Saga of Lucimia chides MMO players for having ‘forgotten’ how to properly group and socialize

How important is grouping in Saga of Lucimia? Very. In fact, it’s so central to the idea of what the devs believe MMORPGs should be about that they reject the idea that forced group content is hardcore. To illustrate that position, Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson recounts a story about a player livestream of the game’s recent release in which some of the players participating were killed by overleveled content and struggled to recover their corpses and gear.

“I was a bit amused at the amount of talk about how ‘hard’ the game was and how ‘frustrating’ it was and why was the streamer playing a game that was not ‘100% win all the time’ (paraphrasing a bit here, obviously),” he says. “I was also a bit confused the group hadn’t bothered to reach out to the community at large to ask for help; they were instead banging their heads against a brick wall of trying to go it alone.”

He criticizes them for being unprepared, for not having brought a healer, for bringing too few characters, and for not asking the broader pre-alpha community for aid. In fact, Anderson himself roused some other testers to help the streamers, “ultimately leading to a two-hour gameplay session during which new friendships were formed.”

“It’s the last part which concerned me the most, because it’s a scenario that never would have happened 20 years ago during the heyday of EverQuest, when grouping up with other players was the norm as opposed to a rarity, and players weren’t afraid to reach out to others, even strangers, to find creative solutions to their problems. Instead, these days players rely wholly upon matchmaking systems which have eliminated the need to socialize with other players…to the point where new players are confused about how to interact with others, and many veteran players have forgotten how to reach out in OOC or via platforms such as Discord.”

It’s possible that, as he posits, people have “forgotten” how to play in group-based MMOs, how to strategize, and how to socialize. It’s also possible that people just figured there weren’t enough people playing in test who would care to help. Either way, interesting conversation.

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Japheth

I like old school games and I like grouping. What I do not like is asshole devs which is why I will never touch this game.

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John Mclain

While I realize this game will never be some major blockbuster success due to it’s design and graphical fidelity, it will be nice to have a game that caters to actual social human beings in a MMO space again, and people who want to actually prepare and think about a fight before it happens.

Definitely giving this one a try as it approaches a more finished state.

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Tim Anderson

Cheers!

Veldan
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Veldan

Yep. It may not exactly become the best game ever, but it seems to try to bring back some qualities that are lost in online games these days, and is probably worth a try for that alone.

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Jeremy Barnes

While my sympathies are with their vision, it seems like it’s not going to go well when you spend a bunch of your time telling people that they’re playing games wrong.

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Sarblade

They are playing it wrong though. A game has to be played in its way, otherwise every game would feel similar (which is why most AAA games have actually copypaste mechanics and generic features, also the reason why every recent MMORPG feel pointless).

Do you wanna play it like Destiny? Play Destiny. I people wanted to play Squad like Battlefield 1, the game would have been just another moronic casual shooter. Fortunately they adapted to the game.

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Jeremy Barnes

I don’t think you’re on the right track here. This isn’t about playing a “different” game. This is like all the pvp gankboxes that keep popping up and saying people should play this way, “it’s the right way to play” when evidence suggests that it’s small population that has an interest in those games.

If you’re targeting that type user and understand the size of your market then great. It seems here that they’re targeting a wider MMO player base and not targeting people interested in a grouping experience.

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John Kiser

Okay so a question I pose to you then is this. If you are in an MMORPG and you aren’t grouping up and being social why are you playing an MMORPG in the first place? MMORPGs continually kowtow to the lowest common denominator of player anymore and gone are the days where you’d actually do much beyond just PUGs and the like anymore. Back in my FFXI days we used to run a static group where you know we’d actually set up times where we’d all play together after doing our respective own stuff during the off times.

People frequently don’t socialize in MMORPGs anymore and there isn’t really content beyond dungeons that make you need to even group up with a single other person. You can basically coast to end game so easily and then the focus is purely on the end game content.

These guys want to sort of bring the journey back and make it so that socializing and grouping is important.

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Jeremy Barnes

You’re asking the wrong guy. I want that type of gameplay personally, but I’ve realized I’m not the majority. I think existing MMOs should be doing more to encourage grouping.

Regardless of my wants though, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to base your business model around telling people they’re playing wrong and that they should enjoy your game despite the preponderance of evidence that those of us who enjoy that type of gameplay are the minority.

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John Kiser

I think the problem is that there isn’t really evidence that we are the minority, but rather something different to an extent. I think gaming and the like becoming more mainstream lead to WoW’s success, but that we need to stop including a large amount of WoW’s players as MMORPG players as a whole. I know this seems counter intuitive to developers who have for the last X amount of years looked at WoW’s numbers and got super interesting because of money.

