Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
 
How much do you owe a pickup group?

A reader asked me for an opinion on whether he as engineer in World of Warcraft was supposed to use seaforium charges, which cost 5 gold apiece, to open chests for a pickup group. As the content of the chest is then rolled for, he often ends up poorer if he does. It would be easy to pretend not to be able to open that chest, most people don't even think to ask whether somebody is engineer if there is no rogue in the group. Even sneakier you could leave the chest closed, stay behind when the group disbands and hearthstones out at the end of the dungeon, and then go back and open the chest for yourself. That is certainly not something you would do with a group of friends or guild mates. But is it okay for a pickup group?

Personally I'm always trying not to make too much of a difference between a group of friends and a group of strangers. As the old saying goes, strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. In WoW, pre 2.1 alchemy nerf, I sometimes got comments from groups when my warrior quaffed several potions to buff himself up, asking whether I was too rich or something. Apparently spending your own money to increase the chance of success of a pickup group is not something that is done very often. But then, I'm old school, I learned grouping in Everquest.

Everquest had forced grouping, that is after the newbie levels it was technically impossible for most classes to gain *any* xp while soloing. Every mob which was high enough in level to give any xp needed a group to kill. Thus getting invited into groups was important, and the better you played and the more effort you invested in a group, the better your reputation got, and the chance to get invited again by somebody that recognized you. Threatening to "blacklist" somebody for some offense like kill-stealing or ninja-looting carried a real weight; if you could arrange that nobody from your large guild ever grouped with that guy again, that could cause real problems for him. But if you went that extra mile for your pickup group, you could end up on the friends list of somebody, and end up getting more group invites in the future. You never knew who might be well connected, so putting in less effort into a pickup group than into a guild group didn't make sense.

World of Warcraft, with its ability to solo to 70, has much less strong social ties and worries about reputation. You group less often, spending more time soloing, and chances are that the people you group with today you'll never see again. So making an effort which costs you gold isn't easy to justify. If you use seaforium charges or potions, you risk paying more than the other group members, thus having less benefit than they do. And unlike EQ, where such a cost could be regarded as an investment in your reputation for the future, in WoW there isn't much reputation to gain. So in World of Warcraft, you basically spend that money only if you want it for yourself. If I *want* to spend money on potions and perform better, and don't mind the cost, that is okay. I can take pride in trying always to perform at my best. But I wouldn't consider that as a general rule of behavior. The majority of players only uses a pickup group to advance themselves, and wouldn't dream of spending extra money on it. So you shouldn't feel morally obliged to do better.
Comments:
I will spend money on buffs in PUGs, but I generally wait until about a third of the way through, by then I know if we're going to be a success or not.

If it seems doomed due to incompentance, then I won't spend anything. If it seems like a good group but not overpowered so a buff would help, then I will. Often I'll forget, or sometimes buffs early might have helped more. But generally I found that to be an ok middle ground where I am not wasting gold.
 
Spending money on a pug group isn't required, but when I play I play to have fun, or use my skills/professions to their bests. My pally is an herb/alchemist so I generally throw pots on myself. +50 to healing ain't bad. Back when I was a ret pally at around level 46 I would throw up elixir of the mongoose. If I farmed the mats myself, and I made the pots myself then I will use them when I want and not consider it to be "spending" gold.

Now would I use a charge that costed me 5g to make to open a chest so others could get loot? I have a one five chance of profitting, so I guess I would do that, but I know others don't. I once grouped with a warrior who wanted 3g from everyone in the group to open a chest with his blacksmithing key. When everyone said "no" to him, he opened the chest himself and took his green item and hearthed. Some people are really cheep in this game, considering gold isn't real. MMO's are about grouping, not hording gold and loot to yourself. I never saw that warrior again, not that I would group with him if I did, but if he didn't make an ass out of himself and leave he would have made it to the last boss in ramparts and picked up the hellreaver(pole arm drops from last boss? Forgot its exact name) he was after.
 
Some pugs are great, and others a nightmare. You can generally tell how good the pug is going to perform in the first 5 minutes of starting.
If everyone knows how to behave, then I am willing to invest effort/pots/food to get to the end of the instance. Players don't have to be the best in the world, as long as they have a good attitude.
Bad pugs and I'm just not going to try too hard, and I certainly wouldn't waste items in them. Chances are the group would fall apart long before the end, anyway.

As for chests, I would not be aggrieved if whoever opened the chest had first pick of an item - after all, no one would get anything if they didn't open it.
 
As a warrior, I love it when a person shares their alchemy buffs with me for the sake of the group. I play in a lot of pug groups and every little bit helps. I personally don't mind if a rouge, blacksmith or engineer takes everything or the things he wants from the chest. Why should a person have a chance for something he would have no chance for if one of these professions was not available? If all three of these professionals were there, then everyone who is able to independently open the chest should get a chance to roll for it. But this could lead to people claiming professions they have no experience in just for a chance at a roll. On the other foot, why limit rolling for just chests. Maybe none miners can roll for ore. Or nonherbalist for herbs.
 
