Solo vs multiplayer in MMORPGs #WorldofWarcraft

So far in World of Warcraft retail, post-patch, we’ve mostly just been running gold emissary dailies – hardly a real test of the new class changes. I’ve also been ticking off some other pre-expansion items, notably unlocking the Vulpera allied race.

Doing this relatively long quest chain on my Horde main, two things came to mind. Firstly, Holy priest is still a pretty slow and boring experience despite the ever-changing game systems in World of Warcraft, some things never change. Secondly I very rarely play World of Warcraft solo.

Solo gaming in the MMORPG genre isn’t new to me at all. I’ve documented countless times on this blog about playing many different online games as a solo activity. Although the genre is named for its multiplayer aspect, there are other reasons for wanting to play these games solo – for instance their open-ended, ever-changing nature. Unlike offline RPGs, MMOs tend to have a much longer lifespan in terms of updates – so all the hours invested in character development have a longer payoff, I would argue.

Although I play World of Warcraft regularly, and have over much of the last 13 years, I have almost never played it solo. In general if I’m in game its to play with friends. Almost from the start there were other MMORPGs that I wanted to play, so when no friends were available online, I would inevitably occupy my solo gaming time in other virtual worlds.

It’s a bit of a weird imbalance, and it does mean I am much less likely to make any significant progress with crafting professions in WoW versus the equivalent in other games. For example I tend to balance my adventuring vs tradeskill time-investment in Everquest 2 around 60% v 40%, in contrast – my engagement in EQ2 has always been heavily solo-oriented and with a bigger focus on gathering and crafting. Likewise in Lord of the Rings Online, when I’ve been actively playing it, I have spent significant time on the interlocking crafting systems among my various alts.

Contemplating twinking a lowbie alt…

At times I am reminded of this lack of solo time spent in WoW, however. In WoW Classic the crafting professions all become pretty grindy as you level them up. That requires either a lot of money spent on the auction house, or a lot of gathering time to find all the materials in increasing amounts – blacksmithing is pretty greedy when it comes to steel and mithril in later tiers.

How many bars !!??

Furthermore, playing characters almost exclusively in dungeons is not the best way of making money, unless you are lucky with drops that can be sold on the auction house, if I wanted to make money on a character I’d have to get on with questing more seriously. So buying my progress in crafting professions isn’t really an option for this same lack of solo time investment. I should probably quest more in WoW Classic to build up the money across my characters and to allow for gathering of materials to finish off my crafting skill development, but then, that would again take away from the time available to play other games…

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