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Reader Comments (64)

Posted: May 23rd 2010 8:18AM SgtBaker said

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Cursed "solo-MMOs"!

I really wished they didn't exist at all - MMO's should have forced grouping - single-player stuff should not exist *at all*.

EVE is "kinda" there - it's very hard to make it solo - however people still keep trying and never leave Empire space...

This is why I'd love to see all EVE mission above lvl1 moved to low-sec.

Or even better - remove the suck (gateguns, security hit, etc) from current low-sec (0.1 - 0.4) - and make 0.5 - 0.9 systems into what low-sec is today.

Remove all but level 1 missions from 1.0 systems. Remove all but Veldspar from 1.0 systems. Don't let any wormholes/anomalies spawn in 1.0.

Leave 0.0 as is, but fix fleet lag.

This would force people to group and think a bit before acting and would make EVE a game worth playing.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:39AM Sephirah said

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"I really wished they didn't exist at all - MMO's should have forced grouping - single-player stuff should not exist *at all*."
...
"This would force people to group and think a bit before acting and would make EVE a game worth playing."

Yes! Force players! Don't give them what they want! Freedom is slavery!

Oh wait, you don't earn a cent from any of those games, so your income isn't affected by the number of players that would leave if "forced", aren't you?
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:43AM (Unverified) said

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forced grouping?

welcome to the 21st century... certainly there's nothing wrong with a game that would only offer groupable content, but i would be one of the many that wouldn't play it.

it's a matter of scheduling for me. i'm working two jobs, i've got two kids, and my gaming time has been seriously diminished over the last few years (as has the free time of every one of my gaming friends). while the most fun can be had in good group situations, it seems "good" group situations have become a rare commodity. in contrast, most of my last group attempts have been either a) looking for a required AT to complete the group, b) waiting for that last required AT to finish whatever s/he is doing and join us, or c) looking to replace the member that had to take off while we were looking for/waiting on the previously needed AT to show up.

i know people have been bashing STO, but Cryptic did one thing in that game that i think is a great innovation: fleet actions. all the awesomeness of group content, none of the downtime/tedium/boredom that the process of grouping usually generates. but that's another topic...

i tend to solo because my time is limited, yet i still want to be involved with a community-oriented environment so that i have the option to group when i want. many gamers are people like me, those whose lives have come to include more than gaming every free moment. sure, you can scream "casuals!" if you prefer, but the casual gaming market has grown immensely, and any developer who wants to potentially hit the widest customer base possible (a basic facet of most retail business plans) will include a decent amount of content for those of us who still love games but have other interests & responsibilities as well.
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 10:13AM SgtBaker said

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This was a opinion piece. They asked for our opinions. It's like asking what kind of music you like.

I stated I like good music - you guys stated you like Britney Spears.
That's fine, life goes on - I do my thing and you guys can go join your Pride parade or whatever it is you people do on your free time.

So yes, force people to group, that's the ticket.
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 10:34AM Mr Angry said

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My opinion on your opinion. Amusing how the most fractious players are the ones who usually call for group only content :)

I've been in group only situations before and have been stunned by quite how inept some of these players are. While they claim it's the key to success, it's really just asses on seats, just a group of sheep who have little clue how to play their class and fight uneven numbers 99% of the time, or don't fight at all.

You hear squeaky voiced fart/sex/drug jokes in voice chat from a group of sociopaths talking about what they need to do in game at the exclusion of any interest in any other individual in listening. Who wouldn't enjoy that type of social multiplayer interaction now, huh? See how easy it is to stereotype now? :)

I see SgtBaker you make reference to EVE, I think this article is not an EVE opinion piece, so as much as you like EVE online and want that to be pushed towards forced grouping, there is definitely a market for non group activity, and some people thrive on it.

This is not 'gay' (c'mon man, if you are going to use this type of description, at least have the balls to say the word, if you want to be bigoted, it's something you have to do 100%), it's just what people enjoy to do in their free time, after being at work for 8+ hours per day, something to unwind.

While some folks out there seem to make a job out of playing MMO's and have very little face time with anyone outside of the virtual worlds, don't assume that every player is your typical 'EVE' spreadsheeter, being casual is not a bad thing, it's a function of time investment, and some people want to enjoy a game without he added burden of having to get a large group of people together and coordinate schedules just to compete or have fun.
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 12:50PM SgtBaker said

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Ok, you all win, I've changed my opinion and reactivated my WoW account.
(jeez, people, it was a obivous troll, stop feeding me :-P)
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 3:59PM Innocentte said

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When EQ2 first launched, and for the first year, once you got out of the Newb area, you were pretty much forced to group if you so much as stepped foot out of one of the two major towns.

