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

Why Groupless or Sololess Games Won't Happen

Posted by Stradden Friday August 14 2009 at 10:50AM
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There seem to be two pretty distinct camps in the war of Groups vs Solo. One believes that MMOs should be geared entirely toward group content, while the other believes that an MMO isn’t worth playing if solo play doesn’t get you everything and anything that grouping does. The truth, however, lies somewhere in between. That’s why you aren’t likely to see a successful game based solely on one concept or the other.

Groups and grouping mechanics are necessary to the success of an MMO because, in the end, MMOs are virtual worlds populated by thousands of players. If there are no goals that can only be accomplished by a number of people working together, then the game’s designers have missed the point entirely. Forget, for a moment, the fact that these are games and let’s pretend that they actually are virtual worlds, meant to in some way mirror our own. In life, while there’s much to be said for individual (solo) accomplishment, some things can’t be done without others and so should it be in an MMO.

While it isn’t the only way to scoialize, grouping does also help to promote the social aspects of the genre and takes full advantage of technology that allows us to work cooperatively online. I wholeheartedly agree that strong grouping mechanics are an important and necessary design element for a successful MMO.

Before the grouping side claims me as one of their own, I also happen to think that creating a game without solo content is folly of the worst kind. Players simply have to have the option of playing on their own in times when friends might not be around, and a pick up group just isn’t appealing. Solo play makes MMOs more accessible to more people. Should solo players be able to do everything a group can do? Of course not. Should the game design accommodate a path for them as well? Of course.

The answer to the solo vs. group content question isn’t one or the other, it’s both. The point that needs to be recognized is that while a game needs to accommodate both, a good design will also recognize that the goals for (and therefore rewards for) solo players and group players are different and should be approached as such.


 

banthis writes:

God its good to see someone else that thinks the same way.   A completely soloable game would be just boring..but a game that forces you to group  to Do Everything especially progress is just to aggrevating.   Hopefully someday we'll see a game that reaches a really decent middle ground from the beginning instead of years later.

Fri Aug 14 2009 11:09AM Report
TheStarheart writes:

Obviously this is pure speculation, but I feel like Final Fantasy XIV is going to bring this idea to the table. Here's to hoping!

 

P.S. Stradden, there is a typo in your title - Why Grouopless or Sololess Games Won't Happen

Fri Aug 14 2009 12:09PM Report
Palebane writes:

People who play multiplayer games largely by themselves are wasting their money. But then, it is their money, so why should i care?

Fri Aug 14 2009 1:10PM Report
ericbelser writes:

Should solo players be able to do everything a group can do? Of course not

That bit right there marks you as "one of us" to the whacko fringe that most vocally support soloing. There are far too many who claim entitlement to everything in a game without ever having to group and they will openly say so. Hence why I do think you will see some "massively solo" RPGs coming soon where the "social" or multiplayer aspect is nothing but chat lobbies and very occasional and totally optional group activities.

Fri Aug 14 2009 1:17PM Report
openedge1 writes:

 @Palebane

"People who play multiplayer games largely by themselves are wasting their money"

That right there is why there is this mindset of one vs the other. You don't want solo, but there are other players who do.

So, to YOU it is a waste...to ME it is not. And I come from both camps actually. I want to be able to solo, so that when I finally DO group, I do not suck so bad that the idiot that leads the group yells at me.

Sorry, but, while YOU train don''t join MY group..

Cheers

Fri Aug 14 2009 1:17PM Report
sunshadow21 writes:

To me the whole argument of grouping vs solo is missing the point. The point of of playing in an online persistent mmo is to interact with other people. I fail to see why that interaction has to be defined by group vs solo. In EVE I played alone most of the time but still interacted with people through the market as well as through what roids were available for me to mine at any given time. In neither case was i actively grouping with people, and yet their presence and actions significanly effected mine. To me, interactivity and a certain amount of interdependence is necessary to provide the basis for community; to simplify it down to solo vs group not only divides the community but ignores the real issue.

Fri Aug 14 2009 1:19PM Report
mlauzon writes:

I could understand if there is some end-game content that requires you to group, but if you are forced to group to do quests and stuff then the game loses players because there are a lot of people who love to solo, I know because I am one of them.  I've dropped quite a few MMOs that I was playing solo fine and then got given a quest and went to perform said quest only to be told you need a group to enter here, etc.