I think the fact of the matter is is that if we’d actually take WoW out of the mix and bring in growth projections based on things outside of WoW we’d see that the MMORPG genre outside of WoW is still a niche market quite heavily.

WoW is a behemoth, but when every single game has come out and tried the same kind of crap it has basically failed to live up to the big AAA publishers expectations because they are expecting to pull away a crowd that is really only interested in a singular MMO.

I feel like many of these smaller companies such as those making Saga Of Lucimia are trying not to target the majority, but rather carve out their own crowd and ultimately that’s what you need to do. You need to attempt to make your company profitable, but not get insanely unrealistic about numbers.

We aren’t the majority when you take mainstream WoW players into account and never will be, but then I do think that to an extent they do have a point that many MMORPG players have been going about the genre in a way that they’d be better served by a lobby co-op type RPG or a single player RPG.

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Rolan Storm

“…but that we need to stop including a large amount of WoW’s players as MMORPG players as a whole.”

This. Very much yeah.

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John Kiser

The reason I say that it is has seemingly skewed metrics horribly for real growth patterns of the genre. If we had kept going at a standard pacing for MMORPGs we’d likely have a population in the biggest MMORPG now of about 1.5 million tops realistically.

People tend to forget that the genre before WoW was a niche compared to the whole of the gaming industry and while mainstream gaming has sort of brought in more people outside of a few franchises and very specific genres games don’t necessarily exponentially sell well.

I find it very odd that anyone expects to hit WoW’s numbers when WoW literally had a perfect storm situation that you just really can’t recreate. I see so many people just not wanting to do anything in MMORPGs anymore outside of coast to end game .

My biggest laugh was hearing someone complaining about a game basically being a gear treadmill at one point when compared to WoW and it’s like really? The entire genre has become an end game gear treadmill because of WoW.

I feel like blizzard with all that they had could of heavily advanced the genre down a deeper path instead of trying to make it as approachable as possible.

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Rolan Storm

Completely agree. Also I must add ‘reign of WoW’ did MMORPGs no favors. Still wondering sometimes what could have been if there were no WoW at all. They put a certain standard to what MMORPG is when in fact before them MMORPGs were very different. Well, things are as they are.

xhieron
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xhieron

Every time I see this game mentioned here, it involves blistering comments to the effect that the people responsible for it are woefully out of touch with the priorities of MMO players in 2018 (which I’m pretty sure is the year they’re working on their game, as opposed to 1998). Maybe I’m just missing the rosier videos.

I think there are pros and cons to forced grouping. You can only have group roles in groups, after all (can’t really be a specialist in anything if you don’t have anybody to compare yourself to). I’ve felt very rewarded at certain jobs (healing, tanking, CC) when I’ve been in group settings. On the other hand, I’ve done my share of sitting around with my LFG flag up spamming chat, most recently parked outside of Velk’s on a progression server. That ended with me unsubscribing after a few days of being literally unable to make meaningful progress in the game. I’ve also had some pretty incredible solo experiences (Kite them till they’re all dead! Got adds? Kite more!).

What I’ve never had, however, is any experience in any game, ever, in which I thought or said, “Man, this is just like playing D&D.” Never. Not ever. Not even close. Didn’t even cross my mind. And now that I’m sitting here deliberately trying to dig up something even remotely similar, no. Still nothing.

I get the impression I’m in good company.

All the inconveniences that forced us to rely on other people in the early MMOs and waste our time when other people weren’t around weren’t embraced as a cornerstone of the genre. In fact, on the contrary, they were abandoned immediately at the first opportunity. As soon as players had the opportunity to not sit around or throw their keyboards in frustration, that’s where they went. You can say that it meant communities eroded and people lost the ability to be social (how observant of you; must be a nice view up there as you ponder), and that’s an easy, academic observation to make.

I certainly wouldn’t make it if I were in the business of game design.

If I were working on a game, I’d probably notice instead that Blizzard made two-hundred and seventy-three million dollars profit last year on their solo-friendly easy-to-access super-convenient MMO. I’d like to hope I’d know better than to try and make a WOW clone, but I think I’d be foolish if I didn’t think maybe they were onto something about what players in the space actually want to do with their time.

Path of least resistance might be a dirty word, but it comes with a lot of dirty money because it creates games people actually want to play. If your sales pitch is “Come play this game; it’ll be super inconvenient. You’ll have to depend on strangers to get anything done and you won’t be able to play at all unless you have multiple hours to set aside,” you might want to re-work things. Iterate a little.

