Minions: Are People Going to Solo?

By: Tony “RadarX” Jones

Nothing grates the nerves of most MMO veterans more than hearing someone ask why there isn’t more solo content. Well, maybe Chuck Norris does, or an the 222nd article about video game addiction this year.

A mistake many veteran MMO players make, is that solo players actually do have a point. Yes, I said it, they need their solo content. I recently read a research paper called “Alone Together: Exploring the Dynamics of Massive Multiplayer On Line Games.” Now the three researchers used World of Warcraft for their research, but their conclusions were very interesting regarding soloing.

“In particular, joint activities are not very prevalent, especially in the early stages of the game. WoW’s subscribers, instead of playing with other people, rely on them as an audience for their in game performances, as an entertaining spectacle, and as a diffuse and easily accessible source of information and chitchat.”

What does this tell us boys and girls? We like to play the game around other people, but not necessarily group with people. Enter the minion system of Gods and Heroes.

What are Minions?

Minions are “computer-controlled NPCs who will quest with you, fight beside you, and ultimately help you to victory.” These aren’t the typical “pets” we’re used to in games like WoW and EQ2. These will be scripted with an AI to fight autonomously by your side. Healers, fighters, spell casters, you’ll be able to build an entire party of minions. I’m hoping it doesn’t feel like a group version of Pokemon, and if it does the minions better be cooler.

Will this replace groups? When the game is young, and everyone is low level, probably not. Sure, you’ll do some things with minions when you feel like playing alone, but for the most part you’ll probably hook up with a few strangers or fellow “tribe” members.

Towards the end game, as in other MMO’s, you’ll start grouping a lot more. The leveling is harder, the content is harder, and it’s just the natural progression of MMO’s. Sure, the minions may come out to play at times, and even be used to supplement the group, but for the most part they’ll be kicking back in your camp (the equivalent to an inn room/house).

It also will never be a substitute for the skill and interaction a flesh and blood person provides. Sure, they can tweak the AI to where the minions could probably almost kill the encounter without you. Since Progressquest is already a game though, I’m hoping that won’t be the case. A real human will think abstractly, react, and most of all act human. They make you laugh, keep you company, and at times want to throw things. Minions will never do that.

The idea of a minion system seems to be a good one and rather innovative. My only fear of innovation is:  In this current MMO market, the innovators are the ones who are hurt the most. Conforming to established game mechanics seems to be the golden ticket to the chocolate factory, and this minion system is dressing up like an Oompa Loompa trying to sneak in. It might work, it might not.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.