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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 8:25AM wufiavelli said

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One of the big complaints about darkfall (besides the 100s) is the fact it is not solo friendly in the slightest. You are basically forced into guilds and alliance to survive. It has its ups and it has its down.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 8:30AM Tipa said

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Looking at the MMOs I play....

EverQuest 2: Outdoor content mostly solo, indoor content is nearly all group.
Dream of Mirror Online: Same, but advancement is far faster in a group.
Wizard 101: Mostly solo-able, some group content.
Chronicles of Spellborn: Solo possible but hard and unwise on the PvP server.
Lord of the Rings Online: Mostly solo with group-only epic storylines.

It really looks like the MMO world has more or less settled on solo content being available, but saving the good and most rewarding content for groups. That seems to be a pretty good balance.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 8:46AM (Unverified) said

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As long as there are games to cater to both play styles the genre will be fine. Personally I don't like soloing all the time in an MMO (frankly I have better games to play solo) and just participating in an online world is not enough.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 8:43AM Lethality said

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Grouping is one of the unique selling propositions that MMORPGs have to offer over other genres. Plenty of other opportunities for single player, online play...

If developers of these games don't take advantage of it, these games are no better than Quake or Unreal, etc. The idea that you can have massively cooperative gameplay is unique to this genre...

My current biggest fear is what Bioware is doing with Star Wars The Old Republic...

Oh well, I guess I could always just take up model rocketry for a hobby instead.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 8:51AM (Unverified) said

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I think what annoys me, and I play during the daytime EST, is how hard it is to find people who want to do something other than use the game as a chat program. I play mostly LoTRO and AoC now, but I still think CoH by far did both the solo-group balance best. Additionally CoH made it easy to meet up with your teammates and do stuff. Stuff scaled rather well from 2 to 8 people, you get mission XP whether you have the mission or not, the addition of radio missions makes it easy to put together a group of spastic savants, who can't stand the thought of travel times over 35 seconds. Also I think one of the reasons why the more loot centric games see more solo'ing is that with the way drops are done it kind of discourages people from wanting to do stuff with other people

Posted: Apr 9th 2009 11:07AM koehler83 said

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The ability to solo to top level inevitably leads to everyone doing just that. It undermines the purpose of the genre.

It lead me to quitting LoTRO.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:10AM (Unverified) said

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With games like WoW so aggressively balancing classes to be interchangeable in groups and able to enjoyably solo the entire range of levels, the drive to form tight-knit groups among players who complement one another well (both in terms of class mechanics to make the group work in the first place, and the playstyle and personality to keep a group together for future runs) shrinks. Granted, the old days of not being able to get a group or find a suitable solo spot on a given evening was a bitch -- but then again, there are other games for those times.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:15AM (Unverified) said

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I hate grouping, mostly because I hate feeling like I can't do whatever I want. I like to solo, because I can go where I want, when I want and not be tied to one to four other people who want to do something different. Grouping can be fun, but it depends on who you group with. If it's with friends, then it's typically enjoyable. PUG's? Not so much.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:16AM Tom in VA said

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In my opinion, grouping, like raiding and PvP, should be a totally optional sideline.

I have played WoW, Guild Wars, CoH, and LotRO and, in my opinion, Guild Wars handles this issue best. Guild Wars is essentially online MMO SRPG with a strong multiplayer option for those that want it.

That is to say, in Guild Wars you can solo (using the henchmen/heroes provided by the game), all three campaigns, the expansion, the dungeons -- but this is much harder to do than with player groups. The beauty of this henchmen/hero system is that a groups of players from 1 to 8 can tackle an 8-man mission or dungeon, by just filling in the missing player spots with henchmen. No more of that aggravating waiting for a "healer" or "tank."

This arrangement, to me, gives players the best of both worlds, grouping is a fun (and even preferable) option, but you are never held back or denied content just because you cannot find a full player group. Guild Wars has major endgame sections that do require groups, but that's OK because it is there for fun as kind of an "add-on."

