Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
 
World of Warcraft in 2020

It is the year 2020 and World of Warcraft has 20 million players, a hundred times a many as the closest competitor. How did a 15-year old game manage to climb to such a dominant position? After a meteoric rise, there was a period of stagnation nearly a decade ago, during the time of the Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm expansions. Anything Blizzard tried to get people to play together failed: Easy dungeons, hard dungeons, automatic group finding, added guild perks, all these measures only increased the amount of acrimony in the community. "Pickup group" became a kind of a curse word, and dungeon queues grew to 2 hours length, as most tanks and healers quit the game or switched to DPS, fed up of constantly being blamed for the faults of others. As raiding died due to lack of tanks and healers, only 3 guilds ever managed to finish the final Cataclysm raid encounter, in spite of repeated nerfs.

The breakthrough came in 2012, with the 4th expansion, as Blizzard had realized a fundamental truth: Players simply do not want to play with others. Having always been good at "borrowing" ideas from other games, Blizzard took the henchman concept from Guild Wars, and enabled players to do dungeons and raids solo, accompanied only by NPC henchmen. That concept was expanded with time, and today players exclusively solo playing a raid group of 5 to 10 characters, being able to control one of them at will, while the AI does a great job at playing the other 4 to 9. That was a huge success, because not only are players now able to solo their way up to the final raid boss of an expansion, but they now also can use practically all gear drops to equip their small army.

These small armies of avatars controlled by a single player are now called "guilds". The old sort of guilds, having several players in them, crumbled due to players not needing each other any more, and was abolished in the 2014 expansion. When crafting for NPC henchmen was introduced, the player-run economy wasn't necessary any more either. The auction house was removed from the game in 2016. With chat then only being used for exchanging insults, chat functionality was removed from WoW in 2018.

It is the year 2020 and World of Warcraft has 20 million players, all of them playing in splendid isolation from each other. Competitors games, which still try outmoded concepts like players interacting with each other don't stand a chance. Welcome to the future of MMORPGs, now simply called OGs, because there is neither massively multiplayer interaction, nor role playing.
Comments:
While I can appreciate that this is a sarcastic post, there's a part of me that wouldn't mind, and actually wants WoW as a single player game.
 
Your forgot to mention that in 2014 WOW was ported exclusively to the WOW-Box. PC support stopped in 2016, since then it's only available on the WoW-box.
 
OGs? Sounds more like a RTS. And we're all familiar with a company that has had great success creating RTSes...
 
I actually like the idea of solo content with "henchmen." It would be more or less like the AI in the Left4Dead games: serviceable, but fairly dumb and clearly not as good as a capable human.

I know you're being sarcastic about all the doomsday consequences, but you'll have to remind me. What is the downside to allowing solo instances with this mechanic?

As with all things, if you don't like it, don't play it.
 
That is exactly the problem of the missing vision at Blizzard. If you at every step go the path of least resistance to gain new subscribers, you might come out where you never wanted to go.

But I doubt henchmen are fun. They are even less fun than stupid players. At least you can be angry at stupid players.
 
Yeah, you joke but in the long run, there are quite a few dead MMOs I'd like to be able to play single-player (or networked in a small group) like this.
 
This sounds like an awesome game. Sure it lacks the social components of the game, but as I play with RL friends only anyway, nothing much would change (if players could step in for the AI avatars).

But how about another idea: Splitting the communities into two parts. One part remains in the regular World of Warcraft, tanking the wicked and healing the poort, the other would go into this AI controlled self help group. DDs could deal damage all day, to a raidboss, tanked by an AI controlled construct, healed by AI controlled constructs.

This idea needs more thought. Or cowbell.
 
>they now also can use practically all gear drops to equip their small army.

Reminds me of an isometric game with a far east backdrop from the D2 era, where you controlled one character but had a band of 4 NPCs to support you. You could equip them and I believe they had talents trees or skills or whatever they were called back then. I loved it. I would definitely dig a newer version if anyone knows of one. One of the reasons I dislike RTS is that there's the gathering and building phases, where as in D2 you fight... to get more fight. Also, large armies are difficult to micromanage, where as up to 2-6 NPC companions would be fine to keep track of.
 
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Star Trek Online does a good job of this currently.

All ground quests are for 5 players. You have your NPC's (away team) which you take with you and they fill the slots if you are playing solo.

