Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Cross-server dungeons

Klepsacovic explains the advantage of cross-server dungeons, which is mainly a significant decrease in queue time. Outside prime time that cross-server function makes all the difference, enabling you to actually find a group before you play session is over. Of course Klepsacovic is right in saying that this might be less needed during prime time. But I'm not convinced yet that the cross-server functionality actually has any disadvantages.

The main accusation against cross-server functionality is that somehow the larger population makes people behave worse, because they are dealing with "strangers" from outside their "server community". But actually there is scientific proof that this argument is false. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar showed that in primates (that includes humans) there is a maximum number of people you can have a stable social relationship with. That number, the Dunbar number, is about 150 for humans. Which means that on any World of Warcraft server, even if you only count either the Horde or the Alliance side, the "server community" is too big for a human to remember. Most of the players on your server are strangers to you. Going from a single server to a battlegroup of servers changes nothing. Especially since Blizzard introduced the cross-server ignore functionality: No mentally sane person is sending tells to some jerk he met in a bad pickup group anyway, so ignoring that jerk is all the functionality you ever need.

I believe that the perception some people have that cross-servers make the community worse is just that, a perception, and not a fact. You can't separate people from their wrongly held beliefs, but that doesn't make those beliefs reality. If Blizzard tomorrow switched off the cross-server functionality for the Dungeon Finder, the pickup groups would be exactly as badly behaved as they are now. Only that you'd wait much longer to get into one.
I would be curious if the different roles view this differently.

If tanks get a group they don't like for any reason, they can simply abandon them and get a new group (assuming they spent at least 15 minutes in the dungeon, which I assume it would take that long to learn your group is unacceptable). It seems to me that their instant queue makes jerks and other bad groups non-issues. However, I do admit I have never played a tank, so I would be curious to hear from them on this.

As a healer, I have a 7-10 minute wait time. I'd rather not wait that again, but if think the group cannot be salvaged, I will.

DPS queue time is 35-40 minutes. After waiting that long, you cannot abandon this run, no matter what. You are stuck with these people until they quit, or you do (essentially giving up on the daily reward that day). I have completed heroics where the group was a total disaster to start. The original members all quit but me, and I used my "ongoing dungeon" status to get a fresh new group instantly.
I totally disagree with your post here, but appreciate the discussion. I think the way you act in a PUG has more to do with social community impact, not direct relationship.

Sure, the people you PUG with on your server you might not know or even realize it if you hook up with them again, but that doesn't matter.

What does matter is the community. If you are a ninja in a PUG cross-server, there is a lot less reprecussions than if you are PUGing with people on your server. Those people can go and tarnish your reputation through communication with others. So your 4 other people in your group becomes 4x150, and possibly taking that another step out saying that news spreads one more generation, but only half of those say anything to a friend you get, (4x150)+(75*150) = 11,850. I know thats not really an exact number, but a bad reputation in a community can spread very quickly, especially if you piss off someone with a big mouth.

Many people have morals because of their reputation in their community at large rather than just their circle of friends. The same is true for the WoW community.
I would think you don't need to "know" everyone on the server for this to improve behavior.

if a particular guild can have a bad reputation on a server for one reason or another why not one player? If you behave badly, you will eventually run into someone who is not shy about broadcasting it. Do it often enough and word will most likely get around.

I can't speak for what EQ was like, but DAoC was like this. There were certain guilds/players that you avoided grouping with for various reasons and my server at least had way more then 150 players.

I didn't know everyone on the server but word did get around. And this was a game that did NOT have centralized message boards. There were a few sites around but no primary location. Chat in game was a big source for this.
I think you're discounting the value of a reputation, particularly a bad one. I may not be able to do anything about a jerk from another server, but me (or more importantly, my guild) can do something about ones on our server. It's much easier to get a hold of the GM or officer of a guild on the same server, and the GM of my guild may know the GM of their guild.

Also, if I'm an officer or otherwise influential in my guild, I may put a stop to anyone from their guild participating in our raids or other events. Unguilded jerks will lose both the raid opportunities and get denied membership in the future.

