[MUD-Dev] Concerning "Groups"

Jeff Gaskill d1r7_man at yahoo.com
Thu May 12 09:24:01 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Sean Kelly wrote:

> 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.

> One common vector for measuring prestige in MMORPGs is ownership
> of difficult to attain items.

> 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.

You've brought attention to my exact motivation for analyzing
grouping. Grouping is a tool for advancement and acquisition of
prestige and power: two things that cannot exist in single player or
even smaller multiplayer games. Perhaps I am just a sucker for
fantasy, but when I think of grouping I think of fellowships and
coming together to complete difficult tasks, ones that are only
possible with high group cohesion and cooperation. In World of
Warcraft their purpose is more of an economical and political one
rather than an interaction between players. Of course, the digital
divide hinders much of personal connections for many reasons (time,
consistency of seeing other players, etc.), but right now I only see
one type of tractible cooperation designed into games.  Level +
Items + Level + Items etc.. (PvP aside) A sort of capitalistic focus
on the individual player proliferates and seems to be the best
formula for keeping players around for extended periods of time.
Perhaps this is just another look at the classic treadmill argument,
but when the power of a single player well exceeds the power of a
group of lower level players (Everquest 1 and 2 are much worse about
this than WoW is), then grouping is reduced to a relationship of
convenience rather than a relationship of meaningul interaction.

Arguably though, the players who have the most fun are the ones that
turn it into something meaningful via guilds and raids. Design can
never force a player to experience something as intractable as
cooperation, but the accummulation of a designer's decisions can
influence the motivations of players towards or away from a more
cooperative environment.

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