Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 15, 2011
The perfect Looking for Group system

So here is my proposal for creating the perfect Looking for Group system: Every player is only allowed to run one single dungeon per day. When signing up for a dungeon, the system waits until it has 10 players from one server, that is 2 tanks, 2 healers, and 6 dps. These 10 players are then transported into a waiting room where each of them is given 10 minutes to speak to the other players: Time to convince the other players that he is the best candidate to group with. After everybody got his 10 minutes, there is a vote from all of the 10 players, and the 1 tank, the 1 healer, and the 3 dps who get the most votes from their fellow players can then start to run the dungeon.

Due to there being only one chance to run a dungeon, and the strict selection process, this system guarantees the best behaved and optimal pickup group possible. The perfect system!

Of course that system also produces just a fraction of dungeon runs any previous system did. And it is extremely cumbersome and unpractical. But with so many players complaining about every change which produces more dungeon runs faster, and effectively claiming that anything which makes dungeon groups easier to form makes people behave less well in them, this new system must be a smash hit!

[Note for the less bright people out there: This was sarcasm, not a real proposal.]
Well, either I'm less bright or your proposals and your sarcasm are pretty similar. Take yur pick.
I am waiting for the Looking for Mercs option. You can "hire" npcs from your faction to run you through the instance. As your rep increases, so does the range of instances that your mercs can completed with you. Then combine it with your system. Your mercs vote-kick you and replace you with a non-combat pet.
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Here's my proposal then:

Dungeon runs are timed against a mean set by the worldwide playerbase, and for every minute under it, you gain some extra JP/VP. However, if you fall under that time limit, you start losing JP/VP, and at the end of the instance, everyone can vote for who was the slowest player and hence the main reason why the group failed. If everyone but player X votes for player X, player X is banned from heroics until their average ilvl increases by an arbitrary 5%. Of course, no one will speak at all because it's a waste of PRECIOUS INTRNT TIMEZ, and instead talk about how "convenient," "accessible" and "handy for people like me" the new system is.

In response to players crying about people talking in dungeons and hence making them longer, Blizzard will remove the ability to speak to your party-members in any way for the duration of your run. They will also make anyone who does an emote suffer a 5 minute debuff that means they can't queue after the instance. This stacks, so someone who cheers when you down every boss in, say, a 4-boss dungeon won't be able to queue for 20 minutes once the run is completed. People will talk about how "this makes sense for the game," "it removes annoying spam" and how it's "child-friendly," because no one say any bad words to their 3-year-old while he/she is playing their beloved female dwarf rogue in dungeons.
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All you seem to have done is plot the other extreme point on a graph where one end, the current WoW dungeon finder, represents "maximum quantity" and your "sarcastic" proposal represents "maximum quality".

Somewhere along that graph is an optimum system. Or possibly not.

Why do we need to have just one system anyway? Couldn't developers provide a range of options? How hard would it be to allow the player to check some boxes, like "all servers" "local server cluster" or "my server only", for example? Or "exclude characters on my ignore list". Etc Etc.

Why should it be one-size-fits-all?
Bhagpuss, because options aren't optional. The options other players have, affect you. And even the options you yourself have, affect you.

The standard example is the option to get a full T-Set without doing anything for it. You might assume that players understand that the game becomes much less fun once you have the T-Set complete. But even the few of the player who do understand that feel affected by this option.
Such a Set is much less desireable if every second player got it by activating the option, while you got it by raiding for 3 months.

It's once again the fun fallacy.

The peer pressure is still not there in the local-LFD if you can chose to use a cross-server LFD. This might be a little bit better than the current system, but I don't think it is worth the effort.
Actually, I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer that to the current system.
Well, OK, probably not. But the fact that a "Modest Proposal" caused me to sit and go "hmm, there might be something in that" is evidence that at least some people out there *really* don't get on with the current LFD system...
I can never figure out if you are for or against the dungeon finder when you post stuff like this.

You always seem to be against implementations that reduce the social aspects of the game and then you come out with posts like this.

Or maybe you are one of those rare breeds that sees (and admits) that there is nothing perfect for all and all of these things have their positive/negative aspects.
i completely agree with Hugh, even though it means i have to wait longer on my dungeon run, and have the risk of not getting in it if my gear happens to be worse then the other healer, i feel the cost well worth the benefit.

That ought to tell something about the current status of LFD groups.
what gets me is the LFD was never as good as the global chat channel. This was because global chat allowed me to watch any run forming anwhere, even if I was on a new level 3 alt. Effectively it was like having the shopping channel up all the time. When they implemented LFD it cut the available number of people because you only had the actively looking available. Then they instituted cross server LFD to fix that and it began to furthur erode the social structure because people didn't play with people on thier server.

It's very similar to what the internet has done to the modern world. How many people these days don't even know who thier nieghbors are? It's because they can sit at thier computer on facebook and get friends they can turn on or off on command. Not as good as the real thing but none of the messy problems with a flesh and blood friend.
I live in a world of grey shades, surrounded by commenters who see everything in black and white.

