MMO vs Co-Op

I was browsing the official Wildstar forums yesterday, and came across a(nother) thread on the building toxicity of the game’s LFG tool in Veteran (e.g. heroic) Dungeons. Anyone who has ever played WoW for more than a hot minute could point out the problem with the bizarre, and frankly naive, design decision Carbine has settled on: beginning Cataclysm-era coordinated difficulty combined with Gold Medal or Bust reward structures. I mean, what kind of intelligent person says “If any of this group of five cross-realm strangers dies, they get no epics even if they eventually succeed” and believes that is a good idea?

By the way, do you remember back in WoW when you could kick someone before the last boss dropped its loot? Yeah, Wildstar allows that. If you queue into a 3-man guild unit, you will only receive a chance to roll on gear on their mercy. TBC BRILLIANCE, HO!

Anyway, the typical Apologist refrain is “just don’t PUG veteran dungeons.” Hard to argue with that. Until now:

And you see thats a sad part …..why play an mmo if your only playing with certain people to get things done? your in an mmo ffs, why not try and actually get things done with random people you don’t know? thats sort of defeating the purpose OF being an mmo and not just a coop game =/

I don’t know about you, but this (poorly punctuated) post turned nearly everything I just blithely accepted as given in MMOs on its head.

People criticize solo-friendly designs – “You’re taking the Massively Multiplayer out of MMO!” – and yet not much forum-space has been given to the notion that being sequestered in your guild of friends/acquaintances isn’t very MMO-ish either. What’s so Massively Multiplayer about your even 40m (or typically much less) raiding guild? Does it even matter that there are other players running around outside of your guild tag?

Seems to me that when you zoom out a bit, there just isn’t a whole lot of difference between the srsbsn guild member and solipsistic solo player – everything outside of the circle is just background radiation.

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Posted on June 24, 2014, in Philosophy, Wildstar and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. But then what if you (in general) see nothing wrong with that? I don’t particularly want to play with random people all the time. Social hubs, the Auction House, random acts of kindness out in the field? All can make an MMORPG a better experience than Skyrim, KOTOR or similar games. Small group content, especially if it requires a lot of coordination, isn’t the best idea for random grouping.

    I play MMOs for the above reasons more than the chance to chain-queue for dungeons with 4 or more strangers. One of Wildstar’s big faults is the mentality that Cataclysm level dungeon difficulty + random, impatient strangers is somehow a good formula…

    • There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I’m a self-avowed “solo MMO player,” for the most part. I just think this quote is spot-on in the sense that staying within a small social circle is more akin to a co-op game then necessarily an MMO. If one of us is “doing it wrong,” both of us are.

  2. I thought you (and others) already touched on this when you wrote about the benefits of friends you bring with you vs. those you make in game, but maybe I was projecting a bit too much of my own thoughts onto you there.

    Basically, for me that passage you quoted has been something I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s true that I spend most of my play time with people I know, but it’s important to me that I can also go out and do something with random strangers and still have a good time, or else I’ll be unable to properly feel “at home” in an MMO. (Bad pugs can happen in any game of course, but what I mean is that it can be possible even for “good” groups to produce an unpleasant experience if the game’s mechanics and player attitudes don’t gel with my own. If the only way to have fun in a game, for me, is to live a completely cloistered life while playing only with my friends and guildies, I don’t think I’ll last long in that game.)

    • I feel the same even as a primarily solo player. For example, Kingdoms of Amalur is about as close to an MMO as you can get without actually having other players running around. And that was fun, for a while. But knowing that the world is empty slowly leeched the fun of the game for me. I might not want to socialize with strangers most days, but it has to be an option for me in these games.

      Sorta like the difference between staying in for the weekend vs being on house arrest.

  3. not surprised Wildstar is making WoWs mistakes. Its literally modeled on being a shinier vanilla WoW experience. The devs genuinely believe that vanilla didnt need these kinds of improvements, and I watching with great interest to see how it pans for them.

    I have a question for you: what if an MMO took the approach of creating instances only for solo players and placing all group content in the open world? Thats the opposite of what they do now and Im intrigued by the idea of turning that literally on its head.

    • To be fair, that particular design has absolutely nothing in common with Vanilla WoW except the dungeons being somewhat challenging.

      • Competing with players for spawning mobs? That was definitely an issue in vanilla in the opening months. Since then some MMOs have addressed this in ways: speed up the spawn timer, phasing, and public quests (quests in which being in the area counts for everyone).

      • Wah? We’re discussing mob spawns? I thought this post was about Wildstar’s veteran dungeons and pugs.

    • That sort of reminds me of my brief time in SWTOR, with all the story instances. It’d be interesting, but I’m not a big fan of un-instanced group content (open dungeons and the like); without the strict structure, I feel like the best solution is to always zerg the content.

  4. dachengsgravatar

    Real life is another example of a Massively Multiplayer World (except it’s not virtual and it’s not an online game). Just like in games, I do most things in real life either alone or with friends, but I have the option of doing things with strangers. That’s how one makes friends in the first place. If you never talk to strangers, you’re missing a lot both online and in real life; but the time you spend with strangers is naturally a lot less than the time you spend with your friends.

    So when you say “the notion that being sequestered in your guild of friends/acquaintances isn’t very MMO-ish either”, that’s true. But the alternative isn’t just doing everything with random strangers. There is a balance to be struck, and it should include spending time with strangers, but it should fall on the side of spending more time with your friends and acquaintances.

    • I’m not entirely sure I agree. You should want to spend time with your friends because they are fun to do things with, not because you’re unlikely to succeed with strangers in basic group content.

      I suppose it’s arguable that things like veteran dungeons are equivalent to WoW hardmodes, which I don’t have an issue with. But I would say that it’s different here, because Wildstar doesn’t make a distinction in difficulty, only performance. It’s still possible to complete a veteran dungeon without getting gold, but few would see a point to it.

  5. It’s a good point and it is one of the things I miss about the earlier MMOs where you’d hang out with your guild but you’d also hang out with other random people, making enemies/ friends and just doing huge raids on places. That was before WoW and the beginning of the ‘tuned person-limited raid’ experience.

  6. Something something Dunbar’s Number.

  1. Pingback: MMO questing and co-op gameplay | GamingSF

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