Why i love reading your MMO blog

Professional Blogging

Have i mentioned how much i like the Global Chat column on Massively Overpowered? I think it was the first one that started featuring blog posts of “regular people bloggers” on the more respected sites relating to our genre. Liore did something like that on mmorpg.com a while back, but i think that this column was discontinued- it’s hard to tell with mmorpg.com’s way of organizing their content. Then there were Murph and Belghast, doing their thing on MMOGames.com, but i think that one was discontinued, as well.

Massively Overpowered, MMOGames.com and MMORPG.com- what do they have in common? They’re more or less branding themselves as “professional bloggers”, if you will. Their staff gets paid (i think) for their posts and they have a big audience. The strengths and weaknesses of each one of these sites can very well be a post on its own (one i started to draft several times already).

In short i would say MMOGames.com has the most potential of the three and has taken several great bloggers in, but its informational structure simply isn’t quite there yet. Still, the site reminds me of reasons i used to really love Massively in 2010/2011: its’ authors are bloggers who love their games and are quite stable in their selection of MMORPG they play. With a little more continuity and a better structure/home page and less crappy games on their sidebar, this site could be great.

MMORPG.com is a mess- the site looks outdated, i can see no structure in their content and navigation whatsoever. It’s even hard to discern which games they cover, as they have adopted RPGs along with multiplayer games. While i do like some of their authors and commentors, this site needs a do-over badly. They promised being close to launching a new layout when Massively closed last year- possibly as a way of trying to catch some of that audience, but it still hasn’t happened.

As for Massively Overpowered, it’s the most professional of the three. The layout (despite being at least based on a free WordPress template) is clear and functional, as is the navigational and informational structure. The authors know how to write and, at least in my opinion, have a very professional stance. However, i feel it has developed to a news site more than a “blogger site”. Even their game-specific columns are oftentimes more about news relating to the games than, well, describing gameplay experience, the lore or whathaveyou (exceptions being Anatoli’s old Guild Wars 2 column and the new Black Desert column by Matt Daniel).

Are bloggers full of themselves?

All the more happy i am when Massively Overpowered does something “bloggy”, like featuring content of “regular people bloggers”, highlighting podcasts or something similar. I am, of course, happy if/when i or someone else i’m close with gets a mention there, but i’ve read some interesting comments in the last two i was mentioned in, as well.

It must have been the topics at hand (future of MMORPGs and Black Desert impressions earlier), with the latter seemingly counter to popular opinion- the quotes, despite being well-chosen, made the impressions seem worse than they were- so we got a lot of “how dare these bloggers have a different opinion than i?” comments and the former with being positive outlooks on the MMORPG genre as a whole or Daybreaks…stuff…in particular, where we got the “why are bloggers perceived as special?” and “why do they think they’re special?”-treatment.

Well, i’m kind of new in this whole thing, not very deeply connected to others from the blogosphere and not a popular blog by far, especially here on the new site, so these comments still kind of get to me- no, i don’t think i’m special or my opinion matters more than that of, say, a commentor on Massively Overpowered or on a forum or reddit. I’m simply adding one layer of personal enjoyment and community building on something i enjoy without that part. And i’m pretty sure that’s more or less what every one of them does- adding something, in this case writing, to their hobby.

Why i love reading your MMORPG blog

Perspective

MMORPGs can be played in many different ways- maybe you enjoy dungeon runs, or roleplaying, or questing. Maybe you care about the lore, the quest-givers, your guild, pvp, gear or costumes. Maybe your thing is the economy, crafting or even horse-breeding. Whatever it is that gives you the most enjoyment in these games, chances are that it’s not exactly the same thing that i enjoy most. But maybe i’ll like to read about it or try dabbling in it myself to see if i might enjoy it. Or you’ll give some inspiration regarding ideas i could use in our small guild.

Opinion

Is the MMO genre dead? Could Daybreaks hickups result in something good for Everquest 2? Is that game/ingame shop/game “pay to win”? Is pay-to-win even possible? I don’t know, but i sure have an opinion on most of these topics. Some Oftentimes it’s not a well-founded or 100% thought through opinion, so i love reading what other people think, especially when it’s about games of minor interest to me.

Games

Speaking of games, some of you are seducers, writing great posts about games i might have crossed off my list or didn’t have on my radar, and your excitement is contagious. Maybe i’ll send you a bill for the next purchase 😉 But you could be playing a game i love to read about or i didn’t keep in touch with and i’m wondering what impact some new feature/expansion/content has on players who stuck with that game and you’ll offer some insight. It’s really not about the game someone’s playing, as they’re in the same genre anyway and some stuff that works in, say, World of Warcraft, might be transferrable to a similar experience in Black Desert, for instance.

Personality

Some of you, i can only admire for your writing capabilities. I tend to babble a lot- many of you are able to write short, concise blog posts and still inflict your personality and character into your posts. There are bloggers who cut their content’s word count by half and their posts seem to be of the same or better quality, and have the same amount or more personality and character as before. Sometimes, you’ll even share some aspect of your real life, and some of you make it a point to blog about your real lives quite often and in the same posts you deal with your gaming life.

