Saylah and Pete both had great posts recently about the importance of soloing in an MMORPG. Many people don't seem to understand why some of us like to solo in an MMORPG. After all, they say, if you are just going to play by yourself most of the time, why not just play Neverwinter Nights or Oblivion or some other single player RPG? Well, for me, there are many reasons why the single player RPG option isn't as attractive. I enjoy solo play in MMOs:
- Because there is a real economy with real players buying and selling things. You can simulate that in a single player RPG, but most don't. And knowing a real person is running around with something you made makes it far more rewarding than knowing the game deleted the item based on some random event and gave you the money, even if the end result appears the same.
- Because in games like EverQuest II with living guilds, I can contribute to the growth of my guild, even if I'm doing the work (adventure/tradeskill writs, particularly difficult quest lines, etc.) alone.
- The economy and living guilds are two ways that people can play "solo", while still playing together. Many other features in MMOs can be created that allow people to essentially "play" alone but still leverage the multiplayer nature of the genre to provide an experience single player games can't. Some examples would be: architect features in MMORPGs that allow people to design their own content, player-writable books, fluff RP features that let players play music or coordinate emotes to create customized 'dance' routines or players, and EverQuest II-style Live Events or Warhammer-style Public Quests that provide a goal for your faction, server, or region that everyone can work towards (even if they are alone).
- Because single player RPGs don't have chat rooms.
- Because trading in-game items I've earned with a computer algorithm isn't as fun.
- Because MMORPGs evolve over time; single player games get a few small expansion packs for 8000 Microsoft points a piece and then die.
- Because the game world seems more alive when there are other people running around in something other than a predetermined pattern.
- Because I do like playing WITH other people, even if I might not be "grouped" with them in combat. I might craft for them, I might help them out in chat by telling them where they need to go, I might check on something at the auction house, or grab an item that someone needs and deliver it to them since I'm on my way there anyway. All of these things are fun, and impossible in a single player RPG.
- Because in groups, everyone always skips the cut scenes. It was frustrating in Guild Wars because I was actually interested in the story. Everyone is in such a rush to get going that those of us who actually want to read the quest text or watch the cut scenes and enjoy the story are left behind. The MMO game world seems to be dominated by so-called "Achievers", so those of us in the literate minority often have to go it alone.
- Because sometimes I do want to group and I have the opportunity to do so if I choose. Most "single-player" or offline RPGs don't have cooperative modes.
- Because sometimes we don't have a choice: I love MMORPGs, and I do enjoy playing with others, but my wife recently gave me baby. I haven't had time to play anything yet, aside from a little Fable 2 while the baby napped on my belly. But when I do, I'm not going to be able to pause our EQ2 guild raid because my baby dropped some phat loot of her own. So I'll probably end up soloing. And, eventually, when I find time to game with others, I want that progress to count.
... and many, many more reasons.
What are your reasons for wanting to go it alone in a "multiplayer" game?