Playing Without Friends is Overrated

| Friday, February 3, 2012
My paladin is all alone. There are no friends on her server, no one to play with. So she does randoms. Ugh. Mostly the people are okay, but a few bad apples can really spoil the mood. Even worse, at this point no one takes anything slow or explains anything at all, except once in Stonecore I got lucky with a surprisingly friendly group and got my first heroic Ormok kill. That was nice.

The worst may have been in the new instances. Or maybe they aren't new anymore. Someplace before the well of eternity. I zone in and immediately the group is gone, hopping around trash and lava. I tried to keep up and hoped for no surprises in the bosses. There were none. How... boring.

It was quite fitting when I got to the last boss and his death yell includes, "You know not what you have done," and all I could think was "Yea, exactly." I grabbed a couple healing items because there were no other paladins and got some new DPS gloves from the quest. I'm not sure if I'm annoyed more by the easy loot or by the way I ended up stumbling through an anonymous and rushed instance.

I wish I was playing with friends. I think that's the thing that could convince me to give Blizzard another $15. Alas, allein. I could find a guild, probably. But that's not a fun process for an introvert, of actively seeking out people, totally unknown people, and engaging them, particularly in a salesman role. That's why I liked the non-random, non-cross-server groups, they brought people together who would see each other again and who might actually communicate for a reason other than convincing someone to give a guild invite.

The Well of Eternity was a lot more fun. Maybe it helped that I'd read War of the Ancients, so I had something to connect to. But the group wasn't quite so rushed either. Maybe it was the design of the place, maybe it was the people. Though I got a bit mixed up about what I was supposed to be doing, because still, people don't explain much. Maybe I should have read up beforehand, but that seems excessive for a random.

Finally, the Hour of Twilight. I said I was new. The healer said she was trying a new addon. Nothing much got explained, so I ended up riding ride past the ambush. Then an overpull near the second boss wiped us. I was then kicked without any reason given or anything said. That's a pretty shitty way to do things. And I'm saved for the day, so no queueing for it to try again.

13 comments:

*vlad* said...

Well of Eternity: The Mannaroth encounter is way too long, and while you can try to to immerse yourself in it, the fact that there is hardly any chance of dying unless you stand in the fire, kills Tyrande's 'Oh no it's all so horrible and the world's about to end' emoting.
They should add a count-down timer so that getting Mannaroth's health down actually matters, rather than feeling that you are practising your rotation on a training dummy.

As far as kicking people from groups, there should be a set list that the players must choose from, and then this reason is passed on to the person who is kicked; eg afk, low dps, poor gear, anti-social, DCed etc, rather than someone pressing the Vote to Kick button and putting the reason as 'scrub'(and the kicked person not even getting any feedback).

Kring said...

> and hoped for no surprises in the bosses.
> There were none. How... boring.

Very true. :)

Gankalicious said...

Yea, seeking out guilds/clans is not something that I particularly like as well and so spend long periods of times solo-ing whatever game I'm in. It can be a lot less fun, but also less painful (for me) than trying to 'fit in', or to put it more honestly- give a shit about a pack of strangers. It can be great fun, don't get me wrong, but it can also be a ginormous pain in the buttocks.

sam said...

yeah I really wonder if blizzard actually tries to think things through sometimes. My most unfun one recently. zone in they've already pulled and are in the process of wiping. OK... I die come back we do two bosses, then we wipe on third. I come back we wipe on last one because tank can't keep aggro. I get booted. they may have all been friends or guildies. I don't know, I don't care. Every time I have a "fun" LFG run like that I fall back to only running with at least a partial guild group for awhile. It's just more fun to run with your friends. You get to talk, you know their skill level and as they have some investment in the relationship they don't instantly devolve into pointing fingers and whining about a wipe. We sometimes even "gasp" laugh about it.

Just more for why cross server LFG sucks for everything but gearing up quickly.

Cygnia said...

I grit my teeth and bear it on my healer, but I refuse to go into LFG without my husband on my 'lock. Hell, even going with another guildie can be stressful if I don't know him well enough and he wants to boot someone for "low dps & not getting out of the fire" (things HE was also guilty of) without giving me ANY sort of heads-up. Yeah, WoE -- you're supposed to be the EASY Twiroic. And no one will bother killing a bloody debilitator?!

*rantrantrantspewargh*

Dathi said...

@Sam

It's not an issue of Blizzard not thinking things through.