This is where LotRO, WoW, EQ2, etc., all really FAIL. Players of these games are denied content UNLESS they can find a full player group (with HEALER, TANK, etc.) ready to commit to the FULL DUNGEON, at the RIGHT TIME and so on. That's way too many IFs. Finding groups in these games is a major chore, like waiting for the stars to align in just the right way. Who has time for that? Dedicated gamers, that's who. F

But for people with limited time (the same people who really can't give up their day jobs to nourish guild/kin commitments and plan their lives around scheduled instance runs), that is a deal-killer.

I am not antisocial, but I absolutely detest waiting around for groups to form; that mechanic is very VERY frustrating and far too many MMOs seem married to the idea. Forcing players to wait for that "full, balanced group" to form in order to run some instance or other is going to be the downfall of the standard MMO model.

Yes, you can level to 80 solo in WoW, but try running some level-appropriate instanced dungeon solo and see how far you get. The ability to reach maximum level does NOT mean a game is soloable. Solable means a solo player has access to and can complete premium game content (i.e., the instances, in most cases) on their own if they choose to. If WoW/Blizzard were smart they would offer "solo versions" of many of their instances so that players could run, say Deadmines, on their own now that finding groups for many of these instances is nearly impossible. There is much content in WoW that is, for all intents and purposes, now effectively inaccessible because groups cannot be found to run them.

Let's face it, in most of today's MMOs, the "best content" is almost always restricted to instances reserved for player groups -- except Guild Wars.

One of these days an MMO designer is going to approach this issue from the "other side" and design a truly soloable MMO with a lot of fun (but purely optional) group content thrown in as well.

I am currently playing LotRO and it's a great game. But it would be a better game if about 50% of its lower-level instances offered a "solo option". If SWTOR or STO have a more solo-friendly, "Guild Wars-esque" approach to game design and are as fun as I suspect they will be, I will be dropping LotRO like a hot rock to play them -- that is, unless LotRO/Turbine either (i) does something to take the pain out of finding groups for its group content or (ii) "solofies" more of the group content for players like me.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:14AM (Unverified) said

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That's the whole purpose of MMORPGs though... adding a social aspect to the game... making grouping worthwhile. If you don't like, go play a single-player RPG! (It'll save you money from those subscription fees) :-P
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Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:18AM (Unverified) said

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Call them what you like, they are at the core, Games online. A place where folks can be social, enjoy a common interest, cooperatively play when able.

However, should a player simply not play the game because hes NOT in a group? I think not. Solo content must be there for the game to be successful.

If I were to improve upon anything id ask for more 2 man content. Many is a time where I can log in and find at least one friend (my wife) to play. I digress.

Baseball is a team sport, however there is still a batting cage.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 3:44PM Grizz said

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I agree here. Or at least content that scales with who enters the instance for example.

1 person enters = 2 MOb's spawn (doable, but more challenging/slower)
2 people enter = 2 MOb's spawn (balanced fight)
3 people enter = 3 MOb's spawn (balanced fight)
4 people enter = 4 MOb's spawn (balanced fight)
5 people enter = 5 MOb's spawn (balanced fight)

And make the outdoor stuff soloable, but slower.
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Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:19AM (Unverified) said

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While I firmly believe you have to design a game for both options, I think most people are in MMOs to experience group play at some level. Solo play is great but even then I like the idea that I can group if need be. Reading the chat is fun even when being a-social. It makes you feel like you're in a dynamic world. Single player games, no matter how well written the AI chat is, have never been able to provide that experience.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 9:49AM (Unverified) said

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There is a balance to be struck, allowing both those players that want to solo do so, but also making it worth people's while to group up and band together.
It is a balance that is hard to achieve and I don't think any game has managed it as yet.

