Is Bigger Really Better

Many more hours spent in Firefall on the weekend and I had an excellent time, for some reason it makes me feel kind of refreshed in a certain way. It is a way I only ever feel in these less then popular games with small servers and smaller populations. They are just generally nicer and more helpful then others.

One circumstance where I was thoroughly impressed with the community was when one of the regular players spent over 30 minutes organising a group for me and another newbie to hunt a very rare and out of the way mining spot. Even getting there took some coordination on his part involving personal gliders and jump pads, and It wasn’t just the fact of getting there either that amazed me but that he was sharing one of his very special secrets about the world. This is just one occurrence of an individual or group going out of there way to show me the interesting things in New Eden..

I rarely see these sort of actions in bigger mmo’s. The new generation of mmo’s seems to have the message that bigger is better. More people to play with and around, interconnected systems and global trade, connecting everyone together for everything but is that better. Have we been chasing after the wrong thing in our quest for a greater sense of connectivity.

In the age of instant messaging, twitter hashtags, and a reliance on Facebook we no longer socialise as much and these ideals have extended to our digital realms. Mechanics and vital systems have been developed as well as evolved to make games easier and quicker to connect with people but these connections are no where near as strong.

All those Facebook friends don’t count as actual friends and a wink, like or whatever isn’t socialising. It is the same way in that lfg or lfr isn’t socialising, or how playing alongside contributing to a group event isn’t that social either. It is the phenomenon of feeling alone in a group reborn. Sure we all usually have our regular groups we play with and these are an amazing thing but I no longer see individuals creating as many connections outside of these gaming circles and that is a shame. It it appears to be getting worse as well, spurned on by advances in server technology.

Mega servers and the like with heavy Instancing are making anything else obsolete and in the process making the individual irrelevant. Irrelevant because individual actions rarely matter anymore and since you are unlikely to ever come across the same people ever again and have an abundance of others around no one else but your immediate circle is required. However even these days even the institution that are guilds have been severely wounded. People no longer need guilds in the capacity the used to, the co dependance that used to be has been heavily stacked in favour of the individual resulting in guilds and there members bring far more transient.

It makes these bigger games rather soulless and tending towards regurgitating players rather then retaining. It is in a way why I would call these Junk Food games like Liore Described, it isn’t just the lack of difficulty that makes them feel unsatisfying although that is a big part, but the fact that the overall experience is meaningless requiring little attention. No need to worry about combat, socialising, or anything else, just enjoy your meal then forget it.

So when you actually have the games with smaller populations and without all these fancy ways of connecting; where you do actually meet people, talk with them, share interests and personal tidbits, and create in game bonds you feel that YOU as an individual matter. Being around and connected to more people is a poor substitute for that. This is why Firefall feels so refreshing and perhaps why I recommend Tera more then it warrants because well… The human factor, they just lack the extensive content to sustain it all for longer.

It worries me deeply how much these new overflows, interconnected systems,  global AH, and mega servers like Zenimax are talking about may harm the experience of playing an mmo. I probably always will be one of those people who opposes the whole lfg cross server systems (even though I do use it), but this evolving situation could be far more damaging. An mmo without connections is just a step closer to being unfulfilling, another junk food mmo when with it they are so much more.

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2 thoughts on “Is Bigger Really Better

  1. That’s an excellent observation you made there. I notice myself how there’s a difference in how I feel immersed in the two MMOs I play: LotRO on the one side with a small server, and SWTOR on the other side with a huge server for *all* the English-speaking European players. In SWTOR PvP I don’t remember anyone I play with, because there’s just so many different queues and people, while in LotRO it feels like I almost know half of the player base. It’s a bit like living in a small village vs living in the big city, with all the pro’s and con’s that come with it.

    Thanks for the post, you’ve inspired me to write one I was already thinking about for some time! :)

    • I had never thoguht of LotRo like that, I only plalyed it for a short time but I may actualy head back and try it out again..hmm maybe when there isn’t so much other awesome out there.

      I like that analogy and it does fit, people in the city as in bigger games are still able to form interesting communities but it seems less people are looking for that in both

      Glad I inspired =) look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter

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