Horror of the Masses

People are scary.

I am someone who loves playing Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games, but at the same time, I – for the most part – play these games on my own. I do this for a variety of reasons, but it generally break it down to “Raiding and PvP sucks, and people are, on the whole, a horrible lot”.

Okay, that isn’t entirely true. I greatly enjoyed being a main healer in raids in “World of Warcraft”, as well as playing in Battlegrounds in WoW years ago, because I enjoyed the challenge. But those spaces, those encounters, also made it very clear that playing with – and more importantly, being dependent upon – others, is a really horrible experience.

So, I choose to depend upon myself alone, now. What a shock: I find I enjoy these inherently social games way more playing solo, than I ever did when I played it in the more accepted, social mode. Because I want to play in a living, breathing world… I just don’t want to have to deal with the mouth-breathers and jerks who also live there!

Stand in the middle of any major hub, in any popular MMORPG, and read the Chat. Watch your fellow players around you. Really pay attention to who it is you are sharing that game with. Then ask yourself:

  • Would you accept this behavior in your ‘Real Life’ social group?
  • Would you accept this language and attitude at a workplace, if they were your employees?
  • Would you accept a friend acting this way in front of your Grandmother?

Then remember this: 15 to 20 years ago, you couldn’t even do basic questing without these people.

Now then, not all MMORPGs are as bad as others. For example, the vast majority of people chatting in “Lord of the Rings Online” are doing so in a mostly acceptable manner. Furthermore, most people playing in an MMORPG are not posting to chat at all, and are actually perfectly reasonable, not-horrible folk. Or at least that is what most people would argue regarding this discussion.

In my experience, in most popular MMORPGs anyway, that argument would be wrong. Just saying.

Look, we are all individuals, and as such, we all end up playing in our own, unique ways. Which also means some people will be horrible, and others will want to avoid those people like the plague. So here’s a simple solution: Those horrible people can go take a long walk off of a short pier, and leave the rest of us alone.

More to the point, I think people – including game developers – need to realize that “Massively Multiplayer” does not mean “Grouping Required”. It means these games are massive in scope, and multiplayer by nature, like one might find in a Battle Royale game. You can play those solo, or as a part of a team, right?

So given that MMORPGs should not require grouping or raiding in any way – endgame or not – the best solution would be to develop MMORPGs from the ground up with scaling content. Much like some MMOs will allow you to play in any zone, regardless of your level, and the game will scale you to the proper level, they could also scale all content to be able to be done solo, in a group, or as a raid, even. And just as these games with scaled leveling give out rewards commensurate with your actual level, games with scaled content could provide rewards commensurate with the number of people you played with.

For example, if you did a quest solo, the reward for that gear would only benefit the player themselves. And if that same quest were done in a group, the reward would be exactly like the solo version, only said gear would have an added stat that benefits everyone else in your group, too, such as a minor heal-over-time, or stat boost). And finally, if the quest were done in a raid, the gear rewarded would have a bonus ability that affects the player themselves, any group they are in, as well as any raid they join.

Keep in mind, these would be minor boosts, to be sure, but when you take into account little boosts Group and Raid focused players could get from all of their individual gear pieces, you would think the allure of such a system to these players would be obvious.

Let’s say Jimmy likes to raid, and as such, joins a raiding guild in some MMORPG. With this system in mind, when a new expansion came through, Jimmy and his guild could level together – gaining gear rewards that have buffs to individual, group, or raid-play. Then if for some reason Jimmy chose to run with a different Raid group, or only a normal group, he brings gear that instantly makes him valuable to the rest of the raid or group.

But now let’s say Jimmy likes to play alone. They could then solo all of the quests, dungeons, and even so-called raid instances, earning gear therein that was just the same as that earned by those who did that content in a group or raid, just without the group-only or raid-only added bonus. This would mean Jimmy could still earn a spot in an endgame group or raid, just through having decent gear, but would likely be picked last, behind someone who had group or raid buffs to bring to the table.

That seems fair, especially since many solo players – like myself – wouldn’t be looking to join endgame groups or raids, anyway. Plus our having decent gear, otherwise locked to only group or raid content otherwise, doesn’t affect anyone else. Because, as I said before…

People are scary.

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