MMO Soloing: A bedtime story

As a confirmed soloer, I get subjected to a certain amount of bs from the grouping contingent. One of the most frequent quips these people fling at me is “If you’re going to solo, go play a single player game.”

Now no amount to logical explanation has been able to push these folks off-message. As far as their concerned, people who solo are a) stupid for paying a monthly fee if we’re not going to group, and b) ruining the games.

So instead of logic, I’m going to tell a quick little story before I put the weekend to bed and start another long work week.

I was exploring the western shore of Lake Evendim tonight. It’s a place I’ve never been before. I wasn’t hunting for anything more dangerous than the boat back to the eastern shore, which I’d been told existed somewhere. I was staying along the water’s edge, dodging anything mean looking up on the slopes above. Then I saw a large white boulder behind some bushes. An outcropping of platinum! As a jeweler, I need platinum, so without thinking I charged straight through the bush and tried right-clicking on the platinum to harvest it.

Only it wasn’t an outcropping of platinum at all, it was a huge bear. It hit me a few times as I parsed what was going on (the bush was still obstructing my view). By the time I got my wits about me and starting fighting back I was at 50% health, and the bear was yellow to me. I hadn’t eaten anything, had no consumable buffs up; as I said, I wasn’t looking to fight. I knew this was going to be mighty close.

Then a shaft of light came flying over my shoulder. Another attacker! I shuffled around the bear so I could see and… no, not another attacker! A dwarf named Grain, and he was hitting the bear with some kind of magic. Next thing I know, my morale was surging upwards, and the bear lay dead at my feet. I turned to Grain, bowed low. He bowed back, then opened a book, read from it…and vanished.

This kind of totally random and unexpected encounter is why I played MMOs even though I mostly solo (it should be noted, Grain was soloing too). A few moments later he sent me a tell, and we chatted a bit about our adventures in Evendim — it was his first time there too, as best I could tell.

Anyway, so that’s my answer to a) and why I’m happy to pay $15/month to play in a living, breathing, ever-changing world, instead of some static single-player RPG. As to us ruining the games…I can’t help you there. If you want to group a lot, make some friends and group with them. Best way to make friends? Stop trying to shove your world-view down other peoples’ throats.

Now I’m off to bed. Hope you all had a fun weekend of gaming!

10 thoughts on “MMO Soloing: A bedtime story

  1. Neat story… I like soloing on MMO’s as well, but grouping is fun as well, as long as it’s with the right people.

  2. I tend to solo a lot when I play whatever my current game is, too. I will group with people I know well, and I’ll get to know the other people in their groups, but I”m happy as a clam on my own a lot of the time.

    I’ve had people randomly save me when I’ve gotten into that sort of trouble (the badgers in Enchanted Lands look a lot like the harvestable stone from the right angle, and they *don’t* like being ‘harvested’) and in turn I’ve come along and helped out folks who looked like they’d bitten off more than they could chew, with a heal or a couple extra smacks with a blade. It’s this randomness that makes it fun, and worth paying the subscription when I’m on a kick for a given game. And sometimes listening to the shouts and OOCs passing back and forth. Not so much when they go all Chuck Norris though. 😛

  3. @Irata — Yup, grouping is fun. I’m certainly not anti-group. It’s just hard to find the big chunks of play time that groups require.

    @Lisana — When I solo, I get totally lost in the world… I feel like I really am there, adventuring. That’s hard to do in a group when everyone is charging around, talking about their toons and specs and stuff. Both ways of playing are fun, but they’re very different kinds of fun, at least to me.

  4. I’m also a fairly confirmed solo-er, though my particular poison is Eve Online. The lone-ship-pilot exploring abandoned star systems appeals to me.

    Unfortunately, in Eve a lone ship is a target to pirates and griefers – security spaces help, but once you’re out in 0-space, you’re complete on your own. Any ship that can run or fight is going to be a less than stellar miner.

    On the other hand, I have had great exchanges with folks who have warped in and spanked a rat or two while I was mining. I’ve given them a thanks, they’ve said their greetings, and warped out. It does happen.

    Last but not least – MMO games with cooperative pooling (and we’re not talking “Everyone get together to kill the dragon” – I’m talking multitask, multitier cooperative play, with each player having their own job to do.

    I wrote a blog post about this a few years ago. It’s one of the things that keeps drawing me back to Eve (though I haven’t succumbed. Yet.)

  5. I mostly solo but do like to group with people I have come to know in game (LOTRO) Last Saturday we started at 7AM and were doing Vol2 books and by the time I quit it was 3PM. I had played eight straight hours w/o much of a break even for food! It was such a good time with all sorts of laughing and joking to each other. In one chapter we had to find 3 cracks in the walls of Moria and insert gems in to them. Well I commented (on voice) that I found the last crack and then said “no, thats Tolvar (one of our fellowship members) bending over in front of me! I thought the three British mates in our group were going to need medical help, they were laughing so hard. It went on and on throughout the day like that, us having fun, playing the game and a great time had by all.
    As is I am back soloing some quests now so I really enjoy both.

  6. @Grid — That reminds me of my days in the Blood Ravens back in WoW. We weren’t big enough to ‘raid’ but we’d do the 5 & 10 man instances and from start to finish it was all about laughing and having fun. Good people… sorry to say I’ve lost track of them all now. 🙁

    Like I said, I prefer to solo because of my situation now, but I’m not anti-group and I certainly don’t try to tell people who do group that they’re doing it wrong.

    When I was a Blood Raven I was living alone and out of work. Plenty of time sitting at home alone, and grouping was a social outlet for me.

    Now when I’m playing, I’m sitting next to Angela chatting with her. If I get involved with a group, it means focusing on these remote people, not on her. It means not being able to ‘pause’ to look at something she’s found or created. I’d rather solo than be one of those really annoying group members who goes AFK every 10-15 minutes. And I’d rather solo than ignore her. So… I solo!

  7. Amen, brother! I’m tired of those who say that if you’re playing an MMO you should group. Personally, I enjoy the genre so much because it’s dynamic; other people are there, and are doing stuff around you, but not always with or against you. The world is always moving, and not necessarily in a linear fashion (especially if there are player-run events, of which there are far to few these days,IMO)

  8. I’ve often idly wondered if those who say grouping is the only way to play an MMO carry the same thinking in real life, which is, after all, something that billions of people play. Do they go to the bathroom in herds? Do they scrounge up a group of 40 each time they want an epic dinner at Sizzler’s? Do they call for a healer or a tank when shopping retail on Black Friday?

  9. You guys covered all my points about about soloing, so all I can post is: say loud, I am a soloer and I am proud!

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