Soloing vs Grouping
My 1st MMO was SWG back in 2003. I was married with 3 kids, working full time, and going to school full time also, so my time was pretty limited, and generally pretty late at night. Opportunities for grouping were semi-rare, in spite of being in a “player association” with a lot of co-workers and their significant others. They were usually in bed by the time I got home from school, after all, and if I played for an hour in an evening before going to bed, that was a lot. As a result, I became quite familiar with “the solo game” and frankly, it bored me. Some IRL changes happened and I became able to play during “prime time” and group up a lot more and I found the game to be ever so much more fun then. And yet, when I was grinding xp for new skill boxes, I was nearly always doing that solo.
I eventually moved on to EQ2. When the game 1st came out, you needed to group a lot because it was designed along that model. Soloing was possible, but it was also a PITA and there was quite a lot of content you simply *had* to group for. Over time, this changed and now the game is largely “solo outdoors, group indoors.” And in thinking back on it, I think that while my attitude has gone through various revisions and changes, it can be summed up overall as “I like to level solo, but I like to *play* in groups.” Part of that is, I think, that EQ2 is largely structured with a lot of quests designed to get you leveled up, but then once you are leveled up you want gear, not xp, and gear is found in group instances, not doing quests. But I also think that part of it is that once you are leveled up and “equal” with other people playing that grouping “feels” more viable, especially if everyone’s working to “gear up” and improve and doing their best.
I find this to hold true in EVE also. Sure, I can fly battleships and do level 4 missions for 3 of the 4 empires now, and I was and am happy to have “leveled that up” by myself. But the best times I’ve had in EVE have been on “corp night” when we’d get a frigate swarm together and go rampaging through lowsec space, exploring, finding POS’s, scaring the locals, clearing rats out of asteroid belts since the locals fled once we showed in the local comm channel…. We never saw another player in that time, but we had a blast regardless.
And now I find myself playing DDO more and more. I’ve played it off and on since it went F2P, but never really got past level 3 on most characters. It doesn’t have a clear progression in-game, though I’m sure if I just went and looked it up I could find it easily enough, and so with not really knowing or caring where to go, I just never went anywhere. But then a blogger indicated interest in making a “static group” and playing once a week and so I joined that group/guild and it’s been a blast. Not only that, but since getting my character in to the mid-levels and am getting invited to groups and dungeons I’ve never been to before since I’m a “support class” that is needed in most of these groups. I’m actually starting to outlevel the guild group and need to cut back on that a bit . . . . But still… I’m having a blast in a group, while solo is still kinda meh to me.
Thing about all these games is that on their forums, the desire to solo from start to finish (finish being self-defined in EVE, of course) is an oft-expressed, probably most-expressed, desire. And I’m right there with them — I *want* to be able to solo the whole game if I choose. This doesn’t make any sense to me, though. I know from my experience that I vastly prefer to be in a group rather than solo, so why would I have the deisre to have solo content available at all levels? Why the insistence on “playing alone together?”
Perhaps it’s the IRL thing stepping in — MMO’s don’t have a pause button after all, and if I need to go AFK, I don’t want other people to have to wait on me. If I’m solo, I can step away, even if it means a death, and no one is affected but me. In my case, I’d have to say that’s most of it, really. That’s why I’m on the blog right now rather than playing anything — it’s my night with the baby and she’s till semi-unpredictable as to how long she’ll be asleep for, so I don’t feel like I can commit to a group since I might be called away at any moment. But if I were playing solo, then if I had to go feed a baby, it wouldn’t be a problem at all — I’d just go do it.
Any thoughts from any of you as to other reasons why you’d want to be able to solo at any time no matter what?