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Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Grouping Not For Everyone

Posted by Stradden Thursday July 9 2009 at 1:27PM
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I just can’t get over how some people complain that MMOs, both current and in-development, are including a great deal of soloable content in their games. I keep reading post after post of people complaining that, “if people want to play solo, they should just play a single player game.” The problem is, there’s a point being missed here. People who play an MMO and prefer to play solo aren’t looking to play a single player game. In fact, a populated virtual world is exactly where they want to be.

Players who choose not to group aren’t necessarily anti-social. In fact, they probably enjoy playing in the same world as hundreds or thousands of other people. These same people, given a group of friends playing, would probably be open and eager to group play, they just don’t want to open themselves up to pick up groups with strangers who might not share their idea of what the game should be. There’s nothing worse for a role player or character / story driven player than to get into a group with a power gamer, and vice-versa. It’s often like oil and water, mixing the two just leaves you slippery and wet.

If you think about the way the social world around us actually works, it’s all based around the individual, the solo player. Some people choose to involve themselves in activities and jobs that require working closely (grouping) with other people, while others would choose to socialize with only a few and participate in jobs and activities that offer more individual opportunities. For the most part in life, it’s a matter of choice.

People want that same choice mirrored back to them in online games and virtual worlds. I think that originally, the kinds of people who were drawn toward MMOs were the kinds of people who were interested in social interactions with strangers, getting to know new people online through games and forming friendships that way. As the genre has progressed and a more diverse audience

The idea of a game, even a multiplayer game, gearing their entire design around forcing their players to group is counter-intuitive and even alienating to a large demographic of players. If you think about it, the last time that you were forced to group was probably for some kind of class project or activity in middle or high school and I don’t know about you, but I recall those always being a miserable experience.

In the end, what I think that everyone wants is a game that put the individual character first, making sure that character can compete with all others, whether in a group or solo, leaving it up to the individual players to decide if they want to use that character to group with others, or to play on their own.

Warhammer Online is a great example of a game that was designed with a group play mentality that ended up suffering for it. Since launch, players have been complaining about the balance of individual careers in the game. Complaints like: Sorcerers don’t stand a chance one on one against a Witch Hunter were rampant. The problem? Warhammer Online was designed to create balance for groups of players, not individual careers. The basic premise of Warhammer’s design is that players will be working together in groups, whether in scenarios or in an open RvR environment, so that one on one balance would take a back seat to group balance. While on the surface this kind of design makes sense, the reality saw players interested only in their own characters at the expense of group play. When players don’t work as a team in a system that is designed for team play, it gives the illusion of an imbalanced game.

In the end, a successful game is going to be a game that caters to both crowds, a game that allows and even encourages grouping without strictly penalizing those who don’t want to participate. The bottom line though is that just because a person would rather not group, doesn’t mean that they don’t want to play in a world with other people.
 

Falendor writes:

I am supprised.  I really was behind the solo play was missing out on the point of MMOs.  But stradden makes some good points.

Thu Jul 09 2009 1:39PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Thank you, hopefully people will actually pay attention to this because it's from Stradden.

I agree 100%.

One very interesting concept, to me, is the Family system they are using in Alganon.

Pretty much, you can join a "family" based on the Bartle test, achiever family, explorer family, socializer family, killer family. 

As such gain access to special chat channels and grouping options for other people in the same family.

It's like they are trying to garauntee you like-minded gamers to adventure/socialize with if you choose too.

It may be the greatest innovation for MMO communities since guilds/clans.

I just hope they offer an in-game test so people can really join the right family for their play style. Even better would be a series of quests that give you options for completion, and based on how you complete these tests it'll tell you what type of gamer you are.

So like the Bartle test but in game format. Interesting...

Thu Jul 09 2009 1:48PM Report
rngamer writes:

I agree with this completely.  Being a solo player primaryly myself, I do enjoy group play also.  The main problem I have encountered with groups is finding myself in a group of either completely inept individuals who don't care about completing anything in a timely or efficient manner or trapped in a mob of players who scream and have severe anger issues when something isn't done perfectly, deafening everyone on ventrillo.

I have played MMOs for years.  None of them are perfect, and probably never will be.  So many people want to pick at every minute detail about how the game isn't what he/she wants it to be and how it undermines a play experience because of this or that.  If it causes that much angst, perhaps you should watch cartoons or go outside.  MMOs might not be for you.  Don't take it so seriously, it's pixels. 

So, to all the group players out there, don't count your solo playing friends out.  Some of them are great people just waiting to find a good bunch  to spend their in-game time with.  Many, myself included, play solo until they come into contact with a like-minded guild or group of friends with whom I enjoy playing.  I'd rather not be trapped in a militant guild which requires me to be present for at least 75% of the raids which happen five nights a week.  It's a game, not a job. 

Also, there are apparently throngs of people who prefer to complain and draw attention to faults in MMOs, while offering no possible solutions.  If you're not going to try to help the problem, don't make it worse.  The people who put these games and worlds together work very hard, and deserve respect for their effort and creativity. 

I hope in the future developers can find a way to balance solo and group play.  Some games have done a decent job of it, placing quests which required groups to complete while some games made basically the entire game a group effort.  Surely, we can strike some happy medium, and understand not everyone will ever be completely content.

 

 

 

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:15PM Report
rngamer writes:

:-/ I mispelled primarily.  LOL

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:17PM Report
ZoeMcCloskey writes:

Agree 100% on here, I solo the majority of the time in any MMO I've played.  I enjoy having people around though in chat channels, guilds, tells and all that.  It is good to see some people finally sticking up for the soloist style players.  I will help others who need it, always buff or heal others, give items away, I just don't want to group very often.  It is never anything personal :)

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:24PM Report
wlvnspectre writes:

I agree. Forced grouping and the mechanics of the Unholy Trinity (Tank, Heal, Ranged Attack) where you are forced to group and your character can't do anything outside of their wheelhouse, and therefore need others to do all the things they have to so ruin MMOs for me I refuse to play them even if they are free.

A player should have content available to him as an individual as well as part of a group.  Also when a player becomes skilled enough/powerfull enough he should be able to do many of the group designed challenges solo, while others he would be unable to because you need multiple people, not the right group balance.

I know many players that won't  do group activites most of the time, but inbetween they socialize, meet new players, do ingame projects they set for themselves often leading them to interact with people they wouldn't meet otherwise because they adventure solo. 

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:25PM Report
Raithe-Nor writes:

People want realistic choices thrown at them in Massively Multiplayer Online games.  That's why those games are massively multiplayer, for the sake of realistic game choices.

I stopped playing Warhammer because of the lack of realistic gameplay and choices, and a large part of that was due to a playerbase that couldn't filter the metagame from the actual game.  When developers place content into a game, they need to ask themselves, is this to enhance realistic choices being made, or simply because we want to attract the real-world interests of a particular type of player?  Warhammer has too much of the latter and very little of the former.

You can't please everyone who might try to play your game, and MMOs need to learn to stop trying.

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:25PM Report
Nifa writes:

Thank you for articulating exactly what I have been thinking but have apparently failed to express clearly. :)

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:28PM Report
keyfoot writes:

Exactly, glad someone expressed that... some people wanna stay away from the item mongering people, and play by themselves, or just play alittle without commitment to a large number of people, if everything the game is team oritented only, then it would be nigh impossible for anyone to go off by themselves and do quests, kill monsters that are in thier level range.

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:32PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 I totally agree with your post, although I've been on both sides of the coin in many games. My inception in the MMO world was through FFXI that is VERY heavy into group dependencies. It was a very frustrating situation when sitting in Jeuno spamming LFG for hours. 

I've only once played a healer class so I've always have that "can't find heals" cunundrum. I'm not fond of the fact of me leveling depends on one specific class, that is usually healers. And I found myself wishing for more soloable content to offset the downtimes.

On the other hand I've played some of the highest rated single player games, and got totally bored due to the simple fact of "no one to talk or laugh with". I am a very social person, if you can't tell.

I for one like to keep my social skills fresh by talking in chat about coherent topics and when I do get into a good group I keep contact with these people through my friendslist. I always try to maintain a good reputation also, you never know who knows who.

I guess my best type of gaming fulfills my many moods, sometimes I need to be in the social scene, and some solo content for the downtime or "me" time.

Good post john.

Plays safe,

Ink

 

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:32PM Report
jomag writes:

I soloplay about 99% of the time.  Not because I am anti-social, but because I cannot devote a large enough block of time to group play.  Most weeks I only have a couple of nights where I can play and on those nights I usually only have an hour to an hour and a half to play.  It usually takes that long to organize a group to do a raid.  So, I prefer to log-on, run a few solo quests and log-off.  That is just my preference for playing the game, not my lack of social skills or aversion to social interaction.

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:41PM Report
Korhindi writes:

I totally agree with this blog.

As I have always said, "No group has ever bought me a copy of a game, and no guild pays my monthly subs.  That is a solo afair."

Until then, FORCED grouping for me is a major turn-off for me. 

I wonder how many of those folks who say MMO's should require grouping drive solo to work or would get upset if complete strangers sat down at the table they were eating at? 

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:42PM Report
Hyanmen writes:

The only problem I have with this, is that the community aspect will suffer from allowing soloing (to level cap).  That is the main benefit of making the game group based, and I don't think it's an issue we can just ignore.

Thu Jul 09 2009 2:51PM Report
Beyorn writes:

Thank you so much for posting this.  As someone with a family and responsibilities I have to get up and down the entire time I play for this or that.  I don’t think a group would like it if I left them afk 3 times in 20 mins.  I play these games to interact and hang out with friends though I may not be able to group much.  I really wish the solo player could lose the “scrub” stereotype.  I have been playing these games since 1999.  I think I’m a really good player, I just don’t get to group as much as I would like L.

Thu Jul 09 2009 3:12PM Report
Beyorn writes:

For some reason my format got all screwed up there :)

Thu Jul 09 2009 3:13PM Report
ZkilfinG writes:

I've done both solo and group (and both with friends and strangers) and there are aspects of it all that I enjoy. I'm not sure all games should go for full flexibility, different games might do different styles better or worse. However I think it's important for MMO developers to understand the different styles.

All styles also have their drawbacks. Grouping requires people to actually find groups to play with, and when you do there's always the risk of getting people in the group that you can't play with for various reasons. Soloing can become repetitive compared to grouping since in groups different combinations of classes makes encounters variating. Personally I must say the most fun is usually playing with people that you know, regardless if you know them from outside of the game or if it's people you've learned to know while playing. It can be hard to get to that point where you can get such a group together when it suites you though.

Thu Jul 09 2009 3:18PM Report
ericbelser writes:

Stradden is missing the point that a lot of us are making. I'm not against solo content, heck I solo most of the time when playing myself.

What many of us are saying is that more and more soloists feel "entitled" to be able to access exactly the same content and rewards as those who group and raid; and that is crazy. Yes, there should be things for soloists to do, but there should also be greater challenges and rewards around for groups/raiding, precisely because of all the aforementioned drawbacks and difficulties to grouping.

You *should* have the potential to gain more from something that requires coordinating and combining the efforts of 6,12,24 players on one mission than what a single player can do solo, otherwise what is the point of ever bothering to work with others? If you can access all the games content solo, why would you ever tolerate the nuisances of wasted time, annoying people and such that can come with bad grouping experiences?

Thu Jul 09 2009 3:27PM Report
delateur writes:

I have nothing against grouping, but tend to find myself soloing for much the same reasons as others have said. I want to find like-minded people who are out to enjoy what the game has to offer and who have a healthy respect for and understanding of social interaction. Often I won't group a lot, but I'll have a list of friends who will help me, or I them, if the need arises. This list is small, but you only need a handful of truly decent people to make MMOGs far superior to single player offline games.

Thu Jul 09 2009 3:36PM Report
granik writes:

 I think the reason group oriented players get down on solo players isn't because they have anything against playing solo it's just that they see game after game catering more and more to the solo player at the expense of the group player.

 Take EQ2 for example.  At release it was quite viable and even advantageous to level up and play through the game with a full group.  After it became obvious that EQ2 was going to lose the subscription battle to WoW in a pretty drastic way change after change was made to remove a lot of that group content and replace it with solo content and make it more "WoW-like".  It's now at the point that when leveling up a character in that game you actually slow your progress if you try to play with a full group all the time and not just occasionally for a dungeon run or two.

If a MMO came out that had full viable paths for both group oriented and solo playstyles I don't think you'd see much animosity.  Most if not all group players solo some as well.

Thu Jul 09 2009 4:13PM Report
Smokeysong writes:

Thanks Stradden!

Funcom did a couple of surveys of people interested in Age of Conan before it released, and over 90% of us wanted soloable content. A small percentage wanted only group content, A small percentage wanted only soloable content, and everyone else wanted to be able to do both.

Now if we can just get developers out of the mindset that solo style play means easy stuff you can level through quickly to get to cap so you can raid, lol. Give us the good gear too, and make us work to get it!

 

;)

Thu Jul 09 2009 4:24PM Report
Dawnna writes:

From the perspective of a disabled gamer, and a heavy Role Player (Half my Supergroup's group time on City of Heroes is interacting in character relevant to whatever plot we're involved in in a small room in our base) solo content is absolutely necessary. I've been routinely kicked from random groups for being too slow, for admitting I am disabled and thus take slightly more time to do some things, and for simply being a role player when someone clicks my profile and sees I have a background set instead of just seeing my abilities list.

From the perspective of a mom, I don't always have the time required to commit to raids in any game. Sometimes, I literally have 20 minutes to log in and play that day. I can solo a quest or mission in that time and feel like my subscription fee is well spent. Random groups have tended to rather dislike when a parent has to get up suddenly and deal with kids.

Finally, some nights, I just want chat with my friends. I spend entire evenings just leisurely soloing a room at a time while discussing various things in common on various global and guild channels that have nothing to do with the game. In that instance, the MMO is like the game of bridge none of the ladies at the table are actually paying that much attention to. The MMO becomes an active social framework.

Finally, all of the above tie into another factor for soloing, which was mentioned in the blog. I group with guilds who don't openly recruit, and are instead focused on being friends you could have over for a barbeque instead being worried if your stats fit a missing niche in a raid group. A lot of the time, no pick-up-group can compare to the team time spent, in character, with OOC chatter on another channel. No "text language", no frustrated teens swearing, no juvinalia (from players of any age). Just a group of professional adults playing a game together.  

All things that you could never get from a single player game.

Thu Jul 09 2009 4:48PM Report
Kamica writes:

I also mostly Solo-play, mostly becouse the communication system (chat) doesn't realy work for me... if I type something, and I'm busy with someone, I forgot to look at the chat for a while becouse I was busy, and suddenly he/she's gone, also action and typing don't go well together, as you either have to do the one or the other, you can barely do both at the same time, as for talking programs from outside of the game, well, my microphone is broken, and you'd need to be in a group already, also, oftenly mmorpgs have content that single player games don't have, that's also a reason to solo mmorpgs ^^.