Generally, guilds don't want to keep people around that make them look bad, so all this can lead to being kicked from their guild. This type of policing is pretty much impossible to do in a cross-server environment, but does happen within a server. (I had a GM in a guild I was in pre-Dungeon Finder who would do exactly this).
Well let's get the obvious things out of the way, I suppose.

We would only be playing with a subset of our server community, limited by what hours you play, when you play. And of course, the people who are of a similar level (and gear level I suppose). And then pared down to people who would even want to enter a dungeon, let alone a heroic, and you've got maybe a small percentage of people you're really playing with.

And then there's the misapplication of Dunbar's number. Dunbar's number is a limit on the number of socially strong ties one can possibly have. However, it bears little to no relevance when you're talking about public shame. I don't have to have a strong social tie with someone to know/remember that a certain person on my server is a dick/ninja/douche/etc. Hell, we probably know of thousands upon thousands of names of famous people and the reputation they have behind them. You may not be able to rattle them off from memory, but you'll know who they are when you see the name. So just like you know who James Bond, Madonna, and the Taliban are, you'll remember the ninja who stole your epic phat loots or the terribly bad DPS who afked through the entire instance.
@Samus: If tanks get a group they don't like for any reason, they can simply abandon them and get a new group (assuming they spent at least 15 minutes in the dungeon, which I assume it would take that long to learn your group is unacceptable). It seems to me that their instant queue makes jerks and other bad groups non-issues. However, I do admit I have never played a tank, so I would be curious to hear from them on this.

I'm guilty as charged. I'm a tank who will drop a group as fast as possible if it's even remotely possible that the group is bad. Since I barely even care about heroics in the first place, I don't care if I get the dungeon deserter debuff (which apparently doesn't get applied that often to me anyways. I don't get how thing works). That means I can toss out some small quip about how bad players are bad, etc, and leave.

The DPS probably have the short end of the stick here, which is why they're just as mean as well. Even though they would rather not wait another 40 minutes to requeue, let's face it. They've been waiting for 40 minutes already, and now they're stuck with what they think is a terrible group. It's a lose-lose situation, so whether they blow up at the other group members and leave, or suck it up and stay, they're just going to get more frustrated.
People have this bizarre impression that a bad reputation for being a ninja = bad reputation for being bad, or behaving badly. It doesn't. Look back to TBC when you were still limited to same-server PvP. Did you get a group and groan about Illiadinlol, Defender of the Road? No, unless it was an especially pervasive bot or constant "let's lose quickly" vocal type of player you latched onto.

What people are deluding themselves about here, is how "back in the day" they used to run <20% of the number of non-guild group activities that they run today. If they actually ran more pugs back then, they would see that even low-pop servers are filled to the brim with ninjas, mouthy douches, and bad players. The "community" has not changed, no one cared about the reputation of someone you would never see again unless you stalked them or they had some sort of striking personality/guild connections.

The community is not worse, nor is the anonymity worse than it used to be. It is as it has always been.
I think you are overestimating your capacity to remember a "bad reputation". You can verify that yourself with a simple exercise: Open your ignore list, and try to remember WHY you ignored each of these persons. Chances are that anyone on that list for over a week has long been forgotten by you. And if he wasn't on your ignore list, and you'd be grouped again with him, you wouldn't even notice.
In this case the Dunbar number applies to entities, not people. In pre-dungeonfinder days you might not know the people you were grouping with but you knew of their guild. Everyone was just a click away from reporting a jerk to their gl or having their whole guild put on *avoid* lists. I saw PuGs where people left the group/raid because someone joined from a guild that had provided a past trouble-maker.
I know what WoW was like before the introduction of cross-server BGs, for example. I certainly know what it was like in TBC. It's not like we came up with the problems of cross-server solutions last year. We (the playerbase) have said so since the seconds these things have been introduced.

