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Reader Comments (26)

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 7:44PM Bezza said

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Solo vs Grouping, yes it can be a issue can’t it. Lets face it, in games where a group is required and you may not belong to a guild with a ready supply of intelligent, mature players who are eagre to complete the task at hand, grouping means finding a public group which often means dealing with players who have the maturity of a 10 year old and inevitably do something to screw up the outcome of the mission. Or even worse, half the group drops out of the mission as they only needed item X and were farming it but didn’t care to tell you. Ahh yes the joys of grouping.

For me the telling issue with AoC was that so much of the content required a sizable group to access. At the end of the day I just got fed up with not being able to complete significant parts of the game unless I was in a group. Of course any complaint about this led to the inevitable comment, “Join a Guild” but really, I didn’t want to join some guild just to access part of the game. I resented the fact that this was expected. Gamers play how they want to play, not how Developers think they ought to play.

I live in Australia, most MMO’s do not allow us a server of our own and it is often a struggle just to get Devs to nominate a server for Australasian/Oceanic purposes. Accordingly when we play there are fewer players online. Finding a group becomes more difficult. Finding a guild you actually want to be part of is no easy task specially if you are not comfortable whoring yourself to just any guild.

As a result I play with my friends, a few select people who I know in real life who MMO with me. One is my spouse, which mean I either play solo or duo or in a small group. We usually form a little guild that has all the feeling of a group of close friends sharing an activity together should. Why then must we be forced into a large group to access parts of the game? We pay our subscription fee like anyone else, so naturally if we learn that significant parts of the game are not accessible to solo/small groups then that will very much be a determining factor in wether we elect to play any given title.

For my friends and I, we play with who we are comfortable playing with, perhaps this is a result our age and past experiences but it’s how we play and I suspect it is how a lot of players prefer to play MMO’s

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 7:47PM esarphie said

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As the typical server population from olden days has grown, finding a group to quest with that doesn't evoke feelings of trips to the dentist has become harder and harder.

I love the mechanics of group combat. I love the socializing of playing with fun people. I love being able to do things you can't do alone.... However, babysitting a string of unknown players who can't seem to communicate effectively, don't seem to understand the game they're playing at all, or seem convinced that the purpose of any group is to enable them to do everything they ever wanted to do and nothing else, is not my idea of a good time.

Wow... when did I get so grumpy?

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 8:28PM EdwardBurch said

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I feel somewhat the same. I was a noobish 11 year old starting on Guild Wars, probably very annoying, but I was willing to learn, and there were mature people seriously willing to tech me the ways of first the game, then the community. Knowing your skills is only half the game; Learning how to use your comrades skills is the other. I formed a special bond with my first mentor, it was like he was a father to me. People like him inspired me, and so I joined his guild and was never alone. Thats the reason MMO's are 'Massive', so you can be social.

in WoW I finally became like he was, handing out freebies, giving out plenty of tricks hints and general guidance to many people while in a group. As soon as I was finished with a lesson, though, my pupils just vanished. there was no permanent relationship, no sense of closeness, no sense of community. Its heartbreaking, that over all these years these younger kids now are allowed to go solo, and decide to do so...

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Posted: Nov 18th 2009 8:11PM Minofan said

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I've only been a follower of MMOs for 4-5 years (I'm guesstimating based on when Guild Wars was released), so I arrived too late for the much-discussed halcyon days when forced grouping was all candy-canes and high-brow conversation - nothing but tortuous in my time-frame.

I'm not denying that those days are purely the product of nostalgia though - as I've participated in enough online & offline gaming to know that communities can indeed change wildly - but whatever delicate balance allowed such a state years ago as either become unreplicatable or financially unviable.

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 8:13PM Saintjude said

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My first experience with an MMO was with Final Fantasy XI and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

One of the things that got to me about the game though was the fact that you were basically forced to group up to do anything beyond level 10. Yes, I do realize that some of the jobs were capable of soloing but aside for puppet master, I didn't really enjoy playing those jobs or seeing myself taking them to level 75.

My two main complaints with that game was the fact that I wanted to be a puppet master meant that if I wanted to get a decent amount of XP in a short time I would have to party up with 6 other people but finding a party that would accept a puppet master was tough. Also, during certain level ranges find six other people that wanted to group up and go XP was nearly impossible.

I have recently played both Champions Online and Fallen Earth and found both games to be enjoyable. I really liked that fact that, from what I have played so far, you aren't forced to group up to get the simplest thing accomplished. That isn't to say I didn't group up at all, and when I did the experiences were mostly enjoyable.