A lot of people fail to remember *why* LFG was put in, and made cross server. Prior to LFG low level Instances where all but impossible to run, server pops where too level cap loaded down, so finding 4 other people of the proper range and roles was too time consuming and not worth the effort when you can just solo to the level cap *then* do group content. Now, they did make LFG have an important function at the level cap, but that was just to make things more convenient but moving the "daily dungeon" quests to being part of the tool.

LFG was made to give people more options to play the game, not sit around in a city spamming chat. And yes, LFG strangers are never as fun as playing with people you know, it was never meant to replace old forms group formation.

Sadly, the bulk of players chose the route of instant matching, and just grinding away at content for our points and gear.

There isn't a good reason for a match making tool to so utter destroy older social constructs, other then the Bulk of players pursue the High Score, rather then the fun, leaving the people who don't want to play like that high and dry, as we can't find enough players who play our way. This then creates the deadly spiral -> Want to group with people from server -> Can't find then -> Just use LFG -> The next person can't find server based groups -> Wash, Rinse, Repeat, enjoy the Catch 22

sam said...

I'll disagree. Blizzard wanted people to have groups. They also wanted to make money. Both perfectly fine goals. They allowed server changes and name changes. It got worse. Then they introduced LFG and it got worse. Every step of the way they have attempted to fix one problem while ignoring human nature. I've had blue flat out tell me that it's not thier job to punish players whose negative playstyle may be hurting the game.

In a game revolving around gear and improving your character, any social person could have predicted,(and many of us did) what would happen. People do what they get rewarded for. NO punishment for bad behavior is a reward for the said behavior.

By your logic traffic tickets have no impact on speeding behavior. Throwing people in jail has no impact on murder or other violent crimes. Teachers punishing bullies and isolating them when they refuse to behave doesn't help. But they all work. Not perfectly but they work.

Yes people do the solution that rewards them the most. ITs why we have laws in the real world. It happens in the real world as well.

My opinion is that the developers tried the SOMALI plan. No punishment for bad behavior. They got SOMALI style wow. A bunch of self interested (note its a normal human condition we invented government to combat) people being rude and assinine and the social order fell apart.

If you really belive thier refusal to come up with a system that punished the behavior they didn't want while rewarding the behavior they wanted isn't part of the problem then you are ignoring 1/2 a million years of human history.

In texas back in the 80's we decided it was stupid to have a lot of police officers. too damn expensive. We also stopped making them get out of their cars unless there was a problem. Crime went up. We added officers and made them start walking around through the communities, crime went down. People don't behave because they are inherently angels. They behave because it's in thier best intersts to do so. Places like Somolia, Pakistan, and Chad are a perfect example of how people act if there is no consequences for their bad behavior.

For example. If the LFG tool subtracted 50 valor or justice points for every person you booted, I'd predict that a lot more people would talk and explain the encounters. They'd have a vested reason to do so. Imagine if you got a 50 point bonus if you took a completly random group and completed it with the same 5 people.
Or what if we had an ebay style rating that didnt' rate your performance but rated how much the players like playing with you and then tied it to some achievement or other reward.
These are just off the top of my head, I'm sure there's a hundred other possible ideas that could work.

There are all kinds of simple things they could do. But it's a lot easier to just throw up your hands and complain its complicated.

hownottogame said...

A part of me wishes that I could get passed the anxiety and learn to be able to random group. But, then I read things like this and know that my little heart just couldn't take it. I did okay back in the days before Know The Fights or GTFO. If you made a mistake, it wasn't a big deal back then, at least on my server [which reminds me of the time a hunter in a random group, who clearly had no idea how to kite, was asked to kite one of General Drakkisath's adds. No one freaked out when s/he switched on Aspect of the Monkey and pretty much insta-died in the next room, leaving said add to plow through our squishies. We just dusted off, ran back or res'd up, and tried again.] But these Don't Ruin My OMGFAST HURRYUPANDGO Runs just scare me. I really hate the people who play these games nowadays. It sucks that I enjoy PvP so much, or I could just quit entirely. :/

Klepsacovic said...

Maybe what we need is a bonus for playing with a ful group from one's own server. A non-PUG bonus. Let's say 10% more rep and points as well as a 5% damage/health/healing boost. Now that gives an incentive to play with your own server without emptying LFD (since it's still going to be prefered for those out farming and questing).

@vlad: Just adding a list of reasons for a kick would be great. At least then it gives some feedback. Maybe I won't agree, such as if it's a group of overgeared raiders saying my DPS is low, but at least it gives me some clue of what happened.

