Tobold's Blog
Saturday, December 12, 2009
 
Thought for the day: Just a feature?

Ravious from Kill Ten Rats thinks that the new LFG system in World of Warcraft is just a feature, and thus inherently inferior to added new content. But isn't a feature that changes the way the average player plays a MMORPG far more powerful than an added new zone or dungeon?
Comments:
100% agree, just a feature and not even that in my book. Just a tweak.

It's a mechanic that facilitates the game play and isn't the game play it self.

A good one, overdue and needed but nonetheless a tweak to the mechanics that bring you content.
 
You're fighting a strawman here. He's saying that the LFG system doesn't change the way the average player plays WoW. You're still gathering instance groups and killing bosses, you're just able to do more of it.

It's about whether the individual player feels that there's enough content in the game. For reward-oriented achievers, all that matters is the cheese. Whether the maze is called the LFG tool or the new zone/instance is irrelevant. They're happy either way. However, I imagine that explorers and challenge-oriented achievers would feel disappointed, because most likely they probably have already been to all of those old instances. Been there, done that. For a socializer, the uniqueness of the instance is much less important. It's all about the groups, and the LFG tool is a great improvement. They're able to meet more people much more efficiently.
 
You seem either to have misread Ravious's piece or chosen to misrepresent it. He doesn't make any comparison between "features" and "content", as you more than imply. He directly compares two "features", namely the new dungeon-grouping tool in WoW and the "skirmish" feature in LotRO.

The key phrase is probably

"Blizzard’s feature does not really change the core game. It just allows people to play the core game more".

I don't think that really covers it, because a feature that largely removes the need even to visit the entire overground landmass of an MMO potentially does a lot more than "allow people to play the core game". However, I would say that because, to me, the "core game" of all MMOs is the physically connected overland landmass and associated content. Dungeons, no matter how many there are, are not "core content" to me.

I think that comparing a "feature" with "content" in terms of which is "more powerful" is a false dichotomy, by the way. A new dungeon or zone IS a "Feature", and, depending on the rewards available within it, a new dungeon or zone can change the way the average player plays. A prime example would be the addition of the Plane of Knowledge to Everquest, which fundamentally and permanently changed the way the game was played.
 
The hierarchy is false. Features are not automatically inferior to content.

What matters is how much the people playing the game enjoy the game. (Or if you're Bobby Kotick how long they keep paying).
 
When is a feature not a feature?

When it substantially changes the nature of the game.

Since the Dungeon Finder was introduced, there has been a shift in attitudes towards PUGs (PUGs ?= bad), hybrids everywhere are spec'ing tanks and healers (and being forgiven for being inexperienced/undergeared) and I've started to level a warrior purely through doing classic dungeons (with a 15 min wait on average between each one).

If you can excuse the pun, this is a 'game-changer'. I would much rather have these 'features' than content (= even more dungeons, more daily quests).

It's ironic that this all came a week after we were foretelling the coming of massively single player RPGs...
 
Just a tweak? Laughable. Clearly anyone who calls this merely a feature hasn't thought things through.

The breadth of the Dungeon Finder system in it's affect on the game is massive.

It changes leveling. I find myself logging on characters of all levels to get the daily dungeon reward, burn some rested XP, and find groups for level ranges that it was impossible to on a single realm.

The system adds incentives to stay in a group, disincentives to leave (deserter buff), fixes looting to stop ninjas, and adds a kick feature to boot the odd griefer.

At level 80 it allows groups of friends to port to zones quickly or find a 4th or 5th member; it encourages people who may have been too shy to send whispers and put a group together to do pugs and enjoy more aspects of the game.

Players of all types may be interested in getting the title and pet for grouping with pugs.

I know my wife and I have done pugs together and individually, as well as with groups and been running many more dungeons and heroics than before, more successfully, and with more fun.

The five man content is some of the strongest and most cohesive that Blizzard has made and with the new ease and rewards it provides both casual and hardcore players convenience and ability to have compelling group content in short bursts without taking an hour to find members.

It also allows players on an underpopulated server or faction to easily get in groups, a huge factor that people on higher population realms may not consider.

Blizzard has finally raised the bar and perfected getting groups, and believe it or not people do run them at all levels which is just a breathtaking change that allows new things such as leveling via tanking or healing and unlocking entirely new avenues of gameplay and making them viable.

-Vainglory
http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Andorhal&n=Vainglory
 
Does this really change the way the 'average player' plays the game? I'm not sure that it does. Prior to the patch we had people who would chain run heroics, with or without guildies. They still do, only now they randomize it and get frost emblems. Others would only run the daily; I don't know how they're approaching it now, maybe they do an extra heroic or two, but I don't know that it's really changed anything.

