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Reader Comments (61)

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:26PM Severius said

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I could agree if it was something more than just a big health pool coupled with increased mob damage output. There is little in any mmo that I have played (pretty much all of them) that required anything more than numbers. Hell I remember when they first opened Naxxramus, the gargoyle's that regenerate? The guild I was in had been through all of the content (not thousands of times obviously) of MC, ONY and BWL. Even though we weren't all in set pieces we had BWL on farm status. Go to Naxx when it opens, and our 40 man raid can't kill a gargoyle. No one of our 40 died, the gargoyle wasnt a boss, it was just letting us know that unless you could do this much dps you were not allowed to progress.

That is where the lie of strategy in MMO's was revealed to me. It takes no skill to send 40 people up against a mob, and it takes no developer creativity to jack up the damage and health pool of these mobs.

I was a raider, I thought it was special.... but it isn't. It has no correlation to anything outside of the game except that if you throw more and more of something at a problem you can make the problem go away.

To myself, the argument is that both sides pay for their game, and pay a subscription fee to continue to play the game. But one group wants to prevent another group from realizing the potential of their investment unless they want to play in a manner that the other group dictates. And if developers make efforts to accommodate both groups then people say that the other group is destroying games..... pathetic.
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Posted: Oct 26th 2010 8:32PM Laephis said

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I completely agree, it's ruining the genre. If I'm playing an RTS, complaining about the lack of a pause feature is ridiculous. If I'm playing a platformer like Super Mario Bros, complaining about having to run+jump accurately is asinine. And likewise, if I'm playing an MMO, complaining about having to play in a group with other people is completely against the spirit of the genre.

Folks, there are a million fantastic single player games that are designed with "soloing" in mind. And there's nothing wrong with it. But stop trying to force your preferred style of gameplay into a game designed around multiplayer concepts. In an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible, the MMO experience is being severely watered down.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:14AM Tizmah said

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But Severius, your example is of a 40 man group raid. I can agree personally, that I hate those. I would much rather see end game just be a 5 or 6 man. You can bond with a much smaller number of people. The people who want to do small groups get shafted because of the solo players. They've already done it.

If everything is soloable, then no one ever wants to group. Some people don't like speaking in public chat where millions of people are. But we like speaking in small groups and getting to know the people that way.

A lot of the comments here sound like all an MMO should have is a chat interface and everything be soloable with a side helping of grouping. And that's just not fair to use groupers.
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Posted: Oct 26th 2010 6:59PM Mirin said

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I have become this way mostly because of the atrocious behavior I have been subjected to in a lot of pick up group type situations. "the game that shall not be named" is probably the worst I have ever seen in this regard.

I'm pretty sure its because i'm in my 30s and don't care to deal with 19 year olds ankle biting over who's spec/gear/skillz/penis are better. It may also be that I have a family and a job and I can't commit to a video game in any reliable fashion to take part in scheduled raiding. It has really held me back in most MMOs.

I still enjoy being around others when I play, but I also don't appreciate being forced to rely on them to advance

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:42PM (Unverified) said

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My good, what a great article. As a mostly solo player, I hate being forced to join a group to progress. On the other hand, if I get the urge to join a group, it's great knowing I can. I had no idea so many people prefer to solo...lets meet up someplace, eh? LOL.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:12PM Severius said

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First of all, I just want to play great games. That's why I am in this hobby, to get away from the nonsense of TV and real life in general. And thats where mmo's start to fall apart.... along with all these people comes all their IRL nonsense encroaching on my damned game time lol.

I am not your shrink, I am not your sounding board. I can care less what your kid did, your wife/hubby said, how much you have had to drink since you sat your ass down at the computer, or how much pot you have smoked today. I do not give a fugg about your political or religious ideologies, nor do I care what effing band you are listening to, what drivel you watched on tv last night, or what movie your significant other dragged you to. I am not your personal computer tech, I am not going to walk you through installing windows, upgrading drivers, or mapping out a system for you to build because you are too lazy to research it yourself. Unless, of course, you are an attractive 27-33 year old woman with no rugrats and live within 25 miles of me... then I can pretend to care, at least for a while ;)

The funny part though... I always play tank characters... so everyone wants to group with me roflmao.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:15PM (Unverified) said

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Two small corrections -- I meant "Volume 2" instead of Book 2, and "second 'M'" instead of the first one. Thanks for pointing those out.

The "growing majority" statement may be a generalization, but I feel it's adequately supported by what I've observed (and these articles are personal opinion, of course). It's not growing in the sense that more groupers are becoming soloers, but more and more people who solo are entering the MMO sphere whereas a lot of the dedicated groupers have been here since the beginning.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:21PM madcartoonist said

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I used to be super into grouping all the time but over the years I have become more of a solo player. That is changing a little bit because my family is all on board with lotro now that it has the F2P model. The only thing that really bugs me are quests that are small fellowship only quests. These not only require some grouping but by limiting the number of people sometimes can make it hard to group in the first place. I can't remember the exact quest in Moria, but it is an epic one and because of who you had to fight you really need a couple of specific classes to get it done. The end result was that no one was interested in the group unless it had those two classes and I wasn't one of them. I'm sure with enough planning any group would work but people didn't seem to be giving it a chance. I should probably go back and try it now that things are f2p and see if more people are available now.

