Back when I started WoW, my first real MMO, I was on a mission to meet people and make friends. I didn’t know anyone in the game, so I hung around the official server forums and contributed to general chat in-game. I ran a lot of pugs, chatted with a lot of strangers, and always updated my friends list after with folks who seemed nice.
Once I started a guild I spent the first year or two doing the same thing, although then it was more in service of guild recruitment and alliances and less making personal friends. I still did, though, particularly with other casual guild leaders and officers. Eventually my guild grew to the point where we could always fill our own groups, and I spent less and less time trying to meet and befriend non-guildies.
That’s just kind of the nature of having a guild, and it worked great while we had 40-ish active members in one central game.
Nowadays though things are a lot different for us as they are for most of those old WoW guilds. We have maybe 20 active folks, spread over a number of games. Even when we’re in one game we have a difficult time doing group content on a regular basis because of course almost a decade later a lot of us have kids and spouses and more demanding jobs now. Plus generally our attention spans seem a lot shorter, and my guild is certainly guilty of being “3 monthers” for new MMOs.
And yet even when I happen to be more serious about a game than the rest of my guild generally is, I don’t return to my old ways of running pugs, making forum posts, and just being open to meeting new people. I remain as insular as I was in the old, peak activity days. Pugs?! Ugh. I prefer a guild group, thanks, even a non-existent one.
I think there are a lot of us, perhaps even the majority, who are in the same boat. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how their guild is “getting back together” for WildStar. And that is totally awesome, but I think at a certain point it also hinders players from enjoying the social aspect of MMOs. We have blocked off any opportunity and interest in meeting new people because we HAVE a guild already. Why do I need to put myself out there and meet people in Game X when I already have a guild?
There’s been a lot of discussion on other blogs lately about making in-game friends vs. bringing friends to a game and the different effects on player longevity. It ties in pretty well with my suspicion that we’re all joining these new MMOs with our old guild and simply refusing to get out there and make new in-game friends because of it.
I’m not saying that the answer to MMO longevity is to ditch our virtual families or anything, but that if you too have been travelling to different games with the same pack of folks, particularly if they are only mildly committed to the game, it might be time to stick your head out and meet some additional, non-guild friends.
A few blog readers (hello!) have popped in over at my guild to see if they can join in the fun for WildStar, and of course the answer is yes! We have a bunch of people, myself included, who are psyched for launch.
If you, dear reader, are looking for guildies who are smart, funny, and nice, people who don’t use slurs of any kind, and a guild that is focused on taking your time levelling and only very vague plans for raiding in the future (like, maybe occasionally if we find a small guild alliance?) then you are totally welcome to join us on the Exile side of a PvE-RP server to be announced.
The following podcast was ready earlier in the week, but I’m just putting it out now. Partially I’ve been super swamped at work, but also I’ve been struggling with a resurgence of my depression this week. I’m only mentioning it because I thought it was a good reminder that mental health is a journey and sometimes you gotta stop and rotate the tires.
Both Liore and Aro have been playing Child of Light and think it is, like, so pretty you guys. Speaking of pretty, Aro has also been playing the WildStar open beta and has come around on the Aurin. Elly, meanwhile, has been playing the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha, and is angry about cash shops. He’s also still in TESO and having a good time. Meanwhile Liore has gone back to 2011 and finally finished Bastion. It’s really good, but you probably already knew that.
Also, we argue a bit about cash shops and free-to-play! And talk about Mass Effect because it’s never a bad time to talk about Mass Effect.
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* Limb Repair Station, a free browser-based game.
* The famous fan breakdown of Tali’s sweat.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
There is a lot I dislike about paid early access / pay-for-alpha, much of which I’ve already written about here. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I think these schemes encourage burning out before a game even launches.
I’m worried about this particularly in relation to ArcheAge. I know a surprising number of people who bought the $150 alpha access pack. And on the one hand, I’m excited that so many people are into the game! On the other hand… if the dedicated players are in the game now, in May, will there be anywhere near this level of commitment once it launches for real in early Fall?
If I luck into getting a free alpha/beta key for a game, I will probably dabble with it but I won’t feel obligated to try and wring the most out of my playtime. However, if I paid $150 (or any amount really) to get access to a game I’d want to dive in with abandon immediately and get my money’s worth!
Historically, of course, the first few months of an MMO are the most exciting. The playerbase is at its happiest, there’s huge swaths of content yet to be experienced, and we all blissfully bumble around not knowing where we are or how things work. If you buy and play the alpha now, though.. will you still be playing the game five months from now? If you are still playing, won’t most of the mystery have worn off by then?
It just strikes me as yet more splitting of the playerbase in a genre that requires concurrent numbers to survive. To experience that Zeitgeist, that rush of everyone being new.. you basically have to luck into an alpha key or drop $150 right now. By the time the game launches a number of the current crop of breathless fans will have moved on after playing for 6 or 7 months (which is not unreasonable).
I miss the days when barring a few lucky beta testers, we all got to start an MMO at the same time. It seems like games now charge for the ability to participate in those glorious first few months when we’re all noobs, and it’s a bummer.
While I dabbled in Everquest classic, WoW was really my first MMO. And boy, was I a noob.
(Props to the IRC crew for contributing to the list. Also bottom-stirring yogurt eaters for life, suckas!)
1. Shaman can tank.
Shaman did (maybe still do?) have a shield equipped in the default character screen, so I figured they could tank. To be fair this was back in the day when most of us didn’t really understand the game’s mechanics, so I made it all the way to Wailing Caverns before someone explained that tanking required this thing called “aggro”.