I am finding pugging in Lotro altogether more enjoyable than I remember from WOW. Perhaps it is the novelty factor but then again it could be the fact that there is more forced grouping in Lotro - echoing your experience from Everquest. People seem quite happy to spend time and money helping out strangers. Typical example from last night: I grouped with four strangers to do a quest in North Downs (Find Dion I believe). After successful completion one of the party asked about another fellowship quest. Three of us had already completed it but we all went along with him anyway to get him his quest. We got little or no loot or XP for repeating the quest but it was an enjoyable jaunt. This is not an unusual Lotro experience - I see it happening almost every day and have been the beneficiary of this type of help from strangers on several occasions myself.
 
You nailed it. It's supremely easy to spot ex EQ players in whatever mmorpg that I'm playing.
 
First of all, 5g is a gross exaggeration to try and make a point. Secondly, there is a very simple solution that should keep the engineer from losing money and keep the engineer from risking offending somebody.

Get to a locked chest, no rogue, engineer can announce that they can blow the lock and that anybody willing to pay the cost of the charge (and be reasonable, not 5g) should roll on the chest. Everybody willing to pay the fee rolls, whoever wins trades the gold to the engineer for the charge, engineer blows open the chest. That way nobody feels obligated to pay gold and the engineer doesn't stand to lose gold every time they happen across a chest.

These discussions always confuse me, but perhaps I'm just not greedy enough. The fact that rogues have opened chests since launch and had no ability to claim the contents makes it pretty hard to justify engineers getting a more special priviledge. To those that claim that because it's a profession rather than class skill it makes things different, I ask whether you were comfortable allowing skinners to be the only ones who could roll on Pristine Hide of the Beast back in the day. That old argument got a lot of mileage, but I didn't see many skinners getting support because it was a profession rather than class skill.
 
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but IIRC I've noticed a change in WoW lately that when a green+ item is pulled from a chest by a member of a group the item is snagged by the group-loot and rolled-for automatically. (No more ninja-loot of chests.)

Just another one of the recent changes to WoW that I've noticed, but don't remember reading in the documentation / patch notes.
 
Albatross-- actually, 5g would be *low* for my server, going off of the AH. Motes ain't cheap.

Doeg-- it was in the patch notes, although I seem to recal it was in a funky section. My husband read the notes aloud. (Yes, it's odd, but I adore the sound of his voice)
 
yeah, they fixed the chest issue as to when a green or better item is picked up people get to roll on it like a normal drop.

As far as greediness goes I used to be a very helpful player. I would craft gear for guildies at my expense, run the same instance over and over to get ''friends'' gear and blow tons of gold and time to help others. Sad truth is that I more often that not was being taken advantage of and when I was the one needing the help no one would come.

So now I am as selfish as most WoW players. Whatever I did would first and foremost be to my benifit and if I used a potion in an instance it was only so I could get a piece of gear or get a quest done. For some reason, maybe because of the huge WoW population there's no incentive or reward to being nice and being selfish will cause you less grief and waste of time in the long run.

Now I've started playing Lotro after reading Tobold comments on the game and so far there's a huge difference in the community. For the first time in a very long time being nice and working for others actually meant I got help in return. Don't know if it`s only luck or true for the lower levels but I hope it continues.
 
So what you guys are saying is, its ok to be an Ass in wow PUGS, but LOTR is so leet and filled with non-retards that you shuld be nice. LOL the same thing applies in wow, I have made several frieds in PUGs in wow, and it wasnt from being a jerk to them. I am a 390 eng and the charges cost no where near 5 g to make, and thers no way I am going to charge peope to open it pug or not. First of all, it makes me feel good to be able to open a chest in the absence of a rogue, 2nd never know when a nice BOE blue, or a gem, or somethin nice wil come out of it and its worth the 1.2 gold it cost me to make the charge. That would be my way of being nice, and doing so to a few poeple have increased my freidns lit alot. So please stop saying how LOTR is the only game that you get rewards back for being nice, because the lil mage i never knew asked me to help with BM for attunment, I went, and since then have had a mage to coem with me on any run ever needed. So yea, quit being blinded by the "LOTR helps poeple more" attitude and "LOTR people help out more" BS. I have been pugin Heroix lately and finnaly got the trdent from heroic SV, and this was doen with all people i had met in pugs, and I am in a guild who just downed Prince last night so I haev a solid guild, but when poeple don't have thier heroic keys I go to pugs or poepel i have puged with before and haev a real solid freidns list because of it. So no, being nice in LOTR does not reap more rewards than doing so in WOW IMO.
 
First off, it's obvious that charges vary in cost with each server. Regardless, the fact remains... how much should you "donate" for a pick-up group in WoW?

Thankfully, grouping is not forced upon you in WoW the same way it was in Everquest. I don't really think forced grouping helped or helps anyone play better. It just frustrates and forces players to quit. Survival of the fittest, and such come to mind, but thats not the kind of game I really want to be playing.

Forced grouping and "blacklisting" have little effect on someone. It may lock them out of a top end raid or a high traffic area, but by far, it does not change how someone plays the game. If it did, they probably already quit. Most of the time they just go elsewhere and get in another group. Even the most infamous griefers get back into groups!

