A
Group That Plays Together Stays Together

by Aunraye

A big part of being in an MMO
is Community. Vanguard's developers have said time and again that the
game is about community. Though they have hinted that solo players will
still be able to play, they are focusing on making sure it's a game about
the players and the world they will create together. Part of that is the
bond of friendship or sometimes just the bond of needing one another's
help. This is seen nowhere as clearly as in grouping.

Groups vary in size and in
purpose, yet a few things remain the same. For instance, the group is
about helping one another and experiencing the world together. That remains
constant. The first time you group with someone, it's always a bit of
an unknown. You do not know what they are good at, and they do not know
you. However, if you get past this awkward stage and work with some of
the same players, over time you develop a close-knit group that can do
amazing things.

In
my time playing MMOs, I have spent a lot of it soloing, mostly because
a majority of those group members with whom I experienced the game have
moved on to better things. Yet despite all that, groups can develop even
among strangers, especially in the tutorial world. Grouping together and
having fun often leads to making new friends with whom to explore your
future in game.

The first time I was ever in
a group, I felt excited and lost all at the same time. New people, all
of whom were from my guild, although I only knew one of them well, had
gone out of their way to get together and play with me. Even though this
thrilled me, it was a little unnerving. They had all come here to help
me, to play with me, just because we'd been talking a bit online thanks
to the mutual friend. Of course, they were there to have their own fun
as well, and my goal was to learn and have fun with them. It didn't help
any that I had just reached a level where for the first time deaths would
mean searching for my body.

We made our way through the
lands and into our choice of battle locations. Then the real fun and learning
began. As we walked we talked, and I got to learn some new words and phrases,
to ask questions of players who were much more experienced than I. A great
gift and benefit came from learning from them, and the way I learned means
I will never forget it. For that, I thank them all.

It
was then I was faced my true lack of knowledge when they got settled in.
I was reminded to keep my back to a wall and was told quickly that the
casters should stay up there so they didn't get jumped and could still
help. That all made sense to me, so I found my spot and settled in. Then
I heard, "He's gonna pull." I remember staring at that word
for a good five seconds before I managed to realize there was no way I
was gonna know without asking, which I did. With a kindness and lack of
mockery that I have always appreciated, my friends explained the rules
of what we were doing. Then the real fun began.

Monsters were drawn in, and
I got to see a battle that was more than just me and my magic, more than
just one little rat versus my lack of experience. It was a mass of colors
and comments on my screen about hits and misses. It was a change in the
green bars of my allies' names, and in the names of our pets. Almost before
I knew what had happened, an hour had passed.

This
is what the game was meant for. I realized it that day, more clearly than
at any other time, even now looking back. The game wasn't about me running
around collecting pieces of armor by myself, or of how many creatures
I could kill. No, it was about developing these relationships, in character
and out, that would allow me to experience things I could never survive
alone. I know this from the fact that I almost didn't make it through
one encounter in-group. I have never been so grateful to be able to gate
out of a situation. It was about friends, community, and bonding.

Past games have emphasized
the role of grouping for game satisfaction; I believe that Vanguard is
demanding it. The game will call for players to get together and make
new friends, to explore the depths of their world. It will challenge them
to work with others and combine their skills to succeed…the healer,
the tank, the caster, the diplomat, the crafter, all of them becoming
one team. Not one person, but a team. It will call upon the players to
do more than wander off on their own adventures. It will renew the call
to our souls that we feel after a good grouping experience and give us
the opportunity to relive it again and again.


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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.

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