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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Single Player MMO

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Elite Member

Joined: 5/14/07
Posts: 9103

I believe in life before death... So dont forget to enjoy it while you still can.

11/27/12 11:59:30 PM#41
I think GW2s story mode hit the nail on the head for me, just the right amount of story, and not being forced to do them.  Tough at lvl 80 i really miss more story parts.

Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/02/08
Posts: 2205

I am not a hater, I call it like I see it.

11/28/12 12:47:09 AM#42
[mod edit]

[mod edit]

Edit: Flip flopping runs rampant these days, even myself is guilty of it, most recently was XIV for me. I knew better, I broke my own cardnial sins, I knew the word potential is a term for a fast sinking ship yet i convinced myself maybe its real. Long story short if your using the potential excuse your already done. I got burnt, if I would have just listened to my normal pesimistic self it never would have happened.

Waiting for:EQ-Next, ArcheAge (not so much anymore)
Now Playing: N/A
Favorite MMO: FFXI


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/17/12
Posts: 341

11/28/12 1:10:47 AM#43

I wish developers would treat single player games and mmo's as complete diffrent genres. I used to play mmo's so i could meet peaple and play with. If i wanted to play a single player mmo id stick one of my one of my old copies of FF's in my playstation.

IMO Peaple who want to Solo RPG's should just play regular rpg games, and leave the MMO's for peaple who want to play online together.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/25/12
Posts: 148

11/28/12 1:33:30 AM#44
Originally posted by Raserei

Finally! Someone who gets why MMO's these days aren't really MMO's! It's like a solo game with other players!


Bring back meaningful grouping! Not forced grouping! Most MMO's nowadays are a solo game.


Define meaningful as you see it. Is it not meaningful at end game to group with with other plays to do a hard mode or raid? You may or may not like the treadmill or gear grind that some people do but it holds meaning to the subset of players that do enjoy doing it. 


You can also go both ways in defning it as forced if you think the whole point of playing is to get all the gear. I don't think it is as I am not overly concerned with most games raid gear, so to me it's not forced grouping though it is meaningful if I enjoy the guild I'm in and just feel like spending X hours helping everyone get them there phat lewtz.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/30/11
Posts: 93

11/28/12 2:27:18 AM#45
Originally posted by toddze
Originally posted by SirBalin

[mod edit]

[mod edit]

Edit: Flip flopping runs rampant these days, even myself is guilty of it, most recently was XIV for me. I knew better, I broke my own cardnial sins, I knew the word potential is a term for a fast sinking ship yet i convinced myself maybe its real. Long story short if your using the potential excuse your already done. I got burnt, if I would have just listened to my normal pesimistic self it never would have happened.

This simply is being unfair to Pokket.  She long ago said these things about replayability related to story in TOR.  There is no waffling except, and she admits this, that she enjoyed the story greatly the first run through, and then not quite as much in consecutive play throughs.  She also admits to still being a fan of the game which is distinct from fangirl/fanboy.

Personally, I'd prefer more context oriented storytelling in addition to the great class storytelling in TOR.  In other words, get rid of those damn side quest cut scenes!


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/09/05
Posts: 288

11/28/12 3:34:14 AM#46

First a minor correction to someone earlier on:  Bioware had the LucasArts SW license, and EA bought them after SWTOR was in production.  So EA couldn't have gotten some other MMO company to do the game -- it was already years into production.


Then, speculation.  What I infer happened then, is that EA looked at what was in the works and said, "OMG, you are trying to do something ORIGINAL in the MMO genre?  Not on our dime!"  They made Bioware scrap whatever endgame plans they had, rework the legacy system, and de-empahsize story (yes *deemphasize it*) over their original plans in order to bring SWTOR more in line with a standard market MMO.


As a result, we got neither fish nor fowl, and the game really didn't have a good endgame (Pokket, I think you are nuts, the PVP and endgame currently are the least attractive part of the game and I am a fangrrl).


I think that the game could have appealed to a great many people who are the Skyrim/DA/... players, bringing them into the MMO environment and a style of play different from the ravening piranha 1337 squads that dominate most games.  Still could if Bioware actually played to the strengths of the game, instead of trying to compete with every other game on the market on the standard turf.


