A Group Of One

Playing around with EverQuest again, I’m reminded how much I love First Person view for MMOs. I play Star Trek Online in “mostly First Person” because you can’t actually go all the way in, but you can get the camera right up behind the character’s shoulder and eliminate the ability to see behind yourself, and immediately the game gains ten times more┬áimmersion. I assume my fascination and love for First Person comes from my love of shooters, especially team based shooters.

However, if the world is going to continue to insist on 3rd person view (probably because retention studies show that people stick around longer when they can constantly see how awesome they look in their latest gear) and that games be playable solo (which I’m not going to get into an argument about), I’d love to see an MMO go full on Party Mode like the old SSI and other RPG games.

Bard's Tale

If you pressed 'Z' on the PC version you got an elemental to join your party.

And I’m not talking about playing one character and having AI controlled mercenaries. No, I mean the player creates and controls a party of 4 to 6 characters.

Assuming that each character would fill a role in the group, the UI really wouldn’t be much different from today. Instead of playing a single tank character who has a couple dozen abilities for tanking you’d have a character in your group who has a handful of tanking skills. Each character, as far as combat is concerned, is really just 3 to 6 abilities on hot-keys. And you could macro so that you can chain abilities from different group members to execute combo moves.

When traveling, you’d control the lead character and choose a formation for the others to follow.

The game wouldn’t be entirely solo (just solo in a way that makes sense), but you could still group up with another player. You’d join your groups together into raids. An odd advantage to this is that since each group is likely to be fully functional (having their own tanking, healing, DPS and other skills) it simplifies the raid interface by accident. Each player manages their own people and the game really only needs to maintain the players in a raid for chat and loot distribution purposes.

Suddenly a “5 man” raid is actually 20 to 30 characters. The raid events can feel more epic while keeping the people-complexity low – it’s easier to herd 5 people than 25 people. This would also allow events themselves to be more complex yet easier, in that the raid can involve fighting multiple targets or doing synchronous goals (2 or 3 players fight a boss while other players solve puzzles or do other tasks) but without needing to manage entire groups of players for each item.

The more I think about it, and if the MMO trend is going to continue in third person views, the more I like this idea. It definitely needs more thought, but I like the direction it is going very much.

3 comments to A Group Of One

  • I would be all over that. Considering my limited play time and the fact that most of my friends play earlier in the evening than I do. I could do my own dungeon runs and not have to rely on a PUG to actually be nice to me the healer or me the Tank to get through the whole dungeon. Then if one of my friends happens to be staying up rather later for any particular reason we could actually in effect Raid. Hope someone develops this Idea. I will be 100% behind it.

    SMB

  • Ron

    Should I ever win huge in the lottery and decide I want to fund game making, I’d totally hire you as a designer. This idea is awesome!

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