Experienced Points: Massively Single Player, Part 1

By Shamus
on Dec 18, 2009
Filed under:
Column

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve been playing a lot of MMO’s lately. I didn’t really get into them until they became solo-friendly, which is a strange way of going about things. Or, at least it might seem weird. But I think that playing an MMO by yourself can make a lot of sense.

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  1. ima420r says:

    I’ve never played an MMO with someone else. Sometimes I may join with a random person for a quest or 2, but I’m mostly a solo guy. I’ve tried most of the MMOs out there, my first being beta testing UO, and I have never felt the need to play in a group.

    I guess you could say I like to play with myself. In fact, I play with myself all the time.

  2. Pickly says:

    Oh boy, writing about MMOs. I used to read a lot of MMO blogs, forums, and such, and a lot of players seem way, way to emotionally invested in the games (Lots and lots of “X game isn’t a real MMO”, “You playing style sucks”, “You’re just a lazy player” “Actually, I have a life”, etc. Not the exact words, but some form of these ideas)

    From what I’ve played of MMOs, a big part of soloing is probably that grouping still had a lot of problems with it (hard to get groups together, problems coordinating players, etc.) A good group was quite fun, but often hard to find, and group activities often took really long periods of time to do.

  3. Tesh says:

    I almost always play MMOs solo. I don’t have time to deal with people who inevitably screw up the experience. As I’ve noted on more than one occasion over at my blog, the “Multiplayer” part of the acronym in no way explicitly means “playing in a group”.

    Oh, and one of my earliest blog articles did indeed state that I’d pay good money for a single player offline WoW. I still would. I play the game to explore the design and content. other players most often just get in the way.

    My absolute disdain for the subscription model is deeply intertwined with this mindset, incidentally. It works for some, sure, but for me, it *never* offers good value. Still, I’d pay $50 in a heartbeat for a standalone single player offline WoW that I could play and experiment with whenever I blasted well please, for as long as I own the DVD.

  4. LintMan says:

    I’d probably buy a “single player WOW” if they sold it, but I sorta kinda need a coherent story to pull me along, which as far as I know, WOW doesn’t offer.

    Not that everything I do in game has to be story-related: I’m perfectly happy doing side-quests and the like, but I need it there in the background.

    I played X3, a big sandbox space trader/combat game for a good while, having fun building up a trade empire, etc, while I slowly did the missions for the (weak) storyline. Then, I finished the last mission and suddenly the game lost all appeal to me to continue playing. I just didn’t have any in-game motivation any more. (For most X3 players, the sandbox WAS the game, and many never bothered with the SP missions at all).

  5. Jabor says:

    WoW has a fairly decent story if you read the quest descriptions – at least through the early and mid-game. In the end-game the fact that the world is always exactly the same no matter what you do breaks that significantly.

    It really feels like a decent sandbox thing if you’re on a near-empty (read: private) server.

  6. Danath says:

    Decent, only problem with the article is where you state “Designers have finally begun to sort out the contradictions between PvP and PvE play, and now most games seem to let you do one or the other at will. I’m hoping we’ll see a similar focus in future games so that soloists and co-op players can each do their thing without the designers imposing or denying multiplay according to their own whim. Specifically, solo quests that end in forced-teaming missions have no place in a modern MMOG. I’ll talk more about this issue in next week’s column.”

    Sorry, but no, while I agree that soloers should have everything available to them, they should NOT be able to do everything successfully, if they really want to solo something, they can come back at a higher level. I can understand wanting to solo in a MMO, heck I like to solo in a MMO too, but I still acknowledge that by soloing I am not as strong as in a group, and by definition, I am not strong enough to do all the content all on my lonesome. I agree with most of your article, and people wanting to play solo, but no, the soloer should need to at least occasionally work with friends or others to complete a particularly dangerous task, this promotes people to actually understand what it’s like to work with others in the game, as well as provide satisfaction at “overcoming” a difficult challenge that was beyond you by yourself. Just look at Demon Souls as a good example that difficulty isn’t always a bad thing, and can be very encouraging.

    As for PvP vs PvE, your straight up wrong, WoW has taken several steps forewards, and several steps backwords for years now, CO’s is broken, and… hmm I admit I’m not huge on pvp, so if there ARE any games that did pvp particularly well outside of DAoC and possibly Warhammer, I’m not really sure what they are.

    • Shamus says:

      Danath: I disagree. Why should they HAVE to do something not fun?

      Actually, raids I understand, but leaving a quest line unfinished and coming back five levels later is just asinine and un-fun. (It breaks the natural progression of the game, leaving newbies wondering where to go. It also ruins the flow of the story, which is pretty much a feature only used by solo players.)

      And I’m WRONG on PvP? How? I didn’t even say anything about PvP except to say that they weren’t shoving it down our throats the way they used to. Are you saying that this is not the case, or that it is the case but they shouldn’t, or what?

  7. Tesh says:

    “the soloer should need to at least occasionally work with friends or others to complete a particularly dangerous task, this promotes people to actually understand what it’s like to work with others in the game, as well as provide satisfaction at “overcoming” a difficult challenge that was beyond you by yourself.”

    Danath, the underlying assumption there is that it’s the game designer’s job to make people group up. Why would that be? What business is it of theirs? Especially if by doing so, they create exit points for players who don’t want to group. If they want money from those players, they shouldn’t adhere to some archaic notion that they “must play with others” and assume some sort of mandate from the MMO gods to make people group up.

  8. ngthagg says:

    I’m a dedicated soloer, and my preference comes from the pace of play. Although I move pretty quickly when I’m playing, I like having the option of messing around with a non-essential part of the game. Maybe leveling a profession, maybe working on an achievement, maybe seeing what’s on the other side of the mountain, whatever. I can’t do that stuff when I’m in a group, since I don’t want to waste my teammate’s time. And I’ve found that it’s the other stuff that keeps the enjoyment level high.

  9. J Greely says:

    My vision of the MMO experience is what Ultima Online promised on the back of the box and never successfully delivered: “play alone or with as many friends as you want”.

    -j

  10. Danath says:

    @Shamus

    The pvp thing, I misread it as you meaning that they have managed to integrate pvp with pve (like a pve player can hop into pvp and play it effectively), and in THAT sense I thought it was wrong. If you meant something else, then I simply misread it.

