There is nothing quite like small gaming communities with their own distinct set of rules. Some players will complain about censorship and what not, but all those different gaming communities allowed for people to find a place that they enjoyed playing at.
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When you play on a server with good admins who take the time to kick and ban toxic players, it's really nice. I've played CS and TF2 for so many years because of good moderation. When you lose that moderation, you get a toxic environment that some of us don't feel like dealing with. I don't think that matchmaking is the culprit in the decline of the small gaming communities if there is one.
I ran a clan for a few years, and the introduction of matchmaking to TF2 didn't give us any problem.
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If anything, it increased our server population. Some players would come back and it would help us maintain a regular player base. Not being able to run our own servers would have been the real problem. Our community was nothing without moderation. Returning players stayed with our group because they liked having a friendly place to play at with and no one to yell at them.
We dealt with cheaters and griefers promptly on the spot as we always had an admin in game. Running a small community for gamers is just so much work. Back then, you needed a forum, a web site, a TeamSpeak or other server. Then you needed your gaming servers. You had to recruit players. You had to get money to pay for the servers. These days, anyone can make a group through Steam and have a forum there. I think there's less of a need for a centralized community to hold it all together, and it's probably what is killing the "old way".
I guess you stopped playing TF2, because all the community servers are dead now. The original matchmaking system was abused by a few bad apples with a lot of really shitty servers servers premium cheats, ads, and shitty settings in general that clogged the matchmaking system. Valve gave up trying to filter them and switched Quick Play to only send players to Valve servers. Since most players just use Quick Play, it became impossible to run a community server any more.
I had no idea things went that way. Well, look at MMOs and you know the answer.
Especially WoW is a prime example here, since it shows how the social component changed over the years while they implemented more and more automatic matchmaking. I think for many of us older gamers who played online through the '00s, this is the biggest thing missing from new games. I still fucking remember my regular servers from CS 1. At peak times it was basically all regulars and you had to wait a good bit to get a slot. Before Dota 2 we played that shit on WC3 custom games, eventually you came to know certain hosts and players and look to play with them.
My WoW raid group literally disbanded when raid finder came out. Man even in a shitty little RPG called Tibia, the best thing about it was the community feeling, the server divided into 2 sets of guilds constantly warring. I wish someone would go old school and make a game that made it a point to try to recapture that style, maybe it wouldn't be the most financially successful but people would love it. You are right to some degree. I noticed I play competitive games mostl with peeps I already know for a long while.
I am kinda done with competitive games. Is it just because of matchmaking? I doubt its only about matchmaking but it certainly adds an unnecessary element of obstruction. The only thing that keeps me coming back to a game is the community. I played UT04 for years and years because there was a set of servers that I was a regular on and I got to know all the other regulars. Getting on after work and having a set of people say hey as they all recognize you is just a great feeling.
Then all the other regulars slowly get on, chatting starts, and it's a total blast. I really miss it. Nowadays I've noticed that even on dedicated servers there's just so much silence.
Sounds alot like playing games to be social vs playing games to play games. I guess the group who only cares about the game is winning. But I'm not sure if that is so bad. The people wo care more about socializing have always been a vocal minority. MMO's are a good example. The leveltime and solo questing in wow was bemoaned from the begining. Yet those were exactly the features that drew the most players into the game in the first place.
I think there was, at least in my opinion, maybe not on PC but there were 3 years on Xbox live when there was no party chat so people were always talking, people might look back and say it was obnoxious but it seems so dead now with everyone in party chat. While it might not be related to matchmaking, I think everyone being insulated in their own worlds of skype and private chat there is less of a community. You don't remember being on that one server that always had a nice ping for you, and suddenly someone calls you out by name.
You don't remember realizing there are a handful of people on the game the same time you are every day, doing the same thing? There certainly was a golden age. It's why my friends lists used to be full. It's why I haven't made a lasting friendship in an online game in over 8 years, but I still talk to some of those people from the golden age every.
That is, there was a golden age for me at least But it all comes down to why you play the game. As it turns out, most people just want to play the game as efficiently as possible and don't really care about making friends with strangers online. I miss that community a lot and I'd play with them again but most of them have probably moved on or something. This was back when we used X-Fire to communicate because Steam Friends never worked. I have no idea if any of them still play video games but I'm sure they do, but I don't feel like I'd ever come across a community like that again.
I don't play a game long enough to see that making friends is useful frankly. Good MMO though, actually got to max level without going through the emotions of "Fuck this, i'ma go play something else"; first time in any MMO at max level. I was spamming LFG messages, because that's what dominated the chat along with the regular stuff like raids, guild ads and trade messages.
Thank god for the dungeon finder, because at least those messages are now gone for the most part and the chat can be used for more social things, which isn't happening anyway. Uh yes there was.
MechWarrior thrived on having leagues full of clans, houses, mercs, etc. Entire galaxtic economies revolved around the player created groups, who they chose to attack, how they spent their money, and how they performed in battle. You were just killed piloting an Atlas? Grats, you just cost your house a million credits now that they have to replace it.
In clan smoke jaguar and you are defending a factory against jade falcon? Your entire clans weekly income just took a hit. I'd wager that the absolute majority of clans in the old days were people who knew each other in real life.
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In that regard not much has changed. Just the fact that we don't call ourselves clans anymore. In shooters you were usually free to play on whatever server you wanted as long as you didn't kill an admin. If you did, you were obviously cheating and they banned you. However, when there was a real cheater, the kind that just killed the entire team in their spawn in a second, you could never get an admin to help.
For almost any Warcraft 3 mod there was a small community where everyone knew each other. Anyone who didn't have at least a dozen hours of experience in said mod was a feeder and needed to be kicked. Maybe, but you can always add people you played with and liked and then invite them to the next game. This could lead to teams or groups being formed this way,. I think part of the issue has to do with consoles.