Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Something strange happened on my way through Frostfire Ridge

I am still on my free 10 days of Warlords of Draenor, without level cap as I have bought the expansion to get the character I wanted to play to 90. Currently questing in Gorgrond, I noticed that while I appeared to have done all the quests in Frostfire Ridge, I hadn't uncovered all of the map. So I made a tour through Frostfire Ridge for zone completion. I found some level 100 mobs, and the entrance to a dungeon, Bloodmaul Slag Mines. And the strange thing is that I instinctively reacted with revulsion to the idea of doing a dungeon. It used to be that this was my favorite part of World of Warcraft, but today I can't stand the idea of running one any more.

I believe that this is because everybody agrees that everybody else in a random group is a complete moron. The only difference is that some people would like to play dungeons normally, and believe that the chain-pulling speedrunners on amphetamines are the morons; while the speedrunners believe that the rest of the group that can't keep up with their chain-pulls are the morons. Or in math-speak, if any given random player in your group has a 50% chance of being incompatible with your play style, there is a 93.75% chance of any random group to end in unpleasantness.

On the one hand that is a problem of human nature, and people having different goals. On the other hand that is a problem of game design, or more specifically the inability of the group finder to actually group people together who fit together from their playstyle. Which in turn is connected to the problem of World of Warcraft still running on "realms" aka separated servers, even if there is some connection between them. The larger the pool you have to select group members from, the quicker you could find a group. And that would enable the LFG system to have a few more playstyle switches, where the people who would like to explore a dungeon for fun and the people who want to rush dungeons in the fastest possible time don't end up grouped together.

I did a search on the US WoW forums and found 24,000 results when searching for "vote kick". I think it is safe to say that when one of the biggest concern about a tool that groups people together is how to get rid of some of people you've been grouped with, that tool isn't working all that great.

I started playing MMORPGs over a decade ago, and my overall impression of the genre is that it has become less social with time. I do think it is a good idea for a MMORPG to have solo content, but that has to be balanced by social tools which make playing together less of a bad idea. The garrison is a fun mini-game, but it's a solo mini-game. Why not have a guild garrison as well, and have more reasons for being in a guild than just raids? I do believe there are a lot of people out there with similar play-styles, who would be quite happy playing together. It's just that the game doesn't make it easy enough for these people to connect.

Mm, there are games out there with minigames that require a full guild to play along together to access it at all. Guild keeps or buffs or whatever. I generally avoid these types of games.

I'm simply not willing to devote the time and effort to establish a new social circle for every game I spend a couple months enjoying. When I was younger and felt more like I had something to prove, I was more willing to play the popularity games and politic for position and all that crap. Now days I view managing a bunch of people as just another job, that I'm not even being paid for.

Without that time investment, these group activities feel like I'm spending time grinding so my guild lead can make decisions on how he wants to play, and I get.. I don't even know what.

Guess what I'm saying is that the big group activity would need to be really really really awesome and fun to at all justify the added weight of having to maintain group standing and the continuing social effort. And if you have an activity that amazing, surely you could make a solo version of it that would be just as good, but without that huge extra cost?
Are you sure the dungeon experience would be that bad? I'm not playing WoW but I follow quite a few bloggers who went back and played when WoD came out and the reports I've been reading seemed quite positive on the issue of Dungeon Finder groups. I was under the impression that the worst problems you describe don't manifest themselves in sub-cap dungeons.

As for the "grouping by intent" idea, does WoW's Dungeon Finder not allow you to add notes? Every similar system I've seen (EQ2, FFXIV, GW2) let you annotate your group request with all kinds of detail. You could easily use them to recruit people for a group with the criteria "going slowly, reading quest dialog" for example or "speed run - keep up or be kicked".
"The larger the pool you have to select group members from, the quicker you could find a LOUSY RANDOM group."

Fixed your post.