Fri Aug 14 2009 2:19PM Report
Dendro writes:

A simple way to make each camp happy is to add more types of servers. Have each play style accounted for, PvP, RP, Solo, or group. That way everyone would have an option on how they prefer to play. You could play a 100% of the game no matter what type of play style.

Do to RL responisblities I don't have the 30-40 hrs a week to raid for end content items, which limits me to only 60% of the game content, but I have pay the same monthly fee as players who can.

 

Fri Aug 14 2009 2:25PM Report
Smokeysong writes:

Funcom did a couple of polls amongst potential AoC players before its release. One showed 90% of players wanted both solo and group content, the other was closer to 95%.

The biggest reason there's not likely to be an MMO based on one style or the other is that the players want both; it's not economically sound for a business to curtail the player base as much as doing so would.

One idea that I'd like to dispell is that there is some kind of war going on between the 2; that somehow we have to fight for one side or the other. The fact is, content for grouping does not diminish solo play, and vice versa. Having said that though, I will say that solo content does tend to get less attention; the quests are easier and less detailed than they could be. Every MMO I've ever played could use a big boost in the quality of solo content.

The gear issue seems to be big for some group-oriented players, particularly raiders, but I fail to understand why. I do both. I am here to say there is no reason I shouldn't be able to get the same gear in solo content that requires an equal amount of effort. Indeed, the raider often spends far less time getting a piece of gear that a single player must grind faction for. The solo quest and quest chain - well, it is impossible there to get the same equipment, and it shouldn't be. Solo questing should be rewarded first with interesting play, and second with appropriate rewards. Sure, a quest that takes 3 minutes to complete doesn't deserve a big reward, but a quest chain that takes 2-3 hours or more to complete should get a serious reward. It should also have some bit of challenge involved.

;)

Fri Aug 14 2009 2:36PM Report
nekollx writes:

Palebane writes:

People who play multiplayer games largely by themselves are wasting their money. But then, it is their money, so why should i care?

 

And I think People who spent 2 hours LFG are wasting their money, they could be playing.

Here's a news flash just for you.

You cant find a group every time with a snap of the fingers. And MMOs that belives this to be so are DOOMED to fail

Fri Aug 14 2009 3:09PM Report
keithian writes:

I posted in the General Forum a few weeks ago what I believe is the solution to this. My post went as follows:

"OK, my first MMO was WOW when it was released. What had me addicted was the social aspect of the game and it was cool seeing people for the first time on a PC where they could actually see you at the same time. I know that may sound odd, but up until that point I only played console games like Baldur's Gate, Fable, Final Fantasy etc ever since Venture came out on Colecovision lol. Anyway, I enjoy the solo experience in MMOs and still feel entertained since I can read the chat channels or talk within the guild about different things in parallel. It became like a second social life :-0. However, I have to admit, the times that I seem to have the most fun is when I am with either another person or groups of 2-6. It just adds to the excitement since you are socializing, relying on someone else, and normally involved in something more challenged then when you are soloing. However, I can remember countless times in the several games I have played since then that finding a group is not that easy all the time, especially at night West Coast Time (Los Angeles). This held true with EQ2, Vanguard, Warhammer, LOTRO, AOC, etc.. Even waiting 15 minutes to me can be a waste of a life which I didnt have to worry about in console games. The first time that was alleviated was with Warhammer which was my first PVP experience :-0. That game is perfect for newbies to PVP like WOW was for me as a newbie for PVE. Anyway, what I liked was that the scenarios automatically brought you into actually playing with others without having to wait very long. I left that game because of various population, character gimping, and monotony issues.

However, what I don't understand is why games don't borrow from and improve upon the concept of letting people select a group quest and then when others of various classes select a quest, they are put in a queue and automatically joined into the quest together and possibly ported to that spot. You could actually be in the queue for several quests at once and whatever one fills up first is the one you join. I dont know, I think that would remove the need to solo as much for those times when the population is a little thin and remove the LFG channels where half the time you might not notice that someone is looking for the same quest. It also helps the shy people :-) If they can do it in a scenario in one game, why not for group quests for another where it doesnt have to necessarily be in an instance?"

