Every benefit has a cost

| Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Imagine that I said something like "I think groups were better, meaning more polite and patient, before cross-realm randoms."  Someone will inevitably respond by claiming that I am an elitist who doesn't care about casual players and fifteen hour wait times for dungeons.  And then I'll delete their comment for being worthless crap.

Having single-server groups had a cost in terms of time.  It also had benefits.  Similarly, random groups are faster, but have a social cost.  Some people value one more than the other or may have diminishing returns on one.  For example, I'd gladly trade my instant queues for 15 minute queues (in the form of yelling in trade chat) if it meant that my groups weren't filled with jerks.  Going from group of jerks to not group of jerks is a big upgrade, whereas adding 15 minutes to the wait time isn't a very big deal to me.  If it is to you, then fine, encourage the system that encourages jerks, if that's what you think will maximize your fun.  I will, of course, argue with you.  After all, I am paying the same $15 a month (I've always wanted to be able to say that right back to the "you're elitist and I pay $15 a month" crowd).

We've had the grand experiment with anonymity.  We've seen the proliferation of unrestrained jerkery.  We know have the information to make an informed decision, based on our own personal values, on how much we value one aspect over another.  We know the time gain from the cross realm randoms and we know the social cost of that time gain.  Was it worth it?

Not every cost has a benefit.

17 comments:

Syl said...

This is sorta blowing into the same horn as Psychochild's great comment over at Spinks recently, so in case you missed that - http://spinksville.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/links-so-are-we-finally-at-the-end-of-the-mmo-era/#comment-20364

every gamedesign choice comes with ups and downs; the trouble is analyzing longterm consequences and then picking the right ones.

Muir said...

Granted, my main has been a tank since paladins could tank in BC, but even so, 15 minutes to form a group from chat is optimistic at best. I agree there's a trade-off between 'queue' time and jerkery, but where's the equilibrium point? It's different for each person, but is there a utilitarian 'the most good for the most people' point? Maybe single server group finder, and small servers be damned?

Anonymous said...

This does not need to be a binary solution. Add an actual enforcement of the existing rules by Blizzard and many of the jerks in LFD go away. It is a simple truth that in any group the bad will drive out the good. The problem is that in trying to maintain the good you subject yourself to insult and attack from the bad, and Blizzard seems very sensitive to complaints from the vocal minority.

They can make LFD work. Enforce fair-play rules, include an option to only pull from the server community, permit a drop rule that let's the player escape a dysfunctional group without a draconian penalty, and (I'd expect) many other options. What will not work is to decide that the current implementation of LFD is bad, so we have to go back to DPS who are not in active guilds generally not running anything on-level, especially if that player is not a extroverted butterfly.

Tesh said...

@Syl, or perhaps more usefully, letting players make those choices.

Anonymous said...

Swinging from one extreme to the next creates new problems. Why not implement a workable solution from somewhere in the middle?

If your ignore list can work cross server, why can't your friends list work that way as well? LFG won't put you in a random pug with those on your ignore list; how about it checking your friends list for grouping? How about putting in an option to check your server first, before going out to other servers?

Why not make it so that if you ignore a character, the entire user's battle.net account is flagged so you don't have group with the "person" any more? It can be behind the scenes, you don't need to see all the other characters ignored.

Smart loot is coming for raids, why not implement it for dungeon boss drops? Why does the current system allow a huntard to roll need on a STR 2H axe? With smart loot, if he wins the internal loot roll, he will get a piece of equipment that he could actually benefit from. Change the loot rolls in random pugs so that you can only need on something in your armor/spec/class/profession. If I can use an add-on to see the gains\losses to my stats from the data provided by WoW, why can't the game use that info to make better roll options?

The technology is there, or almost there. The community, however, has failed and needs better implementation of the rules to kepp the game from further devolving into a cesspit.

NetherLands said...

People who currently play 'obsolete' Heroics (TBC and Wrath) by LFD tend to notice far less jerkery than with 'current content' (a.o. Cynwise had a post about the TBC ones, personally I noticed this with the Wrath ones)

Why?

Because the people that currently play them actually want to be in them, instead of 'getting their Random reward for the hamsterwheel/fast levelling'.

So what I am trying to say is that the LFD system would have been much better if it was bascially an automated 'yeller in Trade' (so do include an 'own realm only' option, though a non-Real ID crossRealm friend list would be nice as well) and if it didn't offer any extra Random rewards to lure people into content they don't really want to be in.

I am aware that this would most likely make queues longer, but as the OP says, you'll be waiting for a better experience.

highlatencylife.com said...

