Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 03, 2009
 
Over the edge

Spinks is excited about the Mirkwood expansion for LotRO, specifically the solo dungeons called skirmishes. She dreams of a MMORPG future in which people have soloable, scaling dungeons, with NPC henchmen fixing the obvious problems of class balance. You'd never have to rely on another player again to advance in the game! I think that would be an absolute nightmare, a step too far in progressing solofication of MMORPGs. A step too far and over the edge into a completely different genre, the MSORPG, massively single-player online role-playing game, and into ultimate failure.

Jean-Paul Sartre in the existentialist play "No Exit" says that "Hell is other people", and apparently a large number of MMO players agree. Other players are constantly being blamed for everything anyone thinks is wrong with MMORPGs. Players are blamed for ganking in PvP, wiping raids in PvE, being morons in the player-based economy, and even for ruining other MMORPGs and game companies by not adequately valueing them. So why would remove player interaction not be a good idea? Because suddenly we wouldn't have all these stories, neither the positive ones of challenges overcome with the help of our friends, nor the negative ones cited above, and our games would quickly become boring. A rant about a ninja-looting scumbag makes a good story, but who would be interested in how you beat some dungeon with the help of NPCs?

Why do you think players are willing to run the same dungeons many times in a game like World of Warcraft, but consider to be done with a single-player RPG after having played it through once? People consider it perfectly normal to do the same raid several nights a week for several weeks in a MMORPG, but I do not think that there would be many people interested to play single-player dungeons with NPC support at that rhythm. The participation of other people in a raid makes all the difference, even if that participation sometimes leads to a less than optimal outcome.

Personally I think that already World of Warcraft, in the leveling part, overdoes soloing, and makes forming groups not sufficiently attractive. Apparently Blizzard agrees to some extent, which explains the upcoming cross-server dungeons and improved LFG features of patch 3.3 (rumored for a planned release next week). I believe that players not always really know what they want, and can end up severely disappointed when getting exactly what they asked for. And I do think that even greater soloability in MMORPGs is exactly such a case. People would rejoice when such a game came out, buy it, play it for a month, and quit it. It has always been said that people keep playing a MMORPG even past the point where they enjoy it because of "their friends". A MSORPG, a game in which meeting strangers and turning them into new friends is completely unnecessary, would implode within weeks.

In a time and age where companies can make millions with cheap games extremely lacking in gameplay features, but being rich in social interaction on Facebook, it would be ironic if on the other side the MMO genre abandoned its roots and removed social interactions. I can't see people paying a monthly fee for a MSORPG very long.
Comments:
"Why do you think players are willing to run the same dungeons many times in a game like World of Warcraft, but consider to be done with a single-player RPG after having played it through once?"

Surely Loot Lotto and Emblem Currency has something to do with it. I also recall lots of my friends doing extremely repetitive things for random loot in Diablo and Final Fantasy 12.
 
I think it's just a matter of managing the experience in the game.

Coming right from the solo totd post, I gather there are generally 2 mindsets gamers approach the mmo. The solo mindset, in that the content of the game should cater to me and me alone and the social mindset, in which they get on board with the ideal of forming groups, guilds and basically enjoying more of the end game concept.

the solist might stick around for the main content of the game and quit by the time they reach the endgame or the end of the story, or they might adopt into the social group and stick around for the endgame.

to me, it makes sense then to develop for a solo experience at the beginning while allowing some leeway for social experiences, and having a strong social experience at the end.

this way, the players with the social mindset will continue to stay on while there is still a space in which the solo players can decide then if they want to continue being solo players.

in that respect, i think alot of MMOs fail to address this space properly. Most devs just assume to create a 'hard enough' challenges that unnecessarily forces players into grouping rather than introducing mechanics and systems that will educate and encourage players into groupplay.

in my own experience, i had to quit playing guildwars around the heroes ascent arc simply because the game's missions there relied purely on people parties to get through. it was either that or getting the EOTN expansion that allowed stronger henchmen to help you get through the levels.

in either case, neither really promoted group play in an adoptable manner. the prior just dumping the solo player into a raw social environment.

for those who found the right teammates, or managed to adapt to the sometimes immature newbie blaming environment, that was fine, but for those who couldn't, or didn't have the time, it was to give up the game completely.
 