The other thing that is kind of similar but really annoys me in Guild Wars is that people only want to group with people that know exactly what to do in a mission. They just want someone to run though it as fast as possible. Well if it is your first time then you are kind of screwed. Also I like now knowing how to do it and having to figure it out with a group were everyone throws in their thoughts. Also everyone seemed to always want to skip the cut scenes. I would skip them alot if I was the only person who wanted to see them. They should of thown in some system were you can re-watch movies (I think Eye of the north has something like that) and maybe that added it for the whole game over time.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:30PM (Unverified) said

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Excellent post. You described exactly how I feel about the way I play nowadays. I like knowing other folks are there, but I have no desire to NEED them to enjoy myself unless I choose to join in on something for a change of pace.

People always use the why play an MMO to be alone argument..well life is massive multi player but is also full of private instances, we have locks on doors and headphones on our music players as we walk about giving us personal space so we can be IN the world and away from others while in it when we want to be.

When we want to, we unlock the doors and invite a select few in or we venture out into the masses with our headphones off, looking at all the other folks with headphones on and at all the closed doors and private cars and all the other folks in their own private instances.

People do thier own thing in life, why should they have to do any different when they relax and play a game?

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:23PM ChaosInc said

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This is the most epic comparison I've ever heard/read. Hats off to you.
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Posted: Oct 26th 2010 7:35PM wondersmith said

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Encore! Encore! I want a regular Massively soloer column!!!

Anyway...the best balancing of solo and group content I've seen in an MMO (or almost-MMO) is in Diablo II, where solo players can, with patience and determination, accomplish nearly everything that groups can. (Teamwork just makes things go faster.) Difficulty and drop quantity scales dynamically to group size as people come and go, and you can password-protect your world when you don't feel like being bothered by others. If not for the frustrating inventory restrictions, nonexistent auction house, and repetitive endgame, I might never have moved on.

That said, I find LotRO's skirmishes to be exceptionally fun solo content for a traditional MMO. But I wish their classic instances scaled to group size too!

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 9:27PM Leitchy said

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Yup! Like a lot of other commentators, Justin's article pretty much sums my play stye up, too. I've played LoTRO since public beta, and in those 3+ years I have had several dozen awesome kin fellowships, probably 2 decent and 1 excellent PUG experiences (and several truly, truly awful and ugly ones that failed dismally on every level), but >95% of the time, I solo and I love it. Kinship chat keeps me in touch with my kin-mates, and /tell keeps me in contact with my in-game friends. But that's while I'm exploring the wilds of Enedwaith with my level capped L-M or enjoying the starting experience in Archet with my new Warden...by myself.

Playing together alone, indeed!

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 8:09PM Shadanwolf said

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I'm a solo player. Games that don't facility my play style...don't get my money.It's that simple.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 8:54PM (Unverified) said

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I've become a soloer myself... but I'd love to see a developer make a serious attempt at a group based MMO. Fact is that if there is a solo option nearly every player will take it, and even if you want to group, because no one has to, it's like pulling teeth trying to get anyone mildly interested.

I think as developers have started trying to make games that are all things to all people at all times, group style content has been pushed aside in favor of solo content with the "oh yeah and you can get a group together and do this solo content as well, cause we are all about grouping...and also pve and pvp and pvpepvep".

If there was a game that featured "forced grouping" I'd definitely be interested.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 10:05PM (Unverified) said

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Well put. I am one of those types that prefers the grouping in games... I love it. I love the group dynamics. I love making new friends. I love learning from others about the game. I love making fun of idiots who think they are the best of the best... and do stoopid things thinking their crap don't stink. :) The problem is, I don't have the time anymore, what with three boys, a wife, a day job and coaching two boys sports teams. So I usually spend my time soloing. I enjoy the game when I can and then when I find that extra hour or so where I know I can dedicate to the game, I will actively pursue the grouping dynamic of the MMO of my choice.

But I do agree, when I am forced to depend on others to progress through something that is seen as mandatory (main game story lines?), it's frustrating not only to have to stop your progression until you can find that extra big time slot to play, but also to have to rely so heavily on others to finish the progression when that time is so valuable.

Warhammer came so close to making that work... The PQs were a great idea and the scenarios make it easy to get into a group, have some good ol' fashioned PvP, then get out.

Well, I am rambling... but thanks again for a well put article and entertaining read.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 10:14PM Tom in VA said

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"I see it akin to going to Starbucks or the library to read a book. Sure, you could do that in the privacy of your home, but there's a need that's fulfilled when you do it near to other people. Even the most introverted amongst us have a need for human connection, and MMOs can provide some measure of social fulfillment."