Last night we did a couple of randoms. We filled pretty darn quick because we had a tank and a healer. The other night, we were missing the tank and it still took us a while to fill the group. Not much has changed there.

The real benefit is that the guy in my guild that I hate to group with (personality conflict) can now find a group much more easily, and doesn't have to spam guild chat with 'wanna run some heroics?'
 
I don't think that the "nerfing" or ease of getting to dungeons via the dungeon finder damages the integrity of the overland continents more than portals, teleporting, summoning, not having to walk to the battleground entrance like the old days, etc.

It has gone the way of many antiquated MMO features, such as severe death penalties, losing XP, corpse runs, full looting, waiting half an hour for a boat, forced grouping, and a myriad of other hardcore characteristics that don't add "challenge", just frustration.

Having played WoW since the beginning as well as MUDs, UO, Asheron's Call, PlanetSide, etc the lore and world doesn't suffer from this - the quests and adventure are still out there, but as others have said, the time lost paintstakingly putting a group together, dragging everyone there, only to see the PUG break up - it puts more time in the hands of hte players, so people can do a heroic in the 30 minutes before they have to go to work or between raids, like a battleground. And like battleground XP, it provides an alternative to questing - a tedious method of advancement for players who may have two, three, or ten characters over level 70.
 
Well, if you've run all the instances a load and are bored with them, it's a feature. But if you were having trouble getting to see the content then it's making the existing content much more accessible.

It only really works for Blizzard because the WoW instances have always been very well crafted on the whole. It's always been a key selling point for the game.

But skirmishes are also great.
 
One could say that dual specs does not add new content. Achievements do not add new content.

Yet the first one seems to be the best thing to happen tho WoW this year and the latter the best thing that happened last year.
 
The new LFG has been a game changer for me and has effectively added much new content. I dinged 80 on 28 Dec 2008 but have never been able to do any of the WotLK heroics until patch 3.3. And the reason has been LFG
Although I play WoW 3-4 hours per day, only one of those hours is essentially uninterrupted (and often not even that). My guild is in the top 20 on my server but I'm rarely able to raid reliably, so I join on those few times that I'm able. (And I'm usually carried then) Before 3.3, I'd sit in LFG or listening to trade chat for 30-60 mins (as a healer!) just to get a group together and more often than not I wouldn't be in my "uninterrupted" hour once the party was all ready. So, I gave up on instancing.
Since 3.3, it takes 2 minutes to get a heroic group together and 20-30 minutes to complete the dungeon. I've done five heroics for the first time just in the last week and it's great! 3.3's LFG has essentially added a ton of content for me.
 
"Just a feature"? Hmm...I have never, ever, put myself in LFG before--and I've been playing since beta, without any breaks other than vacations away from home.

I saw new content on three characters yesterday; content I might never have seen on two of them. I am now a pugger. All three groups I was in were extremely successful: No wipes, not even a death. I healed one, DPSed in two: My hunter was #2 overall, my rogue #5 (yeah, lots and lots of blues, and we still got the mount in CoT).

So to say this is just a feature rather lessens the impact this "feature" has already had on the game. And I know I am nowhere near the only one to do his or her first PUGs this week. If this is a feature, it's a killer feature like VisiCalc was a killer app, 30 years ago.
 
a breathtaking change that allows new things such as leveling via tanking or healing and unlocking entirely new avenues of gameplay and making them viable.
To be fair, that happened with the increased experience and overlapping instances of TBC as well, but only in the 60-70 bracket.

Just a tweak? Laughable. Clearly anyone who calls this merely a feature hasn't thought things through.
Improved LFG is just a tweak in the same sense that Blizzard game development is just about polish. ;-)
 
Well, since my earlier post I have now actually used the new Dungeon Finder. It's very efficient. I doubt I will be using it often, though.

First I tried with my 47th Warlock. Thre times the group began to fill and then collapsed as I and the other two DPS waited for a Healer and Tank that never appeared. Then a Healer appeared, one of the DPS left and the Healer followed. After about 7 minutes we finally had all 5 slots filled, the Tank didn't accept and the group collapsed. I gave up at that point.

That showed me the system was working well but that trying to get a group as DPS was probably going to be hard work. I swapped to my Level 20 Priest and was in a group within 30 seconds. It took another few minutes before the server deigned to open an instance for us and then there we were in Wailing Caverns.

The group went well. Four out of the five players gelled but one, who never spoke, kept rolling Need on things the rest of thought he didn;t really need, sowe saw the Kick vote in action. We replaced him with someone who managed to get separated from the group on the first fight and spent a few minutes fighting and eventually dieing solo somewhere else in the dungeon. He also never spoke and was kicked. By the time we replaced him we were at the last Boss and our final replacement promptly died overnuking and then yelled at me.

