First and foremost, we want to appeal to gamers who have enjoyed the games we've worked on in the past. Then we want to expand outward and appeal to other core gamers with new and extended gameplay they might have found missing in previous games. Lastly, we want to grow the MMOG gamespace by appealing to 'non-core' gamers, but, again, never at the expense of the playerbase who already identifies with our goals and our previous work.
Vanguard is targeting the 'core' gamer. It will have three types of content: casual, group, and raid. Casual and raid will be the minority, with most content group oriented.
I know some people accuse EQ of being too raid oriented. I would say Vanguard will be less so. But we also think raiding is very important and fun. Our goal from the beginning was to create a world that would support core gamers, as well as more casual or people with less time, as well as those crazy raiders you refer to
Aside from that, well, Vanguard is a new game with a lot of new features and a whole new world to explore. I don't think we'll have any problem enticing hard core raiders to migrate over.
Source: Aradune Mithara
The plan is to have the majority of content be for groups, with the minority for solo/casuals and raids. Lots of game mechanics in or planned to make sure this works and to let us make group dungeons, even at higher levels, appealing and rewarding. Easier said than done, but we gotta do it.
There are casual players, players who like to group, and players who liked to be involved in massive raids… can they all co-exist? They can definitely co-exist and even play together in an interdependent environment.
Vanguard's world will contain areas designed for casual, group, and raid experiences. Risk and reward will vary in these areas, as will the amount of playtime necessary to complete quests and other activities.
And these different areas aren't there just to appeal to people who always have more or less time. They are also there for the gamer who often does play longer hours but at times wants to log on and play a shorter session, or for the person with less time who wants to occasionally devote an entire Saturday to playing.
Player interdependence is the key to community building.
Friendships and alliances often form when a player needs another player to be more effective or to complete a task. This is the stuff that helps to form healthy, active communities. The real world isn't made up of 'jack-of-all-trades'; a virtual world shouldn’t be either. Different roles and responsibilities should exist. Many or most of those should offer a fulfillment of other characters’ needs. This will be especially true in our group areas and a must in our raid areas.
We should emphasize, however, that interdependence shouldn't be tedious, nor, in effect, a 'denial of service'. In other words, if you can't find someone to help you with a task one evening, there ought to be other things for you to do -- perhaps something you can do on your own, or with fewer people, or with other characters you do encounter that evening.
We’re a huge proponent of players being able to impact their environment--to a reasonable degree through their actions; there are several qualifiers to that statement though.
The way players impact the world cannot greatly restrict the gameplay of others. For example, one cannot be allowed to raze a newbie village where the bootstrapping content for new customers is found. Making a lasting alteration to the population of a portion of the world. Working your way into an organization that causes the world's inhabitants to treat you differently, or liberating a piece of the world from an adversary are just a few examples of what we feel can be compelling ways to impact the world. The extra effort that goes into this kind of thing usually makes more sense to be spent on content that large numbers of people can enjoy, but we have no 'design principal' that would prevent us from implementing some crazy event that a single player could complete.
That’s a difficult question, because I think every gamer, male or female, is different. I tend to be more of a power gamer, whereas some of my friends enjoy questing above all else. The best things about Vanguard, in my opinion, are the immersion and the diversity. Like I mentioned above, I believe the intricacy and care with which Vanguard is being built will really shine, and be an escape beyond everything that has come before. – Amanda Poe @ Girl-Gamer.com
Definitely both. We know there are a significant number of players out there who have enjoyed the games we've worked on in the past, and we want them to enjoy Vanguard as well. But we also want to grow the gamespace -- massively multiplayer games are still relatively new. It is our firm belief that there are many more people out there who will enjoy Vanguard and other future MMOGs.
Really in a number of ways. Better community support and interaction as well as better targeted marketing and PR will help considerably. Likewise, the expanded features and activities one can experience in Vanguard should interest both those new to gaming and those new to MMOGs. As more people try online gaming and as there are more types of gamers, the gamespace should grow.
Though players of Vanguard will be able to spend their game time isolated from other players if they choose, the most rewarding experiences will be had in groups of players that learn to work together. We believe strongly that grouping is one of the cornerstones behind community building, especially pick-up groups, and we are working on a variety of things to make it easier to pick up and maintain groups, and we are striving to create a sort of interdependence that will naturally fulfill itself through grouping.
