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Reader Comments (25)

Posted: Feb 7th 2011 6:39PM Alex Oglitchkin said

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Q-Unlike single-player games that have satisfying endings, the MMO has a different ending altogether: the loss of subscriptions. Now why would a company want that?

A- The game was not well thought out from a player standpoint on the US/EU side. Imbalances in races. Huge imbalances in pvp. Gimmick flying system.

Q- And how many citizens of Atreia want to see NCsoft lose more customers?

A- As for putting in 14months of play into this game I would like to see it just die. Maybe NCsoft will learn something down the road when it comes to the US/EU market.

Posted: Feb 7th 2011 8:36PM wfseg said

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Depends on the game.
Wizard101 grouping is fun and simple.
Aion grouping is a chore, pain in the rear, and isn't much better than soloing.

Posted: Feb 7th 2011 11:55PM agitatedandroid said

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There a couple of reasons I might skip grouping though I'm not opposed to it. I one lead a guild of 100+ that raided nightly. That was back when I had time. It was also back when I'd been fortunate enough to meet a gaggle of good folks. It only took two years in wow to finally find them.

Why solo? I'm older and have a job and i have to be up at five everyday. It can take some time to find a decent group of humans. For every diamond there sure is a lot of rough you have to go through first. Again, i don't always have time for that.

Not wanting to be the boat anchor in a group because you're afraid you have no idea how to play your class and dread being told by a fifteen year old that you're a noob can also be a reason for many.

Lastly, and this circles back to time again, over months of playing a game you'll eventually find that core group that aren't elitist, racist, childish (no matter the age) or simply boorish and those are the fold you'll venture into the deepest darkest dungeons with time and again.

However, that takes time and even when i have time i don't always want to dedicate it to this or that game. Face it, we have gobs of mmo gaming options now. Some games i know I'll be playing for the long haul like Guild Wars 2. Others I know I'm just going to hit and run like DCUO.

No sense grouping in a game i wont be in to for all that long anyway. Ask again when GW2 comes out.

Posted: Feb 8th 2011 1:50AM Jeromai said

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I'm not a fan of forced grouping at all. Yet I have to admit that when Aion was new and there were tons of group quests with not enough ways to progress solo, I got into lots of memorable groups with people in similar straits.

Together we went romping through the open world elite areas, dungeon instances (attuning for Fire Temple, *twitch*) and completing group quests (rifting into Eltnen to take out an elite boss, three Elyos on our tails...all of us blowing our cooldowns at the exact perfect time to hold out for just long enough to win on a invading waves quest) which have left me some very good memories of Aion.

I'm just not sure that taking away choice is the best or only solution though. I put up with it at the time because Aion was hardcore in a grindy Korean sort of way, and so accepted oldschool forced grouping in that game, if only for a little while, until it got too challenging/grindy at level 40something and finally knocked me away from a subscription to it. The whittling down of subs is inevitable, if the solo option is not supported.

There has to be other solutions other than forced grouping or solo being automatically the path of least resistance making it unecessary or tedious to group. Something for the next-gen of MMOs to experiment with, I feel.

Open groups, like Rift or Warhammer. Game mechanics that don't rely on a punishing holy trinity, play well or wipe playstyle. (CoH, maybe GW2?) Team balancing or auto-join mechanics like the FPSes? (We already have that in PvP scenarios/battlegrounds/warfronts.) Hidden cost, social incentives to cooperation, to be balanced on a knife's edge with competition? (ATITD, Eve Online)

Game mechanics that buff, reward people for working together? (Maybe no group penalty for xp, fer example.) Having the game automatically put you into teams within a certain distance of each other?

One thing I'd like to see an MMO rip off is some of L4D's mechanics for promoting cooperation and camaraderie - sometimes another player -has- to save you, but all players can, not just a special cleric (coming soon in GW2's 'down' penalty?)

Or the game helping you communicate to others 'in-character' quickly - via a few simple keypresses that help you call out ready, go ahead, got your back, etc, or automatic encouragement, banter and camaraderie building. Sure, it's an illusion, but it's an illusion that fosters good feeling and engenders initial trust instead of paranoia and distrust. Who knows, it might even put a certain amount of immersion and roleplaying back into the MMO.