Now, we can try to analyse it scientificly - but science starts with the evidence, not with theorems. Server Identy existed. Server Reputation was important to many players. It certainly was important to me. I met the same players and the same guilds again and again and again day after day. Sure, I didn't know everybody, but I knew enough to feel like living in a community. And so did all the players I regularily played with.

An analysis as to why this was the way it was, has been provided by several commenters already. No need to repeat, I guess.
The issue isn't so much cross-server. It's more the random nature of the players you get. For example, in the past I would have had to make a /trade group. If a potential tank was in all dps blues/greens, he would never have started the dungeon with us. That doesn't happen in the dungeon finder.

And some people seem to have forgotten that you can make pugs on your own server. It might not even take as long as the dps queue and you have more control over your group!
When discussing the state of MMO communities people tend to look for outside factors that influence these rather then a change in the way they interact with said communities.

I can only speak for myself but when I started playing I was pretty much some /1 douchebag having some fun, went through some stages of hardcore and finally ended up playing exclusively with friends made in- and outside the games.
The way I perceived the community in DAOC was vastly different than the way I experienced the communities in WoW or CoH because the way I played these games had changed.
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I'm thinking Klepsacovic either had really great groups before the cross-server function was introduced or a blow to the head that caused memory damage.

Personally, I had crappy groups before the function was created and good ones after. Yes, as you point out in your next post, nobody talked in these LFD groups, but that was good since you have to chat to belittle others. In most of my pre-LFD groups, the only chat had was used to critique and insult other players.. and we were all on the same server.

So my thesis is the opposite. When grouping with total strangers you may never see again, people don't feel the need to insult their gear or play style as much because they either don't have time to inspect them online or they know they will never see them again and just don't care to do it. People don't feel the need to make themselves feel as if they are better than a person on another server because there is little to no chance they will ever have to compete for a raid spot against them. They won't be in their circle for the larger issue of raiding, so there is less reason to care.
It's just that its a continuation of the fact that the've made it so easy to play without interacting with people that they don't.

People take the easy way. Evolution dictates you do things the easy way and then you have more energy for other things. Thus people like large zerg groups, or The armoury that makes excluding others easier or gearscore that's even easier than the armory. LFD removes any and all reason to talk. Just show up and kill things get your loot and move on.

If cave men could have lived good lives singly without going hungry or worring about big predators we'd have never had civilization.
Oh, look, another Tobold post about how the limitations and issues of WoW are not actually due to decisions, implementation failures or mistakes of game design, but inevitable consequences of human nature

And how the developers keep ignoring that human nature exists. thus they keep making things worse.
I find it extremely hard to blame Blizzard for problems that can also be observed in other games. See next post, which happens to have happened in Rift, not WoW.

I think there is a natural tendency of players to want to blame the developers, because players can't admit that anything might possibly be the fault of the players.
Interesting to see how many people focus on minutes saved on the LFG tool. Everyone wants to group fast and get it over with. Seems to me, no one actually wants to do the dungeon per se, just get it over with to get the shinies, tokens, whatever. What a grind.

The content doesn't matter; the players don't matter. The whole thing is a means to an end. Multi-player? Who cares!
I certainly learned who was around on my server. I also learned the names of guilds, which can tell you a lot about the person.

But either way, before LFD I played at least semi-regularly. After LFD I've yet to last a month and it has been entirely due to experiences with random groups that made me not want to ever log in again.
First off, you're right about the perception bit. But in human interaction, perception is often reality. If we think people will remember us, even if they won't, we act differently. It's placebo society.

But also consider the portion of the server with which a person will commonly have direct group interactions. I have no interaction with the people on late at night, or early in the morning. I have no interaction with the people who don't run instances, whether because they don't enjoy them or because they've long moved on to raiding. I'm sure that after this we'll still be well above the 150 mark, but not so far that we won't think we're too far above it.

Add in guilds, which can be used to label dozens or hundreds of people and now it's easy to see why a person might feel a sense of accountability despite the overall large population.

To clarify: the critical element isn't actually being able to keep track of jerks, but being sufficiently close that we think we can, or we think that others can. Contrast this with LFD where we know we will never be accountable.
Get off Blogger so it stops eating comments, third one this week.

