Social Networking In MMOG‘s


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Presentation given at the Quo Vadis developer conference, Berlin 2008

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Social Networking In MMOG‘s

  1. Social Networks in MMOG‘s <ul><li>Arend Stührmann </li></ul><ul><li>Associate Producer </li></ul><ul><li>CCP Games </li></ul>Df
  2. Social Networking in MMOG‘s <ul><li>Outline: </li></ul><ul><li>How do we define a social network? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we use it in gaming? </li></ul><ul><li>Examples from EVE Online </li></ul><ul><li>The Future... </li></ul>
  3. How do we define a Social Network? <ul><li>Need to differentiate between: </li></ul><ul><li>Social Network </li></ul><ul><li>Social Network Service </li></ul><ul><li>As the combination of both leads to the formation of virtual communities </li></ul>PAGE
  4. Social Network <ul><li>A social network is a social structure made of nodes, generally individuals or organisations, that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency. </li></ul><ul><li>Values </li></ul><ul><li>Visions </li></ul><ul><li>Financial exchange </li></ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul><ul><li>Dislikes </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Trade </li></ul>
  5. Social Network Service <ul><li>A social network service uses software to build online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily web-based </li></ul><ul><li>Various interaction methods: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Voice chat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogging </li></ul></ul>
  6. Established Social Network Services <ul><li>“ Standard” social network services already have some elements of game play in them, even if they are not obviously game related: </li></ul><ul><li>Number of contacts </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of contacts </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of content </li></ul><ul><li>Number of comments </li></ul><ul><li>Rankings (arbitrary or formal) </li></ul><ul><li>Games </li></ul><ul><li>And more... </li></ul>
  7. MMOG Social Network - Specialities? <ul><li>MMOG‘s can be argued to embody all aspects of Social Networks and Social Network Services: </li></ul><ul><li>They provide foundations of interdependency for the network. </li></ul><ul><li>The gameplay creates a framework for the network service. </li></ul><ul><li>And through playing, a virtual network for interpersonal interaction is formed. </li></ul>
  8. MMOG Social Network - Specialities? <ul><li>MMOG Networks can require more and different interpersonal skills when compared to other online network services: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiation skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-cultural communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MMOG Networks can therefore actually teach interpersonal skills and networking skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Player Quote: “ Being CEO of an EVE corp, taught me a lot about how to recruit, organise, motivate and retain people from across the world.” </li></ul>
  9. EVE Online‘s Gameplay <ul><li>Over 230,000 subscribers. </li></ul><ul><li>Single-shard server structure: Over 43k players simultaneously in one cohesive universe. </li></ul><ul><li>Players of EVE are the actual game content. </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated over 250,000 manhours spent building structures in-game </li></ul><ul><li>All major game-systems in EVE are driven by players </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Production </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raw material acquisition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to the raw materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And more… </li></ul></ul>
  10. 5000+ solarsystems
  11. Communication <ul><li>Communication is key to any network </li></ul><ul><li>EVE includes tools to establish connections with any player </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EVE Mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Voice Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Searchable listings </li></ul><ul><li>External website: Forums </li></ul><ul><li>Many interaction tools run </li></ul><ul><li>through the Chat system. </li></ul>
  12. Communication <ul><li>Communication with others is central to gameplay in EVE </li></ul><ul><li>Without team-work, higher level objectives are harder to reach (if not impossible) </li></ul><ul><li>Learning how to use the communication interface and the communication norms becomes essential to success. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intelligence gathering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diplomacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Entertainment </li></ul></ul>
  13. Communication <ul><li>Players develop network connections through channels other than the provided structure: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Espionage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Escrow Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Black Market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Can Art” </li></ul></ul>
  14. Communication <ul><ul><li>The question then arises: Do we install “official” mechanisms to accommodate these activities? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other elements of gameplay that have evolved through player use: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fleet formation system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment ads system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contracts system </li></ul></ul>
  15. Social Structure: Corporations <ul><li>Basic social unit in EVE. </li></ul><ul><li>Anywhere from 2 to 6,500 members </li></ul><ul><li>Usual size is around 20 to 250 members </li></ul><ul><li>Members are assigned </li></ul><ul><li>Roles within the Corporation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accountants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Directors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diplomats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defense </li></ul></ul>
  16. Social Structure: Corporations <ul><li>Corporations can specialise in certain areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mercenaries </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bounty hunters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pirates </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pirate Hunters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Resource gathering </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Production </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Logistics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>All these areas depend on each other to certain degrees. A corporation will need to either have these specialisations “in house” or hire external parties to provide them. </li></ul>
  17. Social Structure: Corporations <ul><li>Employment History is important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A character‘s reputation is literally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>priceless </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows for unusual game play </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mechanics such as escrow services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your reputation is created by both </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>your actions and those of the </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>people you fly with </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Corporations can give members Titles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Way of rewarding service or marking important deeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indicates rank and other information to outsiders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps establish reputation </li></ul></ul>
  18. Social Structure: Alliances
  19. Social Structure: Alliances <ul><li>Involve thousands of players </li></ul><ul><li>Are able to declare sovereign territory in the outer reaches of the galaxy </li></ul><ul><li>Function like nations with wars, diplomacy, treaties, trade agreements and more... </li></ul><ul><li>Can achieve larger goals than corporations alone: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sovereignty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outposts (permanent, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>conquerable stations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Titans (enormous combat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and logistics vessels) </li></ul></ul>
  20. <ul><li>Alliance Politics and warfare result in a constantly changing game universe... </li></ul>PAGE
  21. <ul><li>July 2007 </li></ul>PAGE
  22. <ul><li>March 2008 </li></ul>
  23. Alliances Evolving <ul><li>Alliances existed before the formal mechanic was implemented in Nov 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>Now we see that Alliances are forming Coalitions. </li></ul><ul><li>Larger player groups demand more management by leaders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will there always be players who wish to lead? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When does it stop being fun? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we avoid flux through </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>redesigning and adapting game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mechanics? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should we? </li></ul></ul>
  24. Alliances Evolving <ul><li>Game design considerations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do we introduce more frameworks for larger groups? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are the in-game communication tools suitable and sufficient? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do we consider increasing the size of the universe? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do the goals we have in-game need to evolve? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do these large groups affect newer players? </li></ul></ul>PAGE
  25. The Question of Fun <ul><li>Some basic assumptions: </li></ul><ul><li>We enjoy interacting with people on our own terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual communities give an individual greater control of his or her presented image. </li></ul><ul><li>People play games for entertainment, challenges and diversion. </li></ul><ul><li>We need to bear this in mind when designing games and mechanics relying on social interaction. </li></ul>PAGE
  26. The Question of Fun <ul><li>Generating a sense of achievement from gameplay can require different elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rankings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Medals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Titles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or a combination of the above… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MMOG’s as Social Network Services are uniquely placed to be able to provide all of the above in one contiguous environment, while also facilitating communication about non game-play issues. </li></ul></ul>PAGE
  28. Alliances set up their own specific awards and ranks: The EVE API gives players the freedom create information displays that is important to them and their social network…
  29. Different Alliances, Different Styles…
  30. The Future... <ul><li>The line between Social Network Services and MMOG‘s will continue to blur. </li></ul><ul><li>The Virtual Communities built around a game (or games) may develop greater cohesion than traditional social networks. </li></ul><ul><li>The degree to which individuals define themselves according to which online social network they are most active in may increase. </li></ul>
  31. <ul><li> </li></ul>
  32. Questions?
  33. <ul><li>Join the team: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Yes, we’re hiring...