"solo mode available by design"

Just like selling a house with a garden, solo modes thrive in times of corona :)

It seems that more and more games have a built in solo mode and designers around me utilize the "solo mode by design" principle.
This mean that from the start, they assume the game will be playable by 1-to-n players.
This would also mean you would seriously consider to bin a game mechanic if it jeopardizes the solo mode.



Players: Do you applaud the designs that have built in solo modes that clearly fit the game and aren't thrown in just to be able to advertise it? Or the contrary, that this philosophy hurts the inter-player dynamics of a game because solo and multiplayer are 2 different breeds?

Designers: do you follow this principle or explicitely choose -not- to?
Do you agree this philosophy is on the rise or is my conclusion colored by coincidences in my network?

 

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2 months ago

I really love solo modes in games.  Just love them.  However, I rarely like ones that change the core mechanic of the game.  I want to feel like the strategies I use for the multiplayer game are similiar.  I also am less high on "beat your high score" solos

2 months ago

I also find it interesting to discover how other designers tackle the A.I. component. I still rather play against bots than my own highscore.

Supporter2 months ago

Amen. I love a good AI. 

Supporter2 months ago

Yes indeed. 

2 months ago

While not being much of a solo gamer, I would be sad if every game was designed around enabling a solo mode. I am very glad that solo gamers are catered for and that lots of games come with excellent solo versions or are even best when played solo. However, I think, like anything, games would suffer if every designer felt a need to incorporate a solo mode and made changes to the mechanics of a game to allow that. I want games that are also designed to play with multiple people, shine best when there are 3+ players and are designed to be that way. While I enjoy flexibility there is definitely something to be said about a game that knows what it wants to be and nails that as opposed to trying to do everything.

2 months ago

In my experience, I feel like most solo modes of games I've played felt bland without the player interaction. Because of that, I rarely play that way. The only time I do in fact play solo is if I have an itch to play a game and my fiance isn't around or has zero desire to join me lol. A couple of games that stood out to me solo have been #Spirit Island primarily because it is the same game as the multiplayer mode just on a smaller scale, and #Teotihuacan: City of Gods. In my opition, the solo mode of Teoitihuacan does a very good job of simulating turns of the AI player. It can be a bit fiddly remembering to manuver pieces around, but it's quite enjoyable due to the AI.

2 months ago

I know a lot of the guys here really enjoy the #Root 'better bots' version as a good stand in for other players, have you tried that at all?

2 months ago

I have actually never played Root, but I usually only play games at 2p so it probably wouldn't be a good pickup for me!

Supporter2 months ago

Oh yeah, I defnitely wouldn't buy it as a 2P game.  Maybe if I won it.

2 months ago

No, since I heard of them, #Root only became more appealing to me :)

Supporter2 months ago

They are defnitely a solid way to get #Root to the table.  Obviously you miss out on the meta game, but they help me get Root out more often.  They can also help if you can only play it at 2P (which I would never personally do).

I would never suggest Root as an exclusively solo game though.

2 months ago

That's good to know, how would you feel about it as a 3P game?

Supporter2 months ago

I think I'll be getting it in as a 3P game tomorrow.  I've only played 3P once and that was a while ago and it was our first play so I don't remember it well.  But I think I would still play it if it was going to be 3P.  Some of it is my player personailty though too.  I love really big crowded boards.  For instance, I will play #Scythe at 3P and I'll enjoy it, but ideally it would be 5+ (really 6+) players for me.

I love #Root at both 4 and 5 (although I think some don't love 5 that much).

2 months ago

I wonder if the app uses a similar system if if they came up with something brand new for it?

Supporter2 months ago

I am all for solo modes in games. And, as a solo gamer I find them very important. However, I have not problem with some games not having a solo mode. For instance, I would not expect a game like #Cosmic Encounter, or #Dune, or #Diplomacy to have a satisfying solo mode. I guess someone might be able to design good solo modes for them. I mean, #Pax Pamir was considered too player dependent to have a solo mode when it came out. But #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) is widely regarded as a very good solo game. I don't need or want every game to have a solo option. But, I do really appreciate when designers try to see if there is a good solo play option available.

