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Reader Comments (40)

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:14AM (Unverified) said

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Ah, Everquest. If you want to relive the experience of trying to level in that game, try to go level in WoW by fighting exclusively elites.That should give you a good picture of how solo-friendly that game was. I won't even get into the experience penalty.

While I hate the solo-friendly nature of MMO's out today, I don't think I'd like to see a full return to how it used to be in the MUD/UO/EQ days.

Then again, it's sad how in MMO's today you aren't really forced to group until you're max level. At that point, it's kinda like "Heyyy, so yeah I'm max level and you're max level...lets force a friendship so we can raid and get loot." In the previous MMO's, where you were forced to group once you left the starting area, you already had lots of close friends by the time you reached the end.

Posted: Jul 18th 2009 9:53PM tRaFiK said

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In the words of the wise little girl on the Hard & Soft Taco debate...

Why can't we have both?
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Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:20AM (Unverified) said

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Massively Multiplayer != Grouping

It just means lots of folks in the same game world. You don't have to play together.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:03PM Lethality said

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To those who argue that MMO doesn't mean grouping...

The MMO genre is the only genre that offers dynamic, large scale cooperative or competitive play with dynamics that can ONLY be achieved by grouping, that you cannot achieve in a single player game, etc.

So if developers don't take advantage of this fact, then it's all downhill from here. Grouping is ABSOLUTELY what MMOs are about and have been designed for.

It's your choice to not play if you don't like the game, just like if you don't like the Sims you don't play it.

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Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:30AM elocke said

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I really don't see why this is an issue for some people. I like to group and I also like to solo. Finding the middle ground, a balancing act is the best way to go. Of course, games with alts and such, this becomes a major pain. All mmorpgs should take FFXI's idea and let you make one character than can change classes/jobs etc and work on them whenever they want. It adds replayability, depth, focus on ONE character, etc.

Of course, leveling in FFXI is rough, so hopefully in FFXIV they address this issue and find that nice middle ground of solo/group play. Guess 2010 will show us if this happens or not.

Also, another reason I think MMOs are leaning toward single play is the fact that Single Player RPGs aren't being developed as fast anymore, if at all. Maybe 2 are coming in the next year that have been mentioned for the last 4 years, Dragon Age and FFXIII. Where are all the rest? And I mean first rate RPG's. Seems all I see for consoles and PCs now are FPS's. Too many!

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 1:05PM (Unverified) said

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So right about quality single-player RPG's. I want one so badly. The last good sprpg I played was The Witcher. Before that ... well, I'm not sure if I can remember that far back anymore :-(
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Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:30AM KDWhite said

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One interesting twist is from the 'new' Dungeons & Dragons update. Players can 'buy' npc hirelings to assist them in their quests. So, if you plan to do an instance on hard/elite mode (better loot), you can still solo it...with some hired help.

I can see this feature appealing to many solo(ists). The clever thing that Turbine is doing is that they're offering these hirelings for sale for real money as well. Instant delivery, to boot.

That old EQ 'punishment' for soloing is replaced with new encouragement to solo...just as long as don't mind paying a few bucks for some help. Of course, you could always form a group with...people. But that's crazy talk.

Nice article.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:31AM elocke said

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I meant to end that post with "so people who like Single Player RPGs are going to the next closest thing, and that is Online RPGs."

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:37AM Scopique said

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I agree with John. I never bought into the argument that people play MMOs for the socialization. That's what IRC was for, or "goal-less" VWs like Second Life are for. If you want to socialize, go to a place dedicated to socializing. If you want to get something out of your experience, play an MMO.

The problem with the old-school games, and Aion or others, is that the game mechancs FORCE YOU TO GROUP to get things done. They dictate how you play the game, which is a no-no. They don't auto-assign your class, race or gear to you, so why do people think that being told that they have to engage in a particular game-play style is OK. After all, no game will tell people that they MUST SOLO in order to complete certain content.

I think the article is too hard on the community. That companies always want to earn more money? No shit! So do I! Is that greed, wanting to grow your market share? If you're a pessimist, sure. If you're an employee of the company who wants to pay your bills, you better be sure that your company is always looking to make more money. If the way to do that is to mold your title to accomidate as many play styles as possible, then that's A-OK. It's the self-important forum trolls who think that the developer MUST cater to them and their most minute wish, and that anyone who isn't "as hardcore" or who play's for different reasons is "dumbing down" the game.

After all, grouping is still possible, either on a high level raid, or even on a low level KTR quest, but it should be POSSIBLE, and not MANDITORY.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:53AM Pingles said

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My big problem with grouping is the "hardcore" gamer.

