I’m sure those of you following Warhammer news have seen information about Open Parties. Let’s walk the NDA knife edge about the idea, shall we?
Without talking about my experiences with the Open Party system in the WAR beta, I’ll tell you a story about me and my typical MMO grouping habits.
My daughter was born 10 months after Everquest launched. That means, for most of my MMO lifespan, I’ve always had other responsibilities, or potential responsibilities, in the evenings while I’m playing games. My wife works quite a few evenings, and always has, so I’ve rarely been in the situation where I can find a static group to run with. Plus, when my wife isn’t working, I’m usually hanging out with her, so I’m not raiding or dungeon crawling then either.
That’s left me as mostly a solo player. The MMO’s where I could contribute consistently and significantly to a group were few. DAoC was the best, where if I left my RvR group, they could just pick up someone else from the mass of people out on the frontiers for fighting. And if their group was full when I logged in, it was fairly trivial to to join another group. Eve’s pretty good that way as well. It’s not just a group of 6 or 8 that you’re running with, there’s a whole fleet out there, and you’re not letting people down if you have to log off quickly when your kid has a bad dream or wants to talk about school or friends or Pokemon instead of going to sleep.
Most other games, I felt anxious grouping, because I didn’t want to either make my group wait for 15 minutes during a Deadmines run in WoW, or have to log off during an instance. It’s not trivial to add someone else to the group to replace someone who’s left. That was even more true in Everquest, where I played a druid as my main. “Hey guys? I know I’m the Snare guy to keep runners from wiping us, and the Evac guy in case things go bad here, but I’m going to have to go afk for…a while. You don’t mind, do you?”
The concept of Open Parties seems like a solid evolution. I haven’t yet played in an MMO where there was a great LFG tool. No matter what developers tried, there always seemed to be something in the LFG mechanic that led people to not use the tool, and depend instead on chat channels. WAR does two things right that makes me think this LFG tool (really, an extension of their LFG tool, which I had never used, btw) is going to catch on and be used by the majority of people looking for a party.
First, Mythic has done a good job designing their zones, so there’s always something near you that likely involves other people as well. Second, as they say in the link above, they tell you how far away groups of people are, and what those people are doing. By looking at the Open Party tool, it’s immediately apparent if the open groups are doing Public Quests, PvE questing, or RvR. You also know how far away they are, so you can open your own map and quest list and kinda triangulate who’s working on tasks you also need to complete.
Once the NDA drops, I’ll talk more specifically, but I think that what Mythic has publically stated above is addressing a need that I, as a mostly-solo gamer who has difficulty with commitment (insert stereotype here), will greatly appreciate.