Community

As i’ve said, i’m not deeply connected. Sometimes i think that’s my fault, for not being able to put personality/character in writing, sometimes i think it could be a location/time-zone/server location-issue. But i can see connections all over- people commenting on each others’ blogs, ping-ponging blogging topics, creating guilds, organizing blogging events and so on. And i’ve also made a few connections via blogging that i do value very much.

So that’s why i love reading your MMORPG blog and hope you enjoy writing it as much as i do reading it.

And i’d like to point you to my Blogroll– i’m not sure if i’ll stay with this one, but it is the one i like the most right now because i can include as much as i want. It might still need some configuration, but this is just too good a moment to let it pass.

Dual Wielding: is it dead yet?

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Make sure to check out Ironweakness’ take on the subject.

Introduction- did that just happen?

When Ironweakness and i decided to pick our Dual Wielding series back up, we also decided for two topics, to be published on a monthly basis. The last one has been about Negativity in the MMORPG community and this one was to be an outlook on the genre. We figured it might be a good time for that post, so shortly after the release of Black Desert Online and The Division (as well as the Thieves Guild DLC). Little did we know what was bound to happen last friday- namely the cancellation of Everquest Next and layoffs at Carbine. Since these news broke, the question whether the MMORPG genre is dead has been tackled countless times, by bloggers as well as MMORPG-related Outlets and even general gaming sites.

I’d like to be brief here, because this post is about looking ahead, not at the past. I’d like to say, however, that both news didn’t come as much of a surprise, i guess, to people who were watching these games closely. We haven’t heard anything from EQ Next since what seems like forever, Landmark hasn’t seen significant developement during that time, either, and Wildstar clearly failed to get much attention, players and most of all money following the shift to free-to-play. Here’s what i think both of these news have in common and give a little hint at what’s coming next: the WoW days are finally behind us, and i do think this is a great thing.

Not in Azeroth anymore

Wildstar is basically “WoW in space”, and that’s not just relating to the art style. Sure, it has more features, but the whole thing is still very close to the WoW generation of MMORPGs. Everquest Next, as it was envisioned, was to be an evolution of the same thing- it still took the WoW-style MMORPG as a blueprint for what they thought should be improved in the genre- and furthermore, they took a Triple-A approach to that whole thing.

The MMORPG genre chased WoW numbers for 12 years now and threw evergrowing budget at their games. The idea was, of course, to build something “mainstream” enough to make the success of World of Warcraft repeat itself. While it was clear quite early on that simply copying World of Warcraft wasn’t enough, the thought that it might only take a few iterations on the concept lingered in the newer games of the genre.

All the while one thing has been mentioned but didn’t find consideration in game design: WoW was also that big of a success because the basic feature of MMORPGs- laying with hundreds/thousands of other players- was quite new at that time. That feature alone was enough to inspire awe in players. But with years gone by, contacting other people through the web has become normal- and we, the players, found ourselves isolated more and more, choosing to play with friends or people we already knew instead of with strangers from the web.

We all know now that throwing money after that problem doesn’t work, either. And we’ll be better off for it going forward.

Alone together

Playing alone together still is interesting and unique enough, but one has to see there still are technical limitations to what developers can do if they design a game around thousands of players playing at the same time- gameplay-wise, few if any MMORPGs are very compelling and i know for a fact that on the one general gaming site i read (Rock Paper Shotgun, you should, too!), players and authors alike pity MMORPG players because of the games’ repetetive, grindy and boring gameplay. So it seems unlikely that the normal, persistent, shared world MMORPG would be able to gather the masses for quite some time. Investing here really was and is throwing good money after bad. But designers came up with a solution.

Alone together in Guild Wars 2
Alone together in Guild Wars 2

There’s my MMO in your shooter

The Crew, Destiny and The Division are three games where you’ll find MMO elements as well as a semi-persistent world combined with a single player or simple multiplayer game. These games incorporate most of the “mainstream” elements of MMORPGs while offering a different kind of gameplay. Think about it: there are hubs where you see other players (the “alone together” part of open world MMORPG play), you can also join a few friends and tackle content together (similar to going into MMOs with your friends or doing some guild activities) and even grouping up with random players (just as you’d do with Dungeon Finders and the like). These games are basically an essence of what MMORPGs have become, but they shed a few shackles that put them in gameplay or feature-constraints.

When you think about it- maybe ArenaNet did it the wrong way around- releasing the hub-centric semi-MMO Guild Wars in a time when persistent, shared worlds were popular and then releasing Guild Wars 2 in a time where, maybe, stronger gameplay and storytelling would have won them the day.

There’s also Elite Dangerous and the upcoming Shroud of the Avatar, Shards Online and all these survival games where you can rent/create your own server where it’s possible to play the same game either totally alone, with friends or in a shared environment. While these are a different sort of game than the titles i mentioned earlier, they all give the option to scale the “Massively” part to comfort.