I remember when DAoC went from:
"Hey, we don't have any Healers in our group but let's go have some fun anyways" to
"Sorry, but you don't have the Shield of Neverending Woe and you only have 312 points in Mending so you can't join our RvR group"

That is when I began soloing and I have never looked back. I still group with friends and guildies on occasion but never again will I be part of a pickup group.

I miss the days when folks would just group for fun instead of analyzing XP/minute and %Sword power, etc.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 1:16PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly! Stop all the number crunching and just play for fun.
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Posted: Jul 16th 2009 11:54AM Slob Zombie said

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It seems like there are only two major options presented: provide soloable content vs force grouping. I'd like to see more games adopt a middle ground: provide soloable content BUT reward grouping.

Let's say I'm playing an MMO, soloing, and a couple of my friends come online. In most cases it just doesn't work to say "hey, come do this with me". Level differences might make it impossible, long quest chains are unsharable/unrepeatable, amd experience and loot gains are severely reduced. So if I want to play with my boys, I have to drop what I'm doing (and go a dungeon, which is fine but it's not what I was doing) and accept that my character progression is going to drop significantly.

I know that a lot of planning and analysis should be involved, but this shit seems pretty easy to fix.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:13PM Morioch said

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Rewarding grouping is stupid. If people have a choice to solo or to group, and solo is the choice of the majority, there' something wrong with the group experience. If you got the same xp\loot from grouping or soloing, people will group more since it's easier to accomplish the goal.

DDO is like this. You can solo or group and get the same rewards. Grouping is rewarded because it's easier to accomplish the same tasks. Plus you can take on quests at a harder level for greater rewards. Everyone wins.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:20PM Slob Zombie said

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I don't understand, you say "everyone wins" but you don't like that? And who said the difficulty level would stay the same once you joined a group? Why can't there be a system that scales the difficulty for the size of your party?

And how about you make some suggestions of your own to actually add to the conversation.
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Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:15PM (Unverified) said

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The funny thing is, a lot of the issues you brought up as being characteristic of 'old style hardcore games' are the things people absolutely hate. Forced grouping, long travel times, harsh death penalties etc have gone the way of the dodo because nobody liked them.

Of course, that's not entirely true. Many games do still require grouping at least some of the time. And a game that requires grouping most of the time is unfortunately a death knell to me.

Games like DDO and Final Fantasy XI are wonderful, I love the concept, the execution is great, and once you get past the first couple of levels there's is pretty much nothing to do as a solo player. To do anything at that point, you must have a group, which can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to hours to find, depending on time, server/area population, class and what not.

As an adult professional gamer, I simply don't have time for this a lot of the time. Sure, there are times when I can sit down for several hours, get in a group and run on some quests or dungeons or what have you. But a lot of my game time is chopped up. A half hour here before work. An hour there while doing the laundry. Maybe a couple hours in the evening before sleep. So game time is precious to me, and often I either don't want to or can't spend a lot of time finding a group. So those 'forced grouping' games, I may log in, check around for 10-15 minutes to find a group and then log out because I don't want to spend all my time just trying to find people so I can finally play.

I like City of Heroes/Villains best for it's teaming concept. You can do 99% of the content with any character solo if you want to. Some missions and some character archetypes don't go very well together, like taking a Defender (team buffer/healer with weak offense) against Elite Bosses or Archvillains. On the other hand, you can also team up with up to 7 other people and do the exact same missions since they all scale to your team. More people on your team means more and more difficult enemies in the mission. But whether you have one or eight people, nearly every mission in the game can be done. The only exception being a few big story arcs that are optional and require teams to start.

Add in the fact that with the mentoring system, you can play with anybody in the game regardless of level by either dropping the higher level people to the lower level character's... level. Or sidekicking lower level people up to the higher levels temporarily. So instead of having to search the area for someone about the same level wanting to do the same stuff, you just need to find anyone interested in teaming and go from there. Or go solo if you want. I'd love to see more games take such a flexable approach to groups. Solo when want, team when you want, you can still do nearly everything.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:22PM Graill440 said

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Studies are first and formost simply opinions of the creator. They will hold in some way the ideals and direction the creator wants to paint the study. In 45 years i have seen maybe 3 studies i could call unbiased and worth reading for the information.

Anything with a graph, a chart, or numbers is meaningless. The most recent study i wanted to puke over was an idiot piece on social aspects in response to an asshole (a PHD)wasting resources and money. Showing the same thing to try and reason why folks play MMO's is assnine as well, if 1 million folks play an MMO, they will all have 1 million different reasons for doing so, but since folks like brevity, studies will clump together the ones that are similar and state this is law.

After all no one is going to read 1 million reasons why a particular person plays an MMO.

My humble opinion on why alot of folks like to go solo is the "i wouldnt talk to you in real life dickhead syndrome". People are safe behind a keyboard and some act like badasses because of it, not people you want to associate with, and if you meet them in real life they are more often than not sniveling little bitches, guild guides and raid guides are a prime example, though i am stereotyping here on the majority.

