Syncaine was talking about LoTRO, grouping, and why Blizzard’s game design doesn’t encourage grouping with players you don’t know. The WoW conundrum, of course, is that if you never group with players you don’t know, you’ll likely meet very few people in your MMO journey.
As usual, I started to reply in the comments of Syncaine’s post, and realized it was getting long and broke it out here.
Here’s why I think Mythic’s open grouping is going to be a huge success. First, Mythic’s whole game design, from DAoC onward, has been to encourage an entire realm of players to see themselves as part of a large team. Sure, you group or raid with friends or your guild, but you know if you see another player in trouble, helping them will a) help your realm, and b) most likely earn you a friend that might save your bacon in the future.
Open grouping makes cooperation even easier, and offers immediately tangible rewards as well as the longer-term benefits of cooperation I experienced in DAoC.
First, open grouping has a super-low barrier to entry. You enter a new area, and one click will reveal anyone looking for more players, let you know how far away they are, and let you know what they’re working on. One click, and you have a group for questing, Public Quests, or RvR.
Second, the rewards for using open grouping are immediate. You’ll get through quests faster, you’ll earn faction faster in Public Quests (leading to better gear), you’ll complete the PQ’s (which you can’t really do solo) and have opportunities to win gear, and your survivability in RvR is much higher. Plus, you’ll need groups to take battlefield objectives in RvR.
Third, if you have to leave a group, it’s likely that your group will pick up replacements much more easily than they would in a WoW-style group, because of the two points above. I really think people are going to start looking for open groups first, and only soloing if no one is working on the thing they wanted to work on.
And I think the hidden genius of open grouping will be the relationships you build while you level. You’ll remember the tank who knew how to hold aggro, or the DPS class that knew how to peel a mob off your healer. You’ll remember the healer who knows how to avoid aggro (tip: it ain’t me!), and knows how to squeeze in a battle resurrection. And, most of all, if you don’t know any of those things yet, you’ll be able to learn by joining open groups, asking questions, and watching what other people do. What’s the other Rune Priest in your group doing? Is he healing or nuking or both? Healing with big heals, or heals over time? Open groups are going to be the schoolyard games of WAR, prepping you for the big time. It’ll be our sandlot, where we learn how to play together, learn who to trust, find out who makes you laugh, and it’s going to make us want to go to WAR together.
When the guy who’s been in your PQ’s since you were a little rank 5 killing squiqs is shouting for support on a keep defense or keep take effort, you’re going to be much more invested in joining up with him. When you see your friends out in open RvR, you’re going to want to go out there with them. And suddenly, PvP isn’t about getting killed by enemy gankers. It’s about an adventure with your friends. Yeah, you might die, but you’re never alone while you do. And if you keep your friends alive with a timely heal, if you knock out an enemy healer with your bow before they can save the tank killing your healer, if you all work together to recapture battlefield objectives…well, if you get that far, you’ll know why I loved DAoC, and why RvR ain’t PvP. This isn’t UO Corp Por. It ain’t the Zeks, or Shadowbane, or even AoC. It’s about you, your friends, and one hell of an adventure.
It’s going to be a good time :)