Massively Single Player, Part 1

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You forgot reason #4: everyone else on the server is a huge pillock.

Its probably been reiterated many times, but grouping means dealing with the idiots that unfortunately infest life in general, and people still use gaming as escapism so stay solo to avoid them.

And I tend to do the same recently. Ive got a Healadin and DK at the cap, and have run out of want to brave the ignorant, impolite and obnoxious to get gear from riads etc. PUGing can be horrendous, tho it can be better too, depends on the group.

Either way, Ive re rolled a hunter. Its easy to solo, ive always got a companion, and they dont answer back and the whole thing with hunters is that they survive alone in the wild. Which is what ive done, only going to cities to learn new skills, and even then Ive got trade and general off. Its nice to just unwind and play through the game, see whats over that next hill and just enjoying the zones as they were ment to be, instead of zipping through them with questhelper and leveling as fast as possible. Im doing rep grinds ive never bothered with, and Im gonna aim for the "Seeker" title as well as the "Exalted", and basically achievment hunt. And when I hit 80... well I dont think im gonna be as quick to join the gear race again.

So sometimes soloing just has the greater appeal.

The_root_of_all_evil:

targren:
Any of you obscure game lovers know of games playable start-to-end by 2 people (or 2 people + AI like Guild Wars)? Free or subscription is fine (though free is always better, of course)

LotRo, Conan and Warhammer are free to play but need subs to complete.

Of the three at the moment, I'd pick LotRo, almost purely because of Monster Mode and it's so damn pretty.

Conan is nice but it's very linear. Same with Warhammer.

City of Heroes/Villains is always lovely though. A Blaster/Scrapper:Tank or Mastermind/Stalker team should kick ass while still being a scream to play.

If you're into retro, a new EQ update is coming out soon; and EQ2, despite its flaws is still the most pretty, evocative, well-made world ever.

Sorry, I wasn't clear... I'm looking for something like GW or the old Phantasy Star Online, where the world is instanced and I don't have to have my girlfriend subjected to the jerks that feel that it's a personal mission for them to support John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory... A few instanced dungeons here and there isn't quite sufficient.

I think the main reason MMOs have single players is mainly because MMOs often have premises so different than that of normal games.

I've never seen a single player super hero game where you play as an original hero, not Spidey or Bats. City of Heroes/Champions online have what we want for all of our hero fantasies. This premise would work as a standard game.

I'm pretty sure if Blizzard took out the MMO part of WoW and repackaged it for consoles as single player RPG they'd make a(n even greater) fortune.

The next installment of the KotOR series is an MMO. Despite the game having a huge story and NPC companions, you could package this as KotOR 3 without the MMO part.

It's unforunate for people like me (anti social game players who don't want other people ruining their game playing time) that all the best ideas and worlds we'd love to explore, are populated with other human beings... who smell.

targren:

Sorry, I wasn't clear... I'm looking for something like GW or the old Phantasy Star Online, where the world is instanced and I don't have to have my girlfriend subjected to the jerks that feel that it's a personal mission for them to support John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory... A few instanced dungeons here and there isn't quite sufficient.

I tend to play cute girl characters and I've never had any hassle on them :)

Solo play sometims can be better than been with the groups (Who, at times can be very annoying...)

But, alot of developers are working more on the single player action now and its getting to be a little sad...soon,. no one will need anyone, and, it will all turn into real life

I can't talk, I need to go play COH now.

Turbowombat:
This article makes me very sad for the state of MMOS. The whole point is the end game content, not the leveling, that's where the interesting groups happen. People solo in MMOS mostly because it's easier and more efficient if you know how to level better than your likely groups. You get to the end game faster and then you group up for raids.

I've done this in every MMO I've played because compared to a good end game the grind is a boring waste of time. The grouping later is what makes the soloing worth it.

You obviously don't play LotRO. The leveling IS the game here. End-game stuff is fun, but not nearly as big a deal as other MMOs make it. And, that's just how I like it.

There's another obstacle to ongoing group play that I didn't see mentioned. In order to play together, you have to be the same level range, you have to STAY the same level range, you have to have the same schedule, you have to need to do the same quests, and you need to have the same in-game priorities.

I've tried to group up with people I know who play, but we have about 15 minutes where we can actually form a proper group and then the sheer dynamics of the game pull us apart. Everything in my quest queue is has already been completed by the friend I play with on the most regular basis. Why? Because he concentrated on quests and battlegrounds and I spent a lot of time leveling all my professions and non-combat skills as I went.

