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Massively Single-Player Gaming?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the world-of-me-craft dept.

Games 209

Massively is running an article discussing the trend in recent MMOs to enable and encourage solo play. Where the genre's early offerings, like Everquest and Ultima Online, were heavily dependent on finding other people to interact with, it's common for today's games to allow players to experience most of the content by themselves. Quoting: "It is human nature to want to be the center of attention or at least feel like the hero on some level. It's also not too far of a stretch to call members of our species generally selfish. How can you really deliver this experience if you force your players to ask for help all the time? I think this was simply a natural progression of the genre in trying to appeal to our natural traits. ... Finally, I believe it all comes down to the mighty dollar. Audiences grew and so followed the market and competition. Suddenly, you couldn't make MMOs on the cheap anymore (though a stalwart few still try). Not only are game studios focused on appealing to the solo casual gamer to maximize earnings, they also want to build in artificial time sinks to make players stick around."

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I hate time sinks (4, Insightful)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739543)

Time sinks do not make me want to stick around, they make me want to go elsewhere. I already have a time sink in my life, it's called work. It regularly consumes 13 hours of my day, factor in an average 8 hours of sleep and that leaves me with 3 hours in which to do things like play games, eat food, etc. If the game wants me to spend time essentially doing nothing, then I'm not playing.

Re:I hate time sinks (5, Insightful)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739555)

There's a difference between time sinks and solo play. Unfortunately, most 'solo play' is just a poorly disguised time sink.

When done right though, solo play is great for those of us with long hours, or on-call jobs. We can do the multiplayer portion during our time off - but I can't rightly join a group of people when I have no idea how long I'm going to be able to play, or when I can only log on for a half hour.

Having the ability to advance my character, or at least get the illusion I'm not stagnating without being forced to group is nice.

Re:I hate time sinks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28739787)

I disagree. MMOs should be like sex, you need at least 5 people to participate.

Re:I hate time sinks (1, Insightful)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741379)

Oh, come on mods, even though it was AC's, it was funny.

Re:I hate time sinks (2, Insightful)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740125)

I've always been turned off by MMOs because of all the grindage they seem to make you do alone. After the one thousandth time, running around in the sticks looking for beasties to kill gets very old. I always thought grouping was the whole point of these games, but pretty well everyone I know who plays them spends most of their time doing solo stuff because they are looking to level.

I've always wondered if a game that had no leveling system might be more interesting and encourage more team play.

Re:I hate time sinks (5, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740263)

This has been threshed out on Slashdot ad nauseum.

a) The Grind makes more money, because MMOs are time based.

b) The Grind makes them more addictive. You can't stop playing, because you "invested" 1000 hours already.

c) The Grind gives you a false sense of achievement, just like poker machines do. You like they way it feels like "work", but nobody ever criticizes you for doing it badly. If you were to spend the time learning a skill, or making money, there would be a much greater chance of failure. The Grind is an effective substitute for real life.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740469)

The bigger problem is that so much of the grind requires having other people to grind with.

And the problem with that is the inherent problem of MMORPG's - namely that over time, the playerbase will wane and stratify, and eventually the people you would really like to play with leave the game and the rest either become asshats, or were already asshats to start with.

Take City of Heroes or Final Fantasy XI as two great examples. In City of Heroes, unless you personally know someone in the game who already has a major supergroup (guild) built up, getting anywhere is going to be a chore. Especially be wary of joining a group if someone from a griefing guild called "Endless" shows up.

Final Fantasy XI? Let's see. Cultural separation problems? Check. Hatefests for anyone not running their character as a predetermined "optimized build" and paying massive $$$ to the gil sellers who camp all the necessary "optimal" boss mobs to drop your needed loot, and grief anyone who comes near? Check.

Re:I hate time sinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741123)

In City of Heroes, unless you personally know someone in the game who already has a major supergroup (guild) built up, getting anywhere is going to be a chore

Are you dense? City of Heroes is a preposterously easy game to level up in, solo or teamed. And I'm not talking about the MA system, either.

Re:I hate time sinks (2, Interesting)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741341)

I agree, the worst thing about FFXI was the Japan inspired conformism in the player base, which spread to the non-Japanese players too eventually. "You're level foo and don't have a Hat of Foo? No group for you!" "You're playing a Hume WHM with RDM as subclass and not a Taru-Taru WHM with BLM as the kami intended? No group for you!" "You want to play your WHM as a Western style Battle Cleric because you're a Hume with a Hammer, instead of being a "Staff Chick" as the kami intended WHM to be? No group for you!"

I tried and tried telling people that doing things the "optimized conformist way some crazy Japanese min-maxer had figured out" was less fun. Sure, fighting "Very Hard" enemies, with those super optimized builds would give you "perfect" XP but it just wasn't fun, and it was harder than if you fought level appropriate mobs. And if you fought level appropriate mobs, you'd actually make more money. Instead of Goblins in the Dunes, fight Quadav in the Mines. You'll rip though them so fast and they'll drop tons of stuff. And there will be less chance of a damned add or an accident killing the party.

As I said, using EQOA speak, "You're better off fighting hordes of dark blues for safer XP and more loot, than a tiny number of reds"

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

Sheik Yerbouti (96423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740861)

Problem with grouping especially in a pick up group is the greater internet fuckwad theory http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/ comes in to play and people actually ruin the game instead of make it better a lot of the time. I want to group but don't often because ppl just want to power game and "zerg' through the content and ruin it for you.

Re:I hate time sinks (2, Insightful)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740501)

I agree with this: in practice they can become very addicting. Take Morrowind or Oblivion, both fantastic games that are single player. Both are time sinks, depending on how you look at it. Many people played them, so there were enough people to talk about the game to make it massive single player.

Probably the best example of what you want is Nethack. The game does not take much time but is very, very frustrating for the beginning player. Sometimes it is so damn frustrating you cannot play for more than a half hour. Several people I know play the game, and when we play at the same time on a server like NAO, it's a similarly nice experience. You can take a break from the frustration and watch others play, etc.

I think the trick here is not being attached to the character because in Nethack their life is most likely going to end soon (unless you are good of course), and you will start from the beginning. So it's not as much of a time sink either. The replay value is much better than most games, too, because the world is randomly generated. Now if that sort of idea could be put into a modern game, where everything is randomly generated, then the game might be on to something. However, many people would find that type of game too hard, I think.

Re:I hate time sinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28739707)

Wow, it sounds like your life sucks.

I used to work 12-16 hours a day until I just got sick of it. Now I work 4 hours every other day and make almost as much money. Remember, work smarter, not harder.

Re:I hate time sinks (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740165)

I already have a time sink in my life, it's called work. It regularly consumes 13 hours of my day, factor in an average 8 hours of sleep and that leaves me with 3 hours in which to do things like play games, eat food, etc.

It seems common lately, but this is a pretty weird notion; that life is all about having fun after work, and work is just a waste of time. Work IS the majority of your time. It's what YOU do --- YOUR job; YOUR career; YOUR chosen way to exist. It should be something that's meaningful to you -- something you care about and believe in. Either find a way to enjoy it (by enjoying the technical challenge of a high-end IT job, or the service to others that waiting tables involves, for instance) or get/invent a new job that you DO give a shit about. Otherwise, you're a) doomed to a hateful existence; and b) essentially whoring your life away for the sake of money from someone you don't like.

