The Daily Grind: Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

The first MMO I ever played was Final Fantasy XI, which meant that I got used to the idea of having no zone-wide chat. If you needed to get the attention of everyone in the zone, you used the /yell command, and that was considered intensely rude. It was only when I started playing City of Heroes (my second MMO) that I started getting used to the idea of zone-wide chat… which meant it seemed noisy at first. Going back to FFXI and then later in Final Fantasy XIV, it seemed downright quiet.

On the one hand, having a zone chat feature means that you get to talk with more people on a regular basis, so in some ways it helps with socializing. But it also means socializing that you might not want; Barrens Chat in World of Warcraft was legendary for being awful, and there’s a running meme in FFXIV to just turn off /shout when people are using it heavily. Plus there are people who prefer not to have it for immersion or the sense of immediacy. So what do you think? Is zone-wide chat a good thing for MMOs?

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs with PvP-focused factions allow cross-faction interaction?

I’m on-board for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth focusing on the factional conflict, but there’s a side of the factions in WoW that has always bugged me: the lack of cross-faction interaction. I can’t group with Horde characters while I’m playing an Alliance character, cannot meaningfully help them advance quests, can’t even talk to them. In terms of interaction, they wind up feeling like very smart NPC characters with no options beyond “hit it” or “ignore it.”

By contrast, Star Wars: The Old Republic has two factions that literally cannot coexist in the same galaxy peacefully, and it has actually done a better job of giving both factions chances to interact. At least Sith players can still talk to Republic characters.

The justification of keeping the faction conflict rolling has always struck me as fake; it drives the point home more effectively if your Night Elf isn’t just shooting at random Tauren characters but at people she knows, has grouped with, and even considers friends. But perhaps I’m in the minority here. What do you think, readers? Should MMOs with PvP-focused factions allow players to interact cross-faction, or is it better to keep them separated in gameplay as well as in lore?

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The Daily Grind: What MMO has your favorite non-combat pets?

Non-combat pets are one of those things that lots of MMOs have hanging around in their own ways. They’re little vanity rewards that allow you to show off some of your accomplishments and look cool, so that’s nice. But every game handles them a little bit differently, and I think it’s indisputable that some games just do the job better than others.

Final Fantasy XIV, for example, doesn’t just have an entire strategy game played with your vanity pets; it also has a variety of options for players to interact with those pets. The Coeurl Kitten bats at whatever you’re fighting and hisses if someone has a dog minion. Several pets will ride on your shoulder. Moogle pets will start dancing with one another. There’s lots of attention to detail, and that keeps my interest.

I also respect World of Warcraft‘s account-wide pets, complete with a minigame and some customization and interactive toys. But what about you, dear readers? What MMO has your favorite non-combat pets?

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The Daily Grind: Are you ever reluctant to get involved in MMORPG group content?

I have a very difficult time doing group content without group finders. This may come as a surprise to readers, but I’m actually a bit shy and reserved much of the time; I don’t have a great deal of confidence when it comes to reaching out and enlisting people. It’s something I work hard to overcome, but it means that I have a bit of a rough time striking up conversations and engaging with other people in a game. Final Fantasy XI was rough, yes.

The net result, of course, is that when people who have that problem are reluctant to get involved, the only people left who are forming groups are boisterous and outgoing, which just leaves the shy and reserved people more certain that they’re not welcome in groups. But even with group finders, you can find yourself unsure. What’s the culture in this game? What’s the custom? If I say I need this item and roll on it, will that be selfish? What if I screw something up?

In short, social anxiety is a gift that keeps on giving, for a given definition of “gift” and “giving.” But what about you, dear readers? Are you reluctant to get involved in group content? Not necessarily progression, which is a whole different ball of wax, but just grouping up with strangers to try something new?

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