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Why some people play MMOs alone

Octagon7711Octagon7711 Member LegendaryPosts: 8,839
An interesting video about the loner who likes to play MMOs and why they may prefer being alone.  


In this classic GDC 2011 talk, BioWare Austin's Damion Schubert discusses the rationale for solo playstyles in MMORPGs, the need to cater to this playstyle from a business point of view, and the design intricacies of providing solo play without invalidating the 'massive' parts of your game design. 

15 Things ONLY SOLO Players Will Understand

With all the games that emphasize finding friends and communicating, it's not easy being a solo player. Whether you're playing alone in a multiplayer title, locked out of activities meant for pre-made teams or just trying to find an ending that won't disappoint you in single-player titles.

"We all do the best we can based on life experience, point of view, and our ability to believe in ourselves." - Naropa      "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  SR Covey

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Comments

  • GruugGruug Member RarePosts: 1,708
    It is pretty simple for me. When I played mmo's I could not always play with friends or family due to work hours or such. Therefore, I found myself playing alone and liking it at times. Not to say I did not like to play with others but it was usually the most fun when I could play with people I know. When I hit things playing solo that I could not do alone, I either waited for my friends or stopped playing.

    AlBQuirkyGameolioDanAlverantNarug

    Let's party like it is 1863!

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,188
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    HuntrezzNyghthowlerGameolioDanAgent_JosephAlverantHatefullcraftseekerWaanMisterZebubTokkenand 1 other.
  • Riotact007Riotact007 Member UncommonPosts: 235
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.
    HuntrezzAlBQuirkydeniterScotsunandshadowZenJellyNarug
  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,188
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.


    Because sometimes you want to be near people but not talk to anyone. Single player games cant provide that.

    Also MMOs have a particular playstyle that single player games dont have - example solo PvP/PK - cant do that in single player games.
    HuntrezzConstantineMerusIselinInteritusGameolioDanGruntyAgent_JosephHatefullWaanPhaserlightand 3 others.
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 5,417
    I solo MMOs most of the time these days. I did a lot in the past, too, but these days my desire to "interact" has dwindled greatly.

    I enjoyed grouping when fights were tough and you had downtime between major pulls. Players actually talked! (gasp) This no longer exists in MMORPGs.

    I sign onto an MMO and like the choice of interacting or not. I enjoy run-by healing. I enjoy asking if someone needs help with a fight. I despise the "get the end as quickly as possible and on to the next one" mentality that is so pervasive now. How can anyone "enjoy" constant speed running?

    If I feel like "avoiding people", MMOs are not the game I start up ;)
    KyleranmmolouNarug

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


    (And now Burger King has MEATLESS burgers!)

  • PeskyPesky Member UncommonPosts: 154
    I'm an extreme introvert! I love being alone!

    My aversion to people means I would much prefer to play single player games. But single player games (ones that I actually want to play) are becoming very rare these days.

    So in desperation, I'm forced to play MMOs. But I try to make them as much like a single player game as I can. I turn off all chat functions so that nobody can speak to me, I check all options that allow me to automatically decline group/guild/trade/whatever invitations (ArcheAge is one of the best games for this).

    And I religiously avoid games that try to force me to group or play with others. This includes games that set the difficulty so high, that you can't complete content solo.

    But I think I'm at the extreme end of the anti-social gamer spectrum. Oddly enough though (from reading the comments on MMOs that try to force grouping), I think there are more people who would rather play solo, than with other people.
    Narug
  • InteritusInteritus Member UncommonPosts: 236
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.
    I like to play with friends. But because of the worlds created. If there were MMO's that were identical to their online counterpart, simply scaled for a single person, I would be all over that. Very few single player games come close to the expansive world of many MMO's out there.  Or the customisation. 
  • t0nydt0nyd Member UncommonPosts: 504
     IMO, Roleplaying just doesnt work alone. Yes, there is a genre of single player rpg's but I dont actually consider them an rpg. I consider role to be acting and not combat role. When actually roleplaying I am playing a character and not a "insert class name". From decades of pen and paper play to muds to graphical rpgs, the term role playing game has changed drastically. I think we have all be in the, what is an mmo debate. I think that, what is a role playing game, is a much more interesting debate. This is probably why role playing servers exist.

     If these games where role playing games, then what is the need for role playing servers? Is it because people dont role play? If people dont role play, why do we can it an rpg? 