I had bad groups before LFG, and LFR too. Only problem is I can spread the news how crappy they are all over my server.

Bill said...

I agree that in order to get the experience we want we need to move away from Blizzard's path and go back to forging our own. This back and forth with TheGrumpyElf sums my feelings up nicely.
I think some players feel having to form their own groups is punishment for wanting better behaved players. But Psychochild's comment brings up the biggest problem with solving that: Code can’t determine intent.

Klepsacovic said...

@Syl: I think I missed that comment. Thanks.

@Muir: If we had a system that people used, I think such times would be reasonable. Perhaps if there was a teleport then a tool like we had in BC would be more widely used. Having the ability to sign up for more than three instances at once might have helped.

@Anonymous: I may have to write a post about this sooner, but I don't see the relevance of extrovert/introvert psychology here. Surely it is easier for an introvert to deal with people they may have met before and may meet again, who may have common friends, than to run always with complete strangers.

@Anonymous: A cross-server, non-Real ID friends list would be nice. I've run into a few people that I'd gladly run with again, that I would have once tried to recruit to my guild. I'm pretty sure the Outland instances and above use a smart loot system, at the very least blocking unusable and inappropriate armor types. There are more layers which could be added, of course.

@NetherLands: I ran into this myself, when I paused a paladin at 70. It wasn't perfect, but you do seem to be right: people are nicer when they're in the content they want to be in.

@Bill: Manual group formation is a sort of inverted crisis of the commons, in which players not using the resource depletes it, that resource being available players for manually-formed groups. If I make groups, that makes me available, encouraging others to do the same by reducing the time it takes to form. It would never be as fast as an automated tool, but with enough players it could be faster than it is now.

Anonymous said...

Actually, no. Speaking as an introvert who has been forced into more than enough bad positions due to work - get in there and be aggressive, screw contemplation! - it is much easier to just queue for the run and not think about it. I don't know these people and we aren't trying to becomes the best friends in game. There is often that pressure on the quiet and introverted, which is not always the same thing, to be more social, more extroverted, when you are on a guild run.

When I want to run an instance I have a goal and reason for that goal. It is never that I want to go chat with four people. LFD, when it works, is great for my type of introvert. It is all about executing on your objective, learning the run, and optimizing performance. What gets in the way are the drama queens, loot whores, and general malcontents who take LFD as a stage to force themselves on four other people.

Klepsacovic said...

You're making a very convincing argument for bots. Or a single-player game.

Anonymous #2 above said...

Alas, the "smart" loot system for Outlands and above needs to be a bit smarter, otherwise I wouldn't have lost a STR 2H axe to a hunter twice. The first time, I knew it was with malice aforethought as the hunter rolled last and dropped group immediately. The second time, the hunter was kicked by the tank before I could ask why he needed that drop.

Anonymous said...

If bots had adequate intelligence, sure, it becomes an option to fill roles in any group. They don't and they also don't vary performance. One of the interesting aspects of having humans controlling the avatars is that you can't just assume a certain performance and go. You should be able to assume a level of understanding of the content and capabilities of the character.

Single player games are conceptually interesting but they lack persistence. And, as much as I dislike being forced to engage in the overt social aspects of the game, I am in a small guild and it does add interest to see other people engaged in their own online lives. I object, however, when I'm forced to become one of the social butterflies.

Bottom line, and then I'll stop cluttering the responses, is that this should not be a binary decision. The current LFD is flawed but the idea is sound. It requires a stronger implementation and better enforcement but even in the current form it is vastly better than standing in IF begging for any level 60 instance.

Klepsacovic said...

@Anonymous: Bots could be randomized slightly to perform more like human players.

I agree that the current system is better than the old system with no group formation tools at all. I preferred the BC-era system of adding oneself to a list for wanting to run a set of instances. Add to that some ability for cross-server action (optional, but probably desired for low-pop and low-level) and wait times should be manageable without the total anonymity which breeds so many social problems.

Azuriel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Klepsacovic said...

@Azuriel: Next time, write a comment that isn't a mix of strawman extremes, misreading, and not reading.

Azuriel said...

*cough*

Yes. The answer is yes, it is worth it. One answers yes each time the LFD button is pressed instead of doing it the "traditional" way (which is still possible). And given how Blizzard has stated on multiple occasions that LFD/LFR are the most popular features they have ever implemented, it seems clear that most others see the "cost" as a bargain at twice the price.

One man's jerk is another man's warm body.

For example, I'd gladly trade my instant queues for 15 minute queues (in the form of yelling in trade chat) if it meant that my groups weren't filled with jerks.

Out of curiosity... how about 30 minutes? 45?

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