    And the real question is: WHY is grouping unfun? Why should they not encourage you to group up to overcome a difficult task? Is there something wrong with wanting your players to understand group dynamics by putting in quests where you may need the help of your fellow players? I’m not saying the current system is perfect, there should be more incentives and encouragements to group up to accomplish tasks, which right now there aren’t. And making sure “everyone can solo everything” has led to some delightfully interesting quest lines ending rather… unclimactically, with the big demon popping up and falling over from a light bop on the head. This is just as damaging to storytelling, and leads to the dreaded “Click and ignore” kind of thing that people do nowadays. It’s impossible to really CARE if it’s too easy, much like how people don’t appreciate free as much as they do when they pay for something in general. You appreciate and enjoy it more if it takes a little effort, especially an experience where you have to have a degree of participation as opposed to a static experience, like a movie.

    @Tesh

    Yes, it is the designers job to make sure people group up in a MMO, because the *entire endgame* is based around grouping up. Wow in particular is actually quite notorious for people who level to 80 without ever grouping, and became that annoying terrible person that makes you hate pug groups because they have no idea how grouping WORKS, or how they should function with other players. So yes, it is the designers job that other people group up together so they can actually ENJOY that kind of content when they hit it.

    Perhaps I am wrong in saying it should be required to accomplish certain tasks, but there should at least be a great deal of incentive to play with others in some fashion.

  11. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I think WoW has a decent way of dealing with groups, namely only having “group quests” when you’ve been out in the world long enough that you have enough friends and maybe even a guild from which you can call up and ask to help you, rather than standing in town shouting for a healer for your random group of strangers.

    Then again, doing that dungeon with the underleveled group of strangers ended with us all calling each other friends, so that can work sometimes, too.

    Anyway, I have nothing against playing by yourself, but then again, it’s kinda like playing Rock Band by yourself; it’s addtictive, it’s fun, but it can’t compare to getting three friends over and rocking out, cause that’s when the game really shines.

    Edit: Also, as Danath up there pointed out, when the endgame consist’s mainly of grouping, but people can get to the endgame without ever grouping, then… well, I dunno, grouping should be more encouraged earlier?

    It’s a sticky issue, since you can’t force people to do something they don’t want to, but having them ignore it entirely leaves them unprepared for when it’s all there is to do.

    I guess if you’re so against grouping that you ignore it for 80 levels and hundreds of hours, then maybe you’ve finished the game when all the solo quests are done and grouping’s all that’s left.

  12. SoldierHawk says:

    Brilliant article Shamus, and really sums me up quite well. If I play an MMO, its never, ever for the multiplayer aspect–in fact to me, that gets in the way. If I pick up an MMO, its because I either a) want to experience the story and characters it has to offer, or b) I want to experience the world it creates. Great example would be LOTR online. I adore the world of Middle Earth, but there is not one single player game on the market that fills my wish for the ability to wander through LOTR’s locations and interact with its characters. All the games that exist are either hack-n-slash movie tie ins, or that one LOTR RPG which also does not fill my need. I don’t necessarily want to play through the STORY of LOTR, I want to explore that WORLD with no strings attached. Its the same reason I will no doubt look into the Star Wars MMO when it hits (although the SW Universe fares a little better in single player games since we have the KOTOR series.)

    So…yeah. That’s my two cents. Sadly I don’t have the funds right now to keep up a monthly subscription, but if someone would put out a big, open world (and by open world I mean Morrowind/Oblivion big) game that lets me explore Middle Earth and maybe even interact with some of the characters from the movie (although this is not a requirement) I would be so, so, SO happy.

  13. TikiTantrum says:

    That’s why I loved Guild Wars so much. I could play solo with no interference, but could group up if I needed to.

    I was fairly disappointed when I heard Guild Wars 2 will have few instanced areas.

  14. MechaCrash says:

    I think a lot of support for the ability to solo is a side effect of the realization that forced grouping sucks. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has memories of playing one of the less desired classes in EQ (namely, anything that wasn’t a warrior, cleric, or enchanter) and having a real bastard of a time getting a group, which meant I had a real bastard of a time actually getting to play. So they made sure you can solo at any point, a side effect of which is that you can solo at every point.

  15. krellen says:

    Interesting that you did not go into MUDs, and then relegated the disdain for “casuals” to “old timers”.

    Many MUDs in the early- and mid-90s were eminently solo-friendly, especially the LP MUDs I frequented. Most of them had at least one, if not many, classes built specifically with solo play in mind. Few people wanted to group with the summoning classes – usually called “druid” or “necromancer” or some variant thereof – because their monsters spammed the combat log and created lag for people on dial-up connections (far more common in those days, obviously). But such classes were much requested by players precisely because they could do things without needing aid from other players.

    Calling the generation that came after us, who grew up with the forced-grouping model popularised by EverQuest, the “old timers” is a little misleading; they’re bits of young upstarts themselves.

    It’s probably not a coincidence that, as the gaming population ages, “casual” gaming is making a come-back; not only is it more friendly to people with multiple obligations, but gaming companies are finally once again catering to the original generation that grew up with video games, offering fare more like the games they played as children rather than the intense, and time-consuming “deeper” fare that was the second (maybe even third) generation of game design.

    The ideas espoused by Danath are fairly typical of the second generation of gamers; first generation gamers (like me and should be you, Shamus) are far more likely to view games as diversion and fun than competition and achievement.

  16. Danath says:

    @Krellen

    Excuse me? I have been playing since muds, and since The Realm, and Meridian 59, before EQ ever put on its diapers. I view the games as diversion and fun first, I am quite happy to complain about games that require excessive amount of work for little reward, or achievement hunting (which I abhor). Frankly a developer wants you to play their game for a long time, they should teach you how to play for their end game, because thats what they are hoping will KEEP you, and it’s hard to have fun when everyone calls you retard and you keep losing because you aren’t sure what to do.

  17. krellen says:

    @Danath: WoW’s “End Game” is only the end game for a specific sort of player. The end game for my brand is player is doing it over again with a different flavour character, not grinding the same character over and over into the wall until it improves infinitesimally.

    So there’s no need to train me on how to do WoW’s end game, because I have no interest in doing WoW’s end game.

    PS I don’t play WoW anymore, because I already won it. I got a purple drop. That was my end game.

  18. Danath says:

    @Krellen

    They want you to do WoW’s end game, so yes they should try to “train you” for it. Thats the DEVELOPERS point of view. I got tired of WoW’s grind and quit it too, just like I did in old wow, and in TBC, and much the same goes for several games I have quit before getting big into the end game.

    The developer wants you to stay, and thus should be trying to make sure you know how to play at the end game, to make the transition into grouping as painless as possible, that’s just how it works for a subscription based model.

    Last post for me on this article, I’ve said my share, but yeah, felt I should say my viewpoint, even though plenty seem to disagree a bit!

  19. Legal Tender says:

    I am a solo-multiplayer.

    I’ve been giving Eve Online a go for the last week or so and from what little I’ve seen I don’t think going the full-multi will be my cup of thing.

