We take a deep dive into Pantheon's complex social system
How to Make MMORPGs Social Again - The Pantheon Philosophy
As part of our 2021 Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Content Series, we launched a special piece interviewing the Fantheons (Pantheon’s greatest fans) about the aspects of the ambitious crowdfunded title they’re most excited about. One of the elements that came up time and time again is Pantheon’s focus on social gameplay. We knew we had to make it one of our Pantheon feature-focuses, so we dug into the tenets underlying Brad McQuaid’s dream for a truly social challenging MMORPG.
The Perception System: a new kind of quest, like a dungeon master when you keep asking questions you dive deeper and deeper into the unknown. And @PantheonMMO built ground up on social gameplay : time to kill, difficulty, the world matters
— the Nathan NAPALM 💚 (@TheNathanNapalm) February 3, 2021
Pantheon’s Social Philosophy
When Visionary Realms finally release Pantheon, its mechanics and format will be directed towards encouraging the social aspects of gameplay that first drew many of us into the world of MMORPGs. Yet Pantheon’s commitment to social gameplay extends beyond publishers’ usual lip service, auto-grouping, and lifeless guilds. Where other MMORPGs give the feeling of just playing an RPG alongside others, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is putting social dynamics at their game’s very core – it is being designed from the ground-up as an antidote to everything wrong with the genre.
Pantheon is often compared to EverQuest. Largely due to the influence of the late, great Brad McQuaid. Brad McQuaid was the Co-creator of EverQuest and was CCO for Visionary Realms until his death in November 2019. In spite of his tragic passing, his vision for a truly social MMO lives on.
In a round-table in 2019, Brad McQuaid laid out the 13 Tenets to follow to ensure this social focus. The developers have held true to these tenets, giving the upcoming title a real chance at completing his magnus opus in a form he would be proud of.
In Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, grouping will not be the auto-grouping seen in most of today’s MMORPGs wherein groups begin an end without even a “Hi”, “GG”, or “Adios”. Forget teleporting to dungeons that are over in minutes.
When Pantheon is launched, we can expect many features which encourage more meaningful social grouping, such as profiles with information about players that extend beyond the game (hobbies, etc.) and providing more in-game opportunities for conversation and friendship building. All of these features will help to sow the social fabric of Pantheon. But there is one maxim that underlies all of the tenets below and the social philosophy of the entire game: Make the game so challenging that players must form meaningful fellowships in order to succeed.
Clever, meaningful grouping should be essential for questing and exploration. Watch the video or read the tenets below and let us know if you think that Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen will be the saviour of MMORPGs that many of us hope that it could be.
How to Create Challenging, Social MMORPGs – The 13 Tenets of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
"There are two really big important tenets here that we have a responsibility to help the players out with. One is getting a group together. And two is keeping that group together." Brad McQuaid
These tenets have been summarised in different ways, this is our interpretation after deep diving into Pantheon content. Check out the video above for more.
- Content is King - Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen should be filled with more content than anyone could ever complete. What results will be a world of endless mystery and intrigue that will drive authentic exploration.
- Meaningful Class Identities - No single player should be able to do everything on their own. By making solo play brutal, people are forced to group and bond with others. This will make the gameplay challenging, and it will make every class, decision, and ability meaningful.
- Economies of Deflation - In-game economies should be predicated on delaying and minimizing item value through deflation and depreciation. Where economies are instead built around item inflation, new players struggle (not least through coin weight penalties).
- Immersive Group Combat - From the mechanics of combat to the amount of pre-battle preparation required, group cohesion will be essential. That entails hot-bar selection, priming, buffing, and strategizing not just based upon the “best abilities” but upon the strengths and weaknesses of the party. Rather than a click-and-hope action RPG, it will be one that values a commitment to engaging group mechanics and deeply immersive combat.
- Great Challenge Brings Great Reward - Danger rewards the brave. Players will be naturally incentivised to push themselves out of the door to embrace exploration, adventure, and danger alongside their community to see what treasures might await them. Players should all implicitly know that with greater risk comes greater reward, and that they inhabit a world wherein challenging group-play attracts likeminded folk seeking similar challenges.
- Action and Inaction Have Consequences - All actions should have consequences, but so should inaction. This will help to create a living world where decisions matter and players care. As a rule, positive actions should be rewarded, and apathy or inaction should not.
- Progressing to Prestige - For character progression to be meaningful, progression should always involve a player increasing in both power and prestige.
- Downtime Unites Players - Downtime between adventures should be well spent. Designed downtime should be implemented to give players a chance to strategize while forming important social bonds. Bring on the tavern.
- Intelligent Inhabitants - An immersive world requires intelligent inhabitants. Pantheon will be introducing this to its NPCs and mobs partially through their innovative disposition system. NPCs will be given qualities such as “alarmist” or “tactician” giving them radically different responses when confronted with players. The former might run for reinforcements, the latter might target healers.
- Factions Matter - Faction and alignment should be an integral part of interacting with the world and its citizenry. Just as they are in real life, if tribalism and alignment are powerful factors in how characters are treated and treat others, it makes players feel more part of the world. This should differ from region to region; it was a core concept in EverQuest.
- Shared Accomplishment - The greatest sense of accomplishment comes when it is both shared and earned. Envisage adventures so legendary that you recall them as ballads by the fireplace many years later.
- Meaningful Levelling - Player levels should be both meaningful and memorable. In other MMORPGs, player levels are no longer meaningful, no one says congratulations anymore. They should be powerful, meaningful, memorable markers of progress following longer levelling periods and slower character progression.
- PvE > NPCs - Player vs environment should mean more than just NPCs. Pantheon does this via the acclimation system, extreme weather types, and other forms of interactive environments. So not just combat with mobs, but combating the very world. Imagine storms that are detrimental to some players, but which grant others the ability to summon lightning. Acclimating to certain parts of the world requires potions, glyphs, and armour. With certain abilities only available at certain places at certain times, venturing through the dangers of nature will require teamwork.
Despite its relatively early stages of development, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen has developed a loyal and supportive community. We hope that their tenets achieve their vision so that a new golden age of MMORPGs can usher in more friendships and MMO memories.
We want to provide a special shout-out to some passionate content creators and Pantheon hype-fans extraordinaire whose brilliant synopses of Pantheon content were highly useful for the creation of this Pantheon Series. For great video content on Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, be sure to check out the channels of The Nathan NAPALM, BazgrimTV, and PantheonPlus.
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