So, yesterday, I mentioned that I’d talk about why being able to solo and group is important to an MMO. This is the post that will talk about it.
To introduce the topic, though, I’m going to talk about one of my major gripes with TOR at the moment: the issue with the MOB population. There are a lot of quests and missions — including the bonus missions — that require you to go into public, shared areas and kill a number of MOBs. This requires that there be, of course, a sufficient number of MOBs for people in general to kill. Which leads to these two problems:
1) If you’re looking for these kills when there are a lot of people on, then you end up fighting with them over the too small number of MOBs available. You can group, but on a highly populated server in peak hours you’re still going to be fighting to get the MOBs you want, especially since some of those who don’t need them for that mission will kill them anyway, either because it gives them XP or because they need to get through them to get into or out of the area for the mission they actually want to finish.
2) If you’re looking for these kills when there aren’t very many people on, or just looking to get through that area after finishing that mission, you end up with a lot of MOBs around that no one is killing. At best, this leaves you having to slog through killing them because you want to get to your mission goal, and at worst it makes it very difficult for you to travel through the area because every time you try to clear a group you get jumped by wandering strongs/elites, or draw two groups at once because they happen to be too close together for your own abilities. So you die a lot.
So, at the extremes of player population in an area, you are either frustrated because you can’t find the MOBs to finish your mission because everyone else has cleaned them out, or you end up frustrated because you have to fight and die to things that you don’t even really need to fight.
Now let’s put this in the context of grouping. If you are forced to group to take on various MOBs or missions, what does someone who happens to be on when no one else is on do? Or what happens later when the server population diminishes and you don’t have a lot of players at that level running around at any time of day? You need a group to progress, but there aren’t enough people available to group. So, either you’re stuck waiting for people to show up to group with, or you try to do it yourself and die a lot, or you have to grind to get high enough levels to be able to do it yourself. None of these are exactly fun.
TOR does it pretty well. There is a lot of content that is group content, which can be fun and gives good XP and item rewards, so there’s a reason for people to do them. That means that, except at really off-peak hours, you’ll probably be able to find a group to run it with you. But you don’t need to do them; you can level up and even get ahead of your mission levels as long as you do all the side missions and, preferably, do all of the bonus missions as well, especially the ones where you have multiple stages and get tonnes of XP for complrting the stages and the final mission itself. So if you want to group, there’s group-oriented content for that, and if you don’t, there’s content that with care and some levelling you can relatively easily do only with your companion.
TOR, then, would have a good model for surviving population loss … if it wasn’t for how they handle MOBS [grin].