Seriously, I can't find someone who has the same priorities, schedule, and objectives IRL and that has a much bigger subscriber base than any MMO.

That's how I end up playing mostly by myself, a little with strangers, and chatting a lot with friends and guildies. I haven't hit end-game content yet.

Oh, and there is one aspect of the game that I haven't seen mentioned - the economy. You can play the economy as an aspect of the game, just like anything else. One acquaintence is, I think, a stock trader at heart. The auction house is his favorite dungeon.

He's right about the big game thing. I mean, am I the only one who found Dragon Age to be too short?

I'm serious. I'm restarting the game now, and I'm going to shell out for the Downloadable Content.

There is of course that one, you're right Shamus. Though I don't know what side of the fence you're looking from, but as everyone else here will tell you; there are a lot of dicks online. Or, if you're lucky, you just can't tell when they suddenly have to leave to go shopping with nanny. Maybe they're in a different continent and they just happened to be awake at 4 in the morning, 7pm for you.

And really, there's not enough compulsion to make me want to play in groups anyways. The point is, I can play fine by myself, and I can't depend on other people as much as I should have to for this.

Someday they'll invent a mechanic for getting people to team up other than raids. Maybe operating some machine robot thing, or a symphony orchestra, or a chamber of horrors, I don't know.

All I know is that I can get the job done better if someone isn't wasting all the bloody loot they got on stylish hats.

The latest patch for WOW has really shaken things up, I sense a lot of solo players may well start doing more group dungeons now, as what the main barrier for me was, was the horrible amount of organising involved, then someone gets bored of waiting and quits, or the whole group wants someone else to travel to the place, or other such nonsense.

Now, you just click the group tool, say what you want to do (tank,dps,heal) and if you're experienced in that range of dungeons. It then runs off to all servers and matches up a group for you, and if you don't mind what dungeon you go to, it does the job a lot quicker :D

I've honestly done more grouping in the last week than I have in the last couple of months before the patch, because they've stripped out all the waiting and frustration.

RatRace123:
I think the main reason MMOs have single players is mainly because MMOs often have premises so different than that of normal games.

I've never seen a single player super hero game where you play as an original hero, not Spidey or Bats. City of Heroes/Champions online have what we want for all of our hero fantasies. This premise would work as a standard game.

I'm pretty sure if Blizzard took out the MMO part of WoW and repackaged it for consoles as single player RPG they'd make a(n even greater) fortune.

The next installment of the KotOR series is an MMO. Despite the game having a huge story and NPC companions, you could package this as KotOR 3 without the MMO part.

It's unforunate for people like me (anti social game players who don't want other people ruining their game playing time) that all the best ideas and worlds we'd love to explore, are populated with other human beings... who smell.

Damn, I missed that point. Molto grazzi, which I think is Assassin's Creed II for "About damn time."

Yes, MEMORPAGERS tend to have the game worlds that single-players want, and that not enough single-player games have been made for yet.

Haha, I play MMOs alone. I can play for 8 hours a day without speaking to anyone, unless I'm playing a loer-level asks me to help them level...It makes up for the lack of quests between grinding, so I do it gladly. Then there's trading for quest items in the town square when I'm in a hurry to level. Of course, I can only keep this up for abotu a week before I get bored, & I won't play that MMO for another half to a full year. So I play 4 MMOs total for 4-8 weeks year.

MMOG designers are still trying to wrap their heads around this "solo multiplayer" idea, and they can't seem to decide if soloing is an aberrant behavior that should be discouraged or a new demographic to be embraced.

While I agree with most of the article, to be honest, I disagree with this statement. Most developers know full well that the majority of their playerbase like to solo a good deal of the time. They ignore this at their own peril. Forced group games don't do well.

For example, Dungeons and Dragons Online, which is an amazing game, got itself into a lot of trouble because it was forced group game, and that nearly killed it. The developers realized (pretty much just in the nick of time) that they had better make it more solo friendly, and the more they did so, the better the game did. [You have to give it up for Turbine, they are willing to take risks with their IPs, do stuff that has never been done before, unlike virtually EVERY other MMOG company out there. Sometimes that pays off for them in big ways, other times it explodes in their faces. I have a lot of respect for that company].

Soloers are not the abberation in MMOGs, they are the norm. All the biggest MMOGs are very solo freindly (WoW, LOTRO, COH, etc). That's not an accident.

