World of Warcraft’s Ion Hazzikostas suggests MMO social bonds are formed over ‘friction’

    
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World of Warcraft’s Ion Hazzikostas suggests MMO social bonds are formed over ‘friction’

The debate over whether World of Warcraft was more social “back in the day” than now has some more fuel for the fire. In an interview with Wired, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas looked back over the evolution of the MMORPG and said that players were more “tolerant” of each other in the vanilla era due to how long it took to form groups and get through content.

“There’s an inverse relationship between friction and the strength of bonds that are formed as a result of that friction or to overcome that friction,” noted Hazzikostas. He went on to note that compared to the early years of WoW, today’s player is pressured to min-max, has greater access to epic raid bosses, and is far more equipped with social tools.

So what does Hazzikostas yearn from in MMOs? “Something that surprises me anew with the promise of unexplored spaces. One of the biggest things that’s exciting about the concept of an MMO is going into an unexplored, undiscovered world. It’s almost the promise of something that somehow breaks all the rules we were talking about when it comes to how players understand and deconstruct systems.”

Source: Wired

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Axetwin .

Toxic attracts toxic, we’ve known this for years.

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Nathan Aldana

also, dude, you;re the guy in charge of raid design, so like, isnt it kinda his own fault if raid design today demands optimization?

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Nathan Aldana

Ion hazzikostas tells every modern guild how their relationships arent real unlike his old-as-shit guild,. news at 11.

kjempff
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kjempff

Hard to disagree with, but it is maybe not the entire explanation.

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Schmidt.Capela

The way I see it, the bigger issue is that games like WoW create an artificial need for other players in order to keep progressing. This makes players treat each other as mere tools to beat the content and get to the rewards. If the only reason a player is “socializing” is to get to that juicy reward, then it’s only natural that they will keep that specific instance of “socializing” to its bare minimum and even react with annoyance when it intrudes into the actual gameplay they want to engage in.

It’s why I consider forced socialization to be counterproductive to actually enjoyable socialization. If everyone in the group is together out of need rather than out of choice it dramatically reduces the incentive to do any more than the bare minimum socialization required to beat the content. Also, it provides groups with an endless stream of other players who also need to do that forced group content, allowing groups to lose some of its members to mistreatment with impunity as there will always be replacements available.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

I agree with you. A lot of people who played old MMORPGs consider them “more social” because people had to actively chat with other players in order to form a group. However that was a forced type of chatting where people did it just because they had to use someone to achieve their goal of beating some dungeon or open world boss. This is not what I would personally consider as socialization, at least not the positive kind where people enjoy the socializing process itself. In fact, this is a negative kind of socialization where someone might give a false impression that he or she cares about you as a person when in reality that person is just using you as a tool to go through content which requires this and would gladly replace you with a bot if he or she could.

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Robert Mann

^.

This is why I keep saying that group dungeon/raid content is NOT social content. Sure, you have to be together, but it’s all about clearing that combat content and getting the loot.

The fact that so many seem to think that social content must either be group combat centric, or have people with downtime forced upon them, is probably a result of the complete failure to focus outside combat at all with most MMORPGs.

Of course, just giving places to play around and have fun together doesn’t really work either… if the game has progress you could gain, then those two things are a time conflict. Whichever gives greater rewards (if they give similar) will be the “Real content” and the rest will be mostly ignored. Which means that this works best with a fairly power static game with sandbox elements, and to my mind one that has plenty of PvE/PcC (player creative content) area… because the last thing most groups of people just hanging out nicely want is to be attacked. It also means that effective tools for getting rid of other types of “so annoying!” people must exist for players, whether that be an ignore system that can make them not merely vanish from chat but from vision (that’s important all too often too) and other systems in place to cover worse behaviors.

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Utakata

I bet if they removed group based progression from the game, players would likely be more inclined to socialize. Not really suggesting Blizz should do this, but stating this in a hypothetical sense as a way to discourage players from being so 4 Chan with each other.

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Haxton

I don’t really think removing group based progression would do anything. Path of Exile can be completely completely solo, and in the end, the majority of players who play PoE play solo, despite the game being entirely made up of group content.

Or like, Warframe has plenty of group content, but the majority of players just play solo or with a very small tight knit group of players.

Then there’s like, Destiny 2, where there’s still a majority of players who just don’t raid or even bother with being in a clan to socialize.

Completely stripping out group content isn’t an answer here.

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Braud

I definitely understand the point you are trying to make, but I think the situation is more nuanced than that. Let’s look at this through the analogy of socializing at work. So most people would agree it’s best when you are out hanging out with friends that are all voluntarily there, but socialization at work is also pleasant and should not just be thrown out because hanging with your buds is better.