I am *for* a convenient Dungeon Finder. I am very much aware of the social problems of pickup groups, but I'm *against* the various proposals which propose to "solve" the problem only by making groups much more rare, like by removing the cross-server functionality.

It is possible that the more dungeon groups there are, the more problems there are. Nevertheless "more dungeon groups" is a positive value by itself, and I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water by solving problems with rude players in pickup groups by completely eliminating pickup groups, or making them much harder to form (e.g. by removing cross-server functionality).

And there isn't even proof that will work, I've met enough rude dps players who didn't behave any better even after having to wait 45 minutes to get into a group.
the LFD was never as good as the global chat channel

My experience with the global chat channels was "Player with gearscore 5786 is looking for more, minimum gearscore 6000". In global chat I constantly got turned down for runs I would have been perfectly able to manage, just because the inviter only took people completely overgeared for the encounter, and with "proof" in form of an achievement.

Agreed on chat being easier to watch on an alt though.
I was talking about global chat before the armory and gearscore. I honestly believe those two additions did more damage to the game than anything else the developers have done.

There was a lot of stupid juvenile chat but opt out advertising always hits a larger audience than opt in.
I'm not convinced by your proposition that '' "more dungeon groups" is a positive value by itself" ''

Rarer things are often more valued than commoner things. A system that offered one or two high-quality dungeon groups per day might be preferable for a significant number of people to a system that offered a larger number of lower-quality groups.

I work in a bookshop which offers a "three books for the price of two" offer. You'd imagine that no-one already buying two books would prefer not to have that third, free book but actually we have people turn it down every day. Not everyone wants more just for the sake of having more.

Whether it's actually possible to produce an automated system that reliably produces a smaller number of higher-quality dungeon groups is another matter altogether, of course.
The problem with having less dungeon groups is that usually the distribution isn't even. If you have more groups, everybody gets to play. If you have less groups, some people end up getting excluded for reasons that aren't really their fault.
I live in a world of grey shades, surrounded by commenters who see everything in black and white.

You don't always communicate this clearly. Often, I feel, you pick one contentious, white opinion, get a lot non-white comments and than claim to only see black comments.

But that is geneal a problem with all blogs and comments.

Problem is that these comments cannot be long enough to really write down one's own opionion. For example I don't consider channel spam to find a group optimal. But there is little space to write down this, my opinion, completely.

I mean, I tried something like that in the past, but then I needed to explain my opinon to people who misunderstodd. And then people mixed opinons and you know where this leads...

In the end a comments section of one of your posts has to be about your post and that means that if your write down your grey opinion in a contentious (that is white/black leaning) way, commenters will always seem like leaning towards black/white. While, in fact, they probably don't.
This sounds like a great idea.
System already exists, it's called a guild. Works great, and no hard-coded limit on dungeon runs.
"These 10 players are then transported into a waiting room where each of them is given 10 minutes to speak to the other players"

Well, that's not such a bad idea, really. Except, of course, the bit about there being 10 players and 10 minutes, and that whole "selling myself" (I am not merchandise!).

But I sure would like to get in LFD something similar to what we get in BGs already - a preparation period of maybe a minute or two before the first mob can be engaged. Time to sit down and eat buff food, switch specs, drink manajuice of some sort, agree on CC, etc.
I love it. It's so red tape that nobody would ever get anything done, but the rare things that came out of the lengthy process would be awesome. If brief, and probably forgotten by the next day.

(Awesome, of course, in the strictest sense of the word - the system would certainly fill you with some kind of awe, and probably impatience and an urge to wear primary coloured ties).

This actually looks like a great potential idea for our competition to win guild website hosting if you were thinking of entering, Tobold :)
Nice try, and funny, but I don't even think that extreme solution would solve anything.

10 people are transported to a room. Everyone silently checks the gearscore of everyone else. If anyone actually talks, they just risk getting kicked at the end of 10 minutes, so no-one says anything for 10 minutes.

At least that would be my prediction in such a system...
I'd just take the current dungeon finder and put a "hardcore" check box on it.

People who checked that would understand that they would be grouping with demanding, gear score checking players who are in a hurry and will kick you if you screw up even once. People who want that will all get grouped together and probably be just as unhappy as they are now.

Then people like me, who run dungeons at a relaxed pace, want enjoy themselves, and will likely make mistakes, will be marginally happier for not being kicked or yelled at.
I am bemused how many germs of truth are in your sarcasm posts. I liked the comment that yours is one extreme of maximum quality groups and minimum convenience. LFD is nearly the other end of both zxis.

I always like to look at the assumptions. So I submit that the better job that Blizzard does with forming LFG the better it is for the upper people and worse for the majority. I.e., more accurate, higher quality LFD is a better game and a worse business.

Perhaps 5% of customers care about achievements; say 5-15% PvP. If the game is all about max-level raiding, then you need to provide max-level raiding (i.e. 5, 5heroic, raid progression) opportunities for 10+ million people. Or you need to
provide something else for them to do.