Like I said in the previous thread, simply reward groups with better loot and exp, but allow people to solo the same content for a lesser reward. This is the only practical way to keep old content alive.
 
I like having the option available to me to solo or to group up, really.

While I'd love to meet my real-life friends online and play with them, none of them actually play mmorpgs. :(

I actually like going through content once solo, and then trying it out with a bunch of people I know online or complete strangers. :)

As for playing with NPCs, it kind of opens up options for fanfiction, but that's basically it. LOL

At the very least, skirmishes are optional, so I heard, so you don't lose out too much if you skip them. :)
 
I agree completely. I enjoy both MMOs and single-player games, but the entire point of an MMO (for me at least) is to interact with the other players. Even when I'm soloing, I like to be in a world with other people in it. To play an MMO and spend most of the time by myself in an instance seems bizarre.

I'm actually curious to see how SWTOR is going to do; it sounds like it's taking a very single-player approach. It will be interesting to see whether players are willing to pay a subscription fee for that sort of experience.
 
This is ridiculous. People would love to group more if it was fun to group. At the moment I do not think it is grouping itself that is the main problem. The biggest hurdle to grouping is the crappy content that has to be played over and over and over again for a year. Instances never change which is why people would rather solo them themselves. They just want to get them over and done with with as little hassle as possible. Grouping is a potential hassle which is why people don't want to do it. If the instances were new and fun every time people would ignore the hassle barrier and run the instances or group content. I think of a co-op game where you just want to have fun with someone else. Grouping and instances should be like that, easy to pick up and go in together with a focus on team work. In say 5 man instances at the moment I think there is little focus on team work. It's individual effort combined not a group effort.

Besides that I don't see anything wrong with solo instances in a MMO. I think a cool game could be created with single player content but with the features of a social network and a MMORPG features like an auction house. There probably will be a successful future game like this or one that already exists but I don't know about.
 
I don't agree.

In my opinion companies should focus on the indirect interaction part and offer player creates scripts, like in DA:O, to automate things while they are offline.

Thinks like the guy who offers people some money for killing wolves that eat his sheep come into my mind.


Actually, look at Real Life:

How much direct interaction do you have with other people, really?
Most of the time we communicate and interact with people who are not right next to us. To constantly be next to the people you work with for example and to solve every problem 'together' were more of a problem than a solution.

We mostly act on our own and interact when we wish to do so. Often in the most efficient way possible, that is the one that minimizes time spent with other people.
 
I have to say, I'm fairly disappointed here Tobold. This post is absolutely absurd to read from someone who has abandoned the major grouping aspects of the game, yet still plays WoW. How is it possible for someone like that to go from "more soloable content" to "remove social interactions?"

I think you need to reevaluate why WoW was so popular in the first place. Back when very few were max level yet, and there was hardly any end game yet anyway. No raids yet, no battlegrounds yet. Millions of people played this game, this nearly completely solo game for them, and they loved it.

You were one of those people, Tobold. Wake up and remember why you first fell in love with WoW, because I guarantee it was well before you had ever grouped with anyone.
 
I think you need to reevaluate why WoW was so popular in the first place. Back when very few were max level yet, and there was hardly any end game yet anyway. No raids yet, no battlegrounds yet. Millions of people played this game, this nearly completely solo game for them, and they loved it.

You are mistaken. Back when WoW was young, low-level dungeon like The Deadmines were extremely popular. And my first WoW characters even grouped a lot with random strangers doing the same quests, because it was obviously better to cooperate than to steal each other's kills. I met people, I made new friends, and that largely contributed to the attraction of WoW for me.