“You have to use Discord to play this game” is not appealing. And if the best consolation you can offer people with limited time is “If you only have 30 minutes, play something else,” guess what they’re going to do?

Yeah.

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Tim Anderson

Where did we say you have to use Discord to play our game? It was one of several tools mentioned, including OOC chat in-game. Discord is a standard voice chat program these days, with overlays for most games, which means it’s natural that players congregate on it. Combined with the fact that we (along with MANY OTHER COMPANIES) use it as an additional means of communication with our community is by no way, shape, or form an indication of “you HAVE to use Discord to play this game”.

If you’ve sat around LFG spamming a chat channel and then quitting because you couldn’t make any “meaningful progression” in a game…that’s not the fault of the game. Especially considering you are talking about EverQuest where there are DOZENS of zones to choose from and SO MANY THINGS to do.

We just did a 6 month run on one of the progression servers (up to Luclin) and had a blast…and not once did we have to stand around spamming a chat channel LFG. We played 3x per week (M/W/F) and had full groups all the way around. Typically 3-4 groups per night in the guild. Not one single night did we have to sit around LFG, and we found PLENTY of “meaningful” content in the game, because we weren’t following the masses from hot zone to hot zone. Instead, we were doing the dungeons that no one else ever goes to.

How? By being social. We went to forums, we went to Discord, we went to social media, we went to Reddit, and we built a guild of around 30 players over the course of two weeks, with a combination of our own early access community + outsiders/strangers who we had never met before. We played until the next progression server opened up, then most folks went on to the latest server, while the rest of us moved on to LOTRO.

The world is what you make of it.

xhieron
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xhieron

You said, “many veteran players have forgotten how to reach out in OOC or via platforms such as Discord.” So sure, I suppose that might mean instead that we should be expected to use Teamspeak or Reddit rather than Discord, but the implication is that players failed in your game because they refused to turn to out-of-game resources. I’ll concede that’s not the same thing as playing the game at all, but that’s cold comfort.

More importantly and more to the point, the biggest problem I have with your initial remarks, the conversations here, and your response to me, is that you seem doggedly resistant to entertaining the possibility that an alternative to your personal experience might be legitimate, common, or reasonable.

In fact, I gave an anecdote about why I most recently quit playing an excellent game that I love and that I think we would both agree is influential in your design choices, and you spent three paragraphs to tell me I was doing it wrong.

Now I could devote a lot of time into refuting precisely that point (and demanding, as others have, that you please consider these things when you’re working on your game so you can at least design around them and as a result make a game that’s more likely to survive long-term). I could talk about things like population dynamics in a game like EQ that now has too much in-game real estate to support its current player-base; I could talk at length about my experiences with my guild during my last play through or about the misalignment between my schedule and the schedules of my friends, and how the game’s design choices penalized us for playing at different times due to the fluctuating in-game population in a way it wouldn’t have twenty years ago (resulting in a slowly growing incremental divide in our levels). We could have a long conversation about why my experience was different from yours.

But there’s no sense in doing that because the point isn’t that I had a bad experience and quit. That’s incidental, and it’s DBG’s problem. The point is that while we can all appreciate the fact that you have a vision for your product, what you’re communicating to us, intentionally or otherwise–what you just communicated to me–is that if a player fails to have a good experience in-game, that player did something wrong, and it’s not your responsibility as a game designer to fix the problem (although to be fair you seem to concede that it’s your responsibility as a fellow player, a sentiment other players absolutely will not share). You have an idea about what the player should have done, and that seems to satisfy you.

That’s an okay perspective to have as a player or as a faceless commenter on an MMO news outlet. It’s quite a bit more troubling coming from a developer.

And it’s not a new one. The last time I remember sitting here listening to a developer talk about relying on guild members and personal determination to accomplish things in an upcoming title, the game was Wildstar. Those developers bullheadedly refused to contemplate the possibility that alienating so many players might damn them financially. They wore their hardcore status like a badge, and their supporters in the community triumphantly cheered that their game didn’t hold people’s hands. In the end the failure to consider that their experiences weren’t the only ones doomed their title. Don’t make the same mistake.

“We want to make a game we want to play” is great PR-speak. It taps into the bitter disillusionment of gamers, especially MMO gamers, who chase after fantastic ideals like addicts chasing their first fix. But consider the very real possibility that the rest of us might not all want to play the game you want to play, but we probably all want to play something reasonably close (otherwise MO wouldn’t even be covering your title).