Quote:
" They wanted to play alone so much that they would forego joining a group and chip away at low-level mobs all by their lonesome, even though they could make far better progress with the help of others. "

That is incorrect. Some MMO's, playing with certain people might actually HURT your progress. Whether by idiocy, age, or general lack of skill.
I play most of Guild Wars alone for this reason, and I'm fine with that.
And DDO, if you're playing an elite difficulty and too many of your people, die, leave, etc, you lose out on a lot of experience and in come cases, some hours of time.

"They're supposedly bored lonely housewives who want something to do while watching their soap operas or reality-TV catfight shows."

I don't really appreciate this. I'm a 20 year old male, pretty much the entire opposite of your little stereotype.

"3) Just because you're solo doesn't mean you're alone."

This is true, I like TALKING to people more than actual grouping. And that isn't so bad, is it?

I enjoyed most of your articles, Shamus. But this one was a little fucked up.

simple ... because some people are DICKHEADS ... thats why i play alone

Jiraiya72:

dogstile:
I got to the bit about hunters being a casual class and was just like O_o

I mean, i took out /warlocks/ with that thing, and warlocks are stupidly easy to play as in pvp.

That's funny considering they are the worst pvp class in the game.

Irridium:
I played WoW solo.

All I wanted to do in that game was explore the vast and beutiful world.
Its just a shame to survive in some of those places I have to grind levels...

If you have to grind levels in WoW, You're doing it wrong.

This dude is a perfect example to why alot of people play solo in a multiplayer game... Im just amazed he didnt manage to squeeze in "noob" somewhere in his post.

One point that wasn't mentioned, that's either sorta relevant or just me being weird...

Roleplay.

This may seem really mad since roleplay is a communal thing, mostly, but back when I was a Lot more active on Ragnarok Online, I spent a lot of my time roleplaying. 'Thing was, we'd sometimes want to roleplay in higher level locations, and if the others weren't around, well, we'd solo to that end. I also remember soloing for a significant while to get just shy of the sharing cap to surprise a friend with being able to really support them next we played together.

>.>

I will always have a special place in my heart for EverCrack, but my main there was a Warrior. by the time I hit 30 I HAD to have a group, as Warrios could not solo for crap. I mad a Druid and a Necro secifically for when I got fed up looking for groups on my Tank.

Nalgas D. Lemur:
I'm totally that guy. It's not because I have something against playing with other people (I used to run a MUD for several years, after all), just that it's hard a lot of the time to find specific people I want to play with. When you narrow it down to people I get along with who want to do the same kinds of things I want to in the game and are around at the same time I am, there's often no one left. I have a hard time justifying the subscription price to play by myself, though, so unless TOR or something like that is really amazing, I can get most of what I want out of single-player games.

Ditto.

I compare it with being a musician. Just because I don't play in a band anymore doesn't mean I don't play an instrument or play it with people around. I just don't want to have to go through group therapy with a bunch of people every time either I or a band mate moves (or a new game comes out as is the case with MMO's).

Puddle Jumper:
Because most people online are twats and will more than likely stab you in the back to pick up a rare trash loot that sells for just above average gold... Or who will disconnect from dungeons (usually tankers or healers) ... sometimes its just fun to be alone and actually get somethig done xD

this this this this

I'll take option 4: The average MMORPG player is a complete idiot and I want nothing to do with them. There are two reasons I play MMORPGs: 1. They have internal economies impossible to reproduce without a thousand people all playing the game at the same time, and 2. I can play with people I ALREADY know. I'm not going to meet someone awesome by churning through random groups of people with a temporary common goal. Take Blizzard, for example. World of Warcraft basically killed playing a RPG with strangers.

Reliq:

Jiraiya72:

dogstile:
I got to the bit about hunters being a casual class and was just like O_o

I mean, i took out /warlocks/ with that thing, and warlocks are stupidly easy to play as in pvp.

That's funny considering they are the worst pvp class in the game.

Irridium:
I played WoW solo.

All I wanted to do in that game was explore the vast and beutiful world.
Its just a shame to survive in some of those places I have to grind levels...

If you have to grind levels in WoW, You're doing it wrong.

This dude is a perfect example to why alot of people play solo in a multiplayer game... Im just amazed he didnt manage to squeeze in "noob" somewhere in his post.

You're a perfect example of someone who screams "CASUAL" and thinks that can justfy being wrong or calling someone elitist. If you have to grind in warcraft, you really are doing it wrong. I know it was a sarcastic post but it was entirely correct.

sigh*

i miss this part of MMO's

theres only 1 zone in lotro atm that involves any multiplayer for endgame that is not instanced
And thats the pvp zone... and even though its got potential to be great pvp... it hasnt gone in any new/healthy direction for a long time.. life only still pumped into it because its ranking and rewards got casual.