We have only seen early entries here and i think this is where you’d need to look in the future if Triple-A MMO-ish design is what you’re looking for. We should all be happy, because the “mainstream” will go in that direction and there will be huge hits releasing in that “semi MMO” genre.

Welcome back into my MMO, RPG!

On the other site of the fence we have “classic” MMORPGs- but fans of persistent, virtual, shared worlds can be happy about the demise of the triple-A MMORPG, as well, because now, the masses are chased elsewhere. We’ll be getting more niche products more fitting to our respective playstyles- think about Shroud of the Avatar, Shards Online, Camelot Unchained, the Repopulation, Crowfall and others. They mark the return of the classical western MMORPG. I have to cite something here, because i think this is spot-on.

The very problem was using AAAs as a measure of stability, success, and fun. AAAs broke us. Why be sad when they pack up their tents and move on? Clearly the core MMO playerbase will still be catered to; it’ll just look more like the early 2000s than like 2012.
– Bree Royce, Massively Overpowered

We’ll continue to get new MMORPGs, and if the current crop doesn’t meet your preferences, chances are the next wave will, because for once, after 10 years, we’ll be getting games that do something new or concentrate on a particular part that made MMORPGs great in the first place. Then again, if you want Triple-A MMORPGs, they are still going to come, but from the east instead of the west. And, to be frank, they always have. I think Lineage might just be the MMORPG that’s “really” the most successful- released in 1997, i think, it’s still the best earner for NC Soft in Korea. Black Desert Online shows how the next iteration of a shared, persistent, “alone together” world looks like, there’ll probably be others.

It’s not

As you can see, i’m really looking forward to future developements in the genre- all in all, it seems to me that it has matured and evolved into more specialized subgenres- we have MOBAs, the semi-MMOs like Destiny, we have Survival games and we have the classic MMORPG, and i probably missed something along the way. All these subgenres will provide players with different parts of what makes MMOs great, with different amounts of “massively” in their multiplayer options. The classic MMORPG will return to its genre-bending roots while also being specialized.

Fishing in Black Desert Online
Fishing in Black Desert Online, one iteration of “next gen” MMORPG

In the coming years, we’ll be better off and happier with what’s out there. If we like the current crop (as i do- i love Elder Scrolls Online), we’ll be happy to, again, stay with the titles we love for the longer term instead of always wanting to check out the new shiny. If we were unhappy, the next generation will provide more specialized experiences. And if we liked parts of what MMORPGs offered as a whole but disliked other parts, there will be games offering that, as well.

I wanted to touch on more than that- the shift in business model (buy-to-play is becoming the norm) and design (MMORPGs can’t afford putting the fun behind a grindwall anymore), but i’ve gone on rambling long enough (and really need to pack). I might get on these other topics another time, but in essence, i view both of these as getting better now, as well.

We’re not in our last moments here, we’re entering a new era in our genre and should be excited for it!

A quiet week

This week should have been big- really big. The Elder Scrolls’ Thieves Guild DLC launched, The Division launched and it is only week 2 of Black Desert Online. So there were three games i really like that needed my attention. And then…i decided to let it all pass me by.

It was a voluntary decision only in parts. I had planned a nice and fun guild activity for sunday evening and was looking forward to playing ESO with our small-but-still-growing community, when i woke up on sunday morning only to vomit six times in a row. I don’t know why i did, maybe i ate something icky, but i know it knocked me out. The rest of the day went by in a blur, i basically slept the whole day, got sick a few more times, tried to read some stories to our son and subsequently fell asleep doing that. At one point i managed to get up and post a message on the guild’s forum that i couldn’t make it- a message of two sentences, which is very unusual for me, and went back to bed. While i did get better on monday, i still didn’t feel too well and chose to go to bed early. This continued throughout the week- i did take a look at The Division but i’ve only managed to get to the base of operations by now. In this hugely exciting week i chose to take a break from gaming, and get good night’s sleep and rest. Today, on friday, i feel good. Just in time- tonight we’ll be taking a look at Hew’s Bane in Elder Scrolls Online. If someone turns up, that is.

The Guilt

One thing that has been a constant throughout the several attempts at creating and starting a guild up is that i love scheduled activities. When i log into a game, i’m usually not a very group-friendly player, because i need a few days to be in the right state of mind and in the right environment to set aside a fixed amount of time for being in a game. I love socializing in MMOs, but i do it in an “organized” manner by submitting an idea to the guild, setting a date and time, plan a bit and then make it happen. Usually, these events are received very positively by other guild members and frankly, i think they are what holds such a community together. The problem is this: in almost all cases, i’m the only one organizing these events and this fact leads to me feeling a lot of pressure. I’ll try and set these things up weekly/biweekly, but when something happens and i can’t make it, there’s a lot of silence. And when i need to cancel something, i feel like it sends a message to the other guildmembers, namely that “this isn’t important”. While it is true that i don’t really care if three, four or eight people turn up for a night of gaming, when people receive that message, it will at some point happen that no one turns up- or only one other person. Often, i haven’t been able to “bounce back” after such an event.

thieves_guild

So that’s what worries me right now- that, after i got sick just before the last two events – on the first occasion, i did turn up but had to shorten it quite a bit, tonight only few people will turn up. With our family going to China for two weeks on tuesday, this low attendance event might be followed by two weeks of silence. I’ll have to see how to pick things up again when i’m back. Or maybe i’m wrong, as i can also totally see 4-6 people logging on tonight. We’ll have to wait and see tonight.