It’s important that the game be the kind of game that people enjoy, and it sounds like it’s important to you that your game in particular recapture elements of community cohesion that we all agree have deteriorated, but if I’m looking at getting into an MMO, it’s also important to me that I can foresee playing it for years at a time–all the more if I’m thinking of it as a major time commitment and an opportunity to tell stories and make memories. If it flounders and collapses in a year because nobody had the time to play it, we all lose.

This is your opportunity to consider that your experience with gaming isn’t the only one, and it’s worth a hard look at whether elements of your vision are going to turn your game from a masterpiece into a title whose niche is so small that it can’t sustain itself.

In the end, it doesn’t matter to DBG whether I could have done something else to overcome the roadblock I experienced last time I played EQ. What matters is that I quit, and not only am I no longer a revenue source, I’m also no longer one of the many small but necessary struts on which the entire community relies. If you make a game where people matter to each other, you have to also make a game that has people in it. That might mean making some concessions to things like the fact that people don’t have two hour gaming windows or that people might prefer to play solo (solo people rescue corpses too). It might mean a lot of things, but at the very least it means adjusting your perspective from “this worked for me, so you should have done what I did and everything would have been fine” to “what can I do as a game designer to keep that bad experience from happening in my game?”

The world is indeed what we make of it, but you’re the one responsible for determining whether we choose to include SoL in it. All the best.

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Tim Anderson

Thanks for your opinion. If you’d like to get your feedback directly to the rest of the team, feel free to head on over to the website and let them know!

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Eamil

My feeling is that a game that both encourages grouping for most content and also has solo content to keep people busy while they try to find a group rather than expecting them to sit around waiting for hours if things are slow is the way to go. It just needs to be heavily signposted that “hey, this solo content is here for when you can’t find a group or only have a short time to play, but if you have time then be looking for a group while you do this cause grouping will level you faster!” because otherwise people will probably try to level entirely through that solo content, get bored/frustrated and quit because they’ve missed the point.

Ideally it would be combined with a robust LFG (not auto-matching) system. I think Pantheon is aiming for something like this, so I’ll be curious to see how it turns out.

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Tim Anderson

We’re actually working on ALL of the above. Different style than Pantheon (which we can’t wait to play), but in the same vein.

For example, we’re looking towards the LFG/LFM system that EQ2 used/uses as a primary example.

There is also SO MUCH players can do in their downtime between “campaign” style events where they need 2-3 hours.

There’s lore, exploration in cities, solo/duo content in the vicinity of cities/outposts, crafting, languages, factions, roleplay…the typical range of activities that players can partake in.

But if you want to do dungeons, if you want explore the depths of zones far from the civilized sections where guards/cities/outposts exist, you will need others.

In between those sessions, there’s plenty of what we are calling “micro” content for players to hop on and work on for 30 minutes here or there.

You don’t see that in our current state of the game because we’re focused on nailing down the final foundations of our combat system. Meanwhile, Rich is working on the crafting system (we hope to see that in-game by the end of the year; think Vanguard + SWG crafting), and there’s a whole slew of other features that have yet to be added.

You have to have SOMETHING for players to work on in between their campaign sessions, and we aren’t blind to that. But we’re doing it on OUR terms, which means you won’t be able to solo your way to the level cap like you can in many other MMOs. Instead, it’s supplementary content that you can tinker with in between your primary sessions, but you’ll always need a GROUP to handle the major content.

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Eamil

Thanks for the reply. I’ll keep an eye on how things develop then! I admit I was going almost entirely on this article; I haven’t followed the game at all up to now, but it does sound like you have some interesting ideas so I’ll watch and hope you can execute well on them!

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Tim Anderson

We appreciate that; and to be fair, MOST people who are commenting on this thread are basing their opinions entirely upon this article (which put a clickbait spin on a discussion that was about tabletop versus MMORPGs, and PONDERING why players acted as they did in our recent build, not CHIDED them), as opposed to actually going to the source and seeing the full CONTEXT of the article that was written (tabletop versus mmorpgs and why one is considered hardcore but not the other when they all revolve around social dynamics and time commitments).

We’re more than happy to answer any questions you’ve got over in our Discord or forums and etc.