    That said, I do enjoy the feeling of having all those other pilots around. The illusion dies a blood-gushing death whenever I glance at the chat channel, though.

    Illustration: I saw an interesting ship and wanted to see its details. I hit the wrong button and opened a chat channel with its pilot by mistake. The dialogue went thusly:

    Interesting ship’s pilot: Uh, who are you?
    Me: Sorry, comm link error.
    ISP: WTF WTF GETTFOH NEWB (and other assorted expletives

    I’ll stick to Epic Arcs and that’ll be it whenever I’m done with them. It will still be 30 bucks or so very well spent as far as I’m concerned.

  20. Matt K says:

    @Tiki, I just started with GW and I play in about 30 min bursts so far. I’m loving how I can play solo. We’ll see how it goes when I get further along.

  21. Arundel says:

    I’m curious Shamus if you’ve heard of Kingdom of Loathing. It seems to prove your argument by being a perfect counterpoint towards MMO play. KOL is a MSO (massively single player online) RPG that is almost entirely based in solo gameplay in a multiplayer community setting. Being also browser based, it is made for casuals (though I’m certainly not the only bitter old WOW player to end up in that game).

    If you don’t know about it you should certainly give it a look.

  22. CaroCogitatus says:

    I also shy away from MMO games for several reasons. While I’ve been known to play for hours at a time, I hate the pressure of knowing that I have teammates counting (or waiting) on me. I like the freedom to take 5 minutes to ponder my levelup options, or go AFK to make some nachos whenever I want, or just pause the game and go to the bathroom. Maybe my teammates don’t mind if I do those things, but I still worry that they do. My hirelings will gladly stand around for hours and pick up whenever I’m ready. Not so for human players.

    And the subscription model just stresses me out. Did I get my money’s worth this month? I already feel somewhat guilty about the housework not getting done while I play — should I also feel guilty when I pay attention to real life?

    But if I pay $40 or $50 for a game I can play for years, then I’ve always got the *potential* to make it worthwhile, so I don’t worry about it.

  23. OEP says:

    As someone who has played WoW throughout its lifespan most of it solo, I can relate to some extent.

    In vanilla WoW, I leveled 8 characters to 60 because I did not have any interest in playing with people who were not my friends. I leveled solo, and played solo for the most part. At 60, then the max level, I found that without raiding, I had no means for advancement. So I leveled 7 more alts. I can certainly relate to the idea that questing should be solo friendly.

    After a hiatus I came back and found my guild had started raiding, and joined in with some trepidation. I found I enjoyed it. In TBC, I leveled 9 alts to 70 and got all of them through the 10 man raids, and some of them through the 25’s.

    In WotLK, I now lead raids, although I find I still enjoy leveling alts, now having 7 80’s.

    There is something special about group PVE content that requires a lot more from the player than simple solo content. Most solo content is designed so that a clothie can stand there and kill it without taking much damage. I have found that people who have learned their class in a group setting are usually able to solo most “group” content without difficulty through creative use of class skills (ie kiting, fearing, crowd-control)

    I think that WoW is now incredibly solo friendly. You can gain max level (80) without ever grouping. You can explore the entire world without having to be in a group. In most other MMO’s, there are large swaths of the world populated with “group” mobs that will easily kill solo players.

    Even at max level, there are plenty of options for advancement including attaining epic gear without grouping through the use of daily quests.

    I really don’t see the need to dumb down the questing any further. Almost all of the so called group quests in WoW are pretty much soloable at the appropriate level if you use your class skills in an intelligent manner.

  24. Jabor says:

    <unrelated>Just out of interest, is Twenty Sided: Lawful still up?</unrelated>

  25. WarlockofOz says:

    Danath: From my reading of Shamus’s article, he isn’t saying “there should be no group content, everything should be soloable” but “quest chains that start solo should be finishable solo”. That leaves plenty of room for content designed for groups (with appropriately better rewards to tempt players into grouping up and doing them, since the designers want you to make friends and keep coming back to their world to play with those friends).

    Grouping is my favorite way to play, followed by solo, followed by raiding. That’s similar to my tastes in real life; I’ve spent too many hours to mention pushing cardboard around with a few friends but I’d never try it with two dozen sharing a table at once. I’d like to see WOW include some larger group sized instances than it now does; half hour heroics have their place but my most memorable instance of the game is still the sprawling 5-man BRD.

  26. Sheer_FALACY says:

    I agree with Arundel about Kingdom of Loathing – definitely an interesting game.

    And my memories of BRD are horrible. Maybe you found a PUG (or some friends) willing to spend the 6 hours it’d take to do the whole thing, and who didn’t mind the 10 level spread of the enemies, but in general the choice was coffer runs, emperor runs (that wouldn’t ever get past the torch room), or, very rarely, a run for one of the other 5 quests that required going off in a totally different direction. Or, of course, Jailbreak, which once again involved killing a ton of dudes without progressing in the rest of the dungeon at all.

  27. glassdirigible says:

    I never really though about why others played MMOs. When I played WoW I did it because all my real life friends were doing it. A huge element of gaming for me is socializing with my friends and talking about our experiences.

    The only times I actually wanted to solo things specifically were when I had some sort of challenge. Usually the challenge came in the form of doing a quest supposedly designed for 3 players by myself. Unfortunately, not all classes really support doing that.

  28. Zaxares says:

    Put me right in the category of people who play MMOs in a solo fashion. :) One thing that I love about Guild Wars is that you can do exactly that; play through much of the game without ever grouping up with another soul. I’d say that you can easily complete 95% of the game without ever needing to join up with other players.

    I probably am partly responsible for this style of play in that I’m very much an introvert. Being in large groups of people, especially strangers, is very uncomfortable to me. But more so than that, the problem with pick-up groups is that they’re notoriously unreliable. I don’t know how true this is in other games, but in Guild Wars, 9/10 of the groups you deal with are absolute idiots. They do not have proper equipment or gear, have little to no understanding of basic tactics, and are constantly blaming others in the party when the group fails the quest or mission, when everybody else knows it was THEIR fault that things went south.

    Furthermore, there is also the matter of the time it takes to get a group set up. You need to find a group of people in the town who want to do what you want to do, ensure that your group has enough diversity and classes to deal with all the necessary roles (healing, damage etc.), and then possibly take time to explain strategy and tactics to people who haven’t done the quest/mission before.

    All of this takes time, sometimes in excess of an hour, during which time people can get bored or arguments break out. Both cause people to leave, and then you’re back to square one again.

    Guild Wars offered the player the option of simply grabbing a bunch of computer-controlled henchmen (or customised Heroes) and then diving straight into the action without needing to waste time doing all this setup. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done missions (LONG missions, taking in excess of an hour), completed them successfully with the NPCs, and then head back to town only to see the same group still spamming the chat channel looking for people to join them.