Well, we all know how the 'Forced Grouping' of EQ2 vs. the 'Solo or Group; you make the call' of World of Warcraft turned out.

WoW kicked EQ2's rear, and continues to do so to this day. Even though EQ2 has really become no more than a WoW clone.

Forcing people to play only YOUR way, leads only to people playing that think like you.

And, isn't that a drag?
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 8:22AM Seffrid said

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I'm there to adventure on my own, occasionally to duo with a RL friend, on a server populated with lots of other players some of whom I will get to interact with over the public chat channels, through the auction house, on the forums, and in other ways. Whilst I miss the old "drive-by buff and heal" days of eg EQ, I don't miss my former grouping and guilding days at all.

The notion that "massively multiplayer" means you're a social misfit who's playing the wrong kind of game if you don't group with 5 other people all the time is, and always was, misplaced in my view (how on earth can "massively multiplayer" mean 6 people, it simply relates to the thousands of players that are also playing the game at the same time as you) although it amazes me that there are still people who think that, perhaps foremost among them people who are looking to a computer game for an important part of their social life, which I am not. I'm just playing a computer game in the company of others, which is a different thing altogether.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 10:09AM Matix said

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I have to totally agree here. I play MMORPGs because:


!) there are other people there I can hang with/chat with/PVP against

2) Unlike a regular RPG (that always seems to end before I want it to!) MMORPGs last as long as I want to be there.

3) new content added regularly!

And I can take it or leave it.


As far as the MMO-automatically-equals-forced-grouping-and-100%-player-economy crowd, I find it interesting that MMO has to be iron-clad according to their twisted definition, but the RPG element goes by the wayside. If you're one of those types who wants to "go back" to the "good old days" of nearly-mandatory grouping, you outta brush up your thees and thous (or learn what a jeffries tube is, if it's a Sci-RPG) to roleplay like it was "back in the day" as well.


Hypocrisy of the opposing viewpoint aside, I like to be able to solo content because:

1) People join MMORPGs continuously when entry is easy with solo content, which keeps my game alive. If you make everything forced-grouping, Devs may as well stop offering the game for sale after the first month, because unless you already have higher level friends who are willing to drop everything they're doing with end-game content to come help you, you are SoL.

2) When I can't sleep at 3am, or my day off from work is during the weekdays when everyone's at work, I want to be able to play what I paid for and not have to log off until everyone gets back.

3) I dislike and otherwise despise games where, because group size matters, inevitably the sever is run by guilds ruled by some no-life bunch of snobs that can hold the power of life and death over whether I can play the game.

At least three times in forced-grouping games I've had a take on this scenerio:

Snobs United GL kicks me out of the guild. I try to rebuild my game life, but:

"Sorry Matix, Snobs United's guild leader says you're a jerk and that if we take you in they won't work with us anymore."

Matix: But I didn't do anything wrong!

"Yeah, he was mad because (PICK ONE of these that actually happened to me):

a. you convinced his wife she should call the cops instead of letting him beat her

b. the GL changed your active days so he could spend time with his online girlfriend and now he's punishing you for not playing on a night you have work rather than admit he lied and broke the guild rules by changing your game days without your permission/consent.

c. the GL broke her promise to help one of her IRL friends level, so you helped the GL's friend level and now the GL's mad at you

--so now, because of that, you can't play any end-game content with our guild or the other end-game guilds Snobs United works with anymore."

Then, on top of it, when the other guild members send me chat messages because they're me friends, the GL then accuses me of trying to steal Snobs United's guild members.

Even IF you can clear your good name, it generally requires hundreds of hours of in-game and forum politicking.

Forced grouping? ...Yeah, no thanks. Too many hidden costs.


Finally, and this is the dirty secret, games with forced grouping to level don't do well as a general rule. I won't do anyone's homework for them, but just take a look at the numbers for game with this mechanic. Sad fact is that most people DO NOT LIKE PLAYING THAT WAY, and the few who do don't seem to be getting behind the games, contrary to the noise they make.
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Posted: May 25th 2010 10:57AM Greeen said

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I wouldn't mind more group play, but unfortunately "PUG" has become a sort of a negative thing - I don't understand that really, since the old-school MMOs, e.g. EQ are based on pugs. But now, if you don't react like a pro (what about people returning to a game after a long brea; or noobs? Everyone was a noob at some point) people whine, complain, kick you, or don't even let you into a group. If you are lucky you get ninja invited, but not everyone likes that either.
O/c pugs can suck and everybodies time is valuable. But isn't that part of the social aspect? To teach and accept? There will always be an idiot, but that is another question imho.
So I wonder who is more "social"? The ones who want to group and can't, or the ones who group but flame about pugs?