Short version: To think that WoW having the worse online community has nothing to do with how Blizzard designed their game is crazy. The DF tool is just one piece, but it's a big one in creating the 'me me me' culture that is rampant in WoW and has to be countered in other MMOs that WoWbies spread to.
I think there is a natural tendency of players to want to blame the developers, because players can't admit that anything might possibly be the fault of the players.

If crime gets out of control is it the citizens or the governments fault?
sure the individuals involved are responsible for thier actions but the government is the only centralized group that can address the core issues causing the breakdown.

Wow is in the same place. The developers have pursued a "dream" of no consequences for bad behavior. Then they added the armory and gear score that made it easier to tag and ignore the "undeserving masses". Finally they added LFD that removed all need to communicate.
With cross server groups, name changes, and faction changes they remain the only group with enough centralized power to fix the issue they caused. Does that mean the players are totally free of blame. No. But I think most of the blame goes to the developers because thier decisions intensified the bad aspects of human behavior and only they can fix it.
To think that WoW having the worse online community has nothing to do with how Blizzard designed their game is crazy.

No, what is crazy is saying that if this happens in WoW it is Blizzard's fault, and if it happens in Rift, it is Blizzard's fault as well. Although I'm pretty sure that you will argue that on your blog in a few months, when you are disgusted by the Rift community developing the same bad modes of behavior that the WoW community already has.
If crime gets out of control is it the citizens or the governments fault?

The citizens. Take for example the comparison between Katrina and the tsunami in Japan. The Americans were looting and killing each other in the catastrophe, the Japanese were remarkably well-behaved. Both in the complete absence of any effective government due to the natural catastrophe.

Blaming the government for everything is one of the ills of our time. If the government is responsible for everything, then the government needs to control and regulate everything, which turned modern government into the leviathan it is, with trillions of dollars of debt.
If crime gets out of control is it the citizens or the governments fault?

Tobold: The citizens.

Wow! Just wow..
You really believe this?

It's like saying that the guilt is not with the guy who built, planted and detonated the bomb. Instead the guilt is with physics!

The Milram experiment still holds. Humanity is the way it is. Our genetic individual evolution is extremely slow - at least compared to the cultural one.

I can make you a game that will have really aggressive players if I want. Something like Darkfall even worse.
And I can make you a game that makes people behave really nice.

Now, neither game may be much fun. But note this: The difference is not even only due to different people joining the games.

Peer pressure is powerful and transforms humans; for good reasons.
"Although I'm pretty sure that you will argue that on your blog in a few months, when you are disgusted by the Rift community developing the same bad modes of behavior that the WoW community already has."

Kinda depends on how they add the dungeon finder, though they seem to be leaning away from cross-server. Hopefully they make the right choice.

And I already see some of the trash community that is famous in WoW; in the cross-server warfronts. Must be that PvP boogeyman though, silly sociopaths.

Unfortunately the major non-guild social stuff I've seen on just my server has been raid groups forming and actually working together, and players joining up to fight off invasions. You know, vanilla WoW stuff. If Trion updates Rift like Blizzard updated WoW, don't worry, the reaction will be similar from me.
If crime gets out of control is it the citizens or the government's fault?

Ahem, the answer is both. The government presumably defines the laws and what constitutes a crime. The citizens then either act within those laws or not, knowingly or not.

In a game, players will act based on incentives and rewards -- choosing the path of least resistance for the best gain typically. Mechanics that automate otherwise social functions like grouping will inevitably remove the need for player initiative in that regard. ie. It's the "government's" problem.
Blaming the government for everything is one of the ills of our time. If the government is responsible for everything, then the government needs to control and regulate everything, which turned modern government into the leviathan it is, with trillions of dollars of debt.

You can be responsible for something without controlling every aspect. Every good parent knows this. You pick the things you have the ability to change and do what you can.

What I'm hearing from your post is the government cant control everything so it's not responsible for anything. That I'll never agree with. So much for a contract between the government and the people.

