With or against, it’s still more than a queue

Tobold, after all these years of blogging, has finally figured out that it’s more fun to troll WoW fans than it is to provide for them. Welcome to the club.

My trolling aside, there is one thing I would like to expand on. In this post, Tobold predicts a solo-only WoW in 2020 (reasonable, given Blizzards update pace). Half take it for what it is, the other half can’t wait for the day. I welcomed Tobold to the MMO niche, to which Tobold replied:

I’d argue that wanting to play *with* other players is a different niche than wanting to play *against* them. So while I’m not moving into your niche, maybe we can consider ourselves as neighbors.

Now there are few interesting bits here. For one, you can’t play against people in a game like Darkfall without also playing with them. And I don’t just mean playing with my clan against another, but even the clan we are fighting. We are fighting a known group rather than whatever team some queue matched us up against. Rivalries happen, forum wars become an active part of the game, and victory or defeat mean more than just a +1 on a scoreboard. That is massive multiplayer interaction, the very raw and basic principle that separates an MMORPG from a single player game or some online lobby. It happens whether we are talking about a clan war in Darkfall, a market war in EVE, or a friendly-but-not competition in ATitD. Regardless of the rule-set, competition against others makes for great content, content MMOs deliver in spades.

Random, cross-server dungeon pugging is technically group content, but only technically. It generally totally lacks any of the social aspects of group content, and as Tobold’s post shows, many wait for the day where they can replace those anonymous humans with bots, if only because bots don’t go afk, don’t play ‘bad’, and don’t ninja-loot. And while I don’t want or need those type of players in whatever MMO I’m playing, there is no doubt a market for them as WoW has shown. A market much larger than that for those who do wish to play with and against others. But at that point, we are no longer talking about an MMO, at least not by my definition.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Darkfall Online, MMO design, PvP, Rant, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to With or against, it’s still more than a queue

  1. Neuromanse says:

    Umm, no need to wait for year 2020 and replicants, solo-only WoW will be out this xmas already when Diablo III is released (unless it’s delayed – I wouldn’t be surprised, this is Blizzard we’re talking about). It’ll use some version or variation of the dungeon finder where you can form pick-up groups – if you want – to grind trash mobs and take down bosses so you can hopefully receive some new and shiny epics, which will allow you to grind the next boss with yet another pick-up group. Or you can choose to solo the content if you really hate other players in your multiplayer game.

    But I’ll be just as “massively multiplayer” as WoW is right now, the only difference is that whereas WoW uses the old world (where no one really plays after leveling) as the chat lobby, D3 will copy the old Guild Wars style, with smaller instances where you can log in by yourself and you’re teleported to the real game after you’ve formed your group or when you decide to solo the content.

    Which is all fine and well. It’ll be a great game I’m sure. But it will not be massively multiplayer game and it won’t be even marketed as one, either, but the funny thing is that it’ll be pretty much just as “massively” as the current version of WoW is.

  2. bonedead says:

    lol @ atitd

    I agree for the most part. …..But….. What about the random group you’ve been placed into, upon successfully slaying the dragons and whatnot, deciding to queue again as a whole?

    On the PvP side, at least arena, once you’ve progressed quite a bit the matches become less random due to fighting those with a similar rating. At the highest of levels it could be compared to playing in a tournament.

    Of course there’s no, fuck those guys, we’re gonna go break their shit! Which can be quite fun. But there also isn’t the possible negative outcome of that freedom, someone breaking your shit (and taking your phats if you were wearin it).


    • SynCaine says:

      Right, examples exist, but it’s not the norm. Back during UO/AC days, it WAS the norm. I mean, someone soloing was like “hey, way to go against the grain and play hard-mode man”!

      • bonedead says:

        I’ve always been an admirer of those types and strive to be one when the game allows it. Even if big gay WoW, I always try and kill the elites I run into solo just because it can be a challenge. I R HONORABLE WARRIOR

  3. sid67 says:

    Grouping is definitely an obstacle in MMOs. I would say that 70-80% (or higher) of players struggle with finding other people to group with regularly.

    The other 20-30% (of which I would include you, Syncaine) don’t have this problem. They have somehow mastered the knack for making “friends” on the internet or have pre-existing relationships that transcend games.

    No other single quality about any game will make or break your opinion about it than the people you play with. If you can’t group effectively (for whatever reason) then your online experience suffers.

    I’m not going to get into specifics about why the other 70-80% struggle. There are lots of reasons: online introverts, off-peak hours, social inept, poorly skilled, unable to use vent, and so on. And perhaps the most common — simply unable to find a group of like-minded individuals that fit their gaming style.

    In fairness to Blizzard, they at least recognizes this as a problem and chooses to address it by either a) taking the group out of the equation or b) matchmaking random strangers together with things like Dungeon Finder and cross-server Battlegrounds.

    Not a good solution — but at least it’s a solution.

    I’m more inclined towards seeing better tools created to help people find each other. Something like Match.com for gaming geeks.

    I know from personal experience that as a West-coaster, one of the things that has always bugged the shit out of me are east coasters who play on West Coast servers. They like it because it starts later at night but god forbid if it starts “too late” after us normal human beings on the West Coast have time to get home from work and eat dinner.

