Free-Style Groups

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.

4 thoughts on “Free-Style Groups”

  1. I’m glad to read that a member of a static group enjoys WAR. I hope that others are as flexible. I WOULD LOVE a game where crafting was a stand alone progression mechanic. If not for the need to harvest in leveling zones, EQ2 comes darn close. You can run your own store front & outfit it with their own crafting stations. EQ2 players take crafting seriously.

    Based on what I hear in our guild chat, I’m still unsure if the avg static group will survive in WAR – as traditional static group. They may be online together but I’m doubting how much of their game time will actually be played together. I”m hearing groups form and schedule time together for very specific things. Once that objective is done they scatter to do different things. I’ll be surprised to find a group that can play more than a solid hour or so together at a time. :-)

  2. Well, its too early to tell to be honest. I have altitis and Wilhelm certainly does, so that tends to scratch the itches of those of us that need to explore not only the map but the gameplay of all the other careers as well.

    Despite the “means to an end” comments out there on the leveling game, I still think the progression path is much less linear in WAR than WoW which presents a bit of a challenge with a static group.

    Its awfully easy to say, “next week we head for milestone X.” Much less so in WAR and that quite frankly is much of the freshness. That makes the group experience that much more interesting IMHO.

    If a substantial portion of our group time is devoted to whatever adventures we happen to find, then our shared narrative is truly unique. Not just unique unto us as might be the case in a more linear game. I’m fortunate enough to have a group of folks willing to log on and experience the next chapter of our shared (mis-)adventures. Its actually the closest I’ve come to recapturing something close to the tabletop experience in an online environment.

    I’d broaden your general comment to include most games regarding the fact that the average static group tends not to survive. I’ll be the first to say that at times heroic efforts were required by all of our members to stay “at level” for the content we chose to partake in. The most heroic aspect of which is simply restraint and a commitment not to leave others behind.

    Its too easy to play when you have time and very hard to say (sometimes at the last minute), well, member X can’t make it tonight, so I guess we just wait until next week, or the week after that.

    Its hard, but worth it. Nothing better than conquering that mountain (or wee hill) or achieving that victory (or utterly only-funny-in-hindsight defeat) with the folks you took every step of the way with.

    I’m hopeful for a unique and sustained group experience in WAR. Stay tuned.

  3. I’ll stay tuned. My curiosity has been peaked. Fighting off altitis is requiring a lot of restraint on my part and that’s something that has never been a problem. I’m not rushing to the top but I would like to achieve max level as one of my goals. I have a huge tendency to meander and wander about when leveling. I’m controlling that urge to save some level of discovery and exploration for each alt. Lord help me but I have 3 in mind. :-) The choice for a main was so darn hard even when the classes I expected to like I hated, I found 4 that were very compelling.

  4. I Also find the multiple paths for advancement in WAR very refreshing.
    there is so much to do , and whatever you end up doing won’t hurt your progression a single bit .

    regarding the static group , i am with Potshot .

    We just started an Alt open group night
    (monday = order , wed = destruction) with some guildies in CoW .
    and it has been a ton of fun so far . Last night we had a warband of 7 players
    rampaging through the greenskin area . we did quests , jumped
    in some PQ’s , and when couple folks lfet , we queued and run scenarios.
    we started at 9:30 and rank 1 , and called it a night 2.5 hours later and most of us rank 5-6. As we rank up some more , we’ll be heading to the Rvr Objectives as well .

    the only set agenda we have is starting location a
    and Rank cap for the night ( i.e you have to be rank x and below to participate) , The rest ,as Saylah ariculately put it, is [Freestyle] … :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s