    When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, sometimes it’s just EASIER to go solo.

  29. Angie says:

    Back when I first started playing online, I got addicted to GemStoneII on GEnie. I was spending about $350-450/month on GEnie, mostly in GS2, which made me one of the mid-level regulars. I was around a lot, I knew all the other regulars at least by name, and knew most of the regular-regulars to talk to and hang out with. If I wanted someone to hunt with, I could almost always find a friend of the right level range around.

    Later on I was hired on as a GameMaster, and my playing time pretty much dried up. I had a day job of course, so most of my “free” time was spent building and coding and answering assists and chasing down snerts. Fast forward about ten years. After I quit, I still liked DragonRealms a lot (another game by Simutronics, the same company that’d done GS2 all those years ago) and I thought I’d get back into playing, at least a few hours a week, around all my other interests. I found, though, that although the player base was about a thousand times what it’d been back in GS2, it was incredibly difficult to actually make friends and find people to hang out with. Most of the regulars played about as much as I had played GS2, but I couldn’t do that anymore. So I’d log in, find a friendly stranger to hunt with, and we’d hang out slaughtering critters for a few hours, and chat and have some fun. When we were done, we’d say something like, “Hey, this was fun, we’ll have to do this again some time.” We never did, though, because inevitably the next time I logged in, assuming that person was even in the game at that time, they were five or ten levels above me and were hunting something else. So I’d find a new friendly stranger to wanted someone to hunt with, and repeat.

    I eventually got tired of constantly making new friends I never saw again, though, and gave it up in favor of soloing. The whole social thing just wasn’t working for someone who had fewer than forty hours per week to play.

    Ironically, I made friends on the message boards, where your level was irrelevant, but that didn’t help me find regular hunting partners.

    Angie

  30. froogger says:

    Please allow me to butt in with something vaguely related, this being the perfect audience for my pet peeve.

    I’ve tried my fair share of MMOs (and just about everything else fun digital, being one of the “first generation gamers” mentioned earlier). What I sorely miss though, is a _real_ RPG experience. Sure, hack’n’loot is fun, so is levelling up. I do enjoy obsessing over my skillpoints aswell as rearranging my inventory ad absurdum. However, player interaction is, for me, where multiplay really lies. No, I don’t mean minmaxing a raid group in WoW.

    All of you who have played tabletop RPGs should know what I mean. It’s the staying in character I sorely miss. Sure, I’ve had great fun coop’ing with friends since Diablo. Some great experiences have come from playing with a relaxed group of diverse background and interest. I usually take the role of jester in these circumstances, and that’s all fine. But RPG it’s not. Yeah-yeah, the “lifes a stage and we are all merely players in it”… But I want the total immersion experience! I want a world where people try to contribute, go to lengths to keep appearances. Where they run only when it’s appropriate, whisper when OOC, and never, _ever_ discuss GM/DMs or devs. Gaaah! Could be ok, though, if referring to them as Gods. That could work.

    Actually, the closest thing I’ve found to this have been in the text-based world. Some guilds (or whatever they’re called) in the browser-bully game Travian are really good at roleplaying – sending very well crafted (often humorous) notices of extortion or insults. I want that, but have to date not found it anywhere else. Any tips (other than returning to the dice)?

  31. Danel says:

    @32: There are a few RP guilds in WoW, if you can find them. Some of my favourite experiences from WoW was just using it as a chat channel with my light RP guild, though we occasionally met up for events.

    @Danath: “Now, pay for the DLC to challenge the final boss!” is the horrifying scenario mooted by those who dislike the current trends of DLC in games. Never before have I seem someone come so perilously close to suggesting it.

    Seriously, though – Shamus is at no point suggesting that all content should be soloable, only that there shouldn’t be long solo arcs that require a team for the final mission. CoX used to be terrible for this, and still has problems with it to some extent – you’d have story arcs where you’d NEED a team to take down the final boss. AT least now it’s possible for some archetypes to do it with a bit of luck, a bit of skill, or a bit of levelling – in the bad old days it used to be that the devs would angrily denounce those who wanted to solo such content, since it wasn’t designed for that.

    To clarify – there’s nothing wrong with having raids or taskforces that need a team, it’s just annoying when your happy solo-play is interrupted by an attempt to force you to play the game the way the devs want you to.

  32. SiliconScout says:

    @froogger

    What you are looking for then is Neverwinter Nights (not 2, the first one).

    I had several groups (most with friends some with people only found online). It’s tool set allowed for even relatively novice computer users to crank out maps and modules with relative ease. Sure it isn’t as flashy as NWN2 or other games but it’s easily good enough to allow for role-playing. Toss in the DN client and a competent DM and you have some real fun on your hands.

    Some of the best RPG experiences I have had ever were through NWN and not around a table surprisingly. The story also moves a lot faster in NWN (good for solid RP) as the combat is not very time intensive.

    We tended to communicate directly through the text interface, though occasionally we did use voice chat, we found that when we used voice it broke some of the immersion. I mean I am generally better at imagining what the pompous, but deep down cowardly, Paladin sounds like than the guy (or gal) on the other end is at voice acting them.

  33. Pickly says:

    Wow, the thread is just like a budding MMO blog or forum. We have some shades or argument over how the game is “meant” to be played, a potential casual vs. hard core argument, and a bit of “I have a life” used as an argument against certain types of players.

    krellen: Yeah, using the term “old timers” was sloppy. The word I was trying not to use was “hardcore”, but Old Timers != Hardcore.

    The word you’re looking for isn’t really “hardcore” either, since the concepts of “casual” and “hardcore” are pretty vague in themselves, in terms of what types of features such players will prefer. I suppose the best word for this might be “early MMO players, or “everquest type players” or something along those lines (Where MMOs are understood to be different from MUDs.)

    And the real question is: WHY is grouping unfun? Why should they not encourage you to group up to overcome a difficult task? Is there something wrong with wanting your players to understand group dynamics by putting in quests where you may need the help of your fellow players? I’m not saying the current system is perfect, there should be more incentives and encouragements to group up to accomplish tasks, which right now there aren’t.

    I disagree on the “incentivizing grouping more” idea. (A lot of MMO problems seem to come from the way they focus so much on achievements, rewards, “earning” things, etc.)

    What I’d argue for is finding ways to make grouping simpler to do. (Adding better systems for finding people, sorting out players who are really troubling, etc.) For a lot of people, grouping is fun already, or could be fun, if it took less time to form groups, and there was more of a guarantee of player quality.

  34. WCG says:

    I gave up on MMOs years ago, because they were too frustrating to play solo. Am I antisocial? Heh, maybe. But the fact is, I like to explore and find things out on my own. Most MMOs have a huge world that would be perfect for that, but unfortunately, they seem to discourage solo exploration (back when I was still trying them, at least).

