say by grouping with
> higher level PCs to simply 'get through' the content) then there
> must be something missing.  Raiding just isn't unique anymore.

Grouping typically requires a significant time investment in order
to be profitable.  Worse, it's very difficult for a group to find a
replacement for someone who drops out midway through an instance.  I
personally like that WoW doesn't force grouping because it's rare
than I have the time for it.  This is one reason I chose to play WoW
over, say, EQ.

As for whether the mechanics of grouping could be
improved--undoubtedly.  And as has been pointed out in other
threads, grouping mechanics in WoW aren't the greatest anyway.

Sean
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