@sam: I think they do try to think things through, but social policy is complex. Trying to balance incentives, punishments, moral hazard, and of course individual variation, is a huge mess to deal with.

Tomorrow's post is about why it sucks for gearing up quickly!

@Dathi: Would it have been too hard for them to limit the cross-server matching to 79 and under, or 84 and under? I think it is a great tool for leveling, giving players some group experience, something which could otherwise be sorely lacking, but keeping it at the level cap is asking for trouble.

@sam: Keep in mind that any reward for keeping people in a group is also a reduction in the punishment for anti-group behavior. If I am being an ass, should the group then have to choose between kicking me and getting their "Party to the End" bonus?

There is also the added problem that any bonuses only hasten the point at which 'good' players don't need the randoms anymore. What if the friendly, explaining the fights-type people got double the points? Well then they'd hit the weekly cap sooner and stop running as often, increasing the proportion of less friendly players. Or if we double their weekly cap, then they'll gear up faster and be done sooner. Sure, it will get them to play more right now, but they'll hit their end point sooner. It's not entirely a doomed scenario, since there are still the BoE items that they can sell, but I'd be wary of systems which try to dole out rewards if those rewards will stop being beneficial at some near point.

@hownottogame: It's not an entirely rotten experience. I've had some good groups. Also some bad ones. I think if you can go in without expecting a wonderful experience it can be okay. Maybe that last sentence wasn't very encouraging...

Azuriel said...

But that's not a fun process for an introvert, of actively seeking out people, totally unknown people, and engaging them, particularly in a salesman role. That's why I liked the non-random, non-cross-server groups, they brought people together who would see each other again and who might actually communicate for a reason other than convincing someone to give a guild invite.

Err... what? Did people just randomly invite you to group in the pre-LFD days?

I would agree that there was a quiet desperation in TBC heroic runs, such that you made every effort to make the fail player succeed because no one was willing to wait 45 minutes for a replacement in Shadow Labs. I would even agree that a well-managed Friends List was the only way to accomplish anything, like doing more than 1 heroic a week, and that likely forced social interaction.

But you guys can have that TBC experience back and choke on it. The days when I'm willing to log on, literally do nothing for 2 hours, and log off are long gone.

Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel: People did not randomly invite me, but I found it much easier to interact with people from the same server, sometimes people I'd seen before or whose guild I recognized. I didn't maintain much of a friends list, preferring to PUG almost exclusively, even over guild runs, because that was how I found new people. We'd do a run, they'd ask about the guild, I'd refer them to someone who knew more than me, and sometimes we'd have a new member.

Oh, but yes, sometimes people did randomly invite me to group.

What the hell were you doing doing nothing for two hours? That sounds like a personal problem far beyond anything wrong with the game or grouping system. There was a looking for group tool back then, which I found very handy for allowing me to quest while I found people. It wasn't instant like now, nor as thoughtless, but it worked.

sam said...

LFG's effectiveness in BC was very server specific. Low pop servers even healers could wait an hour or more for groups. High pop servers had it great.

@klep Of course if you have rewards for keeping people it might sometimes make things more difficult. Just like in real life, what you put in to something is what you get out of it. People complain about wow's current social state because the devs have created a social structure where you have to put nothing in. Thus the social structure keeps deteriorating because no one has any vested interest in what's going on. You can't have good without bad. We have family's that get disfunctional and human and we work through it and we have much more investment and keep going. guilds used to be that way, no more. Those of us that had good friends lists and worked on our friends had, and some still have,that. New players que up get thier gear and leave. If they overreact and dump some new player who wasn't at fault, or maybe was but just needed a little advice, no consequence's so nothing to stop the behavior.

If paying a ticket was optional would more or less people drive safely? If stealing wasn't a crime how many people would just take (ninja?) stuff.

I'm not saying it's easy but the science of getting people to act the way you want them too is no different in games than in the real world. The difference is a bunch of nerdy programmers are trying to do it and they have no real world perspective on what they are doing. I feel sorry for them I do. But they are still ultimately responsible for every problem the game has.

sam said...

and currently I have no more quests to run. If I do log in it's grind or do nothing till I run an instance. The game tends to end up that way at end game. Maybe thats how they ended up doing nothing but waiting for a group for two hours. Capped with no group to run. It was the wow model at end game in BC. Some of us just don't do repeatable quests, its why they had to put tabards in the game. They were losing people who wouldn't do dailies to get faction they needed.

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