This is really excellent stuff, Justin. You are absolutely right on the money with this essay.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 10:30PM (Unverified) said

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In my opinion and experience, In MMO's:

You can't create lifelong social bonds without social contact.

You get social contact in groups, working as a team toward a goal.

Which MMO has the strongest memories, the longest lasting friendships, and the strongest bonds?

Everquest.

Why? Because it forced grouping. (at least, initially). And that's when all those bonds were formed. Any game that doesn't force (or very very very strongly encourage) grouping is doomed to a slow decline in subscribers and/or zero customer loyalty.

Posted: Oct 26th 2010 10:39PM (Unverified) said

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While it's all the rage these days to advocate for the lowest common denominator of player, I can't help but think this is absurd. The typical Western MMO already bends over backwards to accommodate the schizoid and club-fingered demographics to such a degree that it is highly off-putting to those of us who fall outside these diagnoses.

For theme park MMOs, e.g., WoW, you can already level to 80 without the help or assistance of a single person. You won't be stymied by lack of social skills, limbs or anything like that. Once 80, you can join a PuG on a populated server on your own schedule 24 hours a day, and do the same content the best guilds in the world are doing. What once was the sole purview of the hardest working guilds in the world, now has been made accessible for everyone with a pulse, and even some in the early stages of rigor mortis.

What more could soloers want? Would you like to see the Lich King to be soloable? Would you prefer it if solo quests rewarded the same ilevel loot that 25-man raids currently reward? Do you want to do away with group quests entirely? I may sound as though I'm being facetious, but it's to be illustrative -- the MMO industry as a whole has already spit on its veteran players by kneeling before the altar of the schizoid and the stupid-soaked masses. There's nothing left to give to the solo player.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:04AM The Other Chris said

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I both agree and disagree with your comment. >:)

Taking WoW as an example, they have indeed 'dumbed it down', so to speak. Personally, I thought BC was just about right on the difficulty scale, and I really enjoyed Tanking the 5-mans, SLabs and SHalls were a blast (LK 5-mans were garbage). However, I prefer small group play and never advanced past Kara (and only did that due to the guild I was in, but got burned out on the repetitive nature real quick). I also think that BRD is, hands down, the best 5-man in the game. It's just...epic, in every aspect.

At the same time, I really enjoy soloing. The most fun I had was taking a newly leveled 70 Prot Warrior and soloing BRD. It took the better part of a day, but I cleared it out. After that, I kept going until I cleared Scholo, then Strat, both of which had massive hurdles to overcome during numerous attempts. Once I hit L80 in LK, I went back and started soloing the BC Heroics and even ran through ZG and AQ20 (though I did skip a few of the bosses in AQ20). Soloing lets me play at my pace, and allows me to challenge myself.

I did want to comment on this:

"What more could soloers want? Would you like to see the Lich King to be soloable? Would you prefer it if solo quests rewarded the same ilevel loot that 25-man raids currently reward? Do you want to do away with group quests entirely?"

As for the first part, yes. Why? Story, Completion, To be the hero. While the game is an MMO, and thousands of players are completing the same quests day after day, it is also an RPG where the story is tied to our character. LK actually did well in Dragonsblight to make you feel like a hero. Then you complete Wrathgate and become another nameless cog in the machine. I see no reason why I cannot continue my story and be the hero.

Do I want the rewards that go with it? Not in the slightest. If I'm not raiding, I don't need raid-level gear. At most, I could see graphically equivalent gear with end-game quest reward stats. If it was done in a 5-man, then give the players (up to) Heroic-level gear. Raiders deserve raid gear because they are progressing through the raid content, that is their thing and I have no desire to take that away from them. I respect raiders as well as the time and dedication they put into the game and into their guilds to overcome the challenges put forth to them and I have no desire to encroach on that or diminish that.

And no, I do not want to see group quests go away. However, I would prefer that these not be tied directly into the story of the region I am questing in. That's one of the things that I hated about BC/LK. You get all the story and then the last few quests are group quests. Make those side stories, or extra challenges, or something, but please, let me finish out the story of the region I am in. I hated having to let those build up until I had enough of them, and then had to go find enough people that needed them as well. It was a PITA and nothing more.

So, for me, I would rather see content that was available to all play styles, with the appropriate rewards for that play style. In WoW terms, soloers (and duos, to be fair) get Blues, 5-Mans get Heroics, 10-mans get entry raid gear, 25-mans get end-game awesome raid gear. Yes, we are playing an MMO, but we are also playing an RPG, with a story. Let players finish the story however they see fit.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:06AM Tizmah said

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@Chris

Alright, now I can agree with that. I will say that the main story should be able to be soloable, but not by yourself. More like henchmen like guild wars. It wouldn't make much since if your hero could take down the final boss by himself and then go group with similar heroes. It just doesn't make sense.
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