I Am Alone In My MMO

Amazing things have happened in MMO advancement. Graphics, systems, play styles, game modes, etc. etc. etc. We have come a long, long way from multiple week grinds to get a level and losing all of your items (and even levels) upon death. Most of us, while we may look fondly back on the memories of those times, never, ever ever want to go back there again.

It was good when it was good. It was all we knew.

It forced us to need each other.

Not just EQ, with it’s punishing death penalties and XP bars that wouldn’t move for days.

I’m talking DAOC as well. In that game if you didn’t have players you didn’t really do anything. And when you were doing anything you had to always be on your toes in case there were other players.

Both had their own special magic because of the other player component. Both of those games made ties that have lasted the test of time, wow clones, and free-to-play bonanzas. Is anyone making them now?

GW2 – beautiful game. I leveled to 40 on it without being in a group, and barely working alongside other players. Granted, I went into that game solo, but wow – trying to talk to people in that game left blank stares and worse. After 40 levels of solo content, I just stopped logging in.

Even WoW – in a guild there, but WoW is so antisocial now. Log in, solo dailies, do a 5-man heroic, logout – all without typing a word. There are people there, but they might as well be NPC’s. It’s like I’m dancing with myse-elf. And sadly, I’m in a guild. What happened to epic guild chat? Green /gu flying up and down the screen? Too many buttons, and no downtime happened.

The only conversation I have had with anyone is my foray back into Blood Bowl. Matchmaker online puts you 1v1 and there are 2:00 min turns – turn based. So you have 2 minutes to chat to your opponent while he is making his moves, and he chats back while you are making your moves.

Downtime = Chat. Chat = connecting. Connecting = sense of belonging/camaraderie. Which all equals paying the monthly fee, continuing to play, contributing to the community, etc.

Maybe I am doing it wrong, but what I wouldn’t give for some downtime.

7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Yep. I think one of the big problems with MMOs currently is that there’s nothing that gets you involved with the social fabric. I think there’s a perception that socialization takes more time, and people “don’t have time” anymore. The reality is that I think if someone had a compelling experience in a game, they’d make time because they enjoyed it.

    But, the audience doesn’t want that medicine. Need to figure out how to get them together without cries of “OMG FORCED GROUPING TOUCHED ME IN THE NO-NO SPOT!” I think one way to do it is to have a niche game where the hard-core will accept it. This is why I think Camelot Unchained will do well.

    I’m brewing up a blog post on this topic. Sadly, I fear I’ve already said most of the important points. 🙂

  2. Instant gratification has shifted it too far – I think the system(s) just need balance. Give us a reason to stop and smell the roses (that doesn’t mean an achievement is necessary =)

    I’ve acccepted the fact that I only have a handful of hours to MMO in a week. I just want that time spent to feel meaningful, not single player.

    Whoever figures that out should do well =)

  3. My 1st MMO was SWG. You didn’t have to group, especially once you had a few skill boxes filled and some nice buffs from the doctor, but you did have 10 minute waits at the shuttleport for fast travel and everybody got “battle fatigue” that could only be healed by another player in a cantina in the city. As a result, while the wait for the shuttle was annoying, you got to chat with the other people waiting. The cantinas always had people in them waiting for their BF to heal and they’d chat with the entertainers who’d talk back, etc.

    It felt like the world was alive and populated, even though once you left the city you could easily “disappear in the wilderness” of the empty 16 km^2 zones and not see another soul until you went back to the cantina to heal up the BF again.

    No other game that I’ve played has had anything at all approaching that level of sociability built in. And thus I will always have great nostalgia for SWG, even if I wasn’t really all that enamored of the game itself — I made a lot of good friends by playing that game and have met several of them IRL. I haven’t done that with people I’ve met playing any other game either.

  4. Hi pkudude99 – thanks for commenting, great points about SWG. I didn’t play it live (beta tested it) but remember the Cantina aspect. That is a perfect example of something that didn’t get in the way of gaming – if you HATED that part, you could walk away, go to the can, make a sandwich (etc) and come back 10 minutes later. If you loved it, it was a perfectly timed ‘break’ and social atmosphere.

    Ironic that they destroyed that for the NGE. Quicker/faster/instant gratification.

  5. While I think MMOs should absolutely support group play, and offer group options for all solo content, there should also be enough solo content that is fun and challenging to keep a solo player’s attention. Trying to push them into groups just make those players unwilling or unable to group leave the game. WoW, unfortunately, features no solo content that is actually a challenge.Also, I want games that I can play in 30-minutes stretches. Any group content that requires a larger time slice will see very little, if any, use by me. For solo content, I can often manage to string together a few of these 30-minutes stretches, with roughly 10-minutes breaks in between, so I can tackle longer solo content than I can tackle group content.SW:TOR seems poised to cater to solo players quite a bit more than WoW. Loot containers for instances (i.e., every person gets either a class-specific piece of loot or some tokens to purchase gear; there is no loot roll, no way for a raid leader to cheat on loot distribution), the solo planet, the companions, rumors that leveling content is not a cakewalk like WoW’s, etc.I’m not currently looking at SW:TOR because of the staggered launch – the fact they IP-blocked my country from the only store EA allows to sell digital downloads, and that shipping taxes makes the Standard Edition cost $183 in my country (the Collector’s Edition is almost $400), means I won’t be getting it at launch, and if I’m not getting it at launch I might as well pick GW2 and only consider SW:TOR after I get bored with GW2.

    1. We are on the same page for the most part. The issue is, if you don’t force grouping no one will do it. Players always take the path of least resistance to leveling. So I say force it – NOT because you can’t solo it, but because it is marginally better than solo play. That 5-10% margin doesn’t make soloing bad, just not the most effective way.

      I bet the result of that is people end up making friends because they are positively working through the game together. Those who abhor others and prefer to solo are only 5% behind – which isn’t bad or insurmountable. It’s a win win.

      The biggest win, I feel, is that people will feel connected and tied to the game and more apt to support it!

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