Flying solo.

Tobold has a rather popular (based on replies) post with a simple premise; would you buy WoW if it was a single player game? The immediate reaction I think most people have is ‘no’, because logging on and seeing other players running around or chatting in the different chat channels is just something all WoW players have grown accustomed to.

But with all the changes to WoW since release, especially with the 2.3 patch and how it applies to the old world content, does old world WoW really need to be online? Most zones are void of life, almost all quests can be completed solo regardless of your class, and the XP system in WoW actually encourages players to solo.

If you repackaged the 1-60 game in WoW and sold it as a $30 box in stores as a single player no monthly fee game, I think it would sell like crazy. The low system specs combined with the still serviceable graphics would mean the game is highly accessible, even more so now that you have removed the internet connection and monthly fee requirements.

A few people point out that offline, the grindy gameplay would be more obvious to the player, and that would ruin the enjoyment, yet I can’t help but ask how that is any different than what the majority of WoW is now, pre-70? People avoid PUGs, and most guilds are either raiding or PvP focused, two aspects that would be removed from single player WoW. Give the single game a 5 or 10 player hosting option, and you cover the ‘I just play with my friends’ crowd as well.

To me the more important issue raised by this is not whether it would sell, but on how this reflects on MMOs in general. Do the majority of MMO players really just desire a single player game? How is it that a genre built around the ideas of player interaction and a virtual world has transformed into a monthly fee single player game? And is this the natural evolution of the MMO market, or is WoW just an odd phenom, and once the phenom is over, do we go back to the ‘norm’ before it? Or has WoW changed the MMO space forever, leaving behind it a trail of online single player games?

9 Responses to Flying solo.

  1. Tipa says:

    Well, imagine if you took a single player RPG, like Oblivion or Final Fantasy VII, and remove all plot. So you would log in to FF7 and level up and get better gear and so forth, but you would have no other party members, and there would be no plot driving you forward. Would the game have been as popular?

    The only reason to level up in WoW is because you must level up in order to meet up with the vast majority of people playing at the level cap. In this respect, leveling is just something you have to do before you can play the real game.

    Without the carrot of having other people to play with once you reach max level, and absent a strong storyline that brings you through the game and leaves the world very different as the result of your actions, what would be the point?

  2. syncaine says:

    See I would agree with that argument, but then I look at Diablo and how many people loved to just grind for the sake of grinding in that game. And then the whole ‘alt-itis’ population comes to mind, the people who play till the cap or so and start a new character. The question is how much do these sub-groups cut into the population of players who grind to 70 in order to play with other people. PUG quality certainly does not increase at 70 (its worse due to people not knowing how to play in a group UNTIL 70), so I can’t see that as a huge factor.

    And then how much greater is the plot of your average RPG compared to some of the quest chains in WoW? I would say the Van Cleef storyline stacks up well to most plots, especially Oblivion with it’s massive amount of ‘go kill x’ quests. Sure some RPG gems have amazing stories, but those are quite rare these days.

  3. Talyn says:

    A single player WoW (or any other MMO for that matter) would just be a really, really bad RPG. What few “story lines” WoW ever had are presented poorly. Sure, back in the day Deadmines was always rated everyone’s favorite dungeon, but it was because of the scripting. And honestly, there wasn’t even much scripting in there, but everything after Deadmines had even less. WoW’s quests weren’t written in a way that was very interesting, plus combined with so many non-related quests, it wasn’t until probably the 3rd or so time I did those quests that I was actually able to remember any semblance of continuity for the whole Defias/Van Cleef story.

    Personally, I think it would have been more fun if Van Cleef had escaped Deadmines, and occasionally a high level World Event occurs where he has gathered a new pirate army and actually sieges Stormwind. Maybe a GM-controlled Van Cleef? Oh sorry, here I go pining for the days when GM’s did that kinda thing. Oh wait… they do… over in LOTRO… (ok ok, only on Roheryn…)

  4. sid67 says:

    I can tell you that I didn’t pay $6/hr on AOL to play Neverwinter Nights because of the single player game. I think that’s a great comparison since the engine started as a solo player game Pool of Radiance and was later adapted into an early MMO. NWN itself last WELL PAST the outdated engine entirely due to the multiplayer aspects.

  5. syncaine says:

    Ha I played NWN on AOL, at the time it was a damn good time.

    And yea, I was pissed when the whole VC storyline ended. I mean you kill him and all, but still, that plot felt so epic when I did it the first time, especially since the deadmines was the first instance for many people, and back then it was much harder, so beating VC at a reasonable level was actually saying something.

  6. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Without the carrot of having other people to play with once you reach max level, and absent a strong storyline that brings you through the game and leaves the world very different as the result of your actions, what would be the point?

    Indeed! Who would even suggest such a thing?

    The only reason to level up in WoW is because you must level up in order to meet up with the vast majority of people playing at the level cap. In this respect, leveling is just something you have to do before you can play the real game.

    I disagree with that, but I will accept that I am an oddball in that regard. Look at all the sympathy comments I get from people about having to play through all that “old content” in WoW with our instance group. We have fun and we’re not at level cap! We must all log on together in a short, yellow bus!

    But to the question at hand: With a lot of rework, WoW would make an okay single player game. You would have to figure out a way to replace the economy, build an over-arcing quest story line (and probably ditch a lot of the “kill 10 rats” quests along the way), develop some sort of minion system, and recalibrate all of the group and raid content to be soloable with minion support.

    It wouldn’t win any awards I am sure. But few years down the road, when many more people have quite WoW than still play it (ala EQ now) there might be enough nostalgia to support such a game. Especially if you could pause it.

  7. Tipa says:

    Heh, Wilhelm… you didn’t think I thought of that when I replied? EQ1 would also be a fairly dull game in its own right as a single player game, but then, without having the active community, EQ1 would have been dull as an MMO too. My massively single player thing was just a way to preserve EQ, but to make it a game, the various plots acted out by GMs in the early days would have to become the focus of the story to pull you through. Planes of Power, for example, had a VERY strong plot. The whole point of the weird and arcane keying requirements were to make sure you experienced the plot in the correct order.

    That said, I didn’t solo in EQ1, so all my memories are of shared times with other people and friends made and adventures had. I soloed a lot in WoW, so my memories of WoW are mostly standing alone in some fairly empty zone killing the same things over and over. Since I rarely played with anyone else, I have a deep appreciation for how WoW would play as a single player game. And I would never, ever do that again.

  8. Wilhelm2451 says:

    I never had a doubt that you had thought of that comparison, I just wanted to see you thoughts laid out.

    For me, while EQ1 was a lot about playing with friends, I spend a ton of time solo, creeping around the edge of zones exploring. I’d love a single player game that guided me through all of those places again.

    WoW, on the other hand, has ended up mostly being a group event for me. I only came to play WoW because a bunch of people from my days in Toril MUD were there already, so even when I was soloing, I was on guild chat with people who I had been grouping with for a decade in some cases. I think I must have had a very backwards WoW experience compared to many people. So, aside from Stranglethorn Vale, WoW is a happy memory that I wouldn’t mind repeating in a single player game.

  9. mightydar says:

    I don’t think WoW single player would sell anyone that wants to play WoW already has it.

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