    Sorry, but I just enjoy taking my time and discovering what the world has to offer for myself. And frankly, it seems like the most annoying people in the world are all online.

  35. neminem says:

    Good. I’m glad a couple people have already mentioned Kingdom of Loathing. But I’m still going to also mention it, because it pretty much defines the term “Massively Single Player”. And is awesome.

    But I also love WoW, and pretty much exclusively for the raiding. I’m super-glad they made 10m raiding viable through to the end, though.

    • Shamus says:

      I am confused that the thread has gone on this long without anyone managing to work in a reference to Dwarf Fortress. What has become of our drinking game?

      Oh wait. I just did. Back on track!

  36. Girl Gamer says:

    I would probably try out an MSO. Except for my table top group, none of my RL friends really game and grouping with strangers has never appealed to me. I’d love to play WoW or LoTRO for the story and setting if I could do it without grouping.

  37. Kalil says:

    I’m a ‘casual’ WoW player, even though I am pretty much a hard-core gamer. In my case, I play solo in WoW for a couple reasons.

    First: I’m unwilling to schedule my life around a video game, therefore I’m unable to raid. The slow reduction of raid sizes from the completely unwieldly 40-man clusterfucks of Molten Core to the modern 10- and 25-man affairs has reduced this somewhat, but if there’s a raid timer, chances are I’m not going.

    Second: because I lack raid gear, I’m not geared for the top content. My friends in the game are all raiders, so at best I can hope to play with their alts – their mains have no need of any of the gear that drops in the instances I’d be likely to run. So I PuG or solo.

    Third: It’s challenging. Soloing Onyxia on my DeathKnight wasn’t worthwhile in terms of achievements or rewards, but it was /fun/, so much so that I made a habit of doing it weekly. Soloing Magisters Terrace was also a blast. I had as much fun with (re-)doing classic and BC content in WotLK as I did with the new stuff.

    Your list of reasons why I play MMO’s at all is spot on. I hate being forced to choose between AIM and my game, I like the community, I like being able to ask for help when I need it, I like the option of doing multiplayer content, and I even partake of PvP from time to time. The game has become progressively more solo-friendly, and I really appreciate that. Currently, my subscription is expired – I go on and off the game – but I’ll probably re-up it next semester for a few months to check out the changes in the last couple of patches. It sounds like they made some huge improvements.

  38. Tuck says:

    Guild Wars is the prime example of a multiplayer game that supports — even encourages, with the Heroes system from Nightfall — solo play.

    …a reference to Dwarf Fortress. What has become of our drinking game?

    Is Dwarf Fortress a drinking game now? If not, it should be! Every time a dwarf dies horribly, DRINK.

    (I know that’s not what you meant)

  39. Danath says:

    @Danel

    I said it was my last post, but I take offense, I came perilously close to SUGGESTING that we should have DLC? What? I HATE that, and it’s one of my huge gripes with Dragon Age that they want me to pay for DLC for a part of the game that was included at release. My comments are in regards to MMO’s ONLY, do not remove it from that context.

  40. Sekundaari says:

    I have never played LoTRO – or any MMO – so I’d like to ask, how powerful are the bosses, lorewise? I think it’d be weird if a 35 year old hobbit-hunter would drive off a Ringwraith alone; with a group it would make at least some sense. What are the bosses like?

  41. Danath says:

    @Sekundaari

    Many bosses have large epic quest chains going up to them, LOREWISE they are supposed to be powerful, renders of flesh, destroyers of villages, black pits of evil.

    Then you kill them in about 12 seconds. Seriously, alot of the quest line bosses have a fair bit of leadup espousing just how bad/evil or powerful they are, and killing them tends to be extremely easy, to the point where you kinda go “Is that it?”. Warhammer for instance had an evil pillaging kobold thing who had destroyed several caravans and murdered several guards out in the wilds, your job is to go kill him. He is no stronger than the average enemy, and will die in about 4-6 attacks. WoW has too many to count, so figured I would use another game for this example.

  42. James says:

    Personally, I gave up online gaming a good ten years ago when I found most of the other players to (or at least act like) be immature 12 year old. Example from Penny Arcade, NSFW

  43. Joshua says:

    Sekundaari,

    *LOTRO Spoilers Below*

    You fight a Ringwraith as the end of your Book 5 Epic quest chain, at which point you’re probably around 50. It requires a full Fellowship, to do some underplot macguffin that makes you more resistant to his Dread, and it’s still a reasonably hard fight. And to be true to the Lore, you don’t actually destroy him but rather drive him off. To be untrue to the Lore, he seems to be spending a lot of time messing around with the Dourhands and animating a dragon when you’d think his orders to find the Ring would take precedence.

    Apart from Sambrog, the first book boss, I don’t recall any epic bosses that seemed terribly easy. Ivar, the Red Maid, the final guy at Fornost- all seemed reasonably challenging to me, or at least enough to not be a joke.

  44. Sekundaari says:

    So you confront the very big baddies, and survival is justified by teamwork and plot/the Music. Seems fair to me.

    Thank you for your answers.

  45. Gary says:

    @Danath: Just because the endgame IS designed for grouping does not mean the endgame SHOULD be designed for grouping. It is possible to make things difficult for a single player. Taking the group out of the mix does not mean something has to be easy.

    I despise grouping. It is obnoxious. It wastes time. It limits what you can do.

    Don’t think I am unskilled in the grouping tactics. I have played so many MMO’s that I know how to Group blind-folded. It just does not appeal to me. I have WAY more fun playing the huge MMO worlds with no one to hamper my enjoyment.

  46. Stranger says:

    GuildWars has already been mentioned on here, and I can attest most of the game can be done without ever finding another living breathing soul to group with. It’s not easy and the AI can be a bit (or a lot) thick-headed . . .

    But I play it largely solo, and my guild/alliance does so mostly too. We specialize in groups of two to four people and fill the rest of the spots with AI NPCs. We deal with most of the content up to the “really hard stuff”. You know, the stuff where the designers expected you to do all your extra credit homework on the way through the game, and to have actual people who know about as much.

    Seriously, close to 95% of the game is possible without other players. The other 5% is ball-bustingly difficult without practice and patience.

    Oh, and back in the day, Meridian 59 was almost very much a solo-play style of game. It holds the dubious distinction of being my first “MMO” style game, followed by Ultima Online and then The Realm.

  47. Danath says:

    @Gary

    Whether the endgame is/should be designed for grouping is another argument entirely. Right now, the endgames ARE designed for grouping, so thats what the game should encourage. The fact that you despise it doesn’t change the fact that it is designed around that simple fact, whether you like it or not has no bearing on it, unless they designed a game that can be COMPLETELY solod, which right now, Champions Online can.