The solo WoW you describe is a beast from a later area, where dungeons are either empty or run with one low-level character being dragged through by one high-level character.

I really, really miss low-level dungeons done with a level-appropriate group. And I have high hopes that patch 3.3 will bring them back, and will make leveling my alts fun again.
 
I think I have pinpointed what bothers me about this entire argument. You are essentially saying, "you are wrong, and even though you think you are having fun, I have decided that you are not. For your benefit, I want to stop you from having fun your way because I have decided it is wrong."

I don't see anyone here asking to shut down the raid dungeons because they prefer soloing, so they don't want others raiding. But I DO see a lot of people asking to shut down soloing, because they prefer grouping so they don't want others soloing.
 
I enjoy both solo and multiplayer aspects of the game.

I have difficulty managing my sleeping patterns so I tend to play mostly during the night a lot of the time. Naturally this can make most activities quite difficult at endgame.

I'm not asking for endgame opportunities with equal reward to raiding - that would enforce just another grind the hardcore players had to participate in.

What I'd like to see is a system similar to Diablo 2 - soloable content with the same gear reward, but with a much higher drop chance when you're playing with more people, and more experience gain with more people (and the monsters would become considerably tougher).

This would allow me to play endgame content normally, as it is now, and to play at night. There's currently no rewarding content at endgame outside of raiding after you reach a certain level of gear. (And no more Argent tournament stuff! Dailies are stealing my soul)
 
Well ... City of Heroes/Villains also has a system with scaleable instances for missions (and later added some difficulty sliders as well).
It is very easy to find a team in CoX btw :)
 
"I really, really miss low-level dungeons done with a level-appropriate group."

Same here, Tobold. In the lfg-tool, there should even be options to toggle: "level-appropriate", "without spoilers", I'd also like "rp".

A comments section in the lfg-tool doesn't work well enough for this.
 
Just to point out that the LOTRO skirmishes also scale with numbers of players, from solo up to 12 players.

One of the things that I find appealing about that idea is that if you want to group, you can grab some friends and go, if one of your friends wants to bring a gf or bf along, you can just add them in as well. And if no one else is around or you feel like soloing, you can do that.

Of course, we'll know in a month or so how well the skirmishes hold up to being repeated.
 
"Why do you think players are willing to run the same dungeons many times in a game like World of Warcraft, but consider to be done with a single-player RPG after having played it through once?"

Have you ever played Diablo 2 and its expansion?
 
I think I agree. I am generally not in favor of segregation, thus not in favor of the proliferation of instances. I agree there should be some, to get your group or raid into a closed environment, but it has gotten out of control. The world is more interesting when there is more forced interaction, even if some of it is negative. There should be more focus on difficult outdoor content and less on instances, whether it be for the individual who wants more challenge, the group, or even raids, although I suppose there is an argument that some raids have to be instanced for the content to be properly tuned.
 
As someone who has actually played LotRO's skirmish content, it's not as dire as you predict. Basically it's a way to balance out individual characters rather than an insidious way to make us not want healers or to let people play an effectively solo game with a monthly subscription. It's for those times when you just want a bit of battle instead of FedEx quests, and you don't feel like wheedling someone in your kinship to get on their minstrel main.

First, the soldiers are NPCs, which means they're about as smart as NPCs in games tend to be. Not stupidly awful, but sometimes my healer doesn't realize I need healing when half my morale bar is missing. I did one event where we had no main healers in a group of 6, and while I survived, I spent a lot more time running around hoping not to die than I would have really liked; I definitely missed a human healer right about then.

Second, rewards scale up as you get more people but the encounters take about the same amount of time. It's exactly what the armchair game designer above suggested. So, it makes sense to pull together some friends to have fun. The main differences is you're not sitting on your thumb for an hour if you can't find the one role needed.