All the loot that you collect, you do actually give to your away team to switch out / upgrade their gear. I find it really enjoyable.
 
While I can appreciate that this is a sarcastic post, there's a part of me that wouldn't mind, and actually wants WoW as a single player game.

The general idea of any blog post is to provoke thought. While written with tongue-in-cheek, I don't think "sarcastic" is the correct term. I'd say there is an even chance that by 2020 there is actually a "MMO" which can be soloed up to the very end, including dungeon and raid content.

That is exactly the problem of the missing vision at Blizzard.

I don't think Blizzard would object to having 20 million players playing an online solo game. I bet that over half of the people reading this post think "I want to play that!" instead of considering it as something bad. One day you will need to realize that you are part of a shrinking minority that actually wants player interaction in a multiplayer game.
 
STO, SWTOR, NWN2. It seems as though the future is already here.
 
One day you will need to realize that you are part of a shrinking minority that actually wants player interaction in a multiplayer game.

That is the kind of accusation I can live with very well :)
Luckily, these games don't exclude one another. They can peacefully coexist.
 
Let me ask you this, Tobold.

Let's say Dragon Age 2 offered multiplayer features allowing your friends, or strangers from an online community, to play some or all of your party members.

Is there any difference between that and what you are suggesting here?
 
Rumor has it that the next expansion in 2021 will even do away with the need for a constant internet connection! (Thus turning WoW from MMORPG to G.)
 
lol, the implication that DPS, Tank and Healer are the actual ROLES we play in RPGs is both sad and hilarious... :DD
 
Wow, the amount of positive responses here is a little frightening. I mean, you’re all perfectly entitled to enjoy what you want, but I certainly hope no developer actually goes through with this. How can you speak positively about phasing out the one unique aspect of MMORPGs in order to turn it into another genre that already exists? There are already scores of single player RPGs, why make WoW just another one of them? The world may be interesting, but the story is awful and the “role-playing” is purely based on your class and talent choices.

This is all well and good if people actually enjoy the mindless grinding of pointless quests for hundreds of hours… but please let’s not ruin the MMORPG genre in the process. If people really like the idea of completely soloing WoW, then why are they even playing MMORPGs? Is gameplay really that inherently enjoyable? Why not advocate this sort of thing for a completely different single player game, why use WoW as a template? I’m not gonna push for third person shooters to adopt a first person perspective, I don’t get how anyone can approve of removing the MM from MMORPG. You’ve already got hundreds of single player RPGs, let us enjoy our few massively multiplayer ones!

I’ve seen private WoW servers, the ones with nobody populating them, and I can think of very little solo experiences in WoW that could be better than a game actually designed for that purpose. The whole point of genres is that there are different games for different tastes. If you want multiplayer in your single player RPGs, ask for that. But don’t advocate the destruction of a unique genre just to get it. When I read the post I thought “Neat, a quirky little post. Obviously ridiculous, but still funny.” Now I’m worried.

@Samus:

The biggest differences would be the story, NPC depth, role playing, atmosphere, and pacing. If none of those mean anything to you (and they very well may not, nothing wrong with that) then they may be similar. In the big picture you could say “Dragon Age is a single player fantasy action RPG with class archetypes and 2020 WoW is a single player fantasy action RPG with class archetypes and thus are similar” but the actual designs are very different, despite Blizzard’s best efforts :(
 
At what point can we install the entire game onto our machines and get rid of those damn servers?
 
I could well believe that the future belongs to Massively Single Player games. Persistent online worlds where players play on their own together and have access to an army of henchmen and a few chat channels.

I wonder if Blizzard will dominate this space however? A lot of other companies are already farther down that road than them. Arenanet is an obvious candidate with Guild Wars and its sequel but other games such as Borderlands, Dragon Age even some Face-book games are moving in that direction.
 
In 2020 of course all single-player games require being connected to a server on the internet anyway. It turned out that this was the only thing that worked reasonably well against piracy. There are no more games that can be completely played on an offline PC, except indie games.
 
The old sort of guilds, having several players in them, crumbled due to players not needing each other any more, and was abolished in the 2014 expansion. When crafting for NPC henchmen was introduced, the player-run economy wasn't necessary any more either. The auction house was removed from the game in 2016. With chat then only being used for exchanging insults, chat functionality was removed from WoW in 2018.

