Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 04, 2007
World of Warcraft's new looking for group system

A reader asked me for my comments on the new looking-for-group (LFG) system. Which is kind of hard, because I haven’t used it yet. In fact, as far as I can see, *nobody* used it yet. I’m just not sure whether that is because the system is bad, because nobody is looking for a dungeon group, or because people aren’t used to the new system yet.

In theory I like the system. Being able to indicate either zones, quests, or dungeons to which you would like to go, with up to three choices at once, is a good feature. You can toggle auto-join on or off. The only functionality I don’t like is that apparently checking what other people are looking for a group for a specific dungeon automatically flags you as looking for group for that place as well, and then is hard to turn off. But in general the system seems to be well designed.

Only from all I hear the new LFG interface isn’t used much. People complain about the old global LFG chat channel being gone, and look for groups by sending tells or random invites to other players they found with /who, or by using the general chat channel. Why should that be so?

The reason why I am not using it is simply that I’m currently not interested in any groups. And I guess I’m not the only one here. The raiding activities of many guilds have more or less shut down. Everybody is either doing whatever he thinks he should do to prepare for the Burning Crusade, or doing PvP to get some nice epic rewards. As the battlegrounds automatically put you in a raid group, there is no need to look for a group. And as the new PvP reward system gives you a choice between blue items from dungeons or purple items from PvP, dungeons are quickly going out of fashion, which is a shame. But the good news is that in 2 weeks dungeons will again be the best way to acquire gear.

What remains to be seen is whether players will then start to use the new looking for group interface, or whether the Hellfire Peninsula chat will be full of LFG cries. Many players mistrust the auto-join functionality of the new system, which might end you up with a feral druid as healer and other sub-optimal group compositions. This auto-join was already the reason players disliked the previous meeting stone system. But many players don’t understand that you can turn the auto-join off now, and thus don’t use the system at all. It will take time, and probably some heated discussions in general chat, to get people educated.

I am sometimes a bit surprised about how conservative MMOG players are, having problems accepting changes to the interface, even if they are to the better. I would say that new LFG system is quite good, especially in combination with the new functionality of the meeting stones to teleport. You can now easily find somebody for a dungeon group, regardless of their current location, and teleport them to the dungeon instantly, if at least two group members are already there. That should be a lot more popular than it is. I just hope that the expected popularity of the new Burning Crusade dungeons will break the ice.
I certainly intend to use the lfg system the moment i hit the peninsula. my gears aimed at supporting groups so hitting instances as much as possible is my best route (initially) to some much needed xp.
I've been using the LFG system since the patch, and I'm afraid it is a complete let-down. In fact, I wish I could go back to the spam-filled LFG channel that we had before.
There are a number of problems with it. Firstly, the auto-join feature is a complete failure. When I initially tried it, I ended up in a group of 3 Hunters, a Mage and a Rogue.
Secondly,if you have selected available for say Scholo, Strat and Dire Maul, auto-join will join you to a group, but neglect to tell you what instance you have been auto-joined for, and it can't tell what type of run those already in the group are looking for (this is a 45 min Strat UD run!). So auto-join is useless, and I doubt anyone uses it.
The menu system itself is a pain - you can't view all instances/quests/elite quests/raids at once, instead you have to select one of those options, and then select all the different choices within that option one by one to see what is available (and press the Update button each time, because it won't update automatically), and then get whispered by people because having entered LFG, I am now showing that I am available for say BRD, even though I was only interested in a Jail Break group.
When you do join a group, the big problem is the same as before, eg finding a Tank and a Priest, only now you can't advertise that you are looking for a Priest/Tank in the lfg channel, and broadcast it across the airwaves so to speak. Instead you just have to sit there and hope that eventually one or both of them is going to actively go into LFG, select your instance, and finally choose your group. Oh, and have all the Priests on my server gone PvP or something, because I hardly ever see Priests in LFG. I guess they don't need to use it anymore, as whispers will get them into a group a lot quicker. The number of times I have sat in a half-formed pug, only for people to drop out due to boredom is incredible. I sat in LFG three evenings in a row hoping to find a PUG to Scholo or Strat, and I failed!
On another occasion, I tried to join a pug for UBRS, I noted that there was a group of 7 people showing in LFM, but when I whispered them, they were in a full raid, and were already inside the instance!
No more joining a group on a whim. Previously I could be doing jobs with LFG open (now you have to stop, and spend time looking instead), and see a typical message like 'LF one more for Maraudon'. A quick whisper and I could be in that group.
Oh, and although I said you have to search through every single instance, in fact you can only look for instances at your level. No more swapping to an alt because there is a group going where your alt wants to go to - you won't even know about it now.
@Anon: for me a yellow text shows up in my chat frame when I auto join a group "You have auto-joined a group for target", also you usually get a looking for more eye on the minimap you can click on to see what group you are in for. Sure it could give a lot more info, but some of your complaint just isn't true.

The problem currently is that most people aren't using it due to dungeon stuff just being out dated, people are PVPing or prepping for TBC. Even before the patch it was almost impossible to get a group anywhere besides UBRS on my server.

Once people start using it for the TBC instances groups should form a lot quicker, and be a lot more balanced than currently.

My complaints are that its hard to get a quick overview of whats going on, the old LFG channel you could easily get a feel for if anything you were interested in doing was being organized. Far too much clicking involved now. Also if you log out to or get disconnected the LFG tool seems to forget your current settings. It also doesn't let you alter your LFG settings while in BGS are you are in a battleground raid, but everyone else will still see you as available.