Or you look at a pile of weapons/ammo, and your player automagically calls out "Weapons here, Ammo here," you can't not say it, we're all cooperating here. And make it so there's no design need to hoard good loot, all the players get it, it's in your best interests that everyone on your team is well-armed. (Need/greed/pass die rolling needs to die. A horrible death. Seriously.)

Not saying these ideas are perfect. Some are pulled out of the top of my hat. But worth (thought) experimenting with, perhaps.

Posted: Feb 8th 2011 2:34AM DancingCow said

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I definitely prefer grouping. And even if you're completely anti-social, you have to admit that grouping makes for much more interesting combat.

Reason for decreasing group sizes? A hackneyed solution to a genuine problem.

If an MMO offers group-only content with better rewards and groups aren't easy to assemble, this will frustrate players. Or even if the rewards aren't better, players could be rightfully miffed about missing out on this content.

Frustrated players are not happy players. Unhappy players might reach for the 'cancel subscription button'.

A better solution would be to create dungeons/instances which scale with the number of players - from 1 right up to 20'ish. Some prefer to solo. Some can't get enough of large groups.

This is one of those situations where it is possible to please everyone so.... that's what they should do.

Posted: Feb 8th 2011 8:13AM Marklar19 said

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@DancingCow

I disagree with your suggestion because what I've found is that if you give gamers any choice at all to solo something, they will, so for your dungeon, people that wanted to do it as a group would find it almost impossible to assemble unless they had buddies that were willing to do it with them, and in a game like Aion, which has the worst community of any game i've ever played before, making buddies is next to impossible.

IMHO solo and group content should both exist in games, to give you different things to do depending on the mood or type of player you are, but the most rewarding content should be group content, and it should never be dumbed down to solo content to satisfy solo players...there are great solo games out there like Dragon Age that 100% solo players can play.

The real solution should lie in the UI/in-game systems for forming groups, as in most games it's a disaster and people just end up using global chats to LFG anyway, which is messy.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2011 10:08AM Zyzone said

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@Marklar19

I disagree. If most gamers want to solo, the devs shouldn't try to shove grouping down their throats. I believe grouping should be done because you have fun playing with those you are grouped with, not because it's the only way to advance your character. Like DancingCow said, it's better to have player scaling so that a group of friends can play together, whether that group be 3 or 7.

Oh also, the reason some people like to solo exclusively in an mmo is because unlike single player rpgs, mmorpgs don't end after you beat the final boss. They continue to get content even after the game is released. If there was a single player rpg that continues to get content updates you might see less people trying to solo mmos.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2011 12:22PM N620AA said

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@Tempes Magus You mention Cataclysm as an example of encouraging flexibility, yet the same expansion that did this also introduced a guild system that has perks that are far, far too good to defend them as anything but a "get a guild or be left behind" mentality. Most of the stuff just has no place as a guild reward anyway!

In WoW, a player in a level 13 (out of 25) guild:
- Gets EXP from quests and kills 10% faster
- Gets an heirloom piece that further boosts this experience by 5%
- Gets a hearthstone (teleport home) cooldown of 15 minutes (down from 30)
- Gets 5% (might be 10%) more reputation from all actions that award rep.
- Gets extra honor from kills in battlegrounds
- Moves 10% faster while mounted
- Has a higher chance of skill-ups from professions
- Takes less gear durability damage after death

You get these benefits the instant you join a guild of this level, regardless of your guild reputation (except for the heirloom item, which I believe requires Honored reputation with the guild). Most of these benefits significantly impact leveling (yet they are, ironically, out of reach for any guild that isn't full of level-capped characters doing heroic dungeons and raids to boost the guild level).

WoW's done something right to stay on top as long as it has. But this is one of several features that, in my mind, is half-baked and absolutely ridiculous.

And before someone tries to educate me on the fruits of hard labor, keep in mind that I do play WoW, along with MMO's that are actually hard before you hit the top content. This isn't hard, it's a treadmill.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2011 12:08PM N620AA said

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My objection with this is actually less about the actual social aspect, and more about how damaging it can be to the game universe. If a threat can be dispatched by a single character, what does that say about all those people (even guards in some games) that can't deal with it? In my mind, it kills any sense of risk and danger in the game world, and just creates a world full of demi-gods.