More analysis on my G+ under "KOTOR with Friends"


Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/07
Posts: 485

11/28/12 5:40:41 AM#47

Repeating content inevitably becomes boring.  Don't blame quests

The 2 games I enjoyed the most in last few years were Rift and LoTRO.  Both games had quests and cinematic sequences that made the game a lot more enjoyable.

In both games I leveled 4 toons to max level.  I loved the journey the first 2 times.  It felt like I was exploring a new world and the quests and cinematic sequences enhanced that feeling. The second time through I often discover content I missed the first time exploring those areas.  The fact that I enjoyed playing the game from start to finish twice is a credit to both games.

The 3rd and 4th time is usually a grind and becomes a race to reach max level as quickly as possible.   In retrospect, leveling 4 toons to max level to master all crafts is a crazy reason to keep playing a game.

I have played games that had no or few quests and they felt like boring grind fests.  If you are not into pvp,  what would you use  instead of  quests/missions that would give hours of entertainment? 

Rift has shown, with  rift invasion events and events triggered by encounters, that their are many different ways to implement  a quest / mission system.

Just because someone is not into doing group dungeons or raids, does not mean they cannot contribute to their guild or other social activities.

There is an obvious saving in development costs if a game appeals to wider customer base:  solo players, group players and raids.  How to implement this without disenfranchising part of the player base is the challenge.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/24/05
Posts: 2197

11/28/12 7:19:18 AM#48

the 2 top story questing areas of WoW were the space-goat starter zone and the deathknight starter zone. it would be hard to determine which one was better for me. but i enjoyed both thoroughly.

upon finishing space-goat island i announced to my friends that *this* was the way a starter zone should be made. the quests and the story blended seamlessly.

the deathknight zone was not the same experience. it was heavier on the story side and you could feel it. but in the end the story itself was worth telling and if you could suspend disbelief just long enough you could see yourself as a part of this conflict.

"There are at least two kinds of games.
One could be called finite, the other infinite.
A finite game is played for the purpose of winning,
an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play."
Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse


Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/09/08
Posts: 3303

MMORPGs are no longer about the mass multi-user

11/28/12 7:24:26 AM#49
I've been complaining about SPORPGs (Single-Player online RPG) on my blog for over a year now. Glad to see (well, Pokket) is finally picking up the ball as well ;)

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Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/12/04
Posts: 879

Make worlds not stories

11/28/12 8:53:14 AM#50

Good write, cant hurt to repeat the truth.

A mmorpg should not focus on 200 hours of storyline followed by dull gameplay concepts consisting of farming points/badges/gear/fame or whatever as timezink. A good mmorpg should focus on concepts of adventure within a world that allows for freedom (freedom not anarchy); where the limitations that a game must have is not in your face all the time, such as tier dividing, designated areas for certain levels etc etc.

Story should be used if it has meaning, and not driving a game.. err a mmorpg. Gameplay and world first, story second.

"I am my connectome"


Novice Member

Joined: 11/24/12
Posts: 3

11/28/12 9:07:52 AM#51

The idea of integrating a story with an MMO will only work well, if the MMO players have a chance to interact seemlessly with the story as it emerges. The epic plot should be the weather of the MMO, the breeze of i'll will  and rising power, that entices the players to leave the sandbox and quest for good, evil or weather or tame the approaching storm.  The power of the fantasy novel series, the discovery of the  unknown, the fastidous immersive quality of a twisting plot that can be seized and changed by the players!

To do that you have to throw out the shilling and profit mantras that have enclosed the creativity of game company and the assignment of capital.

The players of the MMO must be the center of the story, in that areana, single player and multiplayer distinction become irrelvevant.

Imagine your your favorite Fantasy series, the ideas of which have seeded the fantasy genre, now tear down the walls segmenting the creative jaunt. Imagine playing in the MMO of lord of rings as the series was writ and your play your quest had a quantitavive effect on the next book in the seires and ultimatly the ultimate conclusion of the series? 


How?  Our movement is growing and we will launch two weeks. This is  our first humble attempt at Dynasty of the Magi...come find your power and give us some hardcore feedback.