Of course, even back in 2011, everyone could see these changes coming. After all, Blizzard had a long history of completely scrapping old features to make way for the new ones. Remember when the ability to invite players to groups was removed from the game with the introduction of Dungeon Finder? Or when the option to trade items to other players was scrapped soon after the creation of Auction Houses? Or when all contested territories were permanently unflagged for PvP in the same patch that brought us Battlegrounds? Or when all pre-Cataclysm characters got their races forcibly changed to Worgens and Goblins?
 
"The biggest differences would be the story, NPC depth, role playing, atmosphere, and pacing."

I take this to mean you haven't played the first Dragon Age? It consists of the same gathering of "kill 10 of these," "collect 8 of these," and "go kill this bad guy" quests, followed by going out and doing a questing run.

Compare Dragon Age and WoW to something like Fable or Bioshock. The differences between the first two are extremely small in comparison to the similarities they share in comparison to other games.

The main point I was trying to makes was while the Dragon Age version of this game would be regarded as innovative multiplayer, the WoW version of the same game is being cursed as "OMG the sky is falling it's the death of all multiplayer forever until the end of time!!!"
 
And what about the gameplay? Any thought required or just a custom keyboard with one big [IWIN] button in the middle?
 
You do realize this game is basically Diablo 2, Borderlands, Guild Wars, or games of that nature. It's a decent concept, but hardly groundbreaking
 
I was more expecting that by 2020, the computer plays your character. You will just watch and quaff beers, taking control only to grab loot or whatever actions would make you feel rewarded / important :)
 
Levelling through the Dungeon Finder shows you soon enough that the levelling dungeons are already silent, the social aspect taken away from the play except in the instances someone starts whining on the healer being crap or accusing the tank being noob. Otherwise it's really the same if the rest of the group are players or NPC's really.

So the future is nearer than we think. The MMO part is already mostly dead, available only those lucky ones who have found their perfect match of a guild and can devote their social contacts to that group. Otherwise the world could be populated with AI drones and no-one would notice any difference.

RPG side was tossed already at the moment when min-maxing become the only way to play the game right.

C out
 
I'm always surprised that WoW didn't pick up the henchman idea ages ago, which makes me think they are keeping this feature for "Titan", along with player housing and the other features that you would expect to see in WoW but don't.
 
@Samus:

I did play Dragon Age the whole way through. I‘m not sure if I enjoyed it very much, but that’s a different story. I do certainly understand what you mean when you compare WoW and Dragon Age to something entirely different, but my point was that that sort of comparison doesn’t mean anything. Yes Dragon Age had the go here and kill stuff quests, but calling that similar to WoW is too big picture for me. I don’t play on games run by concepts, so even though many of those concepts are similar there is still a mighty difference between things like quests in WoW and Dragon Age (in quests, for example, presentation and pacing). It’s like saying fingers may as well just be toes because they’re both totally different than heads.

The main point I was trying to makes was while the Dragon Age version of this game would be regarded as innovative multiplayer, the WoW version of the same game is being cursed as "OMG the sky is falling it's the death of all multiplayer forever until the end of time!!!"

I actually agree with all of that :P

I think multiplayer in a single player RPG would be nice, and I also think that turning WoW into a basically single player game with optional multiplayer would mark the death of the MMORPG genre. Sure not all games in the industry follow the popular model, but most of them take plenty of cues from the most mainstream game in the genre. That shift may not make a difference to the people who support such a change, but those of us who think the best part of an MMORPG is the MMO part would be hugely affected.

If I think the whole point of an MMORPG is interaction with the massively multiplayer world, and that world becomes soloable, then I’ve been largely deprived of my main reason for even playing the genre at all.
 
@Hobonicus

I would say your concerns about WoW turning into essentially a single player game are rooted in your arguments from the last thread (which I agree with). People do raids, not because they share a common larger goal, but because they need those other players to help them reach their own individual selfish goals.

Since all WoW HAS are individual selfish goals, it would stand to reason that if given the option, players would choose to attain them individually.

On the other hand, if you talked with virtually any console game developer, they would tell you that games without multiplayer are dead. Likely, they would go off on a rant about how gamers today won't play anything they can't play with others.

I see you and those console developers as making the same false assumption, that you can pin down the one exact way to play and nothing else, and that every single game in a genre will all merge into identical, single-minded games. Just because they add a feature, even if that feature is popular, doesn't mean they will shut down all other elements of the game, or that other games in the genre won't continue to innovate and diversify.
 