Hell, if you want to spend your time playing games, just quit the job, live off social security, and play games. Why lie about who you are? But if you want your time to be meaningful and your job to be rewarding, then pick a meaningful job that you're capable of feeling the rewards from.

Re:I hate time sinks (3, Insightful)

Sheik Yerbouti (96423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740907)

Most work sucks in reality that's why they call it work and not play this is reality get used to it. The number of people that actually have fun interesting jobs are relatively few. You doubt this, really look at peoples faces at street lights and intersection on your next commute to work to a man and woman they all look miserable. Not to be too much of a downer but modern life is for most people is a daily drudgery. Why else would so many be on anti depressants? I would settle for my work being meaningful and yet I don't even get that.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741099)

Anyone who works 13 hours a day, either likes their job or is earning enough money that they are going to retire early.

Or is a workaholic and will be exploited by the corporate machine for their entire existence.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

Sparton (1358159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741577)

Anyone who works 13 hours a day, either likes their job or is earning enough money that they are going to retire early.

It regularly consumes 13 hours of my day, factor in an average 8 hours of sleep and that leaves me with 3 hours in which to do things like play games, eat food, etc.

9 hour work day + 2 hours commute either way == 13 hours.

He's not working 13 hour long days, he's just got a fairly long commute time. I have effectively the same thing; except I play either iPhone games or DS games to and from (or occasionally some sort of reading material).

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742237)

If you are willing to travel 4 hours a day for a job, then the same set of criteria apply.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741639)

Anyone who works 13 hours a day, either likes their job or is earning enough money that they are going to retire early.

Or is a workaholic and will be exploited by the corporate machine for their entire existence.

Or is barely managing to pay the bills with whatever work they were able to find to support their kids.

Or are in the middle of a desert in the middle-east getting shot at regularly, out of duty and service rather than personal enjoyment or a lucrative income.

While they may not match up with a lifestyle of playing MMO's in one's off time, there's plenty of scenarios in which a person does not have the luxury to pick hours they like, or a job they enjoy.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742289)

Subsistence living is a different beast. As is having more kids than you can afford with a reasonable job - what is the point of supporting the kids if you never see them anyway?

Being in the military is a separate thing too, I would assume the "retire early" applies, but modified to be "I don't expect to be doing this for my entire working life, but it is worth it in the short/medium term". Where "worth it" could be a lot of things from expecting a long career in the military not involving being in a warzone all their lives, or a jump start on a civilian career with the training/experience/etc the military provided, or just plain old "I will suffer and risk my life for my country because I am a patriot". And don't forget "I love shooting stuff" :)

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740959)

Have you given thought to joining a commune? They work really well. At least they do until they realize that nobody is taking out the trash since everybody wants to be an artist...

The only people I know who would be doing what they're doing for work if they were independantly wealthy, are independantly wealthy.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741029)

realize that nobody is taking out the trash since everybody wants to be an artist...

It's interesting how you totally filtered out the part I wrote about enjoying menial jobs as a service to humanity.

Re:I hate time sinks (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741247)

It's interesting how you totally filtered out the part I wrote about enjoying menial jobs as a service to humanity.

Nope - I read it clearly. You're welcome to stop by and mow my lawn as a service to humanity anytime you'd like. Actually, I extend that offer to everybody. And yet, for some odd reason, I still find myself mowing my lawn.

My point is that what you're saying sounds nice and all, but nobody in the real world would actually live that way.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741695)

And yet, for some odd reason, I still find myself mowing my lawn.

That odd reason is probably exactly what I'm getting at: that people know you won't appreciate it.

Re:I hate time sinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741995)

He didn't say you should do what you like for work instead of getting paid, he said you should do what you like while getting paid. If you paid enough, people would mow your lawn. And there are people who would prefer to mow lawns and be outside than sitting in a chair doing data entry or tech support or any other similarly "menial" job.

There are also people who work in service industries mostly because they like the excuse for social contact with a broad range of people and the frequent good feeling they get from interacting with satisfied clients. For these rare, skilled service providers, it is like being paid by friends to be friendly to them. A true win-win situation.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741089)

There are plenty of jobs that nobody could possibly want to do.

Sure there are less now that we have car building robots and so on.

I worked a couple of months between semesters once on a production line that was taking shrink wrapped cartoons of cigarettes, opening them and putting them into smaller promotional packages that were then shrink wrapped. No one could have possibly enjoyed that work, and it certainly wasn't benefiting humanity.

Harvesting a field isn't fun either, at least that one is essential to humanity though.

Re:I hate time sinks (4, Insightful)

MorePower (581188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741419)

The main problem is this. There is nothing that I enjoy doing 40+ hours per week. And the really big problem is that even things I do enjoy doing, I hate doing to someone else's schedule. I really like building things with LEGO, for example, so should I go apply for a job at LEGOLAND (as if I would really get such a coveted job)? I bet I would hate it just as much as my current job, because I'm not always in the mood to build things with LEGO, starting at 8:00am and ending at 5:00pm (or whatever hours LEGOLAND builders work).

And that's the thing about jobs, someone else is relying on your output. So you need to adjust to their wants and needs. And that's the part that sucks.

Also, there is no way to "quit your job, live off social security..." Social Security only pays out when you reach retirement age (and you notice, most people do quit as soon as they are eligible for retirement benefits). Welfare is what you would get as a working age person, and unless you have dependent kids they cut you off after 5 years (cumulative for your lifetime) and leave you to starve to death.

I just tried WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740253)

I had just 2 weeks of vacation, and I tried WOW for some fun. I found out that the main game concept is pretty appealing, the graphics are awesome and I really loved the mood of the game (especially thanks to the magnificent background music). However I also cancelled my account already, citing the amount of time sinks as the main reason. Everyone knows that WOW basically starts when you reach level 80 (when you can access the really high-end content). Just grinding for a year to reach the point where you get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of the game was not really appealing to me.

In fact, I doubt that the time sinks in fact benefit the game makers after all. Although they might make some people stick around for longer time paying their monthly fees the time sinks also make some people quit very fast.

Re:I hate time sinks (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741183)

Yeah there are many time sinks and risks associated with having to group. 1. Time spent waiting for groups to get together. 2. Time sinks when someone is taking care of a baby or some other thing they should not be trying to do while raiding. 3. Time sink and risk of loss due to group members being disconnected. The chances of this seem to go up exponentially the more players there are in the group especially during key events of a raid. 4. Playing with strangers who are poor players or suddenly abandon the group in a fit of rage or ninja loot. 5. The parent trap ... one or more group members who have parents who walk in suddenly and demand they quit playing at once and go to bed. 6. Ending up playing longer than I wish to. Games aren't the only thing in my life, and sometimes I am not feeling well and I don't wish to spend that much time playing. I could go on and on, but one of the reasons I quit games is when I reach a level that there is no more meaningful solo content left.

The 'casual' gamer (2, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739609)

Its a myth like unicorns or a republican with a soul.

There are many levels of time people put into games. How exactly do you definite 'casual'? If you look at it from the MMO perspective (wow for example) do you count a casual gamer as someone who doesnt raid? how about someone who only spends time in the game for raiding and not much else? What about if the non-raider spends more time in game than the raider, which one is casual?