     I play mmorpg to attempt and fail at role play. Usually I end up making character builds and attempting content thats supposedly to difficult to solo. I enjoyed trying to solo in eq1. I enjoy difficult content that usually doesnt exist in a single player game. I enjoy PvP and player interaction. Even when I am attempting to play a grumpy hermit druid, I enjoy player interaction. I like the concept of being useful or needed by others. I enjoy the concept of needing others even though I may and will try to not need them at times.


     

     
    ScotOctagon7711
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 5,417
    Interitus said:
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.
    I like to play with friends. But because of the worlds created. If there were MMO's that were identical to their online counterpart, simply scaled for a single person, I would be all over that. Very few single player games come close to the expansive world of many MMO's out there.  Or the customisation. 
    ...Or the world interaction, other than fight and kill.  MMOs have emotes. Single player games don't.

    Another thought I had while reading this thread again:
    I don't play online board games, either, even though I love board games. My Steam library and X-Box 360 have quite a few board game adaptations yet I never "log into" their lobbies to play a match. I've always envied players that don't even think twice and just log in, find opponents, and play.

    Online differs so much for me compared to face to face. Am I "alone" here, too? :lol:
    t0nyd

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


    (And now Burger King has MEATLESS burgers!)

  • deniterdeniter Member RarePosts: 1,344
    Most of the time i like to play solo, but will group up for some quests or mobs. I'd say it's maybe 80-20 for playing solo.

    I don't think 'solo only' or 'forced grouping' -kind of MMOs work very well. Versatility is one of the strengths of a good MMO game.
    GameolioDanOctagon7711
  • t0nydt0nyd Member UncommonPosts: 504
    edited October 2018
    AlBQuirky said:
    Interitus said:
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.
    I like to play with friends. But because of the worlds created. If there were MMO's that were identical to their online counterpart, simply scaled for a single person, I would be all over that. Very few single player games come close to the expansive world of many MMO's out there.  Or the customisation. 
    ...Or the world interaction, other than fight and kill.  MMOs have emotes. Single player games don't.

    Another thought I had while reading this thread again:
    I don't play online board games, either, even though I love board games. My Steam library and X-Box 360 have quite a few board game adaptations yet I never "log into" their lobbies to play a match. I've always envied players that don't even think twice and just log in, find opponents, and play.

    Online differs so much for me compared to face to face. Am I "alone" here, too? :lol:
     Online can also be freeing. Its not easy to look at your friend across the table and say "fuck you, thats my +1 dagger, I attack.". Playing evil is fun but difficult in person. Lawful Evil  is less difficult but chaotic evil is a bitch to play. Its not so difficult to backstab a player character online.
    AlBQuirky
  • AllerleirauhAllerleirauh Member UncommonPosts: 496
    DMKano said:
    Many play MMOs to just relax and escape all human drama, hence no talking or socializing with other players. 

    If you spend all day dealing with people, its nice to escape people after work 



    Single player games are better suited to these people. Why play an MMO if you want to avoid people? I only ever solo on an mmo if I can't commit for a long period at a time.
    I'm a solo player, well, mostly solo. I usually play with a couple people I know in RL; I like playing MMOs over a solo game because I like showing off my achievements, gear, cosmetic items, etc. Achievements are just not as enjoyable in a single player game, at least for me.
    Mayor_of_Butts
    Currently Playing: Path of Exile

    "I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." ~ C. S. Lewis
  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 12,908
    I do both. As a matter of fact my habitual way of playing MMOs is to do both in roughly equal quantities. In games that have LFG PUGging I play my PvE by solo questing while queued. The only downside of that is that I used to outlevel my solo questing zones quite often but these days with scalable content in many MMOs that's no longer an issue.

    And the reason I play that way has very little to do with how I feel about other players and people in general and everything to do with efficiency and challenge as well as using the full range of my skills. Soloing means you never have to wait for anyone else to be ready so you can just move along at whatever pace feels right for you - that's a good thing. But the downside is that you never get to use the skills and synergies that are only there for group play so that's where grouping comes in and the main reason I do that.

    I'm also quite fond of informal grouping by proximity the way many MMOs have started doing (Warhammer Online, Rift, GW2, ESO, etc.) That, IMO, is MMOs at their best. You work as a group or don't when and if you feel like it as you drive by events. No fuss, no muss. No "what crappy spec are you using for your DPS to suck so bad?" nor "your tanking sucks, dude;" no raid leader deciding who gets to roll on loot. In other words, none of the obnoxious bossy shit that turns so many people off to formal grouping.