Fri Aug 14 2009 3:17PM Report
Venger writes:

The problem with all of these discussions is no one wants to even try to solve the real issues.

Forming a group needs to be quick and painless, if it takes more then a couple minutes to get a party together and out in the field killing there is a problem. Developers need to provide better ways to get people together.

Fix the un-holy trinity design concept, the idea that this class can do this role and this class can’t is stupid. This leads to groups standing around waiting for an arch type can fill that role. Guildwars and now DDO are at least thinking outside the box some by allowing people to pick up npc followers to fill or completely make up the group (because there are some people that want to solo strictly).

Fix character progressing and power, currently getting to max level takes next to no time or effort at all and your characters power shows that. Getting to max level is now only a quarter of a mmo design. MMO are all about end game instead of the journey of your character getting to the end. If you really want to stop most of these flame fest give character power back to the character instead of the gear they farm.

Micro-raid group vs group, WoW has taken grouping to all times lows in part because it has taken group play and forced it into a micro-raid, where you feel forced to stay out of obligation or wanting that new shiny object that only drops from the end boss.

Fri Aug 14 2009 3:18PM Report
beauturkey writes:

 Didn't read all the comments, but isn't FFXI pretty much a group-only game? I mean, of all people, I found a way to solo in that game, but at a certain point it would take you so long to do anything that it is not worth it.

 And yet, that game just hit what, 2 million players?

 

 Beau

 

Fri Aug 14 2009 3:33PM Report
Mariner-80 writes:

 In Guild Wars, a player has the option to perform a quest, run a mission, or complete an entire dungeon in a number of ways:

--SOLO, using a party composed entirely of NPCs

--WITH 1 OR 2 OTHER PLAYERS, using NPCs to fill in the gaps in your party as needed

--IN  A FULL GROUP of players

I wish more MMOs offered these kinds of options.  In my opinion, this is the perfect solution to the solo-vs-group content debate. Why not, in WoW, for example, offer solo versions of the dungeons (perhaps with different quests and/or rewards)? How hard would that be? Why not add a Solo mode to the Normal and Heroic modes for instanced content?

I am greatly looking forward to the publication of more online games that allow me alone or with just a friend or two to play the premium (instanced) content. I really (hope) GW2, STO, and TOR are all headed in this direction. If that means dropping the "M" off the "MMO", then so be it. I'd be totally fine with that. The game is what counts, not the acronym.

The down side of grouping, for casual players like me, is that (1) in most MMOs it takes too damn long to find full groups for the instances; (2) real-life is liable to intrude, making it really REALLY hard to commit (to other players) to run some hour-long instance;and (3) many gamers prefer soloing -- even in an MMO -- with only OCCASIONAL grouping.

Guild Wars was a really popular game: accessibility of the content to all kinds of players/playing styles is a big part of the reason for that.

Fri Aug 14 2009 3:49PM Report
wizaerd writes:

I'm not what you would consider a very skillful person in playing games.  I enjoy playing them, but most of the time, I really suck at playing them.  Doesn;t necessarily detract from my enjoyment, because I realize my own limitations and how much time I wish to devote to something.  But being forced to group to accomplish something irks me greatly, because I now have to play to someone else's expectations instead of my own.  I ike to play solo, but I enjoy the MMO atmosphere of other pleayers being around.  makes the game seem much more lively, but I still wish to play solo.

Fri Aug 14 2009 5:44PM Report
hinkhouse writes:

It's clear that the writer is in the Groups camp. If he were truely trying to be balanced then the second sentence would read  "One [camp] believes that MMOs should be geared entirely toward group content, while the other believes that  MMOs should be geared entirely toward solo content." See, nice and balanced. But look what he wrote instead. It seems that it's always the Group camp that characterizes the Solo camp as people who want to get the same gear without grouping up. To me, the two sides are Group Play vs Immersion. I wind up going solo a lot because of the distraction/effort of finding a group or because of the dread of grouping with someone who wants to run through an instance/quest I'm doing for the first time or who wants to chat about Chuck Norris etc.

