Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Play an MMO Solo?

Those who play World of Warcraft on their own obviously know the answer to this question and even then, each has his own personal reasons for doing it. A lot of the "normal" players (i.e. those who believe an MMO = socializing + grouping) are still baffled what the hell we are doing in this game if we don't group or are not part of a guild or don't raid, etc.
For me, there are several reasons why I like playing WoW in this manner.

Beginning with a little background info, I started using a PC fairly late in my existence, about 15 years ago but computers are now a big part of my life and games contributed greatly to this. I learned to love RPGs the most, for the fact that I get a lot of enjoyment from building an avatar, starting from a lowly station and eventually leveling it to a powerful entity capable of annihilating entire armies of animated pixels. In short, a good RPG is the type of game that will keep me hooked for a very long time. I especially like those which don't have an ending, such as World of Warcraft :)

Well, I've had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best RPGs, such as Ultima Underworld, Ultima 8, Fallout 1/2, Morrowind, KOTOR and the Diablo series. [Yes, I am aware that Diablo isn't a "true" RPG but it does have all the elements minus the quests, but most of all it is almost endless - the way I like it]. WoW is my first MMORPG. The first contact I had with WoW was when I got hold of a cracked client copy which allowed you to create a character, move around the areas and kill static mobs that had a high drop rate of mostly good stuff. As you can imagine, this copy was highly bugged and impossible to play for more than a few minutes, but I just wanted to get a feel for the game to figure out if it is worth shelling money for. I've got a weird thing: if a new game doesn't have me hooked within the first 10-15 minutes, it goes in the trash. At the same time I also bought a WoW strategy guide and read all of it avidly. Finally I decided to get WoW and I can say it was love at first sight.

Lucky for me I had read the strategy guide beforehand and it was fairly easy to get started as a noob. Even though the guide was already dated by the time I started playing, this was WoW Classic, way before The Burning Crusade, and things were simpler back then.

Since I'm deviating from my original topic, I will try to cut this short. I spent a long time leveling my first character to 60. I leveled with a protection paladin under the false assumption that being a paladin with a shield he would: a) take less damage and b) he would be able to heal himself. Big mistake. It took me ages to get to 60 but once there, I started to be complimented on my "tanking skills" in instances pretty often by my guildmates. Notice, before BC I used to be in a real guild.

While leveling the paladin I also started a hunter, which has since become my main but is now losing in popularity to other characters that I am enjoying a lot lately. The hunter turned out to be - for me at least - the ultimate solo-ing class. Once I discovered the joys of being a hunter, I left my paladin to rot at 60 and never looked back.

There are 2 main stages in my WoW career.
First was pre-BC. Back then, I was part of two casual guilds, completed most of the 5-man instances and also did a few raids, notably Zul'Gurub, Molten Core and a bit of AQ20. Because I was in a guild I felt compelled to show up regularly for raids and in turn that put a lot of pressure on my real life such that at one point, before BC was released, I quit WoW.

After a good, long break, I came back to the game and found myself in The Burning Crusade. This time, I vowed never to join a guild again, never to do instances and especially never to do raids. I would approach WoW as a single player game, with the advantage of a large community with whom to trade and occasionally group for harder quests. And I believe this has helped me stay (relatively) un-addicted.

I really do enjoy having lots of people in the game, all around me. It makes the WoW universe feel alive, populated with real people, not NPCs. Just as IRL, there are always some who prefer to be "lone wolves". In many ways I pride myself for being like this. Everything I accomplish is my own doing. Well, that excludes group quests that give juicy rewards but even then, I love that you can disband without any future obligations.

It may sound selfish but I wouldn't have time to help guild members with their problems. I've got my own goals to meet. However, I always lead a hand if I see a player in trouble, even if they are of the opposite faction.

So what does a solo player like me like to do in WoW? I love the leveling process. Besides my main who's 80, I have four 70+ alts, a 65 alt on the opposite faction and a bunch of other lower level alts. Then, I really like to farm stuff. Gold, items, rep... you name it. I also like to mine, herb and skin. Making gold is one of the things that drive me in this game. Finally, I also like to have the best equipment money can afford, at maximum level and even while leveling.

I will be talking about all these ways to enjoy WoW on your own in the future.


Mr. Menagerie said...


Just found your Blog and appreciate the time and effort you've spent in addressing your topics and letting us get to know you a bit.

You actually surprised me a bit because you have described my play style almost exactly.

I play on Doomhammer and have a lvl 61(soon 62) Pally and have just recently decided to start a Hunter (now lvl 13), I play solo the majority of the time unless I get into the rare, but normally fun pug or to help a fellow traveler (or vise versa). I've only done a handful of Instances and have never raided or played a BG...yet I love the game, the atmosphere, the quests and crafting.

I play casually and compete against myself alone, if I happen across an item that's better than what I'm currently wearing then I count myself as lucky and progressing in the game ;)

So I just wanted to say "hello" and that I look forward to reading more of your blog and to congratulate you on the new "Explorer" Title!!!

Regards & Good Hunting!


Darth Solo said...

Hey man nice to find other like-minded players out there! And thanks for visiting my blog! I'm posting fairly regularly so please check often.

So yeah, I'm exactly like that. Solo-play is one of the major ways in which you can play WoW and I think it's amazing. WoW is my first MMORPG and before I joined I was always afraid that unless I play with other people the game would suck badly.

Now it so happens that I really enjoy having a lot of real people around me. It's just that I don't want to depend on them anymore and I'm also at a stage in my life where different stuff can come up which prevents me from having a regular gaming schedule.

Like you said, I also compete against myself. I have various personal goals that I always meet sooner or later.

Peace bro!

Joe said...

So i was digging a bit into the past to see what made you do this blog :D One thing i noticed was i dont think you've mentioned what server your on, it'd be fun to shout u a hello on server but i think my EU constraints prevents me from playing on american servers?

Darth Solo said...

Ah, then you're observant. I deliberately prefer to keep my identity, shall we say, a mystery. It's not like I have a huge WoW business going on or anything, it's more about being a private person and preferring to keep to myself. Discrete in game as well as IRL. I hope that's not offending to anyone.

Joe said...

Most certainly not a problem! More so appealing infact, true to the ethos of being a solo'r as it were :D Keep up the good work in teh mean time :D

Darth Solo said...

I'm glad you understand :) And same to you!

Rakhir the Red Archer said...

I have played WoW for since the beta. I've been in more than 10 guilds over the years. Now I just solo. Takes very little time, which is important because I limit myself to 2 hours per day MAX. ATM I solo with my hunter, my warlock, and my shaman (all L80). I'm slowly working on my Death Knight (L72) and my other alts are idling in Dalaran. I like the daily gem quest. WoW can eat your life if you let it. Best to stay out of raids and guilds if you want to avoid losing your friends, family, wife, etc.

Thanks for the posts of solo hunter gear, I don't have some of those items yet.

Darth Solo said...

Oh yeah, it can eat your life indeed. That's why I made a conscious decision not to get involved in any guilds and raids. Still, it remains addictive.