I've been having a lot of fun with the system, and I definitely prefer to have group with me even if I could go in an solo with my DPS character and an healer NPC backing me up. I haven't tried a raid setting yet, but am definitely looking forward to it. :)
 
Tobold you prefer group play, many people do, but many others play solo either through choice or through necessity. Look at the wide range of excellent answers to your last post.

You cannot force people who want to solo into grouping with you. That worked back when Everquest was the only game in town but those days are over. If your game demands grouping then the soloers will stop playing it.

One approach which I believe has yet to be fully exploited is "low commitment" group play. Group play that people can join and leave as they see fit. Most multiplayer shooters use this model. I believe WAR experimented with this in their group quests. I think that recent comments from the developers of WoW about the importance of Pugging also suggest that this is going to become increasingly important.
 
Apologies for the second post but this is a separate point:

A MSORPG, a game in which meeting strangers and turning them into new friends is completely unnecessary, would implode within weeks.

The ongoing success of Guild Wars disproves that statement. Guild wars has become a MSORPG and is massively successful.
 
They just want to get them over and done with with as little hassle as possible

Remember when games had the goal of being fun rather than hassle-free?
 
You are absolutly right, MMO's should be entirely Solable...

you know MMO stands for Massive Multiplayer Online right ?
 
Tobold,

1)
The "Thought of the Day" post shows that a lot of people enjoy the solo aspects of MMOs (particularly WoW) for a number of reasons.

Bizzard are the masters of catering to all audiences (with variable success).

I suspect that their marketing team will disagree with your suggestion that customers who like to solo should go and play singleplayer games to get their fix instead.

2)
Lots of dungeons (mostly level 70 and below) can be solo'd today. They haven't killed the multiplayer game because the rewards are less appealing. What Spinks is proposing isn't any different.

In WoW, the rewards scale with the effort (or group size). Why would you expect solo dungeons to be any different?
 
The ongoing success of Guild Wars disproves that statement. Guild wars has become a MSORPG and is massively successful.

To all people mentioning Guild Wars or various Diablo games: You seem to forget that these games do not have monthly fees. For how long would you be willing to pay a monthly fee of $15 for Diablo or Guild Wars?
 
You cannot force people who want to solo into grouping with you. That worked back when Everquest was the only game in town but those days are over. If your game demands grouping then the soloers will stop playing it.

You are using strawmen arguments here. I never said games should stop offering solo content, or should force people to group.

I'm saying that people by nature are inclined to take the way of least resistance, and that way of least resistance always leads downhill. If you make ALL the content of a MMORPG soloable (with or without NPCs), even people who would otherwise group will solo more and more, ultimately making finding a group impossible. Excessive solo content destroys the multiplayer aspects of the MMORPG.

I want a game with BOTH solo and group content. What you propose leads to a game with ONLY solo content, and I'm saying that this will be the death of the MMORPG.
 
Why are there no different servers for different playstyles?

Like one server where everything is soloable and one where nothing is soloable? (And some in between).

Wouldn't that solve a lot of problems?
 
"For how long would you be willing to pay a monthly fee of $15 for Diablo or Guild Wars?"

Let's take a more extreme example of singleplayer - how long will people be prepared to buy Dragon's Age DLC on a monthly basis? (a 'subscription' of sorts)
I don't have an answer, but I suspect this isn't a flash in the pan.


Let's face it, singleplayer and grouping are both key components of modern MMORPGSs.
This debate has been very 'all or nothing', but the reality is that WoW's success has come from having both.
 
I didn't think I was introducing a straw man Tobold but on closer reading of your article I accept that you are asking for group content to be made "more attractive" not for it to be made "compulsory" so perhaps my point was over stated.

When it first came out Lotro placed great emphasis on grouping at all levels and I believe that definitely helped build a the community. Did that aspect of the game not appeal to you?
 
"I think you need to reevaluate why WoW was so popular in the first place. Back when very few were max level yet, and there was hardly any end game yet anyway. No raids yet, no battlegrounds yet. Millions of people played this game, this nearly completely solo game for them, and they loved it."