Compare that to a game where you kill minor threats by yourself, but there are things all over the world that you just cannot take on without a party, no matter who you are. It adds a real sense of danger and immensity to the world, and encourages you to seek out others to achieve things.

In my mind, the second example is the better game every single time. Soloing has a place, you can progress on your own. But so does grouping, and the game should never let you forget that you are only limiting yourself by choosing not to play with others.

The idea of a never-ending RPG is enticing, but ultimately, MMO's should encourage social play.

Posted: Feb 8th 2011 3:13PM Zyzone said

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@N620AA

While it is ridiculous that you are the only hope of an entire world and everyone will die if you don't save them, but that's one of the things that draws some people into playing the games. When I play a game I don't always be average joe. While having to rely on other characters to beat the game is fun, I also want to be that guy who is the last line of defense between the total extinction of the human race.

The best choice in this kind of situation, since everyone has their own opinion, is to allow scaling groups. If that person wants to play by themselves or in a group, they can.

I'm thinking that some of the people who want forced grouping must want it because they think that without it no one would group at all. The very fact that there are so many who would prefer to group are a clear example that allowing the soloer to all parts of the game wouldn't kill grouping.

Having forced grouping just makes it worse for everyone. The group of 3 friends who don't want anyone else in their party, suffer because they'll never be able to do the endgame by themselves. At the end of the day, when people want to group they'll group. When they don't, they won't. There is nothing the devs of any game can do to change this.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2011 2:02PM Lenn said

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Who says MMOs should encourage social play? Is there an MMO law somewhere I'm not aware of? Is this the same law that states that the second M in MMORPG stands for "must group"? Because I certainly seem to run into a lot of people who believe in that law as if it were gospel.

MMOs should not encourage social play. That's not their job. Their job is to entertain, not to turn a social misfit into Mr Popular overnight. I work as a teacher. A stressful job, and I'm around people all damn day. The last thing I want when I get home is to deal with more crap when playing a game. I can understand people who are stuck in a cubicle all day wanting some socialising in their game, but it's not the reason I play MMOs.

And grouping is only a small part of the "social" aspects of MMOs. Trading, roleplaying, etc. all require other people.

I concur with above poster who said that, if given the choice, most people would more than likely solo everything. And that, right there, should really tell you something about MMO grouping and the stubborn way developers seem to latch onto that ancient idea.

Simply put: people don't like it, for whatever reason (I could list quite a few, but I'm sure everyone has their own list, even the staunchest grouping defenders).

Why do MMO developers still think forcing grouping on their players is a good idea?

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 10:37AM N620AA said

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@Lenn

MMO = Massive Multiplayer Online.

Multiplayer is in there. If what you want is a single-player game with a lobby to chat/play with people on your own terms, there are alternatives (namely, almost every single-player game out there with an online matchmaking system). Multiplayer games are generally known for requiring... multiple players to play successfully.

If your life is so stressful that you would rather not have to play with others... why are you playing online, and a multiplayer game at that?

Just sayin'.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 12:20PM Zyzone said

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@N620AA

One reason people like to solo in mmos is because they constantly come out with content and don't require you to pay another $60 after you beat it to get more. I have yet to see a single player game do this for the length of time mmos do.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2011 6:40PM Tom in VA said

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Forced grouping = a lot of people (like me) not playing and therefore not paying. That is not good for any subscription-based game.

The smart MMOs now and in the future are going to offer loads of group and solo options and so attract both groups of players, along with their credit cards.

It's really very simple.

Posted: Feb 9th 2011 8:27AM Marklar19 said

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@Tom in VA

I agree with that, and I guess I didn't communicate it well in my first post, but I meant to

what I was arguing against, and many are arguing for, is that ALL or the great majority of content should be accessible to solo players.

If there is plenty of solo content to level up your character and keep him busy at the different level points, then there's no reason that the group content should be accessible to that player. These games may very well be elaborate carrots on sticks, but at the same time they are virtual worlds that many try and immerse themselves in (the RP is important to an extent too, not just the G). Having some huge boss of a dungeon soloable, really ruins the concept that it's a huge boss of a dungeon.