I agree blaming the government for everything is an ill. But giving them a free pass on being responsible for maintaining the area under thier responsiblity is an equally bad ill.

I at least admit the players are partially at fault. you seem to just be letting the developers totally off the hook for undermining any possible scheme to make players behave.

The absolute best thing in Vanilla wow was that if someone ruined thier reputation on a server they had to suffer the consequences. But the developer choices since then have undermined the players ability to police thier own servers.

I still stand by my earlier statement. Only the Devs currently have the power to change the direction. They may not have the skills, or knowledge but they should be smart enough to realize that and go find someone who does.
I think the flaw in your theory here, is that I don't have a relationship with a player to know their reputation.

Reputation is a short hand to interact with more than a Dunbar number of people.

That is why its reputation and not first hand knowledge.

And as you point out both the friends and ignore lists are tools to help extend the Dunbar memory.

Its just that even the ignore list is dwarfed by the size of a battle group. You have to meet too many people first.
PS: What crime and looting during Katrina?

The reality of it was there was little crime and little looting. And I am sure your coverage of the earthquake, unless you have been trying to pay particularly close attention, is the same as ours, completely overwhelmed by the nuclear part of the story.

Oddly enough poor black people banded together as much as old Japanese people.

You seem to have fallen into a well worn conservative narrative about Katrina.
@Klep: My own experiences prove otherwise. I saw more drama and people being made fun of for dps/gear/etc than after lfd. I think I have posted here before my tale of tank and healer who got into a fingerpointing match and both bailed. I wound up getting into a guild with her a year later and guess what? She was just as crabby and drama-ridden as she was in that pug.

People are who they are.
@Guthammer: Ironically, some of the shooting was by whites trying to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods. Or by cops.

@Me: One incident is not proof, especially when I never even claimed that everything was perfectly wonderful before LFD. There always have been and always will be Internet Fuckwads, but the circumstances can change the behavior of people on the border.
The idea that PUGs are no different cross-server is simply not true. I did a lot of LFG channel PUGs in Burning Crusade and early LK. You'd run across the occasional jerk but for the most part people were friendlier than in the dungeon finder. For starters, you actually have to TALK to people to form the group to begin with. I imagine that weeded out some of the sociopaths who seem to be lurking in the dungeon finder.

If someone was a total tool you'd drop group and ignore. Ignore was meaningful as there wasn't a near-infinite pool of players. Once you got a couple dozen people on your ignore list you were in pretty good shape. You also knew which PUG tanks were good and which were death knights in DPS spec. Ninja looting would be advertised in Shattrath, usually along with the player's guild. This didn't stop it entirely but people were MUCH better about asking about offspec drops.
It's like saying that the guilt is not with the guy who built, planted and detonated the bomb. Instead the guilt is with physics!


It is YOU who is blaming the physics here, the government, the game. It is me who is blaming the guy who plants the bomb, the guy who commits the crime, the guy who behaves like a jerk. I blame the person, you blame the system, not the other way around!!!
(I appologize for the bomb example. It was misleading).


On topic, I remember one story in particular, now that we talk about it. I had made another char on another server in preparation of playing together (very) casually with some RL friends. Somehow I had fallen behind, so I entered a deadmines group.

We went through there pretty well, but in the a second before, the final boss had fallen, the leader kicked everybody else and took all the loot for himself.

Now, I wasn't thaaat angry. It was deadmines after all. Still, I contacted him and he agreed to what he had done and aksked "WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUTIT? LIVE WITH IT!".

I went to their server forum and posted this as a screenshot. About an hour later somebody replied. He said he knew the guy and his main is some other char. This other char had recently joined his guilt and he would bring the whole matter to the guild leadership's attention. An hour nlater another reply appeared from one other guy in the original guy. he said he had been told that there is a forum post about it. Until then he hadn't even known that there is a forum, but now he wants to attest the incident.

The next day another reply from the guild leadership was made. They wrote that they had kicked the main from the guild and that he had changed servers. And they said "sorry" and "thank you".