The most obvious way for us to encourage player-to-player interaction is by creating classes that fill roles. When players filling different roles group together, they are far more powerful than a solo player or a group of players who all fill the same role.
Yes, you will be able to solo. You will be able to solo more effectively in 'casual' areas than in group and raid areas. You will likely have difficulty soloing in group areas and extreme difficulty in raid areas (e.g. probably isn't going to happen). Some of you may enjoy soloing in Vanguard, and some of you may find it too tedious or slow or not rewarding enough... Are we designing Vanguard as a solo-oriented game? No. The focus is on grouping. Does that mean we hate soloing and want to make it impossible? No, certainly not, but it will take a 'second seat' so to speak...
You will always be more efficient and encouraged to group, even in casual areas, although you won't need a large group. The casual areas are geared towards small groups and also designed such that one can achieve advancement in shorter contiguous chunks of gameplay, so these areas should be attractive not only to the more casual gamer, but even the hard core raid gamer who just has an hour or so to log on and wants to be able to move his character forward in some way.
Source: Official FAQ
We are NOT trying to drive out solo players -- that would be foolish. In fact, we're making casual areas to support solo players, as well as players who have less contiguous time to play, and then even the occasional more hard core player who wants to log on briefly and actually still get something done.
The focus of the game is on the group experience. On each side, you have the solo or more casual content, and then the raid content.
You also touched on some reasons, as did I, as to why people solo. A big one is that it's hard to find a group. We agree and are doing a bunch of things to make it easy to find a group and to keep that group together -- in fact, we believe strongly that grouping is one of the cornerstones behind community building, especially pick-up groups. I can't promise you that you'll always find a group, but I will promise you that we'll do our best to bring people together, by the way we lay out the world, with various game mechanics, abilities, tools, etc. So, in a nutshell, having any significant number of people who would rather group but are forced to solo is something we can't allow.
Then there are people who simply like to solo, but to solo in an online game. I've seen some people ask these people, hey, why the heck are you playing a multiplayer game if you want to solo? Honestly, I think this is a little narrowsighted. Just because it doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean that somebody else likes to solo in an environment with other people because it makes the world seem more alive, or, really for whatever their reason is. People are different.
Now, will these people like Vanguard? Good question. I think some will, and some won't. You *will* be able to solo in Vanguard, but it will be more difficult, you will advance more slowly, and you won't be able to realistically access many areas (and so will either not obtain some better items or have to buy/trade for them). That will turn some solo players off and while we regret that, I don't see how we could cater to them and our primary target audience both: those who like to group. But I think there are other solo players who don't mind this. If they want something, they don't mind deciding to either not worry about it, or perhaps to group on a rare occasion and see that area or obtain that item, or even save their money and buy it in-game. This subset of solo player is usually less competitive and more focused on his character and his accomplishments and less on what other people are doing. That solo player I think could have a great time in Vanguard.
Just to make sure I'm being consistent with what I've said in the past: we are making content for casual, group, and raid. Obviously, the solo player would be playing in the casual areas. But even the casual areas are designed for small pick-up groups. So he'll be able to progress, but still not as quickly or as effectively as if he were to join a small group of people and play a while.
The reason we did this is because we think there are more people who want casual areas because they have less time to play, or more specifically less contiguous time to play, and still want to be able to log in, advance, and have a good time. We feel there are more people like that than those who insist on soloing (wrong or right, that's how we're looking at it). So they are the target audience for the casual regions, more so than the solo player, but I don't think it will exclude the solo player either.
I've also said that, when asked to make comparisons, that the ability to solo will likely turn out to be about as effective as it was to solo in EQ. Now this is a very broad and general statement. Some classes could solo a lot better in EQ, plus there were some exploits that went on for some time that would allow solo players to advance relatively quickly (eg more quickly than what was designed). Addressing this, we hope our approach to classes with our Job system makes it such that there isn't a specific class that always solos better. But we do make mistakes, and I imagine there will still be, but hopefully it won't be as bad. And as for exploits, well, we have to fix those right away for a variety of reasons -- not to screw the solo player, but to maintain the overall health and integrity of the game. So *roughly* similar to EQ and other games where you could similarly solo, but not exactly the same either.
