Landmark: First Thoughts

For the game formerly known as Everquest Next: Landmark, and now merely known as Landmark… I have a new name suggestion.

Landmark: Pothole Simulator

Landmark: Pothole Simulator

Okay, okay, I’m being unfair.

I know it’s Beta, and I know caves are coming.

Soon, there won’t be these nicely convenient ore veins just glimmering on the surface, ready to be attacked… and we’ll all want to slit our wrists hunting for ore, just as in Vanilla Minecraft.

Minecraft: Mineshaft Simulator

Minecraft: Mineshaft Simulator

But in the meantime, since it’s there, and gravitating to the path of least resistance like the stereotypical gamer , one hammers away at the soil, creating ugly little scars of devastation that presumably heal at some future point when one is not looking.

tropical

When it’s working, Landmark really is quite pretty.

Even on my toaster, though its Core 2 Duo processor comes in under the minimum specs for CPU, and my ATI 4870 GPU apparently just didn’t make the cut either.

My screenshots are nowhere near as pretty as those of you with more modern machines, but they’re not bad, and to be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised that the game’s working at all.

The performance of the Landmark Beta client has apparently taken a sharp drop downward from Alpha, which I suspect is due to the increased number of entities since they introduced flora and the sickles to harvest them, plus the player load of all us freeloaders jumping in via the 4x Founder guest invites, and thousands of other keys being given away by various websites.

This has led to the initial uncomfortable experience of loading into a crowded Player Spire and freezing at 0-1 FPS, risking a crash or viewing most of the world as a slide show. My mistake was jumping into the Medium loaded Serenity server, whose 7+ player names in view completely hung up my system.

Well, that’s one way to encourage players to spread out.

I chucked my GW2-bred zerging tendencies out the window, put on my hermit hat, and tried to guess the least popular server name ever.

I settled on Confidence, mainly to shore up my lack of it.

The 1-2 player names on the island I randomly ended up on slowed me down, but I waded through molasses sufficiently far to get to a more quiet locale where I could actually experience the game a little closer to what is intended.

Moving also seemed to worsen the effect, causing framerate drops to 0 for a couple seconds before it bounced back up to whatever was presumably normal. My CPU and GPU took turns being the bottleneck, as indicated on the helpful display on the top left of one’s screen.

This led me to suspect that both were being slowed down when rendering new areas beyond the visible map, similar to how my Minecraft occasionally lags when procedurally creating a new chunk.

When I had the time later, I quit out of the game and edited the UserOptions.ini in the Landmark folder, and altered the RenderDistance from a very optimistic 999999.000000 to 1000.000000 – which sounded a lot more like what my toaster could handle.

(Basically, I followed a number of the settings tips from this website, also tweaking down Lighting Quality and Texture Quality to even more minimal than recommended, and turning off Shadows altogether.)

It didn’t completely get rid of the issue, but it did mitigate it significantly enough to be felt.

I now hovered around 35-40 FPS when stationary, instead of 20-30, and the framerate would only plunge to 0 for a split second when moving, or worse case scenario, pause for a few seconds when rendering the next part of the map.

Going near other players or their creations was still a little luck of the draw though, along with going near the Portal Spires to swap islands and entering the loading screen.

(Caveat: Altering Render Distance to such a short distance will make the map brought up by the ‘M’ key look fairly ugly, as it doesn’t render the landscape in its entirety. But you know, when you’re a desperate player with a low-end machine, you get used to such tradeoffs.)

There was also very regular falling out of the map for a couple seconds, before the game bounced me back up to solid ground.

falling

I’m curious to know if those of you located in the US also experience this, meaning it’s the Beta client’s unoptimized nature at work, or if it’s due to my 220-240ms latency from being on the other side of the planet disagreeing with the server on just where my avatar is. (Fair warning for those of us in Europe, Asia, Australia or the other continents anyway.)

I’m probably an atypical Landmark player.

Maybe it comes of having prior construction sandbox experiences in A Tale in the Desert.