 

"Groups and grouping mechanics are necessary to the success of an MMO because, in the end, MMOs are virtual worlds populated by thousands of players." This is lame logic, that I keep seeing. If you're not socializing/grouping then you are missing the Massively and/or Multiplayer part, which is what defines this type of game because, you know, it's in the very letters of the name. But dare I say it you can be part of a society without grouping up, you can even be content and have fun. Oh, and by the way, if you are grouping up with the same group of people time after time...aren't you also missing the point of Massively Multiplayer?

Fri Aug 14 2009 7:09PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

I am very firmly with the OP on this subject. A successful game needs to have a strong motivation for group activity while not excluding the solo player.

Fri Aug 14 2009 8:23PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

And before anyone claims I am in the group camp.

I am solo 90% of the the time. I do however believe that there should be things a soloist cannot accomplish. Greater goals that can only be achieved by coordinated and skilled groups.

Fri Aug 14 2009 8:28PM Report
Vanpry writes:

"There seem to be two pretty distinct camps in the war of Groups vs Solo. One believes that MMOs should be geared entirely toward group content, while the other believes that an MMO isn’t worth playing if solo play doesn’t get you everything and anything that grouping does."

See now this shows you either don't understand the soloist position or choose not to.  The entire debeate revolves around equality.  Should a solo person be able to take down a great wyrm?  No of course not, the soloist doesn't want to be a god and they don't want stuff handed to them for free.  What the soloist wants is some end attention like the groupers and raiders get.  They want to be fairly compensated for hard faught battles, and don't give me this crap that a solo instance couldn't be hard that's like saying a group instances couldn't be easy.  The want options at end game beside sorry you are sol re-roll or quit.

It saddens me to see where mmo have gone.  From the free flowing UO to linear single player rpgs with multiple enabled.

Fri Aug 14 2009 10:26PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Actually, PARC "Palo Alto Research Center" wrote "Alone Together", an essay that goes in depth about the impact of solo and group play. Covers time spent to level and the social impact of guilds. Pretty interesting stuff.

Take into consideration that it was published in 2006, alot of the info still stands true. 

Find it here: http://www.parc.com/publication/1581/alone-together-exploring-the-social-dynamics-of-massively-multiplayer-online-games.html

Great article also Stradden. You hit the nail on the head again.

Fri Aug 14 2009 11:54PM Report
ghstwolf writes:

Vanpry- Could difficult solo instances be built, yes.  They never will be in the un-holy trinity games though.  They have a hard time building and balancing them for varied groups as it is, never mind for each individual class (and that ignores builds, which people will whine about too).  That's not to say they couldn't do better than they have, just that soloizing group content is not a viable solution.

Sat Aug 15 2009 12:48AM Report
grndzro writes:

Sure a game can be designed that has both types of content in it.

But the same content can't be both solo and group play. this leads to a division of available loot between the Soloists and the Groupies, you can see this from WoW.

Another problem with too much solo content is people will grind to lvl cap then exploit the economy. Which leads to a constant nerfing of soloable drops. Which leads to either nerfing of Group drops, an inflated exonomy, Nerfing of instance drops, or widely available items for practically nothing to bring everyone in line with the groupies.....which also leads to inflation.

Balancing the 2 is so tough it always results in the game being a formula 1 grindfest to lvl cap.

Just have group dynamics with lots of extracurricular activities such as crafting, PVP(With no 1v1 class balancing.....that is eievil), Fishing.

If people want PVP they should go play a PVP game such as guild wars...and trust me the PVP in GW far exceeds anything on a MMOROG.

If people just want to solo, why the hell are you playing a MMORPG? go play diablo 2 or something like it.

MMO's have lost their direction. They should be about community and making such a group of friends that guildies call each other by their actual name and actually care about the other members......instead of something like "OMG $3p1r0th#749 just raided out bank"

I played FFXI for 3 years and it is very group oriented. So when someone makes a bad name for themself they don't get very far because EVERYONE in their level range knows they are a putz, and they either reroll and behave or quit.

