Wednesday 19 February 2014

MMOs: Need more Heroes and less Soldiers

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Forced grouping is always stupid.

I don't mind the theory behind having 5 man dungeons, or 40 man raids or 100 man armies etc. Getting people to play together is the whole point in an MMO after all, however I still strongly believe that a skilled solo player should be able to handle anything and everything in the game. I'm not saying make it easy, or make it fast, just make it plausible. What irks me is when a game challenge is designed in such a way that you REQUIRE more than one person to complete it.

A timer on a boss with ludicrous hit points, a set of distant levers or buttons that require simultaneous activation, the requirement of being able to be in two places at once to pass a phase - for me these all detract from the actual encounter. In the end what you end up needing is a zerg of some description (often times a more cohesive unit) and you end up being just another face in the crowd. Woo, you killed the dragon... with like one hundred other guys (and occasionally with large artillery emplacements). Aren't you heroic!

No. The hero is the one who kills the dragon on his own. Yes it's easier in a group. Yes it's saner in a group, but by golly if you are that effing amazing at the game it should let you shine and play the way you want to play.

Do you prefer to be Kratos or one of the soldiers trying to take him down?


  1. I could not possibly disagree more (and I say that as someone who has always played more solo than group or raid in MMOs). The very last thing we need is more heroes. The very last thing I want to roleplay is a hero.

    What we need in MMOs is content and systems that endorse, encourage and reward the choice to be an ordinary Joe or Jill, someone just doing their best to help their friends, their family, their neighbors, their community in difficult circumstances. I don't want to fight dragons at all, not with a hundred other people, let alone on my own. That's way. way beyond anything I can imaginatively associate with.

    I want to fight gnolls, orcs, bandits or dangerous animals. Threats I can understand. And by god, if something the size and strength of a dragon turns up I want an army and artillery too! Anything less is ridiculous.

    1. I was sort of bracing for this after I read your reply on Jeromai's blog today. Just goes to show that game devs have a really hard time pleasing everyone! :P

      Note than nowhere did I say to -stop- group activities. Just to make it possible for challenges to be dealt with as an individual, if you were crazy, bored and talented enough to attempt it.

      Your idea for systems to reward the ordinary is an interesting one though, I think GW2 actually tries to do this with the event reward stuff? How does that rate for you? Sounds like an interesting challenge to think up of such a system. Maybe we should make it a contest and open it up for the rest of our blog roll people to attempt? :D