Saylah’s got a good read over at Mystic Worlds. I started a response there and big surprise, it grew, so I decided to just flesh it out here.
In re static groupers in WAR… as a devotee, I’m not sure that they would be less likely to be a fan of WAR. I’m thinking just the opposite actually. So far, our little static WoW group has found it quite the contrary. We’ve migrated over and we’re seriously considering a “no set agenda” approach because unlike many other games its highly feasible in WAR when you consider the goals of a static group (at least ours anyway): a means of creating a long term shared social experience through collaborative play. We will still have to manage our level creep (*shakesfist*), but we can choose to follow our noses whereever they lead us (and opportunity presents itself).
So much in other games gets in the way of that, that about the only course left for many static groups is to lock into PvE content along a known progression model because players are penalized for deviating from that path. Its all in group objective IMHO. I don’t think our WoW paradigm of running all the instances at level translates well to a game like WAR, no should it because there is so much more to do.
The great thing that WAR seems to have done somewhat agnostically (and as you mentioned WoW 1.0 did but is almost entirely extinct there now) is to permit many paths without creating a drastic preference or a penalty for most players. Couple that with softening the level disparity in RvR via bolstering as well as not requiring an optimal group composition and you have a game that I think creates more opportunity for static group play than others.
In this regard, WoW BGs and public PvP areas are a spectacular failure. All the incentives go the wrong way and at the expense of other types of play.
The chord that resonated with me most from Saylah’s post was the notion of preference and penalty applied to play styles. This is it exactly. In its zeal to cater to the solo player, WoW threw the group out with the bath water for the leveling game. (Excuse me, but I thought that WAS the game…) Its no secret the grouping for ordinary PvE content yields significantly less XP and divides loot more than experiencing the same content solo. WoW now has a default group penalty. XP/5 per hour is significantly less that XP/1 per hour. Collect 10 foozle gizzards becomes collect 50 foozle gizzards in a group, etc.
More’s the irony then that homogenization of character development and “forced grouping” is required to experience the so called “end game” raid grind. Alternative specs need not apply.
So far our little group can hop in and choose between doing some PQs, regular quests, RvR scenarios or open world RvR (with our without dozens of other players)– all together and all on a roughly equal footing. As a matter of fact, some of the most fun we had was defending a T2 battlefield objective with others that was under attack that we just happened to be near. Random, spontaneous, situational and fun. You don’t know when or where the enemy will attack. Good xp and renown too.
/craft rant on
Its not just XP as the be all end all either. Many crafters know all to well that much grinding of gathering materials (ostensibly with no “reward” other than the mats which will get consumed) will be required to develop your skill and through the course of that development, countless hundreds of all but useless items will be required to be manufactured generally at a loss of gold and a penalty of time away from other activities that the developers have sought to reward (i.e., the preferred combat-based progression model). If you don’t level the traditional way as well, you can’t gain access to the higher level materials required to progress in the craft and as the low level stuff is generally crap, you’re not going to produce your way into the high level mats through the economic game nor can you train/learn recipes without attaining the required level…
Your “peers” that quest solo, or forestall taking up a craft until its progression to utility is all but trivialized (i.e., starting at 70 and powerleveling it) will level more quickly and acquire and retain more wealth and material items (hence “unlocking” additional content) more quickly than someone engaging in a non-traditional path. Not that I’m such a complete carebear, but in just one fantasy MMO, I’d like to have the opportunity to have a purely economically driven archetype that truly “progressed” in a manner roughly equivalent to its combat-oriented counter parts. Not an uber Warrior who, oh by the way, can also make his own health potions, but an Alchemist that spends his or her career becoming increasingly powerful as an Alchemist doing alchemical things like, um, alchemy to progress. Specific content, specific gameplay, unique progression.
The closest I can think of would be Eve and (maybe pre-NGE SWG). WAR is still lacking this part.
/craft rant off
WAR is far from perfect is this regard, but it has come a good deal in the right direction IMHO in providing a number of roughly equivalent alternative advancement paths, individually or group wise. Because of these alternatives, I think it will be a good vehicle for static group play.