Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
 
When does a game stop to be single-player?

In yesterday's thread about Diablo 3, SolidState claimed that one can't compare Diablo 3 with a MMORPG, because Diablo 3 was a single-player game. Whoa there, hold your horses! Is Diablo 3 really still a single-player game?

To the best of my knowledge, you can't even play Diablo 3 offline, it requires an always-on internet connection. You *can* play it in an "instanced" version without other players, but you can also play parts or even the majority of MMORPGs solo or instanced. And the moment you visit the auction house, you necessarily interact with other players, just like you do in World of Warcraft. And then of course you can play Diablo 3 with or against other players, in cooperative PvE or in arena PvP. So if for example you had the possibility to cheat in the single-player part of Diablo 3 with some sort of dupe or god mode, it would potentially affect other players as soon as you play multiplayer with that character.

So would you still call Diablo 3 a single-player game? Or are we one a scale of grays where the difference between Diablo 3 and a game like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars isn't all that marked any more? How far can you push a game and still pretend it's a single-player game? At what point does it stop to really be one?
Comments:
I blinked twice when I read SolidStates comment yesterday too. While Diablo isnt single player, its not an MMO either though so I took the point as moot - its still apples and oranges.

While Diablo is mainly about acquisition and gear, 2 was quite a social game as people just joined random games and met new people all the time. I'm guessing 3 will be far less social than 2 ever was. I probably spent as much time 1 to 1 trading in D2 as I did playing which made it for me the most socially interactive game I've played, certainly a lot lot more than Now-WoW. I have been wondering how much the introduction of an AH will gimp a good facet of Diablo 2 - trade - and put old hands like me off?

Thats not to say I dont find the idea of making RL money as a micro-game appealing. Duped Windforces in 2 sold for 20 euros on ebay so what real high end items go for on RMAH could be quite interesting. Personally I wouldnt rule out a lot of people managing to pay their WoW subs from it.
 
I wouldent call Diablo 3 a singelplayer game but im not sure if i think it can be compared to a MMORPG eather, its some kind of strange hybrid with the always online requirement.

The fact that you supposedly can clear all the content and difficulties in the game without ever interacting with another player is one of the things that makes me not wanting to compare it to a MMORPG since i cant think of any MMORPG where that is possible (i certainly haven't played or read about every MMORPG but of the ones i know of i can't think of any of them where this i possible).
 
I guess you could say that the difference between a multiplayer game and what was typically understand as a MMO, is that

in a multiplayer game you can play with other players

while in a MMO you have to play with other players at some point and develop a character and have a large open, non-instanced landmass/space to explore and play in.

The narrow definition of sandbox MMO then is that it is a MMO which allows you to have significant influence on the open, non-instanced landmass.


D3 is not a MMO. It may still be a fun game.
 
D3 is most definitely a single player game. You can play all through the whole thing on single player mode. It just also has multi-player modes.

I don't think they're putting in raids or any group-only content. Why would it not be single player?
 
I'm getting to the point where I really like the online/single-player hybrid model more and more. I want the option to play alone, through a narrative, at my own pace with my own style. GW2 and D3 are leaning toward that, and I look forward to it. I'm currently approaching SWTOR that way, too--I don't interact with a lot of people, unless there's something specific I want to accomplish or just feel like being social. And because of that playstyle, the game itself feels more immersive than any other themepark MMO I've ever played. It feels almost like a sandbox game.

I think that the GW instancing model has blurred the line enough that more games should take advantage of it. There should be a hybrid style instead of online persistent worlds if the developers are designing for immersion. If not, then games like WoW and EQ are still the better choice, and there's no real blurring going on.
 
You can play all through the whole thing on single player mode. It just also has multi-player modes.

Depending on your definition of "all", you can say the same about World of Warcraft. You can play from zero to the level cap in single-player mode. Is there really such a difference between WoW having dungeons you can only reasonably beat in a group, and Diablo 3 having group content which also is "unique" in being different in number and difficulty of monsters, and rewards, when done in group?
 
Really it is the same as Magicka, Dungeon Defenders, Monster Hunter, Neverwinter Nights, etc. Each player even gets their own loot drops in Diablo 3, so the only way you can really effect another player is by trading.

As such I wouldn't call Diablo3 a MMORPG myself, anymore than I would call any game that could pontenailly use gamespy/steam to form groups an MMO.