On top of what Tobold said, another reason WoW was far more social early on is because your quest log would be full of good reward quests (blue items originally where considered amazing, and most players did not see an epic item until people started raiding MC) that were all group quests, either for an instance or outside.

The gear was not mandatory to continue leveling (which was also much slower back then), but it was good enough to get people together to accomplish something. 2004 WoW was indeed a polished version of EQ without the forced (but still strongly encouraged) grouping.

If we really want to talk about 'features' Blizzard has added to WoW since then, this post's topic might be at the top of the list.
 
Being able to solo content is essential because building groups is too much of a hassle to be fun and it needs to be redone each night (even sometimes several times during a play session). Sure one could argue that being in a guild helps a lot, but still you got to play very often to keep up with friends.

Thing is that if everything is soloable, the game becomes too easy and it isn’t very stimulating or fun. The only challenge being not to aggro too many mobs. With the way devs are accelerating the levelling curve, all but the endgame is challenging. It gets worse when you do find a friend or two to quest with.

Casual players have the most trouble with this, but devs should remember that they pay the same sub fees and that they are more vulnerable the MMO burnout.

I think that a game that successfully produces a true hybrid will become my game of choice.

The game has to either:
1) Scale things automatically to the strength/number of the players in the group.
2) Develop good AI for NPC’s. I think that the Tactics mechanic in Dragon Age should be exploited by MMORPGs to give the player or players in a group more control on the NPC AI.

Grouping in MMORPGs should permit friend to play together in a common game and not

I suspect that devs force players to group to tackle the endgame to slow the speed to which a player can consume their content and thus extending the content’s lifetime. For example, since it’s hard to schedule groups for the endgame content, groups are scheduled by guilds only on certain nights. If a player could do the same content anytime with a smaller group or even solo, players would burn through their content too fast to their liking.

Group content serves the devs primarily as a speed limiting factor and only secondary a socializing tool for the players, else the social aspects of MMORPGs would have received much more development. Fundamentally grouping should be fun, not a hassle to be able to experience endgame.

I’m excited to retry Guildwars with the expansions (played only vanilla GW) and I’m very anxious to see how Guildwars 2 will treat the subject.

Btw Skirmishes in LOTRO are fun and a step in the right direction.

Carmedil
 
Answer to « mbp » :

Yes WAR had the Public Quest which was fantastic when you had enough people to play them. But WAR suffered immensely from its population problems (server wise and Tier wise).

WAR’s public quest should have been scalable to the number of people present. Someone could solo the first part, one could solo or duo the second part but it was a race against the timer, but the third part had a boss that needed many players to get through, else with a holy trinity you could survive against him but he had so much health that you ran out of time.

They finally introduced “easy” public quests which could be finished by a small party, but having every public quest scale would have permitted for a small group to enjoy all of them instead of grinding just one over and over to fill the reward bar.

If each Tier was like a Guildwars server, at least there would have been enough players around to keep public quests and PvP lakes alive all the time. But this would have killed their server RvR endgame, IMO it sucked anyways.
 
Tobold,
Let me tell you the story of Fallout 3 and I.

I followed FO3 for months online, read the forums, looked at the screenshots; I was very excited for this game.

Being a fan of both the post-apoc era fiction and TES: Oblivion and Morrowind I had much faith in Bethesda on delivering a terrific game. I raved, hooted and hollered to my xbawx buddies (I currently do not own a xbawx, but many of my local friends do) to get this game.

Well, they did and Bethesda delivered a great game to their fans.

I played Fallout 3 for exactly 1 week, grew hellaciously bored and now it sits on my shelf gathering dust. I never even bought the expansions.

The difference my xbawx buddies and I is that I am used to being in a large social environment. The MMORPG playing field provides opportunities for many small interpersonal relations mean that a lot when your playing a game for hours straight. Whether being helping someone on a quest or getting into a random pug, even reading some of the funny chatter online in local, you feel like your in a live environment.

