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The solo trap

June 20, 2008

In todays MMORPGs it is pretty standard that one can solo through most of the progression of a character. This may sometimes be to the extent that some people complain that there is no or little reason to team up – at least not until the “end game” is reached.

Thus we get games where much of the content pretty much oriented to be played solo, but sometimes “scaled up” to force people to team up for this particular content. I think this is a bit flawed; the content in the form of missions/quests is still solo content in essence. Sometimes it just have been made a bit more difficult.

The result is sometimes content where the team gets in the way – missions do not always update for all in the team, missions have to be done and done in a certain order regardless of what team members have done before.

The trap here is that much of this content seemed to be made with solo play in mind and then just scaled a bit.

What if the mindset is changed here? The social aspect and interaction with other people in MMORPGs are key factors to the longevity of an MMORPG, so why do not the design start from that concept? How can one make a game with encourages (not force) and support various types of interaction between people primarily?

If people may only have a short time window; perhaps need to get away from the game on short notice and many other things that “disturb” teaming in todays games then the teaming design is fundamentally wrong. The answer is not to make solo content for those occasions. It is the people interaction aspects of the games that should change.

When that people interaction design is in place then adjustment could be made to cater for solo play. I do not have the answers for how these games will look like in the end. But I think that one of the most important aspects of these games sometimes only seems to be addressed as an afterthought and I hope that is something that will change and have to change to expand and keep larger audiences.

Categories: MMO Games
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