We cleared the whole place, all Bosses, got the achievement. The only deaths were when the Tank got disconnected and ran into a room full of mobs, the lost hunter and the overnuking mage. Since I had never played my Priest in a group before, he isn't specced for healing and it's about five years since I last played a main healer in a group in any game, I thought it all went pretty well.

My problem wasn't the mechanics of the new Dungeon Finder. It's the dungeon experience itself. MUCH MUCH MUCH too fast. No-one wants to stop, look around, chat, or do anything other than get through as fast as humanly possible. This is precisely why I stopped grouping back in the first few months of EQ2. It doesn't surprise me, but it does disappoint all the same.

I would like a dungeon that requires patience and timing. Clearing a room, pulling to a safe spot, a few minutes to handle each pull and a couple more minutes to recover. With roamers, respawns and no complettion criteria. Running around like a crazed three-year old on a sugar rush ripping off all the layers until the parcel is finally unwrapped is not my idea of fun.

I don't think there's much that this feature can do to address that. Now I can get groups I don't think I'm going to want them any more than I did before. But I can't argue that it isn't nice to have the option.
 
I can't say that it changes the way I play the game. It's certainly easier to find groups mainly because the rewards have been upgraded and there's a larger pool of players to match up with. If Heroics still rewarded heroism badges I still wouldn't do them because they're useless to me.

All in all the lfg system is a good feature to add to the current game, because it fits in well with the casual friendly design. However the only real change the lfg system made for me, as far as the way I play the game, is that it took out the part where I have to run to the actual dungeon.
 
I concur with comments #1 and #2. Regards.
 
If a feature makes it possible to visit content that was otherwise very diffivult to impossible to visit, it IS new content.

Hell, I would have loved this for doing GneomeRegan on Horde side back in the days..
 
I feel Bhagpuss makes an excellent comment on the speed that these new PUGs are pushing for.

As a healer I haven't even had time to buff the group before DPS are screaming "Go Go Go!" and start pulling anything in sight. If someone stops to drink, the group just keeps pushing though content without pause, even the person drinking is the healer!

It's a great system and I haven't failed on a boss fight yet but wow, it's a hectic run.
 
I can say honestly that I am almost doing purely dungeon content now. I never before had a reason or even the idea of me being able to get together with people in a group for instances. I have been running BG's for what seems like forever, and the DF changed my whole method of playing the game.

The nice thing about the finder is that if the group loses a member or 4, you can que right back up. You can also stay together as a group if you find some you like, you can continue to dungeon dive with them as long as you like.

Some of the bad stuff I have noticed is that some people are needing on stupid stuff or things they don't need. I have also been in a group where someone wanted to just complete a sword quest and then bailed on the group.

We did pick up someone else, but it was just bothersome. Yes, there are a few jerks out there and sometimes people start yelling at each other, but most of the time everything works out.

I think that the BG's have been hit pretty hard by the finder for the same reason as many people mentioned. You can get better gear without much hassle. It has been taking up to 30 minutes to get a BG now, but getting groups is much lower for my group. I think the longest I had to wait at any level was 5 minutes.

When I play a few times a week, it is always well over 6 hours at a time, sometimes as much as 18 hours. So to me, the DF has helped me to get more stuff done in less time. That is a big bonus for me.

I don't care if it is just a feature or not. The thing made it possible for my small guilds to have some fun without the worry of building a large guild. I think quests are going to be hit a bit by this, but some people even with this awesome tool will still never group. It's just something many people do not want to do for whatever reason.

For me, this was something I really needed. I am glad they put this in the game.
 
The LFG tool is more of a feature than all the new dungeons, for me at least. Why's that? Because I used to play on my own, I wasn't in a guild and I was always afraid to get into a PUG for 5-mans. Since 3.3 was released, I tried to do a random heroic every day. I finally came out of my shell. It's HUGE.
 
The new Dungeon Finder is a feature, yes, but to say it's "Just a tweak" is vastly understating the impact of this "feature".

Why do we need to argue over semantics anyway? From the comments I have read it seems that many people see this as a powerful tool that not only changes the content they get to see and experience but HOW they go about playing the game. It changes habbits, attitudes, and alters one's overall experience (mostly for good) and therefore should not be reduced to the title of "just a tweak".

It changes how people are allowed to act (less ability to ninja items that another could actually use to improve their toon). It dramatically alters "access" to content, and gets shy people like myself out into the world and into places that can only help them prepare for end-game raid content.

IRL my initials are GG, but to the first commenter, GG, I say again, that the consensus seems to prove that we should stop playing the semantic game, for this is not "just a tweak".
 
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