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Uplink Analysis: Healthy Communities

Written by Loic "Atreid" Claveau on April 04, 2013

WildStar Uplink is a bi-weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_AtreidCRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

Last week, all of us were on planes traveling back to California during the normal Uplink time, so we asked Mike Joseph from WildStar Fans to step in and host the Uplink for us! Mike delivered with a great question about MMO communities, one we were more than excited to tackle:

                What does it mean to have a "healthy community" for an MMO?

Here are everyone's thoughts from the Twitter discussion:

joseph_foran: Having systems accessible while in-game, even stuff like forums/ladders/armory, to keep players in-game & connected to each other.

Kafziet: A healthy community for me means no bots to flood the chat. Nothing ruins conversation like 500 "BUY GOLD HERE" messages.

Tacomagamefan: Helpful in building community to have incentives for players to group & make new friends during leveling.

Gazimoff: Generally, a healthy community is one where players are engaged with each-other in a positive & constructive manner. This positivity can be proactive help, fan creations, encouragement and advice when starting new projects. Conversely, a negative community is filled with toxic elements - hate speech/insults, destructive criticism, etc. There's also the inclusive versus exclusive, welcoming newcomers versus ridiculing noobs.

WildstarHub: A healthy MMO community supports each other, helps newbies, answers questions, shares great sites. Cooperation!

Guideborn: A healthy community requires moderation. Trolls are rampant in online gaming and must not be allowed to survive in WildStar.

MaximlianNYC: A healthy MMO community is able to convey the wishes of the players to the devs without being belligerent and rude.

Bringstrom: A healthy community is where most posts on the forum, and most messages in chat, are positive, fun and helpful instead of trolling.

NudAresk: A healthy community gives recognition to respectful/helpful players and invites new members. It encourages growth (in trolls too).

bleh_linh: A healthy community consists of people you can have fun around and connect with. A lot of helping and chatting should take place!

LFlutterfire: Friends, camaraderie, healthy competition, rational and sane discussion, working to improve the game, and the community itself.

PaulBProgrammer: A healthy MMO community focuses more on uniqueness and utility for each individual than it does on huge QTYs of players.

coatsy35: Healthy community is one that doesn't have a large portion of the player base suffering from a sense of entitlement.

Elthic: A good community is one that has little to no turnover, if I keep bumping into the same faces, I'm going to want to play with them

Lionscar: A fierce no-tolerance policy on hatespeech and sexism of any kind makes a grand community.

NexusWeekly: Rivalries, stand outs, frequent server events and chat channels knee-deep in gamers willing to answer questions.

hotshot25120: I would like to see community working together instead of destroying each other.

Kriptosporidium: The ingredients for a healthy community are limited griefing tools, good moderators and being lucky enough to have cool players.

hotshot25120: When everyone share the same goal, I would like to see some server event where everyone need to work together to unlock things.

3seed: A healthy community builds itself up instead of tears itself down: connects, engages, communicates.

ahamling27: A healthy community not only helps the uninitiated, they go out of their way to make newbs feel welcome.

Optimisticnerd: A healthy community is an environment where people feel welcomed, yet there is also a good amount of friendly competition.

another_ending: A healthy community shares a passion for the game and a desire to add something to it. A healthy community laughs together.

Arakas: A healthy Com. is Developer Created, but Player Driven. Scaffolding comes to mind. How about non-combat-based faction challenges.

Shablevski: "what does it mean to have a healthy community?" A community that cooperates with one another yet respects competition.

DmoneyMiles: A healthy MMO community gives players a reason to be nice and help each other out.

Tastyonionsoup: A healthy community is one that is aware of its flaws, and strives for improvement without conforming members.

Arakas: A healthy community has common goals, in/famous members that are facilitated by ingame mechanics (Guild/PvP/Raid Rankings).

Let's start off by stating what you already know: healthy in-game communities are the lifeblood of an MMORPG. Without an in-game community, you just have a MORPG. Or an ORPG. Or maybe just a G. The question we face, as a Community team, is how much of this should be driven by the developers, and how much is driven by the players? When we look at other MMO communities, there's a huge amount of variance on that front. We think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Our favorite example of a community defining itself is the WildStar Central community, the oldest WildStar community out there right now. As WildStar has become more popular, their community has grown exponentially, and the usual challenges of any MMO community have arisen. That includes all the MMO community characters you’ve grown to love: a dash of troll, a pinch of naysayer, a heaping helping of mega-super fans, served with the occasional misinformation wrapped around a cacophony of beta requests. In keeping with our commitment to take the conversation to the community, we do spend our fair share of time talking with the WildStar Central community, but our efforts have focused on communicating important details, while letting that community police itself. The work that WildStar Central has done to build a vibrant community extends beyond the people that stop by their forums. Their collaborative spirit has helped many a new WildStar community site grow and prosper, which is just the way we like it.

Recently, we hosted an AMA on Reddit about Combat and PvP, where it was revealed that we'd have a Group Finder that worked solely cross-server. As any veteran MMO player might expect, this reveal caused no small amount of hubbub across the entire fansite community. The conversations were extremely constructive, polite, and thoughtful, which served as true inspiration for us to take your thoughts and concerns to a continued the conversation amongst the development team. As we’ve said in the past, the dev team's primary goal is to remove barriers to entry for both social connections and experiencing new content. In tandem with those efforts, our goal as a Community team is to remove barriers to creating micro-communities that form in games, whether that's an individual's reputation or a server's identity as a whole.

So after some brainstorming, we believe we've come up with the appropriate solution: At launch, our Group Finder will include a checkbox to allow you to only group with players from your own server. Players who are willing to submit to a longer wait using Group Finder will be placed with people from their own servers when looking to tackle Dungeons, Adventures, and unrated Battlegrounds. (Ranked Arenas, Battlegrounds, and Warplots will still only be available cross-server, to allow for proper rating-based matchmaking.)

We think this solution strikes the proper balance between our needs and the players' needs, and the usual refrain of allowing players to play the way they want to play factored in heavily into this decision. But even more so, this is an example of the kind of interaction we will continue to build on.

The devs are listening!

Troy, Loic, and David

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