Experience Points: The Rise of Silent Grouping

Each week, Chris "Syeric" Coke gives his unfiltered thoughts on the MMO industry. Taking on the news and hottest topics, Chris brings his extensive experience as a player and blogger to bear in Experience Points. This week he examines the troubling trends of silence and vitriol in today's groups.

In 2009 the MMO industry changed forever. World of Warcraft was midway through its second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, and players were still stuck scouring their servers for fellow dungeon runners. Queue times could ratchet upwards to two hours if you were playing DPS. Groups, while still rushed, were also cohesive and usually willing to communicate through problems; everyone knew a lengthy wait was in store if the group fell apart. Then Blizzard dropped a bombshell: the cross-realm dungeon finder, a tool which would allow entire server clusters to play together, automatically, and on-demand. It worked well and for a time seemed like a godsend. The system had the unintended side-effect, however, of making communication – even just socializing – a thing to be avoided. The dungeon finder enabled a culture of rush-to-reward where climbing the learning curve makes you the weak link. System after system has reinforced this and the genre, once based on players enjoying each other, is now more silent and toxic than it has ever been.

Exclusive Q&A: Kekai Kotaki

If you're into video game art, then it's likely the subject of our Q&A is already well-know to you. Indeed, Kekai Kotaki has spent most of his professional career making sure the games we love to play look as amazing as they possibly can.

Kotaki began at ArenaNet, seeing to it that amazing visuals became a part of the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 legacy. He departed ArenaNet just before the release of Guild Wars 2, which raised an eyebrow or two. But as he explains, it was all just a part of following his dream. After leaving the only game studio he had ever known, he spent some time with a little company called Bungie working on a game called, let's see...  Destiny, I think it was. Even though he's no longer with Bungie, with any luck, we just may see some of his artwork represented in the game.

His style is unmistakeable, and his talent is immense. Yet he's a great, down to earth guy who just loves what he does and was happy to share some of that enthusiasm with us!

Monumental Hook-Up

Today's the day!

With only hours remaining until headstart launch, Guild Wars 2 players can now link their accounts to the original game.

Guild Spotlight: PirateLords

Here comes Guild Spotlight #2 where you get the chance to learn more about another of your potential allies or enemies, featuring PirateLords!

Long ago in a galaxy far far away......and yes, that is where PirateLords began, back in 2002 for Star Wars Galaxies. 3 friends had a vision - to create a guild to do one simple task....to have fun.

The name PirateLords - based on the rumors that SWG was going to have a third faction based on the Hutts - was chosen for an original name that wasn't overused. The intent was to be space pirates associated with the Hutt faction, bounty hunters, smugglers and all the shady individuals that come with the territory. Today, out of the three friends and founders, only Crossbone remains, and has been a solid pillar of the PirateLord community.

With his leadership and his visions - the idea "to do more with less" has become the motive of the guild, and each day we strive to truly deliver on that line of thought through use of tactics, instead of sheer numbers.

Continue on to discover more about their history, philosphies and goals!

Guild Spotlight: Sunless

We’ve decided to start a regular content feature for Guild Spotlights. The purpose is to help the community get to know each other better and also to support it. Do you have a guild or team and want to be featured? Just get in touch with us at this forum thread and we can work out the details. We’re flexible on the format of it... it could be an interview, or some wall of text that you wrote up in advance, or maybe something else.

First up is Sunless, who had the beginnings of their formation with Aion and are moving on to TERA while attempting a different focus than before. They are a progress driven guild who ranked first in Abyss Points on the Aion Public Test Server, and plan to experiment with reducing their numbers in order to increase their level of intuitive teamplay across the board. The contents of their spotlight are provided by Luciferia, their guild leader and founder.

Read on to see their history, achievements, and future goals.