Thu Jul 09 2009 5:23PM Report
Redtah writes:

I still don't get it, you want to play a MMO by yourself or with your friends, why don't you play a local game with your friends instead? Why do you want to play a game online next to 100s of people and never interact with them? Its like your playing an RPG but instead of being able to play it wherever you want your stuck playing it online with a bunch of people you don't want to be with.

Simple put I just don't get it.

Thu Jul 09 2009 5:27PM Report
Jacar writes:

After reading all of the posts, there were a couple of things that stood out in my mind.  First, the OP's point was that a successful MMO will realize that solo content is vital to keeping the game, in the long run,  healthy.  I've played L2 for five years.  I've been with the same group the whole time, after we migrated from L1.  Like many others, I'm a working professional with a family.  Some days I have time to invest in a group event like a raid, and enjoy doing so.  Other times, like has been described, I only have an hour or so to log on, make some progress, and log off.  For those times, it's nice to have beneficial activities to do so I don't waste my time.

A good MMO should have distinct areas designed for all styles of play.  The virtual world would them mimic reality, in that individuals may choose to group, but in the end, they are still individuals.  I also think you can design activities that are beneficial and challenging for a group, like epic raids and also design individual quests that are just as challenging and equally rewarding.  L2 recently added some good melee class hunting areas for highers levels that are very popular right now.  But they in no way take away from the group aspect of the game.  Quite the contrary I believe they enhance it.

And that is exactly what I think the OP's point was.

 

Thu Jul 09 2009 6:33PM Report
brad813 writes:

I personally like to solo most of the time, but not because I am adverse to grouping.   The problem is there are alot of gamers in these world that are so gung ho about completing quests that the player trying to complete a story quest in a group has trouble getting the items to do so because only one player can loot a creature in most MMOs.  I prefer there to be some group quests(the most difficult ones), with the majority of the game being able to be completed as solo or group.  In my real life, I am an aspiring writer, filmmaker, and actor so I am a very story driven individual by nature.  Games like World of Warcraft often have a weak storyline instead relying on disconnected quests.   Other games like Dungeons and Dragons Online and the upcoming Aion(I have been beta testing but this fact I am about to state does not give away any confidential information) are more story driven, so I prefer them.

Thu Jul 09 2009 6:54PM Report
droolintiger writes:

You hit the nail on the head for me here.  When I want to group, I will group.  Do not make me feel like I HAVE to.  Excellent post. ;0)

Thu Jul 09 2009 7:46PM Report
cwRiis writes:

Exactly right.  Good job.

Thu Jul 09 2009 7:56PM Report
Hathi writes:

Being only able to play a few hours a day at best, I simply cannot devote hours on end for raids and large chunks of committed time. If i have to spend a long time finding or assembling a group to experience content I pay for I get irritated. So I solo to get my moneys worth. 

I would love to see intense solo paths or questlines which require a player to do more to get a good reward. If I enjoy groups/ raids then the reward can be obtained as usual in a night.

Thu Jul 09 2009 7:58PM Report
Cryomatrix writes:

 To Redtah, 

I like to solo and group but mainly solo in MMO's. The reason is, I love the MMO world but there is a cost to grouping (time, chance, jerk people, etc) that you don't have solo. I like to interact with other poeple, i love it in fact, i just don't want to be forced to do it. Good post Stradden. 

It is a tough situation, i don't believe single content should be able to reach group content on the same level. Meaning single content gear should not equal raid gear. But single content gear could equal something else, could be important for faction points or god knows what else, but not = on the same level. 

Cryomatrix

Fri Jul 10 2009 12:23AM Report
HeliosXII writes:

THANK YOU for posting an article on this!

I play Age of Conan solo for the most part. I only group if I have to. People always tell me "Why do you bother playing MMOs if you only solo? You're missing out on so much!" I have more fun playing solo than grouping, and you (should) play games to have fun, thus it stands to reason that I would go with the playstyle which gives me more fun. 

They don't seem to understand that. Hopefully this article will help them understand. I have a playstyle that doesn't fit well with grouping. I tend to go through things quickly, and that can make the people I group with feel rushed. Then, I feel guilty for making them feel rushed. Then, they feel guilty that I feel guilty that they feel rushed and...yeah, it's a vicious cycle better avoided altogether.

Once again, thank you for posting an article on this!

-Dermod

Fri Jul 10 2009 5:05AM Report
Trucidation writes:

@Redtah: did you even bother to read what the others just posted? Seriously. Plus, one big reason for the more anti-social loners is that those other people actually do provide at least one positive function: alternative source of drops. You won't be able to farm everything yourself, so even the most rabid lone wolf will find it handy to buy some items off of someone else.

Fri Jul 10 2009 5:43AM Report
OddjobXL writes:

I'm not a fan of forced grouping for reasons already discussed.  However I do like the idea of mutual dependence on a looser, broader, scale along the lines of economic design.  SWG had a way of getting players to mix and meet, beyond guild groupings, because the economy was so complex there was a great deal of room for all kinds of specialists.  More than most guilds could generate by themselves. 

Along with player cities, at least initially,  and NPC vendors run by players this created gathering spots and economic reasons for players to gather which also, perhaps counterintuitively, created opportunities for solo oriented players to act as freelancers and make personal connections to supply resouces or craft goods for larger groups.

Some of them, because SWG allowed for qualitative differences in end product and put the crafter's name on an item, because famous and sought out.

That may be a bit different than the nitty gritty of grindygrind hack-n-slash mechanics but I find it an interesting variation on the theme of the necessity of grouping and the role of the soloist in the big picture.

Fri Jul 10 2009 7:55AM Report
EscherMoon writes:

I am a solo gamer (only grouping when I have no other alternative usually) and I really appreciate this article and the comments I have read.  Usually, I am only able to login for short amounts of time due to kids and life in general and it definitely makes it hard for me to stay focused and do much of anything in a group.  I wish I was a life-less teenager again and able to be gaming online for hours on end but...oh well!  I still get in my game fix! :)  Again, thank you for the article.

Fri Jul 10 2009 7:57AM Report
dazy writes:

I prefer to solo. I try to help people, I will chat with people, I just don't want to group to play, and it has nothing to do with me being antisocial. My gaming time is sporadic and at a premium. When I have time to play, I want to accomplish specific goals for myself and I don't have time to go through the whole finding-a-group process.  Also, since I play so sporadically, I don't usually know what I'm doing. I don't want to subject someone else or myself to my inability to "properly" play my class, so I'd rather just solo.

This is exactly what I've been telling people since year one of EQ, when they harp on me about not grouping. Thank you for putting this so eloquently. :-)

Fri Jul 10 2009 11:16AM Report
djFEVA writes:

I'm a group player myself; I prefer to have one or two people in company, because as a group we kill faster and thus progress faster. I do, however, understand the frustration of PUGs or guilds that make playing feels more like a job than passtime.

As for soloing, there are people out there who play MMOs mostly for the PVP aspect of the game. RPG are fun in a way where you get to defeat mythical creatures, but that gets very repetitive, since we can only make AIs so "smart" or bosses so hard. When playing against other sentient individuals, there are a lot more randomness and excitement. It's near impossible to predict your opponent's next move or watching your back to see if a rogue is going to stab you or some hunter or mage/socerer will blast you long range, which generates more excitement and I think definitely appeals more to the ego if you win... more bragging right ;-)

Fri Jul 10 2009 11:42AM Report
rngamer writes:

It seems there are a lot of people who have time constraints on playtime.  I totally understand where you are all coming from.  I work full time, train in martial arts in which i compete, weight train and endurance train 3-4 days a week for several hours a day and I am currently working on a book with my best friend.  Also, I am beginning work on my Master's Degree in fall.  Needless to say, I have little time to waste when I do have a chance to play something, unlike those who for some reason or another can sit in front of a computer 24/7 and yell at the rest of us who leave our houses.  This brings me to another point.

Attitude...   I have encountered some wonderful people in MMOs.  They have been funny, helpful, entertaining, trustworthy and more.  On the downside of this, I have met some quite ugly and nasty people who seem to think these games are "Real Life".  Also, I have encountered a breed who seem to feel just because they are not standing in front of someone, they can say whatever they choose, no matter how mean-spirited or cruel.  I am not saying everyone in an MMO is like this, but there are quite a few who feel they are free to treat people like garbage just because they can't deal with the consequences of their actions as they would in Real Life.  You can't put the guy coming across the bar table on ignore once you've opened your mouth and started a fight, can you?

You're probably wondering what my point is to all this.  :)

I am not saying solo players are anti-social.  I'm not saying group players are fanatical.  What I'm saying is everyone has their differences, and we should ALL respect that.  Game developers have a hard enough time keeping the masses content enough to keep playing, much less keeping individuals happy.  Anyone who has ever attempted to keep a room full of 5 year olds occupied and content totally understands where I'm coming from.  

It seems the argument is that solo players are missing out from the group player's standpoint, and the solo player feels controlled by the group player.  What it all boils down to my fellow gamers is the choice.  We all feel we should have a choice as to whether we want to or can invest hours of our precious time into a game, and to have that experience be fun and feel worthwhile.  We all want to have fun.  My fun, however, might not be your fun, and that's ok. 

I guess I tend to defend the soloer's standpoint because I am a soloer at heart.  I have a busy life and i sit down to a game to relax, not to be ordered around and yelled at because my gear isn't quite good enough or i have to wait outside while the others go on since I'm "backup" and everyone else there are steadfast players.  I'm sorry, but I refuse to sit and stare at a screen for two to three hours while everyone else has fun and my clock is ticking for me to go to bed so I can get up and contribute to society in the morning. 

There are reasons soloers solo.  Just as there are reasons groupers group.  There really is not need to draw a line between the two, just as there is no real reason to attempt to impose one playstyle over another.  A balanced integration of the two would make for a deep and rewarding gaming experience for everyone, if we could just find that middle ground where the two blend perfectly.

 

Fri Jul 10 2009 11:50AM Report
deathunome writes:

I always solo and I only group when my friends from outside of the game come and play with me.

Sat Jul 11 2009 1:57PM Report
Getalife writes:

The problem is, there’s a point being missed here. People who play an MMO and prefer to play solo aren’t looking to play a single player game. In fact, a populated virtual world is exactly where they want to be.

 

Ehh what? so they want to play in a virtualy populated world and stil prefer to do more solo stuff? i am sorry but this doesn't make any sense. The only time such soloers interact with virtual world is when they use trade/auction shops. Whooppiee doooo now thats some social interaction.

Sat Jul 11 2009 11:59PM Report
Palebane writes:

All these solo players are a huge reason why MMORPGS suck so bad nowadays in my opinion. You might as well take out the MM and just have ORPGs because with everyone running around soloing, you can't find a group anywhere any more outside end-game raiding. Its really sad what this genre has come to.

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:36AM Report
Sandblox writes:

Nice article mate. I tend to solo a lot and the thing is I do enjoy grouping and dungeon crawling a great deal! When I was single I ran groups far more often, now though I am in a long term commited relationship and grouping is just as easy anymore. To join a group takes time and once in a group your then commitied to them unless you want to be the jackhole who goes AFK constantly or join a group and ditches them 20 minutes into a dungeon.

So soloing is a great alternative. I still meet a lot of people, I make a lot of friends in game, I have a guild and the whole time I am soloing I am still chatting to people, enjoying the social exp of a MMO and still getting the full virtual world gaming goodness.

The whole idea that soloers are anti social or are simply looking to grind xp out fast or are ruining games is nonsense. There are many solid reasons why people have trouble grouping and having content for multiple play styles is always best.

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:07PM Report
rik666 writes:

i agree 100%

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:07PM Report
Kiranai writes:

Thanks for this article!! It does a great job explaining why someone who likes playing solo would want to play in an MMO.   

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:27PM Report
zaylin writes:

Very good read,and points. But one more thing about solo content/play: I enjoy grouping with people and forming friendships and such, but since I am also a Dad ,and work full time I dont always have time to get in a group and put in the 3+hours (imo usuually average time to do a dungeon/raid/insty). thats my 2cents :)

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:28PM Report
Terranah writes:

You make very good points Stradden.  I can't say that I disagree with any of them.

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:34PM Report
Nekrataal writes:

This whole solo sh*t makes me sad... Stradden is wrong on so may level its unbeliveable. I wont enter an arguement here since it would be pointless.

Soloer are now the huge majority, that mostly came with WoW, & game developpers are huge money whores... It can only lead to one thing, more solo friendly games.

I just have one thing to say that seem to be lost on you people. MMO's are community based games & solo play never & will never make a strrong one. Right there it fails what the genre is suppose to be.

You can create a new genre if you like, but what you want isn't MMORPG's. Thats what I think. Nothing wrong with that... just stop destroying the genre I actually want to play.

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:42PM Report
Greenie writes:

I see a couple problems with this person's opinion. Grouping mechanics are NOT what drove away so many players from Warhammer. 

Also in class design, if you don't want them balanced by their role in a group, are you saying that you prefer the rock,paper,scissors approach that  X class will always beat Y but Y will always beat X ?Because if that's the case World of Warcraft has done a bangup job with the deathknight and ret pally.  I believe skill based progression is the answer to these problems. Let people define what skills their characters  will have, not race or class.

The problem with developing solo content is not an issue with most players that I know despite forum wars. The real complaints are when companies make so much of the game soloable to appease a minority of people they help destroy any chance of thriving communities, making new friends, or becoming a part of the virtual world experience instead of a passerby and when players who prefer the solo game expect to get all the rewards that group play will get as if they are entitled to it. Well to mirror life, strong groups, social networks, teams  accomplish more than the single individuals and reap greater benefits of those accomplishments.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:43PM Report
toddze writes:

though this is probably one of the best arguments for solo play, the reasons behind solo play is pointless. The real question is what does it do to the MMO. Solo play inherently makes the game easier. There is no way around this. If one can solo gear comparable to the best raided gear, well everyone is going to have the exact same gear. Unless you factor in an god awfull drop rate. then the solo players and group players will be furious. One major problem is gear dependency and some games revolves around it to much. for example any casual player in FFXI could get average gear w/o stepping foot in a raid area. But when players start to feel they deserve better gear for doing nothing thats where the problems start.

I am all for solo players getting average gear, no one should have to be gimp. but the top teir gear shouldnt be handed to anyone, it should be something to strive for worked for as a group. 

You bring up real world stuff, well the most sucessful people in life  work in/with a big group of people. "Solo" jobs do not bring in a large income. (in general). I can think of several exceptions but for every exception i can name countless other solo jobs.

For your RP comment there is RP servers for a reason.