In Fallout 3 I actually felt like the last man on earth. I guess I am spoiled from playing MMORPG's for many years.

So if someone feels like playing their character solo, they never really are alone. Sitting in a field grinding for hours by yourself might sound lonely, but there is always another person to relate to unless you are the only one on the server.

Then you are really solo.
 
Like Deek said, the Auction House is part of the social game, and a big part of why I like WoW.

About grouping: perhaps we won't appreciate the pressure toward grouping until that pressure is gone? I'm tempted to like the all-soloable game-state, but part of why I enjoy soloing instances is for the challenge. They are meant for groups, and I (and numerous others, Gevlon being a published one) like the option of going it alone.
I started in early 2005 and did a lot of grouping; the game was a novelty to me, as was interacting with others online in this way. Times change, other players are no longer novel, just potentially useful (can you make 200 Armor Vellum III, please?). I only group to see content, or to sell runs (none of my RL friends play WoW).
Perhaps there could be a difficulty option, either a slider or a handful of modes, with loot and gold reward changing accordingly. Make it so solo/group are both viable, scale the rewards, scale the difficulty (and perhaps add new challenges to groups), and you please (nearly) everyone.
I just don't care to make the effort to group very often, thus I have not seen much of the new, higher-level content. Oh well, it's a big game, I'm still satisfied with what I'm doing. I am happy to pay $15/mo for the experience.
 
The last time I checked WoW was one of the most solo friendly MMOs on the market. A little ironic for one Blizzards most visible champions to take up the "If you want to play solo, why play MMOs?" banner.

It's also a little odd to be picking on LoTRO. It actually has a lot more content that only groups can handle, at least measured as a proportion of the overall content, than WoW. I don't think adding skirmishes that scale to party size will destroy the game. They grant better rewards to larger parties after all, not to mention being a heck of a lot easier in a balanced party.

Repeatable content that can be scaled to party size goes all the way back to Anarchy Online (at least), and the genre has yet to implode. Dark Age of Camelot, City of Heroes, and now LoTRO have all implemented similar systems to good effect without destroying their communities. NPC henchman have also been around for a while in various MMOs. Even Everquest added them a few years ago, and from where I stand the sky remains firmly in place.
 
@ Tobold:
"For how long would you be willing to pay a monthly fee of $15 for Diablo or Guild Wars?"

For as long as one would pay a monthly fee for WoW if they had the same amount of content. A few months in both cases, that is. If they'd update content as regularly as they do with WoW, I bet a lot of people would choose to pay a lot longer.
 
I'm saying that people by nature are inclined to take the way of least resistance, and that way of least resistance always leads downhill. If you make ALL the content of a MMORPG soloable (with or without NPCs), even people who would otherwise group will solo more and more, ultimately making finding a group impossible.

Ah, you missed the bit about the skirmishes all taking about the same amount of time, but scaling appropriately to the number of people in the group. The game even tracks the number of skirmish marks (the primary reward) per hour for you.

Essentially Turbine has made one area of the game where the player can choose what is the most fun for them (because the rewards are roughly equivalent). So someone who enjoys soloing AND a social person like yourself can both utilize the same content. Isn't that better for everyone?
 
I don't care if some people don't have time or the inclination to do group stuff. It's an MMO, it's meant for a group. Pay for something else if you want a different experience and stop diluting the genre's player base's desires in the name of "no hassle".
 
Here is where the dilemma sets in. For a game to be a "great" grouping game, it needs content that filters the player into grouping.

To do this, an MMO needs "innovation".

The constant stagnation of the genre is what has brought us to this place. Everyone wants to have the WoW attitude, and when WoW does it, everyone follows.

Turbine is trying to cater to all crowds now, which is good...but when you have such an UN-innovative game like LOTRO (I mean...don't we all know how it is going to end?), this at least helps alleviate lower population games like LOTRO from dying as it allows any number of players to get going and play... whether grouped or not.

