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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

What's Wrong With Wanting a Solo-Centric MMORPG?

Posted by Meleagar Thursday December 1 2011 at 9:41AM
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The answer to your unspoken question is: what difference does it make if I want to solo in an MMORPG? If I and enough other  people want to do it, it's a game model that can succeed.  Telling me I should go play a non-online game is beside the point, and the point is "sell people what they want, whether it makes any sense to you or not". It doesn't have to make sense that lots of people want to solo in an MMO environment, it only has to be a profitable model.

Instead of solo content being the red-headed stepchild of MMO content, providing rewards that gouping and raiding enthusiasts will tolerate in their game without rage-quitting, why doesn't some enterprising development team turn the tables? Make solo content superior (or at least equal) to group and raiding  content.  After all, it's not like it takes a lot of skill to sit there in a 40-man raid and do what someone else tells you to do for a couple of hours. It's not like it takes more skill in a group where other, better players can make up for your deficiencies.

Here's the question that invariably comes up in this argument: given that you can gain equal or better rewards via solo play, what motivation will there be to group?  Note the assumption hidden in the question: that solo content will necessarily be easier than group or raid content.  AS IF  there aren't as many or more players that would be utterly incapable of getting their character trough properly tuned, difficult solo content, and would require group and raid managers to help get them through comparable group or raid content. How many people are carried through group or raid content by others who are just better players and/or managers, or just know stuff about the content that others have no clue about? 

In solo content you're on your own, and success or failure is all yours. Nobody to bail you out, nobody to tell you what to do, and falling asleep at the helm won't go unnoticed as you are still awarded your items if it is your turn to get them.  For the few that organize and direct such raids, it is an achievement; for the other 35 or so people, it's just doing what you're told passably well.  Big deal. 

Now, I'm not saying ALL MMOG's should offer superior (or at least equal) rewards for solo content, but I am saying that this group and raid-centric model doesn't need to persist in every stinking MMOG that comes out.  The idea that group content is "harder" and should offer better rewards is a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a myth. It's my contention that a large percentage of raids and groups are populated by players that couldn't handle well-tuned, difficult content on their own, and require better players, more informed players and managers to overcome their deficiencies and get them through such content.

I mean, what makes more sense - admiring gear and achievements worn or displayed by those that perhaps fell asleep during a 40-man raid, or were gained perhaps by 4 other players making up for his or her poor skill and ignorance of content mechanics, or worn by someone who you know had to get through certain content by themselves, with all necessary knowledge and skill?

Jooknow writes:

On the one hand, I agree.  I think a model like that would have enough of an audience to be successful, particularly if it was simply a well-made game.  I'd certainly play a solo-centric MMORPG if it was a good game.

On the other hand, I think there is something to the idea of "we beat this" rather than "I beat this".  That is, I think people like that feeling of group accomplishment.  I also think that another problem here is that raids and group content have simply been made easier over the years.  That said, I can still think of a number of more recent raid encounters (within the last 4 years maybe) where "carrying" more than a few people just wouldn't work.  Likewise, I can think of a lot more than were essentially a joke.  The increasing ability to PUG raid content certainly illustrates how much easier it has become. 

Thu Dec 01 2011 2:28PM Report
Meleagar writes:

I agree that there's a sense of comraderie that only raids and groups can provide.  It's not necessary, however, that every single MMOG that comes out tie itself to the same more people in group = superior content formula.  People that enjoy grouping (but dislike being forced to group to get better rewards) will group anyway and still play the game if it is a good game.

More than anything, I'm just railing against the sheer uninventiveness of MMOG developers.

Fri Dec 02 2011 4:56AM Report
calranthe writes:

I agree while I sometimes enjoy grouping or being social in an mmo I will not play one that forces me to group.

MMORPG does not mean forced grouping, I play mmo's to be social and that can mean doing solo quests and talking to friends on teamspeak.

 

Mon Dec 05 2011 10:18AM Report
demonbox writes:

uhm you make your points well, still i find myself compelled to ask you:

why you need a MMO(rpg) to enjoy solo content?

can't you do it on singleplayer or normal multyplayer games?

Not sayin there should be NO solo content in MMOs (even if i'd see nothing wrong in it), but making it the majority/more polished content of a MMO = the dead of that MMO as an actual MMO.

Most past, present and upcoming MMO(rpg)s are already pretty bad, unpolished, not innovative etc... making companies focus more on the single playin aspects of them will bring to the definitive doom of the genere imo.

 

Besides there are some games you can play solo, and have an hard (rewarding)experience at it, ever tried playin EVE online without a corp?

Mon Dec 05 2011 7:32PM Report
Meleagar writes:

Demonbox,

I enjoy online games because I do not feel alone there; I feel like I'm part of an evolving, interacting society that can proceed, grow, and change for years to come, where I can create an in-game persona where others recognize my character and where I have an actual reputation with other players. I get to interact socially with other players in-game, buy and sell stuff, pvp, see what other guys have done, show off my gear/accomplishments, engage in all sorts of activities socially that have nothing whatsoever to do with grouping up to achieve group-oriented content. 

All of this is within the non-modded, non-hacked (hopefully) confines of a mutually consistent virtual world, which forms the basis for meaningful comparisons of skill and talent choices between players.

Also, if I feel like grouping, I can - not because I have to for content's sake, but because I want to because of the people I've met.

I'm certainly not asking for all or even most developers to make solo-centric games, or to  turn current games into solo-centric games; I'm just saying that there should be one or a few such games on the market. Nobody is going to force those who prefer grouping to give up their game and move to the solo-centric games.

