Friday, 13 June 2014

How do shrimp and gobies find each other?

It's been a while since guilds were introduced to Path, to great acclaim. It's a good thing, in the sense that more ways to connect with people is good for a multi-player persistent environment. It also serves a unique purpose that was previously absent of in-game support, that is, connecting groups of more than two people in the long term. Even better.

But there is another side to the story. Guilds have a large overlap of functionality with every other form of player interaction. This leads to the situation in which many players, upon finding a guild in which they fit, rarely or never interact outside of it.

All well and good, if that's what they want.

If it isn't? Well, global chat is full of trolls and rarely gives a good answer to anything, and good luck holding a conversation in there. Besides the PCs and things that should rightly belong in /trade. The public party board is full of trade parties, and anyway the docks and map parties are generally full of people who tend to either die or take ten thousand years to clear a map - or worse, get their partymates killed along with themselves. Trade chat is trade chat, no more need be said. Everything else involves the use of third parties, be it forums, reddit or even RL.

It wasn't always this way. My first few friends, other than the ones I already knew from other games, were out of /global. That was way back when. I also got a couple of good ones out of the friends-list network, which was the only reliable way to build a solid map group. Those were proto-guilds, back in the day, only infinitely more flexible.

The point is, a lot of people who had previously sought interaction by other (in-game) means are now confining themselves to the guild. Means the other channels of social interaction are becoming wastelands. Even if you wanted to make friends there, it would be pretty hard to do, since nobody else does.

I realise this is all a bit exaggerated. Certainly the situation is not as dire as I've made it out to be. And there are plenty of guilds with few or inactive members. On the other hand, is this the kind of multiplayer you want in a game?

(For an explanation of the post title, click here.)

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