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towelie

( The Importance of Community in Niche Games )

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'Ave a sit down der' boyos, I got 'yer ears 'fer a second er so, 'ya hear?  

 

(This is something I've thought about quite a bit lately and I want to get a discussion going with a lot of you "old time" gamers and see what you all have to say.  

 

In today's age of online gaming, it's quite obvious that we have a literal ton of games to choose from in terms of where we invest our time and spend our money.  As I watch wave after wave of "Early Access" game attempt to fulfill this mythical promised land of sandbox gameplay, open world gaming, "Hardcore" gameplay (RIP Wildstar), I start to wonder why the reason is that all of these games fail?  Is it a matter of studio size and available resources?  Is it an issue of the gaming population evolving?  Or is it just that we're promised great things years before the game is in what could be considered a launch state, instead of studios developing the thought and building "the hype" instantly right before a true beta phase, and not some unplayable alpha?

 

We've certainly grown accustomed to automatic matchmaking or instance finders, where we've got 2 minutes to instagram our dinner or tweet about our latest online purchase before we're teleported into the actual "gameplay" aspect of the game.  Is the age of "right now" forcing us away from investing real time into transportation, exploration, preparation and immersion?  Everything you could ever want to know is 5 seconds away on your smart phone, which is likely less than 5 feet away from you as you read this.  Are we too impatient or too time restricted to have these gameplay sessions we're all looking for?  Or are the actual gameplay sessions not panning out as imagined because of an alienated playerbase?

 

And that's where I'm going.  When I look back, particularly on Shadowbane, I remember a game that was entirely about "Play to Crush".  Yet, despite the very obvious PvP drive of the game, the world was held up by a minority of players who simply wanted to farm, build cities, roll gear, etc:  The crafting player base.  "Open" "Sandbox" Online worlds that survive, that thrive, are more than just a collection of a niche group out to grief nubs.  They are, much like real life, a world full of diverse people with even more diverse interests.  A healthy game is a game that can build a community, maintain the community, and invite others to it.  

 

While I don't want to sit here and say how I think a game should be made, I do want to say that I think it's important to encourage a diverse range of gameplay styles.  (just saying, reputation systems are good for this.  But not some cheesy poorly made socks like Archeage.  Dransik/Ashen Empires did it very well) In a gaming world full of many gaming choices, you have to appease different crowds without stretching yourself thin, or they're going to go somewhere else and quickly.  It's a delicate balance.

 

So that task falls on us.  The most important thing we can do as (future) players is to develop a community that is healthy and encourages others.  What we had in Shadowbane was nigh perfect on THAT aspect, if nothing else.  I've trash talked half of you into the dumps, and you've done the same to me.  We've burned each other's cities more times than we can count..... but we're still friends.  

 

See I personally don't think it's the buggy alphas, or the hype we created but never felt in the end.  I think we as gamers are looking for communities we ourselves aren't helping to establish.

 

To you, the developers, I just ask one thing:  Take these thoughts, and everybody else's thoughts on this in to consideration.  Give us a great crafting system, give us gameplay that can encourage a "carebear" to have fun in a ruthless realm.  Give us an immersive world where we want to fight for the community, even if we're fighting against them between forum posts. 


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Former Shadowbane Thief Advocate,

Current Crowfall Thief Advocate  ;)

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good post. definitely something to consider with the instant gratification generation that we've all evolved into and how that effects game play. It's not just that we're older with kids, careers and other things to devote our time to. Grinding it out shouldn't equate to weeks of game play anymore.

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As Towelie very eloquently points out, give us a game of choices. 

 

There is nothing more frustrating than a game where the only difference between two characters is the gear they've been able to farm.  If I see one Templar, I should have seen ONE Templar, not all Templars.

 

The beauty of Shadowbane, and what has been missing ever since, is a game that allows choice in character build, consequence of actions, and a necessity of social interaction.  All of these require that the game developers trust the people playing their game to not be half-witted scallywags who need their hand held.

 

If I gimp a character by not getting the right stats or by leveling up the wrong spell, make me pay for it by having a gimpy character.  If it's really too bad I can just reroll.  Don't develop towards the lowest common denominator.

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As Towelie very eloquently points out, give us a game of choices. 

 

There is nothing more frustrating than a game where the only difference between two characters is the gear they've been able to farm.  If I see one Templar, I should have seen ONE Templar, not all Templars.

 

The beauty of Shadowbane, and what has been missing ever since, is a game that allows choice in character build, consequence of actions, and a necessity of social interaction.  All of these require that the game developers trust the people playing their game to not be half-witted scallywags who need their hand held.

 

If I gimp a character by not getting the right stats or by leveling up the wrong spell, make me pay for it by having a gimpy character.  If it's really too bad I can just reroll.  Don't develop towards the lowest common denominator.

