Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

[Response To] Dual Wielding LFG Edition: Organic Community in MMOs

ffxiv_11152015_212943

I was actually invited to join in on the first LFG Dual Wielding Edition, but I’ve had so much going on over the past two weeks that it sadly slipped through the cracks. I was enthralled by these awesome bloggers who tackled the question of: “What can developers do to foster community in MMOs”…

So when I apologized for being out of the loop on the project, they graciously understood, and someone even suggested I write my own take on the topic anyhow. So this is my “grumpy old hermit super late” response post to this awesome series. Please check out the originals here for a great read:

Old Skool PoV

I come at this topic from an old skool perspective. I sat and thought about my experiences since my first MMO, Utlima Online, and what made me feel the most connected to a community in all the games that I’ve played. Here’s a jumbled spew of my basic thoughts.

I’ll preface this with the fact that I’m a MMO hermit. I will solo till the cows come home, and usually only group with friends, family, or people I somehow know. I used to never join guilds, and forced group content may have just as well not existed to me as I’d never do it. I never ran dungeons. I didn’t raid.

uoimage
UO Times

But none of that really mattered back in the early days. I could still feel a part of the MMO world because the games themselves were worlds to me, and I was someone who made a virtual life and home within them. I was invested in that world, and that investment made me care what happened in that game.

Community mattered not because the developers put some kind of LFG feature into the game, but because the players made it matter. When you did cruel things to other players in MMOs, you got a bad reputation for it. People remembered you based on your actions. You chose to become a good and nurturing part of the community or a Red that people hated, feared, and put a bounty out for.

Organic Community

That kind of community made itself… it was organic. I think that when we discuss “community” in MMOs, what we’re yearning for is that missing “organic” feel.

Sure, there were PvP systems and bounty systems and things that the devs coded into the game. But what mattered was what the players did with the systems. It was the player’s viewpoints that gave these things weight and worth. It was reputation you earned from your choices, and a lot of that had to do with how you treated other players in the game.

So while I feel that devs can do things to help community grow – such as lower the boundaries between players, which helps players meet and group and make connections – I’m putting a lot of this in the players’ laps. If communities in MMOs have changed, it’s because what the players value has changed.

The Forced Group Fallacy

I don’t believe forced grouping or forced interdependence is an answer to fostering community. In fact, it may do quite the opposite for those who really do care about community – it may drive them away from content all together.

Here’s an example.

FFXIV is one of the few games I have played group content in. When I run a duty finder or a forced grouping dungeon, very rarely is anyone running that content except to achieve a goal for themselves. Do they care if they’re contributing to the team or if they’re being a burden to others? More often than not, no. Usually, all they care about is that they are finishing the dungeon… not that they’re helping other people finish the dungeon.

ffxiv_01172016_182718

We group, but it’s only to get the dungeon done. Sometimes people chat or say hello, but that’s pretty rare.

Will you ever see these people again – those who may come from any server on your data center? More often than not, no. So why go the extra mile for a bunch of strangers?

As someone who cares about the people I group with, seeing this over and over and over again is really disheartening. After over two years of playing the game, while I feel the FFXIV community is pretty nice for a PUG environment, I also think it’s very, very rare that anyone makes a connection to anyone through forced grouping features.

The LFG feature is there to get people through the mandatory forced-grouping content. That’s what it was designed to do and that’s the mindset of the people who use it. It’s not there to make friends or build community. Get tomes, get loot, get done. Do it fast.

So, to me, that’s not an answer to fostering organic community.

Guild Tools

So what about guilds and such? Those are good things for fostering community, aren’t they? I think they can be.

Good, easy to use guild tools are important to building a foundation of an in-game community. But, even so, a guild is just a tiny sliver of the full population. It’s people who often form their own little group or tiny raid statics, and to the heck with the rest of the server. In fact, many games go out of their way to pit guild against guild instead of encourage guilds to build each other up.

So does that really foster an organic server community beyond your own little group of friends? Again, I guess it depends on how the players use the guild system. I know there are plenty of guilds who act as the exception to this – they host server-wide events, encourage role play, encourage a better overall server atmosphere, etc.