After returning from China, i set up a dungeon running night- and that’s a strange one for me, because usually i plan these nights for all levels and all numbers of participants- and i can’t do that with dungeons, because the group size is four. But with the new grouping tools Elder Scrolls Online now supports, i think it is time to start the dungeon-delving.

Other than that, things are going great in the community- we took two recruits in as members and recruited two more players into our ranks- we are now just one player short of the guild bank. In terms of speed and amount of growth, it is turning out just as we hoped it would, which is nice.

/Saved: Black Desert, Cash shops, thinking in MMOs and goodbyes

There’s a lot to share this week, as we can take a closer look at Black Desert Online and The Division. There are also some opinion pieces on cash shops in general or Black Desert’s offerings in particular. There’s talk about unnecessary game systems as well as thinking in MMORPGs- and a goodbye-post, as well.

General Chat

Did MMORPGs make their players think more in their earlier incarnations? That’s a discussion i followed when it was started- at least in my Feedly, by Bhaguss, who feels that things like “local knowledge” and combat behaviour are made too easy or are missing in modern MMOs. There is a polite answer by Jeromai, who is of the opinion that games still require putting thought into it and that this is where “skill” comes from. He’s writing that it takes time and the will from the part of the players to put this thought in and that you could put thought into combat even in action combat games before/after a fight. I guess this is where Telwyn’s post comes in, stating that in faster combat, thoughts have to be made up faster, as well, and this would put a gap between players. Telwyn therefore prefers slower combat titles. My opinion in short form: i think “local knowledge” is still there, in games like Elder Scrolls and Black Desert, and while i do prefer slower combat, right now i don’t have any hotbar-combat-MMOs in my rotation- but i think ESO, for instance, has a very good combat pace to also make thought possible in fights. I do agree, however, that there are MMOs where combat feels…well, like a time-waster, actually. I could name one hotbar-combat-game and one action-combat-game where i find the combat to be utterly boring- but i won’t.

Sometimes i save up posts much later than they were written- i don’t know why, but Roger Edwards “farewell” to Lord of the Rings Online slipped into this week. I find it sad, actually, when a game you used to play and like suddenly- or slowly- changes in ways you don’t approve or maybe it’s not only the game that changed but you, as well. In the end it doesn’t matter, saying goodbye has to be tough. On the other hand it can also be liberating- this time last year, i was following news from a lot of games- from Lotro to Rift, Wildstar and WoW over to ArcheAge, FF14 and SWTOR. And everytime there was a new patch i was tempted to join back in. This year, not so much. I’ve pretty much closed the files on all of them and, while i’m still not a “one MMO” type of player and will probably never be one- i feel i can handle the current roster.

I followed Aywren’s journey to becoming a mentor in FF14. I think she was aiming to become a mentor from the moment the program was announced. It’s basically a program where experienced players help newbies out. Most people who opt into such a program do so because they love the game, they love the community and they want to “give something back”. I saw this in Fallen Earth, where a chat channel is maintained just for helping new players out. As with many things, becoming a mentor in FF14 is a huge time-sink (it’s a subscription game, after all), but luckily, for Aywren, there was a way to become mentor by way of crafting instead of doing a few hundred dungeon runs. So she went that route- only to find out that she couldn’t mentor, after all, because she needs to do ALL THE DUNGEONS. Now i don’t know the inner workings here, but to me, that’s simply not right.

Meanwhile, Syp wrote about the AEGIS system in TSW’s Tokyo– well that and similar systems, and Rowan Blaze agrees. It seems so do many others, linked in the second post. I am not far enough into TSW to offer my opinion on that, specifically, but i have to say that it is the one thing i’d be very unhappy to have to go through when reaching Tokyo. Just like ESO’s “silver/gold campaigns” where you have to play the other factions’ content as well, this is something that makes me not wanting to reach that point in the game. I also dislike systems that are used for one expansion cycle only and replaced later on.

Cash shops, generally and in BDO

Liore has to be mentioned first with her great post on how she’s fed up with cash shops. And i totally agree- they’ve reached a point where they’re simply annoying, and it’s not only because the things that are monetized. For me, i’m getting tired of trying to figure out the stuff i “need” to buy. You can play SWTOR as a preferred player, buy a few unlocks and you’ll be pretty much free to enjoy the game without a subscription. Trying to figure out what it takes, though, is boring. When cash shops offer a lot of virtual goods, i find that i’m unlikely to browse through it all and buy something- i like them clean like Elder Scrolls Online’s shop is, for instance.