*****However, I think it is confusing because these games can be "played" like many play WoW. Battlegrounds, Arena, instances; none of those activities are "MMOish", and are supported in other games that aren't considered MMOs. The only different between WoW and Dungeon Defenders, League of Legends,etc is when a match is over you zone back into a "World" instead of a chatroom/group select screen.
 
@Spinks

Thats like calling CounterStrike a single player game because you can play with bots but also have the option of joining a server. In either game (D3 & CS) the experience is totally changed when introducing real-life players into the mix.

We could debate all day on how the game should be played but it comes down to personal preference and what kind of experience you are looking for. To my knowledge most people play these games in a multiplayer setting.

To say D3 is strictly single player would be false, to say it is strictly multiplayer is also a mistake. It changes depending on how the player chooses to play the game. As far as being an MMO, the auction house is the only significant part of the game that is "MMOish" that I can see. And you aren't forced to use it.
 
A game requiring an internet connection doesn't make it a multiplayer game. I, sadly, have plenty of single player games that now require a connection to the internet to play, whether it be to save my games "to the cloud" or as copy protection.

It is entirely possible to play Diablo 3 start to finish without EVER seeing another player. That's not even true in Guild Wars, and it's certainly not true in WoW.

While the auction house is a persistent MMO aspect to the game, it's the only one, and unless they change the UI I won't be surprised if a good percentage of Diablo 3 players go through the game never even realizing it's there.

Diablo 3 is a singleplayer game with a multiplayer option, just like its predecessors.
 
I think with the built-in auction house (stocked with goodies exclusively from your fellow players) and the need to be online to play... you have to at least walk through the lobby in order to get to your solo version of the game... Diablo III is more multi-player focused than previous versions.

But trying to fit the game into either of the tidy little cubby-holes labeled "single-player" and "multi-player" is an exercise in futility. It is clearly both.

In either of the previous games I knew people who played solo exclusively. And I knew people who created or joined guilds, who played online almost exclusively, and who treated the game like it was an MMO with a really poor shared world space. (The lobby) D3 will be more of the same.
 
Based on my experiences in the Diablo 3 beta, it is much more multiplayer-friendly than Diablo 2 was.

I hardly ever played with other people in D2, it was always easier just to fire up a private game.

But getting into a multiplayer game at the appropriate act & quest in D3 is as easy as using the dungeon finder in WoW. And the fact that looting is no longer "fastest clicker (or only person with loot-hack installed) gets the loot" means one massive frustration from D2 multiplayer is gone.

I expect to do plenty of it. I'll probably play through solo first time through normal, just so I can drink in the experience without "gogogo" rushing, but after that, a lot of multiplayer awaits me.
 
I think the archaic achronym "MMORPG" is just done. It really doesn't exist anymore, if it ever really did. Wasn't it just coined to describe a concept that previously didn't exist in any form whatsoever?

It is no more representative or inexact as the term "social" (thanks to our friend at GG).

When you start needing to add "ish", a term has functionally changed from a noun to an adjective.

Don't you think that's green? Well, it has green in it, but I certainly wouldn't call it green.

WoW may have a more seamless transition from single to multiplayer, but both games are still the equivalent of playing solitaire in a room full of others playing solitaire, with closed doors leading to rooms of people playing bridge.

And tampering with access to better decks of cards will certainly impact the game play of everyone.
 
@Tobold: Is there really such a difference between WoW having dungeons you can only reasonably beat in a group, and Diablo 3 having group content which also is "unique" in being different in number and difficulty of monsters, and rewards, when done in group?

Uh, yes? Being different in number and difficulty is not different content. A 10-man raid isn't different content from a 25-man raid just because there's more people and mobs involved.

As far as I can remember, the Diablo series doesn't have any group-only content in the first place. Nothing changes when you have more people; mobs just get proportionally harder and drop proportionally better loot, but that's still not different content. You can still do the exact same things in single player.

Of course, trying to brand a game that has both single-player and multi-player elements as one or the other is completely silly. Would you call COD a multiplayer game? Of course not; many players only like the single player campaign and buy it only for that reason. It would be completely inane to brand something that could be many different things as one singular element.
 
It's single player unless you have two or more people playing at the same computer in the same room.

Nah, just hyperbole! But certainly more genuinely social multiplayer that way.
 
