MMO Gaming: Single player vs. Multiplayer
Now, this is something I have given some thought about throughout playing MMOs throughout the years. Between free-to-play and pay-to-play games, there has always been that question of if the MMOs of today are more of a single player game, or is it a MMO like it says it is?" I'm sure you have gotten this feeling when you have played your selected MMO for a while. But before we get into the subject, we must first know and understand what an MMO is. By definition, MMO is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game, in which players interact in a persistent world. As such, you're supposed to speak with other people within the world and ban together to build strong relationships, and/or help with instances or PvP (Player Vs. Player). You would think that the world these developers create would be crawling with people conversing with one another, but as I played over the years, while it is still a persistent world, it doesn't seem to be a whole lot of interaction with people. A good portion of players will just keep to themselves and are off either farming for mats they need for crafting (understandable), or just doing quest on their own. One game that comes to mind is Guild Wars 2, where you could basically play through a good part of the story by yourself. While that was fine, what was really the point in doing that? Apart from some instances and PvP, you really could just play by yourself.
Now, there's other games that are trying to bring back the real definition of an MMO, such as Age of Wushu by Snail Games. Not to sound bias, but they do have fair amount of features in which you need other people to progress through the game. They have one particular feature called "Team Practice", in which you round up a group of 10 people to do a small mini game of command button presses to gain cultivation points towards your desired skill. Before this feature, I can't even think of a game where other people around you were really vital in your growth within a game. Even with the crafting, you need to be friends with other crafters to upgrade your equipment. For example, if you wanted a single sword, the blacksmith makes the blade and the craftsman makes the handle, thus needing each other to make one item. That is just one of many examples but the point I'm trying to get at is that it represents interaction with other people, the mutliplayer aspect.
The game is not without its flaws however, there are still many bugs that need to be fixed, such as the offline job bug, and some quest not being able to be completed. Albeit, in a closed Beta, still the issues must be addressed. Still, one doesn't understand how the game deigns of MMOs change so much. The design went from requiring a party to get anything done to basically soloing nearly all the games content by themselves. This is even demonstrated on youtube where some players solo dungeons by themselves just to say they can do it. Perhaps it's the player-base and people are accustomed to playing alone. But if that was the case, why would they play an MMO game if their sole intention was to play by themselves? Heck for that matter you could of played a single player game. Some players just like the fact of being around people, but still wanting to play alone. I myself was like that for a time until I saw more value in working together. It wasn't that I can't interact with other players, because people know online and and real life, I'm a very sociable person. However, it is the mentalities I can't deal with so much, like the elitist ( People who reach a higher level than everyone else and suddenly above other people), Or people who stick to they clique and don't converse with you because you aren't their friends in real life.
Even with some of these gripes that I have, still.. It's how the developers designed their game and how people treat the features. Companies are doing whatever they can to appease the large fan-bases that they have, and they change their game up for that occasion. Whatever makes them the most money, (because it is a business after all), is what they are going to do. Not everyone will like the decisions made, but whatever fills their pockets. But consider this, if you make your game as single-player experience for an MMO (*Cough* Star Wars: The Old Replublic *cough*), you really take the multiplayer aspect out and people will leave your game once they are no longer having fun. They did however have multiplayer aspects in the sense of, having their own set of dialogue, but it was really showing how individual characters would play out in that situation. At that point it would come down to content, but still, interaction brings longevity to your game. I guess it's just a manner of preference, with some people liking to play MMOs with people around them but don't interact with them unless needed. There are still people that like to make new friends/allies and really enhance the experience of the game. However, which kind of gameplay experience do you prefer in your MMOs?