I just wish there was a middle ground. I would be far more interested in a game that would allow you to do things on your own but would also reward you for grouping up.

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 9:25PM Blacknimbus said

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Hrm...I hardly did anything solo in CoH. Soloing was always painful...but then again, I enjoy playing Defenders.

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 9:31PM (Unverified) said

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It amazes me that we've gone to all this trouble to develop 'Massively MULTIPLAYER' games... and yet people want to spend all their time running solo..

I mean, seriously, why play an MMO? It would be like lugging your PC off to a lan party at a friend's place (back when we had lan parties..) and doing nothing but playing peggle on your own PC the entire night.

What's the point? I don't believe grouping should be forced, simply because in general gameplay should not be forced, it should be about choice. I would just think that if you'd gone to all that trouble to sign on for a 'MULTIPLAYER' game, you would.. you know, choose to play it with other people...

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 10:40PM Bezza said

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I like to interact with people in the MASSIVE MULTIPLAYER sense on various levels, but grouping with players you don't know is more often than not a painful exercise in frustration.

Once I was interested in building a guild and training the new players and spreading the joy. But it just seems that now days for every teachable new player you meet there are a hundred infantile greedy little brats ready and willing to spoil the fun. I wish it wasn’t so, truly I do. So as a result I play with known friends, or duo with my other half. It’s not so much that we want to play alone, more that we are sick of all the wankers who have no idea about good MMO etiquette.
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Posted: Nov 18th 2009 11:29PM (Unverified) said

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So perhaps the problem isn't 'solo vs. group' content. Perhaps the problem is that we're simply not educating new players in online etiquette?

At which point perhaps we (players and developers) should focus on how to encourage or teach people to interact better with other people online instead of just adding more and more solo content?
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Posted: Nov 19th 2009 1:03AM Randomessa said

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For some players it's the quality of PUGs. For some, questing has made grouping difficult because of the inability to properly synchronize content (it's far easier to gather a group for grinding than to fulfill multi-step quest objectives); for others, it's levels causing the problem, or travel time. For others still, it's real-life encroachments on the time available for gaming in a given session. When one has an hour or two to play, sometimes spending half of that waiting for a group to assemble is an unacceptable and unproductive use of that time. Most likely it's a combination of many of these factors that have made many players more solo-(or small/static-group)- oriented.

I also dispute the notion that "massively multiplayer" means grouping is fundamental. If that were the case, why did no games automatically group everyone logged in together in one group? A group of 6 people is not "massive," after all: why isn't all game content raid content? To me, MMOs are massive the way the real world is massive - there are plenty of people around, and I can choose to interact with them, or not, as I like.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2009 11:52AM (Unverified) said

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"It amazes me that we've gone to all this trouble to develop 'Massively MULTIPLAYER' games... and yet people want to spend all their time running solo.."

Warbirds is a WW II online flight sim game that is most definitely massively multiplayer. You join a nation and fight for your side to conquer territory. Many players in the game create their own guilds called "squadrons", so that they can fight more effectively as a group. Yet at the same time, solo players can still contribute greatly because they hear the chatter on the nation channel and knows what's being targeted. So they jump in and start assisting others. So ya a squadron guild may have the people to call the shots of what's getting attacked next, but after that, you get a swarm of solo players who rush in to assist on the attack.
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Posted: Nov 18th 2009 9:57PM (Unverified) said

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I just think this is a natural result of the MMO playerbase growth. Way back in the UO/EQ/AC days, the genre drew the harder-core players with hours each day to spend gaming. Now, there are so many more players, many of which are more casual.

Posted: Nov 19th 2009 1:58AM Cinnamoon said

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Precisely as Karl above says. And the average person doesn't have -- nor should he have -- the ridiculous amounts of time truly required by the (dare I say it) uncreative group-or-give-up old school games. Quality games supply both solo and grouping experiences.
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Posted: Nov 18th 2009 10:28PM (Unverified) said

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Lord of the Rings Online MMO started out as a game based on fellowship activity with some solo play available. As the game grew into Moria it became more solo player focused and the fellowship content became trivialized. Turbine redefined the starting areas removing most content that could be construed as "difficult" creating an EZ-Mode game that solo players blow through in a couple of weeks.

LotRO feels like it's going through a massive shrink in its player base, and while you can't pin the fault solely on the re-focus to the solo player, IMHO they ended up disenfranchising their core players who had signed up for the original vision of a fellowship centric game.

Solo play tends to bring in a quick fix of players who then move onto whatever bright & shiny MMO is being released. Long term subscribers are often the people making use of group content.

