Excuse me, I need to put on my nostalgia glasses for a moment.
There was once a time when PUGs were not filled with complete jackasses. I know it's hard to believe. But believe it! At one time a wipe was not the end of a run. Two wipes. Ten! Can you believe a PUG staying together through that?
Once upon a time we endlessly mocked hunters for being idiots. And yet, when the time came, we asked them to kite and they kited. Sometimes not very well and sometimes it took a few tries. But they did it and we were glad for it. Once upon a time Upper Blackrock Spire was serious fucking business. We would PUG it.
How could we do this with just random yahoos from LFD? Oh that's how, we didn't have LFD. We made our own groups, like you would a raid. And no, we didn't have gearscore or achievement links. Nor were we screening heavily with inspections. Instead we used a strange thing called "knowing people." Yes in those days you had a friends list and a guild and had heard of some people for good or bad reasons. If we hadn't heard of someone, that probably meant they had done nothing great or terrible, they were average, and back then that was just fine. We weren't frightened of the average player, since most of us recognized our faces in the mirror.
What changed? The server died. The small town of self-regulation died, and despite my hopes, nothing grew to replace it. Anonymity is no basis for a society. When there are no consequences for poor behavior or performance, everything goes downhill. This doesn't mean we need bossy group leaders kicking anyone with low DPS or a tank in blues, but we need a society, we need people to care what others think. With no society we have lawlessness and anarchy and warlords are no substitute; people need to feel connected and to care.
This wasn't limited to randoms. As we saw more poor behavior and more poor performance we came to expect those as the standard. We ceased to trust anyone. And so even within a server, where you might expect to see self-regulation and social expectations, those were gone. In their place we have gearscore and achievements. But what do those really say? They have no story and inspire no loyalty, duty, or social conscience. Imagine hiring a candidate based only on a resume, no references, no cover letter, no previous interaction; this is worse.
Can the server be saved? Maybe it's too late. Maybe we've fallen over the edge and can no longer imagine a PUG as anything but a collection of drooling idiots.
Maybe cross-realm dungeons were not worth the cost. We can run instances more, but for what gain? Sure, they're great at low levels when it's hard to find people. But at 80? They only accelerate the badge inflation. They make excessive gearscores seem accessible, if you just keep running the same place over and over.
I certainly like the convenience of a tool making the group for me. I don't have to watch channels or talk to anyone. Press button, receive instance.
It helps those with little time. That keeps people subscribing and means more money for Blizzard. It's not so great for people who liked a time before gearscore and jackasses in randoms. But it's not our game, is it? That's obvious, seeing as I'm here writing a whiny nostalgic rant rather than sending out a memo: "Cross-server randoms are bad for the community, remove the tool next patch."
In other words, the nerd with a sense of entitlement is mad at the "I have a life" people with a sense of entitlement.
I miss global looking for group channel.
Guest post: DDO — Good Intentions
9 hours ago