Look at Age of Conan that just dies at endgame, as there is NOTHING to do by yourself...no downtime measures.

So, for now..solo and grouping has to exist in the same title.

Good move for Turbine.
 
@Tobold

I'm saying that people by nature are inclined to take the way of least resistance, and that way of least resistance always leads downhill. If you make ALL the content of a MMORPG soloable (with or without NPCs), even people who would otherwise group will solo more and more, ultimately making finding a group impossible. Excessive solo content destroys the multiplayer aspects of the MMORPG.

I want a game with BOTH solo and group content. What you propose leads to a game with ONLY solo content, and I'm saying that this will be the death of the MMORPG.


You assume equal rewards for soloing, gained just as quickly. The current basic breakdown from best gear down is 25-man, 10-man, heroic 5-man, 5-man, crafting (for PvE at least). I would put solo instances below 5-man in terms of gear, and perhaps have heroic solo instances which are above normal 5-man but below heroic 5-man.

In all cases, you could get better gear faster by grouping. But sometimes you log on and none of your friends are on. Even if it is slower than suffering through a PUG with strangers, I still want to be able to make meaningful advancements when no one I want to play with is online. And please don't tell me to craft or something else similarly inane, that is not the game I signed up to play.

@syncaine

2004 WoW was indeed a polished version of EQ without the forced (but still strongly encouraged) grouping.

This is simply false. Blizzard adds "encouragement" to entice players to play a certain way through rewards and character advancement. From this perspective, grouping is very clearly discouraged from 1 to max level by being the much slower way to advance your character.

I'm surprised to read this from you, syncaine. I thought this was one of your many, many criticisms of WoW.
 
Dear Tobold,
Now that you have quoted No Exit, turn off the lights when you leave my head.

Thanks,
Deip
 
I raid casually and really like grouping and chatting with people in-game and cooperating to defeat a boss. If not for my guild, I would have tired of the game long ago.

BUT, I also really like the idea of running a nice Heroic-type dungeon alone, with NPC's that I have some limited control options over.

I could actually LEARN a boss's tactics myself, which would be a lot more fun that watching a stupid video or just being told what to do each step.

I think it could actually lead to casuals who have more of a clue how to play their class and practice using their abilities which are useless in leveling.
 
@Samus: You are applying a 2009 WoW mentality to 2004 WoW, and that does not work. Back then the game started at level 1, not the cap, and 'gearing up' for ZF was as much a goal as gearing up for the 'end-game' of UBRS/Scholo/Strath.

Longer leveling curve, tougher instances, group quests, fewer options for quality gear, etc, all of that has an effect on how the players play the game. My changing of opinion about WoW, in part, comes from the direction Blizzard took WoW in with welfare epics, speed leveling, and removing or making obsolete most of the group-based content pre-cap, along with generally each patch making WoW easier and easier.
 
I'll second Nils' comments, and add this:

"who would be interested in how you beat some dungeon with the help of NPCs?"

Why should I care who is interested in hearing how *I* play the game? My enjoyment of the game doesn't hinge on someone else's approval or envy.

Ultimately, that's the issue here; If I'm going to pay to play a game, I'd better be able to play it the way I want to. That's the heart of any business transaction.
 
@syncaine

Unfortunately, what we are talking about is basically anecdotal now. As far as I know, there are not published statistics on the percentage of people who were playing solo versus grouping back in 2004 (and I can't find any from today either). I could say that I mostly soloed, as did my friends who played, and that I saw other people mostly soloing. Even people who did instances spent more of their time soloing (the even then acknowledged best way to level) than they did doing the actual instances. But you seem to be contending that most people spent most of their time grouping back then, even at lower levels.

I assume you were on a PvP server? I was on a PvE server, and I could see that making a huge difference.
 
