No gamer is an island...
But do happy soloers make for happier MMO communities? Ethec examines the design and community issues behind the failure of group experiences in many MMOs, and even goes as far to suggest that abundant solo content leads to better group experiences. Really... the nerve!
Finding a perfect server density is absolutely critical. Yes, the server merge has a doom-and-gloom connotation, and prohibiting players from moving characters to (or creating characters on) an over-crowded server will not please the player-base. EverQuest II and World of Warcraft are feeling the ill-effects of falling on either side of this coin. But a "critical mass" must be maintained, no matter the short term damage to a game's reputation.
Density is one major way a developer can seriously improve a games chances of adopting that ever elusive quality in most games: fun. Denser server populations (wrought by finding and maintaining a good per server population for the physical size of the game world) allow for more off-the-cuff grouping. I say "off the cuff" because I mean to disassociate this kind of grouping from "pick-up groups" (which tend to be a more determinate form of grouping; pick-up groups huddle up because they have to-- in order to have any chance of completing their goals). Off the cuff groups form when adventurers flock to an area expecting to complete their objectives without a group, then bind together to get things done faster (and maybe even have a little fun too).
So...Solo Content: A Disease or the Cure for the common MMO? Ethec examines this very question in today's editorial right here on TenTonHammer main!
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