What The Secret World Anniversary Did Right
While I recently discussed that I was a bit underwhelmed with TSW’s anniversary event, I’m still quite glad I participated in it. Each of the bosses were essentially just zergfest, but I liked the lore that was introduced and the cosmetic rewards that players got for defeating the bosses.
More importantly, TSW’s anniversary event showed what a solid community’s appeared in the game. While I’m sure there’s still instances of trolling in bgs and instances, for the most part, the global community was very supportive.
The primary community feature was a special chat channel – #anniversity – which acted as a meeting ground and information source for players, new and old, participating in the event. The channel grew from community needs and community desires into a subculture of its own, with its own rules, conduct, and enforcement.
Watching the channel develop from day one of the event was fascinating. At first, it was just a meeting spot for people looking to do the bosses. Then it moved into an organizational channel with specific players acting as spotters who watched for bosses and called out when they spawned. It then added a linked FAQ and Important Information resource; whenever someone asked a question that was covered by one or the other, people would link the in-game knowledge pages to them for quick and easy access.
By the fourth day, when all the bosses were up, the channel was a well-oiled machine. I was able to navigate from boss to boss almost instantly, spending little to no time waiting in between and having people volunteer to use the in-game portal system (meet up). Twice I was the first to spot a boss, and I reciprocated by calling out its arrival and clicking 40 or 50 “meet up” requests.
In contrast to the crappy community interactions I’ve endured in other games recently, TSW provided a stark contrast to what I was missing. MMOs and their support pages (wowhead and the like) have become so ubiquitous that there’s hardly any wonder or surprise any more. Rather than supporting new or returning players, some MMO communities become hostile to their ignorance. In TSW’s case, the community banded together for mutual benefit, a practice that if not completely missing from other MMOs and MOBAs, then certainly greatly lacking.
Riot’s tried to handle this problem of pulling apart by putting data about bad behavior resulting in bad outcomes into its tooltips, but clearly the message isn’t being received. Most other companies have simply done nothing. I’m not sure what TSW did differently – if anything – to end with a culture of support that pulled together instead of apart, but it did. Maybe the niche category of the game has something to do with it, which might fit a kind of modification of the “small community” theory (that smaller communities get along better until they grow to a point when they start to squabble and eventually split, becoming two separate communities). Then again, maybe the somewhat “outsider” status of TSW gives its fans a banner around which to congregate.
Whatever the case, it was an extremely welcome change from my more depressing gameplay. But then, that’s mostly gone by the wayside. Since I’ve returned to Skyrim and have been playing Card Hunter (more on that Friday), I’ve been very happy with my game play.
I hope you are too!
Stubborn (and mending)