28 May 2012

The social side of gaming - Ducheneaut 2004

Notes from: The social side of gaming: A study of interaction patterns in an MMO, by Ducheneaut and Moore, 2004

  • SWG in 2004: 400k subscribers. The game mechanics make the classes interdependent: after fighting, marksmen go to cities to be healed and buffed by medics and entertainers. Medics need materials from scouts, etc. Social interactions clearly happen in cities.
  • Collect public chat events (= text + gestures such as '/bow') in the 2 places with most people on a single server. 100Mb of chat logs using the '/log' in-game command daily for a month. Used Perl to parse and MySQL to store and query events: who talks to who, how (eg /shout), and the actual text content.
  • 5500 unique players. Up to 1,200 chat events per hour in a single place.
  • Player interactions can be:
    • AFK macros: sending more gestures than they receive
    • Short and efficient instrumental talk: "buff plz", sending very few gestures
    • Genuine socialization, with as many gestures given as received
  • Entertainers get XP when performing for someone else, and owning a high-level entertainer may be required to become a Jedi master. Hence lots of entertainers were AFK-macroing their buffs.
  • Similarly, to become master in a discipline, players need to teach their skills to other apprentice-players. Hence, experts need to interact with newbies. That was also sometimes macroed.
  • Problem#1: AFK macroers and live players do not cohabit well in the same places. Live players do not know what to expect.
  • Solutions:
    • Different places for AFK and live players [eg Ragnarok's autotrade merchant map] - but then, the AFK players are never visited.
    • Players should be able to know, at a glance, who is available (and live) for a particular service. The existing name tag system, already indicating the player's guild and faction over players' head, could be used for that.
    • Reward live play
  • Problem#2: instrumental play (for the points) uses any means to progress fast; that includes macroing. Social play is not point-based, yet 1) social interactions are measured in points, and 2) playing for points requires taking part in social activities.
  • Solution: social progress should not be measured from instrumental play data (HP healed, buffs delivered, number of disciples ...), but rather from live social data (social graph ...).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.