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739647)

Casual is somebody who is not addicted, but how much time defines one or the other depends on who you ask.

Generally speaking causal is who puts RL before the game.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (4, Insightful)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739715)

On behalf of most of slashdot, I only wish I had a real life to put before games.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740205)

I agree, nerf RL.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741413)

Someone mod this Insightful.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28739821)

It's easy to define casual:

It's a socially awkward player who is afraid that people in a guild would find out on teamspeak or vent that the hotavnger21 female night elf warrior with HUGE boobs is in fact John Conner, male, aged 43 living in a trailer and has only the huge boobs in common with his character.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (0, Flamebait)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739953)

I have this theory that if there was an Asian-American Republican, he'd have a soul. Double negative, you know.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740183)

There are many levels of time people put into games. How exactly do you definite 'casual'? If you look at it from the MMO perspective (wow for example) do you count a casual gamer as someone who doesnt raid? how about someone who only spends time in the game for raiding and not much else? What about if the non-raider spends more time in game than the raider, which one is casual?

In my personal opinion, if the idea of paying a monthly subscription for a game appealed to you in the first place, then you are probably not a casual gamer.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (3, Funny)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740255)

So if I hack and account I can safely say I'm not addicted? :)

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740805)

Wow's subscription costs about the same as
- 2 movie tickets
- half a nice restaurant meal
- 1/4th of a new game
- a very cheap/bad theater/opera ticket
- a new CD
- a new DVD
- ...

you can play very little WoW (6-8 hours/month), and still get more "entertainment time" for your money than you would with more traditional entertainment.

of course, you won't get the same benefits out of it.. it's pretty much a-cultural... but then again, given how bad most recent movies have been ...

Re:The 'casual' gamer (3, Interesting)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741795)

Wow's subscription costs about the same as
- 2 movie tickets
- half a nice restaurant meal
- 1/4th of a new game
- a very cheap/bad theater/opera ticket
- a new CD
- a new DVD
- ...

you can play very little WoW (6-8 hours/month), and still get more "entertainment time" for your money than you would with more traditional entertainment.

of course, you won't get the same benefits out of it.. it's pretty much a-cultural... but then again, given how bad most recent movies have been ...

I look back on my time playing WoW, and adding up everything I spent over a year and a bit, I sort of wish I had that money back. I enjoyed myself tremendously a good 60-70% of that time, and it was definitely the cheapest way to socialise daily with friends who lived 2 hours away in a big city, at a time when none of us had a lot of disposable income. Still, that "golden age" of my experience was shorter than my hope, and I definitely feel like I wasted some time that could have been better spent (and paid money to do so).

At the same time, a friend who started playing as I was winding down, ended up playing much more than I did, first string in a 6 days/week raiding guild. She loved it, and hated her 40 hour/week office job. Coming home from work and playing WoW, if you enjoy it, is actually really, really cheap. The more you play it, the cheaper it is, since you're not doing other things that cost money. After cigarettes and gas, WoW was really her only expense, so she was able to save money very quickly.

At that age, her job wasn't a career and even living in Silicon Valley a temporary thing. Raiding was what she wanted to do with her time, and she was able to work, put a lot of money in the bank, and enjoy herself in the off-time. When it was time to move back home, she made the trip in a gorgeous mint '95 BMW 850ci.

Of course, the cost of WoW goes up dramatically if your guild holds "drunken PVP weekends", but in those cases you would probably be spending the money on nice alcohol anyway.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740731)

Casual vs serious is all about how much you care. We all know film buffs for instance who take films very seriously who watch a lot of movies, but also read about them, talk about them, think about them. Then there are people who just like to see a movie from time to time. Games are the same way, it's not a hard and fast line either, there are many shades in between.

I guess there are some observations that can be made though. If you've never seen a foreign movie, you're probably not a film buff. If you've never played an imported game, you're probably not a serious gamer. If you've never seen a movie that came out before you were born, you're probably not a film buff. If you've never played a game that came out before you were born, you're probably not a serious gamer. Or you're in your late 30s. If you can't name a few directors off the top of your head, you're probably not a film buff. If you can't name a few game designers off the top of your head, you're probably not a serious gamer.

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741733)

It's real easy to define on a sliding scale...

* < 1 hr/week of gaming: casual gamer
* < 2 hrs/week of gaming: The addiction is starting...
* > 4 hrs/week of gaming: average gamer
* > 8 hrs/week of gaming: hard-core gamer
* > 32 hrs/week of gaming: I can stop any time...

--
WoW (TM) is the McDonalds (TM) of MMOs

Re:The 'casual' gamer (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742243)

FWIW, even if you play many hours a week it doesn't mean you're addicted.

e.g. if you can go on a holiday for a week and still not feel the urge to login and play, you're probably not addicted.

I know people who go on a holiday but they still "must" log in a few times ;).

And this is what is slowly killing the genre (3, Insightful)

AlmondMan (1163229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739645)

Killing it through making everything into solo-content, losing out on all the things that the genre would've allowed for. All the many possibilities of player vs player conflict are swept under the rug and turned into endless killing grounds, like the instanced battle arenas in Anarchy Online, WAR and WoW. WAR is a bit on the right track again, with the world being sort of dynamic between the two sides, but things are just going way too fast back and forth. And the world is too stiff.

The idea of players working together, cooperating and prospering in these digital worlds has been lost and we're back in the ego race for the most epeen. Which is sad, because the fun of these games lies in the multiplayer cooperative part. Which was their great attraction piece in times past. Now, it's just a really bad singleplayer game. Consider, if you will, playing any of the many MMOs in an offline game. Everything works exactly the same as the MMO, only you're quite alone. Nothing you do will ever have an impact on the world as it does in proper singleplayer games. The story progresses and things change around your character. In MMOs the best thing you can do is fake this, like they've started doing in WoW, which I find to be just cheap, with the only purpose of it being to greater satisfy the solo player. Leaving nothing in the way of multiplayer ways to see change going on in the world. Sad.

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740441)

One of the reasons I quitted playing MMOs (except EvE). I'm in for the group experience. Why pay 15 bucks a month to play a solo game?

When you like group play, you're pretty much lost right now in MMOs. You can't start anew in an "old" MMO that relied on group play, because everyone is already far above your level and unwilling to go back to level yet another toon, and, well, being a group-heavy game you won't get far alone. And the new games that would have plenty of low level players are anything but group friendly.

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (1)

AlmondMan (1163229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740487)

I'd like to disagree in that you can't start anew in an "old" MMO with heavy group play reliance. I play Anarchy Online and people constantly reroll new alts and new people are about constantly through the free play offer. The problem is mainly with the old group reliance games that they haven't been updated to reflect the speed that newer games have. Where you can log on and level to max in a couple days, it takes months in the older games, and then there's various things that people consider absolutely necessary items to continue their development, and instead of seeing this as a progression, they just whine about it being a grind. If stuff is not readily available through some quest that has you go out and play the hero in a world that doesn't care and doesn't change, then it's grinding now...

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (2, Insightful)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741955)

You can't start anew in an "old" MMO that relied on group play, because everyone is already far above your level and unwilling to go back to level yet another toon, and, well, being a group-heavy game you won't get far alone.

I agree that there are major problems starting anew in an MMO that requires group play, but for a slightly different reason: once an end-game player, always an end-game player.