Weighing in on Black Desert’s cash shop, Ironweakness writes that instead of being angry at the prices for costumes in BDO, he’ll simply refrain from buying them. Isaari takes a look at how the playerbase plays down pay-to-win elements in BDO.

Black Desert Online

Here’s a nice guide on trading in Black Desert Online, written by Scopique on Levelcapped. It gives a basic idea on how all this stuff works.

http://www.levelcapped.com/2016/02/26/black-desert-online-interstate-commerce/

Syl takes a look at whether you should play BDO as a PvE-player. She thinks it’s worth it, mentioning that player killing gives huge karma penalties and that ganking should be a rare occurence.

Prettylittlesith puts away the Dark Side of the Force and shares her opinion on the Black Desert Online Beta.

The Division

Continuing from before, we still have a few impression pieces of The Division’s Open Beta, generally very positive in their nature, so i’ll give a simple list.

The Division Beta

Updated: The Division BETA Thoughts

Cheating on WoW: The Division Beta

/Saved: Beta impressions, Evergreen topics and ingame adventures

This week, there were some interesting posts about games in (early) testing- namely Atlas Reactor and Black Desert Online, a discussion about solo play in MMORGs and ingame adventures from The Secret World and Final Fantasy XIV as well as some thoughts about map/zone design.

Beta Impressions

Black Desert Online’s reception seems to remain mostly positive, although i have to say Ironweakness’ impressions were worse than i expected while still being quite positive all things considered, while Syl mostly worries about cash shop prices and PvP but still thinks BDO can deliver in terms of exploration.

Atlas Reactor is a game i’m somewhat eyeing: a turn-based multiplayer battle arena sounds like fun! So i was happy to see Nerdy Bookah’s First Impressions review of the game- and it seems they’re quite impressed. While i’m generally quite forgiving and not too bothered by cash shop weirdness, these days i’m not entirely sure Trion has a good plan for earning money with the game. Having no plan – or a bad one- might result in some strange moves on the way to figuring it out. Other than that, though, i’ll probably check it out sooner or later.

Opinion

There are a few topics in MMO-land that surface from time to time- one being the Solo-play-in-MMOs-topic. However, i think it isn’t boring or tiring at all, because perspectives and game design shift all the time- just take a look at the way SWTOR does things now. This week, Wolfy wrote about solo dancing after Syl asked why people would play an MMO solo.

J3w3l took Ironweakness’ post about zone fatigue and shares her own thoughts on that, stating that she doesn’t feel it as much when maps change themes slowly instead of shifting from one map design to another.

Ingame Adventures

Syp brings us another tale from The Secret World, this time revolving around the quest “Wetware” which takes place in Tokyo. Aywren shares her observation that sometimes, healers are killjoys in pick-up-groups. Personally, i’ve had much worse experiences with tanks- and WoW hunters, and healers are probably more sensitive because wipes will ultimately be blamed on them, but i can still see where she’s coming from. Ironweakness takes a look back at the games he played in 2015- this week’s post was about Final Fantasy XIV.

 

Travel Log: Rkindaleft

We’ve finished Rkindaleft tonight. All in all it was a nice, if not very challenging, experience. But i have to say- i love public dungeons. The whole experience reminded me a lot of public dungeons in Everquest 2, a part of that game i really like. Granted, you won’t get lost in there- its design is too linear for that- but it’s big, it took us about 90 minutes to finish, it’s beautiful, offers an interesting storyline and a few boss fights. Here are a few impressions of the dungeon.

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Growing a small social guild

Since we’ve founded our fledgling community/guild, i’ve been wondering whether it is possible to build up one of those 10 years plus communities in this day and age. I know there are many great guilds out there, but i do feel the climate has changed and creating a long-lasting guild where bonds between members only grow with time is harder now than it used to be when the MMORPG community had about 3 very different MMORPGs to choose from. Today, not only do we have a billion MMOs to choose from, but the games themselves also allow players to be part of multiple guilds. Players change games more often, and when they try a new game they might seek out another, already established guild in their new game instead of trying to grow the guild they’re in or taking guildmates with them.

I’d like our guild and community to grow, in connections as well as numbers and possibly even games later on and i’ve been thinking about ways to reach the goal to be “that guild” at some time- where people would say things like “this weekend a few guildies and i are trying out game xy together”.

It’s a journey

A longlasting guild can’t be built up in a year, and we all know that. What i’ve seen though, and struggle with myself is that it’s kind of hard to be patient. It’s looking hard right now- we’re seven people playing Elder Scrolls Online right now and attracting members is difficult- i feel it’s because of size, related ingame-features- we’re too small to even have a guild bank, after all and the fact that we openly describe ourselves as being casual players who don’t play every day. If you were to join our guild, chances to build a dungeon group spontaneously on the fly while you’re logged in are about zero. If you were to ask in our forums, though, i’d bet you’d get a group of players willing to join you in the next couple of days, depending on the availability of our members.