Maybe it’s just that the GW2 WvW league is starting in a day or two, and thus I’m keenly aware that I only have a limited amount of time to play in the Landmark sandbox before my gaming priorities call me elsewhere.

Setting down a claim flag and hogging some land for myself was not the first thing on my mind.

Exploring was.

desert

The biomes, by the way, are pretty nifty in how different they all look.

I’m exceedingly partial to the desert one, which is great because barely anyone else seems interested in claiming land on that biome (the crowd seems to have gravitated to the forests.)

Admittedly, the Old Forest biome looks pretty darned good too.

Admittedly, the Old Forest biome looks pretty darned good too, if you catch the lighting at the right angle. It’s downright gloomy at other times though.

In close-up, there’s quite a bit of variance to the objects that make up the biome – though after wading through the same terrain for ten long minutes, thanks to the stuttering framerate, it begins to wear on you.

I suspect this is merely an early Beta thing. It doesn’t make sense to have islands of one concentrated terrain or another, so it’s likely that these biomes will get spread out in more natural fashion across the continent at a later date. (That’s probably going to make it a lot harder to collect resources though.)

There were a number of pragmatic reasons for why I decided to be a nomad and explore first.

For one thing, I was coming in completely cold, having not followed any forums or watched any videos. I had no idea what to expect, what kinds of resources there were, or what would be considered a “good” location to claim or no.

To me, this sort of thing is the privilege of veterans. It’s similar to A Tale in the Desert, where my first Telling ended me up in a somewhat out-of-the-way locale, making it slightly awkward to get anywhere and being a little short on nearby resources (luckily I got adopted fairly quick by a friendly and welcoming guild and moved in with them to use their stuff.)

That learning experience helped me out in subsequent Tellings to land grab locations with desirable resources, and still have sufficient space to expand. One has to see the crowd tendencies at least once to know where the newbies go and where the vets hang out.

For instance, it was very likely that the central hub from which you could portal anywhere would form into a crowded little village / ghetto of a few oldbies seeking convenience, not minding the crowd or wanting to be very social, plus newbies crowding in next to each other without sufficient room to expand.

Landmark does seem to safeguard against this somewhat by reserving some space around the claim for you, so the danger of random players building unsightly stuff too near you is probably a little less.

I personally don’t like those kinds of crowds, and I’m okay with walking a bit to get to the Central portal, so felt very little urgency to plonk a claim down. Worse case scenario, I’d wander out to a map edge or something.

(After you’ve played ATITD, which can take upwards of 2-3 hours or more to walk from one side of the bloody map to another – plus a near-mandatory cross-region run for seed from various Universities if you start the game before chariot stops are up  – I was pretty sure that walking a ways in Landmark wouldn’t take as long. Though I didn’t quite account for the framerate lag.)

For another thing, once you’ve played some of these crafting sandbox games, you learn about community technology bottlenecks and certain resources being gating mechanisms, where players coming in late get the privilege of skipping past some of the early grind through the altruism of community-minded veteran players.

craftingstations

It never fails to amaze me how these public works are bound to spring up.

Have a crafting station or piece of equipment that isn’t destroyed when other players use it, that takes a lot of resources to construct? Only going to use it irregularly yourself?

Well, why should every player waste resources reinventing the wheel, then?

Enter the communal-shared resource. Public goods, public works, call it what you will in different games, the concept is the same.

I got lucky.

The random island I started on when I selected my server had one such industrious individual benevolently building away right next to the Portal Spire.

Seeing him WAY further along the tech tree than I was, I immediately dumped all plans of trying to follow the miserable little crafting chain from the basic work station at the Spire, and tried out all of his crafting stations instead, staring at the recipes to make plans for what I wanted to collect and trying not to drool onto his floor.

In return, he got my verbal thanks, and a Feedback thumbs-up. Not much, but I guess those warm fuzzy feelings make up for it?

Oh, and publicity here, I suppose.