Author/CEO Poetcode


Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/07
Posts: 1467

Celebrated pariah of

11/28/12 9:39:34 AM#52
Originally posted by GarvanWolfe

Imagine your your favorite Fantasy series, the ideas of which have seeded the fantasy genre, now tear down the walls segmenting the creative jaunt. Imagine playing in the MMO of lord of rings as the series was writ and your play your quest had a quantitavive effect on the next book in the seires and ultimatly the ultimate conclusion of the series? 


This is why I am paying attention to that Defiance game from Trion.. I am wondering if the game will have any effect on the episodes of the show or will it end up being like the Walking Dead and just a reflection of the events happening in the show..

Personally I would prefer to see them include certain huge events that happen in the game world on the show, so it really feels like the players are having an actual effect of the lore of the world.. That would be great!


Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10959

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

11/28/12 10:09:27 AM#53

Originally posted by Vyeth

Originally posted by GarvanWolfe ... Imagine your your favorite Fantasy series, the ideas of which have seeded the fantasy genre, now tear down the walls segmenting the creative jaunt. Imagine playing in the MMO of lord of rings as the series was writ and your play your quest had a quantitavive effect on the next book in the seires and ultimatly the ultimate conclusion of the series?   ...
This is why I am paying attention to that Defiance game from Trion.. I am wondering if the game will have any effect on the episodes of the show or will it end up being like the Walking Dead and just a reflection of the events happening in the show..

Personally I would prefer to see them include certain huge events that happen in the game world on the show, so it really feels like the players are having an actual effect of the lore of the world.. That would be great!

The idea is that events in the show will be referenced in the game, and will trigger events in the game. The results of the events in the game will make it back into the show.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

11/28/12 10:16:15 AM#54
My main problem with "story" is that the writers are only ones getting to really getting to play, I'm just following in their footsteps.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/28/12
Posts: 1

11/28/12 11:02:31 AM#55

I absolutely agree with lizardbones on this. Everyone I know bought the game for the story. And yet, I can't think of another MMO that puts so many quests in your leveling path that require you to group with other players. It was a terrible design decision, and I don't know what they were thinking. Leave the group content to just Flashpoints and Warzones for leveling, take out most of the terrible non-class quests, and put all of the other questing group content at level 50. Might have saved them enough time to address bugs and glitches.

Although, I honestly believe that SWTOR gets unfairly criticized for the bugs. Look at WoW. You still have issues with the shardhorn rhinos in sholazar basin not being where they're supposed to be, and the expansion came out over 4 years ago.


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/31/11
Posts: 110

11/28/12 11:17:51 AM#56

Boy, Pokket, I was all ready to lambaste you for commenting that story is overdone in many MMOs, but then I read the remainder of the article, and you bring up some absolutely excellent points, many of which I've been thinking about since I killed my WoW account in 2007.


"While, arguably, most games need this... it still begs the question: could these resources be better spent elsewhere? Perhaps adding more intricate crafting, more rewards for exploration, adding more PvE/PvP elements, or perhaps just making the game fun enough with attrition low enough that filler quests aren't really needed."


I think there needs to be a proper balance of what's put into the game, between graphics, system, story, PvE, PvP, RvR, and general content -music, tasks (don't call them quests, they're not quests), and monsters (don't call them mobs, a mob is a large group of people or bad guys)-, and other elements I can't think of off the top of my head.


Now, for my part, story is extraordinarily important in a game -read EXTRAORDINARILY- because I've been a tabletop gamer for 29 years, and GamesMaster for over 19.  Story is what I do, and story is what I want to experience, and since I'm usually the go-to guy to be the GM for any group I play in, I want to play, too, so MMOs are about the only way I can do that.  Now, having just played the free demo, to level 10, for Diablo 3 I can tell you that they did story right.  I seldom, because of my age, stay up past 11:45 any more on any night, and yet I was up until 1:30 this morning finishing to level 10, because the game is very addictive.  Likewise with Oblivion and Fallout 3, which I typically hold up as the standards for role-playing the right way.


For my part, it sounds like SWTOR did NOT get it right due to the cut-scenes and the overabundance of dialogue, and I already knew WoW 'questing' sucked because of well over two years of playing it, myself.  Yet one more reason I won't be playing a game I thought was going to be out of the box and off the hook.


