When I think of Dungeons and Dragons, one of the first things that come to mind is a group of players sitting around a table and adventuring together. From its very foundation D&D is designed to be a group activity. Each class serves a very specific role, and is fairly limited to it. Rogues pick locks and disarm traps, clerics heal, fighters fight, mages cast spells. When taken outside of that base roll, the classes don’t do so well. Rogues have a difficult time fighting alone, as do clerics, and mages are extremely weak once something survives that first burst of damage from a spell.
With that kind of base, one would think D&D would be the perfect system for an MMO, which are all about interacting with others, right? Well as most people know, Dungeons and Dragons Online is overall a disappointment, while games like Neverwinter Nights shine. Why is it that a system designed to be played by multiple people works so well in a single player game and fails in the massive field?
I think PART of the reason DDO failed was that is forced players to group, which works well when you have a set group of friends that meet and play, but does not work that well when you log online and group with random people. The problem is that everyone plays differently; you have people who just rush through everything for the end reward grouping with those that like to take their time and explore. Either the rush player gets bored, or the quest is ruined for the explorer, but one way or the other a player is left upset with the game and the system. When you take the game offline, and let one player control the entire party, you allow them to play at their own pace without interference, maximizing the enjoyment a player gets.