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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:22PM The Other Chris said

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As for actually soloing it by yourself, I can go either way on this. On one hand, it lets me fill the role of the hero. I am the main character from beginning to end. I defeated the dragon, the demon, the harbringer of death. On the other hand, to tailor a battle to be soloed by every class, but still be challenging, is indeed a tall order, especially when you add in the variety of builds per class. This is where things like GW's Henchmen/Heroes come in. They can fill in the blanks and still let you fill the role as the main character in the story.

One thing I really enjoyed was the retaking of the Undercity. There I was, fighting side by side with Thrall and The Dark Lady, whooping ass and taking names. At the same time, I hated that you could pretty much sit back and watch it unfold with little to no action from the player.

This is actually one of the main draws to GW for me. When I do the story stuff, I want to play it at my own pace, watch all the cut scenes, read all the text, etc. It's hard to do this in a group when the majority of the players have already done said sequence a dozen times. Once I've completed it, I'll gladly run through with a small group. I'm actually going to miss this in GW2, pretty much my only complaint with the game (I'd rather have Henchmen when dealing with major story elements, be it personal or the overarching story, at least the first time through).

As for the making sense part, does it make sense that 10 people can defeat Arthas when 25 people are having a difficult time even getting to him? Not really. It's that way for gameplay purposes and nothing more.
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Posted: Oct 26th 2010 11:21PM Tizmah said

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I'm sorry, but personally I believe this solo mentality is ruining the MMO genre with the devs trying to cater to them. Because you know what happens in the end? The solo player gets the better treatment. Grouping now in newer MMOs lately is almost like a side game. It's pathetic. And I mean this to the author and responders here on the comments. If you don't like grouping or being with other players, you don't need to be playing MMOs.

You got all your plethora of solo quests. Can't even get a fuckin' damn group now because everyone just SOLOS EVERYTHING. Hell, some MMOs you can solo the entire game. What the hell more do you want solo gamers in my MMO? This is a big screw you to solo gamers in my MMOs.

Forced grouping all the way imo. This is not saying there shouldn't be anything to do when there is no one to party with either.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:53AM Tizmah said

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No, I'm sorry. I completely disagree with you. They were meant to offer a world where you could play with other people. A massive world with many other people to work with.

You are subjecting me that I am nearly some number crunching dude who doesn't care about the person and I'm offended by that. I enjoy grouping with as many people because I enjoy forming bonds between other people. But the fact is, most people are to busy soloing everything in MMOs because MMOs are cartering to much to soloing now. So people that want to group are left out in the cold waiting and hoping for a group.

In Ultima Online, I remember heading to Britan Bank and there would be all sorts of communication going on yes, people were crafting around, selling wares, calling guards on each other while talking about all manner of things.

But now? People don't do that any more. It's all about going out and soloing rather than taking a few buddies along with you to explore a dungeon.

I mean the way you say it Tempes makes it sound like all an MMO needs for socialization is a chat and I highly disagree with that. You need things for players to do together, and lots of it.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:08AM EgoPoisoning said

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Wonderful article!

I tend to favor solo play myself, for some of the reasons the author stated but also due to the grim realities of my non-1337 hardware and connection. I don't like to let the party down because my computer crashes halfway through a difficult fight, and I don't enjoy being frozen by lag at the entrance to a dungeon. I don't enjoy these things -ever-, but they're much more palatable if I can log back in on my time rather than frantically hoping to get into the fight before the boss kills everyone.

I also find grouping stressful, especially pugs, when members of the group aren't especially attentive to strategy or game roles. Soloing content is conceptually "harder," but compared to running with a mage who keeps dying or a rogue who pulls large portions of the dungeon without regard to the party's capabilities it's much easier on my blood pressure.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:37AM (Unverified) said

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The systems alot of MMOs put into place overly Force grouping and try to call in encouraging grouping.

I say neither style ( group or solo) should be encouraged or punished. Let people make the best choice for themselves. Then developers can just ensure all the "enabling" tools are there for both styles.

MMO = Massively Multiplayer Online.

Yet that JUST means alot of other people are in the same world. It doesn't mean they have to group or socialize or that the games should be built around that.

Some MMO people have falsely extended the meaning of genre simply to fit their own grouping/socializing playstyle.

There is no G or S in MMO!

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 4:04AM Vrazule said

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Power to the non-conformists!

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 6:23AM lmollea said

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My 2 cents.
I don't disdain soloing especially when I get frustrated on PUGs that sits helplessly waiting for someone or whining about how one should play instead of adapting to the team.
Nonetheless I always found that grouping is funnier especially when you get to know a group af people with which you play well.
Anyway, the "scaling instances" that city of heroes introduced is a technical solution that too few games have used. Most of the content in that game can be soloed, but grouping is more rewarding and more fun.
In an open world that is an harder issue, and I'm particularly interested in how Rift and GW2 are going to implement the dynamic events.
Public quests in warhammer are nonetheless "fixed" in objective and do not scale their contents based on size and strength of the people undertaking the quest. And they still require a team so to get full credit for kills and loot.