Blizzard already did this in WOTLK with the event where you "help" Thrall and Sylvanis take back the Undercity. It was a cute idea for the first few minutes, but quickly became boring as the player realized that they were completely irrelevant.

So for those of you that think this vision of doomsday sounds almost nice, keep in mind that if you are one dps'er grouping with 9 or more AIs, your damage output will mostly likely be irrelevant. In order to make a "raid" encounter even remotely doable with 9 AIs and a human player, I suspect developers would have to make things equally doable without the player at all.
 
One comment from the previous discussion on community rings out: "Everyone solos to max level and then all they can do is raid". Believe me there are a lot of people that want to continue their solo play through end game.

There are a lot of reasons why people want to solo. We've heard them all before and they are valid.

There is no reason that the game producers can't have their cake and eat it too i.e. maximum revenue from both multi-players and solo-ers. Whoever does this first and/or best will reap the rewards.

We solo players will no longer be 2nd class citizens.
 
Cute post, but illogical. Why would raiding die because of lack of tanks and healers?

People don't have anything against tanking and healing for their guild. It's purely against morons from the outside, and it doesn't stop raiding in any way.

You're just extending your poor LFD experiences and expectations onto guilds, which is not how it works. Fix that and suddenly you have to change 99% of your cute post.
 
I come from a pen-and-paper RPG background. In my youth I watched the rise of computer games and imagined how they would merge with my hobby. I imagined something very different to WoW. Basically, six networked computers in a room displaying what was happening in the game, as moderated by the DM, from each player character's viewpoint.

I stopped playing PnP RPGs when we had a child and I could no longer make a commitment, but after a few years I thought WoW would be a convenient alternative. It was nothing like what I imagined in the 1980s, but it seemed like a reasonable substitute. I ended up playing pretty hardcore for about two years before I realised it was taking up much more time than my old hobby and delivering nowhere near as much fun.

Now my daughter is 6 and I'm back to playing at a table again. I found that being involved in three fortnightly games (DnD, Eclipse Phase and Shadowrun) with different groups is enough to keep me from resubscribing to WoW.

I read your blog and watch other sites for any sign that MMORPGs will drift back toward an approximation of PnP gaming. From what I have seen, the pessimism in this post is justified. Last week's discussion on social responsibility demonstrated to me that the co-operation you get when face-to-face with your fellow gamers is almost impossible to replicate online.
 
one could argue blizzard have a social responsibility to the future of MMOs by not pandering to the selfish desires of its players.
 
It sounds like what people are saying is 'I want a single player RPG that is in a world as thoroughly well designed as WoW, with sandbox elements.' So why doesn't that game exist and why are all those players playing WoW instead?
 
I feel like at this point there is not much value in trying to contribute to the discussion - I made points in the first post about social responsibility that I do not feel have been addressed subsequently. While I like to agree with the blog, I think this is one point on which Tobold is completely convinced of his own view of social responsibility: that the entire game is doomed to collapse as a result of the complete and utter, unforgivable, despicable selfishness of anyone born after the year 1980.

I think it's easy to forget that the dungeon finder is just one of the ways to foster community, and is, in fact, the worst of them. In my experience, the ability to guild (and the incentives to build this kind of guild community) are greater than ever before. I can party with my guild as easily as I could ever linkshell in FFXI, and can be as close to the people in the former as I was to those in the latter.

As I've said before, the only social responsibility of someone using dungeon finder is to be willing to wait the queue time associated with their role. As I've said before, queue times are essentially capital and the dunegon finder is a free market, where everyone is allowed to value things as they wish.

Do I personally think that people should play poorly? Unless it is actually halting progress through a dungeon, I don't complain when a player is low on the DPS charts. In a way, I see it as my "social responsibility" to accept that people with different values are playing the game for different reasons.

But at the end of the day, if a player *is* halting dungeon progress, then they are opting out of the dungeon entirely. This is why we can vote to kick, because at the end of the day the democratic ability to control what we do is still at play.

Finally, when we look at the community in WoW and say that it is devoid of interaction, we may blame the wrong culprits. Are WoW players soloists and silent because the game is broken? Is it this way because the game discourages "social responsibility"? Or is it this way because the largest MMOG in history attracts a huge variety of casual players, most of whom are not of the traditional, progress and community seeking gamer archetype?