I'd absolutely love to at least show you the screenshot, but unfortunately you have to believe me on this. It was the only obvious ninja I ever had in WoW.

The most powerful reason to behave, however, is fear of disappointment. What's important is not so much that I remember those that ninjaed on me, but rather that people fear that other people might remember what they do.

And the problem with the memories of other people is not so much the consequences as the disappointment.

It's like punishing your children for not brushing teeths with some explicit punishment, or by saying very quitely, "I trusted you, I am disappointed".

The last one is way more effective.
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@Klep: I didn't realize I was supposed to cite EVERY example. Hence why I gave an example. Like I said before, I had more good experiences AFTER LFD was introducted than before.

I don't need to prove my own experiences to you. While yours is mainly a theory.
@Me: Not every, but if you're going to say you're proving something, more than one would be useful.

My experiences are mainly a theory?
I like to think that I don't shy away from disagreeing with you, Tobold.

This point, though, is one where you actually convinced me more than a year ago that you are right. I used to sit snugly in the LFD-hating corner, running my daily randoms while hissing at the anti-social elitist morons and slackers (yes, those are the *real* morons and slackers: the ones that don't even put in the effort to type a complete sentence...).

But you were right a year ago and you are right now. LFD didn't kill anything, it just brought us more dungeon runs. The problem, it seems, is that dungeon runs became very different right around the time the LFD rolled in. Not only did we find dungeons faster, but they were completed faster too. With 15 minutes from start to end, who cares if its fun or not? And if you're kicked you can run again, if your tank fails you can run again...

I do firmly believe that the WoW community deteriorated in the last few years, but I simply think it's wholly wrong to blame the LFD for it.

Oh, and Nils, Sam... since when is "government" no longer made up of citizens?
Oh, and Nils, Sam... since when is "government" no longer made up of citizens?

Following this logic the guilt were with the molecules .. ;)
As it is hard to argue with or against the specific example (as we have no control over it, and are part of the experiment ourselves), there's not much to say on the matter.

However, regarding the premise of your argument (the Dunbar number et al), I will say the connection you make is false. You say the number of stable social relationships you can have have is limited to around 150, which is true. However, not having a stable social relationship does not mean you treat them like a stranger. A simple sense of familiarity can have a noticeable impact on our pro- or anti-social behavior. There are also mental tricks that can be used to hold people in a group and use that group as one of your 150 entities, transferring the properties of the group out to those individuals when needed; it can also be forced on you using external queues such as uniforms or chants.

There is a woman I pass by every morning on my way to work. She goes for a jog at the same time every day. We've passed each other for 3 years. We don't know each others names, where we live, or even what the others voice sounds like or how they smile. However I do know I would be more open to conversation with her than a random person I have never met, much less actually giving help. I believe this can also qualify for "Friend of a friend" situations, which becomes less likely cross server same as it becomes less likely when you move from a small town to a large city.

I believe this familiarity also applies to the hundreds of people I met growing up, and an untold number of people I have met since leaving my home town and going to college and working in large companies. I would not consider most any of them friends, or that I have any meaningful or stable social relationship with them, and my memory recall on them may be lagging (as I can't fit them into my Dunbar limit).
Oh, and Nils, Sam... since when is "government" no longer made up of citizens?

When the government no longer represents the interests of the citizens as a whole, but rather the interests of the haves against the have nots. But that's a different topic for a different blog.

I'd like to focus on this part in your post:
LFD didn't kill anything, it just brought us more dungeon runs.

That's another possibility I suppose: random trade groups were always bad, but because they were so few and far in between (relatively speaking of course), people had less occurrences of bad groups, simply by having less opportunities to go into dungeons. In addition, that would mean people spent less time focusing their game time in dungeons and more time on other in-game social interactions.