Now, unfortunately, here's the problem... as far as I can tell:  Theme Park.


Developers try to put together these level-limited areas that have multiple tasks and, perhaps, even a storyline to complete, in order to make life as easy on themselves as possible.  Unfortunately, to get from area 1-10 to area 11-15, you have to complete all of the 10th level tasks and, perhaps, some of the preperatory level 15 tasks, and then you can think of surviving in that next area.  Developers need to have a hybrid sandbox/theme park approach, meaning that the world needs to be open, monsters and bad guys scale according to your character or group within a certain range of them (a few dozen 'yards', for example) with modifications for sneaks, brutes, champions, and chiefs -so higher level monsters, challenging ones, can exist in an area, but not level 55 when you're a level 11-, while at the same time you can run into adventures through exploration, you can have NPCs seek your character/group out to enlist their aid, etc.  Once enlisted, your characters do the 'ride', or the tasks leading to completion of the adventure or campaign, and that's the theme park portion, and then they return to exploring the world, traveling to their heart's content.


Now, do we need so many cut-scenes, so much dialog, or a crap-ton of reading?  For the smaller tasks, reading, for moderately sized tasks, a vocal introduction activated while the characters are approaching the climax of the adventure, and for huge-goal adventures or campaigns, a beginning cut-scene, maybe some 'semi-spoiler' scenes interlaced where necessary, and a completion video.  Anything more excessive than those is asking for trouble.


All of that being said, this is why I can't wait for ESO.  Zenimax/Bethesda KNOW how to tell a great story, though even they could learn a couple of things from your article and the attached comments.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/15/12
Posts: 326

11/28/12 11:31:27 AM#57
It is a shame that no one game has been able to find an effective balance of mmo and single player. I make characters in mmos to reflect me and most of these storylines never relect my opinion. Due to this, i lose a connection with my character and generally quit the game.

Novice Member

Joined: 11/24/12
Posts: 3

11/28/12 11:38:04 AM#58

Originally posted by lizardbones The idea is that events in the show will be referenced in the game, and will trigger events in the game. The results of the events in the game will make it back into the show.


Warning I work for a company that is doing exactly what you are saying....heck I own it! lol

EXACTLY right izardbones!  That immersive experiance of living the adventure has been my desire.and its I launched a company to do it!  That is exactly what we have done with Dynasty of the Magi... a truly interactive MMO linked to a novel series where the results of the MMO are crafted in the book then seed the Next MMO.  Then came the marketing models and accompnaingy suits....We tried for several years to get publishers to launch the idea...but the models are segmented not for player experiance, but ancillary revenue flow...The current thought is that a company would rather have two seperate revenue streams, the book, the show, the movie, the game, each  a stepping stone for revenue stream  We lose money in linking them to the player but gain in MMO experiance!  We would love for hard core MMO's to check us out.... We launch in two weeks and aim to grow the lore with the gamers!!   Be the story...write the lore!

Check us out....


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/28/04
Posts: 504

11/28/12 11:54:45 AM#59

Side note:  any toad that responds "1st" to anything should be violently removed from the internet.

Good mini article and there could be a lot more said as this is something that I've been talking about with friends lately.

SWTOR definitely went overboard and could've done with about 1/3 or 1/2 as much VO/cutscenes.  It's well done but you just don't need 5-10 minutes of that for what is essentially a kill 10 rats quest.  A lot of that game was weak at release and is still weak and considering the money spent on it, a better balance of resource allocation would've been a really good idea.  For one, they should've made their own engine because the piece of shit they used can't be optimized, runs like crap, and looks 10 years old already.

The main thing to me, having played MMORPGs since EQLive released, is this.

What makes MMORPGs special is the social, and especially the grouping elements.  There are endless piles of single player games or single player games with multiplayer components of various types, but only MMORPGs give you that rich and deep grouping experience.

So to me, the emphasis on solo is a bad thing that hurts the genre and hurts games.  It makes too much of MMORPGs feel like a single player experience and causes players to play like it's a single player game, where they level up (too quickly these days but that's another story) and are done.  A small number do endgame if there's any they like and many either move on or start doing "replay" via alts.  Grouping while leveling is entierly optional and the group content you are offered while leveling is tiny compared to the overload of single player content.

