Saga of Lucimia explains its notice board approach to finding a group

    
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Not happening.

The latest entry on the development of Saga of Lucimia is all about group finding tools, and quelle surprise, the developers don’t like them. This should not come as a surprise. It might come as slightly more of a surprise that apparently setting up a tabletop session with your friends is not a difficult endeavor, as anyone who has run a long-term tabletop campaign can attest to the difficulties involved in that, but let’s move on and focus on what Saga of Lucimia actually intends to do to help people find groups.

The current plan is to essentially use taverns as the group finding core, encouraging players to post notices on the boards in the taverns to find groups, then sit in that same tavern waiting for people to join and hopefully being social in the process. How successful this system will actually be remains to be seen, but you can read the full entry or listen to the explanation in an 11-minute monologue just below. (It’s technically a video, but it’s really all audio.)

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Joe Seabreeze

Yeah, let’s roll back features that many players asked for 12 years ago so that we can ask for them all over again.

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Jeffery Witman

I don’t understand why more MMOs don’t use DDO’s style of LFG tool. It’s really the best compromise I’ve ever seen between the need for quick grouping and the desire to form that group yourself instead of being auto-grouped.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s a fairly simple system. You can start a group or raid yourself and post openings on the LFG board. Anyone can see the board from anywhere in the game. You can mark which classes you’re looking for, what levels, which dungeon, activity or raid you’re going to be doing, which difficulty you’re going in on. When someone wants to join they hit the button and you’re given the option as the group leader to accept or deny. You can also talk to them before accepting or denying to make sure they know what they’re doing or that they have done it before, etc.

Then you all get together and enter the dungeon/area/raid together. Maybe someone has teleport scrolls to get there, or a bracelet that brings group members to them. There’s nothing automatic about it, but it’s pretty quick, too.

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strangesands

Why not keep the bulletin board but allow users to contact the poster through chat or mail? That way players can go do other stuff but keep the homey feel. People will still jump in and out of the taverns so still opportunities to socialize.

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thalendor

At a high level, I’ve found forming a group has been a pretty consistent process over the past 20 years:
1) Check with friends/guildies to see who’s available & interested.
2) Fill any gaps using whatever tools are available.
While the first step hasn’t changed much, the second has evolved a lot from the days of spamming LFG / LFM messages to chat channels in EQ. The fact of the matter is, that second step has always been a very mechanical process of locating and filling missing roles. I do not recall a single interesting social experience resulting from the process of forming a group. (Obviously, some of the groups themselves were quite interesting!)

One of the common complaints I see about group finders is that you never see the people you’re grouped with again once the group is completed. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the people I grouped with in EQ I never ran into again in any meaningful way, and to the extent I did run into them again more often (assuming I didn’t put them on my friends list or such) was, I think, more due to the smaller server size than the lack of group finder. Indeed, perhaps the group finder could even be part of the solution here, by somehow preferentially grouping like-minded people based on some criteria that players could optionally enter to influence what sort of people they are most likely to be grouped with.

Another complaint I see a lot is that no one talks in these group finder groups. While not strictly true, communication is pretty minimal most of the time. Yet, with things like bite sized dungeons that are over in 20 minutes not giving much time to get to know others in the first place to things like the timers in WoW Mythic+’s not really giving you much time to do anything that isn’t related to killing the next group of mobs, I think that, again, the group finder is the least of the problem here as well.

Personally, to the extent that socialization has declined in MMOs over the past couple of decades, I think it has less to do with group finder tools than it does with other factors that came into play at the same time. In my opinion, it’s a case of correlation being misinterpreted as causation. But who knows? Maybe the Lucimia team will prove me wrong.

xhieron
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xhieron

I think the social silence in groups is a product of gameplay rather than social institutions. People talked in EQ because sometimes there was nothing else to do. Either you were medding, or you were just auto-attacking without having any buttons to push for a few seconds at a time. In WOW and FFXIV, there’s a button to push for your rotation literally every GCD (and plenty off GCD besides). Combine that with movement-heavy encounters and content, and there’s just no time built in for communication. Compare that to EQ and early FFXI, where the dominant game mode was to camp spawns and pull, requiring little movement except for arrival at and departure from the camp site for everyone but the puller.