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:47PM Report
Frobner writes:

There are alot of ppl that seem to agree with this view - but I dont. 

Forced grouping ?   Im sorry but there are 10000 quests in every single MMO game now  to get you from lvl 1  to 40 - 50 - 80.   You can go through the entire game without actually talking or even meating a single player (on the low populated servers).  Thats not enough for those that wanna solo ? 

Im sorry but two players against one in WAR leads ALWAYS to the person that is on his own to loose (if he is same lvl).  Its not forced grouping - its just that OTHER PPL group up. 

I dont know what you think Stradden - But I think if you will do a survey here on MMORPG.COM you will acutally find out that big group of the ppl playing MMO games have some kind of social  issues that prohibit them to bond normally to others in RL.  By joining a multiplayer online game they are able to be others than they are RL and get that much needed social bond that ppl NEED.

Im sorry if Stradden didn't like workin in groups in high-school. But thats probably the reason why he is now writing a blog on MMORPG.COM instead of beeing in more social challenging job.  Fair enough - thats just not his style.  And its perfectly fine. 

The real issue about MMOs is not if they should have solo or grouping up content.  The question is HOW should they do it.  And how long time should it take. 

Most ppl have really bad memories of dungeon runs where they had to switch out 5-10 ppl (in 5 or 6 man group) and still ended up without getting to the endboss.  Others remember 5 hours of raiding - 5 days per week where pritty much everyone hated everyone in the entire guild and were only there to get loot.  Neither are good memories.  But OTHERS actually have VERY GOOD MEMORIES of exactly the same gameplay. 

I can agree with ppl tho on one thing.  There are more ways to add diffrent kind of solo friendly content into MMOs.  WAR tried it with public quests.  You didn't have to group up but the real problem in WAR was that the game had (and still has) VERY UNBALANCED measurment on giving out both items and EXP based on their actual part in the fight.  Thats not only for PQs tho.  IF anyone has played a schenario in WAR then he might know by now that best way to gain experience is actually to ignore the group and the main goal of the entire scenario - just group up healer and dmg dealer and top the table most likely causing their side to loose the scenario.

WAR is NOT bad because it forces ppl to group up.  It is bad because the basic systems of the game are faulty from scratch - including servers not beeing able to handle WHEN PPL GROUP UP .

So.. how to add more solo friendly content for those that only want to solo and have bad memories of the grouping content in other MMOs?  One way would be to add more CLASS based quest - do a journey like  gaming - including soloable instances based on quests for your class.  No developer does that - not because it would not fit the bill of solo friendly game.  NO.. because it means EXTRA work compared to create 10 more quests for just everyone.

There are quite a few comments mentioning AOC in the replies to this blog.   AOC is probably the best example of TERRIBLE MMO gaming....  Im sorry but the basic story of the game .. the ENTIRE STORY is built around everone playing out the EXACT same storyline.  Its like ...."I play a MMO game where I am the hero that washed up on a beach"  The devs kinda forget tho ... that this happens to EVERY SINGLE PLAYER in the entire game but the storyline - and the fact that ppl can TALK to eachother in the game RUINS the entire story.  What a bunch of crap.... And ppl are acutally paying for this....

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 12:48PM Report
Saerain writes:

I think this is the first time I've agreed with Jon. Excellent.


Sun Jul 12 2009 12:52PM Report
pzykozis writes:

Great read I'm pretty much a solo player, its not that I don't like to interact with people I'm always out to help people, i just don't particularly enjoy being constrained to doing what a group of people want to do.

I do enjoy a the feel of the populated world though and seeing people going about their business etc. that's the reason I play mmo's instead of single player rpgs.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:00PM Report
Stellos writes:

Couldn't agree more.  I am a solo player by nature in MMOs.  When I am forced to constantly group with people who I find annoying and childish in order for a chance at some stupid drop I typically quit playing the game.  I love solo crafting and playing.  Nicely articulated.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:02PM Report
majoch writes:

I love soloing as much of the content as I can and I also love chatting away while I am soloing as do the majority of my guild.  We will all stop what we are doing and help each other on harder content and once in a while we will organize a raid to knock off some of the hard stuff accumulating in our quest books. 

Everyone's reason for soloing is different, mine is purely selfish in that when I am on I don't want to be tied down 24/7 following the crowd from one dungeon to the next.  I prefer to go at my own uber slow pace seeing as much of the virtual world that I can which in turn gives the game better longevity for me.  I have just seen so many people so bent on getting max lvl in the fastest possible time come and go. 

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:03PM Report
Reianor writes:

I hate being rude from the start, but there no better way to express it - this is bullshit! Warhammer online is actually suffering because it alows to much solo. You can get any level by soloing. Literraly you can get 40 as any class without ever entering a group. Needless to say hore of player hoping out of solo PvE to t3-4 RvR with no grouping experience messes up sieges for everyone who cares for more than zerging.

Anyone here lost a siege because a pack of RDD kept reseting keep lord till enemy reinforcements storm their own keep from the bottom?

Anyone here lost a lock because someone "clever" kept saying something stupid in location chat like "There are just a couple of healers and 3 mele dd taking the keep, so don't worry about it." and people belived him?

Anyone saw an idiot leading the crowd to a flaged keep when there's an unfalged one avilable?

Anyone here lost a battle because a Warpriest/Doc suddenly felt an urge to play both mDD&Tank roles?

Take a look at L2 for example - people are nearly forced to group, which leads them to learning how the game is played. A person that that counts hiting a mob under root or sleep as a help to a healer/nuker rarely makes it far in such a game. He either learns or leaves. WHO-AoR is full of such idiots. That hurts this game the most, not party-oriented balancing, not overbuffed HPS, not a weak engine, and not even unbalanced AoE can compare to mass idiocy.

It might have been fun for them to solo,but It's definitely not fun seeing a allyied warband being wiped by 1 party.

Before Playing WHO-AoR I though that way as well - "why is there not enought solo?". After seeing what a fresh-out-of-solo crowd does to a game and then once again playing a must-party mmo I'll never ask that question again.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:05PM Report
karat76 writes:

 Grouping is nice but for the the killer has always been the raiding community. The final straw for me that made me lump all hardcore raiders as future inmates was when I had to log because my kids woke up from a  nap and could not go on a raid and was told just lock them in their room and that i needed to get my priorities straight.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:06PM Report
natuxatu writes:

I disagree and think MMOs should be based more on group play. I don't care how long it takes to get a group I think that should be the main focus of an MMO. 99.9% of the games out there are for solo players. Putting in an MMO is like playing FFX with a chat system. Lame. Plus having the ability to solo seems to give players ADD. If they don't find a group within 10 minutes they give up. If they die once, they give up. Too much solo play is a very bad thing.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:16PM Report
Brialyn writes:

I agree with the main points but I think the people who are concerned about games that you can solo to level cap it what it tends to do to the community as a whole as well as the types of players you get in groups eventually.   I'm certainly not against solo play, in fact I enjoy it from time to time, but it's a delicate balance in an mmo to keep the community healthy and create players who understand playing the character solo and playing the character in a group.  The first game that acheives it I think will be very successful, not that WoW isn't (their numbers say different) but the community is a cesspool as a whole, rarely you find some gems in it with good guilds.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:18PM Report
parasitehill writes:

I agree and can add to the solo sentiment. Think about most of the quests and how they're designed. Collect quests while playing with just one friend can be a pain in the butt! The only quests worth grouping for would be "elite/group" quests or kill quests. Otherwise you're killing you're level time..not to mention cutting your experience in at least half. Also, let's say you've played a game 10 million times and you like to get things done quickly - you probably know every single quest - but your friend likes to dawdle, and go afk, or just wander off in the wrong direction - killing more time! These are the reasons why I solo - it's just faster in most cases.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:19PM Report
cukimunga writes:

Its cool that people want to solo, its just I don't find MMORPG's fun when I solo. I feel like im getting rippied off paying 15 bucks a month, If I want to solo I'll play a offline RPG. 

I like meeting random people and Im one of those people that really dont care if it takes forever and a day to get something done.  Im not in a race to get to max level, I love to explore and socialize with players.

FFXI was my favorite MMO, no game has kept me playing as long as it has. What can I say I loved forced grouping.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:25PM Report
Persephassa writes:

Nice blog. I'm also a solo-player most of the time but sometimes I do like to play in small groups and the lack of a mentor-type system in most games has been a problem. I always seem to either be too many levels ahead or too far behind to group effectively with friends.

Sun Jul 12 2009 1:46PM Report
CryoCode writes:

people so play mmo how the want to and game companies should give them a way to get good gear and so on.

 

i am a solo player that only groups with friends and other people i know.

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:22PM Report
CryoCode writes:

i mean should not (so) lol

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:23PM Report
Sovrath writes:

Another thank you here. This is EXACTLY how I feel. Couldn't have said it better myself. All the friends I have made in online games have been through a slow organic experience that took years. Being thrust into a group of people who I don't know is not my idea of being social in a good way.

Though I do very well in large groups of people in real life, it is not something that I seek out and prefer a smaller group of very good friends. I prefer being around people rather than being heavily involved with groups of people. And from that my friendships form.

Good article.

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:27PM Report
barezz writes:

Alot of my issue wuth grouping comes from time.  The more people that you add into the eqquation, the more time that something is going to take.  Granted that by design a solo dungeon will take less time to complete due to MOB difficulty and general challenge rating.  What I am talking about is the human factor. 

"Brb phone"

"Hold on a  sec, kid aggro.

"Phone call, afk a few"

And the advancement through the group activity often comes to a halt. espically if the person going afk plays a key role in the group dynamic.  Then there is when people have to leave at a critical time because they are on a later time zone and need to be up for work in five hours.  Or when you have a long wait to begin because one of the members of the group is in a faraway zone and has to travel there.

The more people you add the more time these things are going to take.  If you only have a couple of hours to play a night would you rather spend that time working on knocking out a few smaller goals, or the whole time working on one goal?

Now add in another factor of "forced" grouping.  By forced I mean when in order to advance and level you HAVE to group.  How often are you leveling your character and on a roll, and then suddenly come to a screeching halt in your advancement because all you have are group quests?  Instead of continuing in your adavncement you now have to put together a group, which may or may not be doable at the time.  Forced grouping seems to be what makes player the most upset.  If grouping wasn't forced by game mechanics players would be more likely to form groups on their own for the right reasons.

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:30PM Report
Muddleglum writes:

Not wanting to group for fear of getting stuck with "inept individuals", is sad because the main reason for this is mmo's don't teach people how to play in a group anymore.

I know someone will have some story to prove me wrong, but the fact is in the 5 years I put into EQ I never had a horrible group like you find in every mmo since.

Forced grouping forces good play.

Now I do like how there were classes that were made for the soloers like the Necro, Druid, and Wizzard ect. While this did not destroy group play it gave soloers options.

I think we need to find more of a happy medium than what we have at the moment. Moving back to group play with classes that can solo is old but it worked and maybe should be looked at again.

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:31PM Report
heremypet writes:

Having the freedom to play your own way is fine and dandy, but you forgot to mention that when players can solo to whatever end they want, then the need to group at all will decline, and that might have several side effects.

If any player can pretty easily solo to max level / skill, then most players likely would.  In a broad sense, this will have a negative impact on the community.

Also it would make it difficult for a player looking to make friends to find other players willing to group with them. 

Specialization would suffer as well.  Who would specialize in healing when most classes / jobs are sufficient enough at healing themselves solo? 

Not only that, but the game as a whole would not be much of a challenge.  Classically any activity that you cannot do by yourself, you would find someone who can help you out, whether it's killing a boss, crafting a weapon, or reviving a player.  Working together, you accomplish the task, that is what grouping is all about.  But as that group of activities gets smaller compared to what you can do solo, the game as a whole gets easier, and for many people including myself, challenge and achievement are an important aspect of the game.

That is why people complain about soloability in MMOs.  They can see them becoming generally easier over time.  They want a game that can really challenge them, but none of them really can anymore. So now a whole group of players is standing on the MMO sidelines waiting for something good to come out.

If you as me, that is also "alienating to a large demographic of players".

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:35PM Report
ThomasN7 writes:

I solo and gorup but I always prefer to group because that is what makes mmos more fun for me. Good article.

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:38PM Report
hoopty writes:

Good Article..I for one per-fer solo..and per-fer skill base then lvling cap..

Sun Jul 12 2009 2:51PM Report
Zorvan writes:

Nice write up, Jon.

And for people like Redtah, who want to know why some of us like to solo in a game with thousands of people around us? Easy.

Other people make for really funny interactive NPCs.

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:03PM Report
Ripclaw writes:

Thanks for posting this, I totally agree. One of the reasons I stopped playing WoW was all the damn focus on group play. No I don't hate group play, infact I love it, but only under the right circumstances. I want to group because I want to group, not because I have to. And I want to join a guild or party to make friends, not to get the best gear.

WoW forces you to group with others to get all the best stuff. Especially for the best end game gear. Having to find a group and it HAD to be a good group, or else your screwed, and then having to do this over and over again, until you finally had enough stupid honor tokens, or whatever they're called, to buy all the gear you want and downing all the bosses over and over again til they finally dropped what you wanted and you win a /roll on it.

Then there's grouping with poeple who are just annoying, they screw up, say stupid stuff, do stupid things on purpose, and/or just plain don't care about advancing their character as much as you do your own and/or helping the others in your group.

I want future MMOs to focus on more open ended group and solo play at the same time. Much like Shadowbane was, but with WoW styled elements mixed in. Runes of Magic is becoming along these lines, but in reverse, which is a good start I suppose.

Shadowbane encouraged grouping and joining a guild, so you could be apart of a powerful fighting force, small or large. Or even join a massive empire if you'd like. Build your own guild city with others, have sub guilds and their cities under your own banner. And fight against other guilds and there cities. But the game still left room for lots of solo play as well. Letting you make your own guild with out a city. If you wanted to you could be the only member in your guild and just use the guild banner to give your self class bonuses. Then take advantage of larger guilds by pk robing them and such. As far as I know it was the most open ended sandbox MMO yet.

Geting the best gear in Shadowbane also wasn't too hard, not near as hard and time consuming as it is in WoW. But the game wasn't focused on gear either, but wrather skill. Skill in both how you made your character and how you played them.

Shadowbane fell hard though when it became F2P and left with no real hacking and gold duping prevention in place.

I'm shocked that there hasn't been a game like Shadowbane, until now, with RoM and it's guild castle building elements and soon to be guild vs. guild system. Yes Shadowbane had it's flaws, but they were flaws that could be fixed and inproved apon.

Even though MMOs have been around for what, what, a decade now...? They still have a long way to go to becoming really great. I don't get these companies that keep wanting to go backwards with MMO evolution. But I guess atleast they're trying and do tend to entorduce new and good game play elements now and then, it's just sad it has to be bundled with allot of bad stuff as well from past MMOs that don't get improved apon or simply not used at all.

