Zubon has an interesting post on grouping in MMOs, stating the importance that these games add to the grouping experience and not take away from it. This is in the context of players with a static group not solo players. This was at least the situation I was in during my WoW years, but eventually our closeknit friends and family guild drifted apart.
I haven’t enjoyed games in quite the same way since, not because the games aren’t as good or that they’re built to be a 3-monther or whatever. The group is the major factor missing in this equation. I play GW2 with a couple of players from that time and when we (rarely) manage to sync complicated lives enough for a session it’s great fun. Possibly the best grouping experience I’ve had to date.
But just running round solo in GW2, Rift or EQ2 isn’t going to be enough to fill by gaming time when the ‘old group’ can’t meet. I suppose I should find a good guild in Rift as I won’t get the best out of that game if I don’t. That’s not necessarily an easy task as irrespective of rose-tinted glasses the old guild was a stellar group.