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Reader Comments (34)

Posted: May 7th 2009 8:06AM (Unverified) said

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Personally ive always felt the EQ style was best where mobs were hardcore and u had to group to really progress well. or u had to play a specific class that could Kite (Necro FTW) so hearing you can get npc's to help is shitty imo. infact in guild wars i did my most to avoid having to use them.

since WOW is not built like eq they could at least force tag teaming in order to kill mobs. it just makes it more fun.

Posted: May 7th 2009 8:30AM Tom in VA said

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Heh, I feel exactly the opposite of borgy78. I hate MMOs that require grouping with other players in order to move forward. Such games are just too frustrating to play.

While I enjoy group questing occasionally, I hate the process of looking for similar-level players with all the right skill sets (tank, healer, dps, etc.). Guild Wars is thus a much better game than WoW in this regard, in my opinion.

In WoW nowadays, the lower-level instances (and even those in Outlands) are virtually impossible to find groups for, which is a shame, because these instances can be awfully fun.

I wish Blizzard would get a clue and (1) provide players with NPCs for these dungeons/instances or (2) provide players with soloable versions of these dungeons (i.e., by "soloable" I mean soloable at the appropriate level, NOT a level 80 barreling through Deadmines).

Personally, I prefer the NPC option. This works very well in Guild Wars. This NPC option should only be available to players entering a 5-man instance alone that is "level-appropriate" (i.e., the quests have not gone gray). The NPCs (never very bright) ought to be a standard crew of healer, tank, and two or three dps NPCs to choose from, and the instances might have to be "tweaked" in some ways to account for the fact that the player is using AI to get through them. (For example, instances such Uldaman, which require three players to "activate" the summoning stone, would have to be revised.)

Perhaps the NPCs could work like hunter pets or (better) like the heroes in Guild Wars, giving the player some control over their AI.

If WoW was to do something like this, I'd return to WoW in a heartbeat. As it is now, though, no way. I don't like playing a game wherein the group content -- some of the most exciting and fun material in the game -- is so inaccessible to casual players who do NOT want to spend scads of valuable time looking for other players for a longish instance run.

Posted: May 7th 2009 8:37AM BadPanda said

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Got to say would be nice to have a choice of NPC help or getting real people. As some time it can just be frustrating trying to get a bunch of people to help you do an elite quest.

Posted: May 7th 2009 8:48AM BadPanda said

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Ok this is getting stupid my name is not URALLNERDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!1 its bloody BadPanda.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:01AM (Unverified) said

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I love to be able to hire a tank, healer, etc for all MMOs for all quests. Guess I love MMOs but hate people..ironic.

Posted: May 7th 2009 11:04AM Crsh said

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But then why play MMOs? I'm not trying to flame you here, just am genuinely curious because I keep hearing (on and off) that MMOs need to be more solo-friendly and that kinda confuses me.
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Posted: May 20th 2009 9:06AM (Unverified) said

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@crsh, it's not really a mystery. A lot of us find it hard to group because groups are hard to find, and because we play weird hours or are frequently interrupted. No one likes to hold up their group with frequent afks. But we still like to play MMOs because of the social aspect. We make friends, we chat with those friends even while we're on opposite sides of the world doing unrelated things. Sure, I guess if some chat system like Xfire really became dominant, and everyone used it, that could replace the social aspect of WoW. But with SO many players, WoW is the largest chat room on the planet. :)

It used to be that MMOs had the drawback of players not being able to make a large or lasting effect on the game world, but Blizzard has solved this rather well with their new phasing system. Kudos to them for that. I complete quests and see the world change, and it STAYS changed. Yes, that means a friend who has NOT completed the quests won't be able to get help from me. If we enter the zone together we won't even see each other. But on balance, phasing is brilliant.

So, bear in mind that some of us like MMOs for the multiplayer SOCIAL aspect rather than forced grouping. Does that make sense, or are we still mystifying?
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Posted: May 7th 2009 9:09AM (Unverified) said

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There was a time when I would care for this. Now, I'm more likely to avoid MMO's that encourage pure solo play, pugging, or any type of NPC grouping. I've realized over the years that I'm meeting fewer and fewer new friends because, people have no need to talk to one another. Don't need to do group quests to level, raids are recruitment based and usually require kissing a strangers ass to get invited, and guilds don't need to expand their horizons beyond a handful of active people.

