You know, I don’t think I ever gave enough credit for how successfully GW2 built a sense of community, enough to attract even an asocial player like myself…
…Until it was taken away.
One of the reasons I played A Tale in the Desert for as long as I did was how it managed to recreate the “small-town feel” that I never felt anywhere in any MMO, save for the first MUD I played.
(You know what they say about your first MMO… it sticks with you long after you leave. You get used to that community of 300 odd players online, many of whose names you recognize and see every day. Some of whom you dislike and tend to ignore, sort of like that mad relative everyone keeps their distance from, but the rest of whom become part of an extended family.)
In ATITD, this was recreated by geographic proximity. Your neighbors were literally your neighbors. You learned to live with them, or you moved away.
With that sort of implicit social pressure and threat of ostracism from game progress (there are points where life is much easier if you have a group of friends), many people defaulted to civility.
Guild Wars 2 is a huge MMO, filled with a LOT more players than would play A Tale in the Desert or any random MUD.
Yet it made tremendous strides in improving the social experience by ensuring that folks welcomed the sight of any other players – gathering nodes could be shared, events would scale up to provide more mobs and loot, of which you get your own personal rolls and don’t have to compete for either.
WvWvW was a format that took this one step further by creating the notion of a server community. WvW maps are limited in population size and naturally self-select by only including people with an interest in WvW. WvW guilds were formed. Players who loaded into these maps started seeing the same regular names around, from players to guild tags.
This expanded back into the PvE open world as many players don’t just play one format primarily and the same tags could be seen, hanging around in cities, or occasionally out and about on guild missions.
Add on to that other guilds compromising of different interest groups – such as PvE, roleplaying, even furries, and your server starts developing a certain flavor from that mix of familiar guild tags.
You may have no interest in actually joining that guild, but they are there, as part of the background scenery that builds familiarity.
Did all servers develop something as unique? Maybe not. I sympathize with those who didn’t want to be on a lower-population server but somehow had no recourse to move elsewhere, but I suspect a great many medium-to-large sized servers did.
Not all guilds are mercenary and content to cycle through servers like changing clothes. Some form the core of a server. Gaiscioch is inextricably linked with Sanctum of Rall in my eyes. AARM is TC’s mega guild. Even in WvW, we have guilds that associate themselves with a server and are highly reluctant to displace themselves. NNK and TFV don’t seem to be inclined to move anywhere from Dragonbrand, for instance.
My experience with other servers is more limited, but I’m sure residents of any server would be able to tell you the familiar guilds they -used- to come across. Or just the familiar collections of people. Mrs Ravious is mourning the loss of her Sanctum of Rall karka compatriots, fer instance.
Personally, I feel displaced.
Like I no longer belong.
And this is coming from a person with three, maybe four, communities to fall back on.
In NA time, I’m clinging onto my NA guild like a rock. Ditto SEA time with my SEA guild.
In WvW, I log onto Mumble and revel in the fact that everyone on that map is from my server and that I can see familiar guild names again.
I even have the option of logging into TTS teamspeak and just hang around with the core, doing whatever the hell they’re doing.
Problem is, I don’t really FEEL like doing anything.
If I try to run Teq or Wurm, the experience becomes an exercise in fighting the Megaserver. TTS is split across three different maps or more, and half of each teamspeak channel is filled with guests.
And these are the POLITE guests who actually care enough to come onto the Teamspeak, and with whom we don’t mind teaching (though the chance of failure goes up with the proportion of inexperienced players to experienced ones.)
Knowing the bitter voice-no-voice debate, how many more are on the map and patently not listening to directions or willing to be organized – in a fight designed for coordination and organization in order to succeed?
A couple leechers is okay. A few people being carried is fine. I like that random people can have a chance of encountering something bigger than themselves, that they haven’t seen in their prior experience before, and being inspired to join up or participate.
But the proportions are wrong. When less than half of the players on a map are trying to get something organized, and having difficulty trying to include others within the same guild on the same map, are being asked to share the same space with folks lazily jumping in without prep time, who don’t care enough to have exercised any prior effort finding an organized community or even listen, but are merely hoping to get lucky… well, that’s a recipe for fast running out of patience.
Impatient folks react in different ways. Some lash out with anger, frustration and abuse, allowing ugly elitism to show. Others demonstrate avoidance and simply can’t be bothered to show up. (I’m in the latter cohort, I can’t bring myself to make any scheduled times since megaserver.)
My load times for each zone have gone up.
I’m already on lowest settings, there’s nothing more I can do to fix this.
If I have to wait 2-5 minutes for each zone to load, it makes me seriously reconsider wanting to load any zones in the first place.
I log in, do my dailies, log out.
Minimizing contact allows me to minimize contact with the people who have suddenly felt more freedom to be dicks on mapchat.
Internet fuckwad theory suggests that anonymity provides tacit permission for people to indulge in being a jerk, as there are much less repercussions or consequences.
Who cares about strangers whom you’re never going to see again? They are -other.- They are not -us.-
Humans can be terribly bestial apes to -others-.
Personally, I think it’s working. I feel more trolly.
I jump into hotjoins and stack the hell out of a team, relishing in tearing up those too inexperienced to work as a team or quit a losing battle. I’m getting rewarded for being a bully.
I’m spending more time out of game trawling Reddit and the official forums, being grumpy.
I’d be bitchier and more combatative if I dared to be, except I still fear outside social consequences – such as my internet reputation, or losing forum posting rights or the entire account – since Anet was clever enough to impose suspensions and bans for inappropriate behavior.
THAT is what we are lacking with the Megaserver.
Oh, and as for reset night, that part of the week I look forward to the most – the part where all our server’s WvW guilds come together and put their game face on for another week?
My guild was spread across three different Gendarran Fields maps. My party wasn’t even in the same map as each other.
In my map, I had people patently from Blackgate WvW guilds (Icoa, AoI) along with TC WvW guilds.
At one glance, I could look and announce to all and sundry which guilds would be going to which map, simply by observing who was standing by which portal, should I have felt the urge to.
My map failed to activate the WvW portals in a timely fashion. No one could click F and get in, even when others on other maps were echoing the fact that they were in over voicechat.
I spent two hours in queue, milling around in the Edge of the Mists in a faceless zerg as one of a sea of names I don’t even recall.
Thank you, Megaserver!
The game certainly is very busy now!
It’s just that I’ve never been the sort of person to want 500+ Facebook friends, when five close ones who shared similar interests would do…
P.S. Risk of Rain went on Steam sale yesterday. I bought it.
I see Sleeping Dogs is on sale today.