I know that spawning more adds, heightening resistances and adding hit points to a mob when more and more people come to kill him is something that can cause headaches to devs and grief to players, but it's an interesting idea that I'd like some game to explore.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 7:52AM (Unverified) said

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Well said... I am also an "alone together" player. I do group and find it fun, but probably adventure on my own 80% of the time. On the other hand I think it is great if games create good incentives to group, or at least make it easier.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 9:00AM (Unverified) said

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I guess I am more for group oriented play, but I suppose that means different things to different people.

Games can be made to cater to any group, or try to cater to all. My heart saddens for games that had a core concept but 'fell to peer pressure' in order to try and get more subscribers or generate more publicity. I like games to be diverse, if it be that you need a group, that you have to RP, or that you can do the whole thing on a weekend by yourself.

My question about the majority is why don't MMOs advertise "You can do the whole thing solo!" in their advertisements? I think even for solo folks it turns them off to think that there could be no social interaction and the fact that there are other people there that they can choose to group with or not is a draw, whether they use that or not.

I find the solo instances dull since it always feels like they had to set the difficulty to the level that the hardest class to solo it could. Some games thrive on that, but I like the ones that have about an even split of solo/group content, but that is just this guys opinion. :)

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 9:48AM Tom in VA said

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My suggestion to MMO devs is this:

(1) Allow players to toggle showing solo and/or group quests on/off in the UI, so that the "!" above quest givers' heads show or hide depending on a player's preferences: solo quests only, all quests, or group quests only. (As a soloer, I do not appreciate being "faked out" by quests I am not able to complete.)

(2) Categorize quest series that follow the "solo quest > solo quest l> group/dungeon quest" pattern should be considered group quests. (As a soloer, I am frustrated by these "bait-and-switch" type quest series.)

(3) Offer soloable versions of the dungeons (either scaled for one player or [better, imo, AI assisted -- as in Guild Wars]), complete with solo quests, along with appropriate rewards (BETTER rewards and gear should be offered for completion of group dungeons).

Allowing players the option of playing content the way they want to -- solo only, solo plus group, or group only -- would be a welcome improvement, imo.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:06AM Ocho said

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Justin, great post, and I'm in total agreement. I've encountered way more negative groups than I have positive groups over the years and that has caused me to become a solo-MMO player. The old addage certainly applies "If you can't trust for it to get done, then do it yourself" (or something like that). Every once in a while I will be farming mobs for a deed or something, and there are others doing the same thing, but they will REFUSE to group, instead content with stealing everyones kills and making it longer for everyone, and explaining it to them that its quicker to group for it is like explaining advanced calculus to a kindergardener. Or you come across pick up groups where there are ninja-looters, those you have to explain simple game mechanics to, etc. Even in raiding guilds where your time is no longer your own, you're kept to a business like work schedule where A VIDEO GAME would come first over real life?! No way. The mechanics for grouping and working with others are just bad. Usually, when I see others, they're stealing kills and refusing to group up.

Very rare is the opportunity I will get to assist those in need... the group of mobs about to overpower somebody where I help to turn the tide of battle... the times I get to lead a group and they listen well, and the task gets accomplished with minimal headache... Its so rare that its most times not even worth trying for.

I'm much happier using an MMO just as a social outlet... sometimes joining in on a thoughtful (or just stupid) regional conversation, or chatting with guildies and friends while we all do our own thing. That, to me, makes an MMO great above all other things.

And I agree with you that this way of gaming is quickly becoming the silent majority.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:58AM Tizmah said

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Well hell, with that type of thought, it sounds like if you gave Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy XIII, and Fallout 3 a chat interface. Instant MMO! Charge 14.99 for it! Yeah. Right.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:59PM Ocho said

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I hate to say it, Tiz... but in my opinion, I would totally go for it. Well... not the sub... trying to avoid subs now... I don't play enough to make them worth the value anymore... but if they did add a chat interface that allowed me to keep in touch with friends/strangers playing the game, throw in some accomplishments so I can get some stuff done with the minimal time I have to play... then I probably would play those games more often. :)

But thats just the way I game. I don't expect everyone to agree, I don't expect to be catered to, but thats what I enjoy. Its why I'm not playing PvP intensive games like Darkfall, and why I gave up on WoW a long time ago. I hit max level, and suddenly found just a grind at end game as nothing else interested me (although now WoW is changing to make things a LOT more easier for my style of play... but I still have a bitter taste from it...).
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:16AM Arkanaloth said

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This article is spot on... Love it!

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:02AM Letrange said

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Pirates LOVE solo players in EVE online. They make great targets...

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:08AM Tizmah said

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Indeed :)
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 9:02PM DarkWalker said

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Which is why I don't play EVE online anymore. Loved the idea of a space MMO. Hated the combination of "always PvP" with the fact the only way to survive in PvP for any length of time is to group up.