A spam channel probably works better when so few people are really looking for groups, but from my experience in the beta it tends to work pretty well.
The thing is the new system lacks the direct human interaction and the ablity to look for a raid to Crossroads or Undercity or any non standard group activity. In summarison, it is too restictive.
We've used the new system to fill a group and that's fine although yeah, not many people seem to be using it even for places like Scholo/Strat. I haven't used the auto-join system yet though.

It is a step in the right direction but, as has been said already, is far from the most useful tool. It would be nice to see a list of all people who are LFG and where they want to go in case you feel like randomly doing any instance rather than one in particular.

Best part of that whole group upgrade though was being able to summon group members at the meeting stone - and I say that as a Warlock!
I used the Call To Arms addon before 2.0 and I'm sticking with it. I can watch for groups that might help any of my characters and not have to deal with the pain of configuring more than one line of text to flag myself as LFG.

I think Blizz should take note that Less is Better in some cases...
@ everyone who liked the old global LFG system better: /join LookingForGroup (it still exists after a fashion)

As always, the best method for finding a good group is your guild and friends list.

I find that using the new system in conjunction with the other methods listed here ensures the best results when seeking a good group.
alienated@ : Thanks for your reply. You made me aware of 2 things I didn't know about (Never saw the chat text, maybe my font is too small. Also I didnt see the mini-map tool either. I play on a laptop, so I dont have a screen as big as I would like).
I've used the LFG tool, and I like it a lot.

Maybe I just had good experiences with it - but it's been a lot quicker to get into instances with it (at lower level - 24 currently) than sitting around spamming lookingforgroup was.

It certainly has problems - the "need tank/healer" issue being a big one - but it works.

And yes, the meeting stones are fantastic. Here's a tip - if you've managed to get your kit knackered, and need to repair, just tell the rest of your group, hearth, and then have them re-summon you to the instance once you're repaired. 5 minutes tops.
I don't like the new system because it's too narrow minded. I can't scan several forming groups to make a call on where I want to go and who with. I'm almost never looking for a certain run but I'm always looking for any run with good players that will be fun.

I thought it would have been a much better idea to keep the global LFG channel, but take away the ability of anyone to chat in it.

The LFG system would populate your request into the chat. So you could select what dungeon, how many people and what classes you were looking for and the LFG channel would display your request in the channel. Best of both worlds. All the info, with none of the AOL-style chatty chat.

Hello???? Blizzard never listens to my ideas though.
They missed a good opportunity to get people using the new system by adding the functionality of pre-form PvP groups to the interface.

After all, that's what we've been doing for the past few weeks and we would have gotten used to the system.
It's got a few redeeming features and I admit that I've actually found 2 pugs with it (both of which were terrible, but that's the nature of pugs, not the fault of the tool), but overall I think it's a total waste of time.

The problem is that they're trying to completely automate a mostly social phenomenon. Yes, you could have tools to help you find people of a particular class and level range (and in fact the old 'Who' was and is fine for this), but beyond that you really need to have people talking to each other to get a group going. You need to know which quests people are trying to get done, which classes they want or need (and which specs. Don't tell me my group now has a healer because we got a Tankadin), how much time they have, etc. No piece of software will do this. Don't even bother trying.
I like the LFG system actually. Lol, I play a palidan, which basically is a hybrid char that can generally tank/ heal/ or DPS for a group AND offer buffs. SO when Im get ppl to auto join the odds that I pick up a healer / tank or DPS only makes my job easier. I tend to use the /who function on WoW to see who will fit in the group i need and it works alot better than the previous /lookingforgroup channel idea. My opinion on how they can improve the dungeon autogrouping is to make the loot not soo lame. (seriously 45 mins to get some shaman loot, or some lame bow for my palidan that i cant use.. the token idea was genius).

The best way to use the LFG system is to get your tank/healer from a friendlist/guild and then turn on the looking for more option from the LFG tool.
I think the biggest problem with lfg is no browse feature. sometimes i feel like i just want to see whats available, without flagging myself as lfg. Also, i play a pally, and sometimes i want to dps and other times i want to heal. Not being able to convey that in the current lfg tool is a pain. Also subset of dungeons sometimes don't get read in the comment field. so finding an emporor run for brd, or jailbreak, makes it harder. I think the tool needs to actually be a little more complicated to allow for more options.
/join Lookingforgroup is far better now it has less spam.

The new system is just so wrong for lots of reasons.

How can you compare

"Need a tank for ST, we are at Eranikus, good group".

with 4 people who are probably in AV at the time, and are thinking of maybe doing something in BRD in an hour or so ?

You simply can't with a simple tick box. There is no context.

I fancied getting the Carrot and Stick from Zul Farrak. Can I join a group going there ? Nope.

It is also a complete pain as a healer, you get jumped on as soon you even hover over the button ! No chance to peruse the various groups, work out who are going to be OK to work with.

I had expected some sort of in game post board, that would at least give an idea of what you were wanted for and what they were up to. No, we got a tick box. And a limited one.

Useless. And will still be useless in BC.
I have to agree with those that are disappointed. I was looking forward to the addition of the tool and I think it could be a great thing. However, the tool, as currently designed, is not very good for the same reasons as listed above.

IMHO, EQ had a better LFG tool 3 or 4 years ago.
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