In a Daily Grind question on Massively Overpowered, the community of readers were asked if anyone among us had ever run a player event. Now I, personally, have not done anything outside of a costume contest in City of Heroes. Still, I had considered doing a lot more events, either in large scale or being given the chance to run a series of quests or events with a guild or an RP party.
Then it struck me….not many games let us actually DO that. And this strike was initiated by a Sigbjorn and his post about the matter. Looking at the comment now, Brianna Royce had pretty much said everything I was going to say…but it does bear some expounding on. Or at least what I’d love to see to make an MMO playerbase an actual community.
First and foremost, players need to be allowed the tools to make an event happen. Tools within the game. Either some way to create their own instance, or a public space that can be rented out and arranged and decorated to suit the event–whatever the case may be. Letting the players pull together a social event with creation tools provides a sense of ownership. And if the event runs smoothly and is attented well, that would give players something to look forward to on perhaps a monthly or annual basis. Giving us the power to shape a part of the game world is immense.
Second, the game should have GM support. If the toolset is limited on purpose for easons, but an event needs a special level of panache or flair that is beyond user access, then GM’s should be allowed and empowered to oversee these events and make them much more special. I had once attended a wedding in Final Fantasy XI, and the priest of the ceremony was a GM, who not only gave us instructions on where to sit and what emotes to use, but even changed the background music and gave everyone a confetti item to use. It’s the simplest of things, but it was acknowledgment that still sticks with me to this very day.
Brianna had also mentioned a public event calendar in-game, and I was going to say precisely that–some sort of a public corkboard or even a town crier that players could feed information to and have an event announced in a large hub city would galvanize action and immediately create interest. Why not also allow players to put together fliers to post on that community board, or have them handed out by an NPC while in-game? It doesn’t strike me as a terribly complex thing to do.
I suppose what annoys me the most about this whole thing is that this doesn’t really seem like rocket science, but is almost never considered by MMO devs. They’d rather focus development time and money in the things that will directly offer an established ROI. Dungeons, combat, PvP, endgame stuff…basically, the idea of making people stay around for peacetime as well as wartime just doesn’t click.
A community is built not just on the need to stick together long enough for a dungeon clear, and a community should be fostered in-game instead of in however myriad forum sites and social sites there are on the internet. A community should be given the space, the tools and the time to let a garden grow. And believe me, if WildStar’s housing or City of Heroes’ Mission Architect or many RP events are anything to go by…people can be intensely creative. And we can make things that will last in the minds of others.