I realise this won't apply to everyone, but after I passed the point in WoW where I had spent more time at maximum level than I had all other levels combined, a huge part of the game was spoiled for me.

If I wanted to start a new character to say, play with other friends on a PVP server, the first 69 (and later 79) levels were just blown through. The first time I played it, those levels were fun, and meaningful. I remember the first time a friend had a character in the 20s, and how high that seemed. The impossibility of getting one's first mount, the difficulty of low level dungeons, the excitement of training a new ability.

Those experiences all evaporated, and levelling an alt meant mailing hundreds of gold, 16 slot bags, and getting raid geared guildmates to run through all the instances farming drops and checking off group quests. Any efforts I made to band our alts together and spend time doing the early dungeons the proper way fell through, because it was just too hard to drop the end-game focus.

When 79 out of 80 levels are time that just needs to be pushed through and done with in order for the real grind to start, I think the game loses a lot. As WoW has changed to entice a larger user-base, I think the design has encouraged this more and more for those that enjoy the end-game content. Worse of all, when you've had that mindset enough, it easily transfers to other MMORPG's of similar design.

Animal Crossing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740473)

Consider, if you will, playing any of the many MMOs in an offline game. Everything works exactly the same as the MMO, only you're quite alone. Nothing you do will ever have an impact on the world as it does in proper singleplayer games. The story progresses and things change around your character.

In other words, the Animal Crossing series. Or what am I missing?

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740867)

Very true. I'm amazed at how much effort is poured into adding solo content, and how little is put into making the group experience better. Possible areas of improved, in WoW, would be:

- a Karma system, actually 2, one for skill and one for social intelligence. Assholes and retards spoil the game for whomever groups with them, and it's amazing how many of those there are. Blizzard must have the intellectual and financial means to build a karma system that works ?

- Multi-player combo moves. Buffs are fine, but having combat combo moves that require several players to collaborate would be oodles of fun.

- Vocal chat. 6 years on, we still have to use very un-ergonomic 3rd party programs. Blizzard could at least buy & re-design those, or help their developpers interface with WoW... WoW's own voice chat make the idiotic assumption that we want to disconnect whenever you're not in the game, or switch toons ...

They did at last get the grouping interface mostly right (should take alts into account, though).

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (2)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742099)

- a Karma system, actually 2, one for skill and one for social intelligence. Assholes and retards spoil the game for whomever groups with them, and it's amazing how many of those there are. Blizzard must have the intellectual and financial means to build a karma system that works ?

Intellectual means would be key here. Someone could design an addon that lets you assign karma points, but for it to work it would have to be well thought out, since the assholes and retards will try to take advantage of anyway they can retaliate.

- Multi-player combo moves. Buffs are fine, but having combat combo moves that require several players to collaborate would be oodles of fun.

This actually does exist, although you're probably thinking about something more explicit to game mechanics. In arena (my experience comes mainly from season 3) you can't survive combat without extremely well executed collaboration between team mates. Hell, just the act of killing a paladin is basically a combo sequence.

- Vocal chat. 6 years on, we still have to use very un-ergonomic 3rd party programs. Blizzard could at least buy & re-design those, or help their developpers interface with WoW... WoW's own voice chat make the idiotic assumption that we want to disconnect whenever you're not in the game, or switch toons ...

That's a really, really good point. We always stuck with vent because we had the server paid for anyway, and it seemed to have less lag, or be less effected by some people having lag (or we just got the impression). I never really thought about how much we used it in ways that you either can't use the WoW voice chat, or ways that it would be much less fluid to set up WoW voice.

They did at last get the grouping interface mostly right (should take alts into account, though).

Parties, raids, etc, all have benefited tremendously from addons. Granting the ability to script addons is probably the thing Blizzard did best.

Most of my suggestions to Blizzard about WoW would be content and story wise. After I'd run every heroic over and over for badges and drops, and as I moved further into raid content, the game became less and less a game. The only reason to care about any of that stuff was what gear I got, or if I had fun with a particular party. There was no sense that I was fighting any bosses for any reason, especially since I had already killed that boss for whatever tacked-on reason was given plenty of times.

A game of stats and drops is perfectly fine if that keeps you engrossed, but I ended up deciding I liked having more in a game. Especially since the big stuff -- progression raids -- usually involved a few hours playing with nothing on my screen but a giant shin, or arse, while I just watched my CD's and hit macro keys over and over. Worse of all tanking with a druid MT, then it's hours of bear ass.

Still, I did have things to do as a warrior tank: must keep shield block up, maximise TPS, keep track of the hot shot DPS players (pulling threat is NOT a badge of honor, idiot), etc. From what I hear, things like hunter shot rotations are much more repetitive and tedious.

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28742447)

- Vocal chat. 6 years on, we still have to use very un-ergonomic 3rd party programs. Blizzard could at least buy & re-design those, or help their developpers interface with WoW... WoW's own voice chat make the idiotic assumption that we want to disconnect whenever you're not in the game, or switch toons ...

If they allowed you to use it when not in-game people would be using it for chatting all the time. Sounds like a nice idea, but you'd have to be prepared to have a few bucks a month added onto your subscription to cover the extra servers purely for voice chat.

Re:And this is what is slowly killing the genre (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741447)

In contrast, I'm not a MMO fan. I love WoW because of the world and the complicated skill trees and diversity of character types and the non-linear story lines.

The worst thing for me about WoW (and the reason I don't spend $15/mo on it anymore) is the MMO aspect. I hate the fact that you can't solo dungeons at the level where the loot is beneficial. When you get to level 80, there are a ton of dungeons you still can't solo. You have to advertise for a group and wait for them to organize and wait for the tank and the dps and the healer. You have to roll for loot, which means you have to run a dungeon 5 times to get the drops you want (which ruins any concept of a storyline). Not to mention the lack of enforcement of role-playing on role-playing servers.

If they made a massively single player version of WoW, I'd never stop playing. Even better, let me control several characters at once so I can solo dungeons with a group (like Sword of the New World).

Solo Play Should be Offline Play (0)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739667)

For every sword-and-sorcery or sci-fi themed MMO, there is an offline game, designed from the ground up for solo players. When MMO developers start compromising to accommodate the solo players, the gameplay for the group players is inevitably compromised.

Eve, happily, has resisted this so far, simply because so much of the gameplay flows out of the free-flow Wild West dynamics and economics. You want to be a solo pirate? G'head, Bunky, nothing's stopping you (you'll only catch other startled n00bs, you'll die a lot, and the time v. reward curve will suck, but nothing stops you). The "end game" for Eve is in highly solo-hostile "0.0 space," but there is so much to do in the NPC-policed "Empire Space" that even a soloist shouldn't be able to complain. The soloist always has the option of buying the better gear from his richer grouping brother, but won't be able to derive the best benefit from it (i.e., maximize money made per hour) unless he takes that gear into places where -- if he travels solo -- someone will take it away from him very quickly. The killboards are filled with solo players in their expensive "Marauders" being dragged down by gangs of players in throwaway cruisers and frigates.

Re:Solo Play Should be Offline Play (2, Interesting)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739923)

Eve also suffers hugely for it. Take exploration, for example. Eve has a huge, persistent and singular (no server shards) universe. But it is essentially impossible for you to actually explore it without carting around your own battlefleet. Solo play is different from group play. The two are not mutually exclusive in an MMO.

