Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Strangers are friends you haven't met yet

I think my mind started thinking about this the other day when I was raiding.  Dontmountme has changed his name to Ravzz much to my relief, because his name was rather awkward to say.  I invited him to join raid and Luxy said to me "Who is that??" I told her who it was. It was funny to me because Ravz is Luxy's partner's name - though haven't seen him in WoW for ages.  She wasn't the only one. Two other people asked me who that was, and so I made a general raid announcement that it was Dontmountme.

"Thought it was Navi inviting more random strangers to raid," someone said.  I wouldn't do it for a heroic raid, that random flex invite was bad enough.

Yesterday I invited two new people to the guild.  One of which was someone I chatted to from recruitment forums, who was looking for a guild and the other was a blog friend who was also in the guild socially on Dath'remar.  She was incognito so whilst in whispers I was all excited, in guild chat she was "one of Navi's friends."

I did poke Cptsars and ask him to say a friendly welcome to the new guy (Tacky wasn't online!).  So he turned on the welcome charm and asked if he was one of Navi's friends.  He replied "No, she just started talking to me because of a post I made in forums.  I'd never met her before."

'That sounds like Navi," someone said. "Talking to and picking up strangers is what she does."

It made me think about two posts I had read lately - and about how WoD is giving us more solo play.  With Garrisons and followers, there is a lot more to do on your own in WoW now, but I still believe that the richest experiences come from grouping up.  Godmother was talking about taggable mobs and forced group quests.
Ironically the reticence on Blizzard's part to not make all mobs taggable seems to be tied up with the fact that this encourages people to group for World content, except it doesn't, in probably 80% of cases people don't give a flying fish about anything but themselves. I'll tell you exactly what happens in all the other times:
  • I get a group invite from someone I don't know, refusing to explain why.
  • If I accept the invite no-one talks to each other until the person that made the group gets the prerequisite number of kills.
  • If I'm lucky, they then thank me before they leave, with me no closer to the competed total.
- Alt:ernative Chat, BETA: Your game 29/07/15
The comments for that post were mostly pro solo (I loathe to use the world anti-social):

  • I have never enjoyed grouping with random people in order to kill things in the world. As a hunter, I've very rarely had to, because I'm generally quick enough to get my tags.
  • I resent the push to make it social. So I aggressively tag mobs, like I always have.I don't see how that's a bad thing, even in low-spawn zones. I'm using my class to the best of my ability. I don't need or want some random person to help, especially if that's going to result in lost loot that I am probably farming.
  • These days I think most of the social connections in game are pre-existing rather than spontaneous with a random person.
  • Blizzard says they want people out in the world exploring and interacting, and then create a garrison that locks you away from seeing anyone. They break passenger mounts, they creating phasing issues that block you from helping your friends and then they wonder why social interaction is on the decline.  It is the social aspects that keep me playing. The more they strip away my ability to have fun with my friends, the less I want to play.
Altaclysmic said:
We can keep the MMO aspect for Auction House, but ultimately I think that a solo MMO is actually quite tempting. Blizzard could introduce a 4th type of Server with PvE, PvP, RP, and Solo. We play with other people but on our own, we could even have a sub class with a Diogenes server, where no chatting is allowed. No Barrens or Trade Chat, tell me that is not appealing.
- Altaclysmic, Wicked Game 30/7/14
Even The Grumpy Elf is all for solo play in his reply to Altaclysmic's post:
I too would prefer to play alone. It is my number one complaint about the cross realm zones. If I wanted to see people out in the world while questing I would go to a heavy population server. I hate they have given me no choice.
It is odd that they are trying to push us all together to make the world seem bigger but then they are making the garrisons basally our personal capital where we are to play and be alone at all or most times.
I can understand where they're coming from, but I don't necessarily agree.  One of my dear friends in game is my friend because I made the effort to be creepy stalker friendly to a stranger. And she, like me, sometimes fly around and help random people do things, like kill a Warbringer (well, that's not something I do coz I can't kill it as resto) or a rare. Most of the time people aren't nice, as they think we're trying to steal their kill but if you're friendly and wave and emote with pointing (if you're cross faction) sometimes people are happy to have been helped.  It's a good feeling, when you help someone - even if they don't appreciate it!  