Mitzruti
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Mitzruti

As much as you’d like to say otherwise, A significant part of your article comes across as “haha look at these noobs who don’t know how to play”

but it’s not like they were (originally) over their heads. how do you think they got so deep in in the first place? they were doing great… until they wiped once and the game ripped away any chance of their recovery without having to beg others for help.

perhaps the real lesson that should’ve been taken from this episode is that having an extremely harsh death penalty that you have to beg another group to help you deal with isn’t fun.

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Tim Anderson

Thanks for your opinion. If you’d like to leave feedback for our team, feel free to head on over to our website where they can read it :)

Alyn
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Alyn

Good luck to you and your team Tim. Let us hope that Saga will blend depth, story, and lore into it’s world. A toast to the story that draws us in!

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Tim Anderson

We’re working on it! A bit slow sometimes due to our part-time schedules, but one step at a time :)

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Vagabond Sam

Im sorry that I’m no longer interested in having a notepad where I can copy and paste

“27/13 PLD/WAR [Looking for party][experience points]@[Crawler’s Nest][Can I Hsve it?][/tell]”

I no longer need to clear 2+ hours of free time to account for the 30+ minutes it takes to find and gather a group and then stay for an amount of time that makes the effort worth it.

I stopped having time to do that twelve years ago. Today? No chance. Give me Group Finders to do content and i’ll socialize in my guild/friends list.

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Eamil

Having only recently really played FFXI myself, I’ve come to see there are things about its class design that I enjoy that are only possible because of the game’s group-focused nature. I think if level sync had been in the game at launch, finding a good linkshell would have solved most problems with finding leveling groups. I’m eager to see a game that tries to approach some of these older design philosophies with more modern solutions to some of the hassle, but I don’t think that’s what this game is trying to do, sadly.

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Tim Anderson

I don’t recognize you as someone from around our community, so I can only assume you aren’t aware of what we’re planning on doing in terms of molding older design philosophies with modern solutions, such as our bulletin boards and LFG/LFM systems, plus summoning portals, and etc.

I would urge you to head over to our website and actually dig into what we are building, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Dystopiq

Because no one wants to sit spamming chat looking for party goers. This only works if the population levels across all tiers of play are healthy. What happens when the majority of the player base is at high level/end game and the incoming players don’t really have anyone to group up with? They’re screwed. The market decided long ago what it wanted. Tedious game design is not it.

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Tim Anderson

And yet, if a game designs their systems to where levels don’t matter (our game doesn’t have levels), there are no experience points (ours doesn’t have any), quests are optional, and you can group up with anyone, anytime, of any skill set and have fun, regardless if they’ve been playing 1 day or 100 days…..all of your points are moot.

Good thing we’re building our game with all of the above.

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Schmidt.Capela

I find the comparison with tabletop gaming (I suspect the author meant pen-and-paper RPGs) disingenuous.

Why? Because with pen and paper RPGs the group has full control over the experience.

Is there a rule that is hindering the group? They can bend or even ignore it.

Does the group lack enough players to fill all roles? The GM can add NPCs or tweak the adventure in real time to account for it.

Heck, most GM manuals I’ve read even suggest the GM keep all die rolls hidden so he can cheat as needed in case bad luck gets in the way of an enjoyable time, which is something I do all the time when I’m the GM.

A forced-grouping MMO modeled after pen-and-paper RPGs wouldn’t play like one because to replicate the experience it would need either flesh and blood GMs to tweak the game in real time or an AI advanced enough to replace one, neither of which is currently feasible for MMOs. Without those, it would instead be more akin to a game played with an utterly inflexible and formulaic GM, which in my experience is something that is never enjoyable.

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Tim Anderson

Players 100% have control over their experience. Except when the dice rolls dictate otherwise. And just like in tabletop, part of the fun of the adventure is roleplaying and finding creative solutions to when the dice rolls go bad.

What’s more important is the tabletop scenario. Friends hanging out, socializing, overcoming overwhelming odds together, and ultimately experiencing a sense of accomplishment that can only happen when you achieve a goal alongside someone else, rather than on your own.

You have no idea what an MMORPG modeled after pen and paper would be like, because you’ve never played one. One does not exist on the market. So to theorize what one would play like is a moot point.

Meanwhile, we actually CAN talk about what one plays like, because we are actively building one. Funny how you mention needing flesh and blood GMs to tweak the game in real time. Because we are doing EXACTLY that. https://sagaoflucimia.com/mondays-in-mmorpgs-gm-events

In fact, our game is launching with less than 100 quests because the VAST majority of what we have in mind for our players are live events, campaigns that are DMed by myself and others on our team.