    IMO, the soloers, whether they do nothing but solo or those like me who like to mix it up, are the normal ones. It's the "it's an MMO so you MUST GROUP" people (including developers) who are the weirdo psycopaths that need therapy.
    KyleranAllerleirauhOG_ZorvanConstantineMerusScotAlBQuirkyWaanNarug
    “Microtransactions? In a single player role-playing game? Are you nuts?” 
    ― CD PROJEKT RED
  • OG_ZorvanOG_Zorvan Member EpicPosts: 1,855
    I solo all mmos. Partly due to mental conditions, partly due to the fact I just hate people.
    AlBQuirkyHariken


    MMORPG.COM took away my swinging cheerleader butt .gif.

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 27,069
    Iselin said:


    IMO, the soloers, whether they do nothing but solo or those like me who like to mix it up, are the normal ones. It's the "it's an MMO so you MUST GROUP" people (including developers) who are the weirdo psycopaths that need therapy.
    I think I lean toward this.

    I'm an extrovert, I get energy off of large groups of people. Love large parties (read: "large parties" not "large, loud drunkfests") can hang in a group of people I don't know and be perfectly comfortable.

    But the idea that I must always be in the company of people is absurd. In real life I do enjoy my personal time and don't reel like I always have to be "with" people.

    There's something a bit too intense for my liking about the "you always have to be with someone" group.

    I wonder if they are trying to fill some void, or compensate for something?
    IselinOG_ZorvanAlBQuirkysunandshadowNarug



  • ElidienElidien Member RarePosts: 1,385
    Sovrath said:
    Iselin said:


    IMO, the soloers, whether they do nothing but solo or those like me who like to mix it up, are the normal ones. It's the "it's an MMO so you MUST GROUP" people (including developers) who are the weirdo psycopaths that need therapy.
    I think I lean toward this.

    I'm an extrovert, I get energy off of large groups of people. Love large parties (read: "large parties" not "large, loud drunkfests") can hang in a group of people I don't know and be perfectly comfortable.

    But the idea that I must always be in the company of people is absurd. In real life I do enjoy my personal time and don't reel like I always have to be "with" people.

    There's something a bit too intense for my liking about the "you always have to be with someone" group.

    I wonder if they are trying to fill some void, or compensate for something?
    I approach MMO's as solo so I can control who I group with and spend time with. I will group up anytime with people I know, real-life friends, guildmates, etc.... and I am comfortable with them and know them. Its strangers I do not like and often that forced grouping with strangers is in a context or scenario that is high stress - like PUGs to clear dungeons or raid finder or whatever.

    I like choosing who I play with and who I socialize with it and hate having it done for me.
  • Panther2103Panther2103 Member EpicPosts: 5,268
    Sovrath said:
    Iselin said:


    IMO, the soloers, whether they do nothing but solo or those like me who like to mix it up, are the normal ones. It's the "it's an MMO so you MUST GROUP" people (including developers) who are the weirdo psycopaths that need therapy.
    I think I lean toward this.

    I'm an extrovert, I get energy off of large groups of people. Love large parties (read: "large parties" not "large, loud drunkfests") can hang in a group of people I don't know and be perfectly comfortable.

    But the idea that I must always be in the company of people is absurd. In real life I do enjoy my personal time and don't reel like I always have to be "with" people.

    There's something a bit too intense for my liking about the "you always have to be with someone" group.

    I wonder if they are trying to fill some void, or compensate for something?
    See I learn towards this for the opposite reason. I'm an introvert and hate large groups of people, but in MMO's I get to choose whether or not I go out in a group. Sometimes I feel like soloing, sometimes I feel like getting a group together and grinding while chatting. It's not always one or the other. 

    Forced grouping would be a major turn off from a game for me. 
  • ConstantineMerusConstantineMerus Member EpicPosts: 2,690
    Forced grouping all available contents is just as lame as making all contents soloable. If you want a world, you need to have both. Your first clue would be the world... you know! 
    KyleranAlBQuirky
    Constantine, The Console Poster

    • "One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves." - Carl Jung
    • Song of the Week: Blackfield by Blackfield from Blackfield (2005)
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  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 7,039
    Some? Don't you mean most?
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 5,743
    " Hi! I'm Telly Savalas. And if you're like me, you like to be near the action. And when there isn't any action, then you gotta make your own. That's why I carry the Players with Yourself Card."

    - SNL, 1988

    You can't always get a group, you don't always have time for one, and some groups suck. 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 27,069
    Forced grouping all available contents is just as lame as making all contents soloable. If you want a world, you need to have both. Your first clue would be the world... you know! 
    I just don't believe in the idea of "forced" anything in games.

    Player buys "a game" then they abide by the rules. It's not forced unless someone is "forcing them to purchase the game and to play it."