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kjempff

Exactly. Just take the silent bards from eq as an example, they didn’t talk much because they had to twist constantly.. meaning they were too busy to communicate. The same is the case with these mmos today that require constant interaction combined with short sessions, but even in those games as soon as players have a little time they start talking to eachother.
So it has very little to do with players having become non social (millennials, instant gratification, me generation, and other names for it), it is much more about the environment that doesn’t allow them to be.
So, I very much agree it is not the dungeon finder itself that is a great problem (though auto grouping is not helping), it is more the games that doesn’t have space&time for socializing.

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MesaSage

Great! I picture him working on his map between shots.

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GiantsBane
    Oh look, another group of self righteous game devs trying to rollback the development of useful tools in mmo gaming they don’t like for one arbitrary reason or another.

    Sitting around in a tavern waiting for players sounds like even less fun then the already not fun act of sitting around in “looking for group channels” yammering on with players looking for a dungeon group or otherwise.

    Guild wars 2 tried doing something stupid like this, and the players for a long time created their own solution with a website lfg tool, eventually arena net has started enhancing some of the almost nonexistent in game tools, but they still fall woefully short.

    Tldr, group finder tools are your friend, stop trying to recreate your first eq experience from a hundred years ago.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

why do they have to be self-righteous? Why can’t they just be a dev trying to do something different – maybe misguided in today’s day in age, but who knows? Maybe this mad experiment of theirs will work and we’ll all be tripping over ourselves to backpedal. But come on, self-righteous because they are trying something different?

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GiantsBane

See, I’d buy that line of reasoning if they were just doing something new and unique that just sounded weird to me.

This isn’t new or unique, and I’ve seen multiple indie, and even a few more mainstream game game devs denouncing group finding tools (or anything they associate with wow) as being the antichrist, and harmful to social interaction ingame.

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Cosmic Cleric

Sitting around in a tavern waiting for players sounds like even less fun then the already not fun act of sitting around in “looking for group channels” yammering on with players looking for a dungeon group or otherwise.

Actually, that could end up being allot of fun, just depends what kind of MMO players you are.

If all you want is end-game raiding/grinding, then this game doesn’t seem to be a good fit for your playstyle.

Doesn’t mean it’s not fun though for everyone.

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Stropp

The fun factor also depends on how many people are in the game while you’re sitting in the tavern waiting for a group.

Saga of Lucima doesn’t appear to be aiming for the mass market, and that’s okay. It’s okay to be a niche game for a smaller selection of players if that’s what you’re going for. The problem with that is that there are less players on at any one time and getting things like groups together can be hard enough even for the bigger games with all the LFG tools.

I’m not sure they aren’t shooting themselves in the collective dev-foot.

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Jack Kerras

Portrait of a DPS, Walt Brightman, oil on canvas, 2017

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Robert Mann

The only difference in other games being that said skeleton would have been on the street in the standard MMO, waiting for the queue to pop.

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Schmidt.Capela

Nah. When the LFD tool provides teleportation to the instance the player doesn’t need to stop what he is already doing, so the DPSer can be doing content out in the world while waiting for the queue to pop.

Not that I would know, mind. All the characters I bother getting into dungeons are tanks, healers, or dual-spec tank and healer. If my queue takes more than a minute I start looking into whether there is some issue on my end, for example if I closed the window without clicking the queue button.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

This sounds like a theoretically noble, but almost certainly self-defeating idea and certainly would be a big negative issue for people to whom time is rather limited and they need to get group to do group content quickly.

Veldan
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Veldan

The thing is that games that focus on group play and social elements aren’t meant for people who are in a hurry to get their 15 mins of gameplay in. You sit down for these, like you would for a movie or something, with a couple of hours of free time. Then, 10-15 minutes of group forming really don’t matter.