    I’ve also got the theory that WoW guilds who start raiding at like 7:00 West Coast are more mature on average because the high school kiddies can’t raid.

    But I digress.. The point I am making is that “Grouping” is harder for the average player. Maybe not bloggers or even blog commenters — but certainly the 70% that stay lurking in the shadows.

    • Anonymous says:

      The question is – why has the MMO genre attracted these players in the first place?

      If I’m someone that doesn’t like or have time or want to group, what about the title “MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER” attracts me?

      • sid67 says:

        Your assumption is that these players DON’T want to group. I think that’s true in some cases, but the far majority of players WANT to group and can’t for some reason.

        The obstacle could be time constraints (they work during peak MMO hours, for example). Or, more likely, it could be that they lack the skills to find other like-minded players.

        It’s not for lack of WANTING to group but for lack of SUCCEEDING at it.

        So the better question is.. what can be done to make them more successful at it?

        The approach that Blizzard takes is to just automate it and throw random strangers together while hoping for the best. As I said above, that’s a solution — just not a very good one.

        At a certain point (and I think you are seeing this with WoW), some players get so frustrated by the process that they have given up on the MULTIPLAYER part altogether.

        • Neuromanse says:

          I really believe that there are a lot of WoW players who really do not like to group at all. Other players are just inconvenience and either help you or slow you down on your way to get better loot for yourself.

          When they’re playing WoW, they’re not looking for a great multiplayer experience, they’re playing the game to “win” it, to get a higher score than in the last session they played – a part of the reason why DPS classes are the most populated in the current Diku games – it’s easy to compare the damage that you did the last time and the damage that you do now after you have a new set of epic gear.

          These people do not want to group unless they really have to, and then only to get something for themselves again.

          I mean, how many WoW players you know that want to level up with a random group of people? Heck, even players who belong in larger guilds prefer to solo through all that content, they don’t want to do it even with a guild group.

        • sid67 says:

          I agree that there are some players that fit in this category — particularly players burned on the grouping experience — but I think it’s a small minority.

          After all, Mr. Anonymous’s question is a valid one.. why would the MMO genre attract players uninterested in the Multiplayer experiences?

          There are better single-player games for RPG enthusiasts.

          No — I have to believe that people start playing an MMO because they WANT to Group and then reach some obstacle that prevents them. Then, rather than working to overcome the obstacle, they dither back to going it solo.

          If you buy into that idea, then it makes perfect sense that WoW is more successful than other MMOs that aren’t as supportive of solo play.

          Not because they don’t want to Group — but because they can’t overcome whatever obstacle exists with Grouping.

          Now — I think there are two ways to look at that problem.

          The first is to see this as a problem to overcome. How do you remove the obstacle?

          The other approach is to say that the obstacle is healthy. That having that obstacle makes the group more meaningful.

          I don’t entirely buy the second approach but I see the value in strong Group relationships. That’s why I don’t think DF or BGs are good solutions.

        • Neuromanse says:

          Why would the MMO genre attract players uninterested in the multiplayer experiences? Because these WoW players are not interested in MMO genre or multiplayer experiences, they’re not in there to play massively multiplayer game, they’re playing WoW because, well, it isn’t one. (They’re not interested in roleplaying aspect either, because, well, there isn’t one, except stats and leveling and if those are enough to make a game an rpg, then Call of Duty was the best selling rpg of the last year.)

          A diku-style MMO game is an excellent platform for achievers and WoW is arguably the best diku-style MMO there is. Whereas a traditional single-player action-rpg eventually ends, a diku-mmo is a neverending game; you’ll always have some better items in the game that you want and which could use to make your character more powerful. Diku-mmo has more items you can get than what would make even sense to create for a single-player game. You can collect a lot more achievements than there are in single-player games. WoW has a lot more achievable stuff than a great single-player rpg would ever have. And you can achieve most of these things in WoW alone, just like you would when you played the single-player game.

          That’s what attracts a large number of players. Making your numbers grow, not other people in the game.

        • SynCaine says:

          Basically, as someone already suggested, WoW is Diablo 2 but without a ‘final’ boss. You can keep collecting shinies for years, and more recently, you can now also do it without that annoying ‘grouping’ and ‘social’ thing getting in your way.

      • Neuromanse says:

        Crapicus… let’s try that again.

        Bartle test: Multi-player appeal to the Achiever

      • sid67 says:

        More to add… Different people have different comfort levels with “Grouping”. Some people are chatty and have to get on vent and yak-yak it up.

        Others see things like vent as a tool and would rather not spend hours listening to two or three chatty guys give inane moronic commentary about the movie they saw last night.

        That’s part of why Grouping is so difficult. You need to find a group of people you match with at a “game level” and at a “social level” that you enjoy.

  4. smee, T says:



  5. Jim says:

    I think Tobold’s new found passion for troll posts has more to do with this… http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s18tobold&r=36

    No better way than to get those clicks rising than taunting WoW tweens.

  6. Leave and questions that you might have in the comments below.. . . . . Most people answer that question by making a distinction between players that prefer PvP fighting other players and players that prefer PvE fighting against the computer . The temptation is to compare World of Warcraft WoW against WAR because that is where most players would be going from. The conventional wisdom is that a game like WoW is more PvE focused than WAR and therefore is a better match for people that like to play against the machine.

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