Thursday, January 19, 2017

Team Solo?

For those of you in a "Star Wars" frame-of-mind, the title of this post has nothing to do with Han (or any of his family).

There are currently (7) MMOs I play.  In no particular order*, they are:  DDO, LotRO, NWO, STO, ESO, EVEO, and SWtOR.  All of them can be played solo or with a team, and some of them I play solo, some I play with a team, and some I do both.

Actually, I'm not sure there are any that I 'only' play as part of a team...

One of the most frequently asked questions of solo MMO players is:  "Why do you play an MMO - which is (primarily) designed to be played as part of a team {hence the 2nd "M" which stands for "multi-player"} - solo?"  For me, that question is easy to answer.

In many ways, I am a stereo-typical nerd.  Or maybe geek**.  It kind of depends on your definition, I guess.  I always got excellent grades in school; not necessarily all "A"s, but pretty much "A"s and "B"s (and quite frankly, I worked hard to do so).  But I was also somewhat of a 'loner'.  Which is not to say I didn't have friends - on the contrary - I had quite a few.  But making friends has always been somewhat difficult.  It usually takes me a while to 'warm up' to most people (there have been a few exceptions, but very few).

I've stated several times that DDO was my first MMO.  And I was happy enough playing solo.  But then Shindurza came along with some crazy idea of starting a guild from several of the more prolific bloggers (of which I was one) from the (now defunct) MyDDO blogging site, and I was one of his first invites.

Me?  Part of a guild?  And running with other people?  Why, the very thought was unfathomable to me.  I never expected to be part of a guild - ever (unless, I made my own).  I had to think about it.

And think about it I did.  I mean, it's one thing to interact with people via blog posts and commenting, it's quite another to to them.  It took me a couple of days, but I did acquiesce and then Shin and I started running together almost every night for a couple of hours before he went to bed.  It took me a little while to get comfortable actually using voice-chat, but not too long.  And then a few other bloggers accepted and we decided to have an official "guild night".  So while most nights it was still just Shin and I, guild nights pretty quickly had 4 or 5 regulars, with an occasional 'guest'.  And as you might expect, it took me a little while to warm up to the others running with us.

I am still not comfortable PUG'ing.  I have only ever once PUG'ed in DDO w/o other guildies and honestly, I'm not sure why I did.  Maybe because it was only one other person around and they asked and it was for "Recovering the Lost Tome" which is a short quest.  But I digress...

So, why do I solo MMOs?  Because I'm not comfortable running with strangers and I'm not comfortable making initial contacts with strangers inside of games (which would include PUG'ing).

I also hate blind invites - you don't know me (and I don't know you), so why are you inviting me to your party and/or guild?  Wanna chat and maybe get to know me?  OK - as long as I'm not in the middle of a quest doing something else that requires my attention...maybe.  But I might prefer chatting via in-game mail, first.

So in new (to me) MMOs, if I don't know anyone there, I will run solo.

In DDO, my preference is to run with a team.  Except over on Argo, but that's only because my one-man guild is there and I have no set times of when I run there, and I don't really know anyone over there†.  But I'm also OK running solo.

Pretty much the same with NWO - prefer running with guildies, but OK running solo.

LotRO is kind of the opposite, but primarily only because there are few people I know who actually run LotRO.  Shin used to, but he's not been on in over a year.  Mizz and I run together there, but her play times are sporadic, at best.  So my solo toon there is also my highest level toon there.

I joined SWtOR because Mizz asked me to and she likes it (and I do find it fun).  I have a solo toon, but I prefer running with Mizz - when she's able to.

So far, I also like running ESO solo.  But I will admit, that the 'group, private instance dungeons' are too much for me to successfully run by myself.  But until I find/make some friends over there, I'll just not run them.  There's plenty of other content which can be run solo.  Most of it, in fact.

STO is probably my favorite MMO to run solo.  Maybe that's because most of the "Star Trek" TV shows (and movies) revolve around just one starship, so most of their missions are "solo".  It just kind of feels right to me.  Which is not to say I wouldn't run with someone else or even be in a fleet (guild) with others, but as I said, it just sorta feels right (to me) to run the missions solo.

Which leaves EVEO.  EVEO is different than most MMOs - it's a sandbox.  Which basically means "you are free to play as you wish".  There is no character leveling; no XP to gain.  And while there are various tasks that are PvE (my favorite type of computer gaming), there are "free-for-all" PvP zones.  It is the most complex of all the MMOs I play (though the actual controls are pretty easy).  And while I do know one person over there, we've not hooked-up yet, other than by messaging.  Primarily because we have no set times for playing in there.  That and because I'm still roaming around "high sec" space and figuring things out.  But, we'll eventually hook-up in the game and I'll see what it's like to run a few missions with another player.

Other than my (3) designated guild nights (one for NWO, two for DDO [different servers]), I tend to have a flexible schedule and I 'jump around' between games.  Sometimes, I'll focus on just one for several nights, and then 'switch-it-up' and focus on another.  Sometimes, like this past month or so, several MMOs will simultaneously run 'special' events, in which case I tend to try and sign in and run as many of those as I can.  This often leads me to only be in a particular game just long enough to complete whatever needs completing for the festival.

Put it all together and often it's just easier to run solo.  And that's OK.

* Well, OK, there is an order, but not anything like "most preferred to least preferred" or any such thing.  Although...

** If you look in a dictionary, one of the original definitions of "geek" is "A clown that bites the heads off live chickens."  No joke - go see for yourself.

† Well, I know BonnieBew runs there (or at least, did according to her blog).

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