AvauntVanguard:
Quote:
" They wanted to play alone so much that they would forego joining a group and chip away at low-level mobs all by their lonesome, even though they could make far better progress with the help of others. "

That is incorrect. Some MMO's, playing with certain people might actually HURT your progress. Whether by idiocy, age, or general lack of skill.

I play most of Guild Wars alone for this reason, and I'm fine with that.
And DDO, if you're playing an elite difficulty and too many of your people, die, leave, etc, you lose out on a lot of experience and in come cases, some hours of time.

Guild Wars would be relevant if that's the sort of game I was talking about. But in that part of the article I was explicitly talking about EQ, Dark Age of Camelot, and other games where solo play was difficult to do.

Guild Wars came AFTER, and was a response of the trend of people wanting solo content.

AvauntVanguard:

"They're supposedly bored lonely housewives who want something to do while watching their soap operas or reality-TV catfight shows."

I don't really appreciate this. I'm a 20 year old male, pretty much the entire opposite of your little stereotype.

That's what the word SUPPOSEDLY was in there for. It's not my opinion. In fact, it's an opinion I was trivializing.

AvauntVanguard:
"3) Just because you're solo doesn't mean you're alone."

This is true, I like TALKING to people more than actual grouping. And that isn't so bad, is it?

No. And I never suggested it was.

AvauntVanguard:
I enjoyed most of your articles, Shamus. But this one was a little fucked up.

I think the only thing f-ed up here was your understanding of the article. You're arguing with the opposite of what I was saying.

Sorry if I'm restating an opinion that's already been said. Mind you, I haven't read all of the previous posts, and this is in direct response to the article by Mr. Young.

Here's my theory, based on my experience with both MMORPGs and online multiplayer FPS games.

First, many players tend toward known efficiency over the unknown value: Online players know that in the modern MMORPG, an hour of solo PvE play will get you the same amount of experience points, loot and fun that the last hour gave you, for the same amount of trouble.

Grouping is always of an unknown efficiency. You might spend an long time looking for players, and those individual players are of unknown quality. Their levels are all you know, and besides that they may have less efficient gear, be heavily distracted by real-life, have bad attitudes, or simply be worse gamers. While one group might be fun to play with, and have great rewards, the next could be downright intolerable.

Well, then the solution to this might be to make grouping, for all of it's possible troubles, worth it in any case. Maybe an MMORPG that is so hard, you cannot solo? This is a highly undesirable option for many online gamers. Make PvE incredibly easy with grouping? Players still want at least a mild challenge. Also, I believe that you could not make the rewards for grouping high enough to completely outweigh the possible troubles of a bad group. Not without breaking the game, at least.

I believe that the casual, PvE-MMORPG is actually flawed as a concept; that is, there is no reasonable solution to the 'problem' of players not grouping with each other. Sure, plenty of times, players balance out the unknown efficiency of player grouping by creating 'guilds' of reliable PvE gamers. But game designers realise that you can't run a WoW-competing MMORPG off of only the minority of 'hardcore PvE gamers.' It would be more profitable to make a solo game with an online chat-box (which is what World of Warcraft IS, for most people.)

Now, a PvP centric online game. THAT, I believe, does work well for grouping. But since the article seems to be discussing the WoW-competing, 'casual, PvE MMORPG', I don't think I'll delve into that.

I think these multi-part articles should be locked from commenting until the entire article is out there and finished. There's a weird vibe I get from this article and others have mentioned it as well, but I want to give Shamus the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully the next part will cap off some of the statements made in this first one.

So far I can't fully appreciate the point of the article.

-----

Also, I have to wonder. There are a lot of people that feel the need to connect with so many others, to the point where it all becomes completely insincere. How can someone honestly be friends with and/or want to work together with a pool of 50 people or more online? There's a point at which this "working together" is actually just about people using one another.

Which is the more unfortunate situation? ...the player that plays at their own pace alone (or occasionally with a friend) and chats with a handful of players? ...or the player that shouts, "LFG!" and teams up with a group of 40 people, most of whom they've never met before, and is mainly concerned with the efficiency of the XP production?

I enjoyed the article a lot. As multiplayer becomes more popular there will be more arse holes playing, its part of being around people.

As a none MMO player I'm similar. Whoever is online decides how likely I am to play MW2 multiplayer. There are only so many people I trust as team mates playing HC team deathmatch. I imagine it's similar with WOW.

The only thing I dont get, can someone explain why the hunter is a casual class? Bare in mind I've never played WOW etc.