Re:Solo Play Should be Offline Play (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740049)

Eve also suffers hugely for it

Eve doesn't suffer for it. The solo player -- playing in the game designed for a multi-player experience -- who feels he is entitled to access content designed for groups, may "suffer," but the game surely does not. Empire space is huge, and soloists can stay there pretty much with no danger. That's Eve's solo game, and it's big, and it's bigger than the "solo games" of most MMOs. If you want to play Eve, but don't want to group, your game is in Empire. If you come to the field with a baseball, and everyone else is playing football, you don't expect everyone else to accommodate you simply because you brought a baseball to a football game. These are online multi-player games. It is absolutely not unreasonable to expect that you need a group to experience them the way the developers intended.

Eve is just more elegant about the way it handles the solo/multiplayer dichotomy than other games. In other MMOs, when you try to access the phat lewts beyond the mountain pass, you'll be informed that there aren't enough people in your group, you need a raid-force, whatever. Eve just lets you go where you want and pay the consequences if you enter Dodge City as a Lone Gunman.

By the way, I read an article in Eon magazine about a solo player who did travel to every system in Eve, taking screengrabs along the way. It was not easy, it was an adventure, but he was good and he did it. So buy a fast, cloaked ship, skill up, and start exploring!

Re:Solo Play Should be Offline Play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740615)

set yourself up with a cloak and scan probes. you can have fun with exploring in eve.

Re:Solo Play Should be Offline Play (2, Insightful)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742229)

Eve also suffers hugely for it. Take exploration, for example. Eve has a huge, persistent and singular (no server shards) universe. But it is essentially impossible for you to actually explore it without carting around your own battlefleet. The two are not mutually exclusive in an MMO.

I only just started Eve's free trial, and so far, it's felt like a well-polished single player game. A friend or two will join me soon, and I'll see what that's like.

I disagree with your example, though. Exploring around the universe might require a battlefleet, but wouldn't it be overtly artificial if it didn't? My empire is at war with other powers, and powerful pirates roam the lesser controlled areas (or so I'm imagining, it's all still new to me).

The point is, I don't see myself entitled to exploring everywhere in the Eve universe. I don't feel it conflicts with my solo play, so long as I have other things that I can do. Having areas dominated by fleets that will destroy me adds an element to the game. Perhaps that was your point, also, except that I've yet to see how it suffers hugely (I know there are a lot of complaints about Eve, but I've chosen to not listen to them so far).

Most likely I'm too new to the game to really make any comments on it, but having played a few single player space games (Homeworld, Sword of the Stars, etc), my limited experience with Eve so far is that I like the solo play a lot more than those single player games. Since it's designed to be able to interact with thousands of other players with ships, things that were a pain in the other games are simplified, and I feel like I'm being immersed in a sci-fi setting, not a sci-fi story (from which I can't escape). That's a requirement for the MMO side, and perhaps the big appeal so far.

Re:Solo Play Should be Offline Play (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740509)

For every sword-and-sorcery or sci-fi themed MMO, there is an offline game, designed from the ground up for solo players.

That's not likely to continue for very long, as publishers move components of single-player games online for revenue stream protection.

This is why I quit WoW (2, Insightful)

maudface (1313935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739711)

I started to realise that I actively hated having to group with other people to the point that I'd obnoxiously subject prospective party members to simple logic tests to find out whether they were functionally mentally disabled or not. I'd just avoid any sort of quest that would require me to interact with other people, at the time realms were closed off so the actual real live friends of mine were invariably on other realms or completely inappropriate levels to quest with me. Where does it get sane to pay a monthly fee for the ability to avoid playing with others online? If I wanted that I'd actually bother to pay for an xbox live gold subscription, at least with that I can still play the damn games instead of having their content entirely withdrawn from me despite having paid for it.

Re:This is why I quit WoW (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742291)

I started to realise that I actively hated having to group with other people to the point that I'd obnoxiously subject prospective party members to simple logic tests to find out whether they were functionally mentally disabled or not. I'd just avoid any sort of quest that would require me to interact with other people, at the time realms were closed off so the actual real live friends of mine were invariably on other realms or completely inappropriate levels to quest with me.

I played in the golden age of TBC, and when looking for party members one of us would always have a spare laptop ready to fire up WOW Armory to check out anyone who offered to join in for the run. That eliminated a lot of trouble off the bat, and for less clear cases we could ask specific questions like "why are you using this item instead of this other item" or "why didn't you spend more points in this other talent branch". Even if it wasn't a good choice for them, often the answers would reveal that the player wasn't an idiot, distinguishing between someone who needs a bit more experience but plays well enough for the run and someone who would turn the attempt into wipe after wipe.

That's not why (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739713)

When I play games like Guild Wars solo, it's not because "I want to be the hero" or because "I want all the lewts". It's because pick-up groups suck. You spend half an hour trying to round up people to fill out the group, and it only takes one of them being a moron to ruin the entire experience.

For those few of you who don't know, that's the guy who doesn't know how to get where you're going, can't properly follow your directions to get there, tries to boss around the party when he finally does get there even though he clearly doesn't know what he's doing, and then fifteen minutes into the group says, "o man i have 2 go.. mom wants me 2 clean my room".

Re:That's not why (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739859)

Sucks playing class/level/gear based (to the point that they're all that matters) games doesn't it?

Re:That's not why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740299)

You don't actually have the slightest idea how Guild Wars works, do you?

Re:That's not why (1)

Meton5 (1474189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740013)

The problem is compounded when the forced grouping is integrated into the competitive end, where you need not only the right class, but the right partners. At least in fighters, FPS, and RTS you aren't forced to use whatever the balance team decides is good enough for your class this patch. You can actually pick what is worth picking.

Re:That's not why (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740327)

You could have just said "Google Leeroy Jenkins"

Re:That's not why (2, Interesting)

stereoroid (234317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740489)

I was going to mention Guild Wars too, as an example of a game that is highly playable as a single player. You can be offline for a month, and it's not costing you anything, since they don't have monthly fees. The quality of the graphics is such that you can just wander around in your own time admiring the scenery, especially with the Eye Of The North expansion.

On one of the few occasions I joining a pickup mission, I ran in to an "expectation" problem. The character I used was a Monk, and what I learned is that there seems to an expectation that a Monk will sit back and cast healing spells, while the other characters can go blundering in to battle without a care. Um... not this Monk. This Monk walks softly, carries a big stick, and is usually too busy Smiting to heal anyone else. 8)

Re:That's not why (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742517)

I was going to mention Guild Wars too, as an example of a game that is highly playable as a single player. You can be offline for a month, and it's not costing you anything, since they don't have monthly fees. The quality of the graphics is such that you can just wander around in your own time admiring the scenery, especially with the Eye Of The North expansion.

I'm heartened to read this, because I picked up GW a while back ($19 w/EotN expansion, no subscription, how could I resist?) and I've only played it a few levels. I know no one who plays it and I have no desire to pug groups (I turned off my chat window all together, the 'city' areas were just too obnoxious).

I was hoping that when I play it more, groups wouldn't suddenly be vital to play. It sounds like they won't. The expectation problem is definitely present in WoW also, but it does go both ways. As a warrior, if it's PVP weekend I'm not going to react well to someone demanding that I should respec just to tank a heroic (although I might for liked guild members, who would cover the respec costs if they need me).