DKonen's claim - Confidence Server - Channel (Tier 1)

Public Use Crafting Stations - Dkonen’s claim – Confidence Server – Channel (Tier 1)

Try not to crowd there so much that it freezes my CPU from too many adjacent players when I visit. That would make me sad.

But visit Dkonen anyway, because there’s a lot of cool crafting stations generously made available for the public to use, and he ought to be one of the first to get a flaming thumbs-up indicator of awesome coolness for his claim.

Since I now had a public works to fall back on for crafting stations, I decided that the nomadic plan would be viable for a while yet, and that I ought to work on the danged vertical progression for personal tools instead.

That’s still a heck of a lot of work, I might add.

It turned out to be a fairly considerable amount of mining and tree-chopping involved, along with having to cross-island hop from biome to biome, slowly raising Tiers as my tools got better and needed the next Tier’s resource to build the next better tool.

(Still not a fan of vertical progression, but I suppose the game needs stuff like this to give players some goals and the temptation to shortcut it via the cash shop later on.)

These, by the way, are the trees you need for the Thistle Seeds for Sundrop Heartwood.

These, by the way, are the trees you need for the Thistle Seeds for Sundrop Heartwood. Ran around for ages looking for them, suspecting I was following in the footsteps of someone(s) who had already chopped them all down. Finally got far out enough to find plenty.

I started to wonder what the point of claims was, since there was no way you were going to be able to find a good geographic locale with all the necessary resources nearby, when all the necessary resources were separated so widely.

It was beginning to seem as if all a claim needed to be, was a patch of empty land on which you get some space to build whatever pretty object you wanted, having already spent the time (or $$$) to obtain the necessary resources elsewhere.

It took many hours, but I did get to the Cobalt Pick and Gold Axe before getting bored of the grind and deciding the last tier or so could wait and be spaced out a little less urgently.

Good tools -really- make a difference.

The Cobalt Pick is significantly more enjoyable to mine with than the earlier picks, in my opinion. It can even almost completely mine an ore vein in a few artfully chosen single-clicks, rather than having to toggle on clicking and waiting for an endless amount of time, adjusting the cursor every now and then.

Speaking of which, Landmark REALLY needs a auto-attack toggle for their picks and axes.

I got through one vein and one tree holding down the mouse button before my finger started cramping, and I started hunting for other options… including keyboard/mouse hardware macros or writing something in AutoHotkey and braving whatever reception third-party software users got.

I eventually settled for the forums-suggested solution of turning on Windows 7′s Click-Lock, via Control Panel => Mouse. Holding down the mouse button for an adjustable amount of time then locks it on, allowing one to auto-mine or auto-chop without risking RSI or carpal tunnel. Click again to stop.

Along the not-obvious line of things one might be interested to know, shift+mouse wheel zooms in and out, alt-F10 removes the interface, and ctrl+F12 takes screenshots. Who thought these up?

If anyone figures out how to strafe, please tell me. Keyboard turning is weird as hell for many MMO gamers.

Anyway, I’ll be grinding out the rest of the resource-locked tools before seriously experimenting with building. I plunked an experimental claim down and tried some of the basics, but made a pretty lousy job out of it. Maybe I’m just not cut out artistically for voxels.

Walking around to see something like this totally doesn't help the ego either.

Walking around to see something like this totally doesn’t help the ego either.

Still, I could see myself in a nice gathering and exploring niche in the future, selling stuff to the dedicated builders – assuming the rest of the game develops well enough to do that in an entertaining and non-boring fashion.

GW2: Don’t Be A Stranger – The Voice Debate in WvW

The faceless masses of low graphic settings... all these people I don't know...

Tobold asks the question of whether we have grown bored talking with strangers in our MMO and posits that it’s the reason behind the difficulty in getting back that “oldschool” community feeling more present in older games, where a certain forced reliance on others was more the norm.