    It's like someone going into a French restaurant and saying "they're forcing me to eat french food!"


    AlBQuirky



  • GaladournGaladourn Member RarePosts: 1,802
    alone as in not grouping or what? MMOs are full of people (well, except if you are playing on a dead server). You can ignore them though.
  • IncomparableIncomparable Member UncommonPosts: 1,112
    I can tell you why from my point of view and may be that relates to other people as well.

    Since its a simple logical explanation.

    Its more efficient to organize things yourself and do solo content rather than waiting on a group patiently.

    Which is why things like group finder kind of removes that excuse since a person can start their solo content while qued for group content to pick up rare drops so that they can do the solo content quicker.

    The problem is ultimately that there is a grind. So people are obsessed with that grind rather than the journey.

    But how can you enjoy the journey when the progress is vertical and you have to progress once zone to the next rather than horizontal where people have access to all content and just do it for the content.

    Then the idea of content being more about quality would come into play.

    Then at the same time the game wouldnt be as addictive for those with addictive personalities trying to do the grind as 'effecient' as possible and playing solo etc

    Unfortunately thigns like wow clones are designed to be enticing and draw greater appeal not just to players wanting to play in some fantasy but also investors that follow the same formula of making a wow clone grind fest.

    Then if we could may be get some nice big producers working on games with more horizonatal progrression and more fun quests and fun content then not only would the game experience be moer rewarding, imo, but also it wouldnt target those with addictive personalities to support something that is basially not of great value. Its just a business model to make more grind/mediocre content and its not really worth the time to go through that to reach 'end game'.

    I am not against the journey, but if it feels like a grind to begin with, then its a bad game. A lot of games do that. The reason why they get away with it so well even though the content is mediocre is becuase of the 'beautiful' packagin. As said before its a business model that they know works, and they design a game world in such a way, and then fill it with a dead world (but beautiful enough to overshadow the static) of many quests.

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • ConstantineMerusConstantineMerus Member EpicPosts: 2,690
    Sovrath said:
    Forced grouping all available contents is just as lame as making all contents soloable. If you want a world, you need to have both. Your first clue would be the world... you know! 
    I just don't believe in the idea of "forced" anything in games.

    Player buys "a game" then they abide by the rules. It's not forced unless someone is "forcing them to purchase the game and to play it."

    It's like someone going into a French restaurant and saying "they're forcing me to eat french food!"


    Well I didn't mean force in that sense. But let's go with your example: It's like going into a French restaurant alone but their force you to sit and dine with others. 

    To correct what I said; a virtual world needs solo activities and group activities. Both should be meaningful and rewarding. 

    I'm not saying all games should be like this of course. But this is one of the factors of a perfect MMO in my opinion. 
    Constantine, The Console Poster

    • "One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves." - Carl Jung
    • Song of the Week: Blackfield by Blackfield from Blackfield (2005)
    • Currently Playing: Devil May Cry 1
    • Favorite Drink: Bruichladdich Black Art 5th 1992
    • Gaming Timeline: Arcade, Commodore 64, Amiga 500, SEGA, IBM, PS, PC, PS2, More PCs, PS3, Giant PC, PS4, No More PCs, PS4 Pro.
  • GruugGruug Member RarePosts: 1,708
    t0nyd said:
     IMO, Roleplaying just doesnt work alone. Yes, there is a genre of single player rpg's but I dont actually consider them an rpg. I consider role to be acting and not combat role. When actually roleplaying I am playing a character and not a "insert class name". From decades of pen and paper play to muds to graphical rpgs, the term role playing game has changed drastically. I think we have all be in the, what is an mmo debate. I think that, what is a role playing game, is a much more interesting debate. This is probably why role playing servers exist.

     If these games where role playing games, then what is the need for role playing servers? Is it because people dont role play? If people dont role play, why do we can it an rpg? 

     I play mmorpg to attempt and fail at role play. Usually I end up making character builds and attempting content thats supposedly to difficult to solo. I enjoyed trying to solo in eq1. I enjoy difficult content that usually doesnt exist in a single player game. I enjoy PvP and player interaction. Even when I am attempting to play a grumpy hermit druid, I enjoy player interaction. I like the concept of being useful or needed by others. I enjoy the concept of needing others even though I may and will try to not need them at times.


     

     

    ANY game that you play is technically a "roleplaying" game. If you roleplay a loner fighting the "good fight" it is the same if you are playing as a party doing the same thing. As the loner you may not share that role with others but you certainly share it with yourself. And makes no difference if you are doing it in a formal MMORPG or single player game.

    Let's party like it is 1863!

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