Posted: Nov 18th 2009 11:25PM (Unverified) said

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Not necessarily. Many solo players also create whole armies of alts, exploring the game through the eyes of each race/class/profession combination they can. Sorry you feel disenfranchised, mate, but there is mroe than one way to enjoy the depth a game has to offer.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2009 12:39AM Faryon said

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I have been a big fan of exploration and small group combat ever since SWG. The thing I loved about SWG was exploring some of the vast worlds with my friends while searching for a specific mob-type that required a group to kill.. Hunting Gorax on Endor, Dark Jedi on Dathomir, Krayt Dragons on Tatooine and Kimogila on Lok.. those hunts were honestly some of the best experiences I have ever had playing MMOs.. I also did my fair share of soloing in that game (grinding xp, components ect.), but the hunts with my friends was one of the main reasons I played the game.

I feel that grouping has completly lost it's appeal ever since WoW came with their instanced group dungeons because they are completely linear experiences.. So in most new games I solo while mostly everyone else grinds 5-mans and raids for their epix..

Posted: Nov 19th 2009 2:11AM Zensun said

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For me, it's a time issue. When I group, I tend to feel I need to stay 'until the end' of a particular dungeon or quest and feel bad about leaving early. But I try to play relatively short periods of time, say 30 - 60 minutes here and there. I do wish there was more emphasis on grouping, and I think the lack-of is a huge factor in anti-social players who feel no worry about being shunned. WAR's Public Quests were a start in the right direction, I think.

Posted: Nov 19th 2009 2:20AM FrostPaw said

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I think the problem becomes more relevant as games cater more and more to solo players, it teaches new mmo players nothing about the kind of skills they need to develop to work within a group environment and everything about the mentality that they should get everything they want handed to them as soon as they want it.

Theres no effort made to cooperate with strangers, to work together to overcome difficult tasks. Too often now the first group wipe leads to players dropping or disconnecting immediately hardly anybody has the patience or perseverence to "get better together" players expect everyone to know how to play and whenever something goes wrong its always someone elses fault.


I have played games that have forced players to group for all the content and games that have been so, solo friendly nobody ever looked for a group so I have seen and experienced both sides of the coin. My feeling is that often solo content is a direct cause of not enough people lfg to do group content and in turn that stops players gaining the patience and social skills to work well with others they don't know.

I think solo content is important when you can't or don't have time to play in a group but it shouldn't be "easy" because players are comfortable being lazy and they will choose the path of least resistance for no other reason then because they are lazy since grouping requires more effort then soloing thats why easy soloing becomes popular but players do lose so much of what makes mmos attractive by insisting on soloing they essentialy turn a populated world full of social experiences and rewarding group challenges into a giant chat room with a single player game tacked on.

Posted: Nov 19th 2009 2:36AM (Unverified) said

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Lessons for a succesful MMORPG in the future.

Lesson 1: A video game (and MMORPG's are videogames) is a personal experience.

Lesson 2: oYou like to play with other players on YOUR time schedule.

Lesson 3: A player is not as available as an NPC.

Lesson 4: Even you best friend is not always in the mood to play with you.

Lesson 5: No one wants to wipe 10 times in a row because of a bad group.

-----
So

1. Design an MMO whre you both have solo and group content.

2. Design it that there is always players around who want to group with you.So ... scale the difficulty of the content from very easy to very hard.

3. Have ENOUGH players for doing the group content .... so make the game not only based on one realm or server, but make the content cross server,

4. Let ALL players allow to advance, so make game mechanics for solo play and motivate players to group up (even better rewards).

5. Motivate players to group and make it so easy as to click ONE button to auto join a group.


---- See the above -----

Welcome to World of Warcraft patch 3.3, cross server dungeons and cross server BG's, with advancing guilds to play in individual open world realms.

Simple.

Posted: Nov 19th 2009 6:24AM (Unverified) said

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My first MMO was dark age of camelot. I was a total noob, I saw my brother in law play, and I was like 'omg awesome, virtual world!!!'.

The first time I played, there were no big exclamation mark on pnjs, no map, no help tutorial, so I read the manual and I learned the interface, started running around killing rats and stuff, until.. I was lost :D When I wanted to go back to the camp, I didn't see it anymore, and I didn't know where it was. That when I met a guy who helped me get back and tell me about the game, the equipment, the skills and classes, and he even gave me some gold so I could buy some armor, and it was awesome.

The lack of assistance made me fall in love with the game.

I think that is what's missing in new MMOs, we are told what we have to do right away, we have a map and quest guides, so we don't need anybody to figure out the game, and we can solo almost everything.

Making a game easier doesn't make the experience better !

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