Of course, this isn’t something we’re used to nowadays- and in the end, it’s easier to simply use the group finder to tackle a dungeon. When i played WoW, building a group with the guild was the easier way to go (no lfg tool then), it’s the other way around now and with us. In the end, we all have to be patient- the guild leaders have to be while still trying to offer “more” in terms of trying to grow the community, and the members themselves, because right now, we’re almost more a friends list than a guild where you meet someone everyday. With our 7 players, it’s still entirely possible to log in and be the only player online in the guild. Normally, i’d say that 10 online players in the evenings is a good number.

 

Shortly after release, growing fast isn't hard to do.
Shortly after release, growing fast isn’t very difficult.

It’s very easy to grow in new games – in my experience you’ll reach a critical mass quickly if you recruit for games that aren’t released yet. I’ve seen the foundation of about half a dozen guilds before a game was released- at that time, it’s mostly the guild-type that attracts new players, not the current state of the guild. You can start recruiting for a game soon to be released while having only two people in your roster- if you do it in a timely fashion, you’ll have 20 to 50 members as soon as the game releases. Because nobody cares if you’re only two when there is no game to begin with.

In a game like Elder Scrolls Online, it’s harder, because the players want their guild to offer something- a guild bank, players to group with at all times and a guild trader would be nice, as well. There aren’t as many non-guilded or new players, as well, since the game has been out for a while.

In addition to the ingame-features, the community has to grow, as well- we’ve changed things up a couple of times, already. If you’re four people who know each other well, there’s no need to have many rules and regulations. I think a good guild needs to adapt- have its vision set, but alter the ways to get there. There’s a bit of trial and error involved here.

And lastly, “that guild” you’ve played with for five or ten years has to last that long to become just that. You can’t have this done in a year, per definitionem.

Recruitment

All guild advice you can read will tell you how important recruitment is. I’d say it’s depending on what type of guild you want to create. In a game like ESO, building a simple, big social guild doesn’t really require anything outside of the game- you take in who’s interested and weed out inactives and troublemakers. If you want to stay somewhat small and prefer to build up connections with your guildmates, however, recruitment gets difficult, even in small social guilds. Because not being a troublemaker is not enough- the personality of a recruit has to fit into the group, and because this won’t be the case every time, you mustn’t be afraid to decline people. Which is even harder to do in a social guild- “it’s not personal” doesn’t work here, because it is.

 

group
You can have fun in small numbers, as well.

This is why i like Enjin so much right now- because applications aren’t public. We set up a form with a few questions (“What MMOs have you played recently?”, “How much time do you spend in MMOs a week?”, “Do you prefer voice or guild chat?”, “What are your ingame goals?”). The officers can then review an application, ask the applicant some questions and hopefully get answers without anyone knowing what’s going on. For us, we’ll take in everyone who understands what we are and is aware of differences between us and their preferred play-style. For instance, if you’d apply and check “Raids” as an interest, i’d possibly tell you that this is something we’ll probably not do anytime soon, if at all. If you check the box for playing more than 30 hours a week, i’d tell you that this is much more than the rest of us are playing. If the applicant is ok with everything, we’ll try and see if the glove fits. If there’s no reaction three days after i’ve asked some questions, i’ll simply reject the application- mostly without giving an extra reason (i feel that has been given by the questions asked), but sometimes i’ll even go into the official forums and suggest an alternative guild that might be a better fit. So far, it’s 50/50 – i accepted three applications and rejected three, as well.

I do that because i’ve seen guilds with a similar vision failing to decline applicants, growing too fast and therefore building no connections between the guild and the respective players. The communities might have 300 members, but that doesn’t mean anything if the forums are used only by 30 and the whole community discourages their leader from creating an ingame guild because it would be inactive after a month anyway (yes, i’ve seen that happening).

Stability and Perseverance

I think it’s also very important to show stability and perseverance in building the community. OK, so maybe a monthly guild meeting for four players who meet each friday anyway is a waste of time- maybe it will be for seven members, as well. But thinking “i’ll do stuff like this when it matters” sends the wrong signal to the members of the community- it tells them “we’re not real, yet”, so the culture you want to see your guild having needs to be built in from the ground up. Try, and if nobody shows up, try again. Maybe change things up a bit. This is a clear sign that you’re serious and in it for the long haul. I’m also a huge proponent of telling the guildies what the next steps are in growing or strengthening the guild- while i’m almost always somewhat disappointed when asking for feedback (you’ll probably not get any), i think members appreciate it when their leadership shares its plans on following through with the vision.

And because we’re lucky in how MMORPGs are designed nowadays, it’s always important to see if you can find something worth doing in terms of ingame-goals for your whole guild. For instance, tomorrow we’ll be going to Rkindaleft, one of two public dungeons in Wrothgar. We might be able to do it, or maybe not, but it’s nice that we can do something worthwhile together despite being in the level range of 11 to VR10, with 7 players.

