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.