The other day because of twitter, I found myself thinking about the whole solo vs. group content found in MMOs. In particular how much content of each type is enough.
My mind spins when I try to discuss the topic with people, because everyone is different. We all have our own backgrounds, predispositions, likes, dislikes, and feels about what is the “right” way to make an MMO.Â Thus we pick side and try to fight for it, for example; I cry out for people that only want solo content in their MMO.Â I tell myself they don’t real know what they want, they only think they know.Â Of course on the flip side I wail in anguish when I hear someone claim MMOs should not offer any solo content except for a tutorial.
So, what do I expect from most new games in terms of types of content?
I expect that most MMOs will follow the leader (wow) and craft a game that provides a solo path all the way to the max level. Along the way I expect there to be some content (dungeons, bosses, quests, crafting) that will require me to interact and maybe even group, in order to complete.
And what do I think a dev. should do?
Look at your “end game”. What type of interesting content do you plan to offer there?Â Now mirror that type of content along the leveling up path. If your end game only offers grouping content, then I believe you should find a way to get players grouping as they level up.Â You should so in subtle but rewarding ways. WAR’s public quests, and open parties would be an example.
What is my dream for future games?
I want solo, duo, group, and raid content to be available and rewarding over the entire span of my character’s life.
I would love to log on my second or third night of play be able to choose between some solo tasks, getting into a group, or even joining a raid; all of them being rewarding in some way to my character’s growth.Â Choices of activities that vary between a 15 minutes and multiple hours.
On the flip side on my 100th day of play I want those same options to be available, and still be rewarding.
Having rewarding options / choices is the key.
And how should they do that?
If you have PvP introduce it early to the players. Make it easy to get in and out of.
Introduce grouping early. Again, while the meta design might need so tweaks, WAR’s open party and public quests systems are a good start.
Introduce the idea of harder content that requires more than a solo player has. Provide NPC to fill in for players.Â Guild Wars did this and while then even improved upon it, Iam guessing it could be done better.
Provide Raid level content early. Don’t wait until max level, don’t wait until half max level.
Make it easy to get get into such a raid. Maybe use a variation of the PvP queuing system some games.
And of course provide enough content that a player can do alone, to keep them busy.
Ultimately I think games need a balanced variety of content, and players (and designers) need to accept the fact that not everyone gets to see and do everything.