I think WoW has 1 000 000 players that are exactly what you want, Tobold. You just have to accept that there are 14 000 000 that aren't.
 
@Mutton: WoW used to have a good community, people offered help and grouped and generally communicated well because everything wasn't handed to them on a plate. Unfortunately it's now a very different story.

@Lexicorro: Nail. On. Head. Blizzard has killed WoW, not the players.

@Keith: Because Blizzard are still creaming plenty of profit off WoW, and until that changes they will continue to do whatever generates them the most income which is, as Lexicorro correctly points out, 'pandering to the selfish desires of its players'
 
One last thing - I get the impression that Tobold wants the people playing the game to change, instead of being willing to gather with like-minded individuals. This might actually mean leaving the game of WoW entirely - but I still think finding a place/community that fits you is more "socially responsible" than declaring the vast majority are morally inept and apparently socially defunct individuals.
 
@Keith:

That's not what people are saying. People are saying that they want an online game that involves other people, while simultaneously not forcing us to group to experience the most exciting content.

@Renko:

Blizzard will never do player housing b/c that actually will destory the community. Right now everyone hangs out in org and SW. If we had player housing, then server communities really would be irrelevant.
 
Blech, I am in a bit of a tizzy over this so I am going to make yet another comment.

1) I agree that the community, as it exists in the overworld of WoW, *has a lower percentage of helpful players* than there has been previously or in other MMOs. I do not think that there are fewer helpful players in absolute terms.

2) I agree that the extremely difficult nature of earlier MMOs coupled with the smaller set of people to interact with fostered a better community. You can know everyone in a small town, but when you're in a big city you kind of give up.

3) I agree that there are gameplay mechanics that could be used by Blizzard to foster this community.

However, where I really disagree is that it is either Blizzard's or the player's "social responsibility" to change the game to reflect this idealized view of community. I think the fact that the game allows the majority of its players to do as they wish and still has room for the community experience of the scale of the guild is quite remarkable. Players should not be obligated to behave differently so long as they know they are opting out of that community.

P.S. I waited as a healer for over an hour to do a dungeon in pre-DF WoW many times. DF is really not that bad even for DPS.
 
About five years late, but welcome to the niche Tobold.
 
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This post makes me sad, not for the post itself, but for how it seems to have gone straight over a whole lot of heads.

Hint: arguing about details is missing the point.
 
@ thehampster:

So you want an online game where you aren't encouraged to play with other people? Where everything is designed to be played solo, but you want other people to be standing around in the world while you do it? That sounds like an rpg with glorified chat and e-peen waving contest of standing around in Org/Storm/Iron on your flying mount in your epics.

Seriously.. why would you play online if you aren't going to play WITH people?
 
Blech, I am in a bit of a tizzy over this so I am going to make yet another comment.

In your tizzyness you might not be aware that you are actually making all these comments in the wrong thread.

Actually this post is only marginally linked to last week's discussion, but is a direct response to the mail of a reader who asked me to write about my thoughts on enabling players to get BiS items through soloing instead of grouping.
 
About five years late, but welcome to the niche Tobold.

I'd argue that wanting to play *with* other players is a different niche than wanting to play *against* them. So while I'm not moving into your niche, maybe we can consider ourselves as neighbors.
 
The random dungeon finder is fine. Everything Blizzard has done with this expansion has INCREASED the need for a strong social structure. They have practically made it impossible to get by on endgame raiding or rated BG content without being in a thriving guild. If your community is bad, take some responsibility and make it a better one, don't whine at Blizzard when they're working to ensure that everything important requires interactivity.
 
I'd love to play a game, like WoW, but be the only player in the non-instanced part of the world. And have the world change based on my gameplay in the world. So when I killed a bad guy, he stayed dead. Or if I do a quest that required me to burn down a village, that village stayed destroyed.

But I would still like to play with others in instances and be able to have commerce with other players via the auction house. Maybe once in a while I would like to have other players visit my world but I would like to be able to kick them out if they start messing things up.

When playing the leveling game in WoW I find other players to be more of a hinderance than anything else. When you finally do meet someone nice that you can play with for a while, you put them on your friends list and never see them again, hehe.
 
Why does it have to be completely black or white?

