Do we want trivial content? I think not. Maybe sometimes. But it's not an evil elitist conspiracy that causes games to have difficulty parts. It's fun. I mean the difficult parts are fun, not to suggest that evil elitist conspiracies are not.
But sometimes it's hard to find other people. Or we don't want other people. Maybe today I want to do ICC and I don't want to be around other people. Not a problem! I'll just pull out my raid size menu and click down a few notches to... there we go, solo mode Icecrown Citadel.
Okay, not trivial, so how hard? Wrong question. How do we make solo content hard? We could go off reflexes, but that is going to create wide variation in individual difficulty.
We could call for interesting tactical decisions, but balancing those across classes will be pretty hard. So some might be easy, others ways too hard. Heals could trivialize it or be mandatory. A pet might make an otherwise challenging gauntlet into a cakewalk. As much as there has been sharing of abilities and crying of homogenization (guilty), the classes are still different enough that they are not balanced for specific solo situations.
This is the value of a group and of the holy trinity. Together, they give developers some sense of what players can do, what capabilities they will have. Imbalances can be smudged over a bit with a group. So can variation in skill. While the term "carrying" gets so much hate, it's not such an awful thing to be able to boost someone up a bit, to get groups where they could not go otherwise.
I'm not eager to see a solo end-game. Balance would be on a knife-edge. Except more like the head of a needle. Like dancing angels. Given that the Rapture didn't happen, maybe it's all bunk. My point is that balancing a challenging, but not impossible, solo end-game is asking for trouble. Too much trouble to justify what I think would be a fairly small payoff.
In general I think we should be wary of soloing. It's not going to destroy a game. But it's not going to save it either. Instead we should figure out what we can do to help players to play together. That includes figuring out why they wouldn't want to, and fixing that. Maybe it's the toxic culture (not fixed). Maybe groups are too hard to form (fixed). Maybe we can't play with friends (bad idea, but fix in progress). Maybe there's just no one out there to play with, ashttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif I lamented in Hello, person I met in the middle of nowhere.
The looming MMO war of 2014
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