MMOs designers should start with the basics, find a good balance between solo and group play, and build on new elements from there, not the other way around. The future of MMOS is very bright, but only in the right hands and who those hands are...remains to be seen.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:04PM Report
chriswsm writes:

Solo play is important for those of us working rotating shifts.  I often do a late or a night shift & log onto a game and find that at 5am the servers are fairly quiet.  Solo is the only option at that time.

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:09PM Report
local93bc writes:

Back in the EQ days we had a few annoying players, but everyone knew them and no one wanted them in there groups. so that solved that.

Iv not had the level of fun in a mmo since then.

95% of the world population is a twit so i understand why its hard to make a good group.

Thats why they invented twitter.

with some luck are games will be free of them soon and i can start enjoying mmo's again. lol Ha!

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:17PM Report
ZorakGhostal writes:

It is very easy to make an argument against grouping of any sort. Anyone can come up with a thousand reasons why it's the scourge of the earth and ruins every game ever created. Most of the OP's points are pretty weak imo, warhammer as an example of why no one should ever create group based classes because OMG someone complained on a forum about getting killed 2 on 1? stop the presses, call the MMO gods, someone wasn't able to solo everything in their path.

Look, grouping is more difficult, it means some more commitment it should also mean greater rewards and making some friends. Do you really want to be single your whole life? is it a pain in the ass to have kids sometimes? is it worth it in the end? Sure it's just a game and no one really wants to try all that hard blah blah. Grouping is an overall better experience, it has much greater potential that just soloing in a populated world or whatever ideal these anti-groupers solo 4 ever! have in mind.

The real issue when it comes to game development is that if you create a solo path then grouping seriously suffers because almost everyone is going to take that path because, guess what, it's easy. For the most part solo is just another word for "there is no chance you will die because we had to make it easy enough for soloers so just walk up to the mob and collect your phat loot".

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:26PM Report
Nerea writes:

Perfect, I agree 100% please advice me when someone do a MMORPG for people that dont want be a slave of a clan.

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:31PM Report
Brialyn writes:

I'm not totally against some solo content, being someone with a family and responsibilities I can't be in game all day looking for a group and then dedicate at least 3 more hours to that group. 

Yes I agree that if a solo path to level cap is available everyone will take it, leaving those of  us who would like to group with little options.  I think their is a way to do something for both groups, I'm just not sure what that is right now .

Sun Jul 12 2009 3:40PM Report
Nerf09 writes:

The forced grouping people are guildies who want to feel 1337 cause they can herd more cats together at any one point in time.  I don't like forced grouping cause whenever someone goes AFK the entire "raid" is put on hold, and the player is pressured to always stay at their keyboard even if their bladder is ready to burst.  And that's no fun.  Gee wiz.

Sun Jul 12 2009 4:26PM Report
solarine writes:

I think group play should have its own special set of rewards and solo play should have its own special set of rewards.

Yes, there should be some things that you can get by group play that you absolutely should not be able to get by solo play... And then there should be some very difficult and strictly solo encounters that provide players with rewards that you cannot get by playing in a group (Think stuff like the hunter epic quest in vanilla WoW ).

It's only fair. This way you encourage group play, while at the same time rewarding skillful solo play, too.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 4:36PM Report
Mustikos writes:

I love soloing, I do it all the time. I don't mind grouping either when it leads to better things. I however do not want to be forced to group just to level. I tried FFXI when it first came out in the USA, no mmo has angered me more. The best part was I went to to game because of the grouping aspect, but not to be able to do almost anything with out a group? 

I see a lot of people saying things like anti-social, if your not social  your not playing the game "right". Ok where in the hell does it say anything about being social in MMORPG? I see that is a massively mulitiplayer role playing game, no where does that say I should be forced to group. "but omg your just playing a single player game!" Let see I can play a game that constanly updates, lets me do a ton of stuff most single player games don't, I can you know group up with people when I WANT TOO, to get better loot etc. 

In the end let those who like soloing more do there thing, You can still group to get things done, nobody is stoping you.

Plus look at the mentaitly of those who want us to group for everything, you always come off as Nazis. "You don't play the game like I do!!! how dare you!!!" Then can't understand why nobody wants to group with you.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 4:48PM Report
gekkothegrey writes:

I agree for the most part as I personaly love grp play, however at the same time would love to see a game focus on crafting like SWG did when it first came out. I think a good example of a game that has both good solo and group play is Everquest 2. With that said one of my favorite mmorpg's was FFXI and I do not even like FF offline. As of now yes I have been sucked in as well, and have been playing WoW off and on for around 4 years. The one thing I think that is being missed is that we just need more quality in mmorpg's as at the end of the day I think that is the real issue. I mean am I the only one that thinks the mmorpgs that where the best 4 years ago EQ2 and WOW, are still the best now? I mean this is silly someone should have made a better mmorpg by now but no one has. Can anyone say plz plz plz Bioware done mess up SWTOR :) Good artical though.

Sun Jul 12 2009 5:18PM Report
KaitarBesh writes:

This is exactly what I've been trying to convey to the hardcore "group or GTFO" crowd for months. I doubt they'll ever get the point ;) but it's nice to see others out there do get it.

Sun Jul 12 2009 5:21PM Report
grimfall writes:

If you think about it, the last time that you were forced to group was probably for some kind of class project or activity in middle or high school and I don’t know about you, but I recall those always being a miserable experience.

Or you could get a job in the real world where teamwork is essential to 75% of the jobs.

Sun Jul 12 2009 5:42PM Report
Jojin writes:

I agree MMO games should have content for a solo individual, but this should only be supplemental and used as an enjoyable activity in between groups.  FFXI, after playing many other games after, was the most enjoyable MMO because of the grouping mechanic.  Yes, I hated the wasted time LFG, but on the other hand the whole concept of playing with other individuals is what truly gave lots of substance to the game.  It wasn't just gear and some stated out avatar, it was the actual interpersonal connections and bonds where were made through play.

Many of the games now allow players to accomplish most of their leveling and obtain gear all on their own.  This is nice as they don't encounter any down time looking for a group, but then again this leads to anti-social and sometimes hostile behavior.  Why should someone group with someone else, when they can do it just as well alone and don't have to share.  Which times boils down to fights over who gets a mob and people trying to MPK each other.

These solo friendly games often feel like solo games even though there are tons of people around they all ignore each other.  Think of it like walking through a mall, everyone has their own thing so yeah there are lots of people, but there is no reason for interaction.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 5:47PM Report
Zorgo writes:

I agree with this article completely; although I believe that it avoided the elephant in the room that is the cause of all the controversy.

When I do make the effort to group; I expect the reward to be worth the effort of finding the balanced group; using coordinated attacks, etc. I want my group rewards to exceed the solo rewards.

And this is the crux of the issue. Many soloers want access to the same rewards without going through the efforts it takes to group.

In this way, it is not a reflection of reality. When you work with a team; it is to accomplish what you cannot do alone. I still want that to be present in mmos. I mean, who is going to get the Great Pyramid of Giza built; the pharoah alone, or an entire society working together. The idea that a soloer  'deserves'  the ability to build the Great Pyramid all by their lonesome in the same timeframe as a group is ludicrous.

That's the issue, and it was skirted in this article.

Sun Jul 12 2009 6:30PM Report
amigaones writes:

 Great thoughts. Thank you.

Sometimes i even just want to play what i want and as long as i want and i don´t want to be "responsible" for any other guys in the group. And another time it´s the greatest experience to be together with a good group.

I like to play Guild Wars, because it gives you all choice to play alone, with your heroes, with your henchman or with real people. You can decide whatever you want.

On the other hand i love Coop games which is the most perfect game mode in my opinion. But the reality shows that you often get stupid team mates, leavers, rushers and so an, what kills all the fun there could be. The best way is to don´t take all that to serious. Some times i pay that way, and some times the other.

Sun Jul 12 2009 6:39PM Report
Realbigdeal writes:

Soloing had never been a bad thing. The bad is game that make instance specialy made for soloers like age of conan from lvl 1 to 20 or what starwars kotor will include like instance and story made for single players.

The worst about it, its the mix of carebears and solo players. Without enough penatilies to death, you dont even see the need to play with a group since group or not, you are not more safe.

Sun Jul 12 2009 6:44PM Report
RamenThief7 writes:

Well, I can only say one thing to this. Huh? Are you all forgetting what the double MM's are in front of the word "mmorpg?" Massive Multiplayer, that's what it stands for. Simply put, just play games that are completely solo. In the old game I used to play, Silkroad Online, you could technically solo. But then mobs might kill you if you don't have skills for survival. Or as a merchant, you might want to hire bodyguards (hunters) so that a group of thieves (both npc and real) don't gang-bang you. Point is, soloing just doesn't fit in group games. Simply your own genre for soloing, or create a game that involves instancing (think of Guild Wars). That is what I say here.

Sun Jul 12 2009 6:48PM Report
sunshadow21 writes:

Ive seen many articles on this subject at this point and have come to the conclusion that the real issue is how dependent one is on other players and what mechanisms are available to interact with other players. The first part of it is that many, not all, but many solo players want to be almost completely unaffected by other players in the game. These people need to go play single player games; in an mmo, you will be affected by and affect the game play of others, period. This brings us to the second part; current mechanics tend to limit interaction to active groups, guilds, and an usually limitied auction house of some kind. Also, most instances of interactions seem to revolve around combat. For all their faults, SWG and EVE are good games that demonstrate that noncombat, nongrouping interaction is not only possible but helps deepen community. In short, mmos should have mechanics that require people to be aware of and interact with other players; otherwise its just a glorified mmo. What devs and players need to realize is that the traditional mechanics, grouping and a usually limited and broken auction house, are not the only ones out there.

Sun Jul 12 2009 7:00PM Report
lbnb writes:

A good article Stradden, I agree with you. Then again there were a lot very good points disagreeing with you also. I find myself agreeing with both soloists and with anti-soloists - and those in between. There are good and valid reasons for both soloing and for grouping.

I'm mainly a soloer myself because I don't always have that much time and I tend to play rather irregularly. When I do have time I sometimes play too much and get an overdose. When I'm busy I may take long breaks. This kind of "selfish" behaviour does not sit very well with guilds and may even repel friends. I've actually been kicked out of a guild a few times because I had been logged off too long. Then again, if I had good people I knew and enjoyed playing with I most likely would be more inclined to find the time to play with them more regularly.

So then why do I play MMO if I'm soloing? Because, like many people already pointed out, there are other live people you can make friends with - hard as it may be to find good friends - and chat with. Besides, a world populated with other players feels infinitely more alive than one with only AI NPCs.

I'm not against grouping either. I do join the occasional pick-up group from time to time just to have some company, to do an instance run or to beat a tough mob. Like everyone else, I too have had bad experiences of groups where the run has died in its impossibility after most people had left and been replaced many times over. Or groups where people were just incredibly rude and hateful towards each other, cursing and blaming everyone for their own mistakes. Or groups where everyone was doing whatever they wanted except work as a group. I'm afraid that this is because people do not know how to play in a group anymore. I used to play EQ before and I think that people knew how to work as a group back then a lot better than nowadays. Maybe it really is that MMORPGs don't teach player how to play in a group anymore and that is why so many people end up disliking groups and give up even trying.

I've had great groups too with people with great sense of humor, witty and funny comments flying around, forgiving and understanding attitude even during multiple successive wipes. Simply put, with people having fun and enjoying a good time with other like minded people.

Btw, did anybody notice how community and groups seemed to degrade in WoW right after the launch of WotLK? WotLK raised the level cap and contains a lot of very good solo content, so I guess people just started grinding levels through the solo quest lines and competing for the first level 80 achievements. Just one example of how two seemingly unrelated things can affect group play. I believe that the new solo content wouldn't have caused a problem alone but combined with the raised level cap it created a competition situation where it was easier and faster to just go alone. I rather think that it would have been even more rewarding to enjoy the new content together with friends. It was however, impossible to form good groups as everyone would only stick around for one boss and then rush to do something else.

Man is a lazy creature by nature and tends to choose the path of least resistance and learning to play in a group is not necessarily that path. Therefore, people have to be tought how to, preferably through encouragement instead of force. There are good reasons for soloing even if group play did not produce negative experiences, and that's why I don't think that forcing people to form groups is a good thing. Getting to the max level and getting access to the end-game content should not require grouping because that would be forcing. I do though, agree that not all content and items should be accessible solo, as annoying as it is for a solo player like me. Some of the end-game content (but not all of it) could require grouping.

I'm starting to think that it may not be possible to cater to everyone in one game and that the developers shouldn't even try. After all, it's common knowledge that it is impossible to satisfy everyone. Still I want to believe that is possible to find a golden path and balance the solo and the group content so that both player bases can enjoy the same game and choose when to solo and when to group. I don't know how this could be achieved though, even though I have been pondering this and other problems I've found in MMORPGs during all the years I've been playing them.

Ugh, let my mouth run loose again. End ramblings.
 

Sun Jul 12 2009 7:07PM Report
vknid writes:

Nice read!

I have a question though, what game is that screenshot/image from? The one on the front page you used for this article?

Sun Jul 12 2009 7:51PM Report
Broomy writes:

First off, there is PLENTY of solo content in games nowadays.  Plenty.  So Im not sure what solo players are talking about.  What I do hear is their demand that they should be able to get the SAME rewards as persons that organize large groups of people in order to accomplish a goal.  As a player that loves raiding I find this demand to be irrational.  THAT is the main issue with solers, not the fact that they want to solo, but the fact that they want the SAME rewards as those who have spent hours in a coordinated effort. 

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:07PM Report
Trenchgun writes:

Players want to be the star, they want to feel powerful. Forced grouping makes them feel inept, weak, and incomplete on their own.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:11PM Report
Bakgrind writes:

I to enjoy the solo aspect of many MMO's. The main problem that I have run into is actually finding people on the same part as the quest as I. To many quests have prerequisite are starter quests that you have to do. Nothing is more frustrating than having a couple of quests in your log for days on end :/

I would like to see more quests written in a way that SOE did with EQ2's The Splitpaw Saga. Even though it was a Dungeon of sorts the difficulty of it and rewards was determined by the size of your group.  Surely some developers could incorporate such an idea into their games reguarding all quests.

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:11PM Report
Lavec writes:

The screenshot on the front page is from Guild Wars. It looks like a Dervish from Nightfall hanging out in Eye of the North scenery.

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:17PM Report
tj74 writes:

I have played several MMO's and most of the time it is solo. In fact, i'm often considered to be antisocial but that's not really true. Playing in a group is usually a hassle that just wastes some of the limited time I have to play. I'm not against groups but let's face it there are a lot of personality types in games and trying to find people that you can work with takes the fun out of the game sometimes.

