Augh! Just reading Tobolds blog and I find the attitude in one entry kind of sick. I'll quote my responce for context
Augh, Tobold, your position sounds like a kind of sickness? You want people to make friends, not because they actually like the other person, but because they can't have fun with the product they bought if they don't.I mean honestly, it goes back to the worst of the worst table top roleplay habits, where people who would have absolutely nothing to do with each other outside of roleplay, would indeed roleplay together so they could get their game fix. It's an incredibly unhealthy attitude, but here we have the same perpetuation of the idea the game should force people together not because they like each other, but because they want their mmorpg fix.
That's a terrible reason to make friends! That's not even making friends, it's just finding people to use.
If people like other people, they'll make friends and group with them even if there's a bunch of NPC's to group with. This whole article seems to be tainted with some idea that it's not important whether people want to do things with each other.
What you need is some mechanism to help people come in contact more, so they actually know what other people are like in order to have a chance at making friends
What you need is some system by which players can get to know each other. This was done, retardedly, by forcing people to group or they get nowhere. You just need a system which gets them in contact without such a blunt instrument involved.
And it's not hard to knit together a bunch of reward systems for entering in details of what you like, then more rewards for browsing other players. And no, I don't mean holding back part of the game like loot and seeing the insides of certain dungeons - I mean handing out some gold or such. Which will mean social gamers are richer, but that's not gimping the main content for any soloer.
Honestly, the fact that mmorpg design kind of fell together into a retarded block content unless you group model is excusable since it fell together. But to perpetuate a culture of people finding other people, not because they like them, but because they want to use them to get at a game they've already paid for? It's unhealthy.