Just like the roleplay events we are currently running in our early access. They are a bit bare at the moment, full disclosure here as most of our systems aren’t in place yet, but we have once-a-month roleplay sessions presently where players are coming together to work on a campaign that is playing out over the course of 2018 within our pre-alpha servers.

Myself and others on our team are playing the parts of NPCs, and sometimes joining the parties as adventuring members, and playing tabletop in a digital space.

And we are building our ENTIRE game around that concept. Live GM events and constantly-changing environments as opposed to static fetch quests that players repeat over and over and over.

All it takes is someone willing to invest their time and passion into making their dreams a reality. So yes, it can be done, and we are doing it :)

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memitim

“All it takes is someone willing to invest their time and passion into making their dreams a reality.” In the case of live GM events this is literally all it takes since it has been done before in a minor capacity and generally always goes down really well, I can’t understand why more people don’t do this but I’m glad you are trying and I have not followed this game up till now but you can colour me interested….

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Tim Anderson

Cheers.

We keep telling people that we are far more a tabletop game in a digital space than just another MMORPG (hell, this whole thing was built from my D&D campaign, and we’re ALSO working on our own tabletop version behind the scenes), but unfortunately the kneejerk reaction of most readers completely ignores that in favor of whatever made-up title these “media” outlets put up to drive clicks to their sites.

So we appreciate you taking the time to dig into us further and go beyond the clickbait to understand the true context of what we are talking about and building :) You sir/madam, are a hero!

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memitim

Thanks ;) Yeah I must admit I’m not impressed by the title/tone of the article…you can do better than this MOP…

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Schmidt.Capela

It isn’t attempted by most MMOs due to costs and, in the case of non-niche games, sheer scale.

How many players can a single GM manage in such an event before it starts feeling impersonal? A few dozen? A few hundred? How many GMs would you need to run such an event in a game that has hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of players?

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memitim

Yeah I prolly didn’t put that well, I get *why* they don’t do it, it just frustrates me that they don’t. I’m not thinking about having GM events running 24/7 on all servers or anything though, just having them running often enough that you are likely to actually see one every week or 2 could really add a lot to many games. Even if its just simple stuff like spawning a dragon in the city or something it adds to the feeling the world is alive and not always static.

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Schmidt.Capela

Even if its just simple stuff like spawning a dragon in the city or something it adds to the feeling the world is alive and not always static.

At this point it wold be far more effective to just have “GMs” write event scripts to be autonomously run in the servers, which a lot of MMOs do; you see this a lot with seasonal events, for example, as well as just about every kind of non-permanent content in MMOs.

Besides, not everyone wants one-shot events in the first place; it’s why ANet faced some backlash with their early implementation of GW2’s “Living World” events, and for season 2 onward decided to instead make “living world” events that can be replayed at will by the players, even months or years after they first took place.

I myself prefer to be able to replay any and every event; my choice of gaming as my main entertainment venue was, in large part, because I can replay positive experiences. Remove that possibility and I lose much of my interest in gaming.

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Schmidt.Capela

Except when the dice rolls dictate otherwise.

In every single pen and paper RPG game I played this wasn’t the case. Bad dice rolls would be kept if the result was entertaining, but would be unceremoniously thrown away if the result could ruin the game, as judged by the group itself. Heck, I once caused the DM in a DnD 2e group to throw away his character creation rules by rolling Constitution 3 (in the roll twice, keep the highest score method, which means I rolled a 3 twice in sequence).

And that, mind, isn’t the single difference. Take time flow, for example; pen-and-paper RPG games use narrative time, which means time only flows for the interesting parts and skips over anything boring or uninteresting. Groups can also pause, resume, slow down, or even rewind time at will. When the pizza arrives, we can pause the game mid-swing to socialize over food; when someone has to leave, we can suspend the game and continue, days or weeks later, from the exact point where we were. This part is simply impossible in a MMO because, with a shared world, time has to flow in the same way for everyone playing, for all the groups, making this kind of time control by a single group impossible.

Thinking about it, we used to label campaigns “hardcore” if the GM took a by-the-book approach to the rules, never bending them to help the group or the narrative. I had few, and for the most part bad, experiences with such a mindset.

What’s more important is the tabletop scenario. Friends hanging out, socializing,

This part, yes. Our pen and paper RPG games were always planned as social affairs.

overcoming overwhelming odds together, and ultimately experiencing a sense of accomplishment that can only happen when you achieve a goal alongside someone else, rather than on your own.

