Unlimited group size
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 October 2012, 9:06 am
Zubon is discussing playing together, and says about WoW: "Contrast this with World of Warcraft, where you can keep grinding raid tiers and one level-capped character might have twice the damage of another. Asking for a higher gearscore is effectively asking for a higher level character, just the game tracks that advancement differently." He mentions solutions like downleveling, or sidekick/mentor systems, but these are basically just crutches. To understand the problem, we must first ask ourselves "why can't people with different levels (or different gearscores) not play together?

At first your answer might be something like "because they don't deal the same amount of damage". But if you look deeper the problem is ultimately one of maximum group size: If you only have X spots in the group, taking somebody weaker with you means that you lower the overall power of the group, and thus risk not overcoming the challenge at hand. If the other DPS characters in your group deal 20k damage per second and one player only does 10k, that one player effectively becomes a burden to the others, because he could be replaced by somebody doing 20k and the group as a whole would do better.

Take away the group size limit, and that problem disappears. That is more or less the principle behind Guild Wars 2 events: Any help is welcome! If you would add a 6th character with 10k dps to your existing 5-man group where everybody else does 20k, the added character would still help, not hinder the rest of the group. Something similar was already in place during vanilla WoW: Getting 40 people together for raiding was hard, and a dedicated team of 25 could well tackle Molten Core. So you had like 15 spots where the raid group could take people who were far from perfect, but who would still have a positive contribution to the overall power.

That totally changes the social dynamics of a game. If everybody can contribute something positive to a group effort, there is less need to pick your friends by their gearscore or raid performance. And you could imagine other group or guild activities which easily allow for unlimited numbers of participants: Imagine building a guild hall requires 1 million clicks, then having a lot of guild members contributing is obviously better than having just 10 of the fastest clickers. Guilds in A Tale in the Desert function a bit like that. And then you don't have any problems with people with different levels or gearscores playing together.
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