Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Social benefit

Tamarind of Righteous Orbs nailed my attitude towards Cataclysm heroics by saying:
The thing is, spending time with guildies can be, and should be, seen as an end in itself. Presumably we’re hanging around in a guild because we like the people there. Playing together is for funz. Whereas running dungeons with pugs is merely a means to an end – we’re doing it for in-game rewards, there is no additional social benefit.
In Cataclysm I only tried very few PuGs, which all sucked horribly (up to and including joining a group which was in combat, and already wiping, so apparently they had pulled in spite of their previous healer having left.). So now I rather do guild runs, even if those go to normal dungeons where I can gain nothing but a bit of reputation. Because the longer I play, the less I care about how shiny my gear is. I'd rather have the "social benefit" of having fun in a guild group, than a gear upgrade from a pickup group.
Whereas running dungeons with pugs is merely a means to an end – we’re doing it for in-game rewards, there is no additional social benefit.

If that is the case, then enlighten me.. why was the dungeon finder so great again?

Mmh. Sorry for being a little provocing ..

I'd honestly be interested in your opinion about the Dungeon Finder with respect to WoW Cataclysm.
I have to admit that I quite agree. I heroic with guildies. I'm also spending a bit of time playing minecraft with guildies whilst we hang out on vent. Rarely am I pugging at all.
Have you thought about trying raids instead of heroics? They are very fun and a lot of them depend on execution more than gear.
Of course running pug heroics are a "means to an end". Why else would Blizzard award Valor points for completing them?

However, being in a guild is also a "means to an end", especially now that Blizzard has added all the nice perks and benefits for sustained guild membership.

WOTLK showed that you dont need guilds in order to design a game where people relied upon each other to reach an ends, and the success of the LFD tool and Pugs showcased this point quite brilliantly.

It all comes down to how impersonal someone wants to behave in the game, and how much weight they are asked to place on their social interactions with other "unknown players".

I'm in the oldest social guild on my server, and I act no differently in my guild runs as I do in Pugs using the LFD tool.

I treat people with respect, but I dont expect any reciprocation of that because I realize that there ARE people out there who are just chasing the Justice/Valor points and shinys. If someone in a Guild run makes a mistake and I think I can give them a pointer or two, I will whisper them in a polite way and convey my thoughts and leave it at that. But ya know what? I do the same thing in LFD Pugs, and regardless of the dungeon or encounter there is always going to be someone who misses a CC, misses an interrupt, grabs aggro by attacking a non tanked mob, dies standing in the fire or a host of other possibilities, but the point here is: Do we treat people based on familiarity where we are only pleasant and friendly to those we know - because there may be social repercussions if we dont; or, do we just treat everyone with dignity and respect even though we dont know them when in a PUG?

Being in a Guild and the LFD mechanism are merely "tools", and each a "means to an end", it's how we act when in either that determines the "Social Benefit" of the game at the end of the day.
I've tried to run heroics with guildies, partly because that was the most efficient way to gear everyone up in the immediate days after release and now more for the relaxing, quick run.

That isn't to say that heroic PuGs formed by the LFD tool are terrible experiences though. I ran my daily random with one last night and ran into what I normally encounter in these situations: a guild group of two or three looking to fill out the rest of their dungeon group. We were plopped into BRC and despite most of the group never having done the last two bosses, we managed fine (albeit with a couple few wipes).

If you take the initiative to be courteous and to communicate, heroic PuGs have been fairly positive experiences for me. In the instances where I've encountered problem players who could not or chose not to perform their role correctly, the Vote Kick feature worked as intended.
Pugging wasn't always socially worthless. When we were on the same server a PUG was a potential recruiting space, a place to find future guildies. It's only since the random cross server anonymity that they became worthless.
If that is the case, then enlighten me.. why was the dungeon finder so great again?

Because sometimes you don't want the social benefit, but just want your emblems. Or you need to run a dungeon a dozen times for some rare drop, and don't want to bother your guildies. If running a PuG is relatively painless, the Dungeon Finder is great as means to an end.
On the flipside, bribing players to join guilds with shinies and XP accelerators is yet another pull in the mercenary direction.
This is bad. One of the things that made me return to WoW was the game being harder...

Now they are nerfing it again and bringing back the loot piñatas. I understand that the vast majority will always get what they want and at least there's the achievements to go for, albeit simpler as well.

But still it would be good to have some challenge in a game that don't require people to get in blues or tie a leg and an arm behind one's back.

Now, as a healer, normal runs will be trivial and sleep inducing.