Every now and then someone does appreciate it - the few times Sev and I have gone up to farm Emperor Shaohao rep in Timeless Isle we have seen some poor person escorting another person as they make their way to get the chest near the Ordon Sanctuary.  The first time someone was gesturing at us, and I didn't understand, and Sev told me there was a chest up there they could get.  So we cleared everything around the are and they got their chest and they waved at us.  The next few times we were up there, we saw singles or pairs hanging around, and their gear levels were quite low.  I waved at them and then emoted wait and then pointed, and then Sev and I cleared the area and then I bowed at them.  They figured out what we were saying, and it's funny, they've always been alliance! Every time they waved and thanked us and it was no skin of our nose, and I'm sure they were happy that someone did something nice (rather than train mobs onto them, or flag PvP when they arrived).  These things are tiny little things, but I think they make you feel better about the game and people around you.


People will say they avoid these interactions because of bad experiences - but to be honest, maybe it's because I only remember the good ones that's why I like to keep doing them.  And you never know - you may start that domino effect, where someone you randomly helped feels more confident or inclined to help somebody else who in turn helps someone else.  That's a lot of someone elses!  And you never know - you may make a new friend :D

6 comments:

  1. I think it is all about the design. Most people are happy to play solo or with people they already know if at all possible. Not many people are as outgoing as you, Navi. :P

    If you design your game to be able to be played solo, or with minimal interaction, you don't get to turn around and justify other design decisions as "trying to encourage grouping". If you want people to group, or depend on each other, then design your game to make them dependent on others from the start.

    At the very least, make soloable content a small fraction of the game if you are intending players to interact a lot. The more you make solo-friendly, the more people will resent being forced into groups or being told that inconvenient mechanics are not going to be changed because the devs think it promotes interaction. In WoW at the moment, only Rated BGs and (current expac) raids are mandatory group content, and I think there will be a huge pushback if Blizz try to put that solo-friendly genie back in the bottle.

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    1. I believe everyone should have a choice in how they play but if you buy a book and the author feels strongly about something do we as buyers have the right to tell the author that they should change because they are consumers? If blizz wants us to do stuff it is up to tgem and how much they value our patronage over their ideals.

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    2. Books are not MMO's. I don't think we have the right to demand change of MMO story/lore that has already been released, but mechanics are certainly fair game. And calling Blizz out for being monumental hypocrites is not demanding change. They have been stripping away group-oriented gameplay since WotLK, and their design philosophy has been consistently aimed at keeping all playstyles occupied. This means more and more ability to play solo, without needing to interact directly with anyone. So to justify their intention to not change this mechanic because it "encourages grouping" is not only wrong (as Godmother illustrated), but directly in opposition to the last 5+ years of development decisions.

      If they'd declared an intention to encourage group play across the board, or the design direction of the past years had reinforced group play, then there would be nothing worthy of comment about the decision to keep the tapping mechanic.

      It is worth noting that removing mob tapping does more to promote 'group' play than keeping it. Without having to worry about someone stealing your mobs, people playing around you are no longer threats and so you are more likely to view interaction more favourably. You are effectively grouping when you both/all kill a mob anyway.

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  2. I have never avoided any interaction because of past bad experiences, but perhaps that is at the heart of someone who leans toward extroverts. However, I will certainly report about them, both the good and the bad. Like the real world, we can never truly be solo or grouped, but always sliding on the spectrum. This is a very timely post considering what happened last night, which I'll write about later.

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  3. The good moments I have always make it up for bad encounters. Though that flex raid.... wow. Actually, I'm impressed you guys managed to put up with him for so long! Too bad it couldn't be a nice person! Lately I've been hanging out at the Brawler's Guild (hi Nibbleh), and I'm amazed by how nice people are! I feared some would laugh at those of us dying, but nope! Nothing but words of encouragement and tips if they have done the fight before! I think that's what motivated me to make it past Hexos!

    I love the community aspect. If it was all solo play, I would just go back to my consoles. It's the interactions that make it all special --- to me anyway! I just wish it was easier to say hello to people cross-server (though I think they're working on that since even raids are cross-servers now. You go Blizz)!

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