My point is soloability in a MMORPG in general creates more problems than it solves. I'm pretty sure when FFXIV comes out and it takes off like a rocket my point will be proven. Till then no flames plz ^^

Sat Aug 15 2009 2:47AM Report
sfc1971 writes:

Personally, I think the smart money lies in creating a game with distinct seperation between solo content and group content AND allows the player to switch with relative ease between the two.

Lotro is EXACTLY the opposite of this. In its epic quest chains, it often forces players to switch between FORCED solo, solo and NEED group content to progress in the quest chain. This is VERY bad because it forces people to find a group more often then is needed.

It would have been better if the epic quests had an intro that is solo, starting chapters that can be easily soloed and end with group play. That way people only have to find a group once, for the end and can then stay with the group.

Another problem in Lotro is that if I am doing solo content somewhere and someone asks for help, I not only have to stop said solo content but then spend ages travelling to their position, and then back again and resume my own content from the start.

The SOLO crowd isn't so much against group content, but they just don't lack the hassle it often is to get a group going and keep it going. To be fair, even with a good group of players, there is little fun to be had in having to wait half an hour until someone else has travelled to your position.

This makes some people go for "I want to solo everything" despite the fact that they then leave the game because it is to boring on their own.

Don't lets bad games turn you of grouping.

SWTOR is going the solo route, because so far no MMO dev seems to have realized the simple steps it takes to have a good grouping game. 

Sat Aug 15 2009 4:07AM Report
acidblood writes:

Not saying Aion has the perfect formula, but playing as a ranger to level 17, mostly solo, has not been easy, and I think this is about where the balance needs to be.

Making it possible to solo if you really want to, but you'd have an easier time if you found a group. Obversely not all content should be soloable either, in fact I think a good 30-40% of it shouldn't be, but non-soloable content needs to start early and not pull a WoW where you can trip over and hit the level cap without even speaking to anyone, but then all of a sudden it's raid group or die.

Sat Aug 15 2009 7:43AM Report
Vrazule writes:

Star Wars The Old Republic will prove you wrong and City of Heroes / Villains already has, but whatever.

Sat Aug 15 2009 10:13AM Report
FTLNewsFeed writes:

The point is there should be options. If I'm a solo player and you make group content then you should make NPC's for hire that I can use to complete it. They may not have all the nuances of a group, and that might be its drawback, but it should be an option for me.

Sat Aug 15 2009 10:40AM Report
shabazzster writes:

Wow... a tertiary thinker ..I'm diggn it!!

Sat Aug 15 2009 12:16PM Report
thorosuch writes:

I've played Archlord for a while and mostly solo...the quests, while much easier in groups; can be accomplished solo, though they are difficult...problem I find with groups is one: can't find one at the drop of a hat a lot people often turn down my request to group and twq: seems people just dissapear (leave the group) without any warnings.

Sat Aug 15 2009 2:09PM Report
dazy writes:

People who play multiplayer games largely by themselves are wasting their money.

But, you're concluding that "solo" means "alone" and in the context of these games, that's not necessarily completely true. I play what would be considered "solo" but I don't play "alone". I interact with others, I am affected by others, and they are affected by me. I'm not really play "by myself", I'm just not fighting in a formal group with other people, because that's not as practical(or fun) for me.

My playing time is usually limited and variable. Due to constraints of "real life"(*gasp*) I'm often quite busy trying to figure out how to manage my character, and I don't want to subject me OR someone else to a group with me in it.  Also, as I said, my playing time is often limited.  If this is how I choose to play, great. If you choose to play differently, wonderful. But no one  *really* plays "by themselves". 

I love this article and this way of thinking, as it's very much MY thinking, too.  :-)

Sat Aug 15 2009 2:50PM Report
toddze writes:

FFXI is a serious thorn in the solo'ers side in terms of argument. Its an extremely successful game. Group centric games can and will work if its done right. Even in FFXI there were ample things to do solo. The problem was the players were not lead by a carrot on a stick to tell them how/what they could do solo.  A lot of mmoers these days lack resourcefulness they dont want to think they want to be lead. They have to be told what to do, told how to have fun.