But again, **why** I like to play solo in an MMOG is not pertinent; lots of us do. Whether all of our motivations are as I have described, or are for entirely different reasons, is irrelevant.. The only relevant question is: is it a money-making model?

I think so.

Tue Dec 06 2011 8:44AM Report
demonbox writes:

well the straight answer is that for sure, agree, almost everyone from time to time likes to do his own "stuff" (me too)

 

what i'm "scared" of (not really scared tbh) is the whole market taking that direction , like it's already doing.

You say not every developer , in your opinion, should take that road, but let's be honest, the moment they discover they milk more money out of that kind of game...everyone will start publishing "MSO" (massive singleplayer online?)

but again agree, yes there's some money to be milked in your idea (lots of it actually)

cya

p.s. to the skype dude, please tell me that you don't play MMO just to be able and chat on skype/vent/TS/whatever with your friends..'cause you know you can do that even while playin Skyrim or working...

 

 

Tue Dec 06 2011 1:32PM Report
bakagami writes:

I agree, also there are times when you're logged in at 3am & there's nobody around to group with.  there should be some quality material that you can occupy yourself & not just be forced to use that time for fetch quests, which is what so many devs seem to think passes for solo content

Tue Dec 06 2011 9:14PM Report
toddze writes:

To a point I agree there needs to be solo content. But not to the detriment of group content. Solo heavy games DESTROY a community, by not even allowing it to form. I have yet to play a solo heavy game and see any resembalance of a community. If you have never gotten into a good group centric game you have no idea what I am talking about when I say community.

What would be the point of a solo centric mmo? Other than a glorified chatbox.

Contrary to what you think it takes a good deal of skill and preperation to organize and run raids. I have been on both sides of this. I have been a follower in raids and I have been a leader in raids. As a follower its much easier your just doing your one little role. But as a leader it adds a whole new demention to it, and is much harder. obviously the choosen game has a big factor in how challenging the raid is also.

Wed Dec 07 2011 10:48AM Report
DSBHR writes:

The most fulfilling content I have done was the level 60 hunter bow quest when 60 was cap in wow.  Of course you had to take part in a 40 person raid to get the prereq item, but then you had to solo without even a pet, 4 difficult elite demons in various locations and get their heads.   Anyone who accomplished that at the time had to be quite proficient in their class to get it done.   I would like to see that kind of thing a lot more.

Thu Dec 08 2011 6:45AM Report
JessXIII writes:

i think they need to drop the mmo out of rpg and just call them persistant worlds. You can solo it all, you can group, you can sleep under a tree. whatever you want, enjoy yourself, through your own hard work, you get it all. Tired of the whole grouping nonsense and most of the people being a disappointment and  CEOs at these companies thinking for me, forcing me to group or making group content I can't access because, HEY, I have a life offline and friends and don't want that.

Sat Dec 10 2011 11:18PM Report
zyguh writes:

Multiplayer DOES NOT mean group. It means that more than one person is playing the game at the same time. The whole grouping thing has driven me nuts since EQ launched.

First of all, there IS an xp penalty in almost every single game for people who play solo. Its called a group xp bonus. If you and three friends go kill some mob, and you each get 1,000 xp for killing it, then when I kill the exact same mob by myself (which is way harder to do than doing it with three friends) I SHOULD get 4,000 xp for it right? But I dont.....I will get something like 2,500 to 3,000 xp. The difference is explained as an xp bonus for people in groups...and what that directly translates to is a solo penalty. If a mob is worth 4,000 xp to anyone it should be worth the same to everyone.

Im sorry to say that the whole grind for xp and grouping mentality all stems from people like Koster, and Smedley and the like who were involved in online games back in the pay by the minute internet models. Koster even had a paper published about it. Back in the early days when playing an online game cost you money for every minute you were logged on. The idea was to keep a person logged on for every extra minute they could because the longer the stayed online, the more money the company made. Thus the grind was born. It needs to die, the exact same way pay per minute games did, and hopefully the pay per month games will too, soon

The grouping thing derives from the desire to keep people from canceling the monthly subscription. If you are getting kind of tired of a game, or maybe want to try a new one...BUT you have been playing a game and are part of a regular group, or guild, etc. then you have another big reason NOT to quit. Quitting means you ALSO are giving up all the online friends you made in that game. So by building games that force people to group, you are making it harder for them to stop playing the game because of the social connections and friendship factor. It really is that simple.

it was like a discussion I had back in the second year of EQ's launch with one of the devs. We argued over the need for grouping and how giving the group xp bonus WAS penalizing solo players. His response was "if people can get the same loot, and the same xp by soloing as they do in a group, then NO ONE will ever want to group" He flat out admitted that the devs thinking on grouping was exactly what I explained above...make it necessary to group in order to get the best gear and the highest levels, and that makes it harder for people to quit the game because they will also have to give up their social ties with the other players.

 

Wed Dec 14 2011 10:36PM Report
Meleagar writes:

Zyguh,

Actually, when you think about it, there should be a bonus for taking out any mob solo.  I mean, it's nothing but social engineering to provide a bonus for easier kills when you're in a group.

Also, I remember the same comments about "no one will want to group if they can get the same content solo" from back in the day.  It struck me then, and it strikes me now, as the logic that comes from someone who has no friends in real life because they believe people will only group up with others if they have to.

Smedley - part of the same dev group that said "people want to play victims" when Verant was chastized for accommodating and playing favorites with uberguilds with big events that left everyone else dead - and death was serious back in the original EQ.

Toddze asks:

"What would be the point of a solo centric mmo? Other than a glorified chatbox."

And if that is the only point, so what?  As long as it makes money, who cares?

 

 

 

Fri Dec 16 2011 5:54PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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