Back when you could only choose from players on a single realm, you made friends and took note of people who were worth grouping with.
I'm somewhat with Michael here, but I fully understand Tobold's point. I'm thinking it shouldn't be that difficult to add a checkbox for the "type" of run you want - ie speed vs those who truly want to experience it. A simple 1-5 speed rating should be simple enough. Then maybe let the dungeon finder match you to a group averaging +/- one rating.
Well there's nothing that makes you do LFG. You could do it the old fashioned way.

Personally in LFG I was one of those speed pullers. I don't know you, you aren't from my server, let's get it done. That was my attitude. Had some major problems with people, including a time a healer decided not to heal me (I was tanking), or people rolling on non-class loot so they could give it to their buddy. Somehow I got out of combat and hearthed out. Also got kicked from groups because I didn't know the boss fights and such. It certainly has its problems. But so does spending an hour trying to assemble a group in trade chat.
The game already has a tool to form the exact group you want. You can form a cross server group for just about anything with any criteria you'd like.

I think people are so used to just hitting one button on the dungeon finder that they miss the other more important button. The one that lets you do exactly what your post asks for.
I only ran a handful of dungeons before I quit WoD. There was basically no talking, but the groups were competent enough. (Of course, I was tanking, and my observation across many characters and expansions has been that getting a halfway competent tank is 90% of the battle in normal difficulty dungeons). I do think it's steadily gotten less social.

Easily the most social group I got recently was a late night BRD run on a tank alt, where we were stuck in there for a couple hours together doing relatively easy stuff. But that vanilla design wouldn't work for daily play.

Easily the most fun dungeon running I did while resubbed was to solo all the old BC and WotLK raids and finally see the content I missed. There was even the occasional fight where you needed to stay awake as well. But at that point, you're better off playing a solo game without a subscription.
I used premade group finder to find people for fast run. You could do the same for finding an appropriate team.

But having switches to find a group other than "ilvl" would be a very good idea.
Level 100 mobs are for garrison story quest chains. And dungeons are not that bad now. People almost never chain-pull, rarely complain or talk at all for that matter. I've seen people posting Recount like two or three times. I leveled healer and tank that way so far, did 90-99 dungeons really many times.
LFG isn't quite the pile of idiocy it once was because the random heroic has been largely replaced by LFR. I pretty much gave up on 5-man Heroic LFG back in Cata after the asshats just simply became too much to deal with and stuck instead to 5-man normals. I eventually gave up 5-mans entirely, even though they were my favorite part of the game in Wrath.

Maybe the smarter solution is to fold Challenge Runs into 5-man LFG as strictly a radio button when selecting LFG: you select only speed/challenge runs or casual, learning runs.
Please try a few LFG dungeons. Your opinion may change. I leveled as a paladin tank and continue to tank LFG heroic dungeons for the quests I get at the garrison Inn and the bonus loot Satchel of Savage Mysteries when there's demand for tanks. When the game first came out, most groups talked. We had to in order to complete the heroics. There were very few asshats. There are a few more now, but for the most part when I say "Hi, have any of you not done this dungeon yet?" people answer and they listen when I tell them the key thing to do or avoid. Having a few fellow guild members with me also has helped limit the number of jerks I've run across.

The thing I'm finding now is that the quality of healers and DPS is going down. I think most of the really good players have moved on to raiding and generally don't care about the Inn quest rewards since they got their achievement.

One more great thing about being the tank is that no one would dare kick me for making a mistake, since they'd be queued for a while looking for a new one.
I dearly wish an MMO would include a playstyle-switch with its group finder some day. Even a 'fast or slow' choice would make a world of difference. Provided there are enough people in each group to make it viable, of course.
I love tselliot's suggestion, have always hated that I could (because of my slow pace) never get to experience a dungeon with a relaxed exploratory pace unless I got very lucky and found some patient friends. I accepted a long time ago that I was basically a "Dragon Age player" who was under the misguided notion that you could get some sort of equivalent story/immersion experience out of an MMO, and a couple years in WoW and other MMOs disabused me of that notion (excepting the highly peculiar RP crowd).
My random Heroic groups are generally enjoyable and competent, even if not everyone plays perfectly. If you don't enjoy them, that's probably more a symptom of your own burnout than anything else.
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