Sat Aug 15 2009 3:20PM Report
toddze writes:

Another thing a lot of the people that are aginst grouping most likely have not played a grouping game. Grouping in a solo centric game is a complete different experiance than grouping in a group centric game. I am a proponet of grouping but I hate grouping in solo centric games because the type of people that play solo type games are well, self centric asshats.  We can thank WoW for this.

Sat Aug 15 2009 3:27PM Report
Maelkor writes:

I personally look for group centric games as a primary feature(not finding any since WoW). That does not mean there cant be solo/casual content in the game...but for me it should be no more than maybe 10% of the content. Just enough for the die hard soloists to grind on but not so much it takes away from the rest of the game.

Sat Aug 15 2009 5:04PM Report
Maelkor writes:

I personally look for group centric games as a primary feature(not finding any since WoW). That does not mean there cant be solo/casual content in the game...but for me it should be no more than maybe 10% of the content. Just enough for the die hard soloists to grind on but not so much it takes away from the rest of the game.

Also the old saying still remains true...if you try to please everyone, you will please no one. Too many developers do not really understand the meaning of this statement and the end up with a mish mash of unconnected content that is choatic and does not work well together because they are trying to please every little niche.

Sat Aug 15 2009 5:05PM Report
Wakawakaz writes:

Well, I've been both a soloist and a grouper, but with FFXI I being my first MMO, I've seen a lot of pros and cons of grouping. There was a fun time grouping with friendly players trying to achieve the same goal. In many parties I've added members to friends, in order to group with them later on or to ask for some help. You felt immersion; your class/job played its role in each party and you were needed; there was interdependence. Without you certain things can't be done. And while searching for more members to fill in your group, you will most likely find more than one person who can take up the role you are seeking for. This creates competition, which leads to motivation into being better, which then leads to the reason I'm playing. When strangers know me because of my reputation for doing what I'm supposed to do, I felt satisfaction. But at the same time finding these idealities had its toll, players had to sit in town for hours doing practically nothing just to look for a group.  I went on to do some solo farming, made possible since I was a RDM, while looking for a party. During these times of soloplay, I felt an extreme monotony in killing the same hapless monster everytime it spawned; there was no ally by my side in the vicinity to share my experience and had no way to communicate with the ups and downs of it. Even if I spoke to somebody who had done the same task before, they had a foreign tone or callousness. Were they here in my situation as of this moment? They are more likely worried about their own place of being. It was this very loneliness and not getting a party that finally drove me out of FFXI.

My soloist self came when I hit WoW. I rolled a warrior and easily climbed my way up to 70, this was before the WoTLK came out. While leveling, I did not feel like I was part of societ, I did my own thing without looking at anybody else. Upon reaching 70, I tried to join some groups to head out into some instances, only to find myself with incompetent gear to tank. I found that grouping had gave me certain stress here. Others had their standard of expectations. I then abandoned grouping and went to solo some more to get better gear and be able to do what others want me to. It was so hard for me to find tanking gear at that time since I never ran the lower level instances that gave the said equipment, due to my soloing. This then led me on to play the battlegrounds, which I honestly found to be more prone to solo than grouping. I began to see myself looking for "what can I get for doing this?" and less "what can I do to fullfill my role in a group?"

Grouping in FFXI was fun but had a long process to even get one. Soloing in WoW made me much more greedier, I had the inherent right to get all the loots off my victims during my leveling; which I did not anymore in groups. The expectations of others with what I "had" and what I "didn't have" made me feel like I was being assessed on a monetary scale.

Sat Aug 15 2009 7:55PM Report
holdenhamlet writes:

FFXI was probably in the top 5 mmorpgs subscription-wise for the past six years, which I would think most would consider "successful", and yet it is the most group-centric game that ever existed.  There is almost nothing you can accomplish without a full group in that game.  Apparently the author isn't aware of that game or could conceive of a game where people spend literal hours looking for groups and yet it's successful (and has been for more years than most mmorpgs exist).  I played the game for over a year and I still can't believe it sometimes.

Why a groupless or sololess game won't happen?  It already has happened and it was successful.

As for me personally how I feel about group vs. solo: I like the idea of "being able to solo everything", but my fondest mmorpg memories are found in ffxi being stuck in forced groups with a few strangers grinding on crabs.