At the same time, if I'm coordinating raid groups for the day, or kara groups for the week, a junior member who's now decided his pally is going to be ret from now on isn't going be high on the list of players being considered, especially if we're short on healers (for example). That is, he's welcome to build his character however he wants, but there are only so many slots and most of them are class specific, and some classes are just more useful. I don't expect him to stay holy, but in that situation, he can't expect to keep getting raid invites.

Re:That's not why (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740587)

When I play games like Guild Wars solo, it's not because "I want to be the hero" or because "I want all the lewts". It's because pick-up groups suck. You spend half an hour trying to round up people to fill out the group, and it only takes one of them being a moron to ruin the entire experience.

Real MMOs have less of a problem with that than GW though, because in a real MMO you actually have to care about your reputation as a player at least a little bit. In GW it doesn't matter because you'll never see anyone from the same group again anyway. You can be a shit player having good players carry you through the game the whole way and never group with the same person twice, without trying. In an MMO, you can get away with that for a while, but if you do it too much it eventually catches up with you, unless you keep paying for name and/or server changes.

And you're right - pugs in GW absolutely suck. In fact, as a general rule all of the game is easier to play with one friend than with a pug.

For those few of you who don't know, that's the guy who doesn't know how to get where you're going, can't properly follow your directions to get there, tries to boss around the party when he finally does get there even though he clearly doesn't know what he's doing, and then fifteen minutes into the group says, "o man i have 2 go.. mom wants me 2 clean my room".

He's also the guy drawing the cock & balls on the compass minimap, or just otherwise cluttering it up so no one can use it.

Re:That's not why (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740653)

Takes a while to get a collection of good players, but it's worth it.

In "old school" games where you had to group to get anywhere, it meant that you spent your 20s and 30s (provided it's a 50 level game, generally about the first 3/5th of your leveling) with groups that sucked. Mostly. My standards are pretty high, so I'd say about 4 out of 5 people I played with sucked and they didn't meet my requirements. I took a note of the other fifth of the players I played with, though. And so did they. Over time, you got a healthy collection of people you knew you could play with.

Today, this is done after leveling, when it goes into raids, when you hack 4 hours into the dungeon before you find out you have someone with you that "has to go now, it's my bedtime". IMO that's worse than being in a simple leveling dungeon/area where you could simply pick up a new guy or just continue with the rest of the group.

Re:That's not why (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742425)

For those few of you who don't know, that's the guy who doesn't know how to get where you're going, can't properly follow your directions to get there, tries to boss around the party when he finally does get there even though he clearly doesn't know what he's doing, and then fifteen minutes into the group says, "o man i have 2 go.. mom wants me 2 clean my room".

As a tank in WoW, the type of player I hated the most was the one who believed there was only one way to run a dungeon. They weren't usually horrible players in terms of basic mechanics, but were definitely more prone to let their rigidity hurt their performance. My main frustration was they will have read gone online and read through a complete guide on how to do each corner, each pull (I'm not even counting bosses in this, just mobs). Chances are, the way detailed in the guide is a good way, quite possibly the best.

However, as a tank I'd run those heroics over and over and over to get badges, and to help my guildies get badges. I played with other good players, such that we could easily handle not doing every single pull "by the book" exactly. I liked mixing things up a bit, and even pushing some players that I knew could handle themselves (the rogues always LOVED being asked to evasion tank an elite mob solo).

The rigid, by the book players, would throw a complete FIT. One guy in particular (not a teenager), would have a complete tantrum, and refuse to continue any further at all if we didn't do things exactly as he said we should. That guy was the most extreme, because once he threw his hissy fit, it was no simple matter to calm him down and just get it over with, even if we all said okay, okay. The mere suggestion he was wrong was cause for lengthy arguments.

Less extreme, but still rigid players also objected to changing plans as circumstances changed. Maybe the sheep accidentally got a dot, maybe a wandering mob came in, but I've had players complain bitterly after I'd calmly and quickly swapped the markings and everyone in the party had adapted perfectly.

After the first complaint, I started doing this as a sort of test for players new to the guild, especially healers. A lot can go wrong in a raid or a simple pull, and adaptability is part of player competence. An accidental double pull is a much worse situation than a single pull with a planned (by me anyway), change of markings. I just mean something as simple as updating the kill order symbols as the mobs are killed. If a healer complains about symbols changing, I don't really trust that they are really up to taking in the whole situation and reacting if things don't end up going as planned.

Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (3, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739719)

I want the colossal richness and depth available only through online worlds, without the horny adolescents, griefers, and other social incompetents that MMOGs seem to attract.

Give with WoW with just me and the NPCs, and I'll pay for it. Not otherwise.

Re:Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (2, Insightful)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740029)

What richness and depth? MMOs have sheer size, but any richness and depth they have comes from the fact you're dealing with other human beings. Remove them, and they are invariably suffer in comparison to a dedicated single player game from the same genre

Re:Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741617)

Which is why, as a single player fan, I'm waiting for the AI to get good enough to simulate PCs. Heck, even better, let me have a say in the behavior of NPCs who fill in for the PCs.

I'm a fantasy purist and I'm tired of people naming their characters Metallica and CyberViking217 in a medieval fantasy game.

Re:Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740685)

agreed within reason.

I wish they would do like Diablo 2 and scale the difficulty to group size. If people come and go, it doesn't matter. But a group of 5 actual friends (like my situation) can experience all of the content in the game.

There are so many areas I've never seen because I don't want to group up with 20 strangers.

It's like paying for premium cable channels you never watch... oh wait. we do that too don't we?

Player matching (3, Interesting)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740807)

I sense a demand for a service like eHarmony, Match.com, or Chemistry.com geared toward finding compatible gamers rather than sexual mates. Put all the immersive RPGers on one shard, all the 1/2 hr a night casual grownups on another, the emo teens on a third, etc. Maybe include a function to vote misbehavers off the shard.

Re:Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (2, Funny)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742071)

So, like Fallout 3 or Oblivion? or just like playing Guild Wars on an European server?

Re:Online worlds FTW; online players suck. (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28742537)

I want the colossal richness and depth available only through online worlds, without the horny adolescents, griefers, and other social incompetents that MMOGs seem to attract.

Give with WoW with just me and the NPCs, and I'll pay for it. Not otherwise.

I'd expand this to say, make a boss drop his loot, and rely less of repetitive play for content. He either has something or he hasn't. Killing the same boss 20 times for rep, badges, and the hope of a drop hardly helps maintain immersed in that richness and depth.

It's the D-Bags... (5, Insightful)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739731)

It's because of the d-bags. We love the idea of all the new content, ever-changing worlds, new quests, new gear, or trading for awesome gear you can't normally get at your level. Then we play with people and remember that it's still the same thing as playing with online as it ever was--awful. D-bags, cheaters, impatient people, and all the other awful people online. Just think, the same trolls and flamebaiters and morons who post random comments on forums/articles (excluding /.; those people make ./ trolls look like saints) are the same people you'll be playing with on an MMO.

Hence the single-player MMO--providing all the benefits with none of the drawbacks.

Re:It's the D-Bags... (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739877)

I completely agree.