Why can't there be BOTH group and valid solo content available? With higher rewards being given to the group content?

I gotta tell you, I play WoW to have fun. But, it is no fun just running the same old dailies over and over and over, or losing the same old battlegrounds over and over and over, while waiting to run the one group dungeon I can do a day just to have it fall apart midway.

I leveled up my Engineering trade skill just to come to a complete halt once I made the ONE thing I could actually use, that's it - done. Nothing else to do. I make gems with Jewel Crafting only when I need them. Nothing else to do.

Archeology will occupy me a while when I turn my attention to it, but when it's maxed then what?

They HAVE to put other things to do in this game.

There is no role playing - there is no personal story my character can be working on. No housing I can use my trade skills to make items for. No dynamically generated quests to keep me occupied, or perhaps move my characters story (what little there is) along.

I'm just kinda sitting around bitching and moaning on various message boards while waiting for something to do. I probably wouldn't be here posting if I could be playing.

If going to all solo dungeons is what it will take so that I actually have things to do in the game, then I'm all for it. Community is optional, and subordinate, to my having fun.
 
Why can't there be BOTH group and valid solo content available? With higher rewards being given to the group content?

Why would the group content have to give higher rewards? Why not give people the choice whether they want to do the same raid for the same rewards solo (with AI NPCs) or in a group with other human players?

If your instinctive answer is "because then everybody would solo", that should tell you something.
 
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I think your idea is actually half-way to the answer that would get them their 20 million subscribers: We need 3-man dungeons. Personally, I can sometimes stand grouping with 2 other players. But 4 at once, well, let's put it this way. Do you like driving in a car with 4 other people? Much better with just 2 others, wouldn't you say?
 
I want henchmen too!

The way you'd get me to doing some multiplayer would be in the battlegrounds, where it's much more satisfying to kill another player than an NPC, and in big PvP warzones.

In both BGs and PvP warzones henchmen are not allowed.
 
Remember when the ability to invite players to groups was removed from the game with the introduction of Dungeon Finder?

Let's not rewrite history here. That capability still exists, unchanged. What does surprise me is that in this day of failPUGs, it isn't used considerably more often.

/trade LFM, healer and one DPS, for random Heroic.
 
More on point, I'd love to be able to fill a 5-man with two or three henchmen. My guild is quite small, and we don't always have a tank or healer. I'd be very happy to take the one or two people I play with every day, and add enough to fill out a group.

In short, I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard does some research to see how viable this would be, from the player standpoint, before committing resources to development of this technology.
 
Holy moly, and I could que with my army and actually get a heal in battlegrounds. I like it!
 
@ Tobold:

The description you just gave is precisely what GW is. Add some of the large-scale boss encounters found in WoW to GW and you already have the game you described.

The only difference (and something you are inferring here) is that you can replace so-called henchmen with real players if wanted. And as an original GW player, there are many times you want ACTUAL players filling your henchmen roles rather than AI. AI for WoW would be some feat...calculating distance to the boss, anticipating boss AoEs, avoiding fire, etc. Would the AI tank automatically pull the boss to a specific point in the screen and turn him away from the raid? What would the tank do if a DPS pulled aggro from the boss and taunt was down? What would an AI DPS do in that situation?

On the one hand, you could likely program your AI to respond exactly the same way each time. For some linear, non-complex boss fights, this might work (although it would probably be boring). On non-linear, complex boss fights, it might be harder to gauge exactly what will happen. I would have to see it to believe it. The AI in GW was far inferior to real players in ANY sort of encounter. I would imagine WoW, with its scale and complexity would be a monumental undertaking to incorporate AI players.
 
"Why can't there be BOTH group and valid solo content available?"

I have to agree with this. I feel like I have said "I'd like to be able to play a healer once in a while," and people here have responded "OMG YOU WANT A GAME WHERE YOU CAN DO NOTHING BUT HEAL THE WHOLE TIME AND NEVER EVER DO DAMAGE OR ANYTHING ELSE WHY DO YOU HATE BABY JESUS!?!?"


"Why would the group content have to give higher rewards?"

This probably deserves its own thread. My only concern here is that if the gear was equal, a lot of people would feel that they are "required" to do solo instances, the same way with Burning Crusade players were forced to do PVP.