    Also remember that in order for everything to be soloable, it must be soloable by the weakest possible class with the weakest possible “spec”, which means if you are stronger, it makes such content vastly easy, because in a multiplayer game the content must be designed for EVERYONE. Single player content CAN be done effectively, wow’s single player content IS done effectively, but the end game is focused on GROUP content, which leaves single players out in the cold and doing terrible.

    Also The Realm came out before Meridian 59

    • Shamus says:

      I’m in danger of just treading all over next week’s column, but I agree with what Danath has said about the problems with making all content solo-able. I really just think that you should be able to pick a type of gameplay and enjoy it. It would ruin a raid if – halfway through – everyone had to break up and do a half-hour solo quest and then regroup.

      I like how WoW handles it: The PvE game can be either soloed or you can steamroll it as a group. As you finish that content, you unlock optional raid content. You don’t HAVE to do the deadmines in order to complete Westfall and move on, but you’ll be given additional rewards if you do. But either way, you can group or solo for as long as you like.

      I HATE how LOTRO does it, which is to cap each quest line with a group quest. If you don’t want to group, you’re left without a clear idea of where you should go next and end up groping around. The story threads get all unraveled as well.

      This is killing LOTRO for me. Just about the time I get settled in and start enjoying a chain, I slam into a group quest and have to go find another.

      Also note that when people say “grouping is fun” or “grouping sucks”, we’re likely talking about two different things:

      1) Getting together with like-minded friends and connecting with a good voice client while you play.
      2) Joining up with a random group of strangers and stumbling through an area using nothing more than text to guide the group.

      #1 Is a blast.
      #2 Is annoying.

      Abrupt quest-line stoppage is an attempt to oblige people to resort to #2.

  48. Joel says:

    @Gary:
    “I despise grouping. It is obnoxious. It wastes time. It limits what you can do.”

    While the burnt-out raider curmudgeon in me might (might!) concede your first three points, I don’t see how you could be more wrong about the fourth.

    Truly great rewards demand truly great risks, or the reward is cheapened. In terms of the time investment and the actually lethal calculus of downing raid bosses, raiding can offer meaningful rewards far in excess of those quest rewards you picked up from a long solo chain. Paladins may still be OP, but there was no way my Pally tank was going to solo Yogg-Saron. And she shouldn’t be able to. She’s just one character in a large and rich story. Grouping means I can confront ever-increasing risks and receive ever-increasing rewards. In other words, the exact opposite of limiting what I can do (in fact, by the time I quit, the tankadin was so geared that it trivialized even less-difficult group content. Which is a fun feeling).

    For the most part, we react to incentives. Even the under-geared hunter that doesn’t group at all drools at the fearsomely-equipped raider in the town square and dreams of someday glowing in a similarly menacing fashion. In a game that relies on subscriptions, there need to be incentives like this. If you can’t “beat the game,” then you had better be able to improve your character. Meaningful rewards, the kind that keep people coming back, demand a meaningful investment of time or risk. How can you make a boss encounter riskier? Make them hit like a truck so that you’ll need a tank and healer. Give them a ton of hit points so that you’ll need some damage dealers to kill it before the healer runs out of mana. Sure, the fight can now go terribly wrong in a maddeningly large number of ways, but that also means the boss can offer all kinds of validation, be it a shiny weapon or a sense of accomplishment.

  49. DKellis says:

    @52 Joel:

    How can you make a boss encounter riskier? Make them hit like a truck so that you’ll need a tank and healer. Give them a ton of hit points so that you’ll need some damage dealers to kill it before the healer runs out of mana.

    And now not only does the player encountering that boss need to find other people willing to join the team taking down the boss, the player also needs to find the specific other classes needed for the team composition.

  50. In the end-game with phasing you actually change the world in WoW, which is an interesting thing. With some of the quests, such as Chillmaw or Threat from Above, they’ve learned how to make grouping easy, quick and painless.

    Because of the ease with which you can set up a private server, you can buy the WoW software once, set up a private server and play the game as you please.

    But the new PUG system for running heroic dungeons is fast and fun.

    Private servers let you scale your character so you can solo everything as well.

    I prefer the subscription WoW world for a number of reasons, mostly play solo because of when I can play and my style, but I’ve found the modifications made in the last supplement (Wrath of the Litch King) and the last patch (3.3) to show real improvements.

    I also find PvP annoying while I’m questing, but it makes the entire world more alive. So I stay on Ravenholdt and survive the PvP.

    For the few group quests that are hard to get groups for in WoLK I have resorted to offering quest rewards … i.e. offering 10g for someone to help me (since I’ve been playing through WoW as a clothie) and it has been amazingly easy to get a DK or a Paladin to help me finish such a quest for 10g.

  51. Joshua says:

    Shamus, for me the forced grouping at the end wasn’t just a problem of whether I *want* to find other group members or not, but whether I *could* find another group members.

    My experience was typically that I would have to call out on the LFF for group, and would get tired in a few minutes. There’s also nothing like working on a series of quests and seeing the same people advertising for the same group content- “4/6 for Our Greatest Find, need Healer” for a couple of hours. I personally don’t have that kind of patience.

    When I was playing the game, I would often say that the game experience would be so much better if my wife and I had four like-minded friends who all wanted to play the game around the same period of time so we could enjoy the game as it should be played. Usually, by the time you can complete a lot of these quest chain caps, you don’t even remember why you’re doing it.

    And for your example of WoW, there are parts of the game that do work like this. Book 1 introduces the Great Barrows without you having to complete the whole barrows. Book 2 introduces Garth Agarwen(a Full Fellowship instance), without requiring you to get your full group to go in there and defeat the Red Maid as part of the epic quest chain. Book 3 introduces Fornost, without you having to go into Fornost at all. However, they ruin this by still requiring that certain chapters need full groups to complete.

    I think you can have somewhere around 44 quests active at once, and the ONLY reason that you need that many is because of the way that this game strings out quest completion with forced grouping.

  52. Joshua says:

    Oh, and in response to Shamus again, there ARE parts in LOTRO where you’re doing regular group quests and then have to break up and do a solo quest. I remember that happening a couple of times with the Moria plotlines. I don’t remember if they were full Fellowship quests or mini-Fellowship ones, but I do remember doing them with my wife and us having to split up to do some of these quest chains.