Sat Aug 15 2009 8:14PM Report
Flummoxed writes:

MMOs allow a unique form of group interaction:

Playing Alone Together "

you can be soloing and still feel like you're playing with others via local / global chat and just seeing other players running around.

Sat Aug 15 2009 8:27PM Report
mszv writes:

What wizaerd said.  I'm a  social person, and I enjoy MMORPGs, but I'm not super good at them - I play them fairly casually.   I prefer to do the "work" of an MMO on my own, separate from the socialization.    I play MMORPGs to be in another world and to relax.   I like the people around part, and sometimes the interaction, but forced grouping, no. I "group" at work (school sometimes for projects), but it's, you know, work.  I don't regard MMOs as work.  

I'm also time restricted.  I regard waiting, even 5 minutes, for a group, as unacceptable.  I need to play when I want, no waiting.

So - solo content for me.  I also love it that you can form a party in Guild Wars with NPCs.  That works for me.  And yes I'm in  a Guild and and Alliance in Guild Wars.

 

Sun Aug 16 2009 6:53AM Report
Ozmodan writes:

I am confused, the point of a MMORPG is to play with others.  If you want to be able to solo everything go buy an RPG game, there are lots of good ones out there.  The point being, anyone that avocates solo play is playing the wrong game.  Nothing wrong with including both solo content and group content in a MMO, but a significant portion of a MMO should require grouping otherwise it is really NOT a MMO.

Sun Aug 16 2009 10:25AM Report
Corthala writes:

Tabula Rasa was a good exemple why games with focus on Solo content will fail. After a while the game will be like a Singler player game with chat. So why wasting rl Cash with that game? Another good exemple of why Solo focus games are failers is Sword of the New World, the game is great but after a while you just want to play a single player RPG with team.

Sun Aug 16 2009 12:06PM Report
Gikku writes:

Some interesting comments and ideas here.

The truth is to a MMP game people like to socialize and make friends. The problem lies in how long it takes to get a group to do something that takes a group to do. For those that prefere solo over grouping then it would be nice for those peeps to be able to do so without being looked down upon for their choice.

Of course for those that solo more it is a different game play style for group and that may not be easy to pick up if you don't do it much. It is also very frustrating to get into a group  and continuely wipe because someone doesn't know how to play their character in a group or simply doesn't have the gear for the instance they are going to..

I am not sure there are any simple solutions.  For those of us that play we can think all we want about how easy it would be to do this or that but for the programers and  designers it may not be a simple task.

WoW has serious problems gaining intrance to their instances. You can spend and hour/s and never get into one. You pay to play and then can't because the instance server has too many on it. I keep hearing we are working on it and I am sure some could say should be easy fix but I suppose it isn't for them. Either that or we keep paying to play and as long as peeps do that they won't get in any hurry to fix the issue.

Maybe one day the tech peeps will figure things out to where it will be acceptable to the many that play. They will never be able to please everyone anyway.

Sun Aug 16 2009 2:53PM Report
WSIMike writes:

 Toddze hits on some good points regarding FFXI. It has been, for the majority of its existence, a very decidedly group-centric game - yet it's done quite well, maintaining a higher population after 7 years than much newer MMOs manage to maintain after their first 7 months.

I think there's a great point made, too, in that grouping in a game that provides ample solo content is not quite the same as grouping in a game centered around it.

FFXI, for example, is designed almost entirely around its group mechanics. It's not just a "convenient way to get people together". It's an anchor for a lot of the game mechanics, etc.

In my experience, many of the more soloable MMOs don't have those same group mechanics... and because being able to solo through most everything without ever needing assistance is such an ever-present option, making the effort to group up seems superfluous.

 

Even when I have grouped up in otherwise soloable games, it's typically a pretty uninspiring experience. I try to talk to others.. they don't say anything. They just get what they need and then ditch the group; many times before everyone else is done. No good-byes, or "thanks" or anything... they'd just disband and were gone.

Other times, they'll say "Okay... I'm done... Later" and they'd warp out, leaving the rest of us hanging. Even in grouping, there was a very prevalent "me me me" attitude; it wasn't a group of players working together... it was a group of individuals in a group, looking out for themselves.