I've been a solo player of EVE for some time and there is plenty of content (albeit repetetive and evetually boring content) to keep the solo player happy, however I know that the real meat of the game lies in the player run corporations and aliiances who are constantly at war over the conquerable areas of space.

As someone once said "You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people, all of the time". Until someone cracks this conundrum its a question that is always going to come up with regard to MMOs, and people will pick whichever game suits their playstyle the best.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:09AM (Unverified) said

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Regarding Everquest, it was possible to solo in that game all the way up to very high levels using magic classes. I was a cleric and managed to find certain monsters to solo. But grouping in EQ was definitely worthwhile because you would get the experience so much faster! Grouping also allowed you to kill special BOSS monsters which yielded high-end gear. I loved EQ! I just wish all the expansions were free... they would come out with a new one every 6 months or so and I just couldn't afford it anymore. EVE has been really good about making the expansions free! :-)

So basically, I agree with mandrill... I think if online games made soloing possible, but made grouping worthwhile, then you've found a good balance.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:26AM Tom in VA said

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No, the whole purpose of MMORPGs is to have fun, often with other players; this I am in favor of.

Spamming LFF/LFG channels incessantly to find groups is not fun; it is just aggravating. No single-player game I know of offers the option (OPTION!) of playing with other players occasionally, so your advice to just play a single-player RPG is not relevant here.

It is not the grouping I object to. Grouping is fine. Grouping is fun... On those rare occasions that you can actually find a group. I genuinely *like* to group with other players. I simply do not want to be dependent on it to experience prime game content when no one else is around or available.

MMOs need to fix this, imo.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 3:03PM (Unverified) said

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The purpose of ANY game is to have fun...
The purpose of MMORPGs is exactly what I said... to add a social aspect... which includes grouping, raiding, etc.

I mean... break it down...
MMORPG stands for "Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game". If you take the MMO part out, you still have some kind of RPG game that is meant to be fun. But having the MMO part in it makes the game geared towards social interactivity and grouping.

There are many RPGs that have multiplayer options... I for one like Neverwinter Nights. The thing is, they aren't labeled as MMORPGs because they're not geared toward social interactivity.
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Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:29AM Tom in VA said

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Erg, my post above was a reply to kencussion's comment that grouping was the whole point of MMORPGs. Sry for the (misplaced) post.

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:40AM (Unverified) said

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Forced grouping all the time turns me off to MMORPG's (FFXI at high levels unless you are some pet class)

Solo leveling only can become a drag, but i prefer it over forced grouping.

I would prefer a system that rewards group killing speed and areas specifically made for group leveling. DAOC was a blast leveling because aoeing elite mobs was very very rewarding for leveling speed.

The key for me would be to make soloing an acceptable way to level but put group content in that would be more rewarding than leveling solo.

Elite and group quests come to mind from WoW but after time they got nerfed (which makes sense since theres less levelers). But I still don't think that system was "perfect".

Posted: Apr 6th 2009 10:49AM (Unverified) said

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Over the last few years, I've realized that I spend the majority of my time in MMOs solo. There are a couple reasons for this, I think.

Grouping tends to require substantial chunks of uninterrupted time, which I don't usually have. Most group content seems to be shrinking now, but it's still an issue.

It also seems like most of the people I encounter in MMOs are the type of people I don't want to spend time with. Rude, impatient, demanding, needy... incapable of typing a coherent sentence. I find I just don't like most MMO players nowadays. The prospect of spending extended periods of time with them while trying to work towards a common goal makes me want to stop playing.

This is related to the last reason, but I don't feel like cultivating online friendships. I remember eventually quitting FFXI, because every time I logged in I would receive a ton of tells from "friends" who wanted me to do this or that with them, or to talk about their ongoing divorce/job/school/real-life issues. In WoW, "friends" would ask me to add them to Facebook, or MSN, presumably so they could harass me even when I wasn't playing the game. I don't want to have 10 new needy BFFs just so I can play a game for an hour or two after work.

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