 

Before i go, though- what’s your opinion on this? Is it easier or harder to form a small guild with strong bonds nowadays? How would you go about it- any tipps to share?

Dual Wielding: On Negativity

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Make sure to check out Ironweakness’ take on the subject.

Personal note

Continuing with the Dual Wielding post series was one of my resolutions for 2016. So far, probably with the exception being the “budget” thing, i’ve been doing well. The budget, i will break, i know this already. But that’s not today’s topic- i’m really happy to do this thing again as it is a lot of fun to do.

Ironweakness and i decided to make this a monthly thing now, allowing for a more relaxed pace and maybe providing us with topics along the way. This time, we wanted to tackle Negativity in the MMORPG community.

Negativity is a thing

To be honest, we’re a bit late on the subject- i think it started with a post by Tobold called Hate Blogs. Tobold stated that he didn’t write much about MMORPGs anymore and also refrains from reading MMORPG blogs mostly because they’re very negative. Now, i don’t want to weigh in on every post on this subject, but since this one is the post that made me notice the subject, i’d like to point out two things about it.

First, i agree with Tobold insofar as that certain blogs surely are the way he describes: grumbling about new MMORPGs because we’re not in Britannia anymore- or complaining about other players, although i don’t read much of that. But i also have to disagree with the post because Tobold leaves the impression that most MMORPG blogs nowadays are like that. That is not the experience i’m having when browsing through my Feedly- i see lots and lots of people writing about the games they love.

There have been other entries around this topic, such as Bhagpuss’ description on why he’s more positive nowadays and doesn’t dwell on thinking about that “perfect MMO” that might or might not come in the future.

There have been more, of course, but those two are the ones that caught my attention- well, it’s been three, actually, as i also follow Syncaine.

The MMORPG subculture

A lot of what is happening with the community in regards to negativity reminds me of the developments in other subcultures where something is cool and edgy as long as it isn’t popular. When it becomes popular, you’ll have the veterans telling everyone who wants to hear it how they liked this thing before it was. And all the new stuff will only really copy the old in a bad way or be created without the “spirit and soul” of the original thing.

In MMORPGs, we have World of Warcraft that turned things around and made a subcultural genre popular. Of course the “cool kids” will tell everyone that before WoW, MMORPGs were actually good and different. The funny thing is: these games aren’t gone. If Ultima Online, Everquest and/or Dark Age of Camelot are better for your taste, they’re still there to be enjoyed, and they wouldn’t mind getting more players. Two of those are even subscription-only MMOs. Just like you can still listen to pre-Teen Spirit-Nirvana albums, you can also go and play DaoC.

The player base

 

Sometimes, i feel as if we, the players of MMORPGs, are the toughest gaming customers out there. We are very, very demanding and complain just about everything that doesn’t meet our increasingly high standards. We might also take offense on something and seem to be rejoicing in a game’s, a company’s or- even worse, a human’s failure (remember SWTOR in the early time, Trion/NCSoft, Smed, McQuaid).

We’re hard to please and very critical of just about everything. Of course the newer breed of MMORPGs, those who truly are an evolution of the genre (ESO, The Division), do everything in their power to avoid being categorized as an MMO. If they’d do, they’ll possibly have us as their customers- and while they want us to spend money on their product, they don’t want us going into their game with the expectations we have regarding MMORPGs.

Regarding the “normal player” in-game, i’ve found negative behaviour most often excused with the opinion that other players behave badly, as well. Things like “i have to run for this resource node or the other player will get to it first” or tagging mobs first. That one really bothers me, because frankly, you have a choice here. For that other guy you are the one rushing to get the resource node, you are the thief. Everytime one is doing something like that, another player with the same mindset is born.

The choice is yours to make

All of this doesn’t mean there’d be no room for criticism- there is. There is no need to put a positive spin on everything- that’s the marketing departement’s job. But there’s a difference in being disappointed by how ArcheAge turned out and wishing Trion bankrupcy- or Funcom, for some failed launch 15 years ago.

In-Game, it’s possible for every one of us to behave differently. Going for the same quest? Build a group. Going for the same resource? Take a step back. Share advice if “dumb” questions are asked in general chat.

And it’s the same thing with blogs, opinion, or comments- instead of focussing on all the shortcomings of the games in this genre and reading about them, thereby leading you to believe that your current game of choice is on a downward spiral, a buggy mess and generally a lackluster attempt at creating an MMO, we could go out and read forum posts, blogs or listen to podcasts created by people who love their respective game, the genre, the community. Because there’s many of them and they’re much more sustainable. MMORPGs aren’t easy games- sure, some of them might lose you as a player, but when they keep you, you’ll continue to find things you like while playing. You’ll also find a few things you dislike, but that’s nothing bad in itself.

