Just a few years ago, Everquest was held up as the paragon of MMORPGs. Though several games had come out subsequent to it, none had ever reached its level of subscribers. As a result, many of the Everquest game mechanics became almost canonical. Central to this near holy set of testaments was that players must be forced to team. The philosophy is simple and effective. People play longer if they are playing with friends. If a player is forced to team up with other players, he or she will at some point make friends. I think Anarchy Online and Dark Age of Camelot chipped away at this foundational truth by introducing some levels of soloing, but large swathes of each game focused on teaming.
To be honest, I thought the same when working on City of Heroes. We actually created missions that we intended a player to get help with before finishing. Some foes were intended to be too tough for a single player to defeat. We assumed a player would get the mission, go into the instance, realize that he was facing a "boss," leave the mission, find a friend, and then tackle the "boss" together. I was pretty darn naïve back then.
World of Warcraft released roughly six months after City of Heroes and we, of course, know its success. One of the truly amazing features was that a player could solo effectively the vast amount of the game. Certainly, this told us something at Cryptic. But more important than that was the feedback from our fans. They simply didn't like the idea that they would need to stop their mission in order to go find help. And you know what? The players were right!
I do have a lot of fun playing a MMORPG with friends or a pick-up group. But I'll confess that sometimes I'm just not into that. Maybe I've had a rough day. Or I'm just plain grumpy. In my mind, that doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to play a MMORPG. If a game enforces some form of grouping, I'll be compelled to play something else when I am in a solo kind of mood. But I play MMORPGs because I enjoy the environment, the gameplay … why should I be kept from that?
From the very start of Champions Online, we've kept in mind this basic principle: a player must be able to solo the entire game. That doesn't mean that a person can do everything by himself, but this rule does mean that there must be enough content for a player to reach the end game if he only plays solo.
And here's another groundbreaking element to Champions Online: we are striving to make sure that the end game contains a component for soloers. Yep. That's right. The Champions Online end game isn't just about large teams, raids and guilds. If you don't want to do that, there's still content for you. I'll admit that we haven't put the finishing touches on the Omega System, but I can tell you that we are designing and developing with the solo player in mind.
Read the article at it's original source at www.champions-online.com.