 

The argument that people who don't like to group should just play single player games is rediculous. Grouping is only one aspect of muti player that sets it apart from single player. A group is not required to socialize, trade, etc...

 

I am playing Star Wars Galaxies right now so I will use that as an example. One of the things I do in game is craft and a large part of that involves custom orders from other players. Those orders usually come from people I don't know via in game mail or chatting at the starport or cantina. Generally crafting is a solo activity but it also benefits the community. I imagine that a large number of the people who devote the time needed to develop crafting skills in whatever game wouldn't exist if they listened to the people who told them to just play a single player game if they don't want to play in a group.

 

As I stated earlier I am not against grouping just the idea that it is necessary to enjoy and contribute to a game. There are plenty of ground quests that as a single player I just can't do because they are meant for a group. Some of the best loot can be gotten from these quests and it does frustrate me a little that I can't do them on my own. It's ok though because I agree with a previous poster that due to the added difficulty of working with a group the rewards should be higher. I also know that if there is anything I really want to get that I too have the option of playing in a group to get it.

 

Space is a little different. Just started trying to get master/ace pilot on the rebel side and the final mission is giving me a rough time. I know that if I asked I could get someone to help with it but this is one of those things that you would rather be able to say you did on your own.

/end rant

 

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:27PM Report
LodenDSG writes:

The short of it for me is and always have been that though group play isn't always a bed of roses it is why I play MMOs. Games where solo is the most efficient way to play are a waste for me. I don't like huge guilds, don't play massive raids and if it wasn't for the pick up group where grouping is a must so they take the player they never meet before then I would never be in a group. That's why I think grouping should be the focus not forced (I don't want to have to sit and spam for a group) but there should be a clear and substantial advantage to being in a group even a pickup group if not the majority of players will solo if only out of convenience and will not put forth the effort and contribute to the community at large.
I know all to well that pick up groups can suck in the same light the best players I have meeting and the most fun I have had in my 9 or so years of MMO play have been in pickup groups.
I think DAoC had it pretty well, dungeons where not instanced so you could go in solo and randomly meet people on the inside while soloing the creeps at the entry, each class had its gimp and thus grouping with any one was typically more efficient, faster and just more fun even when the other player was a spaz or what ever else. Vanguard from what I can see (only played the trial) seems to be similar, you can solo a lot but there are points such as dungeons where you need a group just 1 or 2 others to help with the heat is all it takes but there is/ was a clear advantage to grouping over grinding.
 

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:28PM Report
Jimmydean writes:

The problem lies within the current MMORPG community. World of Warcraft brought in a lot of new players to the MMORPG genre, who quite frankly just shouldn't be here at all.

Many of the people I encounter in MMOs these days should be back in the FPS or RTS or RPG genres that they came from. MMORPGs always had their own niche crowd, and now that being a "true MMORPG" is not as profitable, we won't see any true MMORPGs again for a long, long time. 

It truly saddens me. Solo players are always asking for their own game, and yet they have 99 percent of the MMORPG market at the moment. FFXI and EQ are about the only real group oriented MMORPGs left, and they are extremely dated.

Bring us an EQ3. Updated Graphics, Group play, etc.. I'm in, as would be a lot of other people.

Some complain about time constraints, but really the only thing time is constraining you from is getting to max level quickly. If you play 1 hour a day, you better believe it should take 3 times as long as the other person who plays 3 hours a day to accomplish things. This is just how life works. Whining that you "Want it now!" isn't the answer.

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:40PM Report
robotkweafer writes:

 I'm a solo player and completely agree with this article.  One of my biggest gripes is with storyline quests that force grouping.  It is simply too time consuming to form a PUG and go through a dungeon one or more times to complete one quest.  My suggestion is making group quests have an alternative soloable quests with a lesser quest reward.

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:52PM Report
Safra writes:

It's nice that there are so many different games to choose from - no?

I've grouped and solo'ed, I prefere solo. I don't join guilds for this reason as most guildies are whiners who won't leave people alone when they say "no" necessitating me either logging off, or playing a different character that I withheld from the guild. I hate games that put all chars in a guild.

1) I have a lot better things to do with my time than listen to a group of juveniles diss each other.

2) I don't have the time to re-run instances hoping I get what I need to finish a quest line.

3) I don't have huge block of time to devote to someone else's gameplay. 

4) Usually if you world chat eventually someone will enter local chat with you who also doesn't want to group, just chat to break the grind boredom.

Grouping ISN'T fun. Game mechanics that force it are stupid. Games need to be intelligent enough to recognize a group or individual entering an instance and scaling the experience accordingly.

Sun Jul 12 2009 8:58PM Report
D_shandril writes:

I agree with Stradden but I understand the people that are against it but they are against it for the wrong reason. It is true that in a game with Raid that the only purpose is to farm gear like WOW, everquest and the like. To make it easy to get geer solo will destroy the grouping aspect of the game. Farming gear is the problem. Gear should be crafted not  rewards from a raid. farming gear is what make bad community. People are forced to group so they get stronger. So a lot of people a grouping with other only to get better equipment and do not care about the people they are grouping with. There is a lot of good way to make grouping rewarding and fun but farming gear and grinding level is wrong and make bad MMORPG. If developer continu to go in this direction the RPG aspect of those game will stop to exist. It  will exist but in a very very limited way that make it not worth it.

 

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 9:05PM Report
TripFall writes:

What I have to say I didn't see in any other comments, so forgive me if it has been mentioned. Of all those with the "solo play is ruining group play" view, in my experience, it's a little backward. With end-game raids and guilds/groups with high requirements for gear just to be invited to a group, it's no wonder solo play is so popular. I've played a great many MMOs, not just the RPG variety, and when it comes to finding a group, it's almost a catch-22 -- you have to have good gear to get in, but you can't get the good gear without doing the quest/mission. Not to mention the simple and stinging fact that, should you ever be so lucky as to find a group, if your playstyle is different from the rest of the members, you're branded a "noob", never to be invited back.

It then becomes that many players feel they have to either rush through the content alone, grinding for money/items to trade for leveling services (in-game) when needed just to get access to groups, or they can play alone at their own pace, enjoying the game as much as possible.

Another thing I'd like to point out is that the vast majority of the solo play advocates are not asking for gear/items that are comparable to group-play rewards. It reminds me of the claim of WoW that if you want to raid, you need raid-level gear, if you want to complete dungeons, you need dungeon-level gear, and if you want to just play through quests, quest reward and drop gear is fine. In my own experience, I've found this to be true, while soloing and grouping. I don't have time to devote to raiding, and have never done so, but have gotten by quite well in my regular group and soloing with my reward/drop gear.

Just one more thing. For those saying that it makes no sense to play an MMO if you're never going to interact with others, you must not have read any of the comments. Most people here have said they chat, trade, help, and even group-up with people in these MMOs. Their only requirements for grouping seem to be first determining whether the people, of the millions playing and available for interaction, are like-minded individuals with the same playstyles and time constraints (or at least the understanding of theirs).

Sun Jul 12 2009 9:53PM Report
Eindrachen writes:

Stradden makes excellent points.  I think those MMOs that offer more variety of gameplay do much better.

Sun Jul 12 2009 10:02PM Report
Deewe writes:

Stradden you have some interesting poinst but you are forgetting a few  key point.

Most if not all the games lacks the tools to enhance grouping.

First levels, they add a constraint if not a barrier to grouping.

Second know who / what quest / where / what level / what kind of gmae play. No game has a tool that answer all theses questions.

Third PUGs / anon and ignore features. Simplu put no MMO so far has the righ features to let avoid players, not characters and log in anonymous. So most players avoid PUG as once you grouped with the wrong peersons you might end annoyed for some time.

Fourth play time: no game has mechanics that let you lock the status of an instance then finish it later. And the more it goes the more busy players in RL join the MMOs and time is a big constraint.

 

So until a MMO solves the 4 above issues most players will play alone or stick with their old friends.

Sun Jul 12 2009 10:08PM Report
Deewe writes:

#@#$! typos  this topic deserved a thread... so we can quote and edit.

Sun Jul 12 2009 10:10PM Report
Mobfigure writes:

It’s often like oil and water, mixing the two just leaves you slippery and wet
 

thats what she said. /gg

Sun Jul 12 2009 10:15PM Report
araczynski writes:

AMEN, this is what i've been saying for literray many years.  it is precisely why i never play an mmo for longer than a couple months, as that is when the "group to progress" further game mechanics kick in and i stop having fun, so i stop paying.

you need to forward this to all the brain dead copy/paste mmo develoeprs that think 100% of the market wants PvE and Group only junk.

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:00PM Report
Ramonski7 writes:

I agree with your articles points, but instead of further alienating soloist from players that enjoy grouping, maybe you could offer a few solutions to go along with your viewpoint?

If not it will always come off as being divisive. And generalized statements like: "Developers need to caters to both." won't cut it  if we are to find a common ground as mmo'ers.

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:37PM Report
arctarus writes:

MM doesn't mean group, just like RP doesn't mean you must role play in order to play MMoRPg.  Get it?

So stop all the nonsense of going to play single player games for soloist.

Problem is time have change, mmo use to be a niche market for grouping. But ever since WoW comes out it brings in more and more types of players.

Players that like fantasy, players that like sci-fci, etc etc...

All of us wants the game that we support to have more players, thus more revenue and thus be able to come out with more contents...

It will be very selfish for players to expect a company, after spending millions on a project, to only cater to them.

Those devs need money too to feed their families...

So in order for a game to have more players, they will need to be able to cater to all kinds of playstyle.

By the way, so far all the QQ about soloist wants the same epics as the groupers is from groupers, from those so-call hardcore players. I didnt hear anything like that from soloist.

All they ever ask is for the end-game to be more solo-friendly, rather than only grouping content...

So cut them some slacks ok? And be more accommodating, since you are more sociable?

By the way War fails not because of force gr

 

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:48PM Report
arctarus writes:

MM doesn't mean group, just like RP doesn't mean you must role play in order to play MMoRPg.  Get it?

So stop all the nonsense of going to play single player games for soloist.

Problem is time have change, mmo use to be a niche market for grouping. But ever since WoW comes out it brings in more and more types of players.

Players that like fantasy, players that like sci-fci, etc etc...

All of us wants the game that we support to have more players, thus more revenue and thus be able to come out with more contents...

It will be very selfish for players to expect a company, after spending millions on a project, to only cater to them.

Those devs need money too to feed their families...

So in order for a game to have more players, they will need to be able to cater to all kinds of playstyle.

By the way, so far all the QQ about soloist wants the same epics as the groupers is from groupers, from those so-call hardcore players. I didnt hear anything like that from soloist.

All they ever ask is for the end-game to be more solo-friendly, rather than only grouping content...

So cut them some slacks ok? And be more accommodating, since you are more sociable?

By the way War fails not because of force gr

 

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:48PM Report
arctarus writes:

MM doesn't mean group, just like RP doesn't mean you must role play in order to play MMoRPg.  Get it?

So stop all the nonsense of going to play single player games for soloist.

Problem is time have change, mmo use to be a niche market for grouping. But ever since WoW comes out it brings in more and more types of players.

Players that like fantasy, players that like sci-fci, etc etc...

All of us wants the game that we support to have more players, thus more revenue and thus be able to come out with more contents...

It will be very selfish for players to expect a company, after spending millions on a project, to only cater to them.

Those devs need money too to feed their families...

So in order for a game to have more players, they will need to be able to cater to all kinds of playstyle.

By the way, so far all the QQ about soloist wants the same epics as the groupers is from groupers, from those so-call hardcore players. I didnt hear anything like that from soloist.

All they ever ask is for the end-game to be more solo-friendly, rather than only grouping content...

So cut them some slacks ok? And be more accommodating, since you are more sociable?

By the way War fails not because of force gr

 

 

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:48PM Report
arctarus writes:

ouping, but the gameplay is too boring and too many bugs...

Sun Jul 12 2009 11:49PM Report
sirrrius writes:

I am a soloist also, but I like to group with friends or my guildies,

but some games make grouping a falacy, Take Flyff, the moment you group with someone , your hit rate halves, then you have to hit the same npc or else maybe get killed.

I love interaction with npc and players alike,  but I don't want to have to group in order to get anywhere in an mmo.

I play eve online, I am in a corporation, but I don't have to group to get anywhere, I group because I want to group.

and that is what it comes down too, I don't play games that make me or others do things they don't want , this is suposed to be fun, not forced action by the game content.

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 12:03AM Report
DaNippers writes:

Agree whole heartedly, MMO's had a LONG run of Group demanding players, I think we need more MMO's that simulate Choices as life does.

In life I can work alone or in groups, If I choose to. Just because the employee preffers working alone doesn't mean he/she will not be rich, He'll just take longer and have to work harder to get there.

And yes I am getting tired of telling the Group centered (Not group enjoying) players, that if they want me to leave the game for a offline game then they need to sign ff, build me a game that's as good as an MMO, with all the socialization chances, and then distribute it...

The facts are, MMO is MMO (multi-player online) it is NOT MGO (Multi-Group Online). So people need to realize, solo and group play on a MMO is all a means to the same ends, just all in how one finds the fun. Chat and quest/mission? or Group and Quest/mission... It's all good if it's akll fun :)

Mon Jul 13 2009 12:12AM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Veiwed 4444 times, had to post. I believe in having a balance of grouping and solo play. Not everyone is going to feel like playing the same type of game, the same type of way every time. The dev's need to realize that. However the japanese are a group minded culture and we ( western ) are not. If you don't want to group in a game and can't go solo, find a new game until then.

Mon Jul 13 2009 12:23AM Report
elsdragon writes:

i can't believe how real and true this post is.

i believe in this 100% of everything.

Mon Jul 13 2009 12:50AM Report
Hyanmen writes:

Life doesn't stimulate Choices.

Maybe few hundred million people have a choice as to whether work alone or in group (grouping is always preferred), but about 4~5 billion people don't have a choice.

Mon Jul 13 2009 1:01AM Report
Alcuin writes:

 I'm not against solo content at all, but I agree with many who say that groups should be able to do some things easier than those who go it alone.

I also will go as far to say that I think MMOs should encourage grouping by giving a small bonus to XP for groups.  Imagine wanting more people in your group so you would progress faster.