At the same time, cakeboxfox launches into a lengthy diatribe against her server’s hardcore WvW community, which appears to have grown increasingly closeminded and elitist (or just super paranoid of spies) as competition pressures from the WvW league are coupled with the stress of dealing with PvE achievement hunters coming in completely new to WvW and possibly not interested in learning more about the game type.

One thing that catches the brunt of her anger at how insular and “srs bsns” the WvW guys on her server have become is the forceful pushing of Teamspeak (or other voice program) onto everyone in the map and the silence and non-communication over mapchat that follows.

One thing that does raise my eyebrow though, are the following interesting lines:

My parents taught me never to talk to strangers.

I don’t need to talk to anyone else on the online game as I’m talking to flatmate. I don’t play online in any other games, because I’ve realised, just like at Xmas, many people can only see their own goals, and you’re just a blur of pixels as they fly past looking for the next set of achievement points.

Team spirit seems to have died a little, despite having things like Teamspeak.

Now let me make something very clear.

I’m not a fan of voice chat.

Never have been.

In those tests of visual, audio, kinesthetic intelligence, I am a primarily visual person, followed by doing stuff to learn it, and if you tell me shit using your voice, I have apparently been trained over the decades by incessantly boring lecturers and a mother who never stops talking the moment I get into her vicinity to automatically fall asleep.

Failing which, I tune out. I’m physically, but not mentally there after fifteen minutes or so.

I’ve heard that the average attention span for lectures is only around 45 minutes anyway. (For me, it takes fairly herculean effort to get to that point if the speaker isn’t phenomenally talented.)

I don’t use a microphone.

I live in a household and a country whose culture tends to look cross-wise at people wearing headsets speaking to machines, eyes glued to a tv screen, “playing games” when one should be concerning themselves with “serious” and “mature” things becoming to one’s age like work, food, small talk, complaining about everything under the sun, playing the “I have a bigger car or house than you” Jones game and discussing the latest tv show or soap opera because that’s what everybody else does and one wants to blend in and fit with the crowd, no?

Suffice to say, no mic. It’s just not worth the long family debates it’ll raise over and over, and how little opportunity I’ll get to use a headset, when I could spend the same amount of money on a gaming mouse and get the full benefit from one.

The Tarnished Coast community gets into the Mumble or no Mumble debate every couple of months on the forum boards.

As is usual with our diverse and quirky and occasionally dysfunctional but generally civil and tolerant community, folks from all sides weigh in with their opinions. There’s always a couple extremists on either end who would love nothing better to force everyone to their way of thinking. There’s moderates who recognize the value of both options, text and voice, and try to mediate the potentially tense exchanges. There’s lurkers who simply roll their eyes and go “this again?” at the dead horse being beaten to the point that one can make a shepherd’s pie out of the mince that remains.

Someone will try to point that there’s very little point bringing all of it up again because everyone’s going to play their own way and that the best consensus that has only sorta kinda been reached is to reach out both ways. Folks listening in on Mumble to transcribe what the commander says in text, to help those who can’t get onto voice. Folks sitting on the fence about voice programs to be encouraged into Mumble by advertisements, that may anger those staunchly against the program, but that can’t be helped.

And then someone else will jump onto it and argue that no, it’s worth rehashing all this again because sweeping issues under the rug and pretending they don’t exist is not the way to resolve problems.

Yeah, well. That’s our erudite TC community for you. :)

The thread dies a natural or unnatural death (euthanasia by moderators may take place) after a while, and life in WvW goes on.

But here’s what I don’t get.

Maybe some of you can help me understand.

How do you complain about the quality of a community, in the same breath as saying that all these evil, selfish people are strangers to you and that you don’t want to talk to them, ever?

You’ve not even tried to participate in the community. You’ve just tarred and feathered them all with the same brush of imagined prejudice.

(Now if you have, and you’ve decided that the people in it have a culture that doesn’t match your preferences and that you want out, that’s different.)

We are all strangers to each other until someone extends a hand and says, “Hi.”

Maybe I’m just really lucky on the Tarnished Coast. Our community, by and large, is an amazing place.