Posted: May 23rd 2010 8:38AM Daelda said

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While I do like to group at times, and I always find - research - interview - and join a good Guild prior to even purchasing a new MMO, I like to solo a majority of the time. It isn't because I am anti-social and don't want the company of others. I *DO* want the company of others...just not always in the same group with me. Often it is enough to just have them in Guild Chat or on Voice Chat.

There are many reasons to want to solo in an MMO. For myself, the reasons tend to be:

1. I like to quest at my own pace. I don't want to feel rushed. If I want to read the entire quest-text and really get into the story of the game, I don't want to feel like I am holding someone back. If I spot a harvesting node along the way that I could really use, I don't want to feel like I am taking up someone ease's time.

2. I am disabled and online gaming/MMOs are my main form of social interaction. I spend an average of 6 hours a day playing MMOs (when I play them - currently, I am between MMOs). While this is great in many ways, it can also mean that while I am still enjoying the game world, I am tired of grouping with other players. A person can only spend so many hours being in close proximity to other people (whether it be in a group in an MMO, at home with family, or out with your friends) before you just need some time by yourself!

3. I love to craft in MMOs. Crafting is not usually a "grouping" activity.

4. I often game with my wife. While that is not *technically* soloing, it isn't exactly grouping either. We are both gamers and we both enjoy exploring, RPing and questing together in MMOs, and sometimes we just want it to be "just us".

Personally, I am glad that MMOs are starting to focus more on the solo and duo style of game-play. That doesn't mean that I am opposed to group play - heck, I raid at times and have enjoyed it. All I am saying is that I think there is room for more diversity in MMOs.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:00AM Pingles said

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I currently have a fantastic real-life that leaves VERY little time for gaming.

I get short bursts of time to play maxing out at about 30 minutes.

MMOs are perfect for someone with very little time to play because you can accrue XP in small bursts and still advance. I also enjoy the social atmosphere of MMOs especially zone chat and Guilds.

So I play MMOs solo and could not play if the solo option were not available.

That being said the multiplayer part is important to me because I think good multiplayer keeps an MMO well-populated.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:14AM GRT said

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Massively must be oversold on ad inventory and in need of a quick shot of page views, if they trotted out this old, hashed & rehashed to death a million times over, question.

It's like asking "What's the better platform, PS3 or XBox 360?" over on Joystiq.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:57AM Birk said

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Easy there. Down, boy. We get an MMO-related topic to discuss every day, friend. Yes, the question has been discussed; no, that does not mean because YOU don't find it interesting anymore, others won't as well.

The gods have spoken: you are not the center of the universe.

There are many people getting in to MMO's every day. Massively is my favourite site (amongst a few others) for getting news and generally talking about my favourite gaming medium. Sometimes, they rehash stuff...skip the article, and read on. Don't speculate about their ad dollars, because you really have no idea. False business speculation is what lead to the great depression, after all!

As far as rehashing goes, you're an MMO gamer. I would think that you would be used to it by now!
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 1:07PM Seraphina Brennan said

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I like how our readers know our advertising better than I do. :3

I don't even know how our advertising works. ^_^ The staff doesn't deal with that aspect of the site, that's handled by the parent company. I dunno how many times I have to reiterate that, but hey, let's reiterate it again!

The writers write and analyze games. We don't deal with the advertising.

~Sera
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:15AM Valdamar said

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I prefer adventuring in small groups (3-5 people) - that's how pen & paper roleplaying does it and is often how fantasy fiction does it too. Admittedly a lot of my playtime is spent in duos with a friend because, ironically, I have a low tolerance for the intolerant - morons, selfish time-wasters and abrasive/egotistical personalities - all of whom seem to be attracted to MMOs in their multitudes.

The massively multiplayer part of MMOs is very important to me - I like to have a lot of people around to bump into, potentially yeam with and make new friends from - I just don't want to be teaming with ALL of them ALL of the time. I like doing public/raid events occasionally with up to 50 people (usually at weekends) - they're good for community-building - but I don't want that to be the main playstyle in an MMO (raiding endgames) because I find the novelty value of mass teamwork does wear off then I'm just left feeling like an insignificant cog in a big machine where my actions have very little effect on the overall outcome. I even came to feel that way when I was raid leader for 54-72 person raids in EQ1.