I don't think this is a hard fix though. Just give gear that has "henchmen" stats on it, major buffs to your henchmen. This would be essential for the harder solo instances, but obviously worthless in a raid.
 
I do think there should be both solo and group gameplay too, but it would have to be to different ends, not simply being able to solo group content. Though I don't believe WoW has the capacity for such variety.
 
"...while the AI does a great job at playing the other 4 to 9..."

Your story is quite believable. Except for this bit.
 
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"Why would the group content have to give higher rewards? Why not give people the choice whether they want to do the same raid for the same rewards solo (with AI NPCs) or in a group with other human players?

If your instinctive answer is "because then everybody would solo", that should tell you something."


Actually, I was more thinking along the lines that it is harder to coordinate and succeed at group content given the current design philosophy. So it's deserving of higher rewards.

"Because then everybody would solo" is perfectly fine with me. I don't mind being in a virtual world with a lot of other people. It can be fun, and it makes the world feel more alive. I don't care if everyone is soloing as long as I'm having fun.

I just don't want my fun to be held hostage by other people - which is currently the case for the lvl 85 game.

I voluntarily joined a raid guild, and let my time be held hostage by the raid schedule, and my fun to be held hostage by my guildmates. That was a choice I made.

But in the case of non-raid dungeons, I have no choice. I'm held hostage by the requirement to group with a tank and a healer, so likewise my time is held hostage while I wait 40 minutes for the group to form. (I would never waste my customer's time. Why does Blizzard do that to theirs?)

I have no way of helping myself.

At least with the option of valid solo content, I have a choice. I can go do that when I don't feel like being held hostage.
 
@tonyp51

You do have ways to help yourself, actually!

The first is the most obvious: if you're a hybrid, respec to tank or healer and queue. Voila, no wonder do you have to wait upwards of half an hour!

Of course, if you're not a hybrid and/or you don't want to respec, you have a second option due to being in a raiding guild with, presumably, tanks and healers who might also need things from 5-mans. Ask them if you can tackle the LFD together, give them an option of having a least one DPS they want to play with in their group.
 
... and 40 million people are playing Call of Duty: 20 whose main appeal is ... the social game.
 
If your instinctive answer is "because then everybody would solo", that should tell you something.

What does it tell us? It is impossible to make these things soloable while maintaining the difficulty / chance of sucess.

Being able to solo it would change the character of the content so dramatically, that this would tell us just nothing.
 
The alure of "soloing" in an MMO like WoW as opposed to a solo game is that you don't FEEL alone. You see other players around you, you read what they are saying.

I played a few solo/RPG/adventure games before I found WoW. Playing alone, by yourself, with nobody around can feel LONELY after awhile.

In WoW I don't feel alone. I don't necessarily have to play or group with others in the game, but I still enjoy and find security their presence.

Like the difference between going to a coffee shop alone, and hiking out to a secluded spot in the wilderness ALONE.

I would also welcome the opportunity to do instances with henchman. But I still want guild chat.
 
Unfortunately our guild is no different that the general population - very few tanks and healers relative to the number of DPS. (I'm a Hunter, been playing this Hunter almost exclusively since day one. If Blizzard wants to give me a tanking or healing spec I'd be glad to switch to it when necessary). So each tank/healer does one run a night, and they are done. If I'm lucky to group with them, fine. Most days it doesn't work out.

Maybe you democratically-minded folks can answer a question for me.

What is wrong with offering people the choice of soloing if they want to? I'm talking IN ADDITION to all of the current mandatory grouping content. I mean real challenging solo dungeons that take all the skills your class has to offer to complete. Maybe an NPC companion to help if you need.

Those who want to group will do so, those that want to solo will do so.

If it ends up that everyone chooses to solo, then maybe that is the majority vote and that's ok!!

I'm pretty sure the 'elite' people won't use the solo content if it is not compelling - like the current stupid, boring daily quests that are only done because they are fast money. But if the solo content is compelling, and players are happily convinced they are getting their $15/mo worth - what is wrong with that?

You can STILL be in a guild, and you can STILL go after challenging group-oriented raids if you choose. You can STILL have fun participating in guild chat, and listening to idiots in trade chat.

What is WRONG with having a choice?

Why do you folks always think in an all-or-nothing way? It doesn't have to be.
 
Far too many comments getting deleted on here. Sorry dude, you've just lost another. Delete away.
 
Bristal shares the very reason why I turned to WoW.

