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hyrumwilson

How do you make a Social MMO social?

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This is something I've been pondering for a while now, and as of yet have no answer. But I've noticed that the current crop of social MMO's have very little, if any, real social aspects to it. I read somewhere that games like Farmville and Backyard Monsters are ideal for the casual acquaintance crowd, the people you see once a month or say hi to while at work. But how do we make it really social, the kind where you get your friends online at the same time to play or just BS while fiddling in the background? Or is the platform just too limited? I know FB's API can be pretty restrictive, but is there a way around it?
Thanks.

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The most social MMO I've ever played were/are Imperial Conflict and Astro Empires(time/tick based strategy). Essentially by leaving yourself at risk while offline it makes close allies(guild), allies, threats, and enemies more important. In any other MMO type you could pretty much just choose to log out and completely be not part of the picture and let stuff blow over.

Next up I would say secondlife. Then again in this MMO I was a scripter and a "above the multitudes" one(basically people who pick up the scripting W/O programming experience), so I had social interest to everyone around me I guess. Was even a collaborator on a few projects that were commission based, I was actually one of the people that made a tiny amount of profit(only around $10 or so after money I put in).

Lastly I would say WurmOnline and Haven and Hearth. Both are heavily crafting based and pretty grindy if you want to live above "basic substance". By nature of being very crafting based you had the ability of people to work together in MASSIVE ways even when all not online at the same time. Examples one person exploring/securing areas+healing abilities, next farming and cooking, next mining and resources, and last high end smithing and crafting. Towns I was in got to be around 15 or so with major connections to other towns support wise.

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I would say that the easiest way to make people social is the ability for people to connect even when the other isn't online(even farm-ville does this well).

I would then follow this up with mild forms of specialization in one of a few ways: RL skills, Time requirements(30 min process), Grind requirements(10+ hours of leveling), or Artificial requirements(can only craft 5 things a day, only have so many of X slot type, NOT inventory limits, or X number of skills as players already recognize these limits since they've been "trained" to by other developers).

I guess both of these somewhat fall into player reliance of some sort.

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I think turn-based combat and pausable single-player combat lend themselves to socialization, while real-time combat is inherently anti-socialization. One of the most social MMOs I've played was Dofus, and the majority of conversation took place in the chat box while people were waiting for it to be their turn in combat. Regional/world chat channels are the other major avenue of socialization within a game (especially if people find themselves waiting while their character gathers some resource, or waiting for other reasons. But chat channels are inherently problematic because they require a lot of moderation (expensive if you're hiring people to do it) to ban spammers and mute trolls and flamers. Also you may need some way to separate players who want to be in a child-safe/pg environment from players who want to be in an adult-friendly/NC-17 environment.

A second option is games like Gaia Online and Neopets which have a forum incorporated into the game, and most in-game discussion takes place in the forum.

But basically people need time to talk,an environment where it's easy to talk from wherever they are in the game, and an environment where they can talk about what they want to talk about without fear of being banned or harassed.

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Thanks for the replies, its given me a few things to think about. I'll have to check out those games you guys mentioned to see how they accomplished social interaction.

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