In Foundational Principle #9 Mark talks about one of the cornerstones of MMO's, or what use to be a cornerstone, socialization.
Over the decades MUDs evolved from their mostly solo-friendly roots to the first generation of MMORPGs (Meridian 59, UO, EQ, etc.) where group play was not only encouraged but quickly became a necessary component to leveling up characters and gaining the best gear. More recently, the genre has further evolved (or devolved, in many peoples’ opinions) to where solo-play to level cap is not only possible but can be the most efficient way to do so when one factors in the leveling time that is “lost” when players seek a group, getting that group organized, choosing the right targets, etc.
Additionally, when you also factor in things such as “ninja looting,” at times seemingly endless debate about tactics, targets, etc., solo-play becomes an even more appealing behavior. Dark Age of Camelot certainly was a pacesetter in establishing this trend since back then, we specifically wanted to make the leveling grind less rugged than in Everquest for example, by decreasing the amount of time people needed to spend between fights, no long boat rides, etc.
Finally, as games that are more recent have blurred (or shattered) class distinctions, grouping within MMOPRGs is probably at an all-time low, especially for players who are not part of guilds or the like.
While many players have enjoyed this change, especially at the beginning of this rather slippery slope (for example, I’ve always been a solo player), one of the things that I have been pondering over the years is what has been lost because of these changes. IMO, for the purposes of this FP, it boils down to two words, community and Community. I’ve already talked about the role classes will play in CU so I won’t reiterate that now but rather, I’ll address how both the crafting/housing systems and other group activities can help nurture and foster both types of community.