It is interesting, the amount of solo players who feel that WoW should cater more for their needs. While you can solo much of WoW and it is quite enjoyable, the grouping part of WoW is what makes it a great game. Like it or not WoW is a MMO. While I respect the soloers and think they are entitled to their opinion, I suggest that they are playing the wrong game.

I think the LOTR approach which seems to be aimed at facilitating a group where there are insufficient players to make a group or have a balanced group is an act of desparation due to low subscriber numbers. The WoW approach to the problem is cross-server instancing which should increase the number of potential group mates. As Tobold has previously discussed, this approach has its own social drawbacks, but not as many has having NPCs. In anyevent, playing with real people is much more interesting than NPCs.
 
I just read the article linked article and it is interesting to see the concept of scaling instances. (Whether or not it is the first is not relevant).

The bane of any raid leader's life is raid numbers. WoW raids are tuned to 10 and 25, no more no less (if you are doing progression content). To address this issue guilds over recruit and have people sitting on the bench. Raid sizes is often the cause of huge dramas as a guild tries to move from 10 to 25 content.

I think that the introduction of something similar in WoW, provided it is implemented well, would make guild management easier.
 
Bristal has a good point; raiding isn't really the best place for experimentation and learning. (And the leveling content for most MMOs really doesn't correlate well to raiding when it comes to "learn your class".) If you let players go off and do their own "raid tutorials/experiments" without impacting other players, you create a safe learning environment that may well benefit "live" raiding. (And if the best loot still comes from multiplayer raids, there will always be those who still want to play multiplayer.)
 
just wanted to say that i'm totally on board with you on this one Tobold.

don't give up, eventually a game will be made with exactly what the solo lovers are asking for... and it will flop horribly... then we'll get to say "i told you so."
 
Blizzard are making the game all the WoW soloers are screaming for, its called Diablo III
 
Augh, Tobold, your position sounds like a kind of sickness? You want people to make friends, not because they actually like the other person, but because they can't have fun with the product they bought if they don't.

That's a terrible reason to make friends! That's not even making friends, it's just finding people to use.

If people like other people, they'll make friends and group with them even if there's a bunch of NPC's to group with. This whole article seems to be tainted with some idea that it's not important whether people want to do things with each other.

What you need is some mechanism to help people come in contact more, so they actually know what other people are like in order to have a chance at making friends, yes...I'll write more on that on my blog

http://philosophergamer.blogspot.com/2009/12/grouping-isnt-always-healthy.html
 
On the earlier thread I said why I enjoy soloing in WoW, but I also said I had no desire to see all content nerfed to be soloable.

I'd like a caveat to that - I don't mind if content is far too difficult to be soloed, but I do object to content with mechanics that require two or more people, like two switches that must be pressed at the same time or something.

The reason for this is while I may not see Ulduar now, I want to eventually, even if that's at level 100 or whatever. I'm only now doing the classic raids (and please remove the need for a raid group to enter them!) but I'm happy to see the content even if the rewards are sub-par (though you can make a lot of money).

This is I suppose the same as a difficulty slider, though it's player level thats variable, not the dungeon.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
@Tobold

It's my opinion that your definition of "social interaction" is too restrictive ;^)
 
I think I'll echo VatecD as well. Once can enjoy the social livelyness of a pub without actually grouping up with other strangers there. Same goes for a mmorpg.


Anyway, gratz on not deleting my previous post. It was strong but in my estimate, true, but you had the guts to keep allow it, which is good!
 
I'd like a caveat to that - I don't mind if content is far too difficult to be soloed, but I do object to content with mechanics that require two or more people, like two switches that must be pressed at the same time or something."



But that kind of encounter can be really fun in a group. Is it really necessary to cut down the number of allowable fight mechanics just so people can solo raid instances at level 80?

We're already finding in Wrath that the 25 man encounters tend to be less complex because they need to be scalable downwards. What you are asking is that there should never be any complex group content available ever. I think that's unreasonable, as long as you have plenty of fun things to do that engage you.
 
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