Leaving Behind Your Buddies

One of the toughest things about the MMORPG genre is that it’s not always possible to take your friends with you when you change game. People tend to find a MMO they enjoy and play it over long periods of time (months, if not years) and that’s great for forming strong bonds and friendships but it does mean that if you want to try something new, you can often find yourself standing on a fresh new world, knowing no one, whilst all of your old buddies are still playing your previous game. And that sucks.

Maybe it says a lot about the transient nature of our online friendships (and that actually these friendships aren’t as real as we think they are) but I’m not sure I buy into that. I think the relationships we form online are real, it’s just that they’re subject to harsher circumstances and conditions. Much like if one of your real life friends moves to another country, we can all still keep in contact with our online friends via guild forums, MSN Messenger, Facebook and Twitter but it’s never the same as actually playing the same MMORPG with them.

I’ve faced this experience quite a lot over the past 12 months when I found that the MMORPG interests of myself and my friends from Everquest 2 started to diverge. Most of us got burnt out with EQ2 and decided to try Age of Conan when it was released. After discovering we didn’t like it, some of us moved onto Warhammer Online (although some stayed in AoC) and then, after discovering we didn’t like that, we all kinda just split up. Some went back to EQ2, some (like myself) tried World of Warcraft and some took a break from MMORPGs all together. It’s a shame that we find ourselves in the situation were we can’t all find the perfect game to play together but, I suppose, that’s life.

Something which would be a somewhat remedy to this situation (and something I’d really love to see) is a ubiqituos chat client throughout all MMORPGs. Sure, you might not be able to group together but at least you could still maintain a cross-game friends list, chat ability and perhaps even a cross-MMORPG guild. I think there’s potential here to standardise some of these features and help close the divide between games and players.

The concept may sound a little radical but it’s not as far fetched as it first might seem. After all, SoE implement cross server and game chat and enabled players of EQ, EQ2 and SW:G to chat between each other and join public chat channels. It was a very clever idea because it allowed people to play other games in their catalogue without worrying about loosing contact with their current friends and guild.

Of course, I’m now facing this exact same dilemma again as I feel the desire to start up a Horde character in WoW. Swapping sides from Alliance means loosing contact with all of my friends and guild and that really irks me. Well, maybe it’s just time to invest in my own VoIP server.

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Related Posts

  1. Making Online Friends Through MMORPGs
  2. How Important Are Guilds?
  3. MMO Friends Are Just Like Work Colleagues
  4. The Philosophy Of Friendship
  5. Are MMORPGs Getting More Antisocial?


  1. J. Ayers says:

    Really it is no different than when you get out of high school and each go to different colleges, or you all get different jobs and move away from each other… Granted swapping MMOs is a little more frivolous, but the affect on friendships is the same. You can try to stay in contact via other means (Facebook, MySpace, IM…), but the original reason you are together will no longer be a factor.

    It has been my experience that moving away from friends (literally or figuratively) doesn’t separate you permanently, it just can for a long period of time. This past weekend I seen friends that I haven’t seen for nearly 7 years, and got to hang with one that I only ever see once a year if I am lucky. All of us play WoW, yet I have never played WoW with any of them.

    It really depends on how strong the bond is you hold, and how much work you (and they) are willing to put into staying in touch.

  2. Stabs says:

    I think often the friendships are very much rooted in a shared interest. What I mean is they don’t always survive being uprooted.

    We had a very tight SWG guild where we all knew each other well and liked each other. We moved to EQ2 in 2004 and it didn’t survive. We were all different levels and needed different quests. High fliers got fed up with the lowbies and altoholics, lowbies couldn’t understand why suddenly a group that had been so tight and done everything together in SWG was all separated (because the high fliers wouldn’t come back to do content we could access).

    I could go into a separate rant on how strict level systems destroy friendships. But there’s another factor at work too: online gamers need to be all pointed in the same direction.

    Eve is potentially a good game for this but I had a hard time moving to it with some real life friends. One guy found it flat out too complex. Another rushed off to join the first corp spamming Jita local and ended up in Griefers Anonymous (sic). I played with them a couple of times they were horrible self-centred American teenage boys. I kinda felt he should have fitted in with what I was doing rather than rush off and start something crap. We’ve always had a herding cats problem in my RL friends playing group – all leaders, no followers, most of us not very good communicators either.

    It can be done successfully but I think it’s simpler to play what you personally want and let your friends know you’re there.

    Another thing which I’ve heard works well and want to try is the static group. Like an old school Dungeons and Dragons group you meet one night a week and play for a few hours together. DDO online is very suited to this as it’s free so you’re not wasting anything by playing a MMO 3 hours a week then playing other games the rest of the time.

  3. Totally agree with you, Mr. Wise…
    I am still sad that I lost in-game contact with most ppl I really (still) like from our good times in EQ2.
    And it is good to see some mates on facebook or stay in contact with them via their own (and great!!) blog! ;)

    Mr. Sexy :D

  4. Longasc says:

    I met many interesting people playing various games, and even if most of them don’t play on the same server or even the same game anymore, we are still in contact.

    This is only true for a minority of contacts though, but they are the really valuable ones.

    It is often a bit shit if your friends babble about WoW raids when you aren’t playing it anymore, sure. :)

  5. Stabs says:

    Ha ha – the banner ad is for Hello Kitty Online. Now that would be a true test of friendship!

  6. Yetian says:

    I always feel the same way.

    I have played eq2 since release and most of our guild has too. We have a lotr branch for those that went to that game and we have a few trying the free version of d&d online.

    Our guildies that left eq2 still use our site and still come to meets. For us the guild is more important than the game. If a few try a new game we often make a branch in that mmo. Sometimes branches las sometimes not but the guild always does.

    I often end up trying a game with guild mates who were in a game with me before.

    I expect to see many again at next years meet. I guess we have been lucky but we have also worked to make it work. Some of the guild have gamed together since eq.

    As for cross game chat Xfire works well as you can create a chat channel.

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