In my SWG days, everyone needed everyone, and that meant eventually making new friends by either searching for them or recruiting them to your guild.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:12AM (Unverified) said

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i would rather quest with real people then with npcs. But, i would rather quest with npcs then by myself. This is something I've always liked about guild wars.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:16AM (Unverified) said

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NPCs don't complain if I suddenly get called away from the keyboard for 5 minutes, or fifteen or a half an hour. And they're not disadvantaged if I can't manage more than five or ten minutes in a continuous block at the keyboard.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:57AM Tom in VA said

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This is so true. Moreover, Guild Wars doesn't boot you if you are inactive for a time and instance mobs do not respawn. So, with heroes and henchmen, I can get halfway through a dungeon or mission (provided it isn't a timed mission, obviously) and then take a break to go eat dinner, watch a TV show, whatever.

Then, later on, I can come back to what I was doing and -- voila! -- my NPC team is waiting patiently for my return, usually by partying down (since the henchmen in Guild Wars start dancing if left alone too long). I really love this henchmen/hero feature in Guild Wars.

Guild Wars never billed itself as an MMO. It was really designed as a kind of single-player RPG with a very user-friendly interface and the ever-present option (I repeat: OPTION) to play in full groups or even with just a friend or two (plus NPCs to round out your party) if you want to.

It's as close to perfection in online game design as any game I've ever played.
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Posted: May 7th 2009 9:25AM (Unverified) said

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I honestly despised the henchmen in Guild Wars, but the heroes are great. They still have quirks, and I wish I could tweak their AI more (Gambits, anybody?), but with proper builds they work just as well as people. Of course, I prefer playing with friends and guildies anyday, but as I've learned, most PUGs are either stupid or more stupid. I'd take my heroes and henchies anyday over a PUG.

Besides, the plus sides to heroes is that they don't have to quit in the middle of a dungeon or mission to eat dinner. Not to say the AI is faulty... I like to think they develop quirks. Like Little Thom from Prophecies was definitely a lot more aggressive than Stefan. And my friend's Dunkoro would rather start casting a rez instead of actually healing us when we're close to death. It's entertaining but it can ruin your day when you're trying to finish a mission under a time crunch.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:37AM FrostPaw said

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I have mixed feelings about "solo" content. The most enjoyable time I've spent in any mmo is with a few friends in a small group achieving things meant for bigger groups. I've also been in situations where I needed help to complete a quest and couldn't get any which was frustrating. The Problem for me is the more you make solo play easy to achieve the more lazy and unwilling people are to be helpfull with one another. Sometimes I think mmos don't offer enough group content these days its all solo content and then huge raids at the end theres not enough focus on single group fun and I think sometimes a little tough love is need to force people to socialise with others and work together. If you can't handle socialising with other players or relying on them to achieve at least some of your objectives in game you get out of a massive multiplayer game and find a decent single player game because its sure to have better story driven content and the very presence of soloers in mmos is one of the biggest killers of what made mmos popular...the community interaction.

Posted: May 7th 2009 9:46AM elocke said

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Ok, from my experience with the frustration of group quests in WoW and LOTRO, and it does depend ALOT on where the quest is located as well as the reward or challenge of the quest itself, some quests need the NPC help, some do not.

I've come across a few quests recently in LOTRO, mainly in the Forochel zone that NOBODY ever seems to be around to help with. So I end up abandoning the quest and moving on. However, the group quest Tomb of Elendil, a mini instance at the end of a long quest chain, with a very tough boss at the end(dubbed the first Turtle raid by some), located in the Evendim zone, I have seen people drop what they are doing to come help those sending forth the call for help.

So basically, developers should really have the npc system in standby for those quests that get bypassed alot, especially the out of the way ones. Although the issue of people not being around could also have to do with the leveling issue and people not being in a certain zone anymore due to the game growing as the other article talks about.

Perhaps developers should also start making a loot table for group quests that give high level players incentive to help out or reward them for repeating the quest. Some quests in LOTRO already do this, but why only a few? Why not all of them? WoW should do the same, and not just the Achievement of completing a low level dungeon or quest count, but actual rewards via Rep or Items.

Posted: May 7th 2009 10:11AM Tom in VA said

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It was quests like Tomb of Elendil and places like Forochel that caused me to get frustrated and lose interest in LotRO (in addition to my aggravation over finding groups for the epic book quests).

Unlike you, I could never find groups for Elendil. Weirdly, it is an extremely difficult and misleading quest that switches from reasonable (blue) to quite difficult (orange/red) for many players. It's a "bait and switch" quest in the truest sense.

Hence, groups often form for Tomb of Elendil that, unwittingly, are doomed from the start by being too low-level for the second half of the instance. Talk about poor game design!

As for Forochel, with the advent of Moria, Forochel is nearly devoid of players, making all of its group content nearly impossible to complete.