Yes, there have been certain weeks and months that a guild has decided to be morons about Mumble.

There was a point in the past where my own guild was being fairly retarded about it – advertising like a drug pusher, failing to read map chat (AND GUILD CHAT, much to my disgust as I got run over by an opposing zerg while trying to scream for help and solo defend a tower when five other guildies were conducting a nonessential conversation about WvW builds in my ear and the zerg was off milling over there when we could have really used the help here) and then being tactically unsound and running us all into a meat grinder, pretty much destroying trust and morale in their commander tag and our guild rep to boot.

But you know, those are individual people.

Their attention span for text is plainly the same kind of attention span I have for audiobooks. Those situations are one-off and thankfully, not too habitually common. (Worse case scenario: I take off and go solo thieving by myself in a silent vote of no-confidence.)

I’ve met plenty of other people who are awesome at marrying voice and text. I listen, they talk. I type, they read. We manage a conversation fairly well, both making allowances for each other.

I run dungeons with the same guild that way, and did fine with TTS on their Teamspeak too.

There are commanders on the Tarnished Coast who do utterly stellar with keeping track of text reports from a variety of sources, while responding and commanding on Mumble. And some really crazy good-at-multitasking individuals manage to echo themselves with text at the same time.

Here’s my point.

How would I meet them if I didn’t just extend a hand across the gap as well, and download and install a quick program to give it a shot?

They’ve extended a hand. “You don’t need a mic,” they say.

Which suits me just fine. I can’t ever join those super-picky hardcore guilds where everyone must have a mic, 100% everything required…

Hell, I probably don’t even have the time to spare for those. They play the game their way, keeping away the hoi polloi, and I leave ‘em to it, closed communities eventually die off or move on to the next game rather quickly.

If you want -some- kind of community though, why not take just a little bit of effort and try to join it?

Especially when following zerg commanders.

Here’s my line of thinking. You’ve chosen to follow them. You’ve given them a certain amount of trust and responsibility to lead you right. In the interests of playing well, and helping your team play well and not die horribly, why not plug in some earphones and get on whatever voice program they are using so as to hear where the zerg is moving next and survive better?

Maybe it’s hard for me to understand because I’m a bit of a compulsive problem-solver and optimizer.

The first time I joined zergs in WvW, I did it with a PvE built guardian in a shabby mix of PVT and other gear with no coherent build worth speaking of. I observed that I would regularly go splat the instant I was asked to charge forward and through an opposing zerg.

No matter what I did. Double dodge? Yeah, tried that. Go around the side? Worked silghtly better, but not great. Conditions would coat me, and then I would die. Over and over.

When this happens, I take it as a sign that SOMETHING IS WRONG. Especially when I see other people managed to make it through just fine.

My next step is always to ask myself, HOW CAN -I- FIX THIS.

Note the locus of control. I find blaming others rarely helps anything.

I try to improve myself and my understanding of what’s going on, up to the point where I personally can’t take what’s happening in the situation around me, and scarper off somewhere else where I do have a better locus of control (ie, soloing dolyaks. Choice of where to go, and when to engage and when to run screaming like the hounds of hell are after my hiney is all down to me.)

Whatever gives me an advantage, I take.

I fix my build. I go research what other people have done with WvW builds, try them out wholesale to see if they fit me, and tinker a bit for understanding and customisation.

I read WvW guides on what I’m supposed to be doing. In a zerg, target the commander and key in on the red target sight like it’s your lifeline, always keeping it in the center of your screen.

I practice. I try again, searching for what worked better this time around, and what still didn’t work as well.

I get on Mumble. I hear the comm’s commands, run in a tight ball with the core, and live where others die.

For entirely self-interested reasons, it makes sense to me to at least give the voice program a shot.

I join the TTS Teamspeak when I do Tequatl runs. Strictly speaking, it’s still very possible to run Teq without it at all. But for the purposes of the actual fight, where one can get a bigger picture and a bigger sense of which portions are in trouble and may need people to come by and help out, I find it useful to be listening in on voice.