2. You drop items when you die.
Many WoW players came from more hardcore MMOs. This point is from friend and guildie Aurelia: “I thought I would drop items and have to retrive my corpse when I died (like in Asheron’s Call) so I never fought anything I wasn’t absolutely sure I could kill. I didn’t die until level 20-something.”
3. Spread points over talent trees.
What’s better than focusing on one thing and doing it well? Putting a single point in everything, including both the healing and shadow trees at the same time! Then you’re prepared for everything, right? I wouldn’t want to miss out on a spell….
4. Broken gear is gone forever.
More than one guildie reports that they too assumed as a newbie that broken gear was broken forever and you just had to buy/find more of it. I also couldn’t figure out how to sell things to vendors OR how to drop items (look, I was new), so every time an item broke I would just put it in my bank. I recall thinking at the time, “Man, this seems like poor game design.”
5. Hunter’s Mark indicates your target.
Attention baby night elf hunters from February 2006: I’m sorry. See, there I was, a newbie priest, just roaming around doing my quests when suddenly this large arrow appeared over a mob. Well clearly the game was telling me to kill this thing next! I mean, it didn’t seem to move my quests along any, but only a very wrong person would ignore an obvious UI element like that.
The Newbie Blogger Initiative is going on in May! If you are a new blogger, podcaster, or video maker then check it out! If you are looking for new things to read and listen and watch, also check it out!
I’m always a little torn when it comes to Twitter.
On the one hand I think it’s been bad for blogging because it has taken conversation away from blogs and into a 140 character format that is pretty useless for critical thought. On the other hand, Twitter not only provides one of the best syndication options around, particularly in a post-Google-Reader world, but also is an amazing tool for meeting other bloggers, staying on top of industry news, and (gasp) making friends.
At the end of the day, if you’re not hanging out on social media you’re missing a lot of fun. So below is some advice I have for new bloggers who are just getting started on Twitter. Let me emphasize that this is stuff that works for me, but your social media is all about you. Do what feels right, man.
1) Announce your creative efforts on Twitter. Twice even!
Sometimes people worry about promoting their own work. Maybe they’re shy, or they don’t want to seem conceited. Perhaps they’re worried about being seen as a term I absolutely loathe, an “attention whore”.
Whatever! If I follow you on Twitter and you have a blog (or podcast or YouTube channel or whatever), I want to hear when you post something new. Sing it, my creative friends. And if you create something you’re really proud of or posted about it at a weird time, retweet it the next morning or later in the day.
2) Follow people.
Unless someone’s account is protected, everyone is on Twitter to meet people, have conversations, and earn followers. Sometimes I get weird about following someone who is “popular” or particularly cool, and that’s just silly. That is why they’re on Twitter!
Once or twice a month I make an effort to find some new folks to follow, whether it’s taking people up on their Follow Friday suggestions or snooping on a friend’s following list (I have totally done this to both Syl and Belghast) and adding anyone who looks cool. Find a new blog you like? Follow them on Twitter right away!
Internet math shows that the more people you follow, the more people will follow you, but that’s not really the point. The point is getting the most out of Twitter — seeing the most conversations, the most news, the most opinions. Meeting as many people as possible.
3) Talk to people.
You’re following a ton of people. Now what?
When I first started hanging around Twitter I would just kind of post a few things a day and then sit back to see what happened. While this was fine, it didn’t really encourage interaction and Twitter never really clicked for me. Nowadays over half of my tweets each day are directed to specific recipients, and I retweet and favorite other people’s stuff a lot more. You can’t just wait for people to interact with you — get out there and start chatting!
Even if you’re not interacting directly with someone, it’s great for newbie bloggers in particular and the community in general to tweet links to other people’s content. For what it’s worth, “science” has determined that people get the best response on Twitter if they make 8-20 public posts a day. I certainly am not saying that you need to stick to that, but it just goes to show that you can tweet quite a bit in a day without irritating folks. (I used to be paranoid about tweeting more than twice a day, seriously.)
3b) Don’t be afraid to unfollow.
It’s Twitter. You’re following someone, you’re not married to them. (Probably. Unless you are married to them in which case ignore this point.) If someone stops interesting you, or changes their subject matter, or says something you find unreasonably jerky, just unfollow them. It’s okay. It’s your feed, and you can curate it as you want.
4) Try to avoid being relentlessly negative.
So this one is kind of a personal opinion, but I find it exhausting when a twitter person is negative the vast majority of the time. You know the type — everything from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night is a slap in the face! That video game change is stupid. This game is for idiots. That platform is bringing down the industry and oh my god free to play makes me want to hate vomit ALL OVER EVERYONE ALL THE TIME.
Everyone has bad days and I’m not saying you have to be a Stepford Tweeter. And if there’s something that is offensive, then by all means talk about it! But I enjoy a Twitter-er more if they, overall, talk about stuff they like rather than stuff they hate.
5) Be consistent with your subject matter, particularly early on.
This one is tough because we are all diverse people with hopefully diverse interests. For example, I obviously like MMOs, but that’s not my one all-consuming hobby. I also like to learn new recipes. I have seen just about every horror movie ever. Lately I’m really into bicycling, and doing a lot of reading on bike repair and working on improving my distances.
That being said, by far the primary focus of my public tweets are related to games. It’s just kind of easier to have an identity if you focus on one interest, and your followers generally know what to expect, too.