In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.
When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.
The common consensus in the World of Warcraft community is that Patch 8.0 — the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch — is due to arrive next Tuesday. And speaking of community, one of the features that will arrive with that update is Blizzard’s own take on Discord.
The Communities tool will allow players to “create, manage, and join multiple groups of friends and family.” This feature works across realms and even Blizzard games, although apparently we’re still not allowed to talk across factions because reasons.
Blizzard notes that while players are encouraged to use the Communities tool for voice and text chat, the feature can also be used to pull quick join groups together among friends and like-minded souls.
Where does your allegiance lie: Steam or Discord? It won’t really matter either way, considering that both online services are trying so hard to ape each other that they’re becoming hard to distinguish.
Earlier this month, we covered how Steam is instituting a very Discord-like chat system in an attempt to pull some players back into its ecosystem. Now, Discord has pushed out a games tab that looks pretty much exactly like what you would find on Steam.
Both platforms show what friends are playing (because virtual stalking is a must-have feature in 2018) and pulls some headlines from games that you’ve indexed. Maybe when we blink, the two services will merge together and become the ultimate social gaming platform that will devour the world and consume all our attention?
As this year’s GDC coverage is winding down, I am finally coming to the topic I saved for last: community. MMOs are more than just multiplayer. We attract the “alone together” people more than the “FPS hero” crowd in our comments section for a reason; MMOs are virtual worlds. They’re a digital space inhabited by other people. We may not talk to them, but we watch and listen. Maybe we engage, maybe we group, maybe we guild. We do stuff in a shared environment because we think, or hope, we’re part of a larger system.
And this is why we need to talk about cross-platform communities and the strength of in-game, embedded community tools. As social media rises and mobile crashes against our PC fortress, increased console cross-play should be a reminder that we’re all gamers, and (some) developers are finally getting that.
Discord is a proven hit in the gaming community, bringing together players from guilds and games to talk about their hobby. With a recent change, the distance between talking about a game and playing it is closer than ever before.
The social communication platform added a new feature called Rich Presence that facilitates integration of games — both single- and multiplayer — with Discord. With this tool, gaming studios can add features that allow players to more visibly show off the games that they’re playing, spectate on friends’ sessions, form adventuring parties, and then take those parties right into the game world itself.
“Every day millions of gamers start their session on Discord and then jump into a game,” the company posted. “By hooking up the Join API, players can send party invites directly in Discord which will launch your game client. No more fussing around with friend codes and adding each other on other services.”
The dataminers at MMO-Champion may have just figured out one of the big reveals Blizzard has cooking for BlizzCon next month. It revolves around Battlenet: They’ve found a cavalcade of strings relating to grouping, plus icons and avatars, references to online/offline modes, and chat channel features, all pointing to a batch of new social features for the heretofore relatively featureless launcher.
Players are already calling it “guilds 2.0” and a “Discord clone,” which may not be bad things given that Battlenet is basically a lump taking up resources in your system tray as it stands, and there was certainly room for improvement of the friends lists that span multiple games. And the offline mode will certainly cheer up anybody who’s tired of that one guildie who still plays Heroes of the Storm bugging you every time you log into Diablo, am I right? Plus, if it’s keeping the name Battlenet (and it is), it deserves a bit of sprucing up.
Safe money’s on more info at BlizzCon in early November.
On my server in Star Wars: The Old Republic
, there are more guild advertisements than chatter in the general channel on the starter planets and fleet. This can quickly become overwhelming to those who don’t know what to look for. I have actually seen these advertisements turn people away from joining a guild altogether. The SWTOR
population has also fluctuated quite a bit, so it’s difficult to find a guild that is active and
has been in the game for an extended period of time. In other words, general chat is flooded with advertisements for guilds that aren’t very old. In fact, there are many who advertise needing a person or two to help start
If you are returning to SWTOR or maybe jumping in for the very first time, you are going to want to find a good guild. It’s possible to play the game without interaction with other people, but you will not really get the full experience until you join up to play the game with like-minded individuals.
My advice on finding a guild will avoid some of the obvious questions: Are they friendly, do they have regular events, and do they fit your playstyle? Instead, I would like to focus on the questions that are a little outside-the-box but are just as important if you want to find a guild that actually makes you want to stay in the game instead of flee it.
Camelot Unchained has a powerful new ally in its fight against your personal boredom. Mark Jacobs revealed a partnership this week that should bode well for the future of the game and its community.
“I’m pleased to announce that City State Entertainment and Discord have reached an agreement to work together on combining their cutting-edge tech along with that of Camelot Unchained,” Jacobs said. “It will help make Camelot Unchained a better and more immersive experience for our players.”
The agreement means that Camelot Unchained will be able to incorporate the full suite of Discord technology into the MMO, including text and voice chat services. Jacobs said that this will save the studio time that it would otherwise have had to spend on creating such features. Another bonus? Allowing players to access chat channels while logged out of the game.