People like to play alone, try and get that bling and then hit town to show it off, again stereotyping, most want to do this, the exception is the true loner that dislikes any interaction on any level, these folks are moderately few.

It is the distate of idiots and harpies on TS or Vent that drives people to become solo artists. Observing general chat and reading some out of control forums can cause this. MMO's are just now realizing that forced grouping doesnt work and over the years began tailoring MMO's to the solo crowd, moreso recently.

People are more apt to play in groups when they know the guild mates or group or fellow or whatever in real life. There is no pressure, there is no bitching or whining and even if there was you know where they live.

MMO's should be solo based, and should be group based, one should not overshadow or provide a penalty for the other, the days of the "hardcore" shitbag dictating time invested died years ago, that said devs need to get off their asses and make MMO's worth a shit with the available tech.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:23PM (Unverified) said

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The best alting system was in Anarchy Online with 3 sets of stat buffing equipment to twink on pieces that are literally 200+ item levels higher than your character level, even though the game gets exponentially harder per level, the max level is 220 while the max itemlevel is 300, and you need to breed your character- as well as twink him to the final point- in order to put those pieces on.

I loved the game, I hated the server lag, and the time spent leveling past 210+.

Old games that had both single and multiplayer grouping, wherein you could train alone and then play with groups:

PSO
Monster Hunter
Diablo2 (and 1 I assume)


I like the instanced grouping, but very few games dont have it.
Anarchy Online for example has multiple instances once the first instance is full, the second one opens, so to speak, its a liberal system to encourage competition. Deal 51% of the targets health and when it dies you gain the loot!
Often though you found yourself camping the corpse until you got your drop, which was NOT guaranteed to happen.

The GOT Armor 4tw!
Trash King!

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 12:26PM archipelagos said

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Is the propensity of modern MMO's to offer the option of a solo playstyle killing the multiplayer aspect of the medium? No. What it is doing is offering the option that the medium simply didn't have before. Without this option MMO's would have remained a largely niche option. Do you think that WoW would have been as successful were it forced grouping all the way? Absolutely not.

People need to stop looking at the medium and demanding it: A. Remain the same and B. Conform to a singular experience. MMO's have the potential to offer solo play, small group play, huge army co-operation and anything in between. To say that it should be group or GTFO is absurd. It would be like turning around and saying that all offline games should be open world GTA or nothing. There is a market for solo play (obviously) and there is a market for group play.

The medium is adapting and expanding, it's about time that folk done the same.

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 1:04PM (Unverified) said

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The issue I have with this is that there's a huge leap missing from the page2 to page3 transition. There's a gap in the logical progression of your appeal for action.

You've said:
-Here's the way things are.
-Here's another way things could be.
-Here's why things are the way they are, instead of that.
(missing step)
-That's horrible! We need to fix the way things are before it gets any worse!

You're missing the most important step. Why is the way things are bad? Why would the other way be better?

If you're just saying that the other way, a more socially-bound, interlocked gaming community, is your preference, then 'vote with your feet' and go play a game that caters to your preferences. But that doesn't sound like what you're saying, instead you're suggesting that there's something simply wrong, or bad, with a more individual-focused mmo/lifestyle.

quote:
>How often do we band together on a large community scale to help out others in need anymore?

Very rarely, and I prefer when we don't. My gaming choices reflects this preference. In real life and in games I keep to my own social groups and find very little of value to be gained from interacting with society as a whole. Why do you feel that this is wrong?

Posted: Jul 16th 2009 5:16PM brookep said

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I think this issue is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I would turn that question around on you and ask, why do you feel that society isn't worth interacting with as a whole? Is it apathy? Self-centredness?

Society is probably not worth interacting with as a whole if society is made up of individuals who share your viewpoint or preference. If everyone is apathetic, how will we ever have a chance? If everyone is self-centred and no-one really cares, there's probably little point.

If society was made up of people who cared, just think of the things we could accomplish on a global scale. I'm not just talking about citizens -- the leadership needs to be on board. Call me a dreamer, but we wouldn't have half the issues we face as a species if we were willing to sacrifice a bit of ourselves for others and get things done properly through compassionate collaboration.

I suppose I feel the insular path society has taken is wrong because I see the potential we could achieve if we leaned the other way. I suppose I dislike that MMORPGs have been following suit because it brings it down to the micro level, making it that much more obvious.

I'm not going to lie. Even after writing all that, I'm a pretty apathetic person. Yet, I don't find it strange that a topic like this can inspire me to cast aside my shell and see things in a positive light if even momentarily.

We may get beat down by reality more often than not, but the books and movies have it right. Humanity is capable of amazing things if we're inspired by great and common purpose.
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