Personal reputation does play a part in every game. WoW is just so damn big that you are unlikely to run into the same people over and over randomly. Chances are though, that you will go looking for people you have good experiences with. Just like players did in Everquest.

However, in class based games if you need a priest; you need a priest. Chances are, even the most notorious of bad players, will get a group spot.

What Tobold is really getting at is that your value in a pick up group is directly proportionate to the solo ability of the game you are playing. If you are playing a game where grouping is required, you need to bend over backwards. If you are playing a solo friendly game, you can tell a few gamers to f-off when you don't feel like blowing a Seforium Charge. In either game, playing nice just determines how long you stay in that group.

Personally, I am thankful I don't have to get on "the list" and then wait hours until a group spot opens up at the 1 or 2 viable leveling ares in games like Everquest.
 
LOL it's easy to hear which list i should put you on heartless ;)
 
Treat others as you would like them to treat you.
 
I have to agree there is a certain amount of selfishness in WoW PUGs, in fact I had such a bad experience in Wailing Caverns with my main that I avoided instances altogether until Scarlet Monastery.

But to be fair I'm finding it very hard to find PUGs in LotRO. Maybe it's because I'm on an RP server and my main is only lvl 10, but it can get quite frustrating when you need a group to advance and no-one seems interested or even sociable.

WoW gets a bad rap, but the last few PUGs I've been in have been really great experiences with some really nice players, even when we didn't finish an instance it was all wrapped up in a very civilised and fair way.

And that's the most important thing for me. For example pre-patch, I gave away a great blue breastplate drop to a Paladin, who then had to leave 5 mins later, but the PUG members respected me for that.

Maybe my attitude is a bit 'hippy' for WoW, but I think the nicer you are, the more likely other players will be nice. There will always be arseholes but I'm not going to let myself become bitter about it.
 
I was always pretty careful in PUG's while playing WoW as almost all of my long-term in-game friends I initially met in a PUG. Some generosity in the short term, can payoff in the long term by finding a good friend to play with.
 
My thoughts are for the loot in WoW is there is a unspoken precidence for where the should go.

1.) Players that can use it, and it is an immediate and obvious upgrade. (tanks/healer usually fall into this category without much question.

2.) Multiple chars can "use" it, but not necessarily an upgrade. In which case you greed roll it and dont waste time whining ab out loot.

3.) nobody needs it or wants it so it gets greed rolled. If someone wins multiple loot in a roll or Need rolls more than 1 time in a raid/instance they are asked to let others win before rolling more.

Pretty simple guidelines which work great for 5 man instances and keep the group happy.

Using this system, I have won epic items from random mobs (stockade pauldrons ftw) and also lost rolls for items that greatly improved someone elses purse. However since I pug'd most of my way to 65 I have felt the balance of loot joy to greif is "close enough" and generally dont get too whiny.... (unless the hunter is rolling for items other chars need, lol damn hunters)
 
I also want to comment on spending ingame funds to support the group..

in the case of my paladin... Often i dont want to spend mats to do greater buffs on a PuG mainly because It makes my role in the party much lazier and uninteractive (spam flash heals for 45 mins... boring Zzz).

However when it becomes large scale buffing like raids/alterac valley I am able to toss out a buff that cost me a great deal Less MP to maintain and also allows me to use my MP to do stuff like DSP/heal/stun/debuff ppl in fights. It actually enhances my overall role and I really dont mind spending some mats to do that.

Would I use profession mats to benefit a largescale raid/alterac valley? No not usually, unless I felt the char was skilled enough to not waste my investment (healers + and +mptick wep buff... ya worth it usually... or warriors getting +stam/+spirt food buffs). It also can be a different story when people have their proffesion maxed out and dont mind using the mats they get free on fights they are involved in versus someone who is still lvling a profession and offers their services to everyones benefit (ie alchemy/enchanting professions in BG's sometimes can get free ^^).
 
In the ideal world, I treat a PUG the same as I would any other - we are there to sort out this dungeon, using any skills we can.

However, I have been in some truely dreadful PUGs, so I believe you can gauge the worth of your PUG pretty early, and I have resolved to quit an obviously bad PUG rather than waste my time. As long as I overcome this initial "is this a good group" thing, I am happy to give all I can
 
I have always enjoyed *most* PUGs. Of course we all have that PUG horror story about the guy who ninja'ed the *insert loot here*, but for the most part, PUGs are fine groups. Sure, they are not always successful, but the groups are usually enjoyable.

Personally, outside of raids, I rarely use buffs, except in heroic instances. The benefits for me negligible in non-heroic 5-mans at this point. However, when in a PUG while leveling, I would buff up to the moon if I had the stuff available. I prefer to always put forth my best performance, and if that means spending mats, so be it. It's not like it's actually costing me money out of my pocket. It's just pretend money.

Besides, I believe there *is* a value to your reputation in WoW. Sure, at lower levels you may never see the same people again, but once you hit 70, you tend to run into people pretty regularly, especially if you farm for the same professions. Having a good rep is what makes the interpersonal interactions of the MMO fun for me.


Of course, everyone's different.
 
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