This one wasn’t exactly important. We — as in, me and the people who regularly played with me — never saw pen and paper RPGs as some kind of score-based games where the objective was to win; we were more interested in how the story unfolded than in the result. Or, in other words, what was important was the journey, not the destination.

That is where much of our dice-fudging ways arose. We weren’t trying to beat the GM, but rather crafting an entertaining tale with him, so rolls that would leave the tale worse off were tweaked or discarded. This isn’t just about winning; killing the final opponent in a single one-in-a-million critical hit was as anti-climatic as having the group die due to an unrelated series of equipment malfunctions (and yeah, both real examples of rolls that were discarded).

Funny how you mention needing flesh and blood GMs to tweak the game in real time. Because we are doing EXACTLY that.

You are providing GM-driven events, not providing a personal GM to every single group playing your game. The kind of GM supervision that would be needed to make a computer game feel even remotely like a pen-and-paper RPG simply isn’t feasible.

BTW, a true GM, in the pen-and-paper RPG sense, is part of the group, conducting the game together with the players to maximize everyone’s enjoyment. It’s the kind of person you can share inside jokes with, not some kind of hired help.

Myself and others on our team are playing the parts of NPCs, and sometimes joining the parties as adventuring members, and playing tabletop in a digital space.

That isn’t tabletop, that is LARP. Big difference, and I truly mean it, as I love tabletop RPGs but never could get into LARPing, and not for lack of trying.

I’m not saying that your game is a bad one, mind. I’m just saying that it will never be able to replicate the kind of experience I look for in a pen-and-paper RPG. And I say this as someone that has played RPGs for decades with more than a few groups, going through dozens of systems.

(And, incidentally, your game certainly isn’t for me. I would rather uninstall a PC game and never return than ever ask a stranger in-game for help. And no, this isn’t something new for me; I was already like that when I started playing MMOs in the time before WoW.)

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John Kiser

Well then whoever lead your pen and paper campaigns did a disservice to an extent. You are supposed to roll with the bad dice rolls and have positive and negative outcomes not just “entertaining ones”

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Tim Anderson

This. Oh-So-Much THIS!

Roleplaying / tabletop is about litrally “rolling” with the punches, good or bad.

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Vinnie travi

I can’t wait to play this game. I miss grouping. The lost fun I have had playing MMO’s was doing group quests in Lotro (back when it had group quests) It was not the quests that were fun it was playing with other people using voice chat and most times whe we finished the quest people would stay in group to finish the conversation. I know most people prefer to play solo these days, which is why MMO’s are terrible now. There are tons of solo MMO’s, so let us have 1 game that requires grouping. That is all I ask

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Tim Anderson

We whole-heartedly agree :)

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Chosenxeno .

Vanguard turned me off from FORCED grouping. There’s nothing worse than not being able to progress because no one is around. I get that some people want this but one thing I am not seeing from Lucima or Pantheon Devs is what happens 3 months down the line when the initial rush ends but you have a few people coming in to “kick the tires”? Who is going to help them? These games are going to be niche so you cannot guarantee that there will be a sufficient amount of New Players coming in. How do they intend to incentivize Vets to take time away from End Game Farming or profession leveling to help McNoobs?

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Eamil

Pantheon’s FAQ does address this to a degree, although the details aren’t set in stone yet.

4.11 Can I play with my friend’s new character using my high-level character? What about alts?
Yes, through the Mentor System. Mentoring temporarily de-levels your character and allows you to group with them. You will either scale down or assume the character you were at that lower level (TBD) and be a huge help. This will enable players to group together without one being overpowered and content trivialized.

The Mentor System is voluntary although there will be incentives to mentor, giving your character certain advantages (points, recognition, and other rewards – the details are TBD). We want to encourage people to help new players. Additionally, there will be incentives to create alternate characters through the Progeny System (where when you reach a certain level you can create an alternate level one character who will have some advantages over a brand-new character).

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

That’s pretty much boilerplate “mentoring”. I have yet to see a “mentoring” system that adequately rewarded the mentor. I have yet to see a scaling system that did anything more than adjust attack/healing/mitigation/hp values. Characters with a full skill/equipment kit have so many additional synergies and utilities that trivialize lower level content.

The closest I’ve seen a game get is GW2’s level sync. It’s not really a mentoring system but it’s still worth visiting lower level zones for veterans.

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Eamil

It’s only not a mentoring system because syncing is forced on you no matter what, not as an option to play with someone else. If they can do it well why can’t others?

