PUGs are good, cross-server is bad

| Saturday, May 22, 2010
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.


Matt said...

I don't get why you care for this "society" so much. Every time someone is inculded, someone else is excluded. "Small towns" and friends lists are methods for excluding people and collusion.

Maybe some people want the purity of being judged by their merit, not by their social skills. I play wow to get away from having to work hard to meet people's irrational social expecations. I don't enjoy having to deal with that when I want to relax either.

I like this new system, its less based on who you know and more on what you can do.

Klepsacovic said...

Currently, everyone is excluded. There are no ins. The small towns which I describe are the servers, which used to include the entire server. At the exclusion of other servers, yes, but they have their own servers.

I never said a thing about being judged by social skills over merit or about meeting irrational social expectations. What I did say is that when we knew who people were, we knew who was good and who was not.

The new system is based on what you already did, with not the slightest measure of what you can do.

jeffo said...

In general I agree with you, but here's a couple of things:

1. 'Must have achievement' didn't start with the Cross-realm LFG system, it started roughly around the same time the achievement system was launched. If you didn't kill the latest boss in VoA the first week it came out, forget about getting in a pug the next week.

2. I don't know the full history of Gear Score, the add-on, but it's use was picking up well-before the Cross-realm system went live.

3. From what I can tell it's not unusual for raid leaders to up the requirements on raids the longer they've been out. I went into Karazhan for the first time about a year after it came out, following a guide that said I should have minimum 1100+ healing. I recall someone once commenting on a forum how they went in with 900+ healing when it was released.

That said, things have definitely gotten worse. I think it's more a function of people being extremely lazy -- it's a lot easier to rule someone out because of bad GS or lack of achievement than it is to actually look at an armory page and judge gear choice, gems, enchants, etc. However, there's definitey an upswing on rudeness and impersonal play, and it seems a lot worse when you're in a Cross realm group.

Klepsacovic said...

You're right, my memory gets jumbled. I don't remember it being such a problem early on. But maybe we were running Naxx and couldn't yet demand T8 for it.

I do recall inflation for Karazhan. But it seemed like there were so many runs that you could find one that wasn't ridiculous. The last run I saw without GS checks was one I started and that was months ago. Someone had left during formation because someone else didn't have the achievement.

Stabs said...

Link achievement and gearscore were enablers rather than barriers.

Before they existed people simply didn't pug serious raids until the end of the development cycle.

No one pugged BWL, AQ40 or Naxx in Vanilla and people only pugged MC right near the end.

No one pugged Kara, SSC, TK until well past halfway in the expansion. Would you really want to do Flame Wreath with a bunch of random people from Trade back when Shade of Aran was genuinely challenging?

In WotLK people started pugging Naxx early in the cycle because of gearscore and link achievement. No one would have put a pug raid together without those features.

As for UBRS it was an anomaly, everything except Drakki was tank and spank whereas MC required some pretty precise positioning. It was more like a 5 man than a raid in terms of gameplay. Apart from the kiting (which was actually pretty simple) it was facerollable.

Chris and Cathy said...

I have to say, I really like the new system. Yeah there will often be one guy in the group who is doing crap damage but I think thats the point as all groups seems to be balanced enough to complete the instance.

My only and biggest annoyance is someone who runs a particular instance for a certain piece and then leaves group when the item doesn't drop off that particular boss. The group then has to wait for another person to fill the spot. Totally annoying!

I do like meeting the different folks and I usually keep it light and fun.

Ngita said...

I am sorry stabs you completely wrong, at least in terms of the servers I have played on.

"Pugs" where heading into MC and ony from April-August 2005. They were'nt very succesful but they tried. I say pugs in that guilds had not yet settled into raiding guilds, so you tended to have alliance and amalgamations. BWL was pugged successfully(Nef dead) in march/april 2006. Pre AQ.

Alt runs where mostly clearing Kara by 6 months into the expansion, trying to remember when it was pugged but we had 2 alt runs so I did not have to pug.

Gearscore was post lfd on proudmoore and achievements didnt really come in until people started pugging malygos. My warlock was my first alt to reach 80. I got into naxx 25 within one week and was part of one of the first server pugs to kill Patchwerk, only 2 people in the raid had even seen gluth before.

But even now, we still have reset raids. No Gearscore, no achievements just whoever wants to go kill stuff in x, y instance because it resets in a few hours anyway so who cares if you fail. For example my dk(sub 5k gs) tanked 3/12 icc last week. We wiped once on saurfang with 45 minute left to reset and it got called.

I too miss global lfg.

Isa said...

I have always enjoyed PUGing, but I agree that the current system doesn't really provide the same experience the pre-cross server dungeons did. But it does provide more chances at it, so I don't think it's been all bad. You have to make an effort to get it to work that way, and it even then it doesn't work that often. It's very businesslike.

I don't exactly miss global LFG...for me that was when a single chat channel got big enough that a sizable number of people first felt like it was worth it to begin spamming. And once that box got opened it never shut; ever since those people have flocked to whatever is the most global channel and filled it with obnoxiousness. At least on my servers this was the case.

No, what I miss was prior to that, when you could access city chat from anywhere if you knew the trick. It made it easy to watch for potential groups (even from an alt), but most people didn't realize it and the channel didn't get overrun. I suppose it's another form of elitist barrier though.

Klepsacovic said...

City chat from anywhere? That I've never heard of.

Global did have a lot of spam, but there seemed to be mostly people actually looking for groups. It was nice to be able to see groups outside of your level range, so you could play an alt and still find groups for your main. I wish there had been some way to filter it, maybe add level ranges, so you could ignore chat from people outside your bracket or something of that sort.

Corinthe said...

I miss old LFG a lot. I've always been a pugger, every day, several times a day. My friends list was full of people that I met in pugs. The guilds that I joined were invites from pug friends. The people I talked to in game were pug friends. I've got people on my friends list from early TBC.

Pugging was what made the MMO part of the MMORPG for me. I left right before the LFD patch, and came back a couple months later to level a shaman from 12-80. I didn't make a single friend. Most people were from different severs, and when they were from my server, I didn't notice until after the pug. The people that I would consciously think I'd like to play with again were always from another server.

A couple months later, I had full T9 for two specs all from pug badges farmed, and had not met a single person from my server in any of those pugs. I was guildless and bored. Ultimately I shelved that toon, picked up my neglected priest, joined some random pvp guild invite spam, and went pvp. We random bg queue 3-5
guildies. I wasn't getting my socializing fix from PvE any more.

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