 

(That was one of my favorite aspects of Shadowbane, the build diversity.  TDL ran a group of high defense, shield and throwing dagger Dwarf Warriors that could turtle out numbers 3x theirs, and still pull out the win, because by nature they dealt a lot of damage outside of defensive stance, but could tank like a boss simply by changing stances.  I took the same stat distribution with my Dwarf and instead packed resist cloth armor and dual daggers, and probably clocked some of the highest DPS in the game.  If I'm playing an MMO and have to google where Im placing "points" or "reforging" stats that were already implemented by the devs, the game is wrong on a fundamental level.)


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Former Shadowbane Thief Advocate,

Current Crowfall Thief Advocate  ;)

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This game should definitely have something for fans of PvE content as well.  A good crafting system with a player economy, tools for roleplayers, quests, non-combat professions etc.

 

Although, I'd prefer a hireling style of crafting system, as opposed to players essentially all running around being not only masterful warriors/wizards, but blacksmiths to boot.  Crafting can still be a fun, engaging process to be managed by players that like that gameplay, while be handled via hireling/building mechanics most familiar to players of RTS games. 


"Food for the crows..."    Nobuo Xa'el

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I definitely agree. I love to PvP, and pretty much only play PvP focused games, but I also like to craft, and explore. Games need to facilitate the needs of more than just one playstyle (at least an MMORPG does). Communities are what keep games a live. While not an MMO, games like TF2, Mount and Blade, and Garry's Mod are all alive today because of modders, and die-hard fans. Ultimately, the communities are what make up the game, and a good community can make a game better by itself.

 

Now, when I say a "good" community, I don't just mean a community which behaves nicely. A good community, for an MMORPG, needs diversity. There needs to be the evil player killers, the good defenders of new players, merchants, crafters, gatherers, explorers, etc. All these types of players help the community, even if they don't realize it, and if there is a shortage of any of these, the game might start falling apart. Non-crafters probably don't want to spend a lot of time crafting, players who don't explore probably won't be gathering and harvesting a lot, and players who find non-combat boring, probably won't be trading and merchanting a whole lot; this is why we need to make all of these viable paths in the game, so that everyone has fun doing what they want to do.

 

To add to this, there needs to be diversity within diversity. In Darkfall, a game I play, there aren't enough skills in the game. Every mage has about the same skills, and so on. The combat may be okay by itself, but after a while, it gets repetitive. I hope that this game has tons of build diversity. The same goes for crafting, and so on. I hope there are many options.


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/wordwall 

 

Spot on.

 

I've noticed something a lot in the launches I've been involved in over the last 5 or 6 years, this attitude that everything between the start of the game and the end of the game doesn't matter, it's all about reaching the end first and beating everything first and everyone else can eat a D because they're the best at what they do. That's nice, but the MMOs in particular should be made to be played, not made to be "won".

 

In almost every game I've played I've encountered the same or similar bro-hards who have nothing but disdain for people that don't "play as hard" as them. I don't have a problem with the people who love to PvP, i have a problem with the people who think that everything else but their specific focus in a  game sucks nards and the people that engage with it are lesser somehow. The ones that will bang on and on about optimal builds, stats and rotations and have the obsession with telling people where their characters are wrong because they aren't the way they'd do it. 

 

Ideally, the situation would be as you said, where the PvPers happily stand by the "carebears" who for whatever reasons they have don't want to fight other players and protect them while they spend their game time turning the economy. And it would be nice if those PvPers did it because they understand that the "carebears" contribute something to their game world and the "carebears" would appreciate the PvPers because they're putting their butts on the line to protect them and nobody would criticise playstyles or builds. I haven't met anyone in a game like that in forever.

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Ideally, the situation would be as you said, where the PvPers happily stand by the "carebears" who for whatever reasons they have don't want to fight other players and protect them while they spend their game time turning the economy. And it would be nice if those PvPers did it because they understand that the "carebears" contribute something to their game world and the "carebears" would appreciate the PvPers because they're putting their butts on the line to protect them and nobody would criticise playstyles or builds. I haven't met anyone in a game like that in forever.

 

This. Making disparate playstyles compliment one another without overlapping (creating conflicts of interest), and providing motivation for diversity.

 

Beyond that, I think it's necessary to provide motivation for participating in the community. Not just encouraging players to seek currently strong allies, but to develop new players into strong allies. That's where community-building really happens, in my opinion.

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X applauds X this carebear thanks you. Sparkles and flowers for everyone. Seriously though. The reason why there are so many "carebears" infiltrating these forums is because of the loyal community jtodd built with wizard101 and pirate101. Obviously he seems to be the common factor between the "hardcore gamers" and the "carebears" Why? He doesnt develop carbon copies. Thats why i enjoyed the 101 games and its why i am looking forward to this one. Its the community though that kept me playing. And its the community that keeps a game running. Why fight in the forums? To weed out the weak? Perceptions of weakness vary. Or is it a form of rallying the fighting spirit amongst different guilds to make the battles more interesting? Idk. Im a carebear we make hugs, not war. Lol. If you put everyone down here, two things may happen. 1. Chase out the non Hardcore gamers, not in your own guild or alliance, making for very boring diversity and not enough players to support the game. 2. A lot of enemies that may gather together and not enough friends to defend you should you need the help. Community is needed. Keep the fights on the field and out of the forums please? I dont want t see this game fold right out of the box because people on the forums chased everyone away.

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if a forums chases you away from a game, then maybe you should just avoid the entire internet. there's a code of conduct in place and I'm sure moderators exist or will very soon. In no game is a political or general discussion forums a requirement to log into a game. Played over 100 hours of several games that I've never even been to their website.

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I generally agree with this. That's the dream at least, that we can create a community around a game that fosters a balance between many different player types. I just don't know if it's possible to develop a game that equally appeals to everyone in that way. I also wonder if whether or not a community can really fight the desire to pridefully put other people down wrongfully in an effort to make themselves feel somehow "better" than them. I'd like for everyone to just enjoy the way they play the game and interact with others rather than looking for opportunities to put people down for playing different; but it requires us to humble ourselves and accept that we're all equal, which does not come easily to most.


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I generally agree with this. That's the dream at least, that we can create a community around a game that fosters a balance between many different player types. I just don't know if it's possible to develop a game that equally appeals to everyone in that way. I also wonder if whether or not a community can really fight the desire to pridefully put other people down wrongfully in an effort to make themselves feel somehow "better" than them. I'd like for everyone to just enjoy the way they play the game and interact with others rather than looking for opportunities to put people down for playing different; but it requires us to humble ourselves and accept that we're all equal, which does not come easily to most.

 

I don't think everyone is trying to bash other playstyles, but sadly, quite a few people do. I love PvP, and that's all I, for the most part, do; I can understand that other styles of play are just as fun for others, though. I hope that others can realize that many different playstyles in one game can help create a good economy, a larger playerbase, and a better community.

 

It shouldn't matter how a player chooses to play, as long as the player population is good, and everyone is having fun playing the way they want to. I feel like the diversity of playstyles is missing in many, many games.


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Forums wont chase me away lol. But many people will come here from different backgrounds. And many will leave if the welcome they get is basically saying if you play so and so game or guild leave, they will. Community welcomes. It does not push away.

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I don't think everyone is trying to bash other playstyles, but sadly, quite a few people do. I love PvP, and that's all I, for the most part, do; I can understand that other styles of play are just as fun for others, though. I hope that others can realize that many different playstyles in one game can help create a good economy, a larger playerbase, and a better community.

 

It shouldn't matter how a player chooses to play, as long as the player population is good, and everyone is having fun playing the way they want to. I feel like the diversity of playstyles is missing in many, many games.

Not everyone is, but many do, and often times we find it a great deal easier to join in with those who look down on others than to speak up for those who stand below.

It shouldn't, but often does, we can only change that by not watching the toxic behavior of others by the sidelines and making an effort to welcome and help those with differing interests than our own while standing against those who would drive them away.


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Not everyone is, but many do, and often times we find it a great deal easier to join in with those who look down on others than to speak up for those who stand below.

It shouldn't, but often does, we can only change that by not watching the toxic behavior of others by the sidelines and making an effort to welcome and help those with differing interests than our own while standing against those who would drive them away.

 

What I don't understand, is how some players cannot control themselves...

 

Hating each other in a game is on thing. For example, two warring clans might have a rivalry, and that's fine. A little bit of smack-talk is okay, but harassing others is not cool. I think some players just don't understand that you can be a hardcore PvPer, without being a complete moron. There needs to be a line between trash talking in-game, and harassing people outside of the game.

 

I remember in Mortal Online a few players were telling another player to kill himself because he was bad, and that's just not good. If I see bad players in any game, I would rather help them out, and see them get stronger, than personally insult them, and make them quit. That's one less player filling the world. When I play Mount and Blade: Warband (a game I am very good at), I like to go into duel servers (1v1 fighting) and help new players. It feels good hopping into the same servers every now and then, and seeing players I have helped get better. Instead of quitting, these players are now populating the game, and having fun.

 

I hope that the developers can crack down on toxic players, and players who are harassing others outside of the game. It is not good for the community, and it is not good for the games population, or new players. I play Darkfall, and veteran players make new players quit, because they would rather troll new players, than help them. The veteran players then go on the forums, and cry about how bad the population is. I don't get it...


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I played in DF Beta, DF Unholy Wars beta and even a bit afterwards; but the sheer toxicity of the community and the fact that lag could drastically sway the outcome of combat kept making me give up on it.


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