I honestly would rather that they provided the exact same gear in heroics and normals but kept the heroics, well, Heroic. For the reward driven players the heroic emblems/points could buy fancy titles...
"Or you need to run a dungeon a dozen times for some rare drop, and don't want to bother your guildies."

You and I see very different problems here. I think the game should simply not require you to grind through the same instance a dozen times.

Perhaps you can explain to me how doing an instance 12 times with "gogogo" strangers is acceptable, but you wouldn't go back through any Cataclysm questing zone. Both provide zero social benefit, and only one of these provides the frustration of repeated failures courtesy of people you don't know.
Last night, I had a terribly frustrating LFD experience in Heroic Stonecore. First off, as a rogue, I waited the requisite 35 minutes to actually join a group. When I joined, two DPS'ers had just left after several wipes on Corborus (evidenced by the dozens of skeletons on the floor). Before we even pulled, two more dps left and we requeued and obtained replacements. Finally, we pulled and it was obvious nobody knew the fight. The healer and one dps left. We requeued and waited 20 minutes for a new healer. We re-pulled and died instantly again (after explaining the Corborus fight). The tank and two dps left. The healer and I requeued and waited 15 minutes for a tank and two more dps. The tank (who said he knew the fight) kept running through the crystal barrage and taking massive damage until I pointed out to him that they explode for about 20k damage each. FINALLY, after about 5 wipes (miraculously everyone stayed), we downed Corborus. Moving forward, two dps left when we wiped on Ozruk. After we requeued and replaced them, we wiped 5 more times on Ozruk before downing him and then moving on to two-shot Azil.

This long, drawn-out story is to show how terribly frustrating the LFD tool can be and how fickle pug players are. All in all, it took 16 players and 2 hours to complete Heroic Stonecore. Suffice it to say I will not be running Heroic Stonecore on LFD anytime soon.
I agree that random PuGs aren't the ideal way to learn new content. And that's the way it should be.

But the benefit to LFD for many of us, even when the content is difficult, is that I get to choose when I can play, and I don't have to be in a guild, or arrange my own group. Plus I can avoid many of the social pitfalls involved with playing in a cohesive group (guilt, feeling left out, favoritism, etc.).

Of course I'm going to sacrifice things like trust, familiarity, coordination and voice chat which are quite helpful in learning new content.

LFD is merely a tool for quickly and anonymously finding other players to group with, by increasing the pool of players with battlegroups.

Blizzard made a huge blunder (and admit to it) making Wrath heroics more valuable than they were challenging, and they inadvertantly connected that expectation with the LFD tool. Using LFD for daily heroics became de rigueur in gearing up, and there was essentially no ceiling.

I think Blizzard appropriately fixed that blunder.

That said, I believe it is likely that they will increase the gear available from justic points. Effectively nerfing heroics and making them easier for new players.

The LFD tool is an excellent addition to the game. It gets you a group with little effort. What you do with that group (as Sean says above) is up to you.
(Disclaimer, I'm a tank, so I might have been able to pull a lot of slag through the PuG's, so that might have jaded me a bit)

I seem to be a minority, but I have only had 1 or 2 truly bad experiences with the LFD.
Quite the opposite: I've met plenty of highly skilled players, I've met players I wish were on my realm so could friend them. Heck, I've seen people who I would be happy to drag into a raid.

And through all of that, I have had to use the votekick ONCE (an obnoxious and elitist healer who kept breaking the CC in HoO, because "its okay, I can handle it"), and I have only dropped out of 1 dungeon run (4 guildies who kept harassing me - no way I'm going to take that for an hour).

I'm mostly with Chris, in that I think people just need to approach PuG's differently. Another poster described a bad experience in SC, and the one thing I noticed was that they didn't seem to explain tacts beforehand.
No matter what kind of group it is, I always quickly describe the fights (avoid rubble when he digs, stack on me for adds, and nuke crystals), as well as offer suggestions and the like both during and after the fighting

So, guess I better end it before it gets too long, but to sum it up: For me the LFD is a godsend, and I think people just need to approach PuG's differently.
Considering heroics are atm a very poor time/point ratio, i'm not even persuaded it is useful at all to run them.

70VP/day means you get an epic in about 2 weeks, which is currently the slowest mean to get gear by far. Reputation / Crafting is by far more efficient.

And considering social benefits, it's obvious that you get more in guild runs (or spamming trade chat) than with complete strangers. The day chat will integrate cross realm seamlessly it will perhaps become social, but atm it isnt.
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