I like to have the option of grouping up. I hate being forced to do so.
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Posted: Oct 28th 2010 11:45PM godot9 said

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I am another solo MMORPGer - mostly because I can't get on until late at night (when most people are logging off) and can't put in more than a couple hours at a time (which prevents raiding) due to work and kids. I appreciate the ability to solo, but deplore the side effect that many people then don't know how to adjust to play in a group. There are enough guides online and more experienced players to learn from, but when people:

- believe highest dps is "winning" and steal threat from the tank or fail to cc/heal causing wipes

- refuse to heal when they are playing a healing class

- "ninja" loot or claim/beg for loot (see article above)

- don't assist the tank, break cc, autoshoot only

- don't protect/pull aggro from the healers

- don't use their abilities or use the wrong ability (eg "high threat" ability when dps)

then they are a Donald (see darklegacycomics.com for reference. #203 & 224 for example), or huntard, or retardin, etc. There is even a forum thread devoted to "Donald" stories (http://forums.darklegacycomics.com/viewtopic.php?t=539).

This can be even worse in LORTO since groups are the only way to trigger Fellowship Manoevers which require coordination and 5 second timing to pull off and can be crucial for success for some fights.

Sooo....

L2P your class peoples! Especially when you join a group. We don't mind low gear - just do your job.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 9:44PM DarkWalker said

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I'm usually a solo player, although I do like to group when it's mostly painless (WoW's LFD when playing as a tank, for example). I do hate, however, when some game content is only available when other players are collaborating - or, worse yet, when players that are supposedly the enemy are "collaborating" (such as WoW's alliance quest to clear some horde-inflicted damage in Southshore, or the plethora of PvP quests to reclaim some construction from the other faction, which can only be completed if someone from the other faction actually bothered to do their own versions of those quests).

IMHO, most MMOs do grouping in a too restricted way. Take WoW for example: dungeon running takes exactly one tank, one healer, and 3 DPS players. If you have more players than needed, someone will have to sit out; if there's one less player, you need to find someone else. Worse yet, if you have the correct number of players but with the wrong role composition, you both need to sit someone out and replace him with another player.

With raids, it's actually worse, as there are often more specialized roles that need to be filled, as well as a number of player-granted buffs the raid needs in order to be at peak efficiency.

Loot division is also a complication. When there is a small number of important drops, where each dropped item is useful to more than one player, deciding who gets each piece of loot (or even simply having to depend on a further roll to see if you get that loot you were after and finally saw drop) is another source of grouping frustration.

What I would really like to see is a combination of per-player loot, content scaling, and (competent but not really good) NPCs to fill missing roles in the party. A game where players could take any group size and composition and do any content, with the correct difficulty level, and without being penalized in the loot distribution for having more players, would really encourage players to stick together; realistically, just being able to, for example, do a 10-man raid with as few of 7 or as many as 15 players, with similar difficulty (perhaps tuned so doing with 10 players is the easiest way) and the same per-player loot amount, would, IMHO, make it way easier to form raid groups, enable friends to bring extra players, and also enable them to keep playing after someone has to leave and there is no available replacement.

Also, the removal of raid locks, together with an automated system to form groups (from small parties to large raids) and find player replacements for anyone who needed to leave, would also help a lot with making grouping more viable.

Another suggestion would be to remove the ties between characters and realms. Make any character able to play in any server, or better yet, enable automated server hopping based on the character's level, location, and the player's preference. For example, put in the same server similar level players that are currently in the same game region. This would remove the chance for friends to end up being separated by server barriers, and make many more characters who are close together in progression available, making finding groups for advancing much easier.

Posted: Oct 28th 2010 6:40AM ShivanSwordsman said

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I remember a time back in Final Fantasy XI, when I used to play that game. To get to level, I would sit around for 1 hour, maybe 2 hunting parties since I wasn't a taken or a White Mage. We'd level for about 2 or 3 hours, then someone would have to go, and we'd either start whispering people around our level, or the party would disband. It was a very fun game, but the demanding tone of the teamplay aspect would cause me to quit.

It took World of Warcraft to pull me back into MMOs. I loved it for how easy and casual the pace of leveling was. Had it not come out, I'd probably never have played another MMO. That's just how serious it was to me. I spent so many hours on FFXI searching for a group or just running around like an idiot to keep myself from being bored. Fighting an auto translator was also horrible.

Yet, here was a game where I could go at my own pace. Some of it required a group yes, and sadly, it wasn't marked as being "group" content, but I went exploring, found it out myself, and started to make a battle strategy. I even rolled a Mage rather than a Warrior, just because they were so cool. I loved having fire and ice in the palm of my hand.

I too hate the "if you don't have a group you can't finish this" type quests, especially in my new obsession LOTRO. However, I do my best to read the quest menu thing now, and decide for myself if I can't do it. I also greatly enjoy the "auto-teleport to the raid" deal they've got going. Sure running the horse to Molten Core was all sorts of epic, but it got really boring after a while. I'm just glad that developers are seeing grouping systems and instance teleports as viable, breathing new life into their team content.

Also... the "If you're not grouping you're a loser" type of people really erk me. I'd love to do everything with a team, but schedules constantly conflict. We all have real lives to attend to. We can't do constant war meetings just to level up.
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