It’s a shame that we hear more about tiny statics that complete server first raid wins than we do about that really great social guild who consistently helps out new players or works hard to host great player-run server events!

Community Engagement

So, after 1000 words of grumpiness on the topic, what do I think devs can do to encourage organic community growth? I feel it needs to be something that engages the majority of the players and brings a server together. This is a very tall order.

One such example.

I used to play a MMO called Horizons (now known as Istaria). Back in the day, it had a lot of forward-thinking features that I haven’t seen attempted in many new games… which is a real shame. One of them were server wide discoveries/events/building.

A building worked on by the server.
A building plot worked on by the community.

These events were BIG. Forget your little holiday events (which usually cater to you earning something for yourself). These events reached out to everyone of every level and skill set on the server (which is tough to do). But they were so big and exciting because when that event was done… everything you contributed, every little stone you placed, piece of wood you chopped, mob you fought off… went into making something that changed the server forever.

Bridges to new areas had to be built. Crafting stations had to be built. Player-run cities and guild towns were built. Fully functioning NPC-based cities were built. New races were unlocked through server-wide participation. Players created the world over time and what they did mattered.

EVERYONE wanted to be a part of these things. EVERYONE wanted that experience, that moment of being-there. That knowledge that you were building something, along with everyone else, that would change the face of the game. And that you could look at that bridge or that city and know that YOU brought that change.

And the COMMUNITY was a part of that. You helped people, and met people, and connections were formed because you worked with them for days or weeks towards a goal that would benefit everyone. Maybe you did some of it solo. Maybe later you grouped up to help make things faster. Either way, you were important, as an individual, as a group, but most of all, as a community.

And in doing so, it was so fulfilling.

But Can That Happen Again?

GW2 - March 2014
GW2’s Inclusive Events Stressed “Togetherness”  – March 2014

Looking back on it, I think the original vision of GW2 tried so hard to replicate this, and that’s what drew me to the game originally. It strove to make dynamic events and dynamic grouping easy in the beginning. GW2 wanted to make these grand story events where the players changed the face of the world forever. It tried so hard to link players of all levels (level syncing to 80 used to be a thing) and skills and design events where everyone needed to work together to achieve something massive and engaging.

That should have foster community. That should have encouraged people to pull together like players a decade before did in Horizons. But it didn’t work. I don’t know why it didn’t work. It just didn’t.

So, instead of continuing to try to make community events on a server-wide basis, they resorted to packaging smaller stories folded up in instances for Season 2. And now, instead of vast server-shaking events that include everyone, they’ve given it up for raids that pretty much exclude the majority of people they originally sold the game to in the beginning.

So can that kind of server camaraderie exist again? Why did community events in GW2 fail when they were somewhat similar to events in Istaria (but with more loot)? Has the face of the player base changed so much that they can’t look beyond themselves to connect to community, even when the devs try to create inclusive content that should bring a community together?

I don’t know. But I wonder if the bigger question lies with what the devs make… or what the players now seem to value.

Posted in Black Desert Online, Gaming, MMORPGs

Black Desert Online: Advanced Horse Breeding Guide and Resources

2016-04-14_1963978

-Updated April 2017-

If you’re looking for a quick introduction guide to taming, training, and breeding horses, check the one that Dulfy has put together. It’s great! 

In this guide, I want to talk about some of the more advanced information I’ve learned over the past month in training and breeding horses in Black Desert Online. I’ve poured over spreadsheets from other breeders and I’ve kept my own on my Stables Page.

If all you want to do is just tame, train and breed, then you probably don’t need to delve into some of the advanced speculation I’ve come across. But if you want to know as much as you can about it, I’ve compiled information here from many different sources, especially the horse breeding thread on the official BDO forums.

Training Skill

…does almost nothing to help breeding and training. I was pretty sad to come to this conclusion, and found it backed up by a thread on the forum.

Training skill does not:

  • Make it easier to tame wild horses
  • Make leveling horses faster
  • Give a higher possibility to learn horse skills per level
  • Give a higher possibility to learn horse better skills per level

All it does is exactly what it says it does. It makes it easier to level up your horse’s skills (ones it already has).