Personally I see the solo gameplay element to be an important part of MMO games and should be encouraged and expanded upon.

I also understand that MMO games are designed for groups, but as other people have stated there are other factors in playing with other people:

1) People = shit

Most other people care little that you want to have a good time and will either try to exploit you for their own personal gain.

2) You don't know anyone already playing

Its tough to log onto a MMO and say "Will you be my friend" to anyone you come across. So generally people wont even bother and stay solo.

3) Time / Progression

Not everyone is going to play the same amount of time, or even at the same time of day as you.
So having to 'wait' while your buddy catches up or trying to get a time when both players are online at exactly the same time is really unrealistic

4) Roleplay / Class considerations

Some people want the feeling of doing everything themselves. I used to play a warlock in WoW with my little demon buddy, but after a while I felt like I was the pet since he did all the work and all I did was shoot people in the back!
Another character I have is a rogue which is a great solo class since you can be really sneaky and ambush mobs etc. When other people join you they tend to ruin the whole sneaking up element of your tactics.
Other people would like to roleplay the 'solo tough guy' you see alot in films where they don't need help from anyone and take entire armys out without breaking a sweat - while in the grand scheme of the game its not exactly true (since the high level content requires groups) the player will at least have some satisfaction from cutting through endless quantities of meaningless trash mobs! :P

I see the first few MMO's were designed by groups of friends who would play together at the same time, and thus designed a game for themselves rather than everyone.
Once MMO's gained more popularity they become exposed to different groups of people who would have different requirements etc which is where we are at now.

The only real problem I have with groups in MMO games is all the good stuff requires groups, and if you can't find x number of friends then you get stuck.
WoW has improved this with the dungeon finder and means the system auto selects other players, sticks you together and plonks you in the dungeon.

But now all the other players are deemed just another mechanic and disposable as any other computer generated mob.

Can't win um all :P

The only MMORPG I've played was Last Chaos. I played in a group when it was convient to do you, otherwise I went alone. Besides, I want all of the gold and exp for myself.

Nice article, I would have never thought of mmorpgs turning more toward single player. Thank you for giving me something to think about.

I play with groups in MMOS in groups only when ABSOLUTELY necessary though I would rather play with one other person over just by myself. Soloing is fun because I don't need to rely on other people and playing with one friend is just like soloing but with company which I like best, small groups I am pretty good with, Large Groups though I suck at, I am good enough to get by but I am no good with like 10,25,30 people.

I was always under the impression that MMOGs just meant that there was a metric f@#kton of people to play at the same time. I didn't know that it was imperative for me to play in a party to either have the most fun or get the best loot.

Well, that turns me off MMOGs more than already have.

Great Article Shamus. I tend to do a bit of both depends what mood I'm in and of course how many people are online that I know lol.

targren:

Sorry, I wasn't clear... I'm looking for something like GW or the old Phantasy Star Online, where the world is instanced and I don't have to have my girlfriend subjected to the jerks that feel that it's a personal mission for them to support John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory... A few instanced dungeons here and there isn't quite sufficient.

Isn't the Dungeons & Dragons Online game both free and instanced?

As for the article, I fall under the "hate 95% of the other players". Though while I've been a long time single player RPG fan, I've never gotten too much into the MMORPG thing. If I could add something though, I think part of the problem is that the games have become too big for themselves and there's no real community. And it happens right at the start, when you're tossed into the designated 'beginner' zone and are quickly instructed to start the grind. This solo venture carries on for an undetermined amount of time and really sets the tone for anti-social behaviour onward.

How to fix this? I'm not sure, but I've seen a much better starting point done before. The very first MMORPG I ever played was 10 years ago a crappy little one called Dark Ages, kind of comparable to the many freebie Korean MMORPGs that you see these days. Now what Dark Ages did, starting with a simple character creation that involves choosing sex, haircut, and name, everyone started off as the Peasant class. To become a proper class, the Peasant had to go out and find someone of the same class to 'Mentor' them, who guides the peasant through a temple to earn their class. This creates a sort of buddy system, certain perks are given to existing players to encourage mentoring, and the newbie starts the game off socializing with a real person. While the game overall apart from a few inovated features would be pretty crappy compared to modern standards, it had a nice small-town feel to it where everybody knew everyone. In comparison try starting any of the current MMORPG and see how long you can go without talking to anybody.

RandV80:

Isn't the Dungeons & Dragons Online game both free and instanced?

I'll check it out. Thanks for the suggestion! Hopefully it's not too complicated for her. :)

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