This overall could cause people to view their pre-LFD past as more enjoyable socially compared to now when people might (I'm guessing, since I don't play according to a casual lifestyle) spend their entire day in the LFD system, constantly frustrated by bad groups and too wound up by bad experiences to really enjoy the good groups.
Reading through the comments, everyone seems to be focused on the negative aspects of this, and shaming people to do better. I find it humourous that no one seems to think of behaving better around familiarity, only thinking of "less bad". This example might be slightly tangential, but I remember watching some TED videos about preventative medicine and how fear was a TERRIBLE motivator for encouraging good behavior.
*digs around for the video*
I can't find it right now, but I'll come back and make another post if I can. I'll keep looking.

@Me: The problem is anecdotal evidence is hardly proof. Even accepting that that means about my cliche example above of the woman I pass every morning on her daily jog. I feel that example is different as it's about the existence of a possibility rather than creating a "factual" representation of reality, but I understand it does share the same flaw.

@Nils: That bomb example was terrible.
Found it:

It's about how to get people to take action, in a medical context, but it does attempt to explain why fear does not work.
Totally agree, Tobold.

Cross-server randoms have no monopoly on the asshattery of elitest and mean players.

The worst I've ever seen other players be treated in a group, was an ICC 75% guild PuG with the rest of us picked up on /trade.

I got picked up pretty quickly, with a very nice compliment on my gear. Then I got to watch the amazingly nasty raid chat as they made fun of player after player asking to join the PuG.

I stayed in because I really wanted to see that content, and my guild just wasn't going to make it. I never tried to get into another raid PuG. Ever.

The potential for abuse in trying to "make friends" or get a non-guild PuG group together is orders of magnitude higher than zoning into a random.

If you don't like the DF, DON'T USE IT!!!!!
Bristal, simply not using DF doesn't mean it doesn't affect me. I'm not sure what fantasy world you live in where every single action and system is perfectly isolated, but in reality (ironic word choice, I admit it), people are affected by even those things which they do not use. I've never ridden a motorcycle, but that does not eliminate the noise when a neighbor decides to rev his engine at 7am. Or in the case of LFD, the addition of it, along with numerous other changes, change my experience even if I use trade chat or friends lists to form groups. There are fewer people using the others tools and the people I find will have different expectations than they would otherwise.

Also, I'd suggest wrapping your head around the idea that LFD and cross-server are not the exact same thing, and in fact a player could like LFD but not like specific aspects of it, such as the permanently-enabled cross-server aspect.
Tobold, your attempt to use the study you quoted as proof that cross-server LFG does not affect behavior is at best intellectual dishonesty. I really don't think the study's authors wanted anyone to equate a "stable social relationship" with putting someone on either your ignore or friends list.

Cross Server LFG has greatly negatively affected dungeon behavior for two main reasons. First, it's not just the "cross-server" lfg, it's the LFG tool in general. In vanilla and TBC, someone had to actually put a group together. SINCE THE GROUPS WERE OFTEN GUILD GROUPS, THE NUMBER OF PLAYERS DOING PUGS WAS PROBABLY NOT THAT LARGE ANYWAY. If you were pugging, then you were highly likely to run into the same people again and again. And yes this did affect behavior.

Another reason that cross-server has affected behavior negatively is b/c it's too insanely easy to get a dungeon group. It used take effort to set up a dungeon group. Now it's no big deal. With the good, comes the bad. I don't like the way dungeons became just another grindy daily quest to do.

So yes, behavior in WoW's dungeons has gone very far downhill, and that poor behavior has leeched out into other parts of the game as well.
The Dunbar number's a great thing to think about, but I don't believe it plays into the negative aspects of the Dungeon Finder.

While the study shows that there's a maximum on how many stable relationships you can maintain, that doesn't take into account the fear of civility.

Ever heard, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?" Or, the 'Area Code Rule'. There's also Genovese Syndrome (the Bystander Effect) to account for as well. You might not maintain stable relationships with anyone in a crowd of people, but if you perceive that crowd as being larger, you are more likely to misbehave.

I believe the Genovese Syndrome is far more relevant than the Dunbar Number. We're talking about highly transitory interactions amongst a collection of literally thousands of strangers.