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 1:35AM Report
vasilcho writes:

Im not against solo, I happen to do it a lot of the time since I work on shifts and Im able to play early in the morning for example. But cmon, MM is exactly what it stands for. Too bad so many people cannot understand how a group/clan based gameplay is superior to everything you can throw out going solo, but yeah, long live 10 year olds :)

Mon Jul 13 2009 1:54AM Report
vasilcho writes:

oh and btw L2 is a classic example of game, balanced around group combat. and its still pointed like the premium pvp game on the market. problem with WAR wasnt only the balance, its the lack of ganking abilities, both solo an group, which orivide you with a little trill every now and then when the big things aint happening 

Mon Jul 13 2009 1:57AM Report
Eladi writes:

L2 is single player ballanced.

each class is ballanced against each other and you can do solo stuff.  the base game just lies in qonquest and that you cant do if your 1vs 10.. so it natural evolves into group play, even if its single player ballanced

Mon Jul 13 2009 2:28AM Report
Trogdorn writes:

Finally, someone explains what is, I believe, to be a very large percentage of the MMO dempgraphic. I group when friends are available or need help but mostly it's about solo play, at my speed and with my objectives. Good article....

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:05AM Report
Scot writes:

---NEWS FLASH---

MMORPG.com does another article which tries to smack down what makes MMO’s so good! First it’s how F2P(RMT) games are better than subscription MMo’s, secondly how MMOs are much better when they can be run on your granddads PC, thirdly how roleplaying servers are a waste of time and finally how we don’t need grouping.


Oh, its not a news flash is it? It is more of the same from what we should now have come to expect from the staff on this site who clearly find it hard not to dish out their personnel playing preferences as informed opinion.

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:14AM Report
sazabi writes:

grouping is not for everyone?

ofcourse its not, but then again why play a mmo if you never group? if you dont care who buys your items off the market/auction?

the buyer might as well be an npc right?

play a singleplayer game.

 

jeeez it seems mmo is becoming such a trend  that everyone wants to play them no matter what. pathetic.

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:39AM Report
Yasou writes:

Good article Stradden and glad you brought that up.

Grouping requires at lot of time (only to find a group and meet at the right spot takes approx. 20 min in any MMO) and if you work 100% and come home late in the evening you don't have time to wait for a group to get ready.

Therefore the issue I see is merely how the devs introduced grouping:

- the strict balance it is almost always requiring (tank, dps, heal)

- the time it takes to rush through an instance (in some games when you die it means starting all over)

- and the fact that it is mostly gear-dependent (some instance cannot be completed if you do not have the uber-gear from the previous released instance).

This scheme is okay for hardcore raiders (and I have been one) ready to spend 4h-6h every evening. But how many out there are able & willing to go on like this for Months?

In addition, yes I would love to get the same gear in duo-ing the instance for example, as grouping should be there for fun, not as a requirements (we do have enough already in real life). Therefore we should be able to decide between soloing, duo-ing, or larger groups, but with the same rewards (as the difficulty should be scalable based on the number of players - for instanced dungeons).

I realize some games will definitely not aim towards this type of scheme and I respect that, however I just wish we had more games aiming towards the fun factor for everyone, as I don't think it's fair to include large portions of the game unaccessible to players who cannot spend hours on end raiding, as those are paying for the subscription fee just like anyone else.

Mon Jul 13 2009 4:03AM Report
Wrayeth writes:

I used to do solo PvP a lot in EVE Online back before mechanics changes made it stupidly difficult (I still do it, sometimes, though).  I enjoyed the challenge and the freedom from having to coordinate with a group who may or may not be on the ball and paying full attention, not to mention competent.

I used to have friends who just couldn't understand why I was playing an MMO if I wasn't going to do anything with other players.  My response?  "I am interacting with other players - they just happen to be the people I'm shooting."

Mon Jul 13 2009 5:19AM Report
Greenie writes:

When he stated group mechanics were what was hurting WAR he lost all credibility right there.

Mon Jul 13 2009 5:31AM Report
solarine writes:

Off the top of my head, a few ways to be really social without ever grouping up in MMOs:

-Talk to people. Meet strangers. Make comments about their characters, gear... Salute, and be saluted in return. Yep, they are not NPCs, it's human beings you are talking to. Random chat and interaction with strangers is something you cannot find in any other game type apart from MMOs. Grouping not required.

- Kill people. Attack random strangers. Dance on top of their corpses. Get smack talk in return. Or just blow it and get mocked in return. Really, some of the most interesting acquintances I've had in MMOs started out with me trying to ambush a stranger and get my butt handed to me or vice versa. Grouping not required, even better when done solo. Massive, persistant world required.

- Trade with people. Advertise your good, shout out your prices, consistently put your goods out there... You'll be surprised how many people you'll get to know this way. In some games, just through trading, I've made a bigger friend list than nearly all of my raiding/ group playing friends. Grouping not required. Massive, persistant world required. 

All of the above provide you with quite rich content without use of groups. And they are exclusive to MMOs.

So, people who still tell solo players to "go play a single player game" seem to not give this stuff any thought at all.

Mon Jul 13 2009 6:40AM Report
Arath writes:

The problem I have seen with solo players (and one this article seems to ignore) is that they want a game that offers the same content/experience to someone who solos as to someone who groups. This just isn't feasible.

At best I can envision having seperate instances for people who want to solo and those who want to group as well as quests that scale depending on the number of people involved.

However we then get remarks from the solo player that they want access to that instance and that experience that was designed for the group and as a result consider this forced grouping. 

To use your analogue of the real world, if you want the best rewards in life you have to accept that you need to interact and work with people towards a common goal even if the reward is for the individuals. No one is begrudging people the experience of single player content in an MMO, but they must accept that design constraints mean everything cannot be catered towards them.

Mon Jul 13 2009 6:44AM Report
Antiquitas writes:

   If asked do I enjoy soloing my answer would be a resounding yes. Can it be done in every game? - in my experience yes with challenges of course. Maybe I bore easily,  but part of it is I'm not about the grind, pvp or "playing" the game. To me its an escape to be someone different for a brief time. A chance to live in those fantasy worlds read about as a child. In part it's also my fault I solo often since my RP characters tend to be the anti-hero loner types.

   Experience has taught me it takes time to find someone with my style of gameplay. I made the mistake once of grouping with a gold farmer who started out with a few words of conversation then leveled the country side for the next 45 minutes to an hour as I watched for the last half hour.  Outside of the LOTRO SOurce group I used to deal with can't say I've met anyone in WOW,DDO,EQ that I'd group with often outside my circle of friends. 

All said if I could ever find a company willing to allow me to set up my own private server and intranet I'd do so gladly keeping the world to the 20 or so people locally that play along with me. It's not that I want to play solo just difficult to find the "real" people in these digital worlds. It would be great to start out in an untainted Azeroth, Middle Earth,etc without the liet speak, player killing, etc and knowing that nobody has crossed the ground you're about to walk on - at least not on this server.

Mon Jul 13 2009 7:13AM Report
Sixpax writes:

I have several problems with this mentality:

1) Not every MMORPG should be designed to cater to the solo-er.  I don't have a problem with people who like to solo in whatever MMORPG they enjoy.  The problem I have is when those people expect the devs to cater to that play style in games that aren't designed for solo play.  There's literally hundreds of MMO's that you can solo in... feel free to go play any one of them if you like that sort of thing.  But don't expect ALL of them to be solo friendly.  FFXI, for instance, would not have been the same great game that many of us play(ed) and love(d) if it weren't for the forced grouping.

2) You can't make an MMORPG that's satisfies both crowds.  Sure you can have solo content and group content in the same game, but that's not the same as saying you've satisfied both types of people.  It's not about being able to solo vs. being able to group, it's about being able to solo vs. HAVING to group.  Don't confuse the two.  There's a world of difference between games that have solo & group content and those that have forced grouping... the community being a very notable one.

3) The low playtime mentality.  Now I can definitely relate to those who don't have a lot of playtime and like soloing.  I think it's great that there are MMORPG's that you can enjoy... really, I do.  But I approach an MMORPG like watching a movie.  If I only have 30 mintues to an hour and know that I won't be able to watch a full movie, I won't watch it.  I'll do something else that I can fit into that block of time.  When I sit down to play an MMORPG, I do my best to make sure I have 2+ hours to play.  Even with a full schedule like some of you have, it's not that hard to set a large chunk of time aside a few nights a week to devote to an MMORPG.  If not, well again, there's hundreds of games that you can play without needing a lot of time... don't expect them all to be that way.

Mon Jul 13 2009 7:45AM Report
Aryas writes:

I love playing MMOs because I like the idea of a ‘living’ world and community of players. I regularly participate in in-game chat and always join guilds to try and make friends. However, I primarily play solo for a number of reasons: 1) I often have limited game time so searching for groups and/or doing big missions can be hard for me to commit to, 2) Unfavourable game mechanics.

There are two game mechanics which particularly wreck my grouping possibilities: 1) Huge zones that take ages to traverse – I often don’t have the time to travel from one side of the map to another (Age of Conan), 2) Multi-stage quests – I’m always a stage behind and often players won’t help me catch up (Warhammer).

Personally, I’d like to see every game 100% soloable but with dungeons, etc taking significantly longer (e.g. 10x longer) if you solo, thus making people want to group to speed things up, not HAVE to group just to try it. As others have mentioned, inflexible games will only appeal to a restricted audience.

Finally, I remember discussing this matter in a forum once with some guy who claimed to run a business, own his own home and have a family yet still find plenty of time for hardcore gaming in WoW. Either that chap was exceptional, an exceptional liar or his life was on the brink of collapse.

Mon Jul 13 2009 7:58AM Report
Matzon writes:

I disagree.
You mentioned WAR. In this game for example a lot of player saying that they can't bring down a special class: the WP/DoK. Even with 5 people they can't do it. So the WP/DoK is OP.
This is the result, the result of easy groupless leveling.
You don't have to know all your skills to reach the endlevel.
You don't need to know the skills of your online mates.
It's not necessary in a world of group free leveling.

Every MMO-gamer of former groupbased MMORPGs like EQ2/DAoC knows his skills, the skills of his groupmates and their synergetic effects.
The result of groupbase playstyle: Every halfway skilled player knows that you only need 1 or 2 CC an the above mentioned WP/DoK is history.

cu
M
 

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:07AM Report
Aryas writes:

I just wanted to add that even though I haven’t played WoW for ages now, it did have some of the best game mechanics for players like me. Particularly at the lower levels, quests were concise so you could group up for short periods without having to get your PA to rearrange your week. Many of them were near each other so you didn’t need to circumnavigate the globe to try another one. Most multistagers appeared to be designed to be soloed anyway. Often you didn’t HAVE to group to do a quest, which you could always spend more time at or come back at a later level.

As for those suggesting allocating time for gaming, babies, careers and crises don’t tend to recognise ‘allocated time’. Uncertainty is part of adult life and for obvious reasons, repeatedly pressing the no. 4 key on a computer keyboard to ensure the death of a monster in a fantasy world usually takes 2nd place to a number of other things, should they arise.

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:11AM Report
sifudoja writes:

I completely agree with you, man.

I've been trying to make the same point for years, i'm glad you decided to put to post it, because you make that same point alot better than i can, lol.

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:40AM Report
Sabiancym writes:

Solo all you want, just don't whine that you can't get the same elite level item/skill by soloing an hour day that other players attain by grouping for days on end.

That is why I have a problem with some, keyword some, solo players.  They seem to want the same rewards as the hardcore, with a fraction of the effort.

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:44AM Report
popinjay writes:

Ahh. If only Warhammer's REAL problem was that people were playing the game "wrong". This has been rehashed so many times its not funny.

There WERE huge imbalances in the game that had nothing to do with group play. Witch Elves were just insanely powered up and ripped apart clothies without any buffs at all. Once they got buffed, they were ridiculous. Warpriests are STILL overpowered just as BW's are. All of this had nothing to do with people not wanting to group really and more to do with certain classes begin over the top.

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:55AM Report
Cereo writes:

I totally agree with the theme Stradden is saying. People always claim WoW started this carebear soloist path but did anyone play Ultima? I soloed 95% of the time in that game and I loved every minute of it. Then I thought, hey I bet my friends would like this game, so I got 4 of my friends to play. I almost exclusively played by myself or with them.

I would explore on my own, found things that killed me, then called up my friends and tackled the challenges. Then the loot that dropped I could save or trade. Do fanatics that scream we are anti-social realize you do not have to group with PUGS to get social interactions from an MMO, right?

What about the things I craft? The items I gather? The loot that is shiny that I do not want? In MMOs, it goes to other players that can use it. In MMOs, those other players, even if I didn't want to interact with them in Ultima had scary RED names that forced me to interact with them for small periods of time. I enjoyed that and it was a huge risk as a solo player. Forcing me to group with people I don't know to fight a harder monster does not make me anti-social, it makes the game have a terrible game design and alienates most MMOers.

If I wanted to take down a dragon, I needed help and I needed time. I could allocate that time on some occasions and I looked forward to it and it kept me coming back to want to play. If I couldn't solo most of the week until I could gather my friends together and the game forced me to group to play like in FFXI, I'd quit playing and so would at least 11 million people that understand WoW has very smart game mechanics.

The last screaming I here is, loot and rewards. Have you people that complained about solo players actually played WoW? I can get to 80 in WoW or 40 in WAR without grouping ever, sure. But I cannot join a guild that actually raids most of the time. I cannot go to the Black Temple and fight the end bosses. I will never see them, I will never get those epic items, and YOU can if you invest the time.  What more do YOU want? You get to experience some of the coolest parts of the game that I'll never have time to see, and now you're so fanatical you want to actually take away MY fun also? Just go away and be "social" in your fake worlds and keep thinking it is real life you are progressing in. And I'll keep my job, my girlfriend, my friends, and my life and go cry about how "anti-social" I am, since that's obviously the reality YOU forced groupers seem to see.

Spot on Stradden, good job on your article.

Mon Jul 13 2009 9:05AM Report
SkipMeister writes:

There isn't a problem with solo play in an MMO, the problem is that people level all the way to the level cap solo then decide to group up.  They are clueless how to play in a group and end up ruining the experience for everyone involved.  There are more retards in WoW than I can shake a stick at because that's all they ever did, solo.  At least when I had a PUG in EverQuest I new the other players new their role and how to play their characters even if I didn't care for them.

Mon Jul 13 2009 10:26AM Report
SteamRanger writes:

Great read, Jon. I have a theory about advocates of forced grouping. It seems to me that they cry an awful lot for game developers to create content to make people play with them. In truth could these be the social misfits and not the people who are content to play solo? These are the people who make harsh restrictions about who is and isn't good enough to be in their group, yet they are always the ones who can't take two steps unless they have a full group with them. These are the players who broadcast constantly on the LFG channels trying to recruit assistance for even the most rudimentary quests. Groups should be formed of people you want to play with, not people you're forced to endure because of poor design.

In my  mind, the soloer is the better player. We have to be more resourceful, more self-reliant than those who won't venture into a dangerous area without a full gang to protect them. I really don't see how anyone who mainly groups can stand around bragging about some magnificent item they got when said item was obtained only because you were part of a large group, a cog in the wheel as it were. It is shared victory. Without a group, these people are helpless.