In WoW, Blizzard had the good sense to retool a lot of its lower-level content to make it soloable. I keep expecting Turbine to do the same in LotRO but, thus far, they seem pretty oblivious to the problem.
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Posted: May 7th 2009 9:57AM Jesspiper said

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Guild Wars Henchmen = win.

Posted: May 7th 2009 10:05AM Artanas said

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I really wish Blizzard would implement NPC characters for group quests. Sometimes it can be painful trying to find a group to do some of those quests. Hell, I would gladly pay a few gold to hire them to complete that quest. Maybe if you can get human players, the rewards could be slightly greater or something. Keep in mind I mean only for group quests, because I don't see this working to will in an instance.

Posted: May 7th 2009 10:48AM Rive said

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Ya, its unfortunate that it is virtually impossible to find a group for lower level instances in WoW. Unfortunately there is not much point in grouping them these days. Lower level instances typically aren't worth the headache of throwing together a PUG and most people have higher level friends who are more then willing to give you a run or two through them.

Personally I don't like the idea of grouping with NPCs. I didn't care for that feature in Guild Wars, however, I think it worked because Guild Wars wasn't as loot and group oriented as most MMOs such as WoW are. Guild Wars was really a single player game that allowed for cooperative game play, as such the NPCs were more of a necessity than anything else.

There may be a way to renew interest, or rather, group involvement in low level instances, however I don't think NPCs are the answer. There are better options such as reducing the number of people required to run them or increasing the exp when you are grouped with people who are relatively close to your level.

Posted: May 7th 2009 11:08AM (Unverified) said

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NPCs are a bad solution to a problem that shouldn't exist. When ANY content becomes unplayable because there isn't enough player interest to support grouping, that content needs to be retooled as solo. If you build the game so that the masses outgrow certain areas, you need to own up to that shortcoming and provide for the people who can't or won't keep up with the masses, or who arrive later.

A better model would be to give people reasons to go back, not so much that it becomes repetitive, but enough perks that it becomes worthwhile. Maybe an item with a stat or power that gets charged up only by visiting a certain lower-level place and adventuring there as a character of the specified level.

Posted: May 7th 2009 11:16AM Myria said

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Sad to say it, but henchies and heroes hurt GW a lot more then I think Anet has ever really acknowledged.

A fundamental law of MMOs (yeah, I know, GW isn't an MMO, blah-blah-blah) is that most people suck. They keyboard turn, pick builds apparently at random, and wouldn't know a synergy if it walked up and bit them on the nose.

People who suck, most of whom are unaware of how badly they suck -- or, worse, think they're the leetness -- still want to get through the game and they're not going to buy expansions, pay fees, or recommend the game to friends if they can't.

In WoW most groups are a few skilled players dragging a bunch of terribads through the instance -- whether that be a regular, heroic, or raid. It's just a fact of life you get used to. I've been healing and tanking in WoW for two and a half years, the number of terribads I've dragged through just BC heroics alone is easily in the neighborhood of a few K. Since Wrath it's even worse. It's a small miracle if you have a run where the tank isn't at least #2 on damage done, where people don't stand in void zones/fire/lava/whatever, where the run just doesn't make me want to /facepalm.

You wish it wasn't that way, and the occasional group of awesomeness comes along just often enough to remind you of how bad most groups are, but after a while you either make your peace with it or find some other game to play.

There are a lot of terribads out there, the way they get through is on the backs of decent players who carry them through to that phat lewt everyone covets.

Give the good players an option -- AI party members-- and what happens to the terribads?

I played GW for a bit over two years. I henched through the original and Cantha, henched and heroed through everything else. The only person I ever grouped with the entire time I played GW was my husband, and between us we could hench and hero things like Tombs and Underworld that supposedly weren't henchable.

Hench and heroing most GW really isn't hard to do, once you have the basics down it's really pretty easy. Most good, or even just decent players, did it, why bother with the frustration of PuGs if you didn't have to?

So where did that leave the terribads, the bulk of any MMO's potential playerbase? It left them sitting in the cities whining endlessly about how it was impossible to get past the next mission, zone, or quest. With few, if any, good players willing to group with them, a few terribads would evolve and become good players, but most were going to hit a brick wall eventually and just find something else to do.

Given GW's revenue model, players getting frustrated and going away (preferably as early as possible) is a Good Thing(tm), but in the long run it hurt the game. Assuming GW2 ever comes to be (not an assumption I would make), if they go with the same henchies/hero model it'll kill it.

For better or ill, MMOs need good players to have to help bad players, AI party member reduce or eliminate that requirement. They're good for good players, but bad for the game overall.

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