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Tim Anderson

EXACTLY this :) Just like a tabletop game. We aren’t here to be the latest “15 minute hardmode game” that you can faceroll while binge watching the latest Netflix show.

We’re building something that you have to immerse yourself into.

xhieron
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xhieron

Maybe that’s the goal–and it’s a noble one–but it runs directly contrary to reality. If the gameplay is high quality, I’m happy to devote hours immersed in the world and focused on the game, but sitting idle in a tavern isn’t gameplay. It’s the opposite of gameplay, in fact: I’m being actively punished for wanting to play. Not only can I not play, but additionally I’m forced to be attentive to the non-play that’s happening. I don’t need to pay for an MMO to have access to a chat room, and if I don’t like to RP in my MMOs, being forced to be idle in one location isn’t going to convert me.

What am I going to be doing while I’m sitting idle waiting for a group? Right: binge watching the latest Netflix show (and losing interest in the game once I’ve missed the first few messages about groups), or worse, getting my money’s worth out of WOW.

I’ll be absolutely up front about the fact that I haven’t been following this game very closely, but I’d be willing to bet I’m in the target demographic (I think the best thing that could happen to gaming would be an honest-to-goodness EQ3).

The difference between MMOs and tabletops is that the time-commitment for setup for tabletop RPGs is trivial. My Saturday group sits down at 8:00, and we’re playing at 8:02. It’s a matter of handing out character sheets, grabbing dice, and possibly putting down the mat. You also cannot depend on people deciding to treat your MMO the same way they treat their in-person gaming. It’s not going to have that kind of priority no matter how good it is because if nothing else, your game can’t be a substitute for a DM, but that’s kind of beside the point. Waiting for a group in an MMO is non-trivial. It takes time, time people cannot afford (or, in many cases, time people have realized exists to artificially inflate an otherwise shallow experience). In fact, the reason I’m not playing on one of the EQ progression servers right now is that I went for several days unable to find a group (looking for hours at a time) and decided I had better things to do with my time.

Your argument (in the video, anyway) would seem to be that I just didn’t try hard enough. Maybe, but whereas EQ has for its excuse the benefit of its age, modern games do not.

I’d be willing to concede that cross-realm, automatic group finders with instant teleports might be less than ideal for immersion and group building, but to me that’s a problem to solve by incentivizing relationships rather than stripping convenience. The UI should recommend players based on previous match-making (as it does in modern competitive games), maybe even reward players with bonuses for grouping with the same people on a repeat basis. But if a game is going to be about promoting social interaction, to the extent of making meaningful solo play painful or impossible, it absolutely must have a robust means of facilitating the social interaction that is its life’s blood. To fail in that respect is to be doomed to financial unsustainability. To me, “Go sit in the tavern and hope somebody shows up” isn’t a good solution.

One other argument I want to address is that sitting in the tavern is itself gameplay. To that I say, maybe. Believe me when I say I’d be willing to throw down a heavy purse for an online RP platform. I have a fantasy of a game that exists strictly as a customization and environment and player interaction simulation. I have great memories of roleplaying in chat rooms in AOL in the early nineties (which was basically just collaborative writing). But a chat room is not something I’d pay for today. Neither is a chat room with a 3D avatar that I can make look kind of like I want with some sliders. If you want to sell me RP, you’re going to have to give me COH levels of customization at the outset and more tools for character animation and environment interaction than I think any sane developer can afford. That’s not to say I’d never roleplay online without those things, but I’d never want to be in a position where my RP and my actual game time (that is, adventuring and advancing my character) are competing for my limited time. I want to choose when to do those things, not have the game choose for me.

Ultimately–hey, it’s your game. You’re making it; you make whatever you want. As long as you can afford to keep the servers running, you can basically make it exactly to your tastes. Just please remember that even the best games ever made all–without exception–made concessions to profitability. If your game’s design creates a problem for me the end user and a possible solution is doing something else, eventually the something else is going to be playing another game. If creating the problem is so important to your vision for the game that it’s indispensable, then it behooves you to create a solution that involves me playing your game.

