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Uplink Analysis: Group Vs. Solo

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on July 13, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (@CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and @CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

MMO players have firm opinions about the importance of group play vs. solo play in their games, and we wanted to learn more about your beliefs. The topic was:

Think about group play vs. solo play experiences in your favorite MMO. Which do you enjoy most? Why?

The conversation began with a number of fans expressing their thoughts on whether they prefer group or solo, and as you'd expect, everyone had a different preference.

Mark_Mahoon: Hmm.. A really good question. Myself I play more as a lone wolf, because I have the tendency to stick my nose in every hole a game has to offer. Makes ost people bored. ^^
B_1st: What I really feel is missing is good DUO play. Finding a full group is a pain but I love playing with a friend.
CRB_Atreid: I prefer challenging encounters where everyone has a job to do. So much more rewarding when you succeed.
StarWarsDaddy: Groups that are easy to build, content that's fun for all in the group, & variable group size with scaling content.
Mrmoneda: Any group encounter that requires a coordinated effort from which we emerge victorious is always the best.
CRB_Scooter: I love grouping up with others for dungeons. When you have a solid team, it feels great to keep moving forward.
Gazimoff: Group play is *usually* better - the experience shared acts as a multiplier on any emotions.
Xintia12: Group play defines what an MMO is. The way we interact with other players set MMO's apart from other games.
EvionFox: I tend to enjoy solo play most because I can savor the story elements. In a group, I feel rushed.
Nohelixws: Grouping is fun only if the group works. My play time is usually solo or paired. The best and worst thing about MMOs is the people.

It sounded like many of you enjoy the option to play in a group, but dislike being forced to do so:

Eliandal: An epic solo questline is as fun as an epic group dungeon for me! Being alone isn't always lonely :D
CRB_Atreid: That's an interesting PoV actually. I notice that even people who love to solo want to solo next to other people.
MMO_pinion: Group play is the unique selling proposition of the genre, and we've only just begun to tap into the potential! I would like to see designers to work on removing barriers to group play as opposed to over-facilitating solo play.
SidFisheous: Often solo, but from another new MMO out soon, grouping can be great, when its not strict and forced. Bring players together!
CRB_Atreid: ok i'm interested in this notion of forcing people to group :) Do you mean, no challenge that requires a group?
Sidfisheous: There is definately challenge and it upscales the more people that are there doing the event, but there is no need to be in a group to actually be apart. You get rewarded for you contribution at any rate. I hope wildstar has the same ideas

Another common issue with grouping is rewarding contribution. Is it better for players to have a small chance for that epic drop, or should all participants get something?

Mark_Mahoon: I think an important point is in such cases that everyone in the group have a decent reward.
CRB_Atreid: Think that everyone should be rewarded? some times, the excitation comes from not knowing if you will get something
Cosmicdebris1: True. But there are lot of kinds way to reward: item for craft, title, achievements, etc...
Mark_Mahoon: Yes how about social points from SWtor? I think that was a nice reward system for group playing.

So what is the developer's responsibility when designing grouping systems?

Cefyru: Group is what make the diff between MMORPG and Solo game. Groups mustn't be forced but encouraged (dynamic spawn ?)
CRB_Scooter: I agree. People should want to group on their own, and it's the developer's job to help that along.
Cefyru: yeah, you get my point :) I think that a good MMO must have group features that enhance the game pleasure.
Bkmiller428: Solid group features are a must, but not at the expense of solo play. Both need to be possible & enjoyable!
CRB_Scooter: Agreed. You have to allow for people to play the way they want. If you force people down a path, they'll just leave.

Thanks to everyone who joined in with this week's WildStar Uplink! A lot of you have been asking for the opportunity to discuss the topic in more than 140 characters, so next week we're going to hold the Uplink discussion on our Facebook page! Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin on Monday. Have a great weekend!

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