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John Kiser

Because it was never meant to be about that. I think modern mmorpg players are seeking to be entitled for something. Ohh my friend needs help I should be rewarded for levleing down and helping them. You can’t just you know help people to help people? There used to be player guilds and even guides in MMORPG that’d go out of their way to help lower level players.

Entitlement has heavily ruined a lot of the genre.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

This is exactly what’s going to happen. And the game will hit a wall of participation. New players will be excited to play, plead for help, and get none and frustrated, go away. While everyone points to the horrid casual and soloist as why there’s less grouping in games, this is really the cause: No one to group with past the rush.

The only Mentoring system that works is with people who are already friends. GW2’s daily quests where experienced players volunteer to take the less experienced players through jump puzzles or lead in quest completion is the closest I have seen to high levels players having a useful system to help low-level players. The weird thing about GW2’s non-group group quests is that they actually are the most social grouping I’ve experienced since the olden days. People assist others, give out information and help fallen players.

Rifts Adventures, where players of all levels are grouped to complete a round of game-assigned quests, is another one. But the game auto assigns players into groups and provides quests. It’s more of a gang than a group.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I get it. Getting together with friends and playing Monopoly was fun. Let’s do that online.

Except, Monopoly was not co-operative. (Is it now?) Only one person won. And all the other players were competitors/enemies.

Except, we all knew each other. This was not calling up random people in the neighborhood and asking them, “Hey, I don’t know you, but you want to come over and play Monopoly?” Yeah, maybe in Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best. But not in RL.

The reason people don’t group is because it isn’t fun. Somehow, devs these days think Grouping is Fun! without actually making it fun. They think 20 years ago it was about socializing. Did anybody think this way 20 years ago? Hey, gang, let’s make an MMO where we socialize!

Nope. Nobody thinks this way. What people thought 20 years ago was, let’s have some fun! And that’s what people think today.

If grouping was fun instead of a forced chore, more people would group and the Holy Grail of socializing would take care of itself. But people do not group because it’s fun. They group because they have to to do the content.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s when board games and card games is exactly what we did in the evenings. I grew up in a neighborhood with fifty million other kids. But we all didn’t like each other and we all didn’t play together. We only did what we thought was fun. With the other kids we wanted to. If our mothers had ever told us, you will play Monopoly with Frank and Ed, an you will like it, we would have run off to the creek shouting “na-na-na-na!”

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Ken from Chicago

20 years ago, people, in college, or younger, who had oodles of time, no marriage, no kids, no job, no responsibilities could spend hours, days, whole weekends playing MMOs. Playing online was new. What? We spend hours just waiting for the right members to fill the team? Okay. What? We spend days, weeks, months, grinding to get the right gear to unlock the door / gate / dungeon or simply waiting for it to randomly unlock? Okay. This was new. We didn’t know any better.

20 years later. The same players have jobs, spouses, kids and far too many responsibilities to spend hours in game. We might barely have an hour of time and we’re not going to spend half of just trying to get a team and then hope someone doesn’t bail out in the middle of a raid 20 minutes in. Group finders are there for a reason. Sure, I could mortgage interest rates for 30 years in, but I have Excel spreadsheets for that because I’ve got other stuff to do TYVM. People teamed up in CITY OF HEROES because the game rewarded you for doing so–rewarded you significantly enough that players saw it and kept coming back for more. However if you wanted to solo, the overwhelming majority of the content was soloable, and if it wasn’t, you could level up and come back to it (I’m looking at you, CITY OF HEROES’ Nocturne the Black Widow boss villainness of Arachnos!).

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Frank White

Well, some people really are busier these days and have more important things to do, but some people have really just filled their loves with a lot more “busy work”. LoL, I’m not arguing for people to invest a lot more time in their favorite MMO, just pointing out for those who need a reminder that spending half your life on social media platforms, constantly checking your tweets and like’s and arguing with strangers, and the other half constantly checking your phone texts and having a lot of mostly not very important conversations every hour of the day, does not qualify as having a very busy life, not in any meaningful sense. ;)

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Eamil

Grouping is fun when I’m playing with people I know. The reason I don’t group outside of dungeons in FFXIV is that nothing needs me to. I’d LOVE to group up with my FCmates to level in Eureka, except the devs forgot to give us level sync so we can only effectively do that together if we only play when all of us are able to make it on, because being too much higher than someone in your group is actively detrimental to their progress. FFXI only solved that problem a decade ago.

This is why I want a game with more group focused content. I want more reasons to play with my friends rather than do my own thing solo with my guild acting as a chat room. I want solo content to be an option when groups just aren’t happening, but I don’t want it to be practically all that exists.