Camaraderie in MMORPGs

MMOs have always been a strange subject for me. I remember being fascinated with the likes of Asheron’s Call, Ultima and Everquest as a child, but I never had a computer capable of dealing with the strain of an online world. The idea seemed incredible to me – complete immersion in a real time world populated by real people.
My first actual venture into MMORPGs came when I tried Ragnarok Online on the recommendation of a friend. After working my way through the hilariously broken English tutorial, complete with warnings such as “Monster AI is not implemented yet”, I ventured into the starting area and look for something to do.
A little way in, I saw another player fighting a scorpion. This being a multiplayer RPG, I figure, camaraderie is expected and helpfulness is a virtue that others will appreciate. I run in, and with a few slashes of my sword the monster is dead. However, instead of being thanked for giving my time to help a fellow player, the guy responded bluntly with “dont ks noob” and ran off.
Looking back, I understand why the guy was pissed. I picked up the game, and my first action was to run up to another player and steal the credit for his work. But really, my naive ignorance was unwittingly exposing a flaw in the game that every MMO I’ve played has had:
For games based around the idea of working together, all MMOs typically expect players to compete for resources. From equipment to fundamental things like experience, current MMOs tend to force you to divide these resources between a group. To protect these valuable resources you have to jump through hoops, internal and external, to play with another person. Does anyone really enjoy group invites, loot rolls or dkp?
These systems may help to make a game more fair, but in my opinion they relieve the symptoms without curing the problem. So how do you fix this broken system? The Guild Wars 2 development blog has a few ideas:

When someone kills a monster, not just that player’s party but everyone who was seriously involved in the fight gets 100% of the XP and loot for the kill. When an event is happening in the world – when the bandits are terrorizing a village – everyone in the area has the same motivation, and when the event ends, everyone gets rewarded.

Guild Wars 2 is still in development with an estimated 2011 release, so it will be a while before we know if this really is the right direction for MMOs to head towards. Personally, I’m hoping the risks ArenaNet are taking with this approach pay off, and it finally results in an MMO that truly feels like a social experience.