SWTOR should have been a single player game.
 
Being different in number and difficulty is not different content.

So what? All I'm saying is that the difference between playing different content in a group and playing the same, upscaled content in a group is not very big. So I say that the ability to buy gear for real money has very similar effects on the two games. It is not the same, but it is certainly not black and white, just minor shades of gray.

Saying categorically that this minor difference makes one game is single-player game and the other a multi-player game, and that you can't compare the auction houses in those two games in my opinion is wrong.
 
@Tobold: Saying categorically that this minor difference makes one game is single-player game and the other a multi-player game, and that you can't compare the auction houses in those two games in my opinion is wrong.

Ah, I was lacking in this context. I didn't read enough to understand that you meant that the difference between having and not having group-only content is very minor when it comes to the auction house. My bad.
 
Hi Tobold,
Please allow me to clarify my answer.

Your original premise was that buying (and selling) gear in D3 was equivalent, morally, to buying gear in a Massively Multiplayer and that people who shouted out against "pay-to-win" (or as you put it "enabling people to buy advantages in game for real money") in MMOs should be shouting out against the RMAH in D3.

My response was threfore specifically about the supposed advantage buying gear in D3 would bring you, vs. the situation in an MMO. I was *not* trying to compare D3 in general to "pure" single-player games or claim that it doesn't have multi-player modes.

So to summarize, if you could buy a "Sword of Uberness" in WoW for real money, you've just ruined the PvE endgame - gear progression would be meaningless and the world-first would go to the guild with the most RL cash. Even worse though, think about PvP in a game like WoW. Gear makes a huge difference in PvP in WoW. So providing official shortcuts would mean people could win matches by... paying cash. Sounds fair?

There is *no* such thing in D3. Even if you want multiplayer you can easily play only with friends and as many people pointed out there is no unique "group only" content like WoW's raid instances, so apart from fun there is nothing holding you back from playing alone and ignoring (not playing with) all the people who bought gear. They don't get to see content you don't!

Hope this clarifies what I meant.
Cheers, Solid.
 
There is *no* such thing in D3.

I would be interested to hear why you think that.

Diablo 3 *does* have multiplayer PvE and PvP, both of which could be potentially ruined by pay-to-win. Yes, in the details the group PvE/PvP of WoW is slightly different from the group PvE/PvP of Diablo 3, but not to a point where I would say that the Sword of Uberness dropped into both environments wouldn't have the same effect. Why would I be less unhappy if skewered by the bought for real money Sword of Uberness in a Diablo 3 arena than I would be in a WoW battleground?
 
@SolidState: So to summarize, if you could buy a "Sword of Uberness" in WoW for real money, you've just ruined the PvE endgame - gear progression would be meaningless and the world-first would go to the guild with the most RL cash. Even worse though, think about PvP in a game like WoW. Gear makes a huge difference in PvP in WoW. So providing official shortcuts would mean people could win matches by... paying cash. Sounds fair?

You're being completely unfair in this argument by not placing the same type of RMAH circumstances in both games. Swords of Uberness can only be sold by people who acquired them first in drops, so in terms of progression, they're quite irrelevant. Gevlon made quite the relevant point when he mentioned that something like an RMAH will never give you an advantage over the hardcore, only a ticket to catchup.

There is *no* such thing in D3. Even if you want multiplayer you can easily play only with friends and as many people pointed out there is no unique "group only" content like WoW's raid instances, so apart from fun there is nothing holding you back from playing alone and ignoring (not playing with) all the people who bought gear. They don't get to see content you don't!

This is quite a silly point as well. In WoW, you can easily play with friends and avoid gear buyers all the same. You're also making the absolutely silly assumption that there are no "World first" competitions in Diablo like there are in WoW, which belies your lack of knowledge that Diablo also has its own endgame ladder system.
 
Its interesting how people try to scratch their heads around it when the plain and simple truth is that Blizz have found a way to both motivate and implement a anti-piracy scheme and and the same time capitalize on your wish to complement the experience with a economic side - there will be money involved -it will be a big headache and if the content is served rather than generated (as AI) there will be no cracking of the game per-say. So for Blizz its a win-win. But don't kid yourself - it was not made with the "experience" of the player in mind - more of like a brainstorming result on how to do both at the same time and get away with it as much as possible.
 
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