Alas, I am not sure that there is anything that incents - which in a MMO means forces - me to group with strangers will be pleasant for me.

Perhaps an interesting meta question is: is the problem a game design where the main point of the game for a large majority of the players require you to repetitively grind with a group, perhaps of strangers, so you can raid? Perhaps there should a viable part of the endgame that is not so radically different from getting a character from 1 to 85.
My perfect LFG system would have to be something minimal like a global chat or a city chat.

Maybe a list where players can look up my name or I can look up groups, when im LFG.

hmmm maybe a list of players in the same zone doing the same quest as me.
Tobold quote. "The problem with having less dungeon groups is that usually the distribution isn't even. If you have more groups, everybody gets to play. If you have less groups, some people end up getting excluded for reasons that aren't really their fault."

If enough players are excluded they will start thier own group. So the problem never existed.

Anyone will choose to player with an excluded player over not playing.

It comes down to if the server population is dividable by group size.

In classic wow my hunter and a shaman tanked for a dungeon group. After the dungeon was completed we wanted to do more but we felt like we needed a real tank to go for some harder dungeons. We decided to exculde me. I found groups after that though, big deal? I did'nt think so.
From a commenter on another blog I read yesterday, I came up with an interesting idea to improve random DF groups.

After a successful random run, before the tank can get his goodie bag, he must choose one of the DPS as best player. Totally up to the tank who to choose. Optionally, all players would have a vote, tank's vote would be tiebreaker.

That DPS would get an "insta-queue ticket", which on his next random queue, would not only guarantee a 10 minute queue, all other DPS queueing with a ticket would automatically get put together.

Thus, using a ticket would not only lower wait time, it would potentially improve the chance you get a good DPS group. The ticket would only be "consumed" if the run was successful.

It might just create some social pressure among DPS to play well, be polite, avoid drama, and suck up to the tank like they should.
Sigh. Maybe I was a little harsh in my previous post (I don't think it was deserving of getting deleted, but whatever).

However, it still needs to be pointed out that your article is a big strawman argument. No one's saying to go to the extreme that you have posted, and trying to use that extreme to prove that making dungeons more rare is "wrong" is a logical fallacy.

You say that you live in a world with shades of grey, but putting your argument in terms of black and white does not show this at all.
That's why there is a disclaimer under the post. The post is about showing how silly black & white is. Expressing it in a sarcastic extreme doesn't change the underlying truth that *ANY* system you would design to "keep the wrong people out of dungeons" would always reduce the number of dungeon runs, and would make running dungeons impossible for some people whose fault it isn't.

I just can't take serious your position where you just want to reduce the number of groups in the hope of making groups better that way. Any serious proposal to improve group quality would have to do so while providing the same quantity.
"Any serious proposal to improve group quality would have to do so while providing the same quantity."
How are we quantifying group formation?

One measure could be how much of the population who want to can get into a group, which would ideally be 100%. I think this is attainable.

Or we could measure the ability to get as many groups in a day as wanted. I doubt 100% of people could ever get 100% of the groups they want, so this measure is something to reach for, but never expect to attain.

Let's say we have everyone get a group a day, then what should the next grouping goal be? Should we go for a second group or for a more fun group? If we could quantify fun, let's imagine the first group is 100% fun, second is only 50% fun, third is 25%, and so on: diminishing returns on additional groups. In this scenario, does it make more sense to push for more group formation or for better groups? I'd trade the 25% fun group for the initial grouping being 20% more fun, which will make two groups more fun than the three.

Focusing more on quality vs. quantity also has the advantage of reducing repetition and burnout, which will only further enhance the fun, which should be the end goal for a game (on the assumption that fun causes profitable subscribers)
Expressing it in a sarcastic extreme doesn't change the underlying truth that *ANY* system you would design to "keep the wrong people out of dungeons" would always reduce the number of dungeon runs...
I never said that it wouldn't. It's quite obvious that it would. But you're assuming that a high number of dungeon runs is a good thing, when it isn't necessarily true.

The point of the matter is that for every successful group out there, there is a proportional amount of groups that end in frustration.

Some simple math:
G = number of groups
H = Happy groups
F = Frustrated groups

G = H + F

Why would you want to keep around F at all? If we reduced F to zero, sure, G (the number of groups) would decrease, but everyone would be happy. Obviously such a goal is unobtainable, but the math is clear.

and would make running dungeons impossible for some people whose fault it isn't.
This problem stems from LFD not separating the people who enter it (i.e. casuals and non-casuals). Sure, those people manage to get groups now because with a high number of groups and high enough population, they'll get lucky enough to land a group of like-minded individuals, but at the same time, you're increasing the number of frustrated groups which brings just as much bad into the system.

I don't think it's at all worth it. Obviously you're better off focusing on making sure groups are of better quality than you are if you focus on a higher number of groups.
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