And yes, there are certain people who can never seem to shut up while waiting for Tequatl. It’s not their fault. They’re built that way. It’s also not my fault that I find this exceedingly annoying and irritating. I’m built that way.

So what? Do I swear off using voice chat because there are some people I can’t stand also using the program?

Well, there are always volume controls and the ye olde stand by of yanking out the earphones. (If one wanted to be very rude, one could also visibly mute certain people or deafen oneself in the voice program when necessary.)

While waiting, I tend to just not be listening to the Teamspeak at all.  I’ve already heard the briefing several times over. Only Merforga’s airline briefing is still amusing now and then. I let the chatters chat amongst themselves. I play my own music if I want to.

When it’s time for the actual fight, I listen in.

The same goes for WvW, I should think.

If I’m running with a zerg commander that uses voice, I should be getting on voice.

If I don’t like it, then fer heaven’s sake, why am I running with that commander?

Give him a vote of no-confidence for his commanding style and scarper off and go do your own thing.

Some commanders curse a lot. I happen to have a fairly thick skin and don’t mind vulgarity, but I perfectly understand if others do not like that commanding style and don’t want to follow them. Some commanders are tactical amateurs, and as much as I might like to support them to the point where they can learn and improve, some days I just don’t feel like dying repeatedly to bad calls and will simply not follow those doritos.

I’ve met one commander who was intensely abrasive and a little bit racist with not much redeeming features (as opposed to another who just cursed a lot but was hilarious and funny and knew how to spin a situation around to keep his followers engaged with high morale)  and after fifteen minutes, simply decided to break away from that little group. Not my thing. They were still contributing in their own way, so I went off to contribute in my own way somewhere else.

When I want to be alone and not listening to anybody and playing my own music, I log on an alt for WvW roaming and I run around on my own, only keeping track of and supplying reports via text chat.

But when I choose to play with a group, to me, it makes sense to help that group be the best it can be.

Even if it means downloading an evil voice program and having to meet and talk to strangers.

Who knows, maybe after some time of getting to know them, they won’t be strangers any longer.

A Guild Odyssey – Part 3 (NBI Talkback Challenge)

“The universe is driven by the complex interaction between three ingredients: matter, energy, and enlightened self-interest.”

— G’Kar, Babylon 5

I believe Dunbar was on to something when he proposed that there is a limit to the number of people a single person can maintain social relationships with.

I don’t know if he got that number exactly correct, but certainly, it’s easier to remember 10-20 familiar names in a guild (my memory is very very bad) and the games in which I felt the strongest connections were games where less than 300 people tended to be online at any one time.

A Tale in the Desert is notable for being one of the few MMOs that allow people to be in multiple guilds at one time.

In my opinion, it’s pioneered a number of innovative guild features that other MMOs would benefit from adopting. The game also highlights the interesting push-and-pull between public community interest and self-interest for personal benefit via many design aspects.

Guilds, first and foremost, in ATITD are a means to control ownership and access rights to the property and items that players build.

If you’re a solo player on a single character, you might be able to get away with just having all the stuff you build be in your name and accessed via those, but if you play two or more characters, it becomes convenient to create a guild and give all your characters equivalent high access to everything.

Also, spouses or best friends that play one or two characters each will also favor creating their own guild so that they can share access rights that way.

Evolving up from there, we have the friends and family guilds where groups of friends may want to share communal resources, or come together to build big ticket items that are infrequently used but expensive for a lone player to build.

The nice thing about being allowed to join multiple guild is that you can have the best of both worlds. You can have a personal guild for yourself to keep your personal items safe, while being part of a larger guild, possibly with more limited access privileges, but still contribute to that community and benefit from the shared resources.

Veteran players tend to develop close relationships with each other and naturally want to stay in contact with each other and chat, so such clique guilds are common. Depending on the group, they may be open and inclusive to newbies joining them as some don’t mind or enjoy teaching newbies, and more players contributing resources tend to make the guild stronger as well.

