Matchmaking systems, what we're up to, and why. Part 1

  • There will be multiple systems -- too early to break them down.  The matchmaking I thought was important enough to bring up now.  Rewarding people for mentoring also worth mentioning now.  Of course there will be an LFG tool, and much more than that -- a Looking for Friends tool, or, really, set of tools.  A suite a completely optional tools and mechanics that help people find real friends, help them group with those friends, help *keep* those friends together in a group, etc.   The Caravan System ties into this -- offline travel within reason will be important.  

    I think the key points, not in any particular order and limited to those occurring to my tired brain right now, are:

    1. Lots of systems and tools, totally optional, there to be used by people who are interested in finding other people also interested, bringing them together, and in a way that really matters and that lasts (e.g. not about the session, or that particular evening, but about forging true relationships).  

    2. Taking a proactive stance unlike EQ which just threw you to the wolves so to speak.  But also most certainly not some of the more 'modern' systems that just bring people together to do an instance and then, afterwards, those people spread about by the wind, no reason to speak during the instance, nor afterwards... no reason to really even talk much if at all.  Total, even blatant disregard for shared experiences and how incredibly powerful and memorable, due to the way our brains are wired, they truly are.

    3. Using positive reinforcement to reward players who go out of their way to help in the onboarding.

    4. The recognition that many players, especially the younger ones who have become accustomed to logging in and being able to do anything themselves and not needing each other, will need help.  

    5. The commitment on our part that if we are making a game where most of the content is being built around grouping that we facilitate finding the group, keeping the group together, and making the group turn into relationships that last, that lead to a community, to shared experiences, etc.

    6. The reliance on the community to assist with all of this -- we're all in this *together*.  The dev team, the post-launch expansion and live teams, the forum moderators, *and* the community taking part and armed with the ability to further this onboarding imperative.  

    7. Probably the biggest challenge, and certainly what will be the most controversial:  how we can have a hard core challenging game, sans handholding after the first few levels, an open world and sandbox over a theme park golden path style while at the same time providing many ways to both *find* a group, *keep* the group together (that session, and then beyond that, days later), and helping that group re-form... helping the group keep going if a key group member has to log out.   On the surface and perhaps even at times when digging deeper I do know some in our community will find our efforts at odds with our commitments and the style of game we are all creating.  So be it though.  It is what it is.  We will stick together and work through it.   

    I fully expect some passionate discussions.  I'm sure we will see the Alarmist Disposition creep into RL.   I also fully expect to try some of these ideas and find that they need some real re-work and sometimes even a total 'yank it from the game' as we head into alpha and beta and ideas sounding great on paper just not panning out in the actual game.  Yet another reason why a long solid pre-alpha/alpha/beta test is so essential to Pantheon's success.  

    As the days go by and more information is made available about these various systems I would just ask that people keep calm, keep the faith they have in us, and both be patient and willing to think (and be, and play) outside of the box.  Again, some of this stuff, especially on the surface, is going to appear, at least initially, as inconsistent, even incompatible.... both incompatible in terms of gameplay and experiencing the game pre-launch but also incompatible, at least on the surface, with some of our tenets, the FAQ, etc.  But, as I always try to put out there:  we've no interest in creating an emulator, or simply bringing back the past.   Yes, Pantheon has the same spirit and feel as many of the classics -- we've already achieved that, verified it, and are proud of it.  But it's also so much more -- so much more at launch, and then holy crap! we have some crazy cool stuff that is integral to the Grand Vision, that we've been waiting years even decades to get into an MMO like this.  The Pantheon opportunity is arguably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   And I can speak for myself certainly, and also confidently for the majority of the team, if not all of them:  we are in this for the long haul.  This is *not* fire and forget.  So many ideas and dreams we have can't even start without a solid launch and enough players from all different walks of life having a great time and supporting this company with monthly subs.  The launch of an MMO is like a baby being born -- beautiful, exciting, engrossing... but still a foundation upon which to then build SO much more.   For a variety of reasons not right to go into details right now, none of us have been able to stay on an MMO from inception, through development, then launch, and then for years of expansions, DLCs, revamping, retooling, keeping fresh.  Even a game I am *so* proud of and always will be, that is still around, that has remained commercially successful for almost 19 years now -- even that game was not built by a team that stuck together -- while it launched with a solid vision and that vision remained consistent for a couple of expansions, eventually everyone was replaced.  And those that replaced did not come on board thinking 'hey, let's hold together that original Vision, see it through, build upon it.'  More accurately it was looked at as an opportunity to come in and replace the original Vision with however they saw what the game should have been, and where it should have gone forward.   And this didn't happen just once, but several times -- teams replaced and therefore visions replaced.  I cast no blame here, nor disrespect, and simply speak the truth with no other motive than that people have an accurate understanding of history and of the impact, significant impact, that such changes can and do have real and long-term ramifications.  

    The opportunity we have here with Pantheon, having both Vision and Grand Vision, the long-term commitments being made as we slowly but surely teambuild, are arguably unique in the history of not only MMOs but in computer/video gaming as a whole.  This is something we take very seriously and even the idea, random thought, or brain fart of squandering such an opportunity absolutely unthinkable.  

    And if that post didn't scare you sufficiently, just stay tuned, LoL :)  I really do love you guys, the fantastic community we have, combined with having the time to do it right, reach the goals and dreams we outlined months ago, and the *freedom* we have to try to really move this genre forward even if that truly involves thinking outside of the box and trying out some really wild and crazy stuff.   Start-ups are hard, indies are faced with truly unique challenges, but I’ll take it all any day vs how it used to be!

    -Brad "Aradune" McQuaid


  • Nordicwolf
    Nordicwolf I totally agree with the new instagroup LFG systems. Although, I personally hated spamming LFG when not in a group and managing lists of people when I was the group leader/list manager. I would like to see more of a "Group Registry" system. It's a...  more
    November 11, 2017
  • Archonus
    Archonus I would like to suggest that these kinds of tools somehow be incorporated into the lore and role-playing aspect of this game. For instance, instead of drab menus and option screens, perhaps something like a simple software agent, like a soul-guide...  more
    November 21, 2017 - 1 likes this
  • BryanR
    BryanR At 45 and a gamer most of my many here, I've been disappointed many times by the gaming industry. Do some of these ideas raise questions of my own? Sure. But my money is on Brad.... and the team; hopefully one that will stick together and...  more
    March 4, 2018 - 2 like this
  • Malla
    Malla This is exactly why VR will be producing the BEST MMORPG since Everquest, and even better than EQ. This kind of thinking and design is totally lacking from the genre today, and has been since the first expansion of WoW.
    January 29, 2019