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Michael18

“then sit in that same tavern waiting for people to join”

Where does he say/write that you have to sit in the tavern while waiting for replies? From what I heard I’d suppose you can leave the tavern to do other stuff or log off, but I may have missed something. Also the mobile app he mentions seems to suggest that.

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Skor

Where theory and practicality wildly miss each other. I think this company is going to make their game a pain to play and lose a lot of customers. Build off of the success of mmo advancements, and try to fit them into the theme of your game. Use a messenger system (like some real or magical message entity) to inform you of a reply to something posted in the tavern. Or bring up a tavern interface when LFG. But don’t force people into non productive down time, especially when finding groups may be more difficult for certain people/classes. I don’t log into a game to sit in the waiting room.

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Cosmic Cleric

But don’t force people into non productive down time

Non-productive?

This isn’t a job, it’s a recreational activity.

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Jeffery Witman

It’s a goal-based recreational activity. If you’re not working toward the goals, AKA being productive, then you’re not really participating in the activity, are you?

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Cosmic Cleric

If you’re not working toward the goals, AKA being productive, then you’re not really participating in the activity, are you?

Yes you are, that’s the whole point of it, and my comment. You can experience the world recreationally, just explore, or socialize, or kill monsters. But its not a matter of ‘kills per hour’ or ‘run X dungeons in an evening’, but instead if you enjoyed the socialization of the group you were with and the activities you experienced in the game world while doing said activities, be it just sitting in an inn and talking, or doing a dungeon run.

Being ‘productive’ means you’re not experiencing the world, you’re just waiting for a queue to pop, to do a dungeon/raid run. You can go play a non-MMO and get that kind of experience if you want.

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Jeffery Witman

You can have a good time talking with other people at a bar. You don’t need an MMO or any other game to do that. If you’re playing a game as an enjoyable activity then sitting around not playing isn’t engaging in that activity. Period.

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Cosmic Cleric

You can have a good time talking with other people at a bar. You don’t need an MMO or any other game to do that.

No one says that the only way to have a good time talking to others is via a MMO, that you need a MMO for that, but only that you CAN have a good time talking to others while in a MMO. At the end of the day, a MMO is a type of virtual world, and virtual or real both offer avenues for ‘good time’ talking.

If you’re playing a game as an enjoyable activity then sitting around not playing isn’t engaging in that activity. Period.

It is if that activity is being social with others in the same game as you. Playing a game (MMO) doesn’t mean just doing a dungeon/raid/pvp run. It means doing other activities in the MMO world too.

But honestly, I can understand that you would disagree with that, we are two different kinds of MMO players, one who lives in the world and interacts with the people in it, and one who uses the world as a means to an end.

The point I’m trying to make is stop treating the MMO like a game, but instead as a virtual world and experience.

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Schmidt.Capela

This isn’t a job, it’s a recreational activity.

Exactly. Which means it’s supposed to engage and entertain, rather than be boring.

Though, of course, I’m not the kind of person that starts chatting in-game when I’m waiting. I’ve always had something else at reach while playing, be it books to read, portable consoles, some TV to watch, a second monitor where I’m browsing the Internet, whatever; the moment I have nothing gameplay-related happening in game for even a short while, I’m not paying attention to the game anymore, which means I’m also not talking to or interacting with other players. If you want me chatty you need to keep me occupied all the time, with content that is slow enough it doesn’t need my full attention but fast enough I don’t get bored if I’m not chatting.

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Cosmic Cleric

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t work for these guys, but this game is meant for those who like the social aspect of gaming, and not the end-game grinding of purpose for loot. There are plenty of games out there for the achiever types. If you don’t enjoy being in an inn and talking to others while waiting for something, then you are not the target audience for this game.

This game wants you to live in the world, not bypass it for the loot.