  53. acabaca says:

    I’m not sure how to comment on Shamus’s column this time because it’s so completely opposed to my own experiences. As far as I care, an MMO is an atrociously bad, boring and contentless RPG that no one in their right mind would ever play alone, which then is stuffed to the brim with contemptible idiots you would never want to associate with, and you are forced to interact with them in the mad hope that this somehow makes the game not just tolerable, but worth a price tag of infinite dollars. While my favorite computer game genre are RPGs, I have nothing but absolute despise for any MMORPG that exists and borrowing design elements from them is like taking political cues from Hitler.

  54. Danath says:

    @Acabaca

    Your comment should be deleted, holy shit, HITLER? Godwin’s law is all well and good, but that kind of shit is just an offensive amount of vitriol.

    @Stephen M

    Private servers are illegal, I wouldn’t advise advocating them, and also you cannot play the single player game on private servers, as they do not emulate game scripts, monster drop rates, items, and a host of other things, from my personal experience, or even proper quest text/credit or items, etc. And if a server COULD do that, it would be shut down so fast by blizzard, the only reason they tolerate it is they CAN’T entirely emulate the real thing.

  55. Heron says:

    Wow, and I was all ready to give LotRO another try. Based on these comments about being forced to group to cap every quest chain, though, I’m reconsidering it.

    (It also means I wasn’t just crazy when I played the trial – I remember getting stuck about level 13 when all of my quests were multi-person quests.)

    I love LotR, and when I played the trial I felt like LotRO did a good job staying relatively close lore-wise to the books, but between the mandatory grouping and the horrendously crappy long-distance travel mechanics, I don’t know if I should try LotRO again. Any thoughts, anyone?

  56. Tesh says:

    It sounds like the LOTRO problem isn’t so much with grouping or not, but rather, the change in expectations and arbitrary road blocks. That’s just bad core design, regardless of what shape it takes in the particulars.

    The same could be said of a quest chain that is purely solo if you had to change spec midway through, or a group quest chain that requires specific (different) group composition in different links.

    I’m pretty sure that changing the rules and dynamics of gameplay like that is a Twinkie Denial Condition.

  57. Danath:, did not realize they were illegal. There are large collections and organizations of them, which I found interesting (but not interesting enough to actually play on one). From what they were advertising and the ease with which it was claimed you could set one up yourself, it seemed like if you wanted to play WoW as single player, that was the way to go.

    That sort of set-up doesn’t seem real to me, if that makes any sense.

    I find that the Fate/etc. endless dungeon generators have really lost any interest for me. I like the fact that there is some real difficulty.

    Just finished the Ogre bombing Christmas Achievement. As a cloth wearer I had to find a group to get through the three unsnareable/unslowable “death to squishy” group quests (that I had been able to solo on my warlock), but they “offer guys 10g” routine worked pretty well.

    Now I just have to live long enough in battlegrounds to get a total of 50 kills while dressed up like a Christmas gnome. If I were willing to just kite through I’d already have that done, but I find that I end up feeling a need to contribute and take my share of risks.

  58. Smirker says:

    Actually, I know that in terms of LOTRO they have started implementing (SOLO) instances for a several of the epic chains. So, quests that were fellowship now have a solo option (that buffs the character to god-like levels) so you can experience the quest without having to drudge and find a full group.

    I know they have currently implemented this for the Lone lands area (and Volume 1 – Book 2 — the one that Introduces the Red Maid)and they plan on doing it for all of the Volume 1 epic fellowship quests (which is all the epic lines up to the Mines Of Moria Expansion). I myself ran through Book2 with this new system on an alt – a captain and it was loads of fun. Yes, system wasn’t perfect yet – there was an annoying small fellowship (non-instanced) quest where you have to defeat Gaunt lords and collect some badges for Radagast the Brown. But even with that, I was just not able to take them on at even con — I just leveled up to 1 level past them and didn’t have any real trouble completing that part of the quest chain — and it still had me on Even con for the other fellowship quests later.

    Heck, for the Epic book in the Barrow Downs and Samborg – I didn’t even realize that was supposed to be a group quest! I did it at an even con to the later monsters and the last fight was harrowing with my Captain — but very fun. The set of fellowship quests that starts in The barrow-downs for the group isn’t part of the epic line and could be considered as a side-quest. But i was able to get a grop for that very quickly (partially luck and partial use of a globalLFF chat channel). If you don’t care about the non-epic line of quests so much I’d recommend to at least investigate and find out what the global LFF channel is on your server and use it when you need to alleviate annoyances like this, or to just knock out some quests that you are interested in the story.

    Oh, a side-note; if something is listed as a Small Fellowship quest it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do it solo. It just means it will be rough without a partner or without being careful.

    Having said all that — I tend to play solo a lot these days due to time constraints – but usually it’s not a big deal to get a fellowship or partner if I’m questing. If nothing else, you can ask people in the same area if they want to knock some quests out. It can occasionally result in partnering with someone clueless – but in LOTRO there are far fewer poor/immature players than most MMOs I’ve played (and I’ve played a great many). The LOTRO userbase is really good in my experience and when I had questions no one minded at all and I even would occasionally get offers of aid from strangers too. :)

  59. chabuhi says:

    Great article, Shamus! Some more reading on the “Alone Together” topic if you’re at all interested (from early 2006, but whatever):

    http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2006/02/alone_together_.html

  60. HeadHunter says:

    Much of what I say may echo previous comments, but it bears repeating, I think.

    I’m another “casual” MMO player. I think it’s justifiable – I have a full-time job, real-life friends and a family. These things are more important to me than a virtual reality, however enjoyable it may be. So, at any time, I may need to (or choose to) log off and attend to other aspects of my life. I can’t see how anyone would sneer at that… but they do.

    As others have said, “multiplayer” does not implicitly require grouping. We can all agree that Quake or Half-Life Deathmatch is a “multiplayer” game, right? Yet there is no grouping – it’s a free-for-all. And they are “online” games as well… the only difference, then, is “massively”. A matter of scale cannot imply grouping. So the “MMO means you should group” camp cannot use the genre terminology to support their position.

    I see I’m not the only one who refrains from grouping with strangers. I’ve dealt with more than my fair share of people who don’t know how to play their class in a group, or who have done something reckless and wiped us all. Add in the waiting for everyone to get their (you-know-what) together and grouping wastes a lot of time I could be playing – and as I previously mentioned, I haven’t always got a lot of that in an uninterrupted stretch.

    Also, there’s the issue of reliability. There’s nothing like being midway through a dungeon when someone has to drop for whatever reason. And I realize that someone might have to be me – so I’m reluctant to commit to grouping unless I know I can dedicate the time needed.

    That said, I enjoy the benefits of a massive, persistent and shared world – one where players can socialize, craft for each other, find interesting items to sell, offer advice and make me feel like I’m not in a single-player MMO full of NPCs with limited dialogue options.