Many parties I've been in in FFXI, the group is gelling and working together so well that no one wants it to end. I've been in groups where people were falling asleep at the keyboard because they were so tired, but were having a blast in the group... everyone talking, joking around, etc. 

The difference between FFXI and other, more soloable MMOs - at least for me - is night and day.

Ask many long-time FFXI players what they think of the group-centric focus of the game, and they wouldn't have it any other way. This doesn't mean they're all "masochists who like waiting for a group for hours"... and that statement, as it's often presented is really not a fair representation of the game.

Reasons:
-  People who "sit around waiting for party invites" would likely not spend nearly as much time waiting if they actually put effort into putting one together. Those who do, often find there are others who, like themselves, were just sitting waiting for an invite....

Therein lies the problem: If everyone's "waiting" and no one's "seeking", then parties aren't going to come together. You need to have a bit of initiative, the parties aren't always going to come to you. Of course, to some people, that's too much effort and they'd rather sit around and complain about "no party invites for hours". 

- There are other things you can do while looking for a party other than "sitting around", and many of them directly benefit your character as well... Crafting, farming, camping a NM, Campaign... and so on. If someone's standing/sitting around lfg and doing nothing but that, well, that's their own choice.. the game doesn't force that on them.

So... in all... I don't know if I'm so confident that a single MMO can adequately support or satisfy players firmly on either side of the fence.

More soloable content tends to undermine grouping for anything more than very short-term convenience (or end-game raiding), and the quality of the groups, many times, just isn't "there". A more group-centric game has got to really make the grouping more meaningful than because "things are easier in a group". FFXI has gotten it right for the most part I think... if not entirely in execution, then certainly in concept.

Mon Aug 17 2009 8:12AM Report
SwampRob writes:

To the FF lovers:  the fact that it is a group-centric game is what keeps soloers away, while at the same time attracts group-centric minded players.    This leads to more people in the game who prefer that kind of style, and I think is a contributing factor to why groups work so well in that game.

I am glad it works well for others, but as a soloist I would never play it.

While I like to play in a well-populated game world, I always, in every MMO, strive to become as independent as possible.    I sometimes enjoy teaming with others, but I always, always despise having to, even for a single quest.

Should all content be soloable?   No.   Should every shiny be available to the soloist?    Absolutely.   Any other way creates an imbalance and elitism.    Create an MMO where it is possible to acquire everything you want in a game with either playstyle and you've got a winner in my book.

Anything shy of that is imbalanced.

Mon Aug 17 2009 10:14AM Report
Isane writes:

Instant gratification, Instant win mentality and small minds.

Until someone has the guts to remove the game breaking features that take the game away from current MMOs then we will not get anything fun again.

Limiting world instances to circa 3k people, limiting zerg and guilds so that communities can develop without having to put up with irritating nobodys.

The time will come, timesync and extended development are a must for a good new MMO to flourish it will happen. It is just a shame that so many peoples possible MMO experience has been forever ruined by the Mega MMOs or MMO out there.

 

Tue Aug 18 2009 3:12PM Report
Richijefe writes:

Quite pointless blog entry, there is only statements with no type of facts nor arguments backing any of them. No real suggestions how to accomplish anything, apart from the very ambigous statement "have solo and group content". Alright, what is the real point of writing something without actually contributing anything?

 

Thu Aug 20 2009 12:02PM Report
Richijefe writes:

Quite pointless blog entry, there is only statements with no type of facts nor arguments backing any of them. No real suggestions how to accomplish anything, apart from the very ambigous statement "have solo and group content". Alright, what is the real point of writing something without actually contributing anything?

 

Thu Aug 20 2009 12:04PM Report
VadimR writes:

I think the problem of group or solo only arises because of the extremely linear nature of most games. This creates the problem that there are going to be some points where solo players are forced to group in order to progress, or at least to get the better gear. In a non-linear game environment the problem goes away. My response is that game developer who want to persist with linear games should be forced to suffer this problem - you can't have your cake and eat it.

Oh...and agree entirely with Richijefe, this blog was a waste of space. The only arguments, points, facts came from commentators. 

 

Sat Aug 22 2009 2:16AM Report

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