I remember back in the Compuserve/GEnie days, before the internet became popular. We used to have to pay $6+ per hour to connect. I would play multi-player games, read and post on forums, and there was never any serious trolling/griefing. Then along came the internet and unlimited monthly access for a flat rate. Suddenly all the MPG's I played were filled with beggars asking for free stuff, or griefers just trying to ruin the game for everyone. Massive access to forums also caused the quality of the posts to deteriorate to simple flame wars.

The effect of price on behavior was very obvious. I can think of two possibilities: Either a high price enforces "good behavior" because no one wants to waste money acting like an idiot, but people are willing to act like idiots when something is free; or as an "elitist snob" (yeah yeah, think whatever you want) I tend to favor the idea that people with more money tend to be better educated (with few exceptions) and mannered, and so an expensive, exclusive "club" will have less "trash".

Re:It's the D-Bags... (2, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740565)

I completely agree.

I remember back in the Compuserve/GEnie days, before the internet became popular. We used to have to pay $6+ per hour to connect. I would play multi-player games, read and post on forums, and there was never any serious trolling/griefing. Then along came the internet and unlimited monthly access for a flat rate. Suddenly all the MPG's I played were filled with beggars asking for free stuff, or griefers just trying to ruin the game for everyone. Massive access to forums also caused the quality of the posts to deteriorate to simple flame wars.

The effect of price on behavior was very obvious. I can think of two possibilities: Either a high price enforces "good behavior" because no one wants to waste money acting like an idiot, but people are willing to act like idiots when something is free; or as an "elitist snob" (yeah yeah, think whatever you want) I tend to favor the idea that people with more money tend to be better educated (with few exceptions) and mannered, and so an expensive, exclusive "club" will have less "trash".

It doesn't have to be free: Xbox Live is choke full of imbeciles, and people pay for the privilege of having to play with them.

Re:It's the D-Bags... (1)

Amphetam1ne (1042020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741233)

£30 for 12 months of live is way cheaper than £5 - £8 /month for an MMO. Besides which, I tend to just play with my friends and the good mannered, non-dbags that I've picked up on my friend list along the way. I very rarely play with randoms and not at all for co-op games.

TBH live is more like an MMO than most people like to admit. You create an avatar and spend ages trying to find an unused variation on the name you want. You grind quests (games) to increase your level (gamerscore) and frequently undertake these quests with friends, or just chat codshit to them while you're off doing your own thing. The content updates are far more regular and the quests more varied than any other MMO I ever played.

Re:It's the D-Bags... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28741255)

Xbox Live is five bucks a month. In the CompuServe days, you paid six bucks *an hour*.

Any annoying high-school kid can scrape up five bucks per month. XBox Live is about the cheapest form of non-free entertainment available.

But who would pay six bucks per hour for an online service if they just wanted to be a dickwad on it? That's right, nobody.

Of course, nobody would pay that much for an online service nowadays, anyway. Might as well take that money to the local strip club for a night out. Fifteen bucks a month for World of Warcraft is only marginally more expensive than Xbox Live (many players get 100+ hours a month out of their subscription). So its not high enough to weed out the D-bags.

I think Everquest used to have a sort of 'elite' server which you paid 3x as much for as normal server access, but it was policed by more humans and most of the D-bags would not bother to pay so much to play on it. It was a nice way for the rich folks with more money than free time, to get their hassle-free gaming experience. Blizzard should set up something similar.

Re:It's the D-Bags... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740681)

Well, how about that the average bored 12 year old can't blow 6 bucks an hour on online access? Not to mention that he could never get an ISP to sign a contract with him and few parents would consider paying that?

Re:It's the D-Bags... (1)

michaelmanus (1529735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740923)

I completely agree.

I remember back in the Compuserve/GEnie days, before the internet became popular. We used to have to pay $6+ per hour to connect. I would play multi-player games, read and post on forums, and there was never any serious trolling/griefing. Then along came the internet and unlimited monthly access for a flat rate. Suddenly all the MPG's I played were filled with beggars asking for free stuff, or griefers just trying to ruin the game for everyone. Massive access to forums also caused the quality of the posts to deteriorate to simple flame wars.

You're complaining about one thing: a lower barrier of entry. And you're right. When a game is available to the lowest common denominator, it's bound to have, on average, a worse community than one that is harder to get to.

The solution is moving to a game that requires more effort. There are MMO communities out there that are harder to get into - customized private mmo servers, old muds, new muds, indie sandbox mmos, browser mmos, etcs... Any games with a niche crowd. There is no shortage of these out there.

It's not that this has ever changed. That $6/hour game was a total niche - something the mainstream wasn't interested in. Now there's a genre that takes off from those MUDs. But the games you nostalgia-ize about are still around; you just stopped looking hard enough.

The adage that the new is terrible and that the old is lost forever has failed again. It's never the outside that changes meaningfully; it's the perspective of the observer.

Re:It's the D-Bags... (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741945)

Your last idea is close, very close. I played the same games on AOL at a nickel a minute (NWN, GSIII, etc), and ran up $400/month bills regularly, even though it severely strained my finances at the time. That's a huge barrier; you had to be pretty damn addicted to pay that kind of scratch month in and month out. Sure, there were some d-bags, but they were far fewer, probably only the few who could afford someone else to pay their massive AOL bills.

Serious gamers are willing to pay $3/hr for their games, but trolling and griefing just isn't worth $3/hr to very many folks, certainly not enough to detract from the serious gamers' experiences.

And ironically, when AOL went flat rate, I abandoned their games, because I just couldn't get on. AOL had perpetual busy signals for three months, and by the time I could connect again, the addiction had broken. And the atmosphere was different - the games were full of beggars, clue-resistant newbs, and griefers. (And of course, playing CivII, Baldur's Gate and WCIII satisfied my gaming needs at far better cost efficiency.)

Nowadays, playing WoW is like going to an urban basketball court, instead of playing at AOL's private club. You gotta know which courts [realms] to play on, and at which times, and have a posse [guild] to hang with, especially in the rough neighborhoods [pvp servers].

Re:It's the D-Bags... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740493)

You mean like the goonies in Eve Online ;)

Gaming as a service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28739881)

This is a natural progression to where one gets a metered amount of content/rewards/joy per month. The cost of the next month will always sound cheap compared to what one gets, just like those multi-issue cooking books that appear disturbingly often, but it adds up over time to a raw deal.

Ultima Online (1)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739885)

Ultima Online (at least on the free shard UOGamers) doesn't require any kind of interaction with other players on any meaningful level. I quite commonly solo my way through PVM as well as PVP in the dueling system without having to talk to anybody or organize people like other more guild-centric MMORPGs require. The most I ever typically interact with people is the occasional chat with someone I encounter or buying/selling stuff.

Try it out. http://uogamers.com/ [uogamers.com]

"Your Multiplayer Experience May Vary" (2, Insightful)

pwilli (1102893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28739991)

Therefore, I chose to do all "challenges" in WoW by myself, wherever possible. The moment I couldn't do stuff on my own/finding a (working) group to do it would always take more than 1 hour, I quit. I am definetly not the "I need to be THE hero" type of player, therefore the timesinks in WoW ("Hey everybody, look at my super-duper 1000 hours worth of playtime pet, I'm awesome!") and other MMOs don't work for me either.

A single player WoW with bots would've been awesome.