    I don’t think one needs to raid with others to enjoy what an MMO has to offer – and MMOs that disagree with my opinion will find me spending my dollars elsewhere. An MMO that allows me to enjoy as much of the game as possible in my own way will benefit from a mutually rewarding long-term play experience.

  61. PhotoRob says:

    To Joel who disagrees with Gary about “[Grouping] limits what you can do.”

    Yes, it really does limit what I can do. Grouping may allow me to complete quests that would completely block me while soloing, but it does so at the expense of my preferred play style.

    I’ve been playing D&D Online for a couple of months and recently started playing a rogue. I have found it to be insanely fun sneaking around and killing everything before they even know I’m there. I have been able to complete certain quests having taken almost no damage because of this.

    Now in a group, I can’t play this way because it force everybody else to sit around doing nothing while I, very slowly, clear out the dungeon. The group has just limited what I can do.

    Yes, grouping can be fun, but it is a very different kind of fun. Frankly, I find the increased options I have from playing solo to be more fun than the group.

  62. Blackbird71 says:

    I do have a bit to comment on the general MMO experience, but I’ll have to get to that later. For the moment, I did want to address one point brought up in the comments:

    @Danath (58) and Stephen M(61)

    No, private servers are not strictly illegal, although they definitely skirt the borders of legality. The fact is that once you own the game, the company charges you for access to their servers, but they cannot legally require you to use their servers. This opens the opportunity to use other (private) servers). However, there are a number of qualifications that they must meet in order to remain legal. A couple of the more prominent requirements are the following:

    1. The servers must use unique, original code. They cannot use any code belonging to the original company. This means that individuals have to write new code entirely from scratch in order to remain legal.

    2. Those connecting to the private server must own a legitimate copy of the game. Owning the game gives you legal access to all of its contents: the artwork, the creatures, the buildings, etc. A trial copy of the game doesn’t cut it, as that is just a temporary license to access the game materials. And of course, a pirated copy is even worse. This also means no access to new content from the original company without having purchased it. For example, if you were to play WoW on a private server, but you had never bought the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the private server could not legally make material exclusive to WotLK available to you.

    There are a number of other factors that have to be observed, but yes, private servers can be done legally. If you don’t believe me, consider this: if there are so many private WoW servers out there that are so easy to find, and so many forums and projects discussing how to set up private servers, and if Blizzard could legaly do anything about them, don’t you think that the lawyers would be shutting down the competition faster than you could say Goldshire?

  63. Danath says:

    @Photorob

    Hilariously your comment backfires on itself, because I did that exact same thing before… but I used grouping.

    One of my friends and I decided to group up and level rogues together, no healers or tanks, which led to us stealthing through dungeons, and popping out of nowhere to slaughter creeps and bosses alike, it was quite exhilerating as we tried to kill the last boss before he could kill us. This involved pugs too, as my friend and I alone weren’t strong enough to do it on our own, and we actually made a full group of people willing to do this, grouping in NO WAY limited us and provided a great deal of excitement.

    People still thinking “I like grouping” and “I don’t like grouping” are legitimate arguments, but that’s just personal preference, and has nothing to do with whether content should all be soloable. I also find it amusing people say “I love soloing content with my rogue/death knight/hunter”, and all three classes have incredibly bad reputations because the people who play them tend to do very very badly in any kind of group setting. Also they are incredibly POWERFUL solo classes… what if someone wants to solo a priest? Solo paladin and shaman are also fairly difficult until later on. And a solo warrior can be downright painful for the early game before you get access to good weapons/armor. I don’t count warlocks because soloing a warlock effectively is actually quite difficult and requires you to be very hands on… and can be very rewarding.

    And don’t look at me like I love grouping, I prefer soloing, I solod from 1-60 as a holy priest in wow, and I solod most of my way to 50 in DAoC… and that was in the old school “discouraged soloing” days. Kill one mob, rest for a few minutes because I would almost die, repeat, but I had a great deal of fun chatting with guildies while doing it. It wasn’t EASY, yet it was still relaxing.

    This is a bit off topic, because Shamus has already agreed on all content being soloable is a bit of a problem, but he is right that “solo quest chains” should not end in group quests, I can see how that can be quite frustrating in areas that aren’t populated anymore, but at the same time he mentions deadmines… which ends the rather epic defias chain, and if you don’t do it, you miss out on a chunk of after-dungeon lore (as theres a few quests that require you to complete it first).

  64. Blam says:

    The mind of a solo-er as far as my experience with them goes, is that they are just too independently minded and see using other people to help as unsatisfying, they like to be able to say *I* did that, not *we*.

    On top of that, grouping *is* incredibly flawed when you try to apply D&D stereotypes to a live world, priests are hard to solo and its no fun being ‘the healer’ just watching everyone else get into the exciting boss battle while you take all the responsibility for keeping the group alive. Not only do you not get your hands dirty but the people having all the fun blame *you* if they get killed when they throw themselves headfirst into certain doom.
    Mages and Thieves in D&D used to actually use intelligence and cunning, getting around traps, maybe rigging the mechanism to do something helpful, casting spells which could solve problems with lateral thinking rather than brute force. These are not classes which translate well outside of a groups storymaking rather than procedurally scripted story spouting.
    When you turn it into nothing but combat, roles only get in your way, they may as well be lists of promised equipment you will inherit as you grow older.

    Soloers do group btw, only they group as self sufficient, self healing, self buffing adventurers who are playing alongside friends, not because want to feel useful.

    I think its’ wrong to say soloers are anti-social, maybe ‘asocial’. I wonder how many people have actually examines what they mean when they say ‘social’?
    Is being social simply being talkative? Is it wanting to be part of a group where each person specializes in something which can be of use to everyone else, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I find people who go to church tend and crave the social cohesion and close-knit network of people working in a broad spectrum of fields are the kind who genuinely puzzle over why anyone would want to not be part of their group.
    Independent souls equally puzzle at why their ‘more social’ counterparts feel so clingy.

    I think its more to the point that people can be generally split into different camps of perspective, none of which is and more right or ‘better’ than another, it is simply a matter of personal taste. It’s why there are so many flavors of icecream.

    IMO, any well catering MMO should allow players to do everything with as many players as they wish, whether 1 or 4 or 10 or 100. Ultimately there is only so much treasure to be divided up so it should be up to the players to how they want to play. I don’t see anything wrong with replacing a handful of heroes slaying a dragon even if that would be unrealistic, anyone getting hit by any single attack from a dragon (3 stories tall laying down) would be instant wyrmfood, full mithril plate armor or not. If a level 1 noob and 1000 of his lvl 1 buddies want a go at swarming the dragon, let them, if a thief wants to slowly poison/bleed the dragon while keeping out of the dragons line of sight the entire time they should be able to do that too.

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