Massively Forgotten Features: More Socially Aware MMORPGs?

After dropping Fallen Earth for it’s boneheaded move to subscription + non-cosmetic item shop and Global Agenda for it’s balance problems I was in a slight gaming rut.  TF2 was filling my shooter needs, LotRO was beckoning me back and APB is right around the corner.  But like any good MMO Junkie I wanted to try something new, NOW!

Enter Atlantica.  It is an interesting MMO of Korean origin with several non-standard MMO features.  The most easily recognized and talked about being its combat.  Atlantica’s combat is of the turn-based, strategy variety so popular on JRPGs for the past few decades.  However what caught my attention wasn’t its combat but the other thing it does in a non-standard way.  Address the social aspect of MMOs.  Here are few examples.Atlantica has crafting.  Get enough crafting XP and you can improve your crafting to the next level.  To do that you have to find the right NPC and pay them a fee.  Negligible early on but it stacks up quickly.  There is an alternative.  Have one of your guild mates who has achieved Artisan level or higher to train you, for free?  What do they get?  Bonus xp!

Engaged in consensual, structured, league style PvP?  Get bonus items!

Watch matches between people engaged in the afore mentioned consensual, structured, league style PvP?  Get bonus items!

Atlantica has a built-in db of the stats, drops and locations of their mobs.  You learn tidbits of that by engaging the mobs regularly.  Filling out the entire encyclopedia would be daunting.  Except guild mates can share that information between one another for, yup, bonuses!

Some items can take forever for a crafter to make.  Simple solution, make it a guild project and everyone pitches in when they’re not crafting for themselves.

Craft a particularly high level item?  People around you get a notice to your good fortune.

Gift money to the newbies of the game (below level 30)?  Bonus!  In fact there’s a title for the person who does that on a regular basis which itself comes with a bonus.

Those are but a few examples that I have learned about in the whole 4 days I’ve played Atlantica.  The developers have built into the game many non-required ways of being aware of and interacting with other people in the game.

Some people might ask why.  I ask why not?  Recent MMOs have been tagged with that ugly, self-imposed G word.  Grind.  The way to alleviate the grind is to provide many different ways to progress through the game.  Why not have some sort of bonuses attached to the silly and social aspects?  Atlantica limits the number and amount of bonuses you can get from the above activities per day but it rewards just kicking back and relaxing, of interacting, of not just defeating mob-after-mob-after-mob.

Look at each non-combat system and see if there’s a way to recognize the players actions there, too.  To let them progress in means other than the standard combat.

Atlantica’s systems are just a progression of Asheron’s Call’s Vassal/Patron mechanic.  The Patron’s responsibility was to help their Vassal(s) through the game.  In return the Patron was rewarded with bonus XP based off a percentage of their Vassal(s) XP.  It rewarded being social.  Something of which more MMOs should become more aware.  Look at each non-combat system and see if there’s a way to recognize the players actions there, too.  To let them progress in means other than the standard combat.

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4 responses to “Massively Forgotten Features: More Socially Aware MMORPGs?

  1. Sounds very neat. And really, I can’t really say anything negative about any game that tries to encourage more social behavior, even better when it’s by choice. Some people hate to group and I get that, but I also think you’re missing the point of MMOs if you’re just going to do your own thing and never interact with anyone ever.

    • I somewhat agree with that. As people who say that point out, it is the second M in the title. But sometimes playing nice with others is not in the cards. Especially when it seems like the majority of those people don’t want to play nice with others. In the years I’ve played MMOs it has been a bother to group up outside my guild; even harder to find a decent guild in the first place. But it is amazing how just a few simple in-game incentives can go towards encouraging simple social behavior. Even better, on how it feels to have behavior which comes normally to be recognized. 🙂

      • I think some of what you’ve described strikes a fair balance. I know what you mean about finding good people to play with…the only guilds I’ve actually felt at home in are always the ones where I have joined through referral from people I already know. Randomly jumping into a guild has always been bad news.

        So I can’t fault people for not wanting to group, and even I get frustrated sometimes when I’m confronted with group content that I can’t do because I can’t find anyone else to do it with. Encouraging mutually beneficial social activities outside of grinding and combat is a fantastic idea though. I assume these activities are completely optional and not required right? I would have been all over that stuff. 😀

      • Yes, they are optional. You don’t have to do them but there’s benefit to doing them. Think of dailies in other MMOs. Same idea; except that, so far in Atlantica, the rewards aren’t linked to stuff you can only get by doing those tasks. Just bonus XP, additional stamina (which helps xp and drops in fights), and bonus loot. You could ignore them and not really be negatively impacted at all.

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