Whereas, if you sit in trade at the same two hour period every night, you are going to see the same wise-cracking assholes.
Oh, and Nils, Sam... since when is "government" no longer made up of citizens?

So the people in charge aren't responsible at all because someone else picked them. (though I think Nils comment about blaming the molecules summs it up perfectly)

And last time I checked I didn't get to vote on who my Developers in wow are. So by your example we have a defacto benevolant gaming "theocracy" as our government.

If you go read my posts you'll see I've admitted the players are partially at fault, but asking the players to fix the social structure or even grouping mechanics in wow is akin to asking the individuals on your street to resurface the road and replace all the sewage, phone lines and other infrastructure. Or blaming them because the government failed to do so.

Govt is responsible for organizing and focusing its people. (who in an ideal world select them).

I also pointed out the dev's design decisions undermined all unofficial systems the players had come up with to police themselves.

So at least some players tried. The dev's pulled the rug out from underneath them and now the dev's are the only ones left with any power to do anything to fix it.

The dev's broke it, they've always owned it, they are responsible. Even if you disagree on that point, I'd love to hear how you think anybody but them can fix it.

To be fair I think mosts pugs are better than the perception of them. My biggest problem with LFD is the culture change to instance runs with no talking or interacting with each other. Most runs these days feel like I just picked up 4 bots and took off.
but asking the players to fix the social structure or even grouping mechanics in wow is akin to asking the individuals on your street to resurface the road and replace all the sewage, phone lines and other infrastructure.

No, what we are asking for the equivalent of asking citizens to greet each other with "Hello" and "Good Morning", instead of "Fuck you".

In most places governments don't have laws against people being rude to each other, and most of us wouldn't want to live in a place where government actually controls that. So why would anybody think that Blizzard can do anything about let's say a dps causing a wipe and then blaming the healer with rude remarks?
Again tobold the developers undermined every player method for applying social or "peer" pressure on players.

I'm sure the developers were trying to fix the "elitism" problem but all they did was remove all ability of other players to use "peer" pressure to punish the jerks.

I know it varied from server to server but my first server had several strong guilds that came from EQ and a couple of them maintained blacklists. It was hard to get on that list but once you did your chance of end game was done because almost every guild on the server checked them before adding a new member. It was also the best community I ever played in. It's been downhill community wise ever since.
The government defines the law and the only reason for us to adhere the law is to not get in trouble.

If crime get's out of control it's the governments fault because without a government there's now law and it wouldn't be a crime.

You can't expect people to adhere rules they didn't create without pressure.
RL is not a good analogy since you can not change the world but Blizzard has complete control over the rules of Azeroth.

/ignore is not a solution worth mentioning until Blizzard expands the maximum ignore list size by several thousand.

I also think that people are confusing two issues: say Blizzard designed a game that only accepted allowed one-letter passwords. The moral blame for all the hacking would reside upon the criminals. Yet this is clearly bad design and would be the fault of Blizzard. Just because people "should" behave better is absolutely irrelevant to how they will behave and thus to the game designer. All the game designer can and should deal with is how they will behave.


Of course, part of the problem is me being incented to group with strangers I don't want to be with.
The 150 relations point is not valid as you dont need to know everyone to be known by everyone and also there are guilds with reputations too.

When ever you group with someone from your own server, then you are grouping with a potential future guildmate, freind, arena buddy or hated ninja.

When you group with x-realmers you can't, even if you try, look beyond thier class. You will never meet again.

Any psychologist or what ever the expert on human tendensies is called will tell you that there is a big difference in behavior with these two examples.

It's not that x-realms are bad it is that players don't care about completing the dungeon.
Many players expect the reward at the end and the boring stuff you have to do to get the reward needs to be minimal for them to have fun.

The boring stuff you have to do to get your reward used to be "the fun".

We humans always seek path of least resistance but I dont think that is the best path to have fun on.
Developers have to balance what players want with what is better for them.

I dont remeber any of the literal 1000 dungeon runs I did in wotlk just 2 years ago but I do remeber some dungeon runs in TBC and Classic.
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