Dungeons & Dragons Online's Solo Play Features

Writing a headline for this post proved fairly counter-intuitive. MMOG's are supposed to be all "massive" and such, so pointing out how "solo" features were being highlited in one of these games just doesn't lend itself to a quick headline for me... but I'm not too crafty that way sometimes, I suppose. My writing skills aren't the point, however...

Turbine has rolled out "solo-friendly" goodies for Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach, summarised like this:

Turbine has introduced a series of solo-friendly enhancements and content improvements as part of the new player experience in DDO. New players can now experience over 20 dungeons throughout Stormreach harbor in a single-player mode. This feature grows the overall scope and quality of the game by enabling players to journey alone in epic adventure zones or dangerous dungeons. It also is particularly useful to new players, allowing them to hone their skills and better prepare for higher-level quests where they can join with fellow gamers to achieve success. This mode will be in addition to three existing game play options of "Normal," "Hard" and "Elite."

Very nice, I think. Any of you who've paid attention over the years knows I tend to be very satisfied playing solo in these massive online worlds. I'm not sure why that is, honestly. I've often been asked why I'd bother logging in (and paying monthly) to a multiplayer world and spend most of my time battling the environment... "why not play [insert current Bethesda game here] instead?" they ask. Just because a major feature of these games is the massively multiplayer thing, doesn't mean the rest of the game isn't fun for everyone who plays alone... ya know what? I don't know that I need to explain this position anymore. Case in point... Turbine and others have been putting in far more focus on fun solo experiences in the recent years. I'm clearly not alone at... well, playing alone.

I want to talk about this general topic more in the future because I really think it's a "problem" in most MMOG games. I've been fighting for the rights of solo players going way back to 1999 or so at places like Game Developers Conference sessions with the likes of Raph Koster, Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton and many others (yeah, dropping names.) It's often been an uphill battle until much more recently. Back then, trying to point out that solo players were being majorly neglected just didn't seem to carry much steam. The cries of EverQuest requiring huge efforts to put groups together to get much of anything done after a while just didn't make anyone shed a tear... except folks like me. It just turned out there weren't as many folks like me complaining then. World of Warcraft has certainly done a lot to bring in more casual players to the scene, and I think it's done wonders to bring a focus on solo players... there are others who've helped, but I wasn't going to talk about all this now! What happened?? Bah, back on track...

Check out DDO again if you're interested in how that game has evolved since release. I went through much of the news on the site and I found many very interesting things being added and tweaked that really piqued my interest for that game again. For one, early level advancement has been sped up... right on! That about drove me nuts in my trials. D&D fans liked it far more than the vast majority of the gaming population did, methinks.