This weekÂs WildStar Wednesday reveals more about a very important part of making an MMORPG successful and helping to keep friends and guilds together over the long run Â social game mechanics. If there is one thing I can say about this latest installment itÂs that in a single paragraph WildStar Senior Social Systems Designer Victoria Dollbaum summed up in a single paragraph one of the major problems of recent MMOGs, and how she hopes to fix it with a little touch of nostalgia in her mechanics design.
Among experienced MMO players, there's a lot of nostalgia surrounding the older MMOs because the social systems they offered, provided, and forced upon players were vastly different than the systems found in current MMORPGs. These systems inspired loyalty, friendship, fear, hatred, camaraderie, competitiveness, pride, jealousy, adventure, love, sadness, and other powerful feelings in players. Somewhere along the way, MMOs have pared themselves down to a few basic social tools (chat, guilds, grouping) and a primary game type (solo play and questing) that no longer inspires those powerful feelings. Players overall are less involved, physically and emotionally, in the games they are playing.
DonÂt worry, she doesnÂt plan on bringing back the 3-hour boss spawn (or in the case of some old EverQuest bosses, days. StormFeather anyone?) camping to encourage social interaction.
Now, I know that the older MMOs can be brutal. The reason that players were so social is because they waited 3 hours for a boss to spawn. They had the time to socialize and get to know each other. We're not going to be giving you grindy, time sink tasks in order to make you socialize. Instead, we'll give you the tools and the incentives to meet your fellow players, join them in their adventures, and hopefully make some lasting friendships (or enemies!). We want the feeling of old school MMOs without the brutal punishments that those same MMOs often doled out if you didn't want to play their way. We offer the carrot, not the stick.
ItÂs an ambitious goal and as any old school MMORPG player can tell you, a valid point. Check out DollbaumÂs full blog for more on what she hopes to accomplish in WildStar.