Down Time and Group Growth

My first night back with the computer, the bright screen flashed up and i logged in to my windows screen to see a collection of games before me yet before the question of what to play turned into “I have nothing to play” I’d already loaded up Archeage and entered the guild Teamspeak to talk once more with everyone.

It’s funny the familiarity and level of comfort mmo’s hold with me in this regards. They seem to be the game you can turn to when there is nothing else and it’s a pretty easy decision to make, especially when you have friends or a guild waiting for me. It’s times like these where I can kind of understand the pull games like WoW have on people. That level of comfort they hold in peoples hearts and the way they help people connect with others. It’s a strong point of the industry that I don’t feel as many mmo’s really tap into as much with how they seemingly abandon the importance of groups and guilds.

Now I don’t mean the ridiculous guild level type things, those are artificial barriers that more serve to piss people off. I’m talking about the connections people make with each other through this shared space. The level of dependence you hold with each other and the valuable connections you make. It all adds up to make this rather slight pull, or urge that while seems rather small in the moment slowly grows and grow until it becomes a need that, well needs to be fulfilled. I guess that’s cause I’m a little antisocial and also slow to war to people in real life, I have a few close friends but it seems the online components really do fill in that gap for people like me. Just listening to the random banter is enough at times to to feel a part of something.

It’s also funny that the first thing I did, and basically the only activity I did all night within Archeage was do trade runs. The Hellswamp path had opened up once more and I got together the stuff I needed, crafted stuff and then spent a couple hours just running packs. Seems kind of pointless but then, I think these kind of moments are a needed function of mmo’s as well. You don’t constantly need to be active, you don’t need to be in conflict whether that be PvP or PvE. Sometimes it’s just nice to have some activities that are rather easy, slow and really not needing that much attention as it leaves you free to engage with others far more.

You type in chat to some. You talk about the game; mechanics and such, the progression of the guild, you strategise and discuss gearing as well as organise crafting things. It’s moments and activities like these that let you take care of a lot of the jus daily facets of a comprehensive online game with others which then free’s up the more active times for the conversation, and orders that are more needed.

I don’t know… It’s these moments as well that seem to be the better form of bonding experience too. You’re not under the pressure of PvP or raiding, your skills aren’t being examined or questions and your character isn’t being put under a microscope. You’re just learning and bonding with the people in your guild. Your forming that tighter group that you will remember, that will create the urge to return, that creates a connection to the game world and, in time that sense of nostalgia for maybe long term pining over the lost experiences.

It just feels like these slower moments are what we need more of. Down time for whatever needs. Some crafting, random mob grinding or long travels to faraway places. It’s all important when you think about the function of a world and group growth.

6 thoughts on “Down Time and Group Growth

  1. I tend to find guilds a little clingy and claustrophobic. Also I have had quite a few quite difficult real-life spill-overs from guild drama – enough to put me off guilds in quite a big way.

    For the first year, year and a half played MMOs I don’t believe I even joined a guild. I played the first three months with even /ooc switched off because I felt hearing people talk out of character spoiled the feeling of being in another world.

    I think my first experience of being part of guild came when I moved to DAOC at launch and from then I was in guilds right through until we went Vanguard in 2007. We never joined a guild there and ever since I’ve only been in very small guilds that either I or Mrs Bhagpuss lead. The most people we’ve had in any of those is about ten or so in the EQ2 chapter, although currently I am the only one playing there.

    My preference over guilds is actually custom chat channels. They offer the same kind of conversational background but without any (okay, much) of the drama and obligation. I’d really like to see Guilds disappear from MMOs altogether, just like I’d like to see Groups go. I think the direction the genre was taking from Warhammer’s PQs through Rift’s open raiding to GW2’s location-based communal enterprise was exactly the right way to go. It’s just a shame GW2 didn’t go that final mile and leave both Guilds and Groups out of the architecture of the game altogether.

    This is what I also like about the Server structure rather than the current fad for Megaservers, I get exactly the comfortable, communal feeling you’re describing every time I log in to one of “my” servers. I feel it very strongly indeed in WvW although the current bandwagon effect Yak’s Bend is suffering under is diluting that somewhat.

    • Guilds do have a lot of drama, my first one in rift went that way. I tend to not get involved though. I am the quiet sort as well but even then I find the comfort of being in a guild still kinda nice.

      I like the custom chat channels as well, using them in TSW was amazing and many channels had a community feel to them. Great to see how they were used for events too. Linkshells in FF14 are nice too. I think they’re a nice addition to guilds though.

  2. MMORPGs have communities that are vastly different from other video game genres. The only reason I decided to resub to WoW for the expansion launch is to spend time running around Azeroth doing crazy fun stuff with a friend I have known for years. I also like being able to chat with people who are sharing the same experience I am.

    • The social experiences are a huge draw for people to continue to play and return yet it feels like modern mmo’s haven’t been creating those moments that foster group growth, and even less those experiences where you make friends outside of your own little circle

  3. It has its share of problems, but I do love a little downtime for sure. It’s not so much that the insta-gratification of modern MMOs spoils anyone or ruins the fun. I just feel that a little downtime enhances the rest. I get so tired of quest grinding, for instance, because it’s a constant flow of DO THIS, DO THAT, TURN IN, GO ELSEWHERE. I miss the days when MMOs weren’t so guided an experience and part of the fun involved making your own things to do.

    TL;DR: Modern MMOs are like going in the wilderness to find every tree with signs telling you where to go, what to do, and when to do it, largely defeating the point of taking a hike.

    • yeh, it does feel like it enhances the fun as it creates the distinction between gameplay. The differences in play are a good thing as well. I really want more games that do have these options, that let the player create their own gameplay and where/what they want to be doing.

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