Personally, Hell yeah! (3, Insightful)

lindseyp (988332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740053)

I don't spend so much time gaming. But having wasted a good many hundreds of hours on MUD's back in the day. I can say the one thing I found inherently unattractive about the recent flavour of MMORPGs was the fact that you had to go find friends, become part of a guild or team, and work through all those stupid politics and social chores just to be able to play.

I don't necessarily want to make friends. I just want to play. What I *Love* about multi-player games is the fact that you meet real people along the way, and have the *opportunity* to befriend or interact if you so choose. What I don't want in my escapism is some social obligation to go through the same bulsh*t with people to "get my game done" as I have to at work to "get my job done".

Article misses the mark (4, Insightful)

Synn (6288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740111)

Players didn't get sick of group play, they got tired of having to wait 30 mins to an hour for the proper group to form just so they could play the game. Then you'd get an hour into a dungeon only to have the cleric leave and you'd have to exit and sit around waiting for another cleric to show up, because you couldn't play the game without one.

Re:Article misses the mark (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740707)

Easy solution: Roll a cleric.

Yes, it's not flashy to be the healer. Personally, I see it that way: Any other pet class has one pet. I have 4 (provided the party has 5 members).

There has always been a lack of healers in almost every MMO there is. To a lesser degree, a lack of tanks. The only thing you never had any shortage of were damage dealers. The reason?

Simple: Damage dealers usually have the least problem soloing.

What's all this QQ about? (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740135)

Simply put, people are a waste of time.

Let's go back to two games I played and HATED because of the forced-grouping. EQ and DAOC. EQ was *terrible* about requiring a group to do... anything. Except for certain classes. DAOC was the same way. In both cases, the intention was always to force people to group up to do pretty much anything at all. Hell, even just getting from Point A to Point B was often dangerous alone.

It's just not fun. Period, end of story.

To build an MMO like that, you're assuming there will be an equal distribution of the classes required to do anything. You're assuming there will be as much tanks and dps as healers. That's.. not true, at all. Never happens. And nobody wants to spend their limited time in-game sitting around waiting for people to show up so MAYBE they can go push a single button over and over and gain a half a level. Spend 2 hours looking for a group, and 1 hour actually grouping? It's just not fun any way you slice it.

Forced grouping works GREAT in certain games, and certain aspects of games. Look at D&D. You KNOW when you're playing D&D that you'll have a group with you, because if you don't.. you're not playing. You don't decide to play and then sit around your table waiting for random people to walk by and ask them if they happen to be the class you need in your group. That happened in EQ and DAOC constantly. It's dumb. In WoW, end-game raids are generally scheduled, and even those that aren't? They're at least end-game, where the majority of your player base will wind up, so at least there's a wide pool of people to draw on. Even that wasn't enough, though, so WoW has added tons of tools to help people find other people to group with for end-game content, and of the 3 archtypes -- tank, dps, heal -- most classes can handle at least two of those jobs, and with dual specs it's really, really simple. And honestly, it still kinda sucks. A few people don't show up to a scheduled raid, you have to spend time looking for fill-ins. PUGs don't always even get off the ground.

Basically, forced-grouping in MMOs fails because people don't like sitting on their ass typing "LFG" over and over and over when they're *supposed* to be playing a game and having fun. Once you add all the retards into the equation, you wind up spending too much time typing "LFG" and once you're done with that, it's probably 50/50 odds that you'll have to start doing it again shortly because whoever you find will be too stupid to group with.

Honestly WAR handled it pretty well, at least up until level 30 or so (when I quit..). Solo you'd be fine 99% of the time, but each time you added to your group you became more and more effective. WoW group play compared to solo I often found to actually slow me down, even with guildies on vent, but WAR it really always payed off but never was necessary. Really a shame they got so much wrong with that game, because they did get a lot right.

Re:What's all this QQ about? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740897)

For anyone else who was confused:

  • EQ=Everquest
  • DAOC=Dark Age of Camelot
  • WAR=Warhammer On-line: Age of Reckoning*
  • LDG=Looking for group
  • PUG=pick-up group
  • dps=damage per second

*I think, although really should be WOAR.

Re:What's all this QQ about? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741153)

Couldn't agree more - I don't really care for MMOs that force reliance on groups to generally have fun. I'm willing to sacrifice some levelling for being a little more of a loner. When I do take part in group activities I try to do ones that don't really leave the group depending on me too much - so that I can cut and run at any time.

I live in the real world. If something comes up that I need to take care of, well, I'm going to be taking care of it. If that means I send a message to my group to say "gotta run" and then disconnect - we'll, that's fine by me.

So, I avoid games that do forced grouping, and when I am in a group setting it is usually a social thing (people doing the same thing together - maybe dividing chores a little but where if everybody stopped working together everybody could still get the job done alone). I'm always up-front about real-life. As a result, I generally have fun, and people are happy to see me, and don't mind seeing me go.

Too many MMOs are designed for people how have hours on end to dedicate to the game, and who can get away without having any interruptions at all.

Re:What's all this QQ about? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741931)

Forced grouping works GREAT in certain games, and certain aspects of games. Look at D&D. You KNOW when you're playing D&D that you'll have a group with you, because if you don't.. you're not playing. You don't decide to play and then sit around your table waiting for random people to walk by and ask them if they happen to be the class you need in your group. That happened in EQ and DAOC constantly. It's dumb.

That's because when you wanted to play D&D you usually wouldn't just wander up to your kitchen table, sit down and then wait for random people to join you. Not being a complete moron you would usually contact your friends who also played and invite them to join you first.

But for some reason that seems to be how you were playing EQ and DAOC. Why did you think that would work?

Diablo II (2, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740163)

Diablo II.

An online multiplayer RPG without most of the MMO horseshit. You can group up, play solo, or mix the two up.

In this game, the fun is the journey more than the destination. There are always monsters along the way that your character will have trouble with, regardless of your "build."

Running on single node internet! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740641)

It's simple!

NO. the main reason is actually simple (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28740795)

finding other people to interact with to do anything takes time. and its dependent on other people's will.

kids of yesterday are grown up people now, with jobs and families to take care of, or other responsibilities, if not married. they have limited time to to allocate to gaming. usually, maybe 1 to 3 hours in weeknights, and that may not be every night.

therefore, when they come online to do something, they cant afford to spend 30 minutes to find enough people to do something, then lose another 15 minutes because of other people's issues (kid cries,spouse calls, doorbell rings, phone call etcetc), and then try to do that thing they set out to do in remaining 1-1.5 hours. and even then the result is dependent on other people's proper participation. if sufficient number of people in your interaction group cant cope with what you are doing, you all fail. pooof. 3 hours of gaming time gone. half of which gone with waiting.

therefore, they prefer solo play more and more. it depends on you, you dictate the schedule, you spare the effort, you get the result. natural, since waiting for opportunity to be able to play a game while logged into the game itself is not a proper definition of fun.

Satellitr link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28740925)

All I play are single player games because I'm so far out in the boonies that all I can get is dial up or satellite Internet ( think massive massive latency ).

Asheron's Call Had (Has?) Great Solo Play (1)

fyrie (604735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28741567)

I can't speak for its current state since I don't play anymore, but AC was very solo friendly. There were tons of quests and dungeons that were doable without a party.

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