Group work.

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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4 Responses to Group work.

  1. CrazyKinux says:

    Good observation.

    But why can’t a system be implemented that would group players according to their play preferences: explorer, socializer, achiever, quester… add to this a grouping also based on your level and you’d have teams that would be more cohesive and would have a more enjoyable experience.

    My 2 cents.

  2. Talyn says:

    I just started up DDO recently, knowing how the game was designed (instanced, player quest hubs, similar to GW) before I went in. I think having that knowledge rather than jumping in head-first with preconceived notions of getting an EQx/WoW experience with D&D classes and mobs has helped me immensely with my enjoyment and impression of the game.

    Yes, D&D is group-centric, and I think it’s right that DDO is as well, limited solo difficulty aside. My take (I’d link a post on my site but the server has been down for 24+ hours) on the game is that the whole experience, rather than the group of friends playing a campaign on a weekly or so basis, is more akin to going to those RPGA conventions where you get in a queue to play someone’s adventure with strangers. A real-life PUG. Not the ones with pre-written characters, though, but the ones you get to bring your own. The adventure has a set time limit per the convention so you get with your group, make your introductions, and get to the action. If you go back the following month and see the same GM running an adventure, you know that he could be running a new one or he might be running the same one as last month. Do you repeat the adventure, even though you know how it plays out? Or do you smile, remember the fun you had last month fondly, then find an adventure from a different GM?

  3. Haunted says:

    Interesting. I Play DDO with my group of old D&D buddies who are now scattered all over the country. Once a week. I think this is the single best game I have played for type of group.

    It is as much a social experience as a game, just like sitting around the table. No hassles with trying to get everyone to the same starting city, or half the night wasted having to travel to the instance.

    If I am their traget audience they hit me perfectly.

  4. James says:

    Coming back to this post after 2 years. DDO did not fail. It is not dead. They are about to release their 9th expansion!

    I agree with Haunted. DDO is absolutely perfect for a premade group of real friends, or for a family to play together. You can pick up additional strangers in game for certain quests, but you have to be picky. Don’t group with people who will ruin the experience for you.

    Let me be clear: NO OTHER CURRENT MMO delivers such high-quality, enjoyable PvE experiences as DDO. LOTRO comes the closest with some of its instanced linear dungeons, but it is much closer to boring WOW style gameplay. The mechanics of DDO are completely different from other MMOs and make it much closer to the level of a good single player RPG.

    Its true that a random mix of people often makes for a bad experience, but this is just life. You have to select your friends wisely.

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