The turning point

But here’s what i truly believe: we are the best community in the gaming world. We are the ones who made Massively Overpowered and Blizzardwatch possible and still fund both via Patreon, we are the ones chipping in for the wife and a child of an EVE player who died in San Bernadino as well as medical care for Matthew Rossi, one of Blizzardwatch’s authors.

We write a ton of blogs (take a look at Syp’s Blogroll while i set mine up) and are connected via Twitter, Anook and other means- we support and engage each others with projects such as the Newbie Blogger Initiative, Blaughust and so on.

It’s us who are also actively driving in-game communities like guilds, we provide events like Weatherstock in Lord of the Rings Online, we host radio stations like Radio Free Gaia. We create useful websites providing guides and character builds for our favourite games or fashion blogs for players who really dig cosmetic outfits in MMORPGs.

It’s in this genre that you’ll find tens of podcasts to listen to, both game-specific and general.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed in those 20 years the genre as we know it exists- those who love it, or remember earlier times/games fondly, they almost always remember experiences with the community in a wider sense- a great guild, chatting with other players while waiting for a boat, the pre-Warhammer-blogging wave.

The MMORPG community is a very passionate one- sometimes, that passion turns a bit negative, but on the whole i’m of the opinion that the MMORPG community is a great one that makes me actually proud to be a part of it more often than not.

/Saved – week 6-2016

One thing i used to do on my old space and stopped later for some reason was highlighting a few posts i enjoyed reading during a week- i’d like to take that up again here on my new site.

My new blogging home is still far from being set up in the way i’d like and it’s going to be a work-in-progress for some time, still. As far as i can tell, importing the old posts won’t be done quickly- there’s still a workaround i’m going to try and if it works, i’ll have my old posts here, as well, but if it doesn’t work i might settle on getting a few posts i like over here.

While browsing through available Themes for this blog i found the one i’m using right now and instantly liked it- i couldn’t put my finger on it, because it misses a few features i’d like a Theme to have (nice, big pictures on individual post pages, for instance) when it hit me- this seems to be the Theme Massively Overpowered uses. I’m still debating whether i should keep it, because it doesn’t feel so good using the same Theme- but on the other hand, it’s not as if i’d be competition for them or that i’d do something illegal here- it’s a free Theme, after all (with optional purchase, which i’m sure they opted in for).

Anyways, on to the posts i /saved in my Feedly this week.

/Saved Posts

The Secret World

I like it when “old faces” return- this year, a blog resurfaced that i used to read before the author stopped writing- DocHoliday’s MMO Saloon has now returned as Doc’s MMO journey. He plans to cover a bit more than MMO’s this time, but spends his time in The Secret World again. Here’s his take on the new subscriber benefits in The Secret World.

Ironweakness gives insight into his state of mind which he’s monicked “Zone Fatigue“- basically, it’s the feeling you get when you just want to leave one zone for the next one. Especially if you want to complete everything a zone has to offer, you’ll often run into trouble such as Overlevelling content or simply that a zone feels a bit like a drag.

Blade & Soul

Blade&Soul’s reception is surprisingly good. After most posts i read about the early impressions gave the vibe of a nice, albeit not very special game, it seems to grow on those who stick with it a bit longer. Bhagpuss more or less stumbled into the game, but seems to enjoy it even more the longer he’s playing. And surprisingly, it’s neither the combat nor the story, but a combination of good (world-)design choices, a connection to the character as well as its pet and scenery/setting at large in Blade&Soul.

On Guilds

Interestingly, guilds- or guild management, to be more precise, is not a topic you can often read about in blogs. Maybe it’s because it’s difficult to do these kind of posts without offending anyone, especially if the guildies know about your blog. Navimie touches on the subject of guild management quite regularly on The Daily Frostwolf, this time it’s about Sunshine Patriots and Winter Soldiers. I like what she (?) is doing here, because it’s hands-on and down-to-earth experience, opinion and advice.

Podcasts

This week, i discovered the Tales of Tamriel podcast. Listening to them saying they gained like a few hundred listeners in the last few months makes me think most of those who are interested in ESO-specific podcasts already know about them, but i’d still like to point it out. It’s a great mix of news, opinion and gameplay experience with a bit of banter and lots of information regarding Elder Scrolls Online. I can’t believe they can talk about one game for 90 minutes and it’s interesting to listen to the whole time.

They also do it live and on youtube, as well, so you can actually look and see stuff.

Regarding Podcasts, Justin from Massively Overpowered put together a great list of game specific podcasts, take a look if you need more podcasts in your life.

Travel log: Orsinium sights

Tonight, our guild group has been to Wrothgar, again. I have to say, i love how we can simply set off out of the city and go exploring. We tried to follow quests, but were soon distracted by stuff we saw in the landscape- and also, because Edu is one difficult boss to kill.

On our travels we saw a museum, fought and were killed by Edu, maybe a Goblin boss, i don’t know, because we didn’t see him for all the ogres he sent our way, an arena where Orc clans settled their war, a giant statue of Malacath and Coldperch Cavern, a delve in Wrothgar. And also, a lot of beautiful sights.

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