Home > Design, MMO > It’ll give you wrinkles

It’ll give you wrinkles

Thinking will, that is. Still, I like Spinks’ Thought For The Day, which I’ve pondered many times over the last few years. What do we mean by “socialising,” these days? Sitting right next to? Having drinks with? Babbling uncontrollably at? Being in the same room, even?

I will say that “social” endeavours as defined by MMOs in recent years (i.e. grouping) have become so activity-focused that I talk less in them than I do when I’m doing just about anything else in game. The more button mashing we have to do, too, the less we’ll talk.

So what sorts of things could we do in games that would be a little more conducive to old-fashioned sociability? Traveling is the big one, though I’m not certain it was designed primarily to encourage chatting — it just happens to be something time-consuming and passive that almost everyone has to endure. But when are we going to be able to have picnics or parties or, hell, darts or bowling competitions?

I’m not asking that the big games suddenly become arcade centres but… well, I suppose in a way I am. I just remember that in Asheron’s Call we’d have parties and stuff, because you could drop stuff (food, equipment, whatever) on the ground — or, if you were good at positioning, on tables and other pre-positioned landscape items. People would show up and pig out, not because it “fed” them in any real sense, but because eating with others is about so much more than just food. Also, Asheron’s Call food items sounded fun and tasty, and many of them were chocolate-based (always a win).

We’d also hold equipment swap meets based on the same principles: bring your excess stuff, drop it around the place, pick up other people’s stuff that looks interesting to you.

(For those who wonder if the world ended up littered in other people’s dinner parties and excess gear, the answer is no: there was a sweeper system that would just remove stuff every so often. Bad if you were muling (moving stuff from one character to another), good for the game in general.)

Most Asheon’s Call players will remember nekkid dungeon runs, too. There was no particular point to doing them nekkid except that it was fun — and dungeons weren’t instanced, so you essentially got to streak past whoever else was in there being very serious and professional. We haven’t lost the ability to do things like that, but we just don’t seem to do them anymore.

Have MMOs become too achievement-oriented? Have our incessant demands to have more to do resulted in our having so much to do we never have time to just kick back and be silly? Silly is a large component of fun, at least for me. I miss it. It makes people laugh together, and that is social.

~

Last and mostly unrelated but not least, take a look at another great post from the other side of the fence over at Brian “Psychochild” Green’s place. (My armchair is comfier!)

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  1. Doug
    November 28, 2009 at 9:13 am

    The other thing AC did that I always find missing is the editable books and pages. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but he had a book of the adventures of a ‘rat’, in game. I believe it was a “Tome”

    Oh, and the inscriptions on everything. Just damn good design. I do realize how much stress that must put on the database, and I remember more than a few people griefing their way around… but it still made the world just feel better. I used to write haikus on good items I’d sell to vendors. Every now and then I’d get a message from someone who’d buy it in either appreciation or annoyance, and they’d ask me to erase it.

    My guild threw a huge party in Rithwic back in the day. We even had a jumping contest off of the bridge. Some of it you could do in other, more popular, games today… but there wouldn’t be any Shreth, or Reedsharks scary the living crap out of you.

    *wistful sigh* that was all 10 years ago.

  2. November 29, 2009 at 9:07 am

    This was something I actually loved in SWG back before the NGE — you *would* take wounds to your mind pool and you *would* take “Battle Fatigue” and while you could have a dancer heal your mind wounds in a camp (not that any dancers really ever went into combat much to be available in a camp) that Battle Fatigue could only be healed either inside a player-owned structure (house or PA hall) or in a cantina in an NPC city.

    It didn’t take that long to heal it up, but it still made it do that everyone had to go to a cantina at some point. In theory you had to goto a hospital to get your health and action wounds healed too, but docs found it easier to get a medical droid and hang out in the cantinas as well, so they became more or less “1 stop shops.” And because everyone had to go there and then had to stay there for 5-10 minutes it created a nice social space. Over time, which cantinas were more populated than others changed — initially Theed and Anchorhead were “best” but over time the “MOP” and Corellia became the preferred places, but so long as you were out adventuring… you weren’t going “home” to your house at the end of the day — you were hitting the cantina.

    I’ve really missed the lack of dedicated social space like that in all the other MMO’s I’ve played, and mourn its loss in SWG under the NGE as well. I think I had more fun standing around in the cantinas doing “nothing” (unless I was one of the entertainers) than doing any other thing in that game, tbh.

    • November 29, 2009 at 9:22 am

      Oh hell yeah. Most fun class to level in SWG always was the Entertainer (way back when), though I know most people wouldn’t agree. Most people, in fact, would just turn on their afk/gyration macro, but out of the … 8? I think, Ents I levelled, not ONE was levelled AFK. Pissing about with all the other Ents levelling (the ones at their keyboards, anyway) was a great part of charm.

  3. nugget
    November 30, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Mmmmm.

    That’s interesting. That’s one of the things I miss about MUDs in general, and one MUD (my old MUD) in particular.

    We would have something very much like what you described, only it wasn’t even really planned – I believe not even by the implementors.

    Somehow, one particular inn, through a confluence of factors, became in many ways, the ‘social hub’ of the MUD.

    It was easily on the way to and from transitions (or ‘transes’) to two of the three different eras that were being modelled. The inn itself was in the medieval era, in Sherwood forest. Called the Royal Stag, actually.

    Ever since I stopped MUDding, and even before then, I found the Stag to be a fascinating example of emergent gameplay. Walk into the Stag at any time of the day, and you’d usually have at least one or two people in it. With a playerbase of 30-50 players, that says a lot.

    And most of the time, those people would be just ‘chilling’. They might be grouped with someone else, talking to them in private, they might just be sitting there waiting for entertainment to walk in, or they might even be invisible pkillers waiting for another unsuspecting pker to walk in. XD

    I’ve occasionally found other such social hubs in other MUDs, but I’ve yet to find it in an MMO.

    One the things I miss, now that I play MMOs. I never log on to ‘rot’ anymore. To just sit there, sink into the world, and enjoy it. Guild Wars has gotten that behaviour from me … twice, I think. And both times, it was on special events.

    One was April Fools’ this year, where everyone was chibi Gwen and, at least where I was, we sat in circles and pretended to be eating bugs. XD

    The other was Halloween – because I was so entranced by how the Hall of the Primeval Kings looked with the Halloween decorations up.

    Someone I used to play WoW with talked about pre-NGE SWG – and it struck me that what he mentioned loving about SWG… reminded me a lot of that old MUD of mine.

    Which may not be a coincidence – since that old mud was LegendMUD.

    On a tangent, I haven’t kept any WoW friends at all. I don’t talk to anyone at all, I met only on WoW, anymore, now that I’ve quit.

    I think it’s because at least, in my case, I tended to assess people on the basis of can or cannot play, and useful or not in a group. Lacking WoW as a binding factor, I felt and feel no inclination whatever to continue with these people. Ironically, not even the SWG person I mentioned makes the friends list. Even though he, and my healer-who-loved-me-tree, and me as pally tank had many good times together.

    My LegendMUD friends – well – some of them are my closest friends… and I left that MUD about 5 years ago, after playing for 8.

  4. December 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    This has been on my mind recently. I like achievements and I like RPGs – the big thing I enjoyed when I started with MMOs was that my character wasn’t just on my hard drive – anyone could have a look and I could look at theirs.

    But honestly that the drive for competition and achievement has killed a lot of the enjoyment I used get out of games. That is the point where it feels more like work than play.

  1. December 1, 2009 at 7:21 am

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