Source: Aradune Mithara
You can solo the casual content (mobs) right now in beta. We're still making lots of tweaks, but this should remain true. A group of 2-3 is more efficient, of course, but you can solo.
But please make sure you've read the multple posts I and others have made regarding this topic. The vast majority of the game is focused on group content (something like 4-8 players, working together). That is where most of the content will be geared for, where most of the good loot will be found, most of the adventure. And, honestly, IMHO, most of the fun. I'm not saying soloing won't be fun. A lot of this is subjective and relative to the player and what he or she enjoys. But right now the group/guild I play with nightly consists of 6-8 players and we are able to enjoy the dungeons and other areas meant for our level range. And it's a blast.
Note I'm talking here mostly about the adventuring sphere. The other spheres are to some degree more doable with less people in your group, and some very doable individually. We're shooting for variety here, not just for those who like to group less, but also those who like to group but perhaps are on when their buddies aren't, or who have less time to find a group and head into the depths of a dungeon some night and still want something to do, areas where they can advance, activities where they are still having fun. - mid October 2005
The intent is that a well rounded group encountering group and raid content should have at least one member class from each primary Job (heavy fighter, light fighter, caster, healer). That's the core group dynamic we're going, with then lots of variations in terms of how these core jobs manifest themselves depending on what the classes are, where you are, the type of encounter and the strategies the mobs are using against you and your group members, etc.
The current plan for raid sizes is indeed mostly around the number 25 or so, as mentioned, but the paln also is to have raid areas vary as to how many people are needed. So solo/casual content is for 1-3 players, group content 3-6, and raid content 6-X, where X is a variable. We hope to control X to some extent (to stop people from bringing, say, 40 people to an encounter desinged for 25) using TLC, dynamic threat assessment, and a few other mechanics I can't talk about yet. We're focusing first on group content, then solo/casual, and will implement raid content towards the end of beta, so a lot of this remains theory until tested in a beta environment.
Source: Aradune Mithara 03/29/2006 on the FOH boards
The group size is something that is subject to change during beta. We have thrown around some numbers in the past but ultimately we hash that out in beta.
As for screenshots showing groups of larger sizes - that build of the game did not have any restriction on the number of group members. That will not be the case upon release..
Current thoughts, subject to change as we continue to beta: Max hard limit: 8. Most group encounters tuned for 7ish.
This means that a group of 6-8 should be in good shape, assuming the group members have a variety of members from each core job.
With 8, you could, for example, have 2 of each core jobs. 2 heavy fighters, 2 light fighters, 2 healers, and 2 mages.
The group limit for casual content is obvously a lot lower, with exp penalties much more extreme so we don't get larger groups killing casual mobs over and over again.
Group size for fighting raid mobs is obviously and conversely much higher.
Source: Aradune Mithara
The current plan is max size of 8 for a group group (fighting group based mobs). 2 or 3 for casual. Raid we haven't totally worked out yet, whether it will be a max group size or some sort of group linking or both.
For groups though most encounters will be tuned around them being doable with groups of 6, so you can think of the target group size there being 6-8, with a hard cap of 8. Let me know if that makes sense. - Early November 2005
Simply don't expect to see a ton of "casual" encounters mixed in with "group" encounters. If you are duoing, etc, in a casual area, because you do not want to commit the time and energy to a "group" area, you probably won't create a "full" group.
If you want to take on some more challenging stuff, add a few more folks and move to a more challenging area.
The "difficulty" of the encounter is not being reduced when you bring the "designed for" number of players to an encounter.
I owe you a better explanation, and the reason I hesitate is a lot of this is in flux and testing. The general idea though is if you were a dedicated casual gamer who never got any group loot and suddenly decided to loot you would indeed be at a disadvantage. But you certainly could befriend a solid group and they could escort you in and keep you alive and eventually get you some new lewtz. You are not a total sitting duck, but relatively ineffectual.
I realize some may panic at that, but, really, if you have a change of heart like that, which is great, I trust you will find some people who will take you in.
Going from casual to raid? I'm thinking no. Baby steps. - 27 October 2005