Oh, and it gives you a nice title and a set of training gear once you reach Professional.

Stables for Horses

Once you start breeding, you’re going to need space, and that means putting contribution points into expanding stable slots. You can do this at specific cities that allow for stable expansions. These cities include:

  • Velia 5 stalls
  • Heidel 7 stalls
  • Calpheon 8 stalls
  • Trent 7 stalls
  • Glish 7 stalls (No breeding)
  • Altinova 7 stalls
  • Keplan 7 stalls

Other stables allow 3 non-expandable stall slots, but may not allow for breeding, exchanging or deleting horses.

Horse Skills

The type of skills your horse learns (along with level, tier, and gender) effect the overall worth of your horse on the market.

Earning skills each level, and which skills are earned, are all RNG.

However, certain skills are locked behind certain tiers and (very rarely) coat colors. For example, only T6 horses can learn Two Seater.

Advanced Breeding Calculations

There is some math behind the breeding algorithm. 

I can’t tell you all that went into this math, but I do know that the Horse Breeding Calculator is based off these calculations, which revolve around leveling horses enough to reach specific thresholds. For details on this information, check out this Reddit post.

Here’s a quick overview of the logic as I understand it:

  • Basically, there is a breeding threshold reached at every 50 points (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, etc), which you earn by leveling your horses. It is the sum of both horses’ levels.
  • These thresholds increase the possibility of breeding better horses or more female to male ratio.
  • So, if I level a T1 horse to 10 and a T1 horse to 10, I get a breeding grade of 270 (based on the calculator).
  • 300 is the next threshold. So, in order to reach the next threshold, I need 30 more points (which the calculator determines is 7 more levels).
  • These levels can be split between the two horses, or can be trained all on one horse. All that matters is the sum of the points.
  • That also means that leveling both horses to 15, for example, is a waste of time, since all you need is one horse to 15 and the other to 12 to reach the 300 threshold.
  • So in the long run, it’s a time saver to determine what are the lowest possible levels you need to reach the threshold you’re breeding for.

So why wouldn’t you just want to level everything to 30 and be done with it? Because this is such a time consuming task, it’s better to use the calculator to shoot for certain goals. You can check out this calculator to see how much time it takes to level horses.

For example, a pretty solid way to breed lower tier females is to breed a level 10 T1 horse to a level 10 T2 or T3 horse. Here, you can see that you have a pretty good chance of getting a female rather than a male.

femalesmalesbreeding

But if you level up to the next threshold, this will change. You now have the chance to get a T4 male, but your chances at getting a female drop significantly.

femalesmalesbreeding2

So plan ahead on what you need – do you want to push to the next tier, or do you need to spread out the gene pool and breed females?

Horse Coats by Tier

Each tier has specific color coats that you will only find at that tier.

The folks on the BDO forums have passed around this chart that the breeding community seems to refer to as the ultimate guide to coat colors.

BDOHorseTiers

So, you will sometimes see breeders refer to horses by their tier number followed by the coat letter. Such as, “I just bred a 4C with a 4K and got a 4P.”

Each coat also has specific stats tied to that coat color. So there is such a thing as “better” horses per tier. Here’s a sample of that for some T4 horses:

coatstats

Breeding for Coat Color

Can you breed for a specific coat color? Yes and no.

This gets pretty confusing. Based on information gathered by overseas players, it’s speculated that each horse coat color has three color attributes attached to it: Red, White, and Black. You can check out this chart to see more information.

So, for example, this horse has 1 Red, 1 White, and 1 Black.

t1horsecolor

And this horse has 0 Red, 2 White, and 2 Black.

t2horsecolor

These two horses are considered “purebred” for color because they have either all black or all white.

t6black t7white

Now, I’m kinda murky about how coat colors really pass. I know it has to do with adding up the number of Red, White and Black that the parent horses have, but it’s also mostly RNG.

Here’s a thread that discusses it better than I could explain it.

The Horse Calculator @ BDOBase also tells you which coats are possible based off the two parent coats you input into the calculator.

Resources