Tuesday, September 25, 2007

PotBS: A Social Soloer's Dream?

There's an interesting thread going on over at the PotBS forum in the Vault Network. Basically, it's full of players like myself. People who love online games, but due to some crazy chemical imbalance (I kid, I kid) we are people who love to solo in an Online World. We chat, we group for things often enough, but by and large we prefer to solo a good portion of the time for any number of reasons.

To many old-school players we may seem an anomaly, but rest assured that our way is the way of the future. The solo-er and the MMO is a marriage of sense and cents, my friends. Learn to live with us. Our numbers are many and our money is plentiful. Ahem. Sorry.

Let's skip the crap and show you what Rick Saada of FLS has to say on the subject.
We're trying reasonably hard to accomodate both styles of play. Most of the missions can be done either solo or in a group, and to some extent the enemies you face will scale with the force you bring in to the mission. City of Heroes does a pretty good job with this, and we're following their model in that we'll increase the number and difficulty of the enemies if you come in with a fleet. We also allow you to say "I want more challenge in my missions" and it will scale up the solo difficulty as well.

That said, we're also putting in a "role playing story arc" which is pretty much your character's path to follow solo. You can bring in friends, but it's not required. It's an ongoing mission sequence that runs the gamut from level 1 to 50, with recurring NPC's that can become romantic interests, career rivals, mentors, etc. It's sort of like a single player RPG played out in the midst of the MMO.

For the group lovers, the overall port conquest game will work best with groups. While you can contribute to throwing a port into contention as a solo player, taking on the NPC shipping around a port will often involve engaging multiple ships at once. Depending on what you're sailing this could be hard to do alone.

If you are grouped with friends, there are certainly roles to be played by the smaller ships. "Level" isn't present anywhere in the combat equations, but the ships you can sail are gated by level. The navy doesn't give out 104 gun ships of the line to 1st level players! On the other hand, the smaller ships are more nimble, and can often chase down injured targets, pick at them from a safe location (say off the bow or stern) and the lumbering hulks may not be able to turn quickly enough to devastate them with a broadside.

So we're trying to have something for everyone. I, for one, also like to play solo, and have been having a lot of fun doing it in the beta.

Rick Saada - FLS Dev
So there you have it fellow solo-enthusiasts. What would a Pirate game be if you had to share the limelight with another swashbuckler all the time? I totally dig that I'll sometimes have to bring a friend in PVE, I dig that it'll be more beneficial to fight in numbers for PVP. That makes sense to me. I just want to be able to progress through the game solo from 1 to 50, that's something I expect in any new MMO coming out. On top of that, I'll get a "role-playing story arc" from level 1-50 that can be done entirely solo, making me feel like an actual hero and not a half-assed second cousin of Frodo (I'm looking at your awesomely designed but horribly forced group Epic quests, LotRO).

Thank Jeebus FLS shares the same ideals.

EDIT: Mr. Tynes clarified in the comments, not only can the role-playing storyline be done solo... it MUST BE DONE SOLO. That is a refreshing bit of news, indeed.


heather (errantdreams) said...


Oh, sorry, didn't mean to mess up the carpet...

John Scott Tynes said...

Hi, I'm the producer of PotBS. I wanted to clarify one thing -- the roleplaying story arc that Rick mentions actually requires that you play it solo. You cannot bring a group along at all during those 70+ missions. We made this change fairly late in production for technical reasons, but it really fits the nature of that storyline better anyhow. You really are the hero of that story, you're choosing a love interest,
you're using emotes to flirt and trick people, and it just doesn't make sense to bring along people who don't get to do that cool stuff because they aren't the star of the story.

I'm more of a solo player myself, with the occasional pickup groups for hard missions, and I agree it's important to ensure that solo players can spend several months in our game having a great time, even though their activities will to some extent be different by design than what the guildies are driving towards.

Bildo said...

Wow, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to go into more detail, John!

I was thrilled to read what Rick wrote over at the VN, but I'm even more thrilled to see what you've posted here.

I've stated often here that I don't mind grouping. I love being in a guild, I enjoy partying. I even did my fair share of raiding in that 800lb. gorilla at one time. I'll try anything once.

But by and far, when it comes down to the details, I'm the kind of person who likes to follow my own path. I find it downright refreshing that so many new MMOs are seeing that there's a viable way to have solo-ability yet encourage grouping without force.

You and the entirety of FLS are striking a lot of the right chords with a lot of the players like myself. I can't wait to get in there and start my pirating (or privateering) career.

I look forward to launch with tremendous anticipation. Thanks for stopping by again.

Link said...

Okay, that was cool. PotBS just moved up a notch in my book.