I cut my teeth on pen and paper games on the weekends but the other five days I was playing Final Fantasy, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Balder's Gate, Icewind Dale, and other solo/party based RPGs.

The worlds and stories are sometimes awesome, but there's no one there to see your uber gear. No one running around with gear that you want. It is complete solitude. A nice game on occasion, but once you've been into an MMO world and see people running around and glancing at the chat window...it's very difficult to go back to those solo games.

I enjoyed Hellgate: London. It was built like a solo game, but you could group and chat if you wanted. The game was designed to allow to play offline and once the servers were shut down I actually tried. It played the same, but it wasn't the same. I yanked if off my hard drive after playing only a few hours.

I recognize Tobolds point but there is something to be said for allowing an MMO to be played solo and still be social. I don't want to see WoW become only single player, but I would welcome a solo option.
 
I would LOVE that game!
 
I've obviously linked back to this with my own take, but I also want to second tonyp51's comments. Increased choice also makes it easier for devs to tell where to put their emphasis in the next expansion.
 
tl:dr summary: solo != solo in a massively multiplayer ecosystem

TBH, I think there is a fallacy here caused by language imprecisions with "play with others." E.g., playing poker solo is pointless. But that does not mean that you ever at any time are "playing with others" as in cooperating. Everyone you are playing with wants all your money every hand.

I enjoy playing in the WoW AH. It would be pointless if it were a solo game. Yet I never group with anyone (in this aspect of WoW.) Many of the people I play with may never be on the game at the same time as I. I can buy herbs when I awaken at the end of the day Shanghai time and sell flasks when school is out in New Jersey.

I even have my henchmen: Auctioneer Advanced snatch and APM.

This play style - solo in a massively multiplayer ecosystem - is so much more RL friendly. I can make coffee, answer the phone, take bio breaks and read blogs anytime I want. I can log on when I only have 10 minutes. I can do it at the end of a bad day for a few minutes even if I am sleepy. I am not saying solo is better or richer than being on vent and doing something with a guild. I am saying it is not without its advantages. I want the opportunity to do either.

I can already put a Darkmoon Card Tsunami in the AH and the results unfold when I am offline. Let me take your tongue-in-cheek idea even further. Although I am serious: why do I need to be on for my henchmen to hench or whatever it is they do? If I acquire a group of henchmen, then why can't they work on acquiring mine#3 or farm#9 in Southshore while I am asleep? There is skill in deciding how and what and where and when to acquire and deploy. I am not sure there is much value or fun in me being there to press 3 every time the screen says Brain Freeze and the 3 starts flashing.

You can have cooperation as well. Say your ten or 25 friends want to acquire mine#3 in Southshore or the Shire or Caldari Prime. You can all use your henchmen to work toward a common goal, even if you are not online at the same time.

In EVE, the large alliances need 23x7 coverage. I.e., your success depends on recruiting people into your organization ***who may never be logged in at the same time as you and may not speak your language***

P.S., yes I would like your game, at least as a replacement for LFG Heroics. It would have negligibly less human interaction and be far more pleasant.
 
Auto-Assault? Tabula Rasa? Playable single-player or with a handful of friends on a LAN?

Don't ask me what I'd do or how far I'd go to get a hold of such things. The answer would shake your faith in humanity.
 
You seem to describe it as an extreme binary, Tobold. Either your as dependent on other players as you are now, or you utterly have no need or find no value in playing with others.


I'm pretty sure the model of 'Other players are highly beneficial, rather than manditory' will come in. Which will be an apocalypse for you. Oh well, enjoy the apocalypse - seems like another day from this side of the perspective.
 
Far too many comments getting deleted on here. Sorry dude, you've just lost another. Delete away.

I would have thought that it was obvious that losing the trolls is kind of the point of comment moderation.
 
This describes the latest Diablo game doesn't it?
 
After sleeping on this issue, I have one more comment. The issue with grouping is not that people who are adverse to grouping WOULDN'T group with others. It's more about the risk versus reward factor. There is NO way to completely engineer the problem. Even if you find a way to insta-queue everyone into a 5-man group--which you won't--people will attempt to group more but will be more likely to quit a group that needs more TLC (even with a dungeon quitter cooldown).
 
Your post may have been snark but take a closer look at the baby steps to 2020. http://tagn.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/running-redridge/
 
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