Lets say that a particular company is fairly small and there is lots of time for socialization. You could argue that it is forced because you are forced into the group of your teammates. Lets say this same company grows bigger and socialization is not necessarily discouraged but it’s definitely harder because your team is constantly changing and you are always worried about getting thrown under the bus.

I think some peoples argument is that if we are forced to socialize the former is better than the latter.

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Robert Mann

It’s not the friction. It’s the lack of something pushing you to hurry and complete content X to get to content Y and so on…

In short, when your primary in-game goals are: Finish this content for rewards (gear/currency) to do more of the same, anything that does not contribute and contribute efficiently is holding your progress back.

That doesn’t mean a game can’t have combat and adventure while having social content, but rather that other content needs to be rewarding in it’s own ways, and not feel like taking time to engage in that content is losing you your progress.

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Daniel Reasor

“It’s regrettable that getting into dungeons and raids became easy” is something I’d expect a Wildstar developer to say. I’m paraphrasing, but not by much.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Funcom in general and Secret World specifically has a problem that is also a blessing. They do a pretty bad job on communication, but some of it is actually on purpose.

When an ARG pops up or some random tweet appears on The Buzzing’s feed or a bunch of random patch notes drop that seem to be a joke, the community pools together to find out what is really going on.

Some great memories and friendships were formed when rumors of a rider appeared or when the Gatekeeper started walking down Kingsmouth’s main street.

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R'nageo

I wonder if the PTR and alpha/beta aren’t to blame here, with data-mining as a secondary culprit. If everything there is to know about new content is known and dissected to maximize efficiency months before it goes on the “live” servers, where’s the magic of discovery? What if I want to figure things for myself by running something blind but everyone else has already read 3 guides, played through the content 10 times, and has the best path to take memorized the day the patch goes live?

Same with the dungeon journal, I would like for it to be filled a couple weeks after content goes live, not before it’s even testable in the PTR. Start with it just listing the dungeon with it’s surrounding lore and the loot, add the boss descriptions a week afterward and the loot distribution, then after another week add the abilities listing and the strategies.

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Java Jawa

Yea that’s partially to blame too, every game has data miners now. A real shame, we are basically in a 24/7 spoiler society for all forms of media.

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Schmidt.Capela

It’s like that because a huge number of people don’t mind spoilers, or even actively seek them out. I, for one, vastly prefer when every bit of information about a game is either out there or else easily obtainable, and often seek spoilers before experiencing the content for the first time.

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Robert Mann

Aye, nothing wrong with that.

I’d like to see content for both mindsets though, although game developers would have to find people who can actually WRITE a good description to direct players, rather than just relying upon players to go spoilering everything.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

This is one of the reasons why FFXIV does not have a PTR.

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Haxton

FFXIV is also super transparent on what’s in their content patches though.

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Ben Stone

I think for this reason alone any next-gen MMO that is going to succeed will need randomness. While I enjoy the added challenge of M+, seeing these dungeon tools which let you pre-plan every encounter to the Nth degree just sucks the life out of the content.

I guess I just want combat to be reactive and not overly scripted routines for a change.

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rosieposie

What sort of interaction can you have when most of your content is a frigging time trial where you rush, rush, rush. I will never go back to retail and it’s disgusting systems, at least I will never approach it as a MMO where I am looking for people to socialize with. I will just treat it as a single player and ignore the meaningless background chatter of people who have no impact on my experience. I won’t let them have impact, because ultimately, their interactions with me will have no consequences for either of us.

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Nathan Aldana

You interact with guildmatesx and friends outside of duingeons, for one. Not everyone wants to be friends with evry random pug, when they can go seek out communities they want to be part of

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rosieposie

All my remaining friends are already in my retail guild, my social circle on retail has become completely insular, and there doesn’t seem to be a good way to increase it. The only way we get some fresh blood is if another guild is decimated badly and its remnants pool over because of some vague connection. Aside from that, I don’t even really know anyone on my server outside my guild, the server as such has no identity and might not even exist.

On Classic, people often flock to my guild because the word of mouth within that server’s community is actually very flattering. I have personally led close to ten people to my guild through leveling dungeons, just by talking to some of the nice unaffiliated people and getting them interested in joining a larger support structure. I know most of the server’s long-standing guilds, their leadership, and so on. It feels like an actual community where you know most people and you know that being a bad actor will have consequences. How is that not preferable to the alienating anonymity of retail.

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Robert Mann

Rush mode is the antithesis to communication.

Social content outside dungeons is a constant point I make, but it also has to be rewarding in game. Even if it is just a different and optional form of progression. Because without any reward tied to it equal to or separate from other content the result is that people will avoid it as “a waste of time when I can progress.” Even those who would otherwise enjoy it tend to be far less likely to participate.