I think solo should be available, there most of MMORPGs should be about grouping since that is what is unique and special about MMORPGs.  People who just want to solo should...wait for's shocking...JUST PLAY SINGLE PLAYER GAMES.  Basic logic.  Use that thing called a brain.

So why has MMORGP gameplay shifted so much towards solo.  Simple.  Money.  It costs a lot of money to make MMORPGs and devs want lots of players, so they've hybridized the genre to appeal to a wider audience.

In doing so, they've diluted the genre and what ultimately happens is that the "real" game, the core of the MMORPG, ends up being underdeveloped because they spend so much time catering to the soloists.  Soloists play thru the single player portion of the game (leveling) then go away, while the real players who want to play for years end up having not so much to do because not enough group content is made.

You see this time and time again with new MMORPGs.  Maybe companies should wonder why they have a huge initial rush when they release their MMO and then the numbers fall dramatically after a few months.  It's because most of your soloists get done leveling and then either suck at grouping, don't want to group, don't want to guild, don't want to group, and bail.   So you're left with your real fans, who end up having a handful of dungeons, 1-2 raids, and a little smidge of world content to keep them busy for years?  Except that doesn't keep them busy for years and some of them stick it out, and some of them move on due to frustration.

Wouldn't it be better to design MMORPGs around what makes them unique and amazing - the grouping, and enable some solo to fill the gaps instead?  You might have fewer useless soloists buying the game initially, but your core players, the ones who stick for years, would have a reason to stick for years.   Develop the game around group content and grouping and fill it with way more group content so those players don't get bored a month after maxing the level cap.

In most MMORPGs the bulk of the content is leveling content.  I love to level and to level alts but many do not.  Tons of time and money is spent on content that for many is one and done or that they get thru then blast on future alts.  Endgame is what most players (who will play for years) are concerned with but most MMORPGs ship with a miniscule amount of endgame content.

So devs are faced with the immediate problem of needing to crank out more and more endgame content to keep players around.  Wouldn't it maybe make more sense to invest more in scaling group content that could be appealing whlie leveling and at endgame and to put more into endgame content up front to keep players busy for longer after they hit the level cap in the first few weeks of the game (since speed leveling seems to be the thing now and any serious player can hit cap in less than a month in any game).

I think ANet had some of this sort of in mind for GW2 but they kind of missed the mark in many ways - good intent though.  They got the scaling right but there's no real incentive to do most content and IMO the game has other problems related to ideas that sounded good in theory.

Maybe I'm wierd.  I see MMORPGs as the ultimate multiplayer games and I prefer to group over soling in them.  I duo a lot, group a lot, and the people I run with love to group and do instances.  Most of us get sleepy from soloing.  I own a ton of games, most of which are single player - I have tons of outlets for single player gaming.  But quality MMORPGs are so rare that I'd really love to see them focus on what makes them unique and special - the grouping - and screw people who want to solo exclusively in MMORPGs.

Premium MMORPGs do not feature built-in cheating via cash for gold pay 2 win. PLAY to win or don't play.

  User Deleted
11/28/12 12:36:23 PM#60

I beg you all pardon, as in my case the only MMOs i knew in the past were those asian, which I always hated as I never could see a reason to keep up playing them. I like playing RPG on a table and I never agreed 100% that any videogame title considered RPG is a true RPG. But then I accepted the fact that a videogame RPG is a genre with loads of story in which you can take some decisions that will count in the end.

When I read MMORPG, I need at least a good story, I really appreciate loads of cutscenes and the story being told as I advance. You can call it as a solo experience. But if you take away the story and all the cutscenes the articles is complaining about, is this still a RPG genre? Perhaps you may be talking about MMO, but not a RPG. I don't see how a game without story can be a RPG?

There's one thing though I may agree, which is the fact that I'd like to see our overall effort counting in order to change the whole world for once. And, this is a question too as is this the point you're complaining the companies don't develop nowadays? What should be like a game that encourage people to gather and play in groups without those annoying LF lobby spammings?

I'm sorry for sounding possibly like the noobest of all, but perhaps I haven't had so far a true MMO experience.

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