I was thinking about making it hard to respec, and that led me to thinking about how "group-centric" specs get the shaft because they find it so hard to solo. I love having my Ret off-spec easily available so that I can do dailies. Then I thought that, if you couldn't solo, group-centric specs would actually be fine during the leveling game.
But a lot of the older games required a group, and they were outperformed by WoW. A great deal of WoW's success is attributed to the fact that WoW allowed people to solo up to the level cap. But then I remembered a comment by Christopher a few days ago which phrased this common wisdom in a subtly different manner:
WoW really broke new ground by bringing transient players into a style of game that had always been built around extended players, and doing so massively increased their subscriber numbers.Transient/extended is not the same thing as solo/group. The concepts overlap a fair deal, but there are differences. And maybe those differences are exploitable.
What would a game where you leveled in transient groups look like?
It could look like leveling through the Dungeon Finder or by running PvP battlegrounds. That's certainly one option.
But could you adapt questing in an open world to a transient group style? Thinking about this, here's what I came up with.
1. Imagine you had to be in a group whenever you ventured outside a city. The game would automatically place you in an existing group or form one for you. You could still have a "find another group" option while in a group though. You would probably need an option to teleport to the group's location to make life easier for joining mid-quest.
2. World content would be tuned for 3 players, with groups of up to 5 being allowed to give flexibility when forming groups.
3. Quests would be tied to the group, not the individual. When your group is formed, it is given a quest. When your group completes that quest, the group is given a new quest. The quests could be semi-random, in that they don't necessarily form a story-chain the way quests in WoW do. When you leave your group, you lose access to the quest you are currently working on.
Do you think such a game would be viable? It's entirely transient, with people being added to and leaving groups as necessary. You could still play with an extended group if you prefer. But it's definitely a group-centric game where you can't solo. Playing a tank or a healer would be much more viable as you always have the group those roles need to thrive.
I'm not sure if this style of play would be viable. But I think it would be an interesting experiment.