A Tale in the Desert has one interesting spin on guild chat. (All chat tabs, really.) It’s persistent. As in, the guild chat can be set to be time-stamped and left up for hours if no one scrolls it off the screen.

What this means is that in smaller guilds, or even individual whispers to a player, you can essentially leave messages for each other even when both parties aren’t logged on at the same time. You could conduct a conversation message-board style 8 hours apart, and have the benefit of it speeding up to real-time when both of you are logged in together.

ATITD allows for as many chat tabs as you want to be up at once, so depending on the player, they could choose to leave chat tabs for 10 or 20 or 70 player names up at once to always stay in contact with them, or be in multiple guilds and keep track of all the chat going on in each channel.

This gives rise to functional guilds.

Interested in an aspect of ATITD? Say, wine-making? Beer-brewing? Growing thistles? An expert and want to talk shop with other experts? A newbie and want to pick the experts’ brains while asking questions? Join a functional guild and be included in a small community of other enthusiasts, sort of a hobbyist guild within a hobby, where most chat will be related to the subject of interest.

Regional guilds are also commonplace, often doubilng up as either ‘public facilities’ or ‘research’ guilds.

You see, it’s not easy to travel in A Tale in the Desert. The map is LARGE, the runspeed is SLOW, and so people tend to spontaneously clump together in regions and form local communities, with buildings close by that resemble a village.

Again, for big ticket items, people have found it most convenient to construct shared facilities, that are often placed in a central location of a region – next to a chariot stop – and designated as for public-use.

Ditto for research contribution, which are basically Egypt-wide projects to unlock a technology for all, including future players of that Telling, to use. Guilds are used to indicate interest in contributing to those projects, with the bonus of having a separate chat tab to keep track of everything.

One common mistake newbie players make is to simply join one guild, which is often a public or research guild as those have the widest reach and give their all for that guild. The effort is always appreciated, but sometimes the new players expect a reciprocation (such as increased guild rank promotion) that may not arrive. (Depending on the guild’s leader, permissions for various ranks may be set differently, to restrict certain items from being broken by over-use or abuse.)

Often, it is sensible to keep some resources for oneself and one’s individual progress through the game to gain levels, and contribute only what you can spare. Different people arrive at slightly different balances between self-interest and community good, but extremes at either end tend to be rare, and don’t usually end well.

Which brings us back to MMO guilds in general: are they merely comprised of selfish individuals looking out for number 1?

I doubt it.

But I don’t think it is wrong to say that most people are self-interested.

(Not selfish, not self-centered, because those words come loaded with negative connotations. Even self-interest is used in semantically confusing fashion when one does a casual search on the web. I find this man’s take on the words a decently nice way of differentiating them though – Gerhard Adams on individual self-interest that can lead to selfish, cooperative or altruistic behavior on interaction with another.)

It is survival. Self-preservation. Natural selection favors a self-interested mind.

But what we find is that when circumstances dictate that cooperation and/or organization yields bigger or equally decent returns for self-interested individuals working together, they come together.

Zergs spontaneously form. Leaders create guilds. Humans have a long history of coming together.

At least, for a while.

Until going one’s own separate ways benefits the individuals more, and stuff breaks apart. The age-old cycle repeats itself.

P.S. As for Puzzle Pirates, I’ve decided to talk about that another time. Suffice to say that it’s a game that also has guilds designed -into- the game itself, giving players a need to ‘join a crew’ for better privileges and unlock access to some activities, and a way for newbies to flow into and be introduced to various guilds. Suffice to say that it is -also- an aging game that is past its prime in terms of guilds that are still alive rather than historical artifacts that have seen better times.

P.P.S. I’d like to come full circle soon and talk about guilds in my current game of Guild Wars 2, but I’m finding it a little hard to write about at the moment. Suffice to say that a number of guilds I know are… cycling right now and that’s correspondingly getting me a little bit down as well.

Change is inevitable, but sometimes, it’s a little hard to accept while it’s happening.