The MMORPG standard of challenge seems to be stuffing a small area with a bunch of densely-packed high-resistance mobs so that soloers cannot effectively manage combat well enough to progress. That's not challenge, it's just fodder for gangs of players to steamroll. Frankly, I'm pretty sick of soloing through a lengthy quest line for minimal return only to run into a "group only" wall when I come to the real payoff.

Mon Jul 13 2009 10:35AM Report
Astralglide writes:

I totally agree with Stradden here. I do a lot of grouping in MMO's, but I really like to solo a lot of the time as well. WAR (which I play) is balanced completely for group play and solo-questing with certain classes is terrible (My DOK can solo most things and my Sorc gets stepped on waaaaaay to easily) and the fun of the game suffers for it. WoW used to try to force group play by having a lot of quests that forced you to find other people who were on that same quest or were nice enough to help- thankfully they've taken out most of that and left the group quests where they belong: Intances, Raids, and PvP.

Mon Jul 13 2009 10:59AM Report
wizlmtz writes:

It seems that all of us agree with Stradden, but whats the best mmo out for soloing... whats the best for grouping? and is there one that has a mixture of both? Ive been searching for a new game and it seems like everyone i try im disapointed with... Id like to find one that has pvp but doesnt force everyone to be pricks.... One that you could solo if you felt like it or group if your feeling social.

Mon Jul 13 2009 12:06PM Report
Quale writes:

Group play is king, there can be no substitute.

Social dependency and interaction is as fundemental to a human being as group dynamics is to the real fun of a mmo.

Neither the complexity of a challenge nor the rewards of group play can be offered to a solo character without largely ruining the game. So the answer has to lie somewhere else.

A game design gets the players it deserves and as long as mmo's tries to be everything for everyone, they're not gonna take it to the next artistic level.

They might take it to the next financial level though, and noone here can trump money.

Mon Jul 13 2009 1:31PM Report
turkwhip writes:

I agree with Stradden. Further to that, I think that the exact same rewards should exist for solo as for group as long as it's equally hard to achieve. I mean, if you want to group, then group. If you don't, then don't.  But why should the one that LIKES to group be rewarded more so than someone that LIKES to solo? Unfortunately, those rewards are rarely equally dispursed among those two camps. Solo players always get the shaft.

Mon Jul 13 2009 2:10PM Report
Dragonalf writes:

All I can say is that someone finally managed to accomplish what all of us "solo" MMO players have been trying to get across to the "you must group to play MMOs" crowd.

John's comments are spot on and articulate well our reasons and motivations.

Personally, I prefer to play MMOs with my small group of real-life friends who I've chosen to associate with because they mirror my own motivations and wants from a game. You simply don't get this with a large majority of the pick-up players and with time-to-play a precious commodity, I need to make sure my group play time is used for maximum achievement.

When my buddies are not available, I prefer to solo so that, again, I can maximize the time I play to the greatest rewards (bang for your buck, so to speak).

And for those from the crowd that don't understand this mentality, at least understand that when I play in this manner, it makes ME happy. Because, in the end, I'm not playing these games to make happy those that think MMOs should be played in a group all the time and to maxmimize socialization, I play them the way I do because it makes ME happy!

Thanks again, John, for finally putting into words why MANY MMO players enjoy the solo experience of MMOs more than the general group experience!

Mon Jul 13 2009 2:15PM Report
thark writes:

I do NOT agree !!

Solo play adds barren games with less talk and worse community..If players knows they can SOLO all the way , they will, and this creates some serious flaws in a MMORPG concept.

And if you want to talk about forced grouping, let's talk about forced solo play aswell, as most games introduces nowadays !!

And yes I know I can group up for SOLO content, but how fun is that ?

 

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 2:18PM Report
faxnadu writes:

 i will agree totally. mostly i think i my opinion what bigger group the easier i dont want that.

all i want to be on my own like in real life and hang around with mates ALSO ingameworld. the reason for not to group is simple. and the reason not to only play single player games is.

the world is alive and there are actually real people behind the toons not just programmed npcs.

in real life i wont go buy a milk in shop with 40 people either.

Mon Jul 13 2009 2:55PM Report
Electro057 writes:

I enjoy solo play because I often show up in a MMO after the population has all left.....always happens so far....and if its group play then I can't level. Also I hate the people that scream things like "BORING" or w.e when doing a group quest and an NPC is talking, let me listen to the story dammit. I do like to RP and socialize though, just not be forced to in a group of 10 year old retards.

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:18PM Report
Hoochler writes:

I agree 100% that grouping should not be forced on anyone. I am a solo player in every MMO I play, playing solo lets me relax from a long day at work without having to interact with anyone as I enjoy the content.

In some games that force grouping I have 2-boxed, but that can get old and I eventually lose interest.

For those who would like to force grouping on others, here are some reasons I enjoy playing solo in an MMO that go beyond what the author wrote.

* Huge worlds to explore with regularly updated zones and content.
* I can craft and take part in a player driven economy (if one is available).
* It is fun to see other players running around even if I never group with them.
* There is sometimes good things that can be learned (or unique opportunities to be had) by reading the general chat.
* In summary, there is a lot of fun to be had in MMO’s.

I am even OK if they give XP bonuses to groupers to encourage grouping, just don’t make it impossible to solo if that is the choice the player makes. If the game UTTERLY can only be balanced by forming a group, give us the choice to hire competent NPC mercenaries to fill key group slots or something similar like Guild Wars and now EQ.

It’s OK with me if these mercs cost money and/or take up XP. As long as I can still make some measurable money and XP myself I am happy as long as I am able to tackle the content available to groupers and groupers still have a motivation to group.

City of Heroes/Villians is a game that is for the most part very solo friendly but grouping sees you advance faster and you don’t need a mercenary.

Raiding (and the associated loot) can remain entirely in the domain of groupers for all I care. Faster XP, more money and raid loot, what more incentive do groupers need to engage in a behavior they all claim to want to do?

It is just plain bad business to alienate solo players because their money can help pay the cost of development of new games, expansions and new content in a game just as well as the hard core groupers.
 

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:35PM Report
LordDmaster writes:

solo or group both are fine as long as you make it fit the quest if you will. I do not see someome killing something hard like a "dragon" by themself or fighting an army but, goblins or dogs are fine. If you make a game that to easy and even solo is boreing then forget it. To me the game needs to be hard. If I fill like I'm playng checkers than I will live your game for something harder. Yes I do Solo most of the time. But Endgame or upper levels need to be for groups, because its to hard to solo.

Mon Jul 13 2009 3:56PM Report
badgerer writes:

I think that players will play any part of a game that is well designed. No-one wants to miss out on opportunities in a game because of their "playstyle" somehow precluding it.

I think playstyle is a bit of a myth, and mmos continue to perpetuate that myth by dilineating and seperating types of content. Make any part of a game a truly fun experience, and people will play it. WoW is a pretty good example - I tried everything the game has to offer because every part has a compelling reason to participate, both by grouping or those parts which can be soloed.

If developers continue to cater to all these supposed playstyles, the players will continue to think more like one of those targets. Sure there are plenty of hardcore pvpers who would identify as such, but this must be in large part because of an increasing number of games that will specificly target that audience.

For games trying to build communities, it seems like counter-intuitive thinking to me for developers to seperate their player base into casual/hardcore, pve/pvp, and solo/group divisions. What is fun to do in your game?

And the same goes for the players. I would suggest that it would be healithier for the genre for you to forget about what sort of player you are, and explore a game on its merits. If there is compelling reason to group, you will.

Mon Jul 13 2009 4:48PM Report
viktimized writes:

I cant enjoy a game while soloing it. i get way to bored   I dont play single player games period. mmo or otherwise. and im sure i will be told im missing out on great games, but ive never really been a gamer interested in story line unless it just happens to place itself in my group play. (dont get me wrong there are games that i have playedbecause they are just great games but thats very few) but thats just me

Mon Jul 13 2009 5:59PM Report
scribbles23 writes:

I think the belief that solo players feel entitled to the same rewards as people who raid or group is largely an overstatement, judging by the comments of most solo players who have posted here.  Most solo players, myself included, just want to be able to play a well-developed game in which they can talk to others who share the same interests.  MMORPGs offer elements that most offline games do not.  First, they offer variety of gameplay.  Most offer combat, crafting, an economy of sorts, achievements, a massive world to explore, and often, a card game.  Secondly, MMORPGs are updated constantly, with additional content and bug fixes.  When an offline game reaches this point (which it won't, since the monthly subscription pays for the updates), then I will be happy to take my gaming offline.

Mon Jul 13 2009 7:03PM Report
hraeth writes:

I absolutely agree.  I left MMO's due to the complete lack of high end solo content.  As has been stated above multiple times I don' t always have the time or desire to raid / build a group.  What I'd like to add is that we aren't looking for freebies.  I'd love to see solo content with raid level gear drops that was hard.  Really HARD!  Make the content just as difficult for a solo player as raid content is for the raiders.  If we soloists want the great gear we should have to work for it just as hard as the raiders.  Just don't force us to work for it in raids.  For a lot of people a hectic and consistent raiding schedule just isn't fun.  And fun is why we play.

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:20PM Report
Asellia writes:

Honestly, while this is a good article, and I agree with points both sides are making, in my opinion, game developers SHOULDNT cater to everyone, they should make the game how their vision is, and if people do not like the game, they shouldn't play it. Constantly feeling like other people are wrong, or it should be changed because of your opinion is silly as everyone has conflicting opinions.

Mon Jul 13 2009 9:50PM Report
Vrazule writes:

There is no point in trying to make groupers and raiders understand, they just don't care.  So, instead of trying to integrate them, just make seperate games.  That way soloers no longer have to be second rate gamers and the hardcore achievers can wave their e-peens at each other.

Tue Jul 14 2009 12:05AM Report
Nirwyl writes:

Nice one.

Tue Jul 14 2009 12:18AM Report
Sweede writes:

Back in everquest around 2001 when i started grouping was fun and making a misstake was not the end of the world, fast forward to today and World of warcraft, grouping/going to bg's/doing arena has become hardcore, i play all classes and i sure don't know everything about all, so grouping will be frustrating since it is assumed that you know everything about your class and the instance you are in, people seem so damn elitist these days, at least to me that takes away the fun in grouping.

And as many others i have other things to do, and i can't stand playing same char for to long so i like the freedom of soloing.

I do howerver help out when i can, or stand around buffing peopel and participate in general chat.

Tue Jul 14 2009 4:14AM Report
Matzon writes:

I totaly agree with SkipMeister. Short but true!

Tue Jul 14 2009 8:35AM Report
Kaynos1972 writes:

I like to solo, for me the biggest pain factor about grouping is the huge amount of time wasted looking for peoples and when you finally ready to go, there is always someone that need to get afk for some reasons. In resume solo you control what you do, in team other are in control that's what i dislike.

Tue Jul 14 2009 9:22AM Report
SnarlingWolf writes:

I started off MMOs grouping. In The Realm I grouped, in UO I played mostly solo. Then EQ and AC came along and I grouped up a ton in those games.

 

The reason I stopped grouping in the new audiences that came in. When MMOs were dorky and nerdy only more mature crowds would play, people who respected one another and wanted to create an experience (that's also why early UO worked with FFA, full loot PvP but it will never work again). Then WoW opened up the eyes of more casual players, younger players, and less mature players. These people really brought MMOs down, and they were people who were not fun at all to group with.

 

So I did what everyone else did, I started to play solo because I just couldn't stand these new types of people that played MMOs. In LotRO I grouped some, the audience seemed more mature then WoW, but I still tried to do most solo because other players turned me into that.

 

However I do believe groups should have rewards that can only be gotten in groups, someone who is solo should never be able to have as good of gear/items as group players. But at the same time they won't need them since they'll be doing all solo content anyways.

Tue Jul 14 2009 11:14AM Report
vasilcho writes:

Eladi you sure we're talking about the same game here?:) or you've just played to lvl 10? 

Tue Jul 14 2009 12:31PM Report
Ethian writes:

GWs for me is a perfect example of a good mix of grouping and soloing. The best of both worlds are right at my finger tips. Great job at getting something right NCSOFT!!

Tue Jul 14 2009 12:43PM Report
Pinkerl writes:

i read a tiny bit and yeah i agree... people that solo in mmo... dont recommend us to play single player games cause we want to be in massive world.  we love to show off and competition. we love to be what we want in mmo. we are a silent pker.

Tue Jul 14 2009 5:09PM Report
Pinkerl writes:

.........i mean i do group time by time with strangers but most time i solo pk.

Tue Jul 14 2009 5:10PM Report
Soara writes:

Yay!! Great blog! =)

Tue Jul 14 2009 5:31PM Report
pitahpixel writes:

That is the exact reason why I quit Final Fantasy XI. This game simply forced you to play in a group leaving almost no space for soloing. The way I want to live my life is that I can turn off the game whenever I need to - whether it's my younger bro who wants to play with me atm or that I have to go out for a jog. Does that mean I shouldn't be playing MMOs? As you said, no. Because the idea of socialising is still there, I just want my independance and freedom. Final Fantasy was "eating" almost all of my free time and it really didn't feel right. Hopefully people will understand that now.

Tue Jul 14 2009 6:26PM Report
TsukieU writes:

I don't think there should be no solo content in games...I just think that group content should be more attractive.

 

The problem I have with games these days is that solo play is so much more desirable than group play...that it comes to a point where grouping is actually a hindrance to progression.

 

I would like to see games be more group focused.  Sure, solo play is possible, and viable...but it's more of an advantage to take part in group play.

Tue Jul 14 2009 6:30PM Report
bort3000 writes:

Great article!! I read a comment stating that there is hardly anyone to group with anymore since everyone is soloing. Well...the soloers are only there since they enjoy soloing and the game allows them to do so, otherwise they wouldn't play that particular game. That being the case, you would still have the same amount of group players to choose from since the soloers would either be playing the game solo, or not playing the game at all. If it doesn't already exist, a nice game mechanic to benefit ALL players would be a "flag" that a player is interested in joining a group.

Im just curious if players that consider themselves "group" players have EVER done a solo mission/quest. (im guessing i know the answer) If so, this justifies the need to at least have solo content in the game. And for anyone who has NEVER played solo, you are certainly getting the most out of the game that you possibly can, kudos!! :)

To me, it's about choice and just having the CHOICE to solo most or all of  time, or solo today and group tomorrow, or group most or all of the time is what makes any MMO experience truly uniqe from other types of  games...imho...cheers!

Tue Jul 14 2009 7:21PM Report
seelx writes:

I'm amused that many people have confused grouping with being social.  I would not describe a group that kills, kills, kills, complains about not getting heals, kill, kills, level as fast as you can, kill, as being social.

Many of the solo players I've met are very social.