Supporter2 months ago

I'm definitely enjoying solo mode games a lot more right now.  I definitely prefer ones that attempt to simulate other players actions even if it does it unrealistically.  (Bot doesn't have to spend resources, bot doesn't have to obey movement rules etc)  If it makes me feel somewhat like I am playing against other players with their own unknown plans then I'm all for it.  

Beat your score designs don't do as much for me but they do work for certain games.  

A game doesn't have to have solo mode for me to consider it but it's a big plus, especially right now.  

Supporter2 months ago

I really love when a game can offer a great solo mode, but I also won't overlook a game just because it doesn't have one if it looks awesome. #Dune and #Root (at first, before I knew about the better bots).

Having said that, I haven't found that games need to drop core multiplayer mechanics to make a solo mode.  Yes during the solo mode some of these mechanics might need to be dropped (no neighbor bonus in #Clans of Caledonia for instance), but I can't imagine a designer will have to throw away core mechanics to make a good solo experience.

Ideally I want to play board games with others.  It's one of the very many reasons to play board games.  However, I do enjoy the thinking and strategy of board games and realize in my current state of life, playing with people as much as I would like to is unreleastic.  But... I don't want to miss out on a gaming experience just because I can't always get the group together.

2 months ago

But I wonder if mechanics were dropped from the base game entirely in some games to allow the solo mode to feel closer to the actual game?

Supporter2 months ago

I would be surprised to hear of a designer who said, we need a solo mode more than this mechanic for the multiplayer mode.  I could be wrong of course but unless you are making a game that is made to be primarily solo I'd think you'd skip the solo aspect of the game if it would take away from the core game.

2 months ago

Maybe not, but I am sure games have suffered by designers trying to give it as large a player count as possible, so I could imagine it also happening in the other direction now that solo gaming is becoming more the norm.

Supporter2 months ago

I certainly appreciate the fact that some of my games have a solo mode for the sake of people who enjoy that but I don't really play board games solo. I'd typically rather do a different activity if I were to be solo like watching shows, playing video games, or just working on some project.

I do like the approach that Stonemaier Games takes where I believe they typically design games as multiplayer and then have an outside designer create the single player mode that fits within the theme.

Supporter2 months ago

I have been playing solo less only because I have started getting back into Video Games a bit (which are really fun).  But I just love holding the peices/cards/etc while playing the game so I do still play solo from time to time.

What about TTS?  Have you played on there?  Do you consider it solo because you may not know the people you are playing with?

Supporter2 months ago

I have played a few games on TTS but it just doesn't interest me. If I'm playing online with friends or others (also a rare thing, I'd prefer video games again). I find that I really just use board games as an entertainment option with other people in person and use other options for any other scenario.

I'm fortunate to have my wife play around once a week with me and to own this website so I can justfiy playing games with as well from time to time.

2 months ago

Haha, 'I own a website about board games' is a very solid excuse to play board games once in a while!,

2 months ago

"being in a band" works for me with everything related to music as well :)

Supporter2 months ago

Yeah I think that's the big thing.  For me, video games dropped a while back and I never got into online gaming and don't have any friends who do online gaming.  Which is why I am going to generally opt for solo or TTS.

Supporter2 months ago

That is a great option to have Phil around. 

2 months ago

for me TTS isn't solo when playign versus other players. "Solo mode" for me really means being able to play without the help of human players in any form.

2 months ago

Interesting topic! I haven't dug into solo games too much yet, as my wife will play games with me usually once or twice a week at the moment. From what I've observed, the games I have that are highly interactive don't come with a solo mode (thinking #Dune, #Oceans, etc). I don't at all fault those games for not having a solo mode - that's not what those games are about, and I think they'd be worse if they had to adapt their core gameplay to accomodate a solo mode.

2 months ago

Agreed!