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Solo Focus In An MMOG? Sense You Do Not Make!

December 13, 2009

It’s a baffling proposition that I seem to have stumbled upon. This notion being players who prefer the solo route in an MMO could possibly be catered to in The Old Republic much to the chagrin of the fans of the genre. I really can’t even understand who’d want to play exclusively solo in a game where there are thousands of other people playing on the same server. In a world filled with new potential enemies and allies why anybody would prefer to go solo womp rats in some remote corner of Tatooine is a concept very alien to me.  Even if a person only plays an hour or two a day a server with a large population would offer chances to group with others in PVE or PVP adventures. To act the hermit would seem like a silly choice that only somebody who’s completely antisocial would prefer to engage in.

Bioware is known for their single-player games. The complex stories that unfold before you while playing their RPG’s are second to none in my opinion. They’ve already said that the personal story arc is going to be massive filled with twists, turns, and unique to each class in the game. Bioware has also stated that it can all be done solo so as to avoid the need to wait for your friends to be online to help you move your story forward. I have no problem with this as it’s part of what makes Bioware’s games great. Leveling and personal story will both be very solo-player friendly as they should be. My concern is what happens when people who refuse to group reach the end of the story and their level cap?

Should the person who rejects the grouping tradition of end-game content expect to find it as difficult and rewarding as a PVP siege squad or PVE raid? Could Bioware possibly develop solo encounters as difficult and time-consuming as your standard raid?  I don’t think that task is entirely possible as the amount of balancing the developers would have to do as to ensure that all classes are capable of the content with any specialization would be far too difficult. If all classes had the same abilities this task would be made much easier but try to imagine an encounter that you could complete as a healing spec’d class and also a pure DPS class. Healers typically can’t do very much damage they can last much longer than a DPS’er but they get overwhelmed quickly and are usually in lighter armor. DPS plow through mobs as fast as they can but with only the occasional break in combat to heal yourself you don’t tend to last very long. What about the person who chooses to play a tank? He’s able to take on lots of weaker mobs but he hits like hits like a toddler. If you’ve come up with a solution to that you also have to figure in how incorporate the majority of each classes skills and tuning the difficulty so it’s the same for a healing Consular as it as for a damage-dealing Agent.

There are a few suggestions that could possibly appeal to the solo fan or extreme casual gamer that wouldn’t make the developers and hardcore players want to punch a baby.

  1. Public Quests: These little gems were the only saving grace of Warhammer’s PVE system. Tiered quests that reward better items based on how much you personally contribute to the objective in that area. While this would encourage grouping you can still take part in the quest without being in a group. These quests can be done rather quickly and would contribute to local reputation.
  2. Faction Reputations: By taking part in either local PVP or PVE in an area you can gain faction points. These points would give players access to multiple different rewards based on the amount of faction points you have. Think of it like a Warcraft/Warhammer hybrid.
  3. Complex Crafting Patterns: Items that can only be made after completing long chain quests and investing lots of money in. These items would be very close to the current PVP and PVE gear. Patterns would be purchased from a reputation vendor. This would allow people who can not constantly dedicate multiple hours to the game to remain capable of doing group encounters when they can find time.

So long as they make the items look different than the PVP and PVE raiding equivalent I doubt hardcore players would complain. Punishing the people who play more or prefer to group up is never a good idea.

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