I've met very few groups that in any way even pretended to role play.  I read several posts that say soloers should leave the mmorpg genere.  It's amusing, but I'd say the power levelers, and those wanting their gear to be better than other peoples, etc, should get their own genre.  These people are mmo, but rarely orpg.

Tue Jul 14 2009 7:37PM Report
bort3000 writes:

"The problem I have with games these days is that solo play is so much more desirable than group play...that it comes to a point where grouping is actually a hindrance to progression:" ~TsukieU~

Great point!! This certainly tends to be the case...

1 thing to add to my previous comment about the MMO experience, (cant believe i forgot it), the MMO design is inviting to random encounters that can potentially open up new aspects of gameplay that would normally not be pursued otherwise.

 

 

 

Tue Jul 14 2009 7:44PM Report
Cypryss writes:

Bravo ! Someone gets it.  It never about grouping it's when and how i want to group that matters. I don't mind grouping with some random guy as long as the instance doesn't lock me out, he takes my gear that is my progression, demands me to be on Ventrilo so on and so forth.

The Author hit the nail on the head. Someone get him a icetea.

 

Tue Jul 14 2009 11:16PM Report
Yurumu writes:

Thanks so much for this post, seriously. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this sort of thinking. :)

I play MMORPGs because I like the feeling of being in a "real world" with "real people" in it. Even the most human-like NPCs don't come close to the feeling of having a bustling town full of real players.

The attraction MMOs provide me is that I can have a virtual life that has all the things my real one doesn't. I'm not ashamed to admit it, either - I think that offering an alternate, maybe even "better" existence is one of the things MMOs were born to do.

That doesn't mean I actually want to *team up* with people. It just means that having them around makes my game-playing feel more meaningful.

Wed Jul 15 2009 1:45AM Report
Yurumu writes:

Also, is it just me or can soloing be *more* challenging sometimes? I keep reading comments saying that connecting with people is part of the challenge, but I've often found really deep challenges from playing alone.

For example, there are lots of times that I solo a quest that's supposed to be for a group because I'm downright stubborn. Sometimes it takes dozens of tries and lots of grinding if it's an instance dungeon or something, but I always feel a really big sense of accomplishment when I'm able to beat it alone.

Just gotta point out, doing it yourself has got to be at *least* as difficult as putting up with the quirks of a pick-up group.

Wed Jul 15 2009 1:50AM Report
DAndersonJR writes:

I've read the article and a number of the postings and I find myself to compelled to comment on things that have already been eloquently stated.  I love MMORPGs, for the most part, and I like to play them solo, for the most part.  I'm sure everyone has their reasons, but mine are that I'm a more casual gamer who likes the Role Playing aspect of the games over the power gaming.

Nothing is more annoying to me, or ruins my gaming time more, than grouping with a bunch of heavy power gamers who rush through adventures / scenarios / missions or whatever, in the most pre-planned efficient way possible just to get the leet loot.  Forgive me for wanting to take a second to read the dialog tags associated with the STORY of the mission.

Recently, DDO went free and I was unfortunate enough to snag a beta key. This game is maddening.  I know D&D is a group game, and the MMORPG rightly reflects that, but, there are adventure elements I can't get to because I don't have a high enough INT, enough WIS, or the lock-picking skills necessary.  I could go to the new DDO store and buy 'cheater' items to pry these parts of the adventure open if I wish, but why not make a game I can log on, play for an hour, and enjoy?

I've been beta testing Aion, and it's got some well thought out solo play. I'm enjoying that a great deal.  However, my eyes are firmly set on Chamions Online.  The Dev Journals and interviews all indicate the team is not only concerned with solo play, but the game has elements designed specifically for it.

If they pull it off, thank you Cryptic. 

Wed Jul 15 2009 8:16AM Report
Wrender writes:

if you're going to make solo content in an MMO at least make it challenging. Most solo content in most games I have played are 3rd grade handholding content that has had little to no challenge whatsoever! Drives me insane and that is the main reason I have not been able to play any one single mmo for over a week or so. If it was not for Vanguard I would have given up on the lame crop of MMO's already! Vanguard is the only decent MMO out right now and I have played them all. Too bad SOE is entirely clueless to this fact. Everyone who plays the game will agree.

Wed Jul 15 2009 12:44PM Report
tinywulf writes:

I solo because it provides me freedom to afk whenever i want.

I also solo because there's alot of horrible players that I would rather not waste my time with.

Thu Jul 16 2009 6:27AM Report
rngamer writes:

This argument is really starting to upset me now. 

Group players are only thrashing the soloers and the soloers are trying to explain WE HAVE LIVES.

We're professionals, dads, moms, work two jobs, leave our houses, and such.  We don't have the time nor the resources to sit in front of a computer for 6-18 hours a day and drone away at a game.  We have responsibilities, and we attend to them. 

I do hope some of you group contenders have played FFXI.  I played it for years and as far as solo content goes...out of 75 levels, that stopped at level 10.  There was virtually NO progress after that without 5 other people to grind with, which is what your games will become if solo content is removed.  Also, in FFXI, if you needed anything major done, the genkai quests for instance, or rank missions, you needed 17 other people, many of which had to be max level to have a chance to succeed.  After a few years of frustration I gave up.  Do you know why I gave up?

Because group players eventually reach the point they don't participate in group activities unless they gleen some benefit from it.  We begin to hear "I don't need anything from there" , or "I don't go in there anymore, it's not worth it."  They begin to snub their noses at content other players need because they're "above" all of it. 

You say soloers ruin games?  Let's look at the other side of the coin my friends.  Group players strip mine the game then leave those who can't or don't invest every waking moment to the game behind to fend for themselves and ostracize them for lack of equipment or experience.  We've all seen it.  There's no feasible reason to deny this. 

I'm sorry, but all I hear is complaining from players who see soloers as not contributing to the group player's loot acqusition.  Let's get to the real point here ladies and gentlemen, and stop pointing the finger at people who get out and contribute to society. 

Thu Jul 16 2009 7:19AM Report
toddze writes:

there just needs to be a 100% solo mmo game so these soloers can see that solo kills the game. thats what it will take.

Thu Jul 16 2009 8:03PM Report
daltanious writes:

As 999 before me replied :-)) i agree completely. I would never even try game that forces me to group. Despite I love FF lore i never bothered not even to try FFIX.

Many also complain that if game is soloable then it is to easy? Right? Completely wrong. Group quests are hard by nature and impossible to solo. But if you have planned bunch of i.e. 5 people they are not a bit harder to do then solo quest with 1 player. Actually, imo, soloing is harder, more challenging, ... because you must carefully plan every step. You know, you are alone out there. Also what i hate with group play ... usually 1 player is a leader ... others are just blindly running behind, dps-ing, healing, ... etc etc. Also one incompetent player can wipe entire group.

When i solo I must exactly know what I have to do, how to do, inspect environment, ....

Said all this im not anti social. I love to help others. Many times I stop to see if player in fight will be overhelmed by bunch of mobs or can win ... etc. I love also chatting, suggesting, asking, .... crafting, .... etc etc.

Fri Jul 17 2009 4:44AM Report
Flungmuk writes:

Ok, call me insane, but I’ve spent a few days reading this blog and all its posts…
Yes ALL the posts.

I think it’s interesting that most solo players understand where groupers are coming from, it’s just that grouping isn’t for them.
Where groupers don’t seem to be able to grasp the concept of soloing.

I started playing MMO’s with EQ just before Kunark came out.
I was with it till Gates of Discord came out.
My main was an Ogre Warrior.
So I lived in a group. No choice, warriors couldn’t solo anything.
I’ve had some great POGs and then again, I’ve had some POGs so bad I’ve come lost more XP from death than I gained.
After that I vowed never to play a class that can’t solo as well as group.
I’m sure some people reading this are saying, yep, that’s me too.
Recently I’ve gone back to EQ. Lots of changes, some good, some I’m not so sure on.
Most people live in the Hot Zones (bonus XP zones) grinding XP to get to raid levels.
I do a lot of solo quests, or groups quests, I just wait a few levels.
I solo because I can, because if the crap hits the fan, it’s my fault.

Someone earlier in this post mentioned making solo quests for good gear much, much longer.
Personally I’d be good with that.
I know that it would be hard to develop, this much is obvious.
But I wonder if it would work…
Pre raiding or course.
You start a quest line, you chose solo or group.
Group requires just that, a group effort. Lots of mobs, crowd control, healing, tanking, knowing you class, not pulling agro and all that.
Let’s say for lack of a better number, the group quest is 10 steps.
It might take a few days or weeks, depending on the group/quest/skill/reward etc.
The solo quest line would have 50 steps and would of course take weeks or longer.
Even give the group players an XP bonus, an extra 5% per group member and an additional 15% at the end if no one dies.

This way, the groupers get maximum bang for their buck and soloists get the same in the end.

Grouping is the way to go if you want to get to the end game fast or just hate playing alone.
Soloing is there for people that don’t have the time to group or are maybe really weird and…
Reading the quest text before clicking accept. ?

In the end it’s just an idea and I’m a damned dirty soloist. ?
 

Mon Jul 20 2009 4:22PM Report
Darthconnor writes:

I played both styles and for the most part ive always liked trying to do group stuff solo. SWG pre-cu i built toons to solo krayts and NS(the elite mobs) and enjoyed it. The fact that i could never stopped me from grouping for the most part as doing group took less time and i could get more kills and more chances at the best loots that way.

Most group style ppl seem to be of the opinion that since they are willing to find the ppl and do the huge raids that should have the best gear and ppl that would rather solo or stick to small groups should lose out on what they can get. This is where i really disagree as time invested should be just as good as grouping with huge numbers. Doing big groups should make the process faster should be the bonus where as solo or small groups should make the time taken to get to the best gear possible but at the cost of alot of personal time.

Id like to find a game that rewards players as much for sticking around and doing 400 quest as much as they reward someone that grouped with 25 ppl and did the whole group roles in a instance thing.

Dont get me wrong playing with huge groups can be fun and adds excitement but at the same time can be a pain to put together and not all of us have to hours to do so.

Ive always believed that the more options a game has the better and when you narrow the possibilities your just making the game that much less interesting.

Thu Aug 13 2009 7:52PM Report
AureliusLH writes:

@ Redtah,

"I still don't get it, you want to play a MMO by yourself or with your friends, why don't you play a local game with your friends instead? "

I suspect you're confusing two things - a group usually forms for a specific, difficult task in an mmorpg, but that's NOT the whole game. The 'social' sides of roleplaying, building in-game communities, developing fiction and simply chatting to other players are also perfectly valid things for players to do, and if they enjoy it they should be left to get on with it.  If they don't want the higher pressure of a raid-type scenario, for whatever reason, that does most emphatically not mean they are 'playing the game wrong'.

There is a problem, as mentioned elsewhere, with the feeling of 'entitlement' that some solo players have, since they pay the same fee but don't get the stuff others work in teams to get - but speaking as a solo player, what's needed most is for the complainers to grow up, and developers to listen to their reasonable complaints and ignore their unreasonable ones.

I can't get the extra shiny stuff I could get if I joined a team of hardcore raiders and played in their style, because I decide not to for all sorts of reasons - some physical, some time constraints, and simply not wanting my game to feel like a job - so I've no grounds at all to whine I don't get what they get, because I don't do what they have to do to get it.

Sun Aug 16 2009 4:59AM Report
demarc01 writes:

Forgive me if its been said but this thread is way long and I dont have unlimited time to read *every* post.

Alot of arguments on both sides about soloing Vs grouping. Personally I do both and enjoy both aspects.


What I have yet to read has been an answer to the solo Vs grouping debate. Sure I've seen both sides argue thier points but thats no answer.

 

Personally I think the answer is pretty simple, scaling.

Daoc did this years ago with the catacombs expansion and I for one welcomed the idea (Although it was'ent great in its form back in DAoC) Pretty much they had instances that scaled to the players/group. For example a level 41-50 instance. The critters inside would scale in difficulty to the level and group entering. One level 41 character ment there were level 39-40 mobs. Toss in 8 level 50 characters however and the mobs were purple cons (roughly level 61-63)

Of course scaling requires instances which alot of people dont like. It does offer the group / solo players options though.

 

How many times have you been stuck yelling "4/6 looking for more" in LFG channels? With scaling 4 of 6 could go right ahead and play. The scaling in DAoC was pretty simple and in XP grind dungeons only. With todays games I see no reason why instance dungeons could not be coded to be scaleable.

Of course doing so brings its own unique set of problems. Loot being the major one. A solo instance boss cannot drop the same loot item as a 6-man instance boss. Thats just common sence right?. Then again .. why cant he? Alot of game are not dropping "loot" in the traditional sense anymore, they drop tokens, coins, shards or some other barter item. If said boss drops one "coin" per player whats the issue? The solo'r gets his one coin for a clear .. each of the six get one coin too. The group has its advantages in other areas, Higher level mobs so more coin drops(as in gold - gil - plat - whatever) / more and-or higher level crafting drops / random item drops are better etc, more XP (be it level, item XP, AA xp whatever) and chances are they cleared the dungeon in a faster time than the solo'r too. The solo'r has thier advantages in that they can compleate the instance in thier own time frame.

Hell you could even put lesser "shards" in the solo instance, 3 lesser shards combine to a "shard" if you wanted to encourage grouping or reward grouping to a greater degree.

Most solo'rs wont argue that they should get the same items as a "grouper" in the same amount of time. The argument is that there should be an alternate path to get the same items "eventually".

Assuming the "sparkly chastity belt of doom" takes 5 shards ... a grouper could get said item after 5 runs of the instance. A solo'r could get it after 15 runs of the solo instance. Time + Difficulty Vs reward is the equation here ... not just time Vs reward or Difficulty Vs reward (which is the "raiders" fav argument)

Of course the above system works well for the mainstay of MMORPG players too, that is those of us who like to solo AND group. We could get 4 shards running the instance with our group buddys, and 1 more (Via a 3 lesser shard combine) while soloing too ... win win !

 

Scaling holds many answers. Hell the shards could have all types of "grades" depending on the difficulty of the instance (based on # of players and level) .. 4-man groups could get grade C shards ... 6 man groups Grade A's and solo'rs Grade F's ... combining shards of lower grades to make higher grades ...

The tech is there to make mobs scale (DAoC did it) .. making loot scale is the next step IMO.

 

Of course this all relys on Instances, which most games seem to be turning to these days anyway. I was not a great fan of them initially (being an old-school EQ head) but I'm adapting and thinking about how they could make the gameplay much better in the future. I'm still opposed to over-instanting (Al-la AoC yuk) but since we have them I dont see why we should'ent use them.

I'd like to see a game where we can log in and PLAY .. be it solo .. with the two friends who happen to be on line .. or with 5 or 6 buddys.

Scaling - its the future !

Sat Aug 22 2009 1:41PM Report

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