So I prefer to play in 3-5 person group where each team member's input is valuable and everyone needs to be on good form - plus when a team member is on their best form it gets noticed - but where if one person makes a mistake or needs to AFK it doesn't earn them the ire of 50+ other inconvenienced people.

Raiding endgames have a nasty habit of turning games into work rather than leisure because of the discipline required to herd large numbers of people towards a common goal - plus they overly specialise characters/playstyles which eliminates gameplay challenge and personal initiative/innovation, because efficiency/simplicity dictates that everyone should learn the raid phases by rote, then success simply becomes a matter of gear, timing and a bit of good luck from the RNG. Not to mention lots of players beating on a single target just gets dull and is rather unheroic (it feels more like a mugging, a rather apt analogy considering that the aim is usually loot).

I do solo from time to time and I like the option to be there, because it gives me something to do while waiting for friends to get online, plus when I solo I'm still chatting on public channels and interacting with passers-by. So I don't want enforced teaming, but I do think the best rewards in a game should be available to small teams and not just large teams/raids. Solo can be slower for rewards/progress, to encourage teaming, if the Devs want - but personally I think whether you team or not should be a personal playstyle choice as to what style of gameplay you prefer - players forced into teaming often make poor teammates.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:20AM (Unverified) said

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A lot of people question its validity as an MMO, but I found the best community I'd ever seen in an online game in Kingdom of Loathing.

There's a vibrant array of in-game regulars that can be found in the chat channels, in the various clan halls, and in the forums. The game developers are constantly in the thick of it, talking about each piece of content as it's being designed, when it's released, and after it's been completely solved they tend to do a debrief explaining what they did. There's plenty of competition, too: players are constantly vying for leaderboards, striving to be the first to discover new content, or to learn something that will let them dominate the in-game economy, if only for a few hours.

I think solo quests and content are critical for most MMOs (particularly WoW-style games) because players need something to do when they don't have a group but need to make progress. The equipment and level grind ladder necessitates constant play to build up to the end-game, and if I log in and find I need a group for absolutely anything, I'm going to log off until my guildies are online or sit idle somewhere waiting to find a pick-up-group, either of which isn't much fun. This isn't such a big deal when you're at end-game, but when you're only level 20 and the majority of players are already at level cap, this proposes a serious problem to getting new players.

It's okay to make a game that has only group content. DDO works like this, aside from very, very few low level quests everything needs a group, and the game mechanics are designed around this. A robust group-finder system and native mic support make looking for a pick-up party quick and easy. You still have minor quibbles with differences in player skill or poorly constructed skill sets, but that's usually not a problem, since you're never expected to grind quests repeatedly (they give their best rewards automatically and XP gives diminishing returns, so you need to move on to something new). I think DDO demonstrates how to make a group-only game work.

-SirNiko

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:22AM Unverfied B said

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Multiplayer doesn't mean that i MUST group for combat. The fact that we'r in the same world and our actions affect each other is enough.

On a broader look the most defining factor to call something an MMO for me is persistence, both on character and world level.
That's why i don't consider for example diablo an mmo - while your character progression is persistent (at least on closed b.net realms), the game world is reset when you quit the game.
If it had a persistent world it would be an mmo, even though everything is instanced and limited to (8? 16? can't remember) players.

Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:25AM Unverfied B said

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And to add something - when i see that a game tries to FORCE me to group... that's my first sign to GTFO and find something else to play.
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Posted: May 23rd 2010 9:38AM Daelen said

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Devil's advocate here...

I'd argue Diablo is more persistent than MMOs. Yes when you leave an area and then return it reset. But in MMOs you can stay in an area and it'll reset. Your actions in an MMO don't persist however the world does.

On topic, grouping is essential to have as an option, but its a game so being able to solo is just as important given no one should be happy sitting in town LFG for hours just for the privilege of playing.

That notion of group or nothing is what killed EQ in the end. Hardcore players kept up with content and were out there somewhere and the casuals were spread out and stuck since without a group, you simply could not advance. Few exceptions depending on class but by in large forced grouping is insta fail today.

That said, WoW's dungeon finder tool is just freaking awesome for those that want to group all day. VG is also full of veteran players more than happy to pop down to do lowbie content.

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