I guess the one thing I'm lucky for, is that about 98% of every developer in the world seems to more or less agree with me, because this solo-wants-everything mentality doesn't seem to get many people anywhere, except in the odd example that i've noticed (LOTRO being one of those examples, which is exactly why I left it)
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 11:07AM N620AA said

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@Tom in VA

You have a valid point. A game should cater to both audiences to be successful.

However, more and more it feels like the "pro-solo" crowd wants to play a RPG with a scoreboard and have an audience to show off their shinies to. While it is their right to want this, that is not what an MMO is, and in my opinion, it's not what it should become. For an example of what happens when one tries to become that, see World of Warcraft

WoW has been gradually sliding the "pro-solo" way, and look at what its community has become. The level of flat-out nasty is at an all-time high, and it's partly because you don't really need to be nice to anyone anymore but the 9/24 people you raid with. Everything else in the game can be done via a matchmaking system, or by yourself. There is no sense of community whatsoever. Your server is a glorified lobby while you wait for your queue to pop, or in-between raids with your guild.

The game is generating record profits. But it's home to legions of the socially maladjusted and e-bullies. I'd rather play a less successful game that allows a community to self-police by blacklisting and doesn't have to win you over despite the other people playing it.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2011 12:32PM Zyzone said

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@N620AA

The reason WoW has mean spirited players is because the people are mean spirited. Blizzard can't change how people act. Their job isn't to teach people basic manners. Furthermore, even in a pro group game there is no reason to be nice to the people outside of your guild. Could you provide an example in another game that requires you to be humane to other people who aren't in your guild?
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 12:12AM N620AA said

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@Zyzone

That's... not really a valid excuse, though. Other MMO's are populated by people who do not act like schoolchildren all of the time, and the few that do find themselves very lonely and stuck. They help new players instead of instructing them to go down in a lake because it gives them a buff. Exceptions exist everywhere. In WoW, though, the "exception" seems to be the only vocal presence in the game.

In my opinion, this has a lot to do with the lack of consequence. People in your server may hate you, but that won't stop you from doing anything so long as 9/24 people like you. If you had to go to that community you constantly annoy to find groups for your daily 5-man, or to get your crafting done, I guarantee you'd see a sharp decline in free-floating asshattery. There are some people that will be mean-spirited either way, and to those, your comment applies.

The majority of people can be civil if it suits them, though.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 12:40AM N620AA said

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@Zyzone

I missed your question, sorry.

You don't have to go far to see an example. Look at WoW prior to the Dungeon Finder. In the months prior to Wrath of the Lich King, there was a lot of community grouping going on to get dungeons done because it was the only way to do it unless you had 5 people on in your guild that wanted to go. For instance, I'd often heal dungeons where we had a tank and a DPS, but would have to PUG crowd control off the public channels.

We knew who the bad apples (and guilds) were and avoided them like the plague, though. Since you couldn't just pay Blizzard to make your problems go away without a lengthy cooldown back then (at one point you had to wait 90 days after a server transfer to move back, I believe), most people went out of their way to preserve their reputation and be someone you'd want to group/interact with.

Now that dungeon grouping is a 2-click affair, that's gone.
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Posted: Feb 10th 2011 6:50AM Zyzone said

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@N620AA

Maybe it's just the games I've tried, but all of the new mmos that I've seen have the same people you would see in WoW. While I have seen games with a lower amount of people with this mean spirited attitude, such as Champions Online, these games also had a smaller player base than WoW.

Futhermore, There are tools provided in WoW that can be used to kick people who act inappropriate. I honestly believe the main problem is the lack of will on the people who should be kicking those acting this way. I've seen and gone through plenty of horror stories where no one would kick someone who deserved it, but went through with it because it's the path of least resistance.

I remember the days before the lfg tool, I've played the game since 05. Even then there were these types of people. One notable person I can remember was this one priest. This person would always insult everyone in a battlegrounds for not being good enough. (s)he still managed to get groups in spite of this.

Another was this group who was quite abusive to me despite me being new to tanking. I had advised them that there was a storm in my area and might have some lag. They disregarded this and still complained that I was bad simply because I couldn't hold aggro, seriously I was having ridiculous lag spikes. Even when I apologized for the performance and offered to drop group they still insisted on insulting me. Both of these examples were before the LFG tool and I have more where that came from.
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