Solo grouping for hermits

It’s always interesting to talk about solo mmo players since the concept seems oxymoronic to some, while absolutely normal to others (I fall into the latter category). The oft-heard comment from the former group is “You should just play a single player game.”

Last night, I was playing Warhammer. I’d just jumped to a new (to me) tier and was loading up on quests, and I had a couple that took me out into the oRvR Lakes. Now I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that PvP isn’t my thing, but I went out there anyway. I got to the first quest objective and there were a bunch of friendlies there, capturing a Battlefield Objective.  So I hung out to help defend and get some Influence after the 3 minute timer counted down, then I headed to my next quest objective…and noticed that everyone else was running that way too.

Turns out they were headed off to take out the next Battlefield Objective, so I joined in the fight, helped them kill the guards (Destruction opted not to defend), hung out and got the capture after 3 minutes. Then I ran with them to the Keep, which was already under attack, and soon after we arrived it, too, fell.

Not once did I talk to these people. I wasn’t Grouped with a capital G with them, but I was working with them on a common goal.

So here’s my question. Was I, or wasn’t I, soloing last night? In my mind, I was because I was doing my own thing, which happened to coincide with what some other people were doing, and I never had to make any kind of social commitment to them. But you could argue that I wasn’t soloing because I was working with others, in which case I can somewhat see the “go play a single player game” argument. If you think of soloers as people who determinedly ignore other players, I can get behind your argument (to a limited degree). To me, a soloer is someone who resists making a formal commitment in terms of Joining a Group for the purpose of some united goal (but who will happily work alongside others for a common cause if the circumstances arise).

That kind of circumstance happened a lot more often in the old pre-everything-instanced days…I wonder if we’ve lost something there?

8 thoughts on “Solo grouping for hermits

  1. It still happens in low level WoW zones, where trial accounts *can’t* group with each other. People just help out, focus fire, buff each other, that sort of thing. As a confirmed soloer myself, I like to randomly buff strangers walking past, just because I can… but I don’t really group because I might have to leave at a moment’s notice. That happens when you have little children.

  2. As you say, it’s something that used to be common in the “old” days. I was gobsmacked when we started playing EQ2 and I discovered you couldn’t heal anyone if they’d started combat and you weren’t in their group (this mechanic was soon altered, as it happens).

    In that sense I think you’re absolutely right — WAR promotes working for a common goal in RvR areas and possibly even PQs (though in PQs you tend to do better if you’re grouped, I think), and to a lesser extent with the open group mechanic — *without* the formal group strings attached. Rather than dividing players, all I’ve ever seen is that easy-come/easy-go actually makes it EASIER to interact.

  3. I usually don’t consider myself as “soloing” unless I’m actually playing alone. When I hang out with others, whether formally grouped or not, I consider that group play. It was a lot more common to do that sort of informal grouping in the “olden days”, as you pointed out. In a lot of games today, if you’re not grouped, you’re kill-stealing or some such. I liked that about Warhammer, that you could just help out with PQ or something in RvR without formal grouping — even though if there was an Open Group, I usually joined. Didn’t say much (heck, my long-time online friends complain that I don’t talk, let alone strangers).

  4. Thanks for that link, Ysh. It was an interesting read for me, since a lot of what he talks about is stuff that I’ve talked about. Like belonging to more than one social group, or encouraging some time-sinks. I feel validated now. LOL

    @Esri — I *hate* the mechanic (and the attitude) in games these days where helping out a random stranger gets you in trouble because you’re robbing him/her of experience or something. I generally play melee classes so don’t have a buff to offer, or a heal to patch you up, but if you’re struggling I can help you kill that mob. But as often as not, people will curse at you for helping nowadays. Of course, if you don’t help, and they die, then they’ll curse at you for not helping.

    Easiest just to avoid people altogether. Which is a shame.

  5. Why I didn’t take to WAR was for some of those reasons, Pete. I didn’t enjoy the casual approach to PQ etc when it comes to being social, it was a very quiet game for me.

    When I see 2 or more players interacting in LotRO, I get curious to what they might be up to: RP, questing, whatever. WAR didn’t give me that feeling.

  6. Agreed with DM Osbon, when I tried WAR during its launch month it was hands-down the most anti-social MMORPG I’d ever been in. Ever. That and the most bland, boring PvE and broken world concept drove me away in a couple weeks. I haven’t totally written it off but I don’t feel it’s anywhere near ready for me to give it another shot yet.

  7. I’d say it doesn’t really matter if you say you were soloing or playing in a group…Either way, it validates that you were playing an MMO rather than a single-player game, which I think is what you were hoping to do in the first place with this post.

    I always enjoy an MMO’s feeling of having company around you, even while you’re off doing your own thing.

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