The Daily Grind: Are social hubs and chat windows enough for your MMO needs?

    
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The other day I was reading up on how the upcoming Dauntless will feature a social hub where players congregate en masse and do their business before heading off for much smaller co-op missions on instanced maps.

It’s certainly not the first game to do this sort of lobby multiplayer setup; Destiny, Hellgate London, and Guild Wars are just some of the other online games that use this format. Heck, Secret World Legends is about to reshape and reboot the game to be just that.

It got me thinking: Is this enough for my MMO needs? If I have a social hub and a chat window wherever I go, do I really need maps with dozens of random players possibly crossing my path? Honestly, I kind of like that massively multiplayer world experience, but as long as I’m connected to other players in some respects, I can still enjoy these more limited multiplayer games.

What do you think? Are social hubs and chat windows enough for your MMO needs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Bobuliss

Nope. What part of “massively multiplayer” do devs not seem to understand? If 90% of your game world is instanced, what’s even the point?

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Robert Mann

No, but neither does the random people passing me by and never really impacting the world I see feel right. That is… the direction the genre has gone mostly, and I believe that the lack of anything with better social and world dynamics is just a system of the constant inch deep design.

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Sally Bowls

Where I get my fix for the massively is in the AH: if and only if I can interact with hundreds there, that is Massive.

Out in the world, the others are mostly window dressing for playing alone together. Just as in real life, where many of them can be replaced by cheaper/better automation, better-than-current-tech NPCs could fill this role.

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Arnold Hendrick

Lobby and instanced play is NOT an MMO. It’s abusing the MMO term for marketing reasons. I won’t bore you with a long academic argument about the term – just apply a bit of common sense, please. The only thing “massive” about lobby-and-quest or lobby-and-battle games is the publisher’s hope that they will make massive amounts of money.

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Paragon Lost

Stuff like this reminds me of the old days on GEnie’s service playing MPBT3025, Air Warrior and other multiplayer games on GEnie. Where you had lobbies etc where you could chat before going into the actual game play.

It worked well, though almost all of us also made a lot of use of the GEnie bbs usually using the Aladdin software since back in those days we paid hourly charges and worse prime time charges were a lot more than the after 5pm charges per hour.

I think all the tools make for a better experience based on all the years I’ve been doing the online gaming, the more the better.

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Anstalt

First, if all it has is a social hub and a chat window, I wouldn’t call it an MMO.

Second, no, doesn’t even come close. The one and only unique selling point of MMOs is being massively-multiplayer. Having 100s of people walking around the maps, taking part in adventures together, forming groups and guilds, fighting one another…..that is the very essence of being an MMO! It is the emergent gameplay that evolves from having a large community that brings the magic to the genre, so if you’re getting rid of all of that then what’s the point? Just build a standard game and add multiplayer similar to Borderlands or Diablo.

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Paragon Lost

But how often to do you actually see hundreds of player’s characters all at once? Honestly I saw more player characters all in one spot in the old text based online rpgs like Gemstone, Dragonsrealm etc than I usually see in any of the graphically based online rpgs of today.

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Robert Mann

Aye, more the shame. Alex isn’t wrong… but MMOs as they stand are pretty bad at being more than a glorified single player game with a little grouping at a few points.

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Paragon Lost

SWTOR being a great example of that. :(

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mistressbrazen

To me this isn’t a yes or no question. The social hubs in Anarchy Online were very important locations and organizations had reps that hung out there. You could always (almost) find people from your organization or others that you grouped with near the hubs. On some days it was enough just to hang out and stay in org chat. Guests were allowed in org chat so you never needed to listen in on the general chat. But, that didn’t remove the desire to be in the open world with others.

I am mostly a duo player, but still my partner and I love seeing lots of players coming and going in the field along with us. In TSW, Agartha served its purposes but so did the faction hubs. They did not replace the desire to see people in the game fields. My favorite events, without question is when the community, as many as could fit in the shard, battled something together. Who didn’t love see the players get thrown into the air on the golem fights, even with the lag. I will sorely miss those events. No “hang out” in Agartha can make up for that. And oh my god, I hope the chat channels get set up as soon as possible, because the amount of drivel coming in general chat will be mind numbing and inane.

Dantos
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Dantos

Yea its enough. I rarely just wander around a world. I usually just want to talk with my guild, and usually randoms I can pick up are just fine for doing most of the content im interested in doing.

An open world is fine, but its just not something I put alot of value in, encounter design, a good story and progression is everything to me. Heck I love FF14, I have about 8 jobs at 60, but ive ignored pretty much all the open world stuff, I dont even do the side quests, I still have probably 90% of the HW side quests undone. The world is a bit more important there because of story reasons, but in a game like Dautless, yea, dont need it.

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AtticLion

In the end, all I really need is a space where I can play with my friends. I’m quite past the point where “Massively” is a particularly important part of any Multiplayer Online game I happen to be playing. In no small part due to the fact that in every game I’ve played since 2008-ish, with the exception of PvP games like Warhammer Online or Planetside 2, other players have been little more than just random jackoffs in chatboxes or ill-colored screen clutter

Hell, the last “real MMORPG” I played was taking another stab at LotRO for the anniversary event and in that 40-ish hours or so I only had about the same level of interaction with anyone that I have in a days worth of trades in PoE.

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Tandor

The first thing I do in most MMOs is disable any zone chat. I’ve no interest in guild recruitment, trading, or people looking for a group.

I prefer towns